Science is not about certainty

by Judith Curry

I seem to be saying two things that contradict each other. On the one hand, we trust scientific knowledge, on the other hand, we are always ready to modify in-depth part of our conceptual structure about the world. But there is no contradiction, because the idea of a contradiction comes from what I see as the deepest misunderstanding about science: the idea that science is about certainty.     — Carlo Rovelli

The Edge has a Conversation with Carlo Rovelli, entitled Science is not about certainty: a philosophy of physics.   (h/t Michael Cunningham).

Some bio info on Rovelli: CARLO ROVELLI is a theoretical physicist, working on quantum gravity and on foundations of spacetime physics. He is professor of physics at the University of the Mediterranean in Marseille, France and member of the Intitut Universitaire de France. He is the author of The First Scientist: Anaximander and His Legacy; and Quantum Gravity.

Some excerpts from Rovelli’s essay (read the whole essay for his perspective on the history science and modern physics):
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We teach our students: we say that we have some theories about science. Science is about hypothetico-deductive methods, we have observations, we have data, data require to be organized in theories.  So then we have theories. These theories are suggested or produced from the data somehow, then checked in terms of the data. Then time passes, we have more data, theories evolve, we throw away a theory, and we find another theory which is better, a better understanding of the data, and so on and so forth.

This is a standard idea of how science works, which implies that science is about empirical content, the true interesting relevant content of science is its empirical content. Since theories change, the empirical content is the solid part of what science is. Now, there’s something disturbing, for me as a theoretical scientist, in all this. I feel that something is missing. Something of the story is missing. I’ve been asking to myself what is this thing missing? I’m not sure I have the answer, but I want to present some ideas on something else which science is. 

This is particularly relevant today in science, and particularly in physics, because if I’m allowed to be polemical, in my field, in fundamental theoretical physics, it is 30 years that we fail. There hasn’t been a major success in theoretical physics in the last few decades, after the standard model, somehow. Of course there are ideas. These ideas might turn out to be right. Loop quantum gravity might turn out to be right, or not. String theory might turn out to be right, or not. But we don’t know, and for the moment, nature has not said yes in any sense.I suspect that this might be in part because of the wrong ideas we have about science, and because methodologically we are doing something wrong, at least in theoretical physics, and perhaps also in other sciences.
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When I give a thesis to students, most of the time the problem I give for a thesis is not solved. It’s not solved because the solution of the question, most of the time, is not solving in the question, it’s just questioning the question itself. Is realizing that in the way the problem was formulated, there was some implicit prejudice assumption that was the one to be dropped.If this is so, the idea that we have data and theories, and then we have a rational agent that constructs theories from the data using his rationality, his mind, his intelligence, his conceptual structure, and juggles theories and data, doesn’t make any sense, because what is being challenged at every step is not the theory, it’s the conceptual structure used in constructing theories and interpreting the data. In other words, it’s not changing theories that we go ahead, but changing the way we think about the world.
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What are then the aspects of doing science that I think are under-evaluated, and should come up-front? First, science is about constructing visions of the world, about rearranging our conceptual structure, about creating new concepts which were not there before, and even more, about changing, challenging the a-priori that we have. So it’s nothing to do about the assembly of data and the way of organizing the assembly of data. It has everything to do about the way we think, and about our mental vision of the world. Science is a process in which we keep exploring ways of thinking, and changing our image of the world, our vision of the world, to find new ones that work a little bit better.The past knowledge is always with us, and it’s our main ingredient for understanding. The theoretical ideas which are based on ‘let’s imagine that this may happen because why not’ are not taking us anywhere.Science is not about certainty. Science is about finding the most reliable way of thinking, at the present level of knowledge. Science is extremely reliable; it’s not certain. In fact, not only it’s not certain, but it’s the lack of certainty that grounds it. Scientific ideas are credible not because they are sure, but because they are the ones that have survived all the possible past critiques, and they are the most credible because they were put on the table for everybody’s criticism.
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The very expression ‘scientifically proven’ is a contradiction in terms. There is nothing that is scientifically proven. The core of science is the deep awareness that we have wrong ideas, we have prejudices. We have ingrained prejudices. In our conceptual structure for grasping reality there might be something not appropriate, something we may have to revise to understand better. So at any moment, we have a vision of reality that is effective, it’s good, it’s the best we have found so far. It’s the most credible we have found so far, its mostly correct.

If I can make a final comment about this way of thinking about science, or two final comments: One is that science is not about the data. The empirical content of scientific theory is not what is relevant. The data serves to suggest the theory, to confirm the theory, to disconfirm the theory, to prove the theory wrong. But these are the tools that we use. What interests us is the content of the theory. What interests us is what the theory says about the world. General relativity says space-time is curved. The data of general relativity are that Mercury perihelion moves 43 degrees per century, with respect to that computed with Newtonian mechanics.

Who cares? Who cares about these details? If that was the content of general relativity, general relativity would be boring. General relativity is interesting not because of its data, but because it tells us that as far as we know today, the best way of conceptualizing space-time is as a curved object. It gives us a better way of grasping reality than Newtonian mechanics, because it tells us that there can be black holes, because it tells us there’s a Big Bang. This is the content of the scientific theory.

So summarizing, I think science is not about data; it’s not about the empirical content, about our vision of the world. It’s about overcoming our own ideas, and about going beyond common sense continuously. Science is a continuous challenge of common sense, and the core of science is not certainty, it’s continuous uncertainty. I would even say the joy of taking what we think, being aware that in everything we think, there are probably still an enormous amount of prejudices and mistakes, and try to learn to look a little bit larger, knowing that there is always a larger point of view that we’ll expect in the future.

This may take me to another point, which is should a scientist think about philosophy, or not? It’s sort of the fashion today to discard philosophy, to say now we have science, we don’t need philosophy. I find this attitude very naïve for two reasons. One is historical. Just look back. Heisenberg would have never done quantum mechanics without being full of philosophy. Einstein would have never done relativity without having read all the philosophers and have a head full of philosophy. Galileo would never have done what he had done without having a head full of Plato. Newton thought of himself as a philosopher, and started by discussing this with Descartes, and had strong philosophical ideas.

But even Maxwell, Boltzmann, I mean, all the major steps of science in the past were done by people who were very aware of methodological, fundamental, even metaphysical questions being posed. When Heisenberg does quantum mechanics, he is in a completely philosophical mind. He says in classical mechanics there’s something philosophically wrong, there’s not enough emphasis on empiricism. It is exactly this philosophical reading of him that allows him to construct this fantastically new physical theory, scientific theory, which is quantum mechanics.

The divorce between this strict dialogue between philosophers and scientists is very recent, and somehow it’s after the war, in the second half of the 20th century. It has worked because in the first half of the 20thcentury, people were so smart. Einstein and Heisenberg and Dirac and company put together relativity and quantum theory and did all the conceptual work. The physics of the second half of the century has been, in a sense, a physics of application of the great ideas of the people of the ’30s, of the Einsteins and the Heisenbergs.

I think that the scientists who say I don’t care about philosophy, it’s not true they don’t care about philosophy, because they have a philosophy. They are using a philosophy of science. They are applying a methodology. They have a head full of ideas about what is the philosophy they’re using; just they’re not aware of them, and they take them for granted, as if this was obvious and clear. When it’s far from obvious and clear. They are just taking a position without knowing that there are many other possibilities around that might work much better, and might be more interesting for them.

I think there is narrow-mindedness, if I might say so, in many of my colleague scientists that don’t want to learn what is being said in the philosophy of science. There is also a narrow-mindedness in a lot of probably areas of philosophy and the humanities in which they don’t want to learn about science, which is even more narrow-minded. Somehow cultures reach, enlarge. I’m throwing down an open door if I say it here, but restricting our vision of reality today on just the core content of science or the core content of humanities is just being blind to the complexity of reality that we can grasp from a number of points of view, which talk to one another enormously, and which I believe can teach one another enormously.

JC comment:  This essay resonated with me, since I am struggling to understand why climate science doesn’t seem to me to be working so well.  Apart from the politicization of climate science, which has torqued the science in unfortunate ways, I have an (unformulated) sense that we are missing something in the way we are approaching this very complex scientific problem.  The schism between philosophy and science is arguably one of the problems.  I have been grappling with this issue in an ad hoc way:  at Climate Etc., there have been over 30 posts with the tag ‘scientific method‘, and scads more about uncertainty.  Some of you have little patience for this type of post, and are hard core empiricists (‘show us the data’).  But making progress on any scientific issue (especially one as complex as climate change) requires much more than data, and I hope that Rovelli’s essay provokes you to think more broadly about this topic.

701 responses to “Science is not about certainty

  1. See chapter 1 (Philosophic Doubt) of Bertrand Russell’s “Outline of Philosophy.” This chapter contains Russell’s famous quote: “Philosophy arises from an unusually obstinate attempt to arrive at real knowledge. What passes for knowledge in ordinary life suffers from three defects: it is cocksure, vague and self-contradictory. The first step towards philosophy consists in becoming aware of these defects, not in order to rest content with a lazy scepticism, but in order to substitute an amended kind of knowledge which shall be tentative, precise and self-consistent.” Much of the struggle in climate science, at least as Russell would see it, is about what exactly it is that constitutes “cocksure.” Conversely, what JC seems to be seeking is what would be rightly considered “tentative” in this context. While I’m not personally a huge Russell fan on many counts, I do find this articulation of the nature of bullheadedness vs. rationality compelling as it regards current social discourse on a great many topics including cs.

    • So are you implying some scientists may have gone off half-cocksure?

    • I mean to be saying it directly. It is not confined to climate science. However, at this time it is seems to most prevalent in the field of climate science.

    • Not most prevalent, just the most public at present. If you relied solely on the MSM, you would never guess that there are physicists who are not content with the Standard Model and very seriously working at replacing it, who in fact do not accept the “Big Bang.” I believe that Russel was not at all happy with Kurt Geodel and his incompleteness theorems.

    • Anyone willing to wade into Russell is to be admired. Especially if they find something relevant and worthwhile.

      Still, I don’t mind a cocksure attitude in a precise and self-consistent speaker who acknowledges the uncertainties and still moves forward. Tentative at 51% likelihood or at 99% likelihood (whether from probabilities or error bars or methodological uncertainties) is still tentative, which is its own punishment.

      It’s the wrongheaded who buy into the 49% likelihoods or the 1% likelihoods when there are different 51% likelihoods, and go ahead cocksure that are irrational.

    • Yeah, I hate that too, people buying into 1% or less probabilities then rattling off the precautionary principle as justification for their banning or taxing things into oblivion :)

    • One would think the Precautionary Principle would only apply when there were no 51% or greater probabilities on the table. :D

    • OTOH, it’s some of he 1-49%ers who will end up replacing the 51-99%ers as a New Consensus. The problem is guessing which ones!

    • Thank you, thank you, jbmckim, for the quote from Bertrand Russell’s “Outline of Philosophy.”

      ‘What passes for knowledge in ordinary life suffers from three defects: it is cocksure, vague and self-contradictory.

      “The first step towards philosophy consists in becoming aware of these defects, not in order to rest content with a lazy scepticism, but in order to substitute an amended kind of knowledge which shall be tentative, precise and self-consistent.

      The Climategate puzzle would have been impossible to solve without unintended assistance of the participants – a widespread assortment of influential people and institutions that most of us would have treated with respect and deference.

      Deception in the Climategate emails and documents that surfaced in November 2009 was not nearly as revealing as were the subsequent efforts by world leaders and leaders of the news media and the scientific community to justify and defend manipulation of global temperature data:

      US President Barack Obama, UK’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, UN’s President Dr. Ali Abdussalam Treki, Chairman of UN’s Climate Change Panel – Dr. Rajendra Pachauri – the former US Vice-President who shared a Nobel Prize with Pachauri – Al Gore – the US National Academy of Sciences, the UN’s IPCC, the UK’s Royal Society, the Nobel Prize Committee, the producers, publishers and editors of Nature, Science, PNAS, PRS, BBC, PBS, CBS, NBC, the New York Times, etc., ad infinitum joined forces in defending the use of scientific information to deceive the public.

      http://joannenova.com.au/global-warming/climategate-30-year-timeline/

      Their continued efforts to “whitewash” deception in government-sponsored scientific studies, purchased with public funds, helped guide us back to the events that united world leaders and leaders of the news media and the scientific community in promoting the big lie in 1946 that effectively reversed major advances that scientists made during previous centuries:

      1543 Copernicus discovered Sol is the center of the Solar System

      http://tinyurl.com/7qx7zxs

      1633 The trial of Galileo Galilei for supporting Copernicus’ views

      http://tinyurl.com/3tn6wz7

      1905 Albert Einstein reported that the energy (E) that powers the Solar System is stored as mass (m);

      E = mc^2

      http://tinyurl.com/8hays

      1945 Paul K. Kuroda [3]: “One day in August 1945, while standing in the ruins of Hiroshima, I became overwhelmed by the power of nuclear energy.

      “The sight before my eyes was just like the end of the world, but I also felt that the beginning of the world may have been just like this.” (page 2)

      Energy (E) spews outward from “Sol as a continuous fountain of heat, light, particles and electrical, magnetic and gravitational fields that engulf the planets and move on out into interstellar space.

      Life is sustained and Earth’s climate is controlled by the energy that pours from the Sun and bathes the planets.

      The big lie of 1946 misrepresented that source of energy and the mass (m that is converted into energy (E) in the cores of the Sun and other stars.

      The big lie of 1946 was supported by leaders powerful enough to alter textbooks and make readers believe that the Payne [1] and Russell [2] proposed the model of H-filled stars in the 1920s. The abrupt U-turn in astronomy and astrophysics was hidden.

      1946 Fred Hoyle [4,5]: The interior of the Sun and the other stars consist mostly of hydrogen (H), just like the solar atmosphere [1,2].

      http://omanuel.wordpress.com/about/#comment-98

      References:

      [1] C. H. Payne, “Stellar Atmospheres” (Harvard Observatory Monograph #1, Cambridge, MA, USA) pp. 177-189 (1925)

      [2] H. N. Russell, “‘On the composition of the Sun’s atmosphere,” Ap. J. 70, 11-82 (1929)

      [3] P. K. Kuroda, “The Origin of the Chemical Elements and the Oklo Phenomenon” (Springer Publishers, 1982),165 pages.

      [4] Fred Hoyle, “The chemical composition of the stars,” Monthly Notices Royal Astronomical Society 106, 255-59 (1946)

      [5] Fred Hoyle, “The synthesis of the elements from hydrogen,” Monthly Notices Royal Astronomical Society 106, 343-83 (1946)

      With kind regards,
      Oliver K. Manuel
      Former NASA Principal
      Investigator for Apollo
      http://www.omatumr.com
      http://omanuel.wordpress.com/about/

  2. Dr. Curry,
    Why doesn’t climate science seem to be working well? Because early on the statement was made that, ” . . the science is settled, the evidence is there that man is warming the planet with CO2. And the more CO2, the more warming . . .”. A lot of climate scientist ( . .and others in the seem sure of this
    Yet that isn’t happening to the extent that prediction, or should I say ‘projections’ have stated would. Even though a lot of climate scientists are sure

    The statement about halfway down the essay is key to me:

    “Scientific ideas are credible not because they are sure, but because they are the ones that have survived all the possible past critiques, and they are the most credible because they were put on the table for everybody’s criticism.

    The ‘climategate’ e-mails showed the ‘tribalism’ behind maintaining this belief in CO2, trying to supress ‘critiques’. The CO2 theory HAS NOT survived all possible critiques (ocean cycles, solar affects, etc.).

    • ” the science is settled, the evidence is there that man is warming the planet with CO2. And the more CO2, the more warming”

      Both those things are settled science. Settled science doesn’t mean certainty.

      Science settles like dust settles. While winds of controversy rage, the dust does not settle. When the controversy dies down and a consensus forms the science is now settled. That doesn’t mean it won’t become unsettled again if the controversy should stir up again and break the consensus.

      On the subject of how much of the recent warming is due to human activity, the IPCC reports use terms such as “likely” and “very likely”. They don’t describe it as “certain”.

    • Settled science doesn’t mean certainty.

      This.

      It’s ironic, because to me it’s not the mainstream climate science community but the (insert politically-correct descriptor here) community that is insisting on CERTAINTY before we do anything at all to reduce GHG emissions.

      So if science is not about certainty… one wonders what, exactly, the foofaraw might be all about.

    • This.

      Makes.

      No sense.

    • David Wojick

      You really don’t understand, do you Lol? The controversy has not died down, if anything it is raging higher than ever. Your preposterous claim to the contrary is precisely the problem; it defiles science. This claim that there is no controversy is the only thing wrong with climate science today, but it is a deep wrong, one that affects every aspect of the field.

      This is what politicization means, that the normal customs of scientific modesty and curiosity have been discarded, in favor of false claims of knowledge.

    • Controversy in the field is what matters, not on the blogs.

      For example there might be controversy in sky dragon circles about the greenhouse effect. But in the field of climate science the greenhouse effect is very much settled science.

    • Rob Starkey

      lolwot
      But you know that is NOT the issue. The issue is how much and how fast it might warm, and then what will happen to conditions that impact the lives of humans as a result. Those are unknowns and policy makers are unlikely to implement massive change in behavior without those questions answered.

    • David Wojick

      There is plenty of controversy in the field. Your refusal to acknowledge it is the problem. For that matter, some of those who question the greenhouse theory do so in the scientific literature. You just define the field as those who agree with you. This is what politicization means.

    • Look at the examples Martin C gave: “” the science is settled, the evidence is there that man is warming the planet with CO2. And the more CO2, the more warming””

      The science is settled on both those matters. I never claimed the science was settled on all matters ever. Obviously the science isn’t settled on how much warming there will be for example – just look at the different IPCC projections and the uncertainty ranges to see that the amount of warming isn’t settled.

      On the otherhand though what is all this talk as if science is never settled? The greenhouse effect isn’t settled science? really?

      The only papers challenging the greenhouse effect are going to journals that don’t matter. It’s a fringe thing. It’s not a controversy in the field. There are no debates on whether the greenhouse effect exists at conferences (well maybe the heartland one…)

      If I had to accept the greenhouse effect isn’t settled science because G&T get published into E&E (it wasn’t, just an example) then Id have to accept the Earth orbiting the Sun wasn’t settled science if someone managed to get a paper promoting a return to the sun centered model into some journal somewhere.

      There are limits guys, science isn’t some liberal open minded free for all.

    • Rob Starkey

      lolwot- Picture yourself as the ruler of a nation whose people want more electricity and more personal transportation as quickly as they can. Do you prevent the citizens of your nation from getting access to these things based on the evidence on CO2 available today? You don’t know if your nation will be harmed or benefit, but you know your people will not like not having electricity or transportation.

    • Rob Starkey @ 4.46 re policy makers: except in Australia, where CAGW-related policy gets worse and worse, costs get ever higher – including sovereign risk for the overseas financiers on which our economy depends.

    • Rob Starkey

      Faustino– I agree that Australia has implemented tax policies, but the question is how effective have those policies been in attaining the goal of reduced CO2 emissions–answer not very. They did increase government revenues however

    • There is controversy in the field. More significantly the term “consensus” is meaningless scientifically other than as a sociological assertion about scientists. It merely means that scientists, like the rest of humanity, are inherently conservative of energy (lazy) and will settle for what they perceive as a convincing, authoritative view of how a phenomenon behaves. Look to the history of geology and the long time during which geologists actively ignored the inconsistencies of the dominant theory, rather than actively search for a better one. Science is an ideal of behaviour and knowledge testing. Scientists are human beings and frequently do not actively pursue the ideal.

    • Settled science doesn’t mean certainty.

      … in the Twilight Zone.

    • Lolwot, the issue (as Rob S.) says further down is the EXTENT of warming that CO2 causes, regardless of whether it is ‘certain’ or ‘likely’.

      THAT is the area that HAS NOT stood up to the criticism. Hansen’s projection of increase temperature against the expected CO2 has not occurred. Global temps over the last dozen or so years are basically flat ( . . and no, you don’t need to put a woodfortrees plot along with a trend line from, say, 1970 to the present, and point to the trend line to say that global warming hasn’t stopped . . ). Sea level rise isn’t accelerating, and appears to be slowing down.

      The other theories of solar cycles, ocean currents, even cosmic dust, having an affect other either clouds, or the jet stream location, or global circulation patterns, etc. are ideas, of which some appear to have some historical evidence behind. Now those theories also needs to stand all the critiques and the test of time. Let’s let the time element work on them, as it has since 1988 and Hansens’ temperature predictions/projections (take your pick which term you like) , which HAS NOT occurred.

    • Rob Starkey

      and we do not have any reliable information about what will happen to various parts of the world as a result of it becoming warmer. We do not know what nations will be harmed or when (as well as who will benefit and how much)

    • If increasing CO2 by 300 ppm causes catastrophic warming of a few degrees, what will would happen if we increased CO2 to > 2000 ppm?

      Cause another ice age?
      See: Ice Age At 2000+ PPM CO2 when there was an ice age 450 million years ago with > 2000 ppm CO2.

    • Martin C: “the issue (as Rob S.) says further down is the EXTENT of warming that CO2 causes”

      So why did you start by quoting: ” . . the science is settled, the evidence is there that man is warming the planet with CO2. And the more CO2, the more warming . . .”?

      If that’s NOT the issue as you are all now claiming, why did you raise it as an issue? If the actual issue is the EXTENT of warming why did you focus on those other topics?

      I agree the EXTENT of warming isn’t settled science, but climate scientists would be the first ones to agree with that. Check out the IPCC reports, the extent of warming is not presented as settled science.

      Even the cause of the warming since 1950 isn’t presented as settled. The IPCC use the term “very likely”: ““Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.””

    • Martin Clauss

      Lolwot, you are a piece of work – as (if I recall correctly) , Chief Hydrologist once said, you are numb nut . You love to take a statement made and twist it.

      I commented that climate science wasn’t working because the statement was made that ” . . the science was settled, the evidence was there, that man is warming the planet with CO2 . . ” . And although I didn’t state it, the reports were talking about MAJOR warming, as in the 3-6 degrees C (ok, I could have stated that, but to me it went without
      saying, because of what Hansen, Gore, Romm, and other still say today).

      I did not make the claim that the science is settled, and I DO NOT AGREE WITH IT. But you are trying to make it sound like I did.

      I then (obviously to most of readers here . . ) brought up that the TEMP RECORDS aren’t showing the warming that the ‘alarmists’ want us to believe is going to occur, and the EXTENT of warming by CO2 is the issue. Which now you agree ( . . is it amazing we agree on this . .). And that other factors, other than CO2, might be the actual cause of the warming, and the recent hiatus in warming, the topics you mentioned that I brought up, in the following reply I made.

      So you can now respond again to this if you like, and spin the words again from one or both comments I made, if it makes you feel better . . .

    • Spinning so fast the old bean’s done been wrung out.
      ================

    • ”. And although I didn’t state it, the reports were talking about MAJOR warming, as in the 3-6 degrees C (ok, I could have stated that, but to me it went without
      saying, because of what Hansen, Gore, Romm, and other still say today).”

      Unfortunately it doesn’t go without saying. There are so many commenters on this blog claiming 0C per doubling of CO2 and so many other ludicrous things that you really do have to be careful how you word things.

    • “since 1988 and Hansens’ temperature predictions/projections (take your pick which term you like) , which HAS NOT occurred.”

      As skepticalscience notes:
      “Although Hansen’s projected global temperature increase has been higher than the actual global warming, this is because his climate model used a high climate sensitivity parameter. Had he used the currently accepted value of approximately 3°C warming for a doubling of atmospheric CO2, Hansen would have correctly projected the ensuing global warming.”
      http://www.skepticalscience.com/Hansen-1988-prediction-advanced.htm

      The warming in other words is compatible with Hansen’s 1988 scenario and a climate sensitivity of 3C, so it’s not true that temperature records “aren’t showing the warming”

    • “There are so many commenters on this blog claiming 0C per doubling of CO2 and so many other ludicrous things that you really do have to be careful how you word things.”

      And some actually talk about cooling. A James Taylor from the Haertland Institute was on a radio program the other day and the talk show host said that cloud feedback will lead to a net cooling, and Taylor did not disagree. Heartland and most skepticism we see here is not about science but about pitching an agenda.

    • Curious George

      Would you say that the “scientific” foundation of Hitler’s Third Reich (they proved scientifically, that the German race was superior) was a settled science in 1943?

    • Rob Starkey

      Yet another in a long list of stupid Webby comments-

      “most skepticism we see here is not about science but about pitching an agenda.”

      Most huh Web?

  3. Wow! This is an amazing essay by Rovelli, and certainly gets to the heart of many of the issues that I find of enormous personal interest. There is much here to digest and some quite profound thinking, far beyond the topic of climate. I think there are things hinted at in this essay that get to very core of not just what science is all about, but the process of being a conscious intelligent creature trying to create a model for “reality”, that is as true as possible. These models or maps are never exact duplications of reality, nor can they be, but they can have various levels of usefulness, The fact that we can send humans to the moon, or land a spacecraft on an asteroid, and yet have an incomplete picture of what gravity actually is, testifies as to the usefulness of models. The very action of questioning older models and constantly finding new (and more useful) models is certainly key to human progress and the heart of science…it is should be unending, as the map will never be the territory.

  4. “First, science is about constructing visions of the world, about rearranging our conceptual structure, about creating new concepts which were not there before, and even more, about changing, challenging the a-priori that we have. ”

    Which is precisely what the establishment climate scientists refuse to do. Since the data is not supporting the CAGW hypothesis, it’s time to “rearrange our conceptual structure.” Co2 is the a-priori. It’s not working. The appalling failure to consider the sun as the major driver in “climate change” is breathtaking in its arrogance. The science “doesn’t seem to be working well” Dr, C, precisely because of the politicization you mention. Simple as a pimple, though I’ll be damned if I know the solution.

    • “The appalling failure to consider the sun as the major driver in “climate change” is breathtaking in its arrogance.”

      ______
      This notion that the sun is not considered in the mix of all the forcings that affect climate gets tiresome. It is simply not true as solar forcing on multiple levels is part of every major climate model. Why do you perpetuate this nonsense?

    • “Considered in the mix” is the kind of weasel phrase I’ve come to expect from you folks. You know damn well the sun’s role in climate has been consistently minimized in favor of Co2. Ready or not, that will soon come to an end with the current inactive sun and all that implies for a cooling planet.

    • just plain wrong.

    • Still looking for a believer convinced enough to take a wager. 3 year time span. I’ll take it gets cooler. You can take it gets warmer. Any amount you like up to 2K. If you’d rather, the spoils will go the charity of the winner’s choice. Just say the word.

    • a 3 yr time span is nothing but noise.

      If you think that will say anything about climate trends, you know even less than I gave you credit for.

    • Problem is, even a 30-year time span is nothing but noise.

    • “You know damn well the sun’s role in climate has been consistently minimized in favor of Co2″

      So what’s the evidence that is being suppressed? The IPCC report covers TSI, cosmic rays and sunspots.

      What’s your evidence that the Sun has a larger role?

    • Where is the 2K pokerguy is offering to bet. Who’s holding that money? Would he be under any legal obligation to pay if he lost?

    • The first rule about Max is he’s not OK to talk to.
      ===================

    • Hi Krazy Kim

      How’s the poetry going?

    • I can hear U,
      Sure as I can read.
      But I don’t listen U,
      Out, offended eyes, out.
      ==============

    • Good Grief ! Why did I have to ask ?

  5. I’ve always thought the scientific method was at its heart a clever way of removing human bias from observation. If at any time a scientist ‘sexes up’ the data or even a graph, not only are they doing it wrong in the deepest sense, but they are killing the magic that makes it work. It leaves us nothing better to go on than consensus, which is probably the most harmful form of bias.

    • “I’ve always thought the scientific method was at its heart a clever way of removing human bias from observation. ”
      If using double blind experiments. But normally it’s to check bias- so
      one person can’t do this, hence peer review. But of course the peers can have a similar bias.

  6. The slow progress of climate science on certain questions comes down to the scarcity of data rather than anything climate scientists are doing wrong with method in my opinion.

    In that regard climate science is more like paleontology where the barrier to certain questions is the data, rather than quantum gravity where the barrier is the theory (I gather).

    In terms of method climate scientists seem to be doing it sufficiently, trying to explain and model the system to match underlying data that is both missing in areas or contains substantial uncertainties, doing the best they can in the situation, an uphill battle.

    If we had pinpoint accurate OHC, albedo and aerosol forcing data for the 20th century certain questions would be a lot easier. As it is the progress is slower. Even the modern observation systems have problems and holes that throw up barriers. This was Trenberth’s “travesty”. In any case with more and more data from modern systems coming in eventually there will be answers to some questions, it will just take time. Paleodata will however always be incomplete and that situation will be like paleontology a lot more in that certain past events might forever be unresolved.

    • lolwot – well, I agree on quantum gravity, at least.

      However, if the problem is the data and not the theory (I think it’s both) then climate science would also be similar to anthropology, where the general course of the human story can radically change every time a new (bit of a) skeleton is dug up, or a new technique (historical DNA evidence) is used.

      I can’t see that climate theory as viewed from the point of an AGW believer has changed much in a generation. This is enough to cause suspicion.

      Also one would expect debates and revisionism within the AGW community, along the lines of “We’re Out of Africa” vs. “Candlestick evolutionary paths”. Where are the passionate divisions?

      In paleontology, likewise, “punctuated equilibrium” vs. “Gradual evolution”.

      Little change, little debate, same hymnsheet, numbing consensus. It doesn’t even sound like solid science, which is so brilliantly captured by Rovelli.

    • Cui, all valid insights nicely expressed.

    • You are talking about distant events where the data is even more scarce. Such parallels of debate and revisionism abound in climate science. Eg:
      http://geology.gsapubs.org/content/40/6/531.abstract

      “In paleontology, likewise, “punctuated equilibrium” vs. “Gradual evolution”.”

      but how long did gradual evolution dominate the field and how long will punctuated equilibrium? How many such large paradigm shifts would you have expected to happen in the last 40 years in climate science?

      I would say a big paradigm change in climate related science did happen quite recently. It wasn’t until the last few decades that human activity became recognized as a significant cause of climate change. The consensus 80 years ago would have been that climate only changed by natural forces.

    • lolwot –

      That paradigm shift is less in climate science than in all of modern Western thought – we are now to blame for everything bad that happens, whereas 50 years ago we weren’t..

      On debates, where do I find the intellectual altercations on simple AGW questions such as
      (1) where’s the missing hotspot?
      (2) why is CO2 heating one hemisphere faster than the other?
      (3) why is the 1920/30s warming natural whereas the 80s/90s warming is down to us?

      “shut up”, they explain.

    • “shut up”

      What garbage.

      So you’ve been through all the journals and there is nothing on the differences between the hemispheres? Nothing??

    • I second what Michael says.

      Where are you told to “shut up”? The fact is that skeptics don’t go very deep into the arguments on those subjects. They only go in so far as to claim a discrepancy and “AGW is disproved” and then they shut down to any kinds of criticism.

      For example skeptics will often claim the hotspot is a signature of greenhouse warming, but that’s wrong. There has been plenty of detailed discussion of what the hotspot means for AGW over the years, skeptics have simply avoided it:
      http://chriscolose.wordpress.com/2008/12/20/skepticsdenialists-part-2-hotspots-and-repetition/

    • David Wojick

      I disagree. The slow progress is due almost entirely to an entrenched paradigm (CAGW) that refuses to seriously consider alternative hypotheses. The questions that are being asked are not even the right questions, because they are formulated within CAGW. They start with CO2 sensitivity and work backward to what we see, so as to preserve CAGW at all times.

      More data will not change this situation. As Kuhn pointed out 50 years ago, once a paradigm takes hold, contrary data is simply brushed aside as something to be explained later. Your “…eventually there will be answers to some questions, it will just take time” expresses this defensive position perfectly.

    • Creationists would use the same argument you make. An “Entrenched paradigm (Evolution) that refuses to seriously consider alternative hypotheses”. They are wrong in the same way too. Alternative hypotheses ARE considered, but the fact is they have failed to convince experts in the field. The way paradigm shifts work is that a new idea gains traction and spreads through a field. You don’t just throw away everything you know and start again just because you think there’s no progress being made.

      As Carlo Rovelli puts it in the Edge article:
      “Every physicist today is immediately ready to say, okay, all of our past knowledge about the world is wrong. Let’s randomly pick some new idea. I suspect that this is not a small component of the long-term lack of success of theoretical physics.”

    • Nobody starts with c02 sensitivity. the phrase doesnt even make sense.

      There is climate sensitivity. That is the system response in C to a forcing in watts. Like, the sun increased by 1 watt, whats the system response in temperature?

      Doubling C02 will produce an additional 3.7Watts. The sensitivity to this is the same as the sensitivity to the sun increasing by 3.7 watts.

      In any case nobody starts with the sensivity to a doubling of C02. That is
      an output of

      1. Observational studies
      2. Paleo studies
      3. climate simulations

    • Steven,

      You make a valid general point about sensitivity, but I wonder about this statement:

      “Doubling C02 will produce an additional 3.7Watts. The sensitivity to this is the same as the sensitivity to the sun increasing by 3.7 watts.”

      Is there an assumption (a certainty?) here that 3.7watts from one forcing equals 3.7 watts of another? That is, if the sun’s output reaching the surface increased by 3.7 watts/m^2, are we to just assume that it would produce exactly the same kind of fast and slow feedbacks that a similar 3.7 watts/m^2 from increased greenhouse forcing would create? Also, what about the time frame involved in each? Suppose that the solar radiation at the TOA increased by 3.7 watts/m^2 over a period of a few years, but that it took two centuries for the greenhouse gases to rise enough to create that kind of forcing? Is the climate then sensitive to not just the source of the forcing, but also how rapid the increases (or decreases happen? It seems to me that complex dynamical systems are sensitive to not just the source of an external forcing, but also the speed at which such a forcing takes place.

    • steven mosher writes “Doubling C02 will produce an additional 3.7Watts. The sensitivity to this is the same as the sensitivity to the sun increasing by 3.7 watts.”

      I have enormous difficulty with this statement, and I dont pretend to understand it. It seems to me that there must be two quite distinctive types of forcings; those that change the lapse rate and those that don t. The bulk of the energy that goes from the earth’s surface to the TOA, where it is radiated into space, does so through conduction, convection and the latent heat of water; i.e the lapse rate. Now Andy Lacis claims that for the radiative forcing caused by increasing CO2 levels in the atmopshere, it is only radiation effects that carry a change of energy to the TOA. And, in fact, in estimating the no-feedback climate sensitivity, it is explicitly assumed that there is “no change ot the structure of the atmosphere”, or as Jim D. put it, it is assumed that the lapse rate does not change.
      I can see no reason whatsoever why a change in solar forcing does not change the lapse rate. In which case, a very small, and completely unknown, change in surface temperature is all that is required to overcome this change in solar forcing. It is only when the lapse rate is assumed not to change, that a large change in surface temperature is required. So, I have two questions for the denizons of Climate Etc. which I hope someone can help me with.

      Are there, in fact, two disticntly different types of forcings, those that affect the lapse rate, and those that do not?

      And if, it has to be assumed that a change in radiative forcing does not affect the lapse rate, where is there a reference in the peer reviewed literature that justifies this assumption? Jim D. seems unable to answer this second question.

    • David,

      your very strong views, divorced from reality, makes one wonder about the degree of objectivity you’ll bring to any ‘educational’ material.

      I suspect that the image of a hobby-horse-riding axe-grinder will leap from the pages.

    • lolwot, nope, it is more like quantum gravity. “All things remaining equal” is a huge assumption. The premise of the AGW effect is that a doubling of CO2 will create an additional resitance to outgoing long wave radiation about the tropopause which while cause 1 to 1.2 C warming at the surface, all things remaining equal. In the tropics at an altitude of 8.4 kilometers and a CO2 concentration of 1600PPM looking up an observer would “see” 113.323Wm-2 of return infrared radiation. Move the observer up to 8.45 kilometers, the observer would “see” 111.815 Wm-2 of return infrared radiation using MODTRAN. A difference of 0.05 kilometers, or 50 meters has an impact of 1.5Wm-2 in the tropics where most of the heat on the planet is transferred. That small change in altitude has nearly a 50% impact on the “all things remaining equal” at a quadrupling of CO2.

      The 33C GHE is based on an assumption at the tropopause, GHGs would regulate the warming/cooling with no clear indication of what that altitude may be. If 50 meters can have a 1.5Wm-2 impact, what would 100 meters or more have on the theory?

  7. Carlo Rovelli is torturing words as much as our sensibilities:

    “The very expression ‘scientifically proven’ is a contradiction in terms. There is nothing that is scientifically proven.”

    I don’t know what he thinks the words “scientifically proven” mean, but they can’t possibly have the meaning in any dictionary I know of. The word “proven” doesn’t mean established as absolutely true, unmodifiably, and beyond any possible question or doubt, now or in the future, for ever after. It means established as correct, valid, true, or genuine.

    Does anybody in their right mind question whether science has proven earth is spheroid rather than flat? It’s safe to say only delusional or completely uninformed people believe the world is flat or that its shape is unknown. And who doubts that our planet turns on its axis as it revolves around the sun other than crackpots and the religiously delusional?

    Rovelli is playing foolishly with words to say that science doesn’t prove facts and hypotheses. While it’s true that all things in science are TENTATIVE — subject to change or correction — it’s absolute nonsense to say “‘scientifically proven’ is a contradiction in terms.” For Rovelli to make such a nonsensical claim, he has to be using his own definition of those words.

    • Steven Mosher

      No, he speaking precisely.
      For example, when we speak of proof in mathematics or logic we talk about certainly true. And we mean that it could not be otherwise. or that its true in all possible worlds, or logically necessary.

      There is no proof in science. Earth is flat, locally for some purposes, round for some purposes, spheroid for other purposes, oblate spheroid for still other purposes. For some purposes I might consider it to be a point. depends on what I want to do.

      When we say it is “proven” in science we mean “Dont waste your time trying to disprove it, because to disprove it you will have to change some fundamental concepts and rewrite a whole bunch of other science”

      So, he is speaking precisely from a certain philosophical perspective about the meaning of “proof” and “true” and “know”

    • I would have expected ridiculous comments from you Steven and as usual you delivered — such as your appointing yourself to speak for everyone in saying, “When we say it is proven in science we mean don’t waste your time trying to prove it, blather blather blah blah blah.”

      Steven, if WE wanted to appoint an idiot to redefine words in science or in common English so nothing makes sense, you would be the OUR first choice.

      However, for people to carry on a meaningful discussion, we need to use words as other people understand them — or at least offer a new definition for the sake of discussion.

      I don’t care if you are a flat-earther, Stephen, our planet is NOT flat anyway you look at it. And it certainly isn’t a “point” by any scientific or mathematical definition.

      As for your statement that “there is no proof in science,” here are a variety of definitions of “proof” that prove you are an idiot:

      – “Evidence or argument establishing or helping to establish a fact or the truth of a statement.”
      .
      – “The validation of a proposition by application of specified rules, as of induction or deduction, to assumptions, axioms, and sequentially derived conclusions.”

      – “A statement or argument used in such a validation.”

      – ” A convincing or persuasive demonstration.”

      – The cogency of evidence that compels acceptance by the mind of a truth or a fact”

      – “The process or an instance of establishing the validity of a statement especially by derivation from other statements in accordance with principles of reasoning.”

      – “Evidence sufficient to establish a thing as true, or to produce belief in its truth.”

      It’s funny how much your claim — that the meaning of words depends on what you “want to do” with them — sounds like Humpty Dumpty’s nonsensical claim to Alice: “When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.” And we all know how cracked Humpty Dumpty was.

    • However, for people to carry on a meaningful discussion, we need to use words as other people understand them — or at least offer a new definition for the sake of discussion.

      Actually, he did offer a definition. Your issue is that you don’t like it.

      As regards proof in science, if you propose that any given science operates on a system of postulates – and climate science does just that in its uses of physical information and theory, or there could be no such thing as a computer model – then that system of postulates is subject to the incompleteness theorems of Kurt Goedel. It quite literally cannot be proven. The sole “proof” available is the empirical content, i.e. how well the models track the instrument record. That remains “proof” until the instrument record wanders away. Then human issues intrude: does one reparameterize the model, argue with the data, fudge the data through adjustments to better match the models, or most difficult and true to the scientific ideal, rethink from first principles and try to see where the logic missed the switch and wound up on a siding. Not doing so may well mean that one may end up on that same shelf of theoretical dead ends with phlogistics and the geosynclinal theory of orogeny.

    • They said it was so flat there that a man on horseback riding west was still visible the next day.

  8. Let’s look at the issue of honesty in science. The medieval warm period (WMP) existed in the IPCC’s 1990 report. However, in its 2001 report the IPCC wiped the WMP from the graph. Instead, they printed Mann’s `hockey stick’ graph (depicting an absolute flat level of average global temperature until the last 60 years) knowing full well that it was wholly erroneous. Moreover, the IPCC showcased Mann’s graph and reproduced it over and over again, even after Mann’s graph had been thoroughly debunked. It is obvious that the IPCC deals only in the politics of fear and from the beginning was never driven by truth and honesty.

    It is obvious that the concept of an ‘average global temperature’ has never had more than a political meaning. The simple fact of the matter is that global warming alarmism is based on an ideologically-driven agenda supported by lies, damn lies, and statistics.

    Climate Change was NOT an Ideologically-Driven Agenda for Charles Dickens http://wp.me/p27eOk-or

    • Let’s look at the issue of honesty in posting here at Climate, etc. The Hockey Stick in the 2001 IPCC does not depict as you say “an absolute flat level of average global temperature until the last 60 years” Anyone can look at the graph and tell the MWP has higher temperatures than the Centuries immediately following it (see link to IPCC report).

      http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/tar/vol4/english/075.htm

    • Also, the Hockey Stick graph is for the Northern Hemisphere.

    • The MWP and the LIA were worldwide.

    • bob droege

      The MWP was not worldwide in the 1990 IPCC report.

    • But, what happened 800 to 1300 A.D.?

      The historical evidence — Vikings settling in Greenland, growing grapes in England and all of the other evidence showing the MWP in the Northern Hemisphere is old news but now we can add to that more recently found indications of a South American “MWP.” Bald assertions that the MWP was not worldwide sounds more like the typical “Gore game” global warmist denial of common sense conclusions that are easily drawn from unimpeached evidence to the contrary.

      Of course, CRU admitted to losing the raw data that would have directly addressed this issue. The degree of warming and climatic influence the MWP varied from region to region and, hence, its consequences were manifested in several ways. But that it occurred and was a global phenomenon is certain; there are literally hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific articles that bear witness to this truth. (Climate Change Reconsidered)

    • Wagathon, I’ll quote your dishonest statement again.

      “However, in its 2001 report the IPCC wiped the WMP from the graph. Instead, they printed Mann’s `hockey stick’ graph (depicting an absolute flat level of average global temperature until the last 60 years)” knowing full well that it was wholly erroneous. ”

      As any sighted person can see in the following link to the 2001 report, the graph of Mann’s Hokey stick does not as you claim depict an “absolute flat level of average global temperature until the last 60 years.”

      http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/tar/vol4/english/075.htm

      I can only speculate as to why you would make a false statement about the graph, but some possibilities are:

      1. You repeated a falsehood made by a source you trust, without actually looking at the graph.

      2. You are puzzled by graphs and misinterpret them.

      3. You knew you were wrong, but hoped no one would notice.

      4. You knew you were wrong, and hoped someone would notice, because you seek negative attention.

    • It’s still OK with Leftists because it’s all they have but Ad hom attacks don’t work anymore in the company of those with a brain or a conscience. All we are asking is give honesty a chance — that is the only change needed as far as climate science is concerned.

      Carpetbaggers Usurp Our Blood, Sweat and Sacrifice

  9. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/scientific-underdetermination/

    This is a pretty nice introduction to the limits of both data and theory, why there are no critical tests or obvious falsifications, and so forth.

    • Dr. Curry, you said “I have an (unformulated) sense that we are missing something in the way we are approaching this very complex scientific problem.”

      Within the philosophy of underdetermination, there are some people who think the typical state of science is one where “unconceived alternatives” are important, and this connects to what your physicist says above. P. K. Stanford (2006) says: “[W]e have, throughout the history of scientific inquiry and in virtually every scientific field, repeatedly occupied an epistemic position in which we could conceive of only one or a few theories that were well confirmed by the available evidence, while subsequent inquiry would routinely (if not invariably) reveal further, radically distinct alternatives as well confirmed by the previously available evidence as those we were inclined to accept on the strength of that evidence…”

      You might want to check out P. K. Stanford:

      http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/Philosophy/Science/?view=usa&ci=9780195174083

    • NW thanks for this reference

  10. Yes. This is the problem with Climate Science. It claims certainty where there isn’t any.

    Andrew

    • “According to a peer-reviewed paper Hansen has submitted to a leading scientific journal and made available to Time.com prior to publication, scientists can now state “with a high degree of confidence” that some extremely high temperatures are *in fact* caused by global warming”

      http://ecocentric.blogs.time.com/2012/05/10/global-warming-an-exclusive-look-at-james-hansens-scary-new-math/

      Andrew

    • The words, ‘jumping’ and ‘shark’ come to mind.

    • “high degree of confidence” = “certainty?”

    • “in fact”

      Read more carefully.

      Andrew

    • but only with a high degree of confidence. ie not certainty. certainty is total confidence.

    • Well, “high degree of confidence” were Hansen’s words. “In fact” were the TIME writer’s words. But if I say that I am confident that the Celtics will, in fact, win tonight, I’m not expressing certainty just because I used the word “fact.” It’s just an idiomatic way of adding emphasis.

      Get it, Reading Comprehension Man?

    • What you say make no sense.

    • Yes people throw around “in fact” whenever they feel uncertain and want to highlight it.

    • You entertain no doubt about a Celtics victory because of a willing suspension of disbelief. High degree of clarity there and that’s a fact.

    • willard -

      What you say makes no sense

      To?

      :)

    • Steven Mosher

      he technically didnt say anything willard.

    • Anteros,

      I did not meant my comment to be taken litterally. You could try to parse it using online dictionaries, but it would be a futile exercises. It must be taken into the context of the ongoing audit at Judy’s and with the fact that it was in response to PDA’s comment.

      In a nutshell, I was referring to the Chewbacca Defense described by WebHubTelescope there:

      http://judithcurry.com/2012/05/26/doubt-has-been-eliminated/#comment-204076

      “This makes no sense” is a comment argument by commenters with a litteralist bent who lack both charity and sportsmanship.

      In the present case, what I meant was that the only thing left against PDA’s argument is that it makes no sense.

      Resorting to litteral meaning makes for trivial wins. Just take any claim and try to understand it by parsing the words through online dictionaries. It’s impossible to miss a state where the comment makes no sense anymore.

      That’s what I meant by “parsomatic” at Keith’s on a other thread we both know:

      http://www.collide-a-scape.com/2012/05/22/have-you-had-enough-spin-yet/#comment-110339

      Common knowledge is quite useful to communicate. Among useful knowlege there are pragmatic bits, e.g. context. Living without access to pragmatic is no fun. If you have any experience dealing with people on the autistic specter, you should know what I mean.

      Strictly speaking, this is what “this makes no sense” meant.

    • I think this is also related to absurd reductionism or reductio ad absurdum, but as Willard says, instead of concentrating on the really salient important features (where it is a useful strategy), the debater is focusing on some cheap linguistic or grammar point of absolutely no consequence (ala BS), or deliberately tilted to seem preposterous, as in the Chewbacca Defense (“it makes no sense!”).

      When BS calls out “it makes no sense” repeatedly, I thought he was punking us by being too obvious.

    • WebHubTelescope,

      I dare you understand what I’m saying!

    • High degree of confidence = a percentage. “We are greater than 95% confident that x will happen…” Meaning they feel there is a 5% chance x will not happen.

      Certainty = 100% confident. No room for error or uncertainty.

    • “Doctors say that Nordberg has a 50/50 chance of living, though there’s only a 10 percent chance of that.”

      Why do I feel with a high degree of confidence that Climate Science is more than 95% likely, in fact, a joke?

      Andrew

    • because you’d never let the fact get in the way of your prejudices.

    • Let’s do a Climate Etc poll…

      How correct do you think your feeling that the brilliantly subtle “highly confident but not certain” message of Climate Science has been conveyed to and understood correctly by the public?

      A. Metaphysically Positive
      B. Very
      C. Somewhat
      D. Not at all
      E.. Uncertain

      Andrew

  11. You pays your money and you takes your chances.
    ===================

  12. Reblogged this on evilincandescentbulb and commented:
    The evidence must of course be empirical, meaning that it is independent of theory.

    Typical Alarmist Offerings of “Evidence” Polar Bears, Glaciers, Arctic Melt, Antarctic Ice Shelves, Storms, Droughts, Fires, Malaria, Snow Melt on Mt Kilimanjaro, Rising Sea Levels, Ocean Warming, Urban Heat Island Effect

    Although each of these issues may say something about whether or not global warming is or was occurring, none of them say anything about the causes of global warming. It would make no difference to these issues if the recent global warming was caused by CO2 or by aliens heating the planet with ray guns.

    The IPCC Said So.

    (Dr. David Evans, There is No Evidence, July 6, 2009)

    How Many Scientists Does It Take to Expose a Hoax? http://wp.me/p27eOk-ni

  13. Dr. Curry write “Some of you have little patience for this type of post, and are hard core empiricists (‘show us the data’). But making progress on any scientific issue (especially one as complex as climate change) requires much more than data, and I hope that Rovelli’s essay provokes you to think more broadly about this topic.”

    To the charge of being an empiricist, I plead Guilty as charged on all counts. Of course science is about much more than data, but the data is, as I call it, the Supreme Court of Physics. The rock bottom foundation of any study in physics is the data. I heard a talk on the radio about the search for the Higgs boson. The world has spent something like $30 billion building the technology to find this illusive particle. I heard a description of the camera that has been built. It measures 100 megapixel 3D pictures at some astronomical speed. And why? Because without the data provided by all this hardware we cannot know for sure whether the Higgs boson exists.

    You are absolutely correct that climate science has lost it’s way. But it is not because of the reasons outlined in Rovelli’s essay. It is because, as others have note, it started with the idea that the science was settled. It ignored every other idea of what might influence climate, and concentrated solely on the idea that adding CO2 to the astmosphere would cause catastrophic anthropogenic global warming. Until climate science ‘fesses up to the fact that the sun is the most likely cause of all climate change, there is little hope that it will make much progress.

    Unfortunately, organizations, led by the Royal Society and the Amercian Physical Society, lined up at the feeding trough to rake in the billions of dollars that our governments have, so very inadvisedly, poured into the search for CAGW. So now it is extremely difficult for climate science to return to what ought to be it’s proper scientific roots without some Very Important People finishing up with egg all over their faces.

    So, until climate science bites the bullet, and acknowledges where it has gone so grievously wrong, billions more dollars are going to be wasted. It is going to be very painful for someone to be the first to note where climate science has gone so badly wrong. But navel gazing at essays like this one of Rovelli’s, I am afraid, is not going to help

    • “the fact that the sun is the most likely cause of all climate change”

      Based on what?

    • Something that has been happening on Earth for billions of years is by definition, reality. And we have a word of it: Nature.

      For the last couple of decades, a relatively few number of Western scientists have created a fictional world based on global climate models (GCMs) that defy reality. They call it the greenhouse effect that they claim is the physical basis for their claim that CO2 emissions are causing the climate to change.

      Global Warming Vaporware and the Perpetual Motion Machine http://wp.me/p27eOk-nL

    • I would say, what is important is to know what causing cooling.
      And in that respect it seems the sun output [which includes changes in it's magnetic] seems like it could be a main cause.

    • it seems the sun output [which includes changes in it's magnetic] seems like it could be a main cause.

      Well, that seems certainly like it seems to be an interesting question. I wonder why no one has ever looked into that.

      Oh… wait http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/ccr/publications/meehl_additivity.pdf

      And http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/6/4/044022

      And, gee wow http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.167.2337&rep=rep1&type=pdf

      But wait, wait: what about UV? Oh http://individual.utoronto.ca/ekwan/ozone.pdf

      Hang on, now, hang on… gbaikie talked about magnetism, what about THAT? Oh um http://www.eiscat.rl.ac.uk/Members/mike/publications/pdfs/2001/196_Lockwood_2000JA000115.pdf

      Yes. The Global Warming Mafia has blocked all research into the Sun’s effect on the Earth’s climate. Except for, you know, all the research into the Sun’s effect on the Earth’s climate.

    • lolwot, you write “Based on what?”

      Based on two things.

      1. There is no sign of any CO2 signature in any modern temperature/time graph. With CO2 concentrations rising at unprecedented rates, according to the IPCC, one would expect by this time to see some sort of CO2 signature. It is not there.

      2. Something causes climate change; it has been going on for millions of years. Evidence, like that presented by Henrik Svensmark, suggests that the sun makes a major contribution to these changes.

      So, if there is no sign that adding CO2 to the atmosphere causes any sort of change in global temperatures, and changes have been going on for a long time, the most likely cause is the sun.

    • So your argument is basically that you don’t think it’s CO2 so therefore you automatically think it’s the Sun.

      Well I disagree with your claim that it’s not CO2. The warming of the past 50 years is compatible with CO2 warming. I don’t see any discrepancy. What CO2 signature are you talking about? Ie what would you expect to see that you don’t see?

      Note that of solar and CO2, CO2 by far fits the recent warming better:
      http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/mean:120/plot/sidc-ssn/normalise/mean:132/from:1850/plot/esrl-co2/normalise

      http://img26.imageshack.us/img26/3046/temperaturevssolaractiv.png

    • Jim Cripwell sais:

      “With CO2 concentrations rising at unprecedented rates, according to the IPCC, one would expect by this time to see some sort of CO2 signature. It is not there.”

      The signature of CO2 rising at unprecedented rates is the equivalent cumulative increase of anthropogenic carbon emissions, minus the fraction of atmospheric CO2 being sequestered.

      That is a signature that matches close to the theory: The concise mathematical representation of this increase is the emission curve convolved with the adjustment time impulse response curve.

    • Sorry, Jim. A lot of people plead guilty to things there’s no case for.

      I believe the judge would let you walk on the charge of empiricism without entertaining a plea.

  14. Certainty is tested by repeatability, that is what mathematics, physics and chemistry do. Climate science is based on data, good or bad, it is the interpretation which is assigned to the data which creates controversy.
    - were scientists correct to warn of global cooling in 1960s?
    - are scientists correct to warn of global warming in 2000s?
    Answer to both questions has to be YES!
    Here I show how rise in the CO2 concentration has averted possible global cooling approaching 1C since 1940s, and at the same time calculate the climate sensitivity to around 3C for doubling of CO2, and all of it is contained in the data from NOAA.
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/00f.htm

    • Repeatability only increases the probability, but certainty is to be avoided because it creates a false goal. Wouldn’t that be the lesson? You can measure the probability of something by the repeatability, and you can approach certainty (100% probability) but never reach it…maybe getting to 99.999%, but never 100%?

      But as to your issue about the cooling in the 1940′s. Certainly there may have been some natural cooling, but what about the large increase in anthropogenic aerosols that occurred? It is a very valid question to wonder how much more cooling there would have been without the CO2 increases, but then, the anthropogenic aerosols would not have increased the way they did without the CO2 increases, right?

      At least we both seem to be focused on the probability being better than 50% that the climate sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 is around 3C. We may have arrived at this number from different paths, which is all the better.

    • Hi Gates
      For someone well versed in the matters of the climate science, possible susceptibility to the ‘confirmation bias’ ?

    • Always must guard against that. Constantly looking for anything that can disprove your hypothesis. I think that is the key.

    • Good luck, hope you do find something conflicting in the assumptions made or contrary to the basic laws of physics. Why not have a go, the N. pole’s magnetic data you can get from
      http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/geomag-web/#igrfwmm
      I estimated CO2 factor but you could calculate a more accurate value.
      Let me know how you get on.

  15. We do have a huge amount of good data. Most or Much of it is accepted by many or most on the different sides of this huge debate. We do need to look at all the Theories that we can find and compare the Theories with the data to see which, if any do meet with common sense.

    • David Wojick

      I disagree. There is almost no generally accepted data, because most of it is “theory laden” as it is called in philosophy of science. Much, perhaps most, of the debate is about data.

    • We have lots and lots and lots of surface temperature data, but only going back a century and some. That’s like saying that there is lots of salt in the ocean, but it’s not of much help if you want some on your eggs at the top of Mt. Everest.

    • We have not really tried to measure global temperature.
      The data is mostly from weather stations which were not intended to measure global temperature.
      Exceptions being recent with satellites and Argo buoys.
      But wouldn’t say with the buoys and satellites we have are a complete or comprehensive way of doing it, but rather it’s step in right direction.

    • Steven Mosher

      All data in all science is theory laden

    • John Carpenter

      “We do need to look at all the Theories that we can find and compare the Theories with the data to see which, if any do meet with common sense.”

      Personally, I don’t think we find theories. But it’s an interesting philosophical question… are the theories there and we haven’t uncovered them? Similar to the idea of a sculpture existing inside a block of marble but not chiseled out? No… the theory, like the sculpture, has to be imagined and then hammered out. They are not sitting somewhere waiting to be ‘found’.

      Also, I am also not sure if a theory needs to meet with common sense, that idea would put a real kabosh on quantum mechanics… wouldn’t it? If we limit ourselves to only meeting the requirement of ‘common sense’ to evaluate a theory, wouldn’t that unnecessarily constrain the theory? Of course it would.

  16. Judith, imo; really is missing the point.

    She writes that she is “struggling to understand why climate science doesn’t seem to me to be working so well” and “I sense that we are missing something in the way we are approaching this very complex scientific problem”. Judith, can you please define what you mean by climate science working well vs. not working well?

    Judith- Science is working, but perhaps not on the timeframe that you and some others believe that it should.

    There is a group that believes that their theory justifies that the world should be fearful of more atmospheric CO2 and should immediately stop emissions. When examined closely, this theory does not seem to convince the majority of policy makers that there is enough justification to warrant the increased costs for their nation to take the actions necessary to change their behavior regarding CO2 emissions.

    The issue is that there is vast scientific uncertainty regarding whether there is a problem that warrants the actions necessary to vastly decrease CO2 emissions worldwide. I really do not understand Judith’s confusion.

    Do we understand how much the planet will actually warm and when as a result of more CO2? NO

    Do we understand what the net impact of additional atmospheric CO2 will be to the environment in different nations and when? NO

    Do policy makers understand what impact their potential actions will have on the climate if implemented? NO

    Is there any other area of science where the leaders of 200 independent nations are being told by a small group of scientists, who are disagreed with by other scientists; that they should modify their nation’s behaviors of the last hundred plus years? Isn’t it the normal scientific process to identify a problem and then to evaluate the alternate solutions and then to determine the most efficient path? Has this been done regarding climate science? NO

    • David Wojick

      Rob, are you not aware that a lot of scientists and policy maker will answer YES to all of your questions? That is the source of the confusion. You may not be confused but the situation certainly is. The hive is confused.

    • Rob Starkey

      David- many policy makers will answer yes to those questions, but not enough of the right ones to actually impact CO2 emissions to any significant amount. Is there any nation that has dramatically reduced their CO2 emissions? The US certainly has not and will not in the near future.

    • “Is there any nation that has dramatically reduced their CO2 emissions? The US certainly has not and will not in the near future.”

      I would guess, France.
      “Nuclear power is the primary source of electric power in France. In 2004, 425.8 TWh out of the country’s total production of 540.6 TWh of electricity was from nuclear power (78.8%), the highest percentage in the world.”

      But it’s because they ran out of coal. No other reason.

  17. Asking the right question before you determine the answer is what I think is key. The right question is: why am I wrong?

  18. Rovelli gives an excellent thought provoking perspective on understanding our world and the scientific method. i.e. identify where our present theories are wrong.
    Full null hypothesis: Much of the “panic” over “global warming” appears to come from a failure to put the modern warming in perspective, or a failure to realize how well humans are able to accommodate change. It further fails to fully account for the null hypothesis of natural variations.
    Global Cooling: For perspective, we need to remember that while there has been warming since the Little Ice Age, the multi-millenial trend has been one of global cooling from the Holocene Climatic Optimum to the present. e.g. “2.0°C warmer in the annual mean temperature at the mid-Holocene (6000 years ago) compared to the recent pre-industrial.”
    Climate change between the mid and late Holocene in northern high latitudes – Part 1: Survey of temperature and precipitation proxy data, Sundqvist et al 2010.
    Human climate experience: Furthermore, anthropology finds evidence of humans crossing the Beringia land bridge where the oceans have risen at least 180 ft (55 m) to form the modern Bering Strait. That is 300 times higher than the 0.6 ft (0.185 m) rise during the last century.

    Which models are “less wrong”? Temperature models that more fully incorporate natural cycles with anthropogenic contributions show modest future warming trends compared to the IPCC. e.g. Scafetta 2012.
    Now we need to quantitatively evaluate and compare which models are “least wrong” in their predictions, and how to further improve them.

    Larger perspective: Will current “global warming” be sufficient to prevent decent into the next glacial period? If not, and fossil fuels cause “global warming”, then we may wish for all the global warming we can get, while offering developing countries the opportunity to rise out of poverty.

    PS Relax: It is good to remember that global warming may cause a small rise ocean levels but it will not be “catastrophic”. Recall: “Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life”.

    • ““2.0°C warmer in the annual mean temperature at the mid-Holocene (6000 years ago) compared to the recent pre-industrial.””

      That figure is for northern high latitudes. The paper this comes from also notes: “In recent decades the northern high latitudes have experienced significant warming, which is larger than elsewhere on the globe (e.g. Moritz et al., 2002; Brohan et al., 2006). Observations since 1961 show that temperatures have risen by more than 2C in Arctic areas (IPCC, 2007) and in the past 100 years averaged Arctic temperatures have increased at almost twice the global average rate (IPCC, 2007).”

    • David,
      You are far too reasonable. The AGW believers have worked themselves into a position where they need a climate crisis. Appealing to reason and offering fact based examples will not work for the AGW faithful.

    • And yet we keep trying, because what else can one do?

    • The wonderful one hoss jugger shay nought flight shady gang green.
      ===============================

    • er, better ‘flighty, shady’.
      ======

    • Nope. Those, like myself, who believe that human activity is warming the Earth system, don’t need a climate crisis (and certainly don’t hope for one) to see the proof of human activity. There is a big gulf between warming the climate and causing a catastrophe, even though the switch from one level to the might not be linear, but more chaotic and akin to a series of black swan events. This all relates to the sensitivity issue as well as the nature of a dynamical nonlinear system with multiple interrelated feedbacks.

    • R. Gates,
      Central Park exists because of human impact on the environment, but I do not believe that is reason to make radical changes in the park. Europe today is hugely impacted by human impact, as is nearly every other part of the planet.
      Saying that human activities influence the climate is meaningless. The only question worth the vast resources being spent on climate is whether or not we are now causing a climate problem of any significance. Making the assertion that we are influencing the climate is as meaningless as the term, “climate change”.

    • Further questions:
      Does convective and latent heat transfer dominate over radiation in atmospheric heat transport in the troposphere?
      See: On the linkage between tropospheric and Polar Stratospheric clouds in the Arctic as observed by space–borne lidar
      Achtert et al., Atmos. Chem. Phys., 12, 3791–3798, 2012
      doi:10.5194/acp-12-3791-2012
      http://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/12/3791/2012/acp-12-3791-2012.pdf

      we find no correlation between the occurrence of PSCs (Polar stratospheric clouds) and the top temperature of tropospheric clouds. Thus, our findings suggest that Arctic PSC formation is connected to adiabatic cooling, i.e. dynamic effects rather than radiative cooling.

      Are climate scientists blinded by “obvious” simple physics, while missing the dynamic flows? Is this from a lack of formal training and practice in advanced thermodynamics?

    • yes, the non-radiative heat exchange dominates in the troposphere.

    • Omnology
      Does climate science need to shift from studying “catastrophic anthropogenic global warming”, to “specializing” in Omnology?
      e.g., Extracts from Howard Bloom’s Omnology Manifesto:

      We are blessed with a richness of specializations, but cursed with a paucity of panoptic disciplines-categories of knowledge that concentrate on seeing the pattern that emerges when one views all the sciences at once. Hence we need a field dedicated to the panoramic, an academic base for the promiscuously curious, a discipline whose mandate is best summed up in a paraphrase of the poet Andrew Marvel:

      “Let us roll all our strength and all Our knowledge up into one ball, And tear our visions with rough strife Through the iron gates of life.”

      Omnology is a science, but one dedicated to the biggest picture conceivable by the minds of its practitioners. Omnology will use every conceptual tool available-and some not yet invented but inventible-to leapfrog over disciplinary barriers, stitching together the patchwork quilt of science and all the rest that humans can yet know.

      Understanding the argument ad providentiam would be a start.

  19. “I think that the scientists who say I don’t care about philosophy, it’s not true they don’t care about philosophy, because they have a philosophy. They are using a philosophy of science. They are applying a methodology. They have a head full of ideas about what is the philosophy they’re using; just they’re not aware of them, and they take them for granted, as if this was obvious and clear. When it’s far from obvious and clear. They are just taking a position without knowing that there are many other possibilities around that might work much better, and might be more interesting for them.”

    Substitute politics for philosophy, and there you have the CAGW consensus in a nutshell. (It’s not a bad description of progressivism in general either – a philosophy that denies it is one.)

  20. Amazingly, Douglas Adams can actually complement Rovelli’s thoughts. From “So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish“:

    I’m a scientist and I know what constitutes proof. But the reason I call myself by my childhood name [Wonko the Sane] is to remind myself that a scientist must also be absolutely like a child. If he sees a thing, he must say that he sees it, whether it was what he thought he was going to see or not. See first, think later, then test. But always see first. Otherwise you will only see what you were expecting. Most scientists forget that.

    And that’s another good reason for scientific fields to find themselves going nowhere.

    • Yes observation is critical to science, not expectations! See: The Invisible Gorilla (featuring Daniel Simons) – Regional EMMY Winning Video
      Does current climate science see ALL the evidence? Or only the warming?

    • …and, Instead of Rain Gods the climatologists of Westerrn Academia have become the Gods of Global Warming.

    • Judith

      Re: “why climate science doesn’t seem to me to be working so well”
      Might exploratory questions from a novice outside observer be of help? From my little familiarity with the evidence, here are some questions I ask from the blogs and papers I have read. I look forward to what the experts have to say.

      Systemic bias
      Much of climate science/the IPCC has focused on CO2, radiative forcing.
      Is that causing a major systemic bias causing it to miss the rest of the physics?
      Is the focus on long term anthropogenic warming causing a blind spot of missing natural variations?

      Causation: Chicken-egg
      While most assume CO2 causes warming, Roy Spencer raises the chicken or egg causation question:
      Which comes first?
      Does the increase in CO2 cause warming?
      OR
      Does warming cause CO2 to increase?
      OR
      Do we have both?
      If so – in what proportion? Over what time frame?
      How can we test/quantify this?

      Climate sensitivity: Models “show” (or presume) high H2O amplification driven by increasing CO2.
      Yet Ferenc Miskolczi finds that the global optical depth has been effectively constant for the last 61 years. See slide 16

      Why does CO2 appear to have so little effect on the global optical depth?
      Has the rise in CO2 had negligible effect because of compensating H2O changes?
      OR
      Does the data have such high systemic bias that it does not see the CO2 trend for the error in the H2O trend?

      Models v evidence
      Why are climate models so different from observational evidence?
      e.g., Lucia shows the April 2012 IPCC model mean trend is now 2 sigma higher than the 32 year UHA satellite trend. If “climate” is the >= 30 year trend, does this mean that global warming models have lost the way, with the probability now ~ 95% that they are wrong? Is the > 90% “very likely” anthropogenic mantra blinding climate scientists to underlying physics and natural variations?

      Is climate science missing observations by focusing on models?
      Why are so many “observational” evaluations of climate sensitivity 3 to 10 times smaller than global climate model estimates?
      e.g. see Willis An observational estimate of climate sensitivity where he finds an “overall average global equilibrium climate sensitivity of 0.3°C for a doubling of CO2.”

      Is the focus on water vapor amplification diverting attention from more important changes in precipitation and clouds?
      Do cloud changes swamp the CO2 and H2O changes?

      Willis explores Natural Variability in the Widths of the Tropics See: “Change in Rainfall with Temperature”
      Note Willis’ observation that in the tropics rainfall increases with temperature while in temperature regions rainfall decreases with temperature.

      Could this precipitation distribution be so strong as to impact atmospheric H2O trends and the global optical depth?
      Does this change cloud albedo sufficient to override the posited H2O amplification?

      Deterministic vs Stochastic
      In light of chaotic uncertainty, is the deterministic focus of global climate models diverting attention from stochastic models as more effective? See Koutsoyiannis on Hurst-Kolmogorov statistics and climate.

      How can we discover models/methods that are “less wrong” but useful?

    • David,

      I wish I had asked these questions!

      Yes!

      Don

    • Philip Richens

      David,

      “Deterministic vs Stochastic”

      Everything on this site is worth reading from point of view of this topic…

      http://www.physics.mcgill.ca/~gang/Lovejoy.htm

      More generally, look outside climate science for some insights. For example, if you haven’t already read these papers…

      http://sfi.nr.no/sfi/images/a/ad/EGW-epl-V2.pdf
      http://www.itpa.lt/files/jstat2009_02_02051.pdf

      Rovelli is a definite scientific hero, and I’m ever so pleased to see him featured here. If you’re interested in QM but haven’t read his work on foundations, try here for example…

      http://200.21.104.25/discufilo/downloads/Discusiones12(17)_2.pdf

      Climate science needs more and better theory. Obviously, the data constrains it (which is one reason to wonder about AGW), but in the end the quality of the explanations is what should convince us.

  21. I understand what Rovelli is saying. I also reflect that people in the main find physics “hard” (difficult), one of the hardest subjects to grasp. So why is it that climate scientists think they know so much more about atmospheric physics than theoretical physicists?? Perhaps it Dunning-Kruger effect at work. Theoretical physicists like Gerlich and Tscheuschner have no problem with attempting to falsify the “greenhouse effect”. I presume they would also resonate with what Rovelli is saying.

    People like to cling to what they know. Letting go of what they know, throwing it out and starting over is threatening to the ego. Admitting mistakes or errors or whatever failing led them down the wrong path is also difficult. Good scientists can do this and move on. Politicians are good at moving on without admitting error.

    I have spent probably too much time hunting for the information on which to base my own opinion on the climate debate. Physics is bedrock for me as much as there can be “bedrock” in science. I find climate science is characterised by a number of weaknesses:
    1. Belief in the “Tyndall Effect” of IR absorption without question of the implication of Tyndall’s experiments in terms of thermodynamics.
    2. Failure to properly characterise the thermodynamic effects of IR and IR absorbing/emitting gases suggested by but never measured by Tyndall.
    3. Poor links with experimental physics by which to test/verify purported models of climate.
    4. Poor links with statistics – another one of the “hard” subjects.
    5. Selective use of all available historical data to try to make climate predictions – in particular ignoring geological evidence of paleoclimate; ignoring atmospheres on other planets.
    6. Overconfidence in accuracy of models, which in the end can only model the theories that are encoded in the models. Failure of specific model verification/validation.
    7. Use of historical climate data because it is there and failing to design ongoing data collection in consultation with statisticians which might be able to statistically demonstrate global climate changes.
    8. Inability to comprehend weather as a microcosm of climate.
    9. Inability to separate regional climate from “global climate” and often using regional climate examples to defend global climate change.

    Climate science needs to start by going back to the physics lab and getting a better grounding in statistics and prediction.

    • Not so much ‘threatening to the ego’ as ‘threatening to the edifice of intellectual capital’ that (each of us) has invested in what we think we know…’

    • I don’t see a threat to ego as fundamentally different from a threat to an edifice of intellectual capital.

      Scientists with a philosophy that knowledge changes as we learn more don’t have to have to feel threatened. For them questioning and challenging accepted wisdom occurs on a regular basis. People with fundamental beliefs as dogma do not like their dogma to be challenged.

      Forgot to mention a few more problems of climate science:
      3a. Belief that physics experiments on atmosphere are impossible because there is only one earth and one atmosphere. This is only a dogma-defending position.

      8. Apparent Inability to comprehend temperature as a function of heat energy and thermal mass. To even bother to compare underwater temperature of oceans with over land temperature of land is scientifically nonsensical.
      9. Failing to appreciate the fundamental laws of physics are more robust in conservation of energy and matter and not conservation of radiative heat flows for which there are no laws of physics.
      10. Inability to comprehend the fundamental stability of complex systems with negative feedbacks and inability to model a stable complex system based on negative feedbacks.

  22. All essays like this strike me as missing something even more fundamental than Rovelli ponders here.

    Everybody assumes two things a) science is a specific thing and b) they implicitly know what this thing is.

    Thus they start innumerable sentences with some version of “Science is…..” . Taken together, these utterances by many different people imply that actually science is thousands of different things.

    Perhaps the biggest illusion is that there is something ‘out there’ that we apprehend, as a process or activity or method.

    If you specifically ask what science is to individual scientists, you always receive many different answers, with an emphasis on different things. Eventually it makes little sense to ask ‘What is Science?’ without adding ‘to you’ on the end.

    Comments above in this thread disagree about whether ‘science [to the commenter..] produces truth, or knowledge, or certainty, or something useful, or accurate predictions, or a kind of understanding or inductive support for a theory. This is actually unsurprising given that people have various understandings of what Science is.

    The vast majority of scientists hate this [as they do almost all philosophy of science] because they have a literalist, and dichotomous view of their activity that equates scientific proof as an approach to truth. They find it uncomfortable to have their view that Science is a thing questioned at all.

    • Well said Anteros. I cringe at many “science is (blah blah)” and “real scientists do (blah blah)” statements I read. It gets so that the word “science” is more of an impediment to productive conversations than a help, since everyone’s got their own idea of what “science” is.

    • It amazes me that it is only global warming alarmists who feel compelled to make the point that engineers are not scientists and I think they must feel too that experts in the areas of statistics and possible mathematics in general are not scientists either. I wonder what an expert science of criminology might think about it.

    • That’s not true. Sheldon Cooper makes fun of Howard Wolowitz all the time and he’s not a climate scientist..

      He’s only a an insecure, pompous nerd who lives in a fictional world oblivious to how ridiculous he seems to others. Wait a minute….

    • Played by an actor with a secret life…meanwhile, Ayn Rand’s John Galt who appreciated the contributions of Howard Roark and Dagny Taggart to society so very much is very real and is still paying all the bills no matter how much the Left wants them all dead.

    • > It gets so that the word “science” is more of an impediment to productive conversations than a help, since everyone’s got their own idea of what “science” is.

      A recent example:

      http://www.collide-a-scape.com/2012/05/22/have-you-had-enough-spin-yet/comment-page-7/#comment-110085

    • Albert Einstein is credited on the web with saying that, “Scientists investigate that which already is; engineers create that which has never been.” If so then it must be true that scientists are dedicated to seeking the will of God in all things whereas engineers are Gods.

    • Anteros, not sure if you caught this the first time around, but Mike Zajko had an interesting post on this topic
      http://judithcurry.com/2010/11/09/the-scientific-method/

    • Dr Curry -

      No, I missed it. Thanks for the link

    • Anteros: No one likes to be analyzed publically. When I address a group of scientists I often start by saying “you study X, but I study you, or rather your reasoning.” This does not make them happy. But being a scientist does not make one an expert on the nature of science, far from it.

      It is true that there are a lot of simple minded views of science, many of which appear repeatedly in the climate debate. But if you are claiming that science cannot be understood, or should not be understood, or does not exist, then I disagree. So what are you claimng?

    • David -
      Mosher’s ‘style of human behaviour’, below, has something of what I mean.
      When you say ‘science {can} be understood’ it sounds to me that you think of science as something specific, and definable. That’s never been shown to be the case.
      Of course, that doesn’t bother a lot of scientists – they presume a ‘scientific method’ is out there somewhere, and of course they think they are following it. And it doesn’t stop them doing things that are useful, adding to knowledge, making accurate predictions etc.

      I would make a comparison with Yoga. Everyone thinks they ‘know’ what Yoga is, until they try to pin it down and they find there is no definition – or even description – that satisfies more than a few other people. It has as many meanings as there are people to think about it. But everybody believes there is a thing called Yoga.

      There isn’t.

      Perhaps our conceptions of ‘science’ are slightly less diverse, but I think there is something misleading in each statement that begins ‘science is…’, or ‘scientists do…’ .

      I think the best that can be said is that ‘some science is’ and ‘some scientists do’, which is of course not very satisfactory, but if we wish for more precision I think it inevitable that we’ll say more things that are not true.

    • Sun Salutations.
      ============

    • Yoga? Isn’t that a discipline that if properly followed can lead to a desired result? What has that got to do with science :)

    • Steven Mosher

      how much does science weigh? what color is it?
      Sometimes it is instructive to get literal minded about things.
      can a dog do science?

    • Ask Pavlov regarding dogs….

    • Round Ten, ring the bell.
      Salivating scientists
      Savor gobs of grants.
      ============

    • I would add that I think it is useful to ask ‘To whom?’ when we question what science is.

      The same is very productive when asking about Yoga. If we can forget the idea that there is a ‘thing’ we call Yoga we can get a much better understanding of all the people who practice what we call Yoga. We just have to ask “What is Yoga to you?” and be happy with a unique answer each time we ask.

      Of course it is in our nature to seek generalities and patterns – which is why we suffer from the illusion that there is a ‘thing’ we all refer to when we say Yoga.

      If you get a different answer when you ask people what science means to them or “What is science” it makes a mockery of the idea that there is a ‘thing’ behind the word.

      I don’t doubt that there are innumerable overlaps and commonalities with everybody’s understanding of what constitutes science, but getting a magnifying glass out to see the exact limits and defining characteristics only reveals incongruities.

      We’re left with something vague – which of course is uncomfortable for many.

      ‘Organised common sense’ is objectionable to those whom think there is something more specific that underpins their wonderful enterprise.

    • steven mosher

      Science is a style of human behavior. Its weird that people who are so science literate persist in positing science as a “thing” without understanding that we don’t observe “science”.

    • But it doesn’t seem to be freestyle. Having said that, searching for the demarcartion criterion seems pointless to me. There’s a continuum of human knowledge styles. Maybe it makes better sense to talk about some characteristics of the style at one end of the continuum and give up on classification.

    • A continuum, or a field of force.

    • You mean you don’t know about the Science Genome?

      The fragment of DNA active in all Scientists, and missing in non-Scientists?

      Tch. How else do we tell the True Scientists from the non-Scientists?

      How else can we tell whether a statement is inherently Scientific or not?

    • Steven Mosher

      some people use the word unscientific to describe certain behavior.
      I prefer the word stubborn. and skepticism perhaps we can call oppositionally defiant. Of course sometimes those behaviors have adaptive value. I suppose our ancestors who did not practice a modicum of “sciencing”, didn’t reproduce. hmm any system that operates via positive reinforcement and negative feedback engages in sciencing.
      so, let me revise my remarks..sciencing describes a systems behavior.
      Ants probably do science. but the beakers are really tiny

    • They call ‘em slaves, but we call ‘em aphids or some such science talk.
      ==============

    • Agree, science is a process, not a thing.

      The process is creating a Hypothesis then…

      Research/experiment to gather data then…

      Refinement or abandonment of hypothesis with a eye on always looking for data that refutes or helps to refine the hypothesis.

      But even when all the data is gathered and the bad hypothesis is thrown out or the best hypothesis seems confirmed to a high level of probability and you can add the hypothesis to the standard scientific “model” of reality, we do well to remember it is just a model or map…shadows on the cave wall, interpretations based on the limitations of the human mind, and not the actual territory itself. But shadows and maps can be very useful things…

  23. Joel Upchurch

    I surprised that no one has mentioned Popper in this discussion. Science advances by testing hypotheses and falsifying them. It is possible that the Standard Model is actually true, or more likely that we simply don’t have the tools to test it. Of course with climate science we have the problem that it takes decades to actually test the hypotheses and at a fundamental level we don’t know that climate isn’t chaotic.

    • The LHC is testing the standard model by looking for the Higgs boson, at a cost of roughly $4 billion. If it does not find the Higgs then the SM is in deep trouble. But there is no falsification here, just failure.

      Falsifiability is a necessary condition for a hypothesis, one AGW seems to lack. But it is not the mechanism of scientific progress. Popper is wrong. Science is about explanation. Falsification is just the unhappy price we have to pay. Trial and error is not about error.

    • Joel Upchurch

      You seem to equate falsification with failure. It is nothing of the sort. Was the Michelson–Morley experiment a failure? If it turns out that the Higgs boson doesn’t exist, then it would be a very exciting result for physicists.

    • Steven Mosher

      Actually, that is not how science progresses. That’s a fairy tale told about how scientists have behaved.

  24. OT folks, but I need some help (after an hour of fruitless searching). Someone here posted a very interesting psych paper a few months back, a methodological paper showing how easy it is to fool yourself when you can make a few basic decisions about data analysis (e.g. what covariates to include, how to control for pre- and post-treatment measurement, and a couple of other things). I want to include it on my fall semester syllabus for experimental design and stats. But now I cannot find it. Anyone remember this, and which thread it appeared in?

  25. “The schism between philosophy and science is arguably one of the problems.”

    should say:

    The schism between philosophy and science is the central problem.

  26. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    Even mathematics is *not* about certainty:

    The virtue of a logical proof is not that it compels belief but that it suggests doubts. The proof tells us where to concentrate our doubts. (Forder, Foundations of Euclidean Geometry, 1927)

    So where *DO* we find certainty?

    That’s easy: in factional politics and dogmatic religion. :)

    • If Leftists refuse to admit that 2 / 2 = 1 then we’re all saved from having to pretend there is a point to any further debate and we can all get on with ignoring the purveyors of nihilism and start cleaning out the governmental education complex that is pushing their climate porn on the children.

    • Call it dogmatic, if you will & this coming from neutered scientists? Who needs logic when we can all clearly see for ourselves, the lies. 2035, anyone?

  27. JC comment: This essay resonated with me, since I am struggling to understand why climate science doesn’t seem to me to be working so well. Apart from the politicization of climate science, which has torqued the science in unfortunate ways, I have an (unformulated) sense that we are missing something in the way we are approaching this very complex scientific problem.
    ================================================
    You are absolutely right, Judith. I can tell you what it is: asking cardinal questions. I’ll give you one example. When my attention was drawn to the “global warming” and evil CO2 by the press not so long ago, I very soon asked myself an important question: what about experiments? So it took me like 2 hours to find this on the internet: http://www.wmconnolley.org.uk/sci/wood_rw.1909.html .

    What you see in this article, Judith, is pure science called physics. No statistics, no speculations, just one clean experiment. Now you know the truth: the back radiation can not cause any significant warming.

    I understand, that it might be painful to realise, that this has been known since 1909 after the “greenhouse” hypothesis had already existed for 50 years.

    It would be quite natural, if you wished to further elaborate the issue of the Wood’s experiment on your blog. If the CO2 and thus the mankind have an alibi, why ignore it?

    • Didn’t you notice that in your same ling it points out the wrror in Wood’s experiment?

    • Greg House

      I do not see any error in the Wood’s experiment.

    • Steven Mosher

      err it doesnt test the theory to begin with.
      The theory is simply this:
      1. Adding GHGs to the atmosphere raises the ERL
      2. Raising the ERL leads to a planet that radiates to space from a higher colder place.
      3. The reduction in the rate of loss to space is balanced by a reduction in the rate of cooling of the surface.

      You cant test that with a greenhouse. You can test a dumbed down version of the theory, but not the actual physics. To test the actually physics you have to have a huge column of atmosphere open at the top to space.

    • Well that should be simple to rig up.

    • Yeah, just a little add-on to one of those space elevator thingies.
      ============

    • Steven Mosher

      yes, remember NW “falsifiablity” means IN PRINCIPLE.

      we have a grand physical theory that allows us to calculate, via a model, the weight of the moon. Now, we never actually, weigh the moon. we never actually test the theory which predicts the weight of the moon. and simply because we cannot presently test it or dont test it, doesnt mean the theory is not falsifiable. It is. It’s just really hard.

    • In physical theory it’s mass, not weight. Weight is a force and the moon can have any weight, if it makes any sense to talk about weight of the moon. Sorry for being pedantic, but you brought up physical theory.

    • What kind of ‘greenhouse’ again?…

      “To test the actually physics you have to have a huge column of atmosphere open at the top to space.”

      Wouldn’t it have a complete roof and walls too, with adjustable vents? Just like a greenhouse does. How about calling it a green-tube?
      Short, pithy & accurate.

  28. Stanford writes, ‘Underdetermination and Scientific Theory’ that contrastive under determination involves the possibility that there might be other theories that are equally as well confirmed by the evidence as the existing theory. The history of scientific enquiry supports this.

    At the time, nothing was certain than that Newton’s theory was true. Alexander Pope could write:
    ‘Nature and Nature’s laws lay hid in night: God said,
    ‘Let Newton be!’ and all was light.’

  29. Climate science doesn’t work well because it is improv.

    Part meteorology adapted slap-dash to the use, part models built on two orders of magnitude too little granularity and missing key data from oceans and upper atmosphere, part century-old Physics applied to non-linear problems in linear ways, part astronomy adapted to Earth systems, it’s a mish-mash frankenfield full of warring parties from the hurricane factions (who I still can’t figure out) to the potty-mouthed Brits to the special interest minions to the people who just wish they could get on with Earth Sciences like they signed up for and be left alone by the crazies.

    But at least it isn’t Anthropology.

    • Sure, I know New York is dirty and ugly and fulla cockroaches and Gonorrhea and rats and junkies, hookers and rude cab drivers… bad air and bad vibes, and unemployment… and they don’t pick up the garbage…

      Ah, but it’s not boring.

      –Talking Big Apple 75, Loudon Wainwright III

    • “Climate science doesn’t work well because it is improv.”

      FAIL. “Climate science” doesn’t work well because it isn’t science. As long as “climate scientists” REFUSE to follow the scientific method, it never will work well. The fact that the IPCC is run by anti-science cretins like Pachauri, Jones, Mann, Trenberth, Briffa, Hansen, ad nauseam, makes it clear we will never have anything resembling honesty from the IPCC – or it’s defenders.

      Willis Eschenbach said it better:
      http://judithcurry.com/2011/07/25/a-scientists-manifesto/#comment-90161
      “When members of your scientific community lie, cheat, and steal to further their own ends, should other members refuse to say anything bad about the wrong-doers?”

      The fact that even Judith Curry won’t answer this simple question makes it pretty clear just why the general public, who are gradually but steadily catching on to the ethics of “climate scientists”, won’t support the draconian political policies demanded by the catastrophe-mongers. In the long term, ALL of science is going to be hugely damaged by the conduct of “climate scientists”.

    • Latimer Alder

      Amen, brother. Ain’t that the truth!

      I wouldn’t trust those shysters to go to the end of the road and post a letter for me. Let alone use them as advisers on ‘the greatest problem facing humanity today’.

      They sacrificed their credibility as anything other than rent-seeking charlatans a long long time ago.

    • Lati,

      You should start your own peer-reviewed journal of opinion.

      Then, instead of all you ‘skeptics; having to type the same dull witless comments over and over you could just say;
      Mann – see Adler (2012:p.2)

      And you could give it a neat title – how about; Journal of Post-Modern Blogivating ?

    • Latimer Alder

      @michael

      Good to know that you are following my contributions so closely. And if you are very lucky and attend to your lessons, one day some of the wisdom may rub off on you. Let’s hope so.

      But I fear you fail peer-review this time around. The name is ALDER..as in the tree. Not Adler, as in the Sherlock Holmes heroine (?), or the famous brand of typewriter.

    • There’s an at leenght and resoned argument. Adds a lot to the discourse. Go dickhe@d.

    • High Five skip!

  30. walter homple

    One reason why climate science isn’t working so well:
    “…the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. ”
    ~Dwight Eisenhower (from his “Military Industrial Complex” speech)

  31. A fan of *MORE* discourse, 30/05 8.37pm:
    But doesn’t Wendell Berry embrace this certainty?

    ‘Wendell’s gaia poem
    On Sunday: ‘What a piece of
    Work is plaguey man.’ *

    * He has it on good authority.

    Sorry, Joy, just a joke. Guess many of us respond spiritually to nature. Yesterday, at a secluded billabong, ‘invisible to the tar-scarred suburbs,’
    I watched a tiny azure kingfisher diving into the water for fish and on the bank, a cormorant drying its feathers.

  32. “Science” is what works … as far as we can tell … at this time. But we don’t understand it all, we just try to describe it.
    “Science is” is a method … that we chanced upon … and have been improving bit by bit. But we all don’t understand it, we just think we describe it.
    It’s a form of evolution. Things that don’t work fade out. Improvements, big or small, happen and the new takes over. We call that progress, up until conditions change and advantages become disadvantages. There is no guarantee.
    The evolution of ideas. Survival of the fittest, baby.
    Scientific ideas are credible not because they are sure, but because they are the ones that have survived all the possible past critiques, and they are the most credible because they were put on the table for everybody’s criticism.
    Climate Science is too afraid to lay their data on the table (“someone might find something wrong with it”). Too much speculation, not enough science.

  33. We all grapple with the problem of uncertainty in our everyday lives. Few of us regard it as a big philosophical issue. We all have to make judgements about what is safe, and what isn’t, every time we sit behind the driving wheel in a car or even set out on foot to cross a busy street. Often we make decisions based on less certainty than we’d like and so, occasionally, we’ll all get it wrong but hopefully we won’t come to too much harm if we do.

    The big question for humanity on the climate question is whether its safe to allow CO2 and other GH gases to increase out of all control or whether we might decide to at least slow down the rate of increase as a first step to stabilising levels and then reducing them.

    There’s enough scientific evidence to suggest that it’s not at all safe. OK, as Judith says, there is a large degree of uncertainty associated with climate science, but we’d have to be idiots to jump the lights and ignore the warnings on this.

    • ” We all have to make judgements about what is safe, and what isn’t, every time we sit behind the driving wheel in a car or even set out on foot to cross a busy street. ”

      The issue is when others make judgments about what is safe for us. Which cause more deaths in the US last year? Traffic crashes or medical errors?

    • capt. dallas 0.8 +/-0.2 | May 30, 2012 at 11:41 pm |

      The issue is when others make judgments about what is safe for us.

      Which would be who for whom?

      The issue is when the ones who want to make it more dangerous for some refuse to compensate them for the risk due their actions.

      That’s just common theft. Like burglary, graft, pocket-picking, mugging, or politics.

    • What you perceive as more dangerous based on an ideal of zero danger. There is no “ideal”. Should all doctors compensate society because their actions add some risk or is the general improvement in the quality of life afforded by modern medicine reward enough for their actions?

      A doubling of CO2, “Ideally” as in all things remaining equal, would produce 1.5 C of warming globally near the tropopause, with some lower value at the surface without some unknown degree of complimentary feedback below the tropopause. The technology and industry that may lead to the doubling of CO2 “improved” the quality of life for humans allowing an increase in population from a few million to billions. It is “likely” that the increase in global temperature due to a doubling of CO2 will lead to greater agricultural productivity which will lead to more people. So should CO2 producers be punished for improving the overall quality of life because a small increase in risk, which if it should happen, would resolve the problem of the CO2?

      If you were able to establish your plan to tax the CO2 users, you would transfer some portion of that wealth to the individuals you perceive gain the least benefit from the production of CO2, a large percentage would either be stolen in the transfer or more money would be need to be spent to reduce the theft. Either way, less money would end up in the hands of the individuals you perceive should benefit from the tax. With more money that does make it to the worthy, those individual would likely improve their lifestyles which would mean they would become less worthy. Now you have to wean them off the CO2 windfall which will lead to more waste because no one wants to end a failed system that benefits them. Congratulations! You have another ponzi scheme. No good dead goes unpunished.

    • Sometimes the slips are just so great.
      ===========

    • tempterrain

      “A doubling of CO2…….. would produce 1.5 C of warming”
      That’s not what Judith says. Its anything between 1 and 6 deg C according to her.

    • Temp, the range 1 to 6 involves feedbacks. I specifically said “all things remaining equal” which refers to the hypothetical no feedback climate sensitivity. You can knit pick the location of the 1.5C. It should be at the average radiant layer which would be below the tropopause but some use the tropopause for convenience and would have the 1 to 1.2 impact at the surface radiant layer which is not necessarily the surface proper. That could be the reason for the range 1 to 1.2 C.

      The fun part is the average radiant layer height depends on the average energy radiated as well as the composition of the atmosphere. Since the atmosphere gains energy from outgoing longwave, latent transfer, convection, solar absorption and down welling long wave from above, the average radiant layer is difficult to pinpoint. It should show up as a greater warming in the mid to upper troposphere, but since the relative velocity of the atmospheric layer varies and water vapor absorbs DWLR from above, advection and upper level convection tend to work against the “all things remaining equal” estimate.

      Because of these issues, James Annan among others are of the opinion that anything over 4C is improbable and most newer transient climate sensitivity estimates are approaching 1.6C, which is full circle to the over 100 year old Arrhenius second estimate, close to G. Callendar’s 1938 estimate and Manabe’s estimate. Seems the only high estimates are based on James Hansen’s work.

    • “most newer transient climate sensitivity estimates are approaching 1.6C”

      But that is transient, so you have to state a time frame for the duration of that 1.6C change. What is it?

      Transient is a rate of change over time and is important because the equilibrium change will take much longer to reach (due to the ocean’s heat capacity). So if a transient occurs over say 20 years, and it hits 1.6C, then it will keep rising if we wait longer, and it could still conceivably reach 4C. This could take hundreds if not thousands of years.

      You do understand this do you not Cap’n ?

    • Of course I do Web. That is why estimating the change in ocean heat uptake lag is important. The upper 700 meters appears to have leveled off possibly started some cooling. Below that there is some thermal inertia which is understandable. But that lower level would have influence from the downward convection at the poles. Sea ice annual variation should be a reasonable indication of the any change there and more variation would mean more mass at approximately -1C transferred to the density boundary layer. There would be a 30 to 60 year lag in that response, so we may be seeing 1950s impacts.

      Face it, having solar variation of only 0.001% show up at all in the temperature data indicates that the oceans have a different sensitivity to solar forcing than to atmospheric forcing. The annual solar cycle which is +/- 43 Wm-2 only results in +/- 0.5 C change in the annual SST. The 1998 El Nino was nearly a 1.5 C spike in the tropics with nearly 0.2 C overshoot on the downside. Totally different time constants involved in all the layers. Warming “in the pipeline” is starting to look like a pipe dream.

    • tempterrain

      I’m not sure what the is point of comparing medical errors to traffic accidents. But I’d say deaths due to traffic accidents would be much greater.

      I think I see what you are getting at with your comment “The issue is when others make judgments about what is safe for us.” but that applies to traffic accidents, and many other things, as well. As John Donne wrote:
      No man is an island entire of itself.
      Each is a piece of the continent,
      A part of the main.
      If a clod be washed away by the sea,
      Europe is the less.
      As well as if a promontory were.
      As well as if a manor of thine own
      Or of thine friend’s were.
      Each man’s death diminishes me,
      For I am involved in mankind.
      Therefore, send not to know
      For whom the bell tolls,
      It tolls for thee.

    • Tempterrain, ” But I’d say deaths due to traffic accidents would be much greater.” It would seem that way wouldn’t? There are about 40K traffic crash deaths per year versus about 190K medical error related deaths per year. Cause driven science or cause driven scientific media?

      It is media of course and cause driven research, which is not science or scientific. You assume that traffic accidents are much greater than medical errors.

      Which is more dangerous, second hand smoke, herbal tea or 300 millirem additional annual radiation dose?

    • tempterrain

      I’ve Googled your claim on medical errors and there does seem to be some basis for it. I came across a claim of 1in 300 chance of dying through medical negligence per hospital visit. That does seem high, but I’d just question how ‘negligence’ is defined? Would these figures include patients who take a calculated risk on by choosing to have surgery which may not turn out to be successful?

  34. It is an excellent topic and well-written article. I’ll avoid, though, the central points and instead offer two sidebar comments. I’ll try to return to the first one when time allows.
    1. Climate scientists would benefit by talking with engineers about heat removal from complex systems. Especially with field engineers who have wrestled with, and thus observed, how real-life complex systems behave.
    2. My suspicion is that physics is stuck until it somehow accounts for mentation.

  35. Steven Mosher said
    May 30, 2012 at 10:36 pm
    err it doesnt test the theory to begin with.
    The theory is simply this:
    1. Adding GHGs to the atmosphere raises the ERL
    2. Raising the ERL leads to a planet that radiates to space from a higher colder place.
    3. The reduction in the rate of loss to space is balanced by a reduction in the rate of cooling of the surface.
    ===================================================
    No, the core statement of the AGW hypothesis is that the back radiation created by the “greenhouse gasses” makes the surface warmer and thus the air near the surface too, and they usually talk about 33 degrees warming effect on average.

    The Wood’s experiment demonstrates, that this can not happen. Physically impossible. The real effect is next to zero.

    All this talk about “higher colder place” etc. is only obfuscating the matter.

    P.S. I prefer to write my comments in a chronological order without using the “reply” button, I hope it is OK with the moderators.

  36. An old priest crossed main street twice daily, watching traffic for his opportunity. When a stop light was installed, he dutifully obeyed it, and was killed by a driver running the red light.
    =====================

  37. The very expression ‘scientifically proven’ is a contradiction in terms. There is nothing that is scientifically proven.

    Once upon a time, there were phrases like road-worthy, battle-hardened, heat-tested, for practically proven. The proof in the pudding was never the same as a mathematical proof that can be shown by a priori reasoning from first principles.

    Any layman can prove his truck tires are up to the job by kicking them, and maybe checking for bald spots. A door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman can dump a bag of coffee grounds on the carpet to prove his wares. The standard of proof, of practical certainty, of the day-to-day is faster and looser than anything in science — even climate science.

    How ‘scientifically proven’ is a thing proven by the testing and arguing, examining and hammering out that takes place in GMT? You can launch a rocket on the same standard of science. You can perform brain surgery on it. It’s proven in a manner far more reliable than Olympic athletes. And still, to scientists, it’s not certain.

    Are there parts of climate science that aren’t that certain? Sure. Tons. Much of climate science you wouldn’t award an Olympic medal to. You wouldn’t launch a remote-control sailboat on tree rings. You couldn’t justify brain surgery on ocean temperature measurement.. well, at least not modern brain surgery.Which is where Newton’s credo fulminates the best climate scientists:

    In experimental philosophy, propositions gathered from phenomena by induction should be considered either exactly or very nearly true notwithstanding any contrary hypotheses, until yet other phenomena make such propositions either more exact or liable to exceptions.

    — Sir Isaac Newton

    The Principia: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy (1687),3rd edition (1726),

  38. Edit, 30/05 9.22am:
    At the time nothing was *more* certain than that Newton’s theory was true.

    • tempterrain

      Its still true. Einstein didn’t contradict Newton, he just added a few extra terms to his equations!

    • Latimer Alder

      @beth cooper

      Newton is still right and useful. You can get to the Moon and back using Newton’s Laws. You can pretty much predict the motion of the planets using Newton.

      But what Einstein was able to show that they are only approximations and that for very small and/or very fast things, you need to add in some other stuff that Newton did not have the tools to know about.

      And I always find it one of the great stories of science that – Newton having led us to a great understanding of the planetary motions – Einstein was able to predict in advance using his theory that there would be tiny variations in, for example, the orbit of Mercury. And when the experimentalists went to look in real detail for them, there they were…just as Einstein had predicted. Powerful, powerful evidence that he was right.

      It is a shame that some climatologits seem never to have heard of this story. Since the very last thing they ever do is to publish any testable predictions, nor investigate any unfortunate discrepancies between their theories and the pesky data, we will never know if they have, nor if they learnt anything from it.

      For them it seems that the theory and the models are right as a matter of religious faith and hang the bloody observations. Just get another paper written boys! And bash those Deniers!

      Me… I much prefer Newton and Einstein. They were both true giants of Science and the Scientific Method.

    • Luckily for Newton, he isn’t around today.

      The ‘blog-scientists’ would tear him a new one.

      He was, by all accounts, rather arrogant, obnoxious, and wrote letters that makes Phil Jones’ emails look like the model of circumspection.

    • Einstein’s letters to his wife are not bad either.

    • Latimer Alder

      @michael

      ‘Not a word of critique on specific scientific approaches, techniques or results’

      I wouldn’t take much notice of Bernie Madoff giving me a lecture on how he does accountancy either.. Nor the Enron guys on ‘Integrity in Business’.

      I read ‘Harry_Read_Me’ in enough detail, and with enough background knowledge after 30 years in IT, to be pretty certain that they couldn’t find their arse with both hands, nor distinguish it from their elbow. And nothing has persuaded me that their ‘IT skills’ are markedly worse than any others they might have.

      If and when a different bunch of guys with some reasonable background and track record in statistics can reproduce the work of ‘The Team’ and come up with similar results, I will continue to believe that they have produced ‘sciency nonsense’. The only guy who has tried to do so is Steve McIntyre, and his verdict was ‘mixed’…to be extremely charitable. That ‘The Team’ erected so many barriers to his work is a strong suggestion to me that even they recognised it was mostly a pile of crap but didn’t want to be publicly exposed.

      If you have different reasons to believe that they have actually achieved something more effective, please let me know. Experimental observations matching their testable predictions would be nice – with the predictions being made some time in advance f course…not just retrofitted to be ‘consistent with’.

      Until then, I’m quite happy to post my mail myself.

    • Latimer Alder

      But Newton made predictions that could be verified by experiment and/or observation. He was also a very good data curator and analyser. I seem to remember that he could confidently deal with eleven separate measurement systems simultaneously.

      Phil Jones – curator of ‘the most important data set the world has ever seen for the most important problem humanity has ever faced (or some such tosh)’ – finds simple Excel too difficult for him without close personal supervision, an airbag, safety net, a hard hat and stabiliser wheels.

      And AFAIK the only testable prediction Jones has ever made in his life is that whatever it is that is wanted is either confidential, he has lost it. or both.

    • …oh, but he was NOT VERY NICE.

      Just like Phil Jones and others of those terrible scientists, who don’t talk nicely to the ‘skeptics’.

      Their tone, oh their tone!

    • Latimer Alder

      @michael

      Grow up.

      I don’t give a s**t about people being ‘nice’. As evinced by my replying to your inane comments. ‘Niceness’ doesn’t enter into it.

      But being competent at your job and acting professionally, honestly and with integrity are important. Without these things you will only stumble on any truths by accident. With them you have a fighting chance of using a sound method that will give credible results.

      That most climatologits seem to have no conception or concern about them is a pretty damning reflection on the state of their field.

    • Short memory Lati – there was much discussion, on this very bog, about how nasty the climate scientists were to the poor little ‘skeptics’ and how the tone needed to be raised.

      Your own post was a nice example of one of the greatest flaws with climate ‘skepticism’. Lots of focus on personalites and little on the science – you don’t trust them to post a letter and other such inane drivel.

      Not a word of critique on specific scientific approaches, techniques or results.

      It’s the politics of personal vilification.

    • Latimer Alder

      @michael

      WP playing up again?

      My reply is here

      http://judithcurry.com/2012/05/30/science-is-not-about-certainty/#comment-204809

      Sorry for the misplacement

    • Michael,
      Is that a red herring or a straw man you are using? In the same spirit you are offering your silly idea, think of what would have happened today when the peer review and editors found out that Newton was religious and into alchemy to boot.

  39. Latimer Alder

    O/T but I have started getting the message

    ‘You are posting comments too quickly. Slow down’

    when I come to submit a post.

    This, despite it being nearly a full day since my last contribution. It is irritating but not fatal….I just open a new window, repost and the post is fine.

    Any ideas?

  40. there was some implicit prejudice assumption that was the one to be dropped

    IPCC must drop its projection: For the next two decades, a warming of about 0.2°C per decade is projected for a range of SRES emission scenarios.
    http://bit.ly/caEC9b

    This is because of its “implicit prejudice assumption” of the greenhouse effect is more dominant than the multidecadal ocean cycles.
    http://bit.ly/HRvReF

  41. Steven Mosher May 31 2:06 am,

    With respect, you may have confused yourself,and others.

    A body which cools less rapidly does not warm up. It may cool less rapidly, but cools nevertheless. The Earth is cooling. The interior is hotter than the exterior – you can believe this or not, but I am assured this is true. Surrounded by outer space, effectively slightly above absolute zero, the Earth has no chance of warming up yet

    As to the opacity of the atmosphere, I should perhaps point out that the atmosphere is quite transparent to visible light, demonstrated by pictures of the Earth taken from space, the fact you can see stars light years away, and so on.

    The atmosphere is also largely transparent to IR, both at the short and long end of the spectrum. Infrared photographs can be taken through the atmosphere from space at varying wavelengths, FLIR equipment uses IR (obviously), and if you seek refuge from the heat of the Sun, the easiest way is to stand in the shade.

    The longer waves – SHF, UHF, VHF etc etc penetrate the atmosphere quite well. Most losses occur due to physical processes which involve little if any magical properties of GHGs.

    The (very) small percentage of EMR absorbed by GHGs serves merely to warm them (to put it simply.) They cool as quickly as they warm (actually more quickly, but that’s another story.) Stay out at night in an arid region like a desert, and appreciate how rapidly the temperature drops. A max/min range of 60C at the surface is not unusual.

    You can continue to believe in the luminiferous ether, the indivisibility of the atom, or global warming due to GHGs, as long as you wish.

    The incontrovertible fact is that the Earth is cooling. It will continue to cool until it becomes more or less isothermal throughout. If you believe the somewhat rubbery S-B calculations bruited about, this would be approximately 255K. A long way off, I would think.

    So, no “dim Sun” paradox. No global warming. The very thought that you can make anything increase its temperature by wrapping it in an insulator as poor as the atmosphere is ludicrous.

    Live well and prosper,

    Mike Flynn.

    • “The atmosphere is also largely transparent to IR, both at the short and long end of the spectrum”

      Bonkers.

    • ozzieostrich

      Michael,

      I assume that you are characterising me as “bonkers.”

      If this is the case, you might like to consider the following –

      Satellites use LWIR to prepare infrared maps of sea surface temperatures.

      NASA uses infrared to take pictures of the temperature gradient across ice.

      Infrared astronomers use LWIR to see through interstellar distances of dust and gas that are opaque to visible light.

      Aircraft and firefighters use IR imaging equipment to “see” through impenetrable fog and smoke.

      And so on.

      While I admire your enthusiasm, you might care to provide a more coherent response based on evidence or logic, rather than the usual dismissive AGW “hand waving” when faced with facts.

      Live well and prosper,

      Mike Flynn

    • yes, ozzie.

      They see past dust and smoke.

      And thery are used to track atmospheric moisture- the white bits on those sateliite IRs are because water is relatively opaque to IR – ie GHG.

    • I think ozzie is the “dim son”.

      I would just once like to see some of the crazy math behind these assertions.

    • ozzieostrich

      Michael,

      I have no disagreement with using IR imagery to produce water vapour distribution images. As you are no doubt aware, the portion of the IR spectrum used to sense the water vapour concentration is extremely small. As I said, the atmosphere is largely transparent to IR.

      Quite a lot of work had to be done to develop sensors which were capable of detecting the relatively small EMR absorption due to GHGs.

      In any case, GHGs which have warmed due to absorbing energy from any source, emit EMR according to their temperature, as does every particle in the known universe. No magic there. They then cool, until thermal equilibrium is achieved when energy emitted is equal to energy absorbed.

      I am sorry if you cannot accept that GHGs have an insulating effect in relation to the Earth. May I say once again – insulators do not cause a rise in temperature – they merely reduce the rate of energy transfer.

      Live well and prosper,

      Mike Flynn.

    • ozzieostrich

      WebHubTelescope,

      A typical Warmist response on your part. I am surprised that you demonstrate such literary paucity. “Dim son?” Is that the best you can do? Oh well.

      If you can indicate a particular “assertion” with which you disagree, and indicate what sort of “crazy math” you would like to see, I will do my best to oblige.

      Live well and prosper,

      Mike Flynn.

    • “I am sorry if you cannot accept that GHGs have an insulating effect in relation to the Earth. May I say once again – insulators do not cause a rise in temperature – they merely reduce the rate of energy transfer.”

      Bingo!!

      If you have 2 otherwise identical bodies, both recieving the same amount of incoming energy, but one has an insulator effective in the IR range, which will be warmer?

    • ozzieostrich

      Michael,

      You might care to rephrase your question. It is ambiguous.

      If we have two equivalent bodies exposed to the same radiant source at equal distances, the one surrounded by anything more dense that a vacuum will of course be cooler. The more radiation inhibited by the insulator, the cooler it will be. Maximum energy transmission by means of radiation occurs in a vacuum.

      So, in the case of the Earth, it is readily observed that the Moon, with little atmosphere, has a much higher maximum surface temperature than the Earth, when each is at the same distance from the Sun, on the side facing the Sun.

      Likewise, the minimum dark side temperature on the Moon is lower than that on the Earth. Unfortunately for the GHG warming proponents, insulators work in both directions in relation to total EMR transmission. You will no doubt have noticed that a Dewar flask can slow down the rate of cooling of hot substances, and also slow down the rate of heating of cold substances.

      So once again, no warming at all due to GHGs. A slight, and in all likelihood, immeasurable cooling effect due to the reduction in total EMR reaching the Earth’s surface.

      May I point out that “receive” is normally spelt with the “e” before the “i”?

      I am not sure what you mean by “Bingo!”. I assume in falls into the same continuum as “dim son”. Please let me know if there is any significance in the utterance. I see none.

      Live well and prosper,

      Mike Flynn.

    • The usual problem with these dunces is that they don’t realize that electromagnetic radiation exists within a frequency spectrum. They likely never took an EM fields course in electrical engineering or physics, so have no clue about how different wavelengths can interact with the environment. It’s a blind spot with them (so to speak).

    • ozzieostrich

      WHT,

      So tell me again, what “assertion” of mine do you dispute? I am starting to think that you cannot provide facts that contradict anything I have said.

      I cannot see a question in your latest comment – possibly you have inadvertently posted an incomplete response.

      I am always willing to learn. Please let me know what “assertions” I have made that you disagree with. You might care to indicate your reasoning, supported by facts, if you have any.

      Live well and prosper,

      Mike Flynn.

    • Ok, here’s a question. Do you work as a lab assistant?

    • ozzie,

      You say that you are willing to learn and ask for pointing out the error in your comments.

      Its’s amazing that you have not understood, how the error is in interpreting this paragraph:

      If we have two equivalent bodies exposed to the same radiant source at equal distances, the one surrounded by anything more dense that a vacuum will of course be cooler. The more radiation inhibited by the insulator, the cooler it will be. Maximum energy transmission by means of radiation occurs in a vacuum.

      Although it has been pointed to you many times you still don’t understand or accept that the GHGs don’t have nearly as much influence on the incoming radiation that’s mainly SW as they have on the outgoing radiation that’s all LW.

      I.e., you argue about the issue without understanding the most basic starting point of it. Furthermore this point is not just theoretical speculation but has been confirmed by really huge number of empirical measurements both in laboratory and in the atmosphere itself.

    • ozzieostrich

      Pekka Pirila (sorry, can’t do accents),

      Are you sure you want to ask me questions? You have quoted me correctly, but have not disagreed with anything I have said. You state that I argue about the issue “. . . without understanding the most basic starting point of it.” Might I suggest that you learn English expression before you criticise those who use it. I assume that English is not your native language, and make appropriate allowances.

      However, if you wish to disagree with what I have said, please provide a reasoned response, backed up with fact, rather than impassioned hand waving.

      As a (notionally) rational person, I am quite prepared to change my mind if I am apprised of previously unappreciated facts.

      If you can provide some, please do so. If not,I trust you will appreciate my less than fulsome appreciation of unsolicited nonsensical advice.

      As to the effect of GHGs – none, apart from a minor and probably immeasurable effect.

      If you have any substantive questions, I shall be happy to answer. Based on previous interaction, I am less than sanguine about the prospect.

      Live well and prosper,

      Mike Flynn.

    • OK, I will translate what Pekka said, even though I thought his explanation was quite clear.

      You don’t seem to understand that radiation balance involves differentiation of effects along the frequency spectrum, which is what I mentioned earlier.

    • ozzieostrich

      WHT,

      No, I’m not a lab assistant. Thank you for your translation of Pekka’s fact free response to a statement of mine that I gave as an answer to someone else. He seems to think I misinterpreted something I wrote. Odd. Maybe he assumed I was quoting someone else’s words.

      In any case, as is usual with Pekka, his response was devoid of meaning. Obviously, his English comprehension skills may not be as good as those related to his native language. In any case, for whatever reason, he has missed the point totally.

      I am still waiting for you to identify an “assertion” of mine with which you disagree, and your reason therefore.

      You state ” . . . You don’t seem to understand that radiation balance involves differentiation of effects along the frequency spectrum, which is what I mentioned earlier. . . .”

      I don’t believe I have made any “assertion” to that effect. It would be remiss of me to use such meaningless gabbledygook.

      Please feel free to ask any questions if you think I can be of assistance. I’m not sure why you would need to know whether I am employed as a lab assistant, but as you asked, I have answered. Strange.

      Live well and prosper,

      Mike Flynn.

    • Albert Stienstra

      Bonkers, is that your signature?

    • ozzieostrich

      WHT,

      I am not at all surprised that your question has nothing at all to do with supposed GHG warming. However, in answer to your question, “. . . Do you work as a lab assistant?”

      No.

      Next question? If you feel like posing a question actually relating to GHG induced “global warming”, be my guest.

      Live well and prosper,

      Mike Flynn.

    • ozzie, I suppose you don’t know that the earth was cool 250 million years ago in the Permian period and warmed up significantly after that in the Triassic. A similar thing happened prior to that in the Ordovician. Don’t these facts demolish your theory? You don’t have any way to explain these warmings, do you? Give it a try.

    • ozzieostrich

      Jim D,

      Thank you for your response. Firstly, I suggest that you examine the sources claiming any sort of “global’ temperature variations.

      You will find there are many differences of opinion on the reliability of the proxies used to establish temperatures. One thing appears certain, though. There is no global temperature proxy that can be used to determine global surface temperatures.

      So no, unless there is some unambiguous way of establishing cooling and warming of the Earth’s surface on a global basis (which would necessarily entail changes to the total energy content of the Earth,) then I have no reason to change a simple theory which explains observed fact.

      As a matter of interest, you are probably aware that satellite temperature sensing shows no “global warming” at all. Satellite sensing also showed a reduction in global sea levels in 2010. There could be a few reasons for this. My point is that even the latest high technology equipment can give apparently contradictory results.

      If you want to believe the accuracy of global temperature estimates in the Phanerozoic era (or periods within it), that is your right. I beg to differ.

      Live well and prosper,

      Mike Flynn

  42. doctorbunsenhoneydew

    AFAICS most climatologists don’t claim the science is settled, and deal with the uncertainties in the normal scientific manner (quantify the uncertainty, improve methods to reduce uncertainty, take uncertainty into account when drawing conclusions). For example, see Gavin Schmidt’s post about “unsettled science” (http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/12/unsettled-science/). The IPCC reports are full of discussion of the uncertainties, and these are taken into consideration in the summaries.

    It is generally the sceptics who claim that the mainstream say the science is settled and certain; but that doesn’t make it true.

    While we can never be absolutely certain about the truth of any causal theory relating to the real world, there are many statements where the residual uncertainty is so small that it makes common sense to accept them as being “provisonally true”. For instance, that anthropogenic emissions are the cause of the post-industrial rise in atmospheric CO2 is something we should accept as being to all intents and purposes as being true (a natural cause is ruled out by the mass balance argument unless the observations are wildly inaccurate – which is highly unlikely, or space-pixies are stealing CO2 from the atmosphere – i.e. conservation of mass does not apply). Now of course some scientists try to prove that this is not true (e.g. Segalstad, Essenhigh and now Salby); but to date, none of them have been successful, for the simple reason that their methods are flawed. However this is all part of “normal science”, the current paradigm stands until the confilcting evidence reaches a level where it is no longer sustainable and there is a “paradigm shift”.

    A similar story is true of areas of climatology where the uncertainties are more substantial. Hypotheses are put forward, tested, refined, questioned, answered… etc.

    It seems to me that the idea that climatology is not following the path of normal science is simply paying too much attention to the blogsphere and too little to the journals.

    • +1, you make several points there that I agree with

    • David Springer

      In the hard sciences we wouldn’t need to accept the narrative you describe as “provisiounally true” i.e. human CO2 emissions are causing an increase in atmospheric proportion. In fact the atmospheric accumulation is only half of human emissions. In a hard science we’d simply isolate the variable in question (human emission) and see what happens when we increase or decrease it. We can’t do that in climate “science” but what we can do is look back in time and see what happened when humans weren’t around. In that case we find that atmospheric CO2 has been at least an order of magnitude greater in the past which leads to the obvious conclusion that CO2 level can rise without anthropogenic cause. Adding insult to injury when CO2 levels were much higher the earth generally experienced a boom in biological activity and fecundity which, presumably, is what we want when we desire a green earth. I know that’s what I want. I don’t want a planet covered by rocks and ice I want one covered by plants and animals. Antartica was once covered by temperate forest. So we have bad science and goals that don’t encompass a green earth but merely an earth without many humans on it. Gag me with a spoon,.

    • “what we can do is look back in time and see what happened when humans weren’t around. In that case we find that atmospheric CO2 has been at least an order of magnitude greater in the past which leads to the obvious conclusion that CO2 level can rise without anthropogenic cause.”

      Which doesn’t answer the question of whether the current rise is caused by man.

      The questions you should ask are:
      1) When was CO2 this high last.
      2) When has CO2 risen as fast as it’s doing now.
      3) What do these graphs of CO2 tell you about the cause of the recent CO2 rise?
      http://iter.rma.ac.be/en/img/CO2-concenNEW_EN.jpg
      http://simpleclimate.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/edc.jpg

      Lets call it soft science if you want, but it’s still a fact that the recent spike in CO2 is due to man. The evidence screams it.

      “Adding insult to injury when CO2 levels were much higher the earth generally experienced a boom in biological activity and fecundity which”

      The issue is the rate of change of CO2, not the absolute level. If CO2 levels were doubled very gradually over millions of years there would be no issue.

    • doctorbunsenhoneydew

      We can be sure that the rise is non-anthropogenic based on current observations. The carbon cycle is a closed system (unless there actually are space pixies) and obeys the principle of conservation of mass. This means that any carbon that is emitted into the atmosphere that isn’t taken up by the oceanic and terrestrial reservoirs stays in the atmosphere. In other words:

      dC = Ea + En – Un

      where dC is the change in atmospheric CO2 over some period, Ea is anthropogenic emissions, En is natural emissions (from all natural sources) and Un is natural uptake (into all natural sinks). There isn’t a Ua as anthropogenic uptake is essentially zero. Rearranging we have

      dC – Ea = En – Un

      We don’t know the value of either En or Un with a high degree of certainty, however we have good measurements of dC and Ea, and they tell us that the left hand side of this equation is negative (as you yourself suggest the annual increase in CO2, dC, is only about half Ea). That means that the right hand side must also be negative, in other words, natural uptake exceeds natural emissions. This means that the natural environment as a whole is a net carbon sink and is actively opposing the rise, and therefor cannot be the cause of the rise. This is how we pretty much know that the rise is anthropogenic, as I said.

      The fact that CO2 rose on occasions prior to the appearance of mankind does not imply that the current rise is natural. Prior to the emergence of mankind, lightning had been the major cause of forest fires for millions of years. However, that doesn’t mean they are not started by carelessly discarded cigarettes now.

    • This is wrong. The natural environment being a net CO2 sink does not mean that it cannot be the cause of the rise. It could very well be that the atmospheric CO2 (or its growth) is driven by climatic factors (warmth) and that the direct human input into the atmosphere simply serves as a ‘convenient’ source of the climatically driven atmospheric CO2. Since Ea > dC, the extra CO2 is taken by the sinks/reservoirs and the so-called airborne fraction stays in the atmosphere. Without Ea, oceans would have to release that airborne fraction to achieve the equilibrium at the air/water interface (En – Un = dC > 0).

      Human emission is a source for the rise, but not necessarily the cause.

    • doctorbunsenhoneydew

      So the natural environment is causing atmnoispheric CO2 levels to rise, while taking more CO2 out of the atmosphere than it puts in?

    • Yes, if dCO2 = f(T), then you can emit CO2 into the atmosphere without changing dCO2. What would stop the oceans from absorbing the extra CO2 when the partial pressure in the atmosphere increases?

    • doctorbunsenhoneydew

      That is a pretty big if, and it is incorrect. dCO2 is not a simple function of T, it is also a function of CO2 itself, as you should know given your mention of partial pressures.

      I’m sorry I don’t have the energy to repeatedly address this sort of objection at the moment, mostly because repeatedly addressing them doesn’t actually make them go away. If you are really interested, read my paper http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/ef . Ifyou can find fault with it, then do as I did and write a rebuttal for the journal.

    • The link is truncated. I assume that is in Energy Fuels journal?
      It is probably behind a paywall anyways so what is the key point in your article?

      I have a pragmatic view bases on material science.

      Co2 is like any other dopant. The dopants that go into the silicon that makes your computers compute are added at elevated temperature. It’s not like the dopants like to stay in the silicon at that temperature, just that they have sufficient thermal energy to diffuse into the silicon substrate. Then when the silicon is quenched the dopants will stay put.

      That’s what we are seeing with co2. Lots of the excess partial pressure is taken up by the ocean, yet the diffusional random walk of the molecules guarantees that a large fraction are staying in the atmosphere.

      Edim the contrarian would argue about this on a computer that he would assert could not work.

    • doctorbunsenhoneydew

      The url should be http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ef200914u

      The paper is essentially a rebuttal of Essenhigh’s paper on residence time, and explains why residence time is different from adjustment time and explains why residence time tells you almost nothing about the cause of the rise in CO2. Sadly it is behind a paywall, I did try and get it made open access, but sadly without any joy.

    • doctorbunsenhoneydew

      The URL should be http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ef200914u . It is basically a refutation of Essenhigh’s paper on the residence time argument, and explains why a short residence time is not an indication that the observer rise is natural. Residence time depends on total uptake from the atmosphere, the adjustment time on the other hand depends on the difference between total uptake and total emissions, and it is adjustment time that is relevant, rather than the residence time.

    • Absolutely correct. I looked at your abstract and liked the way it was described. The key in in the box diffusion model, which keeps the carbon in an adjustment-time state-space.

    • “Natural environment” a net carbon sink? The amount of carbon in the atmosphere, oceans, and lithosphere fluctuates over short and longer term cycles, based on a variety of factors, not the least of which is the coming and going of glacial periods, which of course is a longer-term fluctuation, but still not the longest which would be the rock-carbon cycle. On shorter time frames carbon cycles with the seasons, but, sans human activity, will generally stay within a range over many centuries– thus, over hundreds of years, the amount of carbon in the “natural environment” – if by that you mean all three spheres, stays pretty stable, being bounded within a fairly tight range in the atmosphere (5 to 30 ppm). So to say the “natural environment” i.e. sans humans, is a net carbon sink makes no real sense, as CO2 in the atmosphere would stay around 280-300 ppm during interglacials and dip down to around 180 ppm during glacial periods.

    • doctorbunsenhoneydew

      The natural environment is a net carbon sink in the sense that the oceanic and terrestrial reservoirs are currently taking more CO2 out of the atmosphere than they are putting in, and have been doing so for at least the last 50 years.

    • That much is true, the oceans in particular are absorbing a great deal of the excess anthropogenic carbon from the atmosphere, which has its own set of issues. On a broader picture, it is interesting to think about the process of humans removing billions of tons of carbon from the lithosphere, burning it as fuel, which transfers it to the atmosphere, and then the oceans absorbing a good portion of this (but not enough to keep the atmospheric levels from increasing). Even more amazing to me is the fact that this entire process is fueled primarily by sunlight that fell on the planet millions of years ago. Quite remarkable…

    • R. Gates, I agree – the entire process is quite remarkable.

      http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/figure-7-4.html

    • R Gates

      How deep does this carbon permeate into the oceans-in other words how thick, dense and deep is it?
      tonyb

    • Tony,

      I am not sure of the intent of your question, as carbon enters the ocean through many sources and thus your question has multiple answers depending on your intent. But if you’re referring the transfer of carbon from atmosphere to ocean via the net uptake of CO2 by the global ocean (some areas of the global ocean actually release more CO2 than they absorb), here, I think is some a sample of some of the best and more current research and can answer your question quite well.

      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0967064508004311

      And here’s another:

      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0967064508004347

  43. Judith,

    Many thanks for posting this thoughtful and thought-provoking essay. And for Dr Bunsenhoneydew, it is possible that the increase in carbon dioxide is due, at least to a degree, to the warming of the atmosphere and the oceans that bean with the end of the LIA a century or so ago …

    • Where’s the medieval warm period CO2 rise?
      http://iter.rma.ac.be/en/img/CO2-concenNEW_EN.jpg

    • In the atmosphere of the MWP.

    • doctorbunsenhoneydew

      No, the common skeptic argument suggests that there should be a delay of about 800 years before the response to an increase in temperature were observed (c.f. ice core records). That argument cannot explain the post-industrial increases (i) because the observations show that the natural environment has been a net carbon sink over that period and (ii) because it would require the carbon cycle to be about six times more sensitive to temperature now than it has been over the last 800,000 years (it generally takes a change of global temperatures of about 8 degrees C to produce a rise of 100ppmv in CO2 IIRC).

    • Skeptic consensus?

      The response of about 800 years is uncertain (and highly variable). I find it very questonable (artifact?). The increase is ~75 ppm since ~1960.

    • doctorbunsenhoneydew

      The industrial revolution didn’t happen in 1960, nor did the rise in CO2. As I said, the fact that these questions keep coming up, even though they are repeatedly addressed is just part of normal science. There are plenty out there who think they have a neat solution to Fermats last theorem, or proof that general relativity is incorrect, etc. It doesn’t mean that any of these claims hold water, either.

    • “(it generally takes a change of global temperatures of about 8 degrees C to produce a rise of 100ppmv in CO2 IIRC).”

      That’s the trick box Edim finds himself in. He believes that all of the CO2 increase is due to temperature changes, but when we tell him that around 10 degrees of temperature change is needed to surpass the CO2 activation energy barrier and provide that change in partial pressure, he either gets confused or doesn’t realize that we will be all burning up soon.

      It’s actually quite funny watching him dig himself a deeper and deeper hole.

    • Web, I don’t believe that. I just don’t believe in the official story that basically ALL of the growth is caused by human emissions. I only have time to look into it superficially and on the face of it, it doesn’t add up. I think Salby for example is more correct than IPCC or consensus in general.

      We will be all burning up soon? That’s a deep hole to dig oneself in. Do we have to repent?

      “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of…”

    • I am sure that Salby has retracted his paper.
      Scientific credibility does mean something.

    • Edim wrote “I only have time to look into it superficially” sadly some things can’t be properly understood without more than just a superficial investigation. The behaviour of the carbon cycle is rather non-intuitive because of the vast exchange fluxes between the atmosphere and oceanic terrestrial reservoirs. However atmospheric CO2 rises or falls depending on the difference between total emissions and total uptake, so the size of this exchange flux is essentially irrelevant.

      Skepticisicm isn’t about trust in the IPCC or Salby, it is about questioning the science and finding out the answers. When I found out about Essenhigh’s paper I thought it unlikely to be correct, but I took the time to give it the benefit of the doubt and find out. That is skepticism, which starts with self-skepticism – I was willing to take a challenge to my position seriously and I answered the challenge.

      BTW having seen Salby’s talk he is making the same mistake that many have made, which is to differentiate a time series and then notice a correlation between the derivative and some other quantity. However differentiating a signal gets rid of the linear trend, so whatever the correlation explains, it isn’t the long term trend.

    • “but when we tell him that around 10 degrees of temperature change is needed to surpass the CO2 activation energy barrier and provide that change in partial pressure, he either gets confused or doesn’t realize that we will be all burning up soon.”

      “CO2 activation energy barrier “, really??
      If one could warm the entire ocean by say 5 C within 1000 years,
      the required “activation energy barrier”, I suppose, would need
      more energy in then Scotty can give the Enterprise.

      But I think the main issue is that nature has very large scale carbon cycle as compared to tens of billions of tons per year caused by humans.

      I think it’s reasonable that without humans existing and if natural world
      was emerging from cooler period [such as Little Ice Age] and was globally warming by say .5 C within a century of time, that one could expect global CO2 levels to rise.
      So that should accepted. What one argue about is the amount of rise in global CO2 levels. And seems difficult to support the idea that CO2 would lower as result of a century of warming.

      So, it could be regarded as reasonable that bring back in humans and that they adding some CO2 to atmosphere activity, that this addition would add to “an existing” condition of rising CO2 level.
      When you know how much CO2 humans are adding and you know the warming is adding. And you measure the global CO2 and about only at best 1/2 of Human emission is staying in the atmosphere long enough to measure the increase, and this is true if the amount of humans yearly emission doubles over time [a decade or two].
      First it should tell you that nature’s cycle is much larger than human.
      Second it tell that you natural increases in Net CO2 being absorbed:
      If the net nature increase is 100, then the measured increase would 50 [about half just as with human emission].
      And this absorption increases rather than being a set amount or is decreasing.
      One part of this could due to a process involving living creatures- biology.
      Another part could be mechanical [the stronger then acid, more is erodes].
      But warmer ocean can’t simply hold more CO2- I mean the water doesn’t hold it. The opposite occurs, colder water absorbs, and warmer water releases CO2.

      When water evaporates, the CO2 part, doesn’t evaporate, it’s pure H2O gas, which once it forms into droplets can then absorb CO2 gas.
      And rain falling on land can chemically react the surface.

      So the world both living and non-living is breathing CO2, cold water in arctic inhales CO2, falls towards equator, and can rise to surface and exhale CO2. That is what water does. Also one has chemical reactions in ocean which non-living. Then you animals making CO2, and plant life breathing and exhaling CO2. Animals and plants use carbon for structure- wood and bones. And as for carbon cycle the bones/shells of sea life is significant element in term of storing carbon in the ocean bottom muck. And soil and wood important in terms of storing carbon on land.

      In terms of ocean water, most of it is below 1000 feet. in terms warming ocean water, ocean water above 500′ warms or cools quicker then the 95% of remaining water. And this surface water warms or cools slowly, whereas deeper water is much slower.
      So if talking about one century timescale, warming of ocean releasing CO2, you talking almost exclusively about surface water warming.
      So rather than tens of thousand of billions of tonnes it’s mostly about
      potential 1000s of billion of tonnes possible to release if warmed insignificantly.

      So if imagine the global air temperature rising say 3 C in a century or two, what your guess regarding most of surface ocean in terms of temperature increasing? Do suppose it will be more than 1/10th of the air 3 C increase? And in terms deep water more than 1/100th?

    • Gavincawley, i think I’ve seen enough to understand that something is rotten in that official CO2 explanation, namely that practically ALL of the rise in the atmospheric content since ~1960 is caused by anthropogenic input. My opinion is not settled and I can change my mind easily if nature disagrees.

      What linear trend is differentiating a signal getting rid off? Differentiating the ML CO2 time series shows the annual growths directly on the y-axis. Annual growths is where it happens. There’s an interannual (seasonal) CO2 cycle:
      https://spark.ucar.edu/sites/default/files/users/lisagard/800px-Mauna_Loa_Carbon_Dioxide-en.svg_.png
      http://www.jamstec.go.jp/frsgc/research/d4/research.files/img005.gif
      And the AGW consensus is that without the human emissions, the cycle would end where it starts every year (or in average) – there would be no annual growths and therefore no total growth over the period (since 1959) – the linear trend for the atmospheric concentration would be ZERO.

      Every year human add some CO2 directly into the atmosphere and at the end of the cycle the atmospheric CO2 ends up ~0.4 to 3 ppmv higher. These annual growths are highly variable and correlate very well with different global temperature indices. The average for the laste decade was ~2.0 ppm/year, in 2011 with somewhat lower temperature anomaly it was 1.87 ppm, in 2010 (warm year) it was 2.4 ppm, in the colder 2009 it was 1.8 ppm. Using ML and HADCRUT3 I get dCO2 ~ 2*Ta + 1.2 (I can check again if necessary). If the correlation continues, it will be possible to predict the annual growth only with the input of Ta. This doesn’t mean that it’s the warmth that’s causing it of course, but it’s remarkable.

      The argument that the growth is too big and warming to small is a strawman – according to the relation constant global temperatures will cause a rise, as long as they’re high enough. At some lower level the growth will reduce and under -0.6 K the atmospheric CO2 will start declining. This is remarkable as well.

    • doctorbunsenhoneydew

      Edim writes: “What linear trend is differentiating a signal getting rid off?”

      It is basic calculus. Take a linear trend y = mx +c and differentiate it you get dy/dx = m, a constant value. Thus if you differentiate any time series that has a linear trend, it will be a constant offset in the derivative.

      Now correlations are not affected by constant offsets in a time series (look at the formula for a correlation, the first thing that happens is that you subtract the mean value from the data). Thus there is no link whatsoever between a correlation in a derivative and a linear trend in the timeseries itself – none. This is a simple mathematical fact.

      “Differentiating the ML CO2 time series shows the annual growths directly on the y-axis. Annual growths is where it happens. There’s an interannual (seasonal) CO2 cycle:”

      Yes, differentiating the time series lets you see the annual seasonal cycle, it also tells you that temperature changes modulate the annual increase up and down slightly. This has been well known for thirty years or so (e.g. that ENSO has a small effect on CO2 growth). It doesn’t tell you anything about the long term trend though, because taking the derivative removes the long term trend.

      If the natural environment were a net source of CO2 into the atmosphere then the observed increase would be greater than anthropogenic emissions as both us and the natural environment would be contributing to the rise. However the observations show very clearly that this is not the case. The annual rise is less than anthropogenic emissions, so we know that the natural environment is a net carbon sink, and hence is opposing the rise.

    • Thank you. That was well explained.

      Now Edim and gbaikie will continue their onslaught against logic by ignoring everything you have said. Join the club.

    • “It is basic calculus. Take a linear trend y = mx +c and differentiate it you get dy/dx = m, a constant value. Thus if you differentiate any time series that has a linear trend, it will be a constant offset in the derivative.”

      The basic calculus is that if you differentiate y = mx + c, you get m, which is the trend itself. You don’t eliminate the trend, you make it explicit. This shouldn’t be debatable.

    • And that trend is caused by man-made carbon emissions convolved with the impulse response adjustment time of O2 in the carbon cycle, just as Dr. Cawley is describing.

    • Edim wrote “The basic calculus is that if you differentiate y = mx + c, you get m, which is the trend itself. You don’t eliminate the trend, you make it explicit. This shouldn’t be debatable.”

      And as I pointed out, correllations are independent of additive constants, so the correllation does not explain m, therefore it doesn’t explain the linear trend in y=mx+c.

      The “this shouldn’t be debatable” is ironic, given the subject of the thread!

      Try this experiment, make a function f(x) = mx + cos(x) + c, differentiate this and compute the correlation of the derivative with g(x) = sin(x). You will find that the correllation doesn’t depend on the value of m. Thus the correllation doesn’t tell you anything about the linear trend.

    • Stay on point gavin. You wrote:

      “And as I pointed out, correllations are independent of additive constants, so the correllation does not explain m, therefore it doesn’t explain the linear trend in y=mx+c.”

      My claim was that differentiating mx + c doesn’t remove the linear trend m – it shows it directly as dy/dx = m.

      But I wonder why you’re interested in linear trends. It’s the total cumulative growth since ~1960 that matters and it’s made of annual growths. No annual growths, no total growth.

      From here:
      http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/

      “The annual mean rate of growth of CO2 in a given year is the difference in concentration between the end of December and the start of January of that year. If used as an average for the globe, it would represent the sum of all CO2 added to, and removed from, the atmosphere during the year by human activities and by natural processes.”

    • Edim, sorry I am not interested in word games. I made it clear in my initial post that *correllations with derivatives* tell you nothing about the trend. I’ll repeat the important part of the post here:

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

      It is basic calculus. Take a linear trend y = mx +c and differentiate it you get dy/dx = m, a constant value. Thus if you differentiate any time series that has a linear trend, it will be a constant offset in the derivative.

      Now correlations are not affected by constant offsets in a time series (look at the formula for a correlation, the first thing that happens is that you subtract the mean value from the data). Thus there is no link whatsoever between a correlation in a derivative and a linear trend in the timeseries itself – none. This is a simple mathematical fact.

    • Gavin, me neither.
      “It is basic calculus. Take a linear trend y = mx +c and differentiate it you get dy/dx = m, a constant value.”

      Agree. The constant value m is the slope of the trend.

      “Thus if you differentiate any time series that has a linear trend, it will be a constant offset in the derivative.”

      Now I’m not sure what you mean by “time series that has a linear trend’? Sorry. Anyway, differentiating the time series and it’s linear trend is not the same. Differentiating the time series you get another time series and differentiating the linear trend you get a constant value, the slope of the trend.

    • Edim wrote: “Now I’m not sure what you mean by “time series that has a linear trend’? Sorry.”

      I find it rather surprising that anyone who has looked even superficially into the climate debate should not understand what is meant by a time series with a linear trend. Linear trend analysis is a very basic tool. However if you want to look at it another way, Taylor Series expansions are a common way to approximate an arbitrary function. A first order Taylor Series expansion is a linear function. For many signals a first order Taylor Series captures a large part of the variability of the function. If you use a higher order expansion, you can explain more of the signal.

      This is the case of the rise in atmospheric CO2; if you fit a straight line to it, then the “correllation with the derivative” analysis at best can tell you something about the difference between the data and the linear trend, as the correllation is completely insensitive to that linear component. In other words it tells you virtually nothing about the long term rise.

      “Anyway, differentiating the time series and it’s linear trend is not the same. Differentiating the time series you get another time series and differentiating the linear trend you get a constant value, the slope of the trend.”

      See my comments regarding Taylor series approxmation. The “correlation with the derivative” is completely insensitive to the linear term, which in the case of CO2 represents the bulk of the long term increase.

    • Gavin, I know what’s linear regression and Taylor series expansion.

      Now that I reread our discussion, I see that you were talking about the linear trend and I wrongly understood total growth in CO2 over the ML period. My bad regarding that.

      I was never interested in the long term linear trend, only in the total growth and its parts – the annual growths.

      You wrote:
      “The “correlation with the derivative” is completely insensitive to the linear term, which in the case of CO2 represents the bulk of the long term increase.”

      Again, my points are annual growths and their exact sum – the long term increase. I don’t care about the linear term – it’s a distraction from understanding in this case.

    • Edim, if you go back upthread, you will find this discussion is about Salby’s argument presented in his video. Salby is making a claim about the long term accumulation in amospheric CO2, not minor variations in the annual cycle. Thus Salby’s method (looking at correllations with the derivative) does not support his conclusion, as the linear component of the long term growth in CO2 is dominant and Salbys method as I have pointed out is insensitive to the linear component. So while you may trust Salby more than the IPCC, I have investigated his claims an identified a fundamental flaw in his argument. Science does not progress by trust, it progresses by examining arguments and rejecting those that are found wanting.

    • Edim, if you go back upthread, you will find this discussion is about Salby’s argument presented in his video. Salby is making a claim about the long term accumulation in amospheric CO2, not minor variations in the annual cycle. Thus Salby’s method (looking at correllations with the derivative) does not support his conclusion, as the linear component of the long term growth in CO2 is dominant and Salbys method as I have pointed out is insensitive to the linear component. So while you may trust Salby more than the IPCC, I have investigated his claims an identified a fundamental flaw in his argument. Science does not progress by trust, it progresses by examining arguments and rejecting those that are found wanting.

      Gavin, I’ll try again. I am making a claim (and I think Salby as well) about the annual changes (growths) in atmospheric CO2 (ppm/year) and the long term accumulation, which is the EXACT sum of the annual increments. I have no opinion about the linear trend nor linear term at this point – only that they’re irrelevant. Sorry again for misunderstanding.

    • Edim wrote “I am making a claim (and I think Salby as well) about the annual changes (growths) in atmospheric CO2 (ppm/year) and the long term accumulation, which is the EXACT sum of the annual increments.”

      O.K., I’ll try and explain it a different way. The correlation is insensitive to the average value of the annual increments (as I pointed out, the first thing that is done in computing the correlation is to subtract the mean value). So Salbys claim only explains the variability of the annual increment around its average value.

      O.K., so what is the exact sum of the variability about the mean value (the bit that Salby’s correlation actually explains)? Precisely zero.

      Edim wrote “I have no opinion about the linear trend nor linear term at this point – only that they’re irrelevant.”.

      This is incorrect, the linear trend is the result of the exact sum of the average value of all the annual increments together. If you are interested in the exact sum of the annual increments then the linear part is pretty important, and it is the bit that Salby’s method funamentally can’t explain.

    • Edim,

      More or less everybody agrees that there are annual variations in the accumulation of CO2 and that those variations are correlated with other observable phenomena.

      That alone tells nothing about the long term accumulation, i.e. about the linear trend. The problem with Salby’s presentation is that he has looked only at this variability and therefore his methodology tells nothing about the long term trend, but he presents claims about that. Thus he presents claims that his analysis tells nothing about.

      There’s a lot of other evidence that contradicts the claim that he presents without any real support from his own analysis.

      The long term trend is about half of the amount released from burning fossil fuels and it’s well consistent with the understanding that the other half is taken mostly by the oceans. The shorter term variability acts on top of this, but does not contribute to the accumulation by definition (being short term variability). There’s no indication of any other long term contribution and there are no alternative explanations for the disappearance of the other half of human contribution.

    • Gavin says:
      “O.K., I’ll try and explain it a different way. The correlation is insensitive to the average value of the annual increments”

      Agree.

      “So Salbys claim only explains the variability of the annual increment around its average value.”

      There are trends in the annual increment series. It looks just like the global temperature series.

      “O.K., so what is the exact sum of the variability about the mean value (the bit that Salby’s correlation actually explains)? Precisely zero.”

      Seems irrelevant to me. What is the exact sum of the variability in global temperature about the mean value. Zero?

    • Edim wrote “There are trends in the annual increment series. It looks just like the global temperature series”.

      Yes, of course it does, CO2 levels are rising approximately exponentially, take the derivative of an exponential you get an exponential. However a trend in the derivatives is not the same thing as the trend in the observations themselves.

      As has been pointed out to you, if you are interested in the long term accumulation of CO2, that information is contained in the mean value of the annual increments, i.e. the bit that Salby’s correlation cannot possibly explain as correlations are insensitive to the mean value.

      “”O.K., so what is the exact sum of the variability about the mean value (the bit that Salby’s correlation actually explains)? Precisely zero.”

      Seems irrelevant to me.”

      Well go through the maths. The sum of the variability around the mean value is the contribution to the long term accumulation that Salby’s correllation can actually explain. The fact that it is mathematically guaranteed to be zero is exactly the flaw in Salbys argument!

      Try downloading the Mauna loa dataset. Subtract the mean, and add what remains together. That is the part of the data that Salbys’ correlation actually explains.

      Next subtract the part of the data that Salby’s correlation cant explain. Your will find you are left with a linear trend. Differentiate this and you will get a constant value, which is the mean value of the annual growth.

      In short: a correlation with the derivative cannot explain ANYTHING about the long term accumulation – it is mathematically impossible.

    • Pekka says:
      “That alone tells nothing about the long term accumulation, i.e. about the linear trend.”

      My point is that the long term accumulation is the sum of the annual changes. If there was no warming in the 80s/90s, the annual changes would have been smaller (~1 – 1.5 ppm/year) and the long term accumulation as well. Now, we would be maybe at 365 instead of 395 ppm. So the long term accumulation is dependent on temperature during the period. Even according to consensus, they say the natural uptake of the human CO2 input is dependent on temperature.

    • Edim

      CO2 in the atmosphere increases when some other reservoir releases carbon and decreases when the other reservoir takes up carbon. The annual variability is mainly due to the variations of carbon in land-based vegetation which varies significantly due to climate variability. That cannot lead to a strong trend, because there’s only little permanent change in the related carbon reservoirs. Therefore the variability is really variability not a source for a trend.

      There’s only one significant source of carbon that adds it to the atmosphere year after year creating a trend and that’s human influence from burning fossil fuels.

      The added carbon from burning fossil fuels creates an imbalance between the concentrations in the atmosphere and in surface ocean. That leads to a flux of carbon from the atmosphere to the ocean and leads to the fact that only roughly half of the CO2 increase stays in the atmosphere each year under present conditions.

      The warming of the ocean reduces a little the solubility of CO2. Therefore a little more of the CO2 has been left in the atmosphere than would have been left without that warming, but fortunately this effect is not strong.

    • Edim wrote “My point is that the long term accumulation is the sum of the annual changes. ”

      It has been explained to you that the correlation between temperatrure and the derivative is mathematically unable to explain ANY of the long term accumulation. This is because the sum of the part of the annual changes that the correlation can explain is precisely zero.

      It is ironic on a thread about science not being about certainties that some are fundamentally unable to accept parts of science that are as close to being a certainty as science can get. For most people common sense is enough to tell them that emitting large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere will cause levels to rise. For most people able too balance a bank account, the fact that the rise is less than anthropogenic emissions is enough to be very confident that the natural environment is actively opposing the rise in CO2 rather than causing it.

      Sadly, this is just the sort of thing that Fred Singer rightly says is marginalising skeptic from the climate debate by losing credibility by being unable to admit when they are wrong on topics where there is very little uncertainty. Stick to climate sensitivity, or some other topuc where the uncertainties are of substance.

    • Gavin wrote: “It has been explained to you that the correlation between temperatrure and the derivative is mathematically unable to explain ANY of the long term accumulation. This is because the sum of the part of the annual changes that the correlation can explain is precisely zero.”

      Gavin, if the annual increments are temperature dependent, then the lower temperatures during the period of the long term accumulation will cause lower increments and this must cause lower long term accumulation. If the temperature didn’t rise at all since ~1960, then (if the correlation holds) the annual change would have been significantly smaller in average, maybe ~0.9 ppm/year (average in 1960s) instead of 1.45 ppm/year. That would be ~360 ppm in 2012.

    • Edim, you have been shown that mathematically the correlation with the derivative cannot explain the long term accumulation. I don’t understant why you can’t accept that. Unlike science, maths IS about certainty.

      Now of course we do know that the solubility of CO2 in the oceans is temperature dependent. However (i) the evidence from paleoclimate suggets that the sensitivity of the carbon cycle to temperature is no where near high enough to explain the observed rise (ii) the solubilty of CO2 is also dependent on the difference in partial pressure between the atmosphere and surface waters, and that is WAY out of its pre-industrial equilibrium (iii) the mass balance argument shows that the natural environment is a net carbon sink and has been every year for at least the last fifty (not surprising as the physics suggests Henry’s law is going to dominate the rather minor effect of temperature).

      As I said, the inability of skeptics to recognise a lost cause opens them up to ridicule with those they wish to influence. In this case the physics, the maths and the observations provide no support for the idea that the rise is natural. Let it go.

    • Gavin, higher average temperature during the period of long term accumulation will result in higher average annual increment and higher total accumulation. And vice versa. So the long term accumulation is affected by average temperature during the period of accumulation.

    • Edim is operating under a knee-jerk contrarian mode. It doesn’t matter how much reason or logic one uses. He will simply assert something in words that have no physical or mathematical meaning.

      Put another way, his words are not attached to any realistic model that will justify what he is implying. If he actually worked out a mathematical model to back up his words, then his assertions will simply evaporate as he will find the effect is impossible to attain.

      Yet, and this is quite obvious, he doesn’t want to do the actual model, because that would put an end to his contrarian charade.

      At this rate, he can go on forever.

    • Sorry Edim, you have made it quite clear that you are not listening, so there is no point in me continuing. Do go and read Fred Singers article “Climate Deniers Are Giving Us Skeptics a Bad Name” http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=3263). While I personally don’t like the term “denier” as many seem to find it offensive, but Singer has a point. Clinging onto arguments like “the greenhouse effect violates the second law of thermodynamics” or “the rise in CO2 is not anthropogenic” merely marginalise genuine skeptics from the climate debate (which as a “warmist” is NOT actually something I want to see!). A refusal to admit mathematical PROOF that a line of reasoning is false is not skepticism.

    • Web, no it’s really simple. Gavin’s application of mathematics is wrong. If the annual increment in atmospheric CO2 is affected by temperature, then the average increment over the period of the long term accumulation will also be affected by temperature. The correlation between temperature and change in CO2 is even better at decadal time scales – lower decadal temperature means lower decadal growth in CO2. So, lower temperatures during the period of accumulation will result in lower accumulation and higher temperatures will result in higher accumulation. At sufficiently low average temperature anomaly there will be no accumulation.

    • Gavin, I am listening, are you?

      You seem to think that temperatures do affect annual accumulations, but not the average annual accumulation during the period of long term accumulation. It clearly does. Divide the ML period (1959 – 2011) into smaller periods (decadal, 5-year, 2-year) and calculate the CO2 and temperature averages for these periods. They will correlate, even better than the annual ones. The average temperature anomaly during the period of accumulation will affect the the accumulation.

    • Edim, whatever. I have already explicitly said that the natural fluxes are temperature dependent and why this does not support your contention because temperature is not the only thing that affects those fluxes and you are not taking them (e.g. Henrys law) into account. Just saying the maths is incorrectly applied doesn’t make it true; the maths was the maths applied by Salby, not me, I just pointed out the flaw.

      I don’t have inexaustible energy for countering incorrect skeptic arguments – life is too short; it is to your own disadvantage to cling to them, but it is your choice.

    • Gavin, it’s ok – thanks for the discussion.

    • Although I doubt this helps, I add one more comment.

      In rough terms we are looking at four different reservoirs of carbon:
      - atmosphere
      - oceans
      - vegetation
      - fossil fuels

      There are others but these four are essential for the present issue.

      El Nino and other climate variablity influences both the average temperature and the state of vegetation. That leads to a clear correlation between temperature and CO2 concentration. This is almost certainly the effect that Salby has noticed. The total amount of carbon bound in vegetation does not change over longer periods due to this variability. Thus Salby sees a well known effect that has no trend.

      Ocean temperature affects the solubility of CO2 in water, but that effect has been measured by many scientists and the change is small. The observed total change in ocean temperature can explain only few percents of the observed increase. By that I mean that keeping everything else unchanged raising the temperature as much as it has risen would lead to a slow release of CO2 from the ocean until the atmospheric CO2 concentration has risen by perhaps 2 ppm, certainly less than 5 ppm. At that point the change will stop according to Henry’s law. This is insignificant in comparison with the actual increase in CO2 concentration.

      We cannot get continuously extra CO2 to the atmosphere from the vegetation, the oceans can contribute only very very little. Other sources like volcanism have been proposed, but nothing special has occurred in that over the period of increasing CO2.

      The only credible source is burning fossil fuels. The observed increase fits well on what can be expected to remain in atmosphere from the releases from burning fossil fuels. The conclusion is clear and solid. This is an issue, where we know the mechanism with high certainty. There are still open questions in understanding the details of the fate of the other half, but the main picture is clear beyond reasonable doubt.

    • Pekka Pirilä – a very clear and useful contribution. The only thing I would add is that as you say, all things being equal, the rise in ocean temperature can be expected to produce a small rise in CO2 before Henry’s law puts a halt to it. However all things are not equal as anthropogenic emissions have increased atmospheric CO2 levels, which means that Henry’s law had already been put into action increasing the solubility of CO2 in the oceans, so at no point did the oceans become a net source of CO2 into the atmosphere. So in fact the oceans have not increased the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, they have consistently been acting to decrease it.

    • Pekka

      There is also a carbon content in the soil, which you haven’t mentioned (this is relatively small compared to other sinks and probably doesn’t change much with the miniscule changes in surface temperature we have seen).

      But a more significant impact is the increased uptake from vegetation as atmospheric CO2 levels increase. Studies have shown that this is significant for terrestrial plants.

      What is also not known is the increase in CO2 conversion from phytoplankton and carbon enterimng the biosphere via this route.

      We also have very little notion about how much total carbon there really is stored in the deep ocean and whether or not this is changing.

      The truth is we really know very little about the carbon balance, except that around 50% of the CO2 emitted by humans disappears into the oceans, lithosphere and biosphere on average, with the annual percentages varying from around 15% to almost 90%, with an apparent correlation with change in average global temperature.

      The percentage “remaining” in the atmosphere seems to be decreasing slightly over time (from around 55% back in the 1960s-1980s to 48% on average today), although I can think of no reason why this should be so – unless the amount “leaving” is somehow proportional to the atmospheric concentration.

      I know you do not like the “half life” approach, but if we assume a “half life” of CO2 in the climate system at 150 years (Zeke Hausfauther estimate), this would show that the “missing” CO2 is leaving the climate system – but we have no notion where it is going.

      I’d say (without giving an opinion on Dr. Salby’s hypothesis) that there are more unknowns than knowns.

      But, unless we find out new data to the contrary, it is very likely that the human emissions of CO2 are a primary factor contributing to the increased atmospheric CO2 levels today (contrary to Salby’s hypothesis).

      Just my thoughts on this, Pekka.

      Max

    • manacker wrote “The truth is we really know very little about the carbon balance, except that around 50% of the CO2 emitted by humans disappears into the oceans, lithosphere and biosphere on average, with the annual percentages varying from around 15% to almost 90%, with an apparent correlation with change in average global temperature”.

      It is very true that there are significant uncertainties in the fluxes between reservoirs, however we don’t need to know these fluxes in detail to know that the natural environment is a net carbon sink, and hence is opposing the rise in CO2 rather than causing it.

      “The percentage “remaining” in the atmosphere seems to be decreasing slightly over time (from around 55% back in the 1960s-1980s to 48% on average today), although I can think of no reason why this should be so – unless the amount “leaving” is somehow proportional to the atmospheric concentration.”

      IIRC the concern is that the oceanic sink is beginning to saturate such that it is no longer able to grow with the growth in anthropogenic emissions.

      “I know you do not like the “half life” approach, but if we assume a “half life” of CO2 in the climate system at 150 years (Zeke Hausfauther estimate), this would show that the “missing” CO2 is leaving the climate system – but we have no notion where it is going.”

      I wouldn’t go quite that far, most of it is going into the oceans, we know this as it is a consequence of Henry’s law – the solubility of CO2 in the oceans is proportional to the difference in partial pressure, so as atmospheric CO2 increases, the oceanic uptake also increases.

      “But, unless we find out new data to the contrary, it is very likely that the human emissions of CO2 are a primary factor contributing to the increased atmospheric CO2 levels today (contrary to Salby’s hypothesis).”

      the mainstream view goes further, if the natural environment were contributing to the rise in atmospheric CO2, the annual growth would be greater than anthropogenic emissions, but we know this is not the case.

      Your comments on the uncertainties are spot on though, and very apposite given the title of the thread!

    • Max, first you say that around 15% to almost 90% of human emissions disappears from the atmosphere and that it apparently correlates with global temperature, and then you say you can think of no reason for the airborne fraction (the fraction remaining in the atmosphere) to decrease lately! WUWT? How about declining temperature?

    • Webhubtelescope
      How do you support your anthropogenic carbon impulse hypothesis against the beat frequency predictions of Jovian planets on solar radiance posited by Nicola Scafetta? Can anthropogenic carbon hindcast the previous solar minimums? See:
      Nicola Scafetta : J. Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics 80 (2012) 296–311.

      “The Schwabe frequency band of the Zurich sunspot record since 1749 is found to be made of three major cycles with periods of about 9.98, 10.9 and 11.86 years. T . . . The major beat periods occur at about 115, 61 and 130 years, plus a quasi-millennial large beat cycle around 983 years. . . .The quasi-secular beat oscillations hindcast reasonably well . . .the Oort, Wolf, Sporer, Maunder and Dalton minima, as well as the 17 115-year long oscillations . . . covering the last 2000 years.

    • I can barely hear the man stomping around with much large clangor; the music of the spheres drowns him out. Well, I say ‘More Cowbell’.
      ===================

    • Ah, dang, that was supposed 2 B: ‘the man stomping around with much clangorous carbon impulses’
      ================

    • Pekka, you say:

      “El Nino and other climate variablity influences both the average temperature and the state of vegetation.”

      I don’t accept this distinction – ENSO is just another temperature index, no different than other temperature indices fundamentally. ENSO oscillates and other temperature indices oscillate as well.

      ML CO2 would show the best correlation with the SST anomaly of the corresponding latitude band. The same applies to the CO2 measurements from other latitudes.

    • Edim ENSO is an ocean circulation, not a temperature index. It just happens that this ocean circulation affects temperature AND CO2. However the effect it has on CO2 is not directly because of the temperature change. In El Nino years the changes in climate on land cause a reduction in plant growth (IIRC mostly due to changes in precipitation rather than temperature) and an increase in plant and soil respiration, so the land-based emissions increase. However emissions from the ocean fall, because the upwelling of carbon rich cold water stops. In La Nina years the opposite occurs. Note that the behaviour of the ocean and land act in opposite directions and it is the effect of the land based changes that dominates (otherwise the correlation would have the opposite sign), and that has more to do with rainfall than temperature.

      So you may think of ENSO as being just another temperature index, but that is because you haven’t done your homework and you are unable to accept evidence that runs counter to your intuition. Sadly this is a great impediment to learning anything, so if you want to make progress, you need to gain some self-skepticsim.

    • Gavin, ENSO is basically a SST temperature index for the tropical eastern pacific ocean.
      http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/phod/regsatprod/enso/enso34/sst_ts.php

      Fundamentally, there’s no difference between ENSO indices and other temperature indices. They all oscillate, more or less. It’s you who has difficulty accepting evidence that runs counter to AGW.

    • Edim, whatever. Feel free to ignore all the research performed on the ENSO-CO2 link (Barcastow was apparently the first to spot the correlation in 1976, so checking the papers that cited his would be a good start, see http://scholar.google.co.uk/scholar?cites=2049571534079806178&as_sdt=2005&sciodt=0,5&hl=en), feel free to believe ENSO is a temperature index if you so choose, or that pixies live at the bottom of your garden, doesn’t mean that either is true.

    • Edim, the only possible way to explain a natural cause of the co2 increase besides being anthropogenic is to show where the the increase in atmospheric co2 causes the sink to increase. It would have to increase by more than 50% of the atmospheric addition just to explain where the anthropogenic portion goes. You would have to have it considerably higher to explain both the anthropogenic portion and have natural processes dominate. You are claiming half of the potential sink has a net outgassing. This makes the argument that much more difficult. It is very unlikely that anything besides the obvious is occurring. If it were it would require a source such as a change in biological processes and major problems with models of co2 sinks. Not an argument able to be countered with simple mass balance arguments but still incredibly unlikely.

    • Steven, the natural environment has been a net sink. No one’s claiming otherwise – the annual growth is smaller than the anthropogenic input. The claim is that the annual growth (and therefore total accumulation) is determined by temperature. Lower the temperature, lower the growth. Lower the average temperature during a long term accumulation, less long term accumulation. We need lower global temperatures to test this and if it cools, the annual growth should decrease. At zero anomaly (HADCRUT), the annual growth should be around 1.2 ppm. Human emissions shouldn’t matter.

    • Edim, arguing co2 atmospheric concentrations or arguing temperature, you still run into the same problem of potential sinks. Here is a nice paper on co2 removal from the atmosphere into the ocean and it claims at most, with the entire ocean coming to equilibrium with concentrations, 81% of co2 can be drawn from the atmosphere. Granted it argues concentrations instead of temperature but the hurdles involved must be evident.

      http://limnology.wisc.edu/courses/zoo535/classprojects/harte1_138-149.pdf

    • I should have said of the added co2 of course, not all of the co2.

    • “ML CO2 would show the best correlation with the SST anomaly of the corresponding latitude band. The same applies to the CO2 measurements from other latitudes.”

      I have been over this so many times with Edim, and he has remained obstinate as a professional contrarian.

      I have demonstrated that seasonal fluctuations of Mauna Loa CO2 levels match the seasonal fluctuations in the equatorial SST record.

      Here is a dual plot of an average year for Mauna Loa CO2 and near equatorial SST:
      http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-AoUzuwoFQyA/T29AMKmFP7I/AAAAAAAABB8/O58gpDrQ-r4/s1600/co2_sst.gif

      Note how the two agree, and this is seasonal, not long term.

      Next is a phase plot of the two
      http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-InuzyBBrMLw/T29At7dC_TI/AAAAAAAABCE/6NOsmUqzjwg/s1600/co2_sst_phase_plot.gif

      If you don’t like the average, here is all the data, lag adjusted to reduce the noise:
      http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-4Y99zZBS-Wc/T3PshjBrDeI/AAAAAAAABCs/a3WPAvfq8AE/s1600/sst_vs_co2_phase_plot.gif

      Here is the cross-correlation:
      http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-N_AKjYxRhIo/T3UN2FXTb1I/AAAAAAAABC0/Rh745jX-sps/s1600/sst_co2_plot_zoom.gif

      Of course I have this written up:
      http://theoilconundrum.blogspot.com/2012/03/co2-outgassing-model.html#SST_CO2

      Tamino has evaluated the same data in the last week:
      http://tamino.wordpress.com/2012/06/01/annual-cycle-of-co2/#more-5131

      But what is really strange with Edim’s contrarianism is that on Tamino’s site, Edim calls out “good job” when I comment with these findings, but on this site he is completely arbitrary in his line of argument.

      If this is actually a change in heart on his part, that would be something.

      The noteworthy skeptic Michael Fumento has also had a change of heart recently, writing a lengthy opinion piece on the “mass hysteria” he sees across the political divide. What made him write this piece was the Heartland billboard equating climate scientists with the Unabomber.
      http://www.salon.com/2012/05/24/my_break_with_the_extreme_right/singleton/

      It pins down the agenda-driven focus rather well.

    • Web, I said many times that I agree with you about the annual cycle in atmospheric CO2 caused by SST cycles. Period. We disagree in other matters and that’s OK.

    • http://i122.photobucket.com/albums/o252/captdallas2/jubanyandmaunaloa.png

      that is a comparison of the annual CO2PPM change of Mauna Loa and Junaby in the Antarctic. Your chart compares Manua Loa with other Antarctic region co2 data. The CO2 concentration in the Antarctic is lower than Mauna Loa, Mauna loa is lower than the northern hemisphere. Kinda odd for a well mixed gas eh?

      Since only scientists live in the Antarctic, that chart not all that useful top Joe sixpack.

      Perhaps you would like to enlighten all us Joes on why evidence from one location on the globe should drive policy decisions for the rest of the globe?

    • I demonstrated that seasonal changes in atmospheric CO2 levels are driven largely by localized fluctuations. For Mauna Loa it is the equatorial sea surface temperature fluctuations that match the CO2 variation very closely. In the Antarctic, the sea and temperate land areas are very far away and the CO2 becomes lag dispersed by the time it reaches there.

      By the same token absolute differences are driven by the same local variation. Try measuring the CO2 concentration at the exit of a smokestack

      You’re killing me Cap’n. You go for all this complicated crap when you can’t even get the fundamentals right.

    • The Antarctic oceans are also taking up more CO2. A change in the average southern ocean temperature would change the rate of uptake.

    • doctorbunsenhoneydew

      donatkin – no, the mass balance argument (see above) establishes that the natural environment is a net sink. Sure increasing teperatures has an effect on the solubility of CO2, however Henry’s law also means that the solubility depends on the difference in partial pressure between the atmosphere and the surface ocean. This difference has been growing due to the increase in atmospheric CO2, so the oceanic net carbon sink has actually been growing rather than diminishing.

      As I said, it is part of normal science for there to be questions raised regarding things we know with little uncertainty. The existence of these questions is an indication of the health of science, even though the questions are easily answered/refuted and have been on many occasions in this particular case.

    • While I have an inclination to agree that man is responsible for the co2 increase, there are problems with mass balance arguments in that they do not take into account possible biological reasons for the change in co2 concentration

      “Since this layer is in contact with the atmosphere this quantity has important consequences for the global carbon cycle and climate change. In the absence of ocean primary production, surface total carbon dioxide CO2 would be 20% higher, and at equilibrium with such a surface ocean, the atmosphere would have a CO2 concentration close to double present levels (Sarmiento et al., 1990). Biological processes, therefore, have a profound impact on the carbon cycle yet this impact is very poorly understood and the subject of significant debate (Broecker 1991, Longhurst 1991, Banse 1991, Sarmiento 1991).”

      http://www.mbari.org/staff/reiko/co2/primary.htm

    • doctorbunsenhoneydew

      steven, the mass balance argument holds true ever the processes involved in natrual emissions and natural uptake actually are. It makes no assumptions about the physical process, and it makes no assumptions about the value of En or Un.

      It seems to me that many have a blind spot when it comes to the climate. If I were to say that I share a secure bank account with my wife and I know that she spends more than she saves because the rise in our savings is less than the difference between my deposits and my withdrawals, then nobody would have any problem with the soundness of that line of reasoning. Note that this makes no assumptions about the nature of my wifes deposits or withdrawals, either in terms of the mechanism or quanitities involved, and yet it is completely valid nevertheless.

    • The argument itself might still be right. The argument that it is the final answer on atmospheric co2 concenttrations is not. There is a difference and your argument appears to be the latter.

    • doctorbunsenhoneydew

      It is the final answer, … until it is shown to be incorrect, just like all scientific truths it is provisional. To show that it is false, you would either need to show that the observations of atmospheric CO2 and/or estimates of anthropogenic emissions are wildly inaccuate (unlikely), or that the carbon cycle is not a closed system and/or does not obey the principle of conservation of mass (even more unlikely).

      While it is true that nothing is ever known with complete certainty, there comes a point where something is established well enough to consider it to be to all in intents and purposes true and move on. If scientists didn’t do this, we would never as a society progress beyond what one man can learn in a lifetime.

    • “you would either need to show that the observations of atmospheric CO2 and/or estimates of anthropogenic emissions are wildly inaccuate”

      No, You would have to show that they are accurate.

      Andrew

    • I’m not saying it’s false. I’m saying that not all arguments can be easily refuted. If they can the argument that the increase in co2 is predominately caused by a change biological processes can be easily refuted. So refute it. I don’t claim the argument as mine. I just want to test your argument.

    • doctorbunsenhoneydew

      Bad Andrew, it is funamentally impossible to prove that observations are accurate as you have no ground truth, only the observations themselves. Science is rather more pragmatic and looks to see if there is any good reason to suspect that the true value lies outside the stated uncertainty of the observations. To do otherwise would result in a spiral into irreducible uncertainty that would prevent any progress being made in any field of science. The philospophy of science used to be very interested in how we could obtain “certain knowledge”; it seems to me we have now accepted that there can be no such thing, at least without prior assumptions (i.e. theory).

    • doctorbunsenhoneydew

      Steven, do you agree that the mass balance argument establishes that if you accept the observations of dC and Ea, and that you agree that the carbon cycle is a closed system that obeys the principle of conservation of mass, then we can conclude that natural emissions (whatever the mechanism) must be less than natural uptake (whatever the mechansim)?

      I am asking here if you accept the logical validity of the argument if we assume that the premises are true. This should be uncontraversial as it isa simple piece of algebra.

    • You are just confusing yourself. Your argument is that co2 increases in the atmosphere must be because of anthropogenic co2. The argument being presented is that the co2 increase is from increasing oceanic concentrations due to a change in biological processes. Neither violate the law of conservation of mass. You must show that it is not possible that all or more of the anthropogenic co2 would have been absorbed into the ocean should the biogical process not have (hypothetically) changed and/or that the atmospheric concentrations would be significantly different had the biological processes changed without the addition of anthropogenic co2. In other words, you must show the anthropogenic contribution dominates in comparison to the natural fluctuations possible.

    • doctorbunsenhoneydew

      Sorry, I have learned over the years that if someone is not willing to answer a direct question designed to see where we agree and where we disagree, then there is very little chance of making any progress in the discussion. I can show that the mass balance argument is not affected by the issues you raise, but only if you are willing to step by step say what you agree with and what you don’t.

    • I’ll just assume that means you can’t easily refute it. Thanks for the fun.

    • doctorbunsenhoneydew

      Your refusal to answer a direct question and posturing in your most recent post simply confirms that you are not interested in the science, just having an argument. Sadly this is all too typical in discussions on the climate, and frankly life is just too short.

    • If the amount of co2 in the atmosphere increases the size of the sink, and we know it does, and the increase in the size of the sink created is a large percentage of the co2 in the atmosphere than you can have a net positive natural increase and a net positive anthropogenic increase and still have less left over than the initial anthropogenic contribution to the atmosphere. I’m not inclined to go step by step. It isn’t my nature and my nose ring seems to be misplaced. Make your argument or not. We can see where we disagree if and when you make it.

    • Dr. Bunsen,

      It’s the height of silliness to suggest that a non-Climate Scientist like me has some requirement to do Climate Science. Climate Scientists who make claims have the burden. I can see you are not a serious commenter.

      Andrew

    • I know the Steven type. They practice delusional science. They imagine something in their mind that should work but they refuse to pull the trigger and actually work it out step by step. It ‘s a form of procrastination if you actually have the skills to do math. You see, as long as the brilliant idea remains in your head, you believe that you are brilliant yourself — and why would you ever want to prove that you aren’t brilliant? Alas, that will happen if you ever let that notion leave your head and get transferred to a set of logical equations on a piece of paper. That’s sink or swim time.

      I know this because the procrastination effect happens to me. Fortunately, I procrastinate less just because I know that most of the ideas dont pan out and I better clear my head to make room for new ones.

      Bottomline is that most climate skeptics are delusional or lmore likely listen to other delusional authorities. I know this happens because all I see is talk and no math.
      Further, they dont want to put on the nosering and follow someone else’s math.
      That’s Stephen right there.

    • Web, did you ever figure out why you can’t use a simple diffusion model for energy in a substance with a natural temperature gradient?

    • Steven, did you realize that heat by itself does not respond to force gradients?
      A thermal gradient is a result of diffusion and boundary conditions and often mechanisms not related to diffusion, such as convection.

      If you dont believe me, look up the master heat equation and you will not see force gradient terms.

      A charged particle can respond to electric force fields.
      A particle with mass can respond to gravity.
      A concentrated region of heat will not respond to any fundamental force, other than the tug of entropy, which will shuffle the energy around to as many states as possible.

      Now we know you lack insight, besides your weakness with mathematical physics.

    • There’s a lot there Web. Can you point out the part where it says warmer water isn’t less dense or the part where it says less dense objects won’t float?

    • Web, a simple diffusion model is what happens on average. Diffusion doesn’t happen on average. It happens randomly. The randomness means you will get warmer water below cooler water sometimes. If that water floats it sort of disrupts the average, doesn’t it?

    • Web said, “A concentrated region of heat will not respond to any fundamental force, other than the tug of entropy, which will shuffle the energy around to as many states as possible.”

      That may not be completely true. Concentrated region tends to make it true enough that small impacts are negligible in most situations. Heat though is electromagnetic radiation so it will at some level be influence by external forces just like non-thermal radiation. Both Earth and Venus tend to indicate that the minimum radiant temperature of free CO2 is limited by the force of gravity, 65 WM-2 on Venus and 67Wm-2 on Earth. On Earth with a much stronger magnetic field, there appears to be a reasonable correlation of temperature with the complementary solar magnetic field orientation. That is kinda interesting.

      Most likely that has more to do with atmospheric chemistry and/or the magnetic moment of the molecules, but the energy of the photons at that temperature are near the thermal/non-thermal crossover of the EMR spectrum. So there could be some neat relativistic stuff going on, but everyone is stuck squinting at their favorite trends instead of looking at the anomalies.

    • Heat is excitation of molecules. Pure heat diffusion only occurs as the molecules interact and share and disperse that energy.

      Obviously as gases and liquids cool down they also exert less pressure due to less thermal vibration. That obviously leads to gravitational convection as the density increases on cooling (and vice versa on heating). But that is not heat diffusion, it’s advection (according to the official definition convection=advection+diffusion, but people often get sloppy in mixing up the two).

      Water has the interesting properties that it will get more dense as it cools, but only to a point. As it slowly nears the freezing point it will start to expand. What this means is that water is in what one could call a “confused” state and will randomly walk by convection one way or the other depending on the local temperature. Since this is a random walk, one could call this diffusion, and what do you know but oceanographers actually call these types of movements eddy diffusion, and which can involve any kind of turbulent mixing.

      That is indeed an average process because it involves ensembles of particles.

      The main thing to remember is that on average, deeper waters are colder so that whatever thermal gradient you are dreaming up is in the exact opposite direction you would want it to be in to advance your argument.

      Hansen and company use thermal diffusion coefficients that are essentially a composite of the eddy diffusion coefficients (both horizontal and vertical), the intrinsic diffusivity, and other diffusivities. In one of his seminal papers Hansen used an average diffusion coefficient value to estimate the transient uptake of the forcing energy imbalance by the oceans.

      That is a classic diffusion model, and now I understand why you wanted to play a game of gotcha. You thought that the redistribution of thermal energy could not be described by diffusion.

    • Web, which part of my argument was wrong? Where I said diffusion is random? Where I said because it was random you would get warmer water below cooler water sometimes? Where I said warmer water floats? Or where I said a simple diffusion model would not accurately represent this happening?

    • Here you go Web, someone that is taking up the issue of dffusion seriously

      http://scienceofdoom.com/2011/12/31/measuring-climate-sensitivity-part-three-eddy-diffusivity/

    • Your problem is that you don’t know what I have documented on this already. Clearly there is a spread in the effective diffusion coefficient, which I have analyzed elsewhere:
      http://theoilconundrum.blogspot.com/2012/01/thermal-diffusion-and-missing-heat.html

      The essential macro effect is very easy to intuit. The difficult problem with transient heat diffusion is that it is a highly compliant system. Compliant systems are those where the stimulus and the response interact enough that one can’t simply treat it as a perturbation. That is why it is more difficult to map exactly the path to a steady-state without having to resort to numerical iterations. My hobby is to try to make these problems as concise as possible and this is one of the tougher nuts to crack.

      CO2 sequestering diffusion is definitely easier in this case as the CO2 is essentially a dopant perturbation, and that is why we can track atmospheric CO2 rise so easily with a simple sequestering diffusional model. The transient CO2 effect signal is enormous with very little noise as well, which of course helps in nailing down the effect.

      Does that clear things up in your very confused state?

    • Web, I don’t really mean to put down what you are doing. Just like I didn’t mean to be rude to dr bunsen. I had a couple of cases yesterday where there were complications and complications always put me in a bad mood. I think we can agree it is a hard nut to crack and leave it at that.

  44. Latimer Alder #1/05 $.55am:
    In debates on science, and much else, I openly acknowledge I’m out of my depth. As an escapee from the humanities I guess it’s just sheer OZ cheek ansd cussedness that brings me in. I came to Philosophy of Science by way of extending my reading on Philosophy of History. and Art, so here’s what I understand … or not:
    Newton is considered a giant in science and others see far because of him.. When you say that Newton is correct, isn’t that because the truth content of his theory works within a limited context, a context more limited than Einsteins’? Karl Popper in ‘ Objective Knowledge, An Evolutionary Approach to Knowledge,’ (Clarendon Press) pp 53,54, states (a) ‘ to every question to which Newton’s theory has an answer, Einstein’s theory has an answer which is at least as precise;’ but (b)’ there are also questions to which Einstein’s theory can give an answer while Newton’s theory does not;”
    In terms of evolution of theories, Einstein’s theory. therefore has greater content . Latimer, does this not make it a more correct theory?

    • Beth

      Science is always evolving. ‘The bumper book of absolutely irrefutable science facts 1812′ would no doubt look very different to its 2012 counterpart.

      Having now spent some time looking at evidence on the ground and written documentation in a variety of places I would look askance at science, as recently evolved in the form of ice cores and marine cores, in relation to this statement by the very eminent Jean Grove, an LIA scholar at Cambridge University (who died several years ago) and wrote;

      “… marine cores taken off the southeast coast of Greenland showed warm stable conditions between 10th and 13th century followed by cold conditions beginning about 1270 and culminating probably about 1370 and a brief interruption 1370 to 1470 did not involve reversion to the relative stability and warmth of the MWP.”

      I can see no empirical evidence for this downturn in 1270, indeed it seemed to contain some of the warmest years in our record. There are very many pieces in the climate jigsaw and I doubt anyone has found them all or knows how to assemble the whole.
      tonyb

    • Tony,

      You said:

      “I can see no empirical evidence for this downturn in 1270…”

      _____
      Of course I would hope you are kidding. There were a series of very large volcanic eruptions around the time of 1250-1300. The cooling affect from the release of those volcanic aerosols would be something for you to consider as potential “empirical” evidence. Ice Core data clearly shows these eruptions as occurring. But I assume you knew all this…see:

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-16797075

      But of course, changes in solar uv output also played role in the LIA, most notably in the later periods. But early on, it seems volcanic aerosols might well have kicked the whole party off to a cool start.

    • R Gates

      Of course I knew that. The written records shows for example the extreme cold caused by Icelandic eruption in the 1700′s but not ones in the period I referenced. That is not to say they didn’t happen but written evidence to date does not show it. Reliable written evidence trumps ice cores. :)
      tonyb

    • Steven Mosher

      Funny. how do you calibrate a written record? how do you determine it is ‘reliable’ when reliable means “captures the temperature accurately”
      faced with a ice core that showed an eruption ( global of course and of the the right size ) and a written record that failed to record cooling, I’d take the physical evidence over the record of humans. face with a contradiction between these two ( an ice core that indicated cooling and a written record that recorded “warmer” ) I’d still take the ice core record.

    • “Reliable written evidence trumps ice cores.”

      Translation: “anecdote trumps data”

    • ceteris non paribus


      Reliable written evidence trumps ice cores.

      Card-playing metaphors do not entail that two types of evidence equals a dilemma.

    • Mosh

      I suggest you read A F van Engelen/J Buisman/F Unsen of the Royal Met Office de Bilt who describe how you convert non instrunental information by putting them into 11 categories. (see History and Climate’ edited by Briffa/Jones/Ogilvie and Davies)

      We have numerous records and are always searching for more, and these can be converted into reasonably accurate temperatures when they can be categorised. My ‘ The long slow thaw’ estimates are pretty close to those from De Bilt as I used this method of classification- despite what you think its not a ‘finger in the air.’ :)

      Records I researched from the Medieval Exeter Cathedral included these

      1697 Charity payment to poor in severe weather
      1702 and 1705 storm damage to church roof
      1703 trees blown down in Cathedral Close by storm –December
      1740 January ‘£23 to be given to poor in consideration of the severity of the season.’
      1783 ‘Extra poor relief in extreme cold’ (due to Iceland volcano?)

      I would take stuff written down by people who were there at the time rather than cores which may reflect an event but not its real world effect

      Tonyb

    • Tony,

      I’m just not sure where you are actually coming from on this. You wondered about the cause of the cooling in the time frame around 1270-1300– cooling which you admitted to having occurred– and when I pointed out the very solid evidence of a series of large volcanic eruptions in this time frame as documented by ice core data, you suggest “observations trump data”. What observations are you referring to? The Vikings were experiencing increasingly foul weather in their Greenland colonies in this same time period– the same time period that the ice cores in Greenland show large volcanic eruptions were cooling the globe.

    • R Gates

      No, please read my post, I didn’t say there wa coolomg around 1270-1300.It was the eminent Jean Grove who said it.

      I said I couldnt find any written evidence to support this (in the area I am talking about) in fact there is continued evidence of habitation on the High moors around here right through this period, and the Cathedral records have this to say;

      ‘The winter period was defined as the beginning of November to the end of the 11th or 12th weeks of the Christmas term-so winter lasted up to 20 weeks (note subsequent change of calendar) During this period (1279 to 1353) ‘the work force was much reduced in number on account of the weather, (in the winter) though work does not seem to have ever altogether ceased on this account.’

      Just because there were signs in a core of a volcanic event around 1270 doesn’t mean this had a real world impact. However, I need to do much more research before I would disagree with someone like Jean Grove.

      Louise said (and I assume that you and mosh would agree;

      “Translation; anecdote trumps data”

      However if the written record(s) were good and the data unsubstantiated, which would you go for? ‘Data’ because it is deemed to be scientific? Ideally both need to corroborate each other

      tonyb

    • steven, tony b and louise

      Today’s (reconstructed) “ice core data” is recorded by human beings.

      Past (historical) climate data was recorded by human beings.

      If the historical data include crop records, etc., they are “harder data” than the ice core stuff.

      To write historical data off as “anecdotal” (and hence inferior in quality) would be asinine. (But I’m sure that’s not what anyone is doing here.)

      Max

    • “Ice cores from both the Arctic and Antarctic record a massive volcanic eruption in around AD 1258. The inter-hemispheric
      transport of ash and sulphate aerosol suggests a low-latitude explosive eruption, but the volcano responsible is not
      known. This is remarkable given estimates of the magnitude of the event, which range up to 5 × 10^14–2 × 10^15 kg”
      http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/joc.891/pdf

      So this unknown eruption was bigger than Tambora.:
      Wiki: “With an estimated ejecta volume of 160 km3 (38 cu mi), Tambora’s 1815 outburst was the largest volcanic eruption in recorded history.”

      160 km3 or say 320 trillion kg- 3.2 x 10^14 kg.
      So unknown eruption is seemingly much bigger than Tambora.
      Both these scales of eruption utterly dwarf the ones in more modern times.
      Mount Pinatubo[1991]: 1 X 10^13 and Krakatoa[1883] : 4 x10^13
      So around AD 1258 an eruption as much as 200 times more ejecta
      Pinatubo, or perhaps as small as 10 times more than both of them combined.

    • Though there was a very large one around 1258, it wasn’t the only one as Ice core data show several lessor ones, but still larger than Pinatubo.

    • gbaikie

      the paper says it could have been a small eruption that was sulfur rich. The evidence for the severe cold seems to come from tree ring reconstructions.
      tonyb

    • Latimer Alder

      @beth cooper

      Well beyond my pay grade, I fear. I’m just a chemist at heart. We don’t spend a lot of time worrying about philosophy and stuff. We’d rather be in the lab finding out how nature works and how we can make/do interesting/useful things with it.

      But I think we’d agree that Newton’s theories are a subset of Einstein’s. For many many practical purposes, Newton gives a stunningly good description of how the Universe functions. And for about 300 years it was the only way to do so.

      Then along came Einstein who started from a different angle. And his investigations showed that there was an even more profound truth hiding behind Newton. Not a different one…just a more well-developed one. Like seeing in 3D what had only previously available as a flat print

      So – is Einstein a ‘more correct’ theory? In the sense that you can describe and predict more things (including everything that Newton can do) with it, then I guess it is certainly a ‘more comprehensive’ theory.

      But I think you need a philosopher rather than a chemist to describe ‘correctness’. On the practical level however, they are both bloody useful within their own contexts.

  45. Captain K, you never know, one of these days, you, Johanna and I may end up going bird watching together, lol, I’m hitting the bush tomorrow )

  46. Perhaps Rovelli is talking about something like bayesianism (if there is such a word). That we start with different prior probablilities before we see the data, and end with different posterior probabilities?

    Indeed, perhaps Bayesianism is the sort of philosophy that we might b looking for here? While it is possible to make a range of climate models – and take their averages, and compute classical statistics with them, we actually only have one real experiment (the Earth) – a situation which, as I understand it, Bayesians can cope with without the intellectual contortions otherwise needed.

  47. David Springer

    The problem is that climate science is a soft science and the self-annointed practioners try to peddle it as a hard science. When we say that water is composed of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom that is settled science. When we say humans are warming the planet that is a narrative. It might be correct narrative but it is still a narrative and the problem is that there is no experiment which may be devised to prove or disprove it. We can electrolyze water into its constituents to prove its makeup but we cannot isolate the human variable in the earth’s climate system to prove what would happen without it. The proof that is offered up is untested computer models of the climate and while these may be useful after sufficient testing the only way to test them is by comparing their predictions against what happens in the real world. So far the predictions are doing rather badly with actual global temperature far less than model predictions for the amount of CO2. Now the soft science practioners are adding narrative upon narrative making up stories of missing heat and/or global cooling by Chinese coal burning.

    Now add on top of all this the revelations in Climategate and the conspiracies to withhold data and control the peer review process. It’s enough to make those of us in the hard sciences want to hurt someone.

    • “The problem is that climate science is a soft science and the self-annointed practioners try to peddle it as a hard science.”

      It’s both.

    • David Springer

      A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

      Write that down.

    • doctorbunsenhoneydew

      Unless it is a mesh, rather than a linear chain (i.e multiple lines of reasoning that support the same conclusion).

      BTW, your H2O example is not straightforward. How do you know from electolysis that water is H2O rather than H4O2? You don’t, however there is “narrative” i.e. theory that suggest H2O is a better explanation than H4O2.

      It is fundamentally impossible to prove any causal relationship regarding reality by observations alone (Hume), you always need theory as well (Kant). If you think H2O is “settled science” it is just because science knows that absolute certainty is impossible, and is pragmatic enough to settle on ideas that are well established enough not to be worth seriously questioning. This is exactly what constitutes what Kuhn describes as a “paradigm”.

      For most climatologists it is settled science that the rise in atmospheric CO2 is anthropogenic. The evidence (regardless of what Segalstad/Essenhigh or Salby might claim) is pretty overwhelming, so most climatologists have moved onto more interesting questions were there is genuine uncertainty.

    • Dr. b,
      You might check the lines of evidence from chemistry before using the H2O v H4O2 analogy.

    • doctorbunsenhoneydew

      That is pretty much what I was referring to by “You don’t, however there is “narrative” i.e. theory that suggest H2O is a better explanation than H4O2.” Observations are not enough, you need a body of theory as well.

    • Yes, but climate scientists aren’t doing the research on the “hard” part, only the soft part. Quoting 3000 model runs as proof is as good as it gets. The hard science can be clarifed, but climate scientists need to talk to physicists to do it.

  48. Agree, Latimer.

  49. Judith,

    Working together as a consensus obviously fails when they ALL have created the same mistake.
    So, rather than fixing and learning, they are defending the mistakes and making the whole situation worse.
    The point will be when ALL confidence in scientists is exposed as bad faith that they are looking out for societies interest.

  50. Bart R @2.23 am:
    Bart oh Bart! Why do you insist on challenging me to THINK!
    Yr last challenge got me embroiled in the dramatis personae of a debate on zero and set theory! As an escapee from the humanities I’m still recovering. Now you ask me to THINK about science and scientism? Well, I will get back to you, however inadequately, but not *today* or *tomorrow* as I’m going bush. Note I’ve become so inhibited I can no longer make temporal references w/out asterisks. Yer playing with my head. Desist!

    Tony b , science and scientism? Either help me out or stand in with *Today’s* ‘Thought for *Today,* something on ice cores maybe?. :-(

    • Beth

      Thought for today from Francis Bacon ;
      “mathematics …. ought only to give definiteness to natural philosophy, not to generate or give it birth. From a natural philosophy pure and unmixed, better things are to be expected.“

      By the way I meant to say that I visited the Devon Records office yesterday and they got out from the strong room for me to look at and handle the original paper and hide continuous rolls for the Mayors office in Exeter dating between 1342 and 1363-the period I am researching at present. Quite humbling. And an excuse for a second thought for the day;
      “Scepticism is the highest of duties, and blind faith the one unpardonable sin.”So wrote Thomas Huxley
      tonyb

  51. Steven Mosher | May 31, 2012 at 2:06 am
    So earth radiates from a higher cooler place.
    That entails surface warming. You see how back radiation isnt even mentioned?
    ===============================================
    Steven, your statement is as logical, as this one: “2×2=4, that entails surface warming, back radiation isnt even mentioned”.

    To get warmer the SURFACE needs more energy, this is a most simple physics. The energy comes to the SURFACE from the Sun, you know that. If no additional energy comes, there will be no additional warming.

    Now, the AGW hypothesis says the “greenhouse gasses” absorb some portion of the IR radiation the surface radiates and emit a part of it back to the SURFACE thus warming it (in comparison to the absence of this effect). The “greenhouse gasses” are indeed capable of absorbing and emitting some IR radiation. But the crucial question is, whether this effect can cause any significant warming of the SURFACE and the air near the SURFACE .

    The answer given by the Wood’s experiment back in 1909 is “NO”. The effect is extremely weak.

    And the “global warming” is about SURFACE temperatures, not about a “higher cooler place” temperature or whatever.

    • Greg,

      You are leaving out the biggest part of the effect of increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which is one of altering of thermal gradients, which affects the biggest non-tectonic heat sink on the planet the most– i.e. the oceans. The oceans have not only absorbed the bulk of the anthropogenic CO2, but also they seen the greatest net gain in their energy content because of increased greenhouse gases. Moreover, the oceans have such a high level of thermal inertia, that any forcing from CO2 that alters the Earth’s energy system will have the most reliable long-term signal in increasing ocean heat content. This signal is not just seen in rising ocean heat content, but also in other increasing ocean heat related effects such as diminished Arctic sea ice.

    • David Springer

      The only thing that can make the ocean warmer is more sunlight. Ocean cooling is predominantly evaporative because that’s the easiest path for energy to escape. You can’t have a lot of back radiation without first having a lot of forward radiation (duh). It’s why sweat instead of having dry radiator fins like a lizard. If you weren’t aware that the primary means of surface heat loss is evaporation here’s your big chance to learn, grasshopper.

      http://oceanworld.tamu.edu/resources/ocng_textbook/chapter05/chapter05_06.htm

    • David Springer said:

      “The only thing that can make the ocean warmer is more sunlight.”

      _______
      Absolutely not true. Seriously, how can you spout such nonsense?

      Not only are there multiple pathways for energy to enter the ocean, there are multiple pathways for energy to leave. Pick up some some basic oceanography book and do some reading before spouting off. Additionally, the ocean will get warmer if less energy leaves per unit of time, and this would happen if the thermal gradient between ocean and atmosphere is reduced, which is of course exactly what downwelling LW from increased greenhouse gases do.

      Really David, get a clue.

    • Steven Mosher

      No. The physics of the theory do not say the surface is warmed by downwelling IR. You’ve not read the actual science. Go read the texts I suggested.

      The earth radiates to space from above the surface. go do some reading and we can continue when you get that point

    • David Springer

      What the hell are you babbling about now, Mosher? There are windows in the atmosphere where the surface can radiate directly to space.

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

      This encyclopedic knowledge. I suggest you start there because you clearly aren’t ready for anything more than that yet.

  52. There are truths, but are there scientific truths?

    Many things are certain, but are any of them scientifically certain?

    Science is a generic concept that gives a common name to a large vaguely defined set of activities.

    The goal of science is to learn more about the reality, not an absolute truth but more and more all the time.

    There are many attributes that can be used to describe scientific work and the scientific process, but it’s not possible to draw clear lines on what is science and what is not.

    Essential attributes of science include:

    - working systematically to learn more
    - taking advantage of earlier knowledge and building on that (while being also critical on all earlier knowledge)
    - working openly presenting to public scrutiny the methods and the arguments

    Science is what scientists do and scientists are those who do science.

    Philosophy of science is fun and interesting, but I’m not so sure that it’s as useful as Carlo Rovelli and many others say. I think that we can recognize good science without the help of philosophy of science and that good scientists are not good because they have learned about philosophy of science.

  53. Trevor Urlwin

    It is interesting that Prof Rovelli the following observation about the nature of science:

    “First, science is about constructing visions of the world, about rearranging our conceptual structure, about creating new concepts which were not there before, and even more, about changing, challenging the a-priori that we have. So it’s nothing to do about the assembly of data and the way of organizing the assembly of data. It has everything to do about the way we think, and about our mental vision of the world. Science is a process in which we keep exploring ways of thinking, and changing our image of the world, our vision of the world, to find new ones that work a little bit better.”

    Thomas Kuhn in his 1962 book ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’ described amongst, other things, scientific paradigms, normal science, and paradigm shifts. Prof Rovelli identifies science as the process of striving for paradigm shifting discoveries. Currnetly most climate science practitioners are involved in the process of puzzle solving within the boundaries of normal science in the accepted paradigm. As Kuhn recognised, that is where the research grants are, that is where the publications that lead to advancement will be accepted and so on. Disconfirming findings are brushed to one side. Fortunately, we are approaching the stage in the life of climate science where the counter-evidence is becoming too great to ignore and we can expect a paradigm shift – a scientific revolution.

  54. Hi Tony,
    Yr ‘Thoughts for *today* are…well…thoughtful. I’m looking forward to yr next paper. Those old records, hopefully, will yield some treasure.

  55. R. Gates | May 31, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    Greg,
    You are leaving out the biggest part of the effect of increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, … the oceans have such a high level of thermal inertia, that any forcing from CO2 that alters the Earth’s energy system will have the most reliable long-term signal in increasing ocean heat content. This signal is not just seen in rising ocean heat content, but also …
    =================================================
    The “CO2 forcing” is apparently much weaker, that the one of the glass lid in the Wood’s experiment, and the latter one is extremely weak. It looks like the alleged 33 degrees warming through the “greenhouse gasses” is physically impossible and very far from the truth, it is in reality at best a tiny fraction of a degree, as I said before. The Wood’s experiment proves it. So your “CO2 forcing” is extremely weak too, and you can forget all your “signals”. If you or other climate scientists see something that is not physically possible, then… you know… you have apparently a problem.

    I can only recommend to make an effort and come back to reality.

    • Greg, Wood’s experiment is completely Irrlelevant to the function and physics behing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The emission and absorption of specific frequencies of LW radiation by so-called “greenhouse gases” has very little relationship to Wood’s experiment. The covering on a greenhouse does not absorb and reemit LW radiation, so it is very inaccurate to compare its function to the greenhouse gases of the atmosphere. Best to go back to your little repository of skeptical talking points and find something else.

    • David Springer

      “The covering on a greenhouse does not absorb and reemit LW radiation, so it is very inaccurate to compare its function to the greenhouse gases of the atmosphere.”

      Glass certainly does absorb and reemit LW radiation. That’s a pretty bad mistake even for you, Gates.

    • David Springer

      FYI Gates, water is far better than air at absorbing and reemitting LWIR. It’s so good that downwelling LWIR penetrates the surface of the ocean just several microns deep and is almost completely reemitted in the form of latent heat of vaporization. You can test this yourself by laying a film of Saran wrap on the surface of a pan of water with reflective foil on the bottom and sides. The Saran wrap is transparent to LWIR but prevents evaporation. Put a heat lamp over it watch it get warm. Now remove the Saran wrap and watch it not get warm.

      A fundamental flaw in GHG hypothesis is that LWIR can somehow warm the ocean (or slow its rate of cooling if you prefer the more pedant-proof phrasing). It’s physically impossible to warm body of water with LWIR if the body of water is free to evaporate. All it does it makes more clouds and all they do is make more shade which reduces the rate of evaporation which makes fewer clouds and we have this wonderful thermostat mechanism by which temperature is controlled so long as the water remains liquid. All bets are off if it freezes. It should be obvious that not all greenhouse gases are created equal. The place with the highest mean annual temperature in the world is an equatorial salt desert very near sea level that’s dryer than a popcorn fart with 3 or fewer inches of rainfall annually. If the water cycle had a net positive feedback this is the exact opposite of what we’d expect. In that case we’d expect an equatorial ocean or jungle with high humidity and plenty of clouds to be the hottest place on the earth.

      CO2 only works to warm the surface to any significant degree over dry land with emphasis on dry. As a rule the higher the latitude the dryer it gets simply because it gets colder and a snow covered surface prevents nearly all evaporation so in places farther north where snow cover lasts for many months each year CO2 can warm it up quite a bit. And that’s a good thing if you prefer more plant growth to less. Generally speaking people in higher latitudes welcome milder winters and longer growing seasons. So does most of the rest of the flora and fauna. I know, I grew up on about 42N latitude and it’s not pretty watching living things struggle and die in unusually cold weather.

    • David,

      The balance of radiative energy transfer for the surface layer of the oceans is negative, i.e. they radiate more energy than absorb. Adding CO2 to the atmosphere makes this difference smaller. Thus adding CO2 reduces the cooling by radiation and leads to a higher surface temperature. A higher surface temperature leads also to more evaporative cooling, but that occurs only as a consequence of the higher temperature. Thus the temperature must rise to produce more evaporation.

      The extra heat that restores the energy of the surface comes from below from the layers of ocean some distance below the surface. These layers absorb the solar radiation that passes trough the surface layer with little absorption.

    • “The balance of radiative energy transfer for the surface layer of the oceans is negative, i.e. they radiate more energy than absorb.”

      Ocean evaporate. Evaporation is not radiant energy.

      But ignoring evaporation are you suggesting that oceans radiate more energy than land surfaces.
      Oceans are radiators and land is more like heat sink?

    • I’m not comparing ocean to land. I’m saying that the thin surface layer of oceans radiates more energy than it absorbs.

      Evaporation is just one of the the ways the surface may lose energy and the strength of the evaporative heat loss depends on temperatures, the moisture of the air and winds.

    • Averaged over the whole surface (land+ocean) annually, the evaporation is the predominant mode the surface loses energy (23% of the incoming solar). I know you know this.
      http://science-edu.larc.nasa.gov/EDDOCS/images/Erb/components2.gif

    • David,

      At least you are looking at the ocean skin layer, as that is where the heat flux from ocean to atmosphere actually occurs. What happens when the very top of the ocean skin layer is warmed by increased downwelling LW from greenhouse gases? When those first few microns are warmer, the thermal gradient across the skin layer is reduced, with the net result that less energy can flow from ocean to atmosphere and the ocean heat content is increased. Thus, a warmer atmosphere acts to warm the ocean by acting as a control mechanism, adjusting the heat flux from ocean to atmosphere through an alteration of thermal gradients. Greenhouse gases do the same thing in the troposphere, altering the thermal gradient and thus reducing the rate of heat flux from the lower troposphere to the upper (hence why the stratosphere cools). In this regard, the troposphere is similar to the ocean skin layer in that its thermal gradient is altered by increased greenhouse gases.

    • gbaikie said:

      “Oceans are radiators and land is more like heat sink?”

      ____
      Think of oceans as big storage batteries for sunlight…far bigger than the atmosphere. The “land” also stores sunlight, but when thinking about the land you must include the biosphere, as the majority of sunlight that is not reflected and is thus “stored” on the land is stored in the biosphere that covers the land. The rocks and dirt only store sunlight very briefly (converting it from SW to LW), and quickly release it back to the atmosphere.

    • “I’m not comparing ocean to land. I’m saying that the thin surface layer of oceans radiates more energy than it absorbs.”
      Ok.
      This thin layer can be fairly warm and therefore radiate more heat and energy than it would if cooler.

      It’s conduction with lower level water isn’t good, and doesn’t convect very much heat into atmosphere.
      Any natural thin layer [not metallic] generally isn’t conducting heat well- therefore can’t absorb much energy.
      Though any evaporation comes from this thin layer of water.

      A problem with regarding any “natural substance” as similar to a blackbody is none of them of them are absorbing much energy.
      And because oceans are transparent, compared other natural surfaces, water seems to me to adsorb more sunlight [a large chunk of energy of sunlight being visible light] than anything else. Hence my question, as it seemed you saying the opposite of what I regarded as true.

    • ceteris non paribus

      R Gates wrote:

      The rocks and dirt only store sunlight very briefly (converting it from SW to LW), and quickly release it back to the atmosphere.

      Physics fail. Do rocks look bright? – emit a solar spectrum?

      Nothing “stores sunlight and releases it” – what gets stored is thermal energy.

      http://agwobserver.wordpress.com/2010/02/24/papers-on-temperature-reconstructions-from-boreholes/

      e.g.:
      Climate Change Record in Subsurface Temperatures: A Global Perspective – Pollack et al. (1998) “Analyses of underground temperature measurements from 358 boreholes in eastern North America, central Europe, southern Africa, and Australia indicate that, in the 20th century, the average surface temperature of Earth has increased by about 0.5°C and that the 20th century has been the warmest of the past five centuries.”

    • qbaikie,

      Did you realize that the skin is always cooler than the layers just below. As it loses energy both by evaporation and by radiation it requires quite a lot of heating from below. Convection and mixing dominate over longer distances, but for the very thin skin that can radiate LWIR and from where the evaporation occurs conduction is the dominant mechanism.

    • “Did you realize that the skin is always cooler than the layers just below.”

      No, I can’t say I was aware of this. Though when you mention it, seem to recall reading something about this.
      Of course in vacuum in sunlight, I don’t think that is true [though it could be]. And as you said evaporation can be inhibited.
      And I don’t think much loss from convection.
      Though a bit wind would radically change both evaporation and convection.
      And maybe a slow rolling wave could somewhat affect convection.

    • David Springer

      @Pekka

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

      “Thermal energy usually has two components: the kinetic energy of random motions of particles and the potential energy of their mutual positions. As a general rule, the work done by a conservative force F will be W = -dU where dU is the change in the potential energy associated with that particular force. Common notations for potential energy are U, V, and Ep.”

      Unless you’re prepared to state that air above the surface magically levitates there and has no gravitational potential energy due to its position in the earth’s gravitational field then I’m quite correct. Or perhaps you wish to dispute the law of conservation of energy. I’m not entirely sure which first principle eludes your grasp here. The dry adiabatic lapse rate is a function of the local acceleration of gravity and the mass of the air column. Nothing more and nothing less. Those who do not understand that the internal energy of a system, which include any arbitrary volume of air, includes both kinetic and gravitational potential energy will never be able to refute the dragon slayer nonsense through first principles.

    • The gravity leads to lower density at higher altitudes, not to lower average speed of the molecules. It has been shown by actual calculation that this is the case.

      It’s true that each molecule slows down while moving up, but molecules with higher initial speed are more likely to reach some upper level. The two effects: that of slowing down and the preference of higher initial speed turn out to cancel exactly leading to the same speed distribution at all altitudes in case of no interaction between molecules. The presence of interactions does not change this outcome although analyzing the interacting gas is more difficult.

      This issue has been discussed in some length on this site earlier. It’s pointless to repeat all details again and again.

    • gbaike,

      You apparently don’t realize that when you drive a car powered by gasoline you’re driving on stored ancient sunlight. Small imagination I suppose, just because the gasoline doesn’t glow with light. Same too with wind and hydroelectric power. Simply converted sunlight. Hopefully you at least can understand that solar power is power from sunlight, even though the solar cells don’t glow with the light.

      The next post you type…the muscles in your fingers are powered by stored sunlight…and you’d do well to thank the plants that originally gathered and stored that sunlight for you!

    • So are you suggesting that a greenhouse warms because the glass is emitting LW radiation back into the greenhouse? That’s an interesting concept…

    • In a normal greenhouse the glazing has little influence on the radiative heat balance because the glazing has essentially the same temperature as the interior surfaces of the greenhouse, but that’s not always the case for greenhouses with double glazing, because the outer glass of such a greenhouse may be significantly cooler than the interior surfaces of the greenhouse.

      Thus there are also greenhouses where the radiative greenhouse effect is significant.

    • David Springer

      In small part, yes. The dominant mode of operation in a greenhouse is blocking convection. Warm humid air that would normally rise and carry energy away from sun-warmed surfaces is blocked from escape. Greennhouse gases don’t block convection and their capacity to impede radiative cooling then becomes the sole modus operandi but only for non-condensing gases. Where you have water vapor you inescapably have clouds and clouds, through their high albedo, reflect more energy than they trap which is precisely why the dryest place on the equator at sea level has a higher mean annual temperature than the wettest place.

      The low altitude is also critical as physics of gravitionally compressed gases dictate that as altitude increases kinetic energy (measured by a thermometer) is replaced in equal part by gravitational energy (which is not measured by a thermometer) so while a pound of air at the surface has exactly the same energy content as a pound of air at 10,000 feet the measured temperature is quite different. This is what generates the lapse rate. A non-convecting atmosphere is iso-thermal but in order to understand how an isothermal atmosphere varies in temperature with altitutude one has to look at the fine print in the definition of thermal energy. Thermal energy is the sum of kinetic and gravitational potential energy. At the surface gravitational potential energy is zero and it’s all kinetic but as we go up the ratio changes. This is the fundamental error of the goofy dragon slayer hypothesis. Lapse rate is solely a function of gravitional constant and mass of the air column. Volume is the free variable in the gas law in that situation not temperature. If you remove energy from the column its temperature remains the same and its volume reduces. Remove enough energy and the volume collapses until it becomes an incompressible liquid or solid.

    • David

      You are wrong. The difference in gravitational energy is not the reason for the lapse rate. The lapse rate is certainly not independent of gravitation, but the relationship is more complex and depends on the the specific heat of the gas in a way that’s not consistent with your proposed explanation.

      I propose that you read any physics text that explains the origins of the lapse rate. They do really differ from what you write.

    • David Springer

      The easier way of saying that is double glazing blocks conductive heat loss.

      The last thing you worry about is radiative heat loss which is why the silver coating on the inside of vacuum flasks is applied as an afterthought. It makes them a little better performing but not by much.

    • David

      Double glazing does certainly reduce convective heat loss, but it may have a significant influence through the radiative heat loss as well.

      The effect is may well reach 100-200 W/m^2.

    • David Springer

      Double glazing DOES NOT reduce convective heat loss. It reduces conductive heat loss. Keep your terms straight. I’m inclined at this point to presume you know the difference between convection and conduction but there are people here who do not and you’ll confuse them.

    • David Springer
      Re: “Lapse rate is solely a function of gravitional constant and mass of the air column.”
      The lapse rate calculation also needs an effective radiation absorption coefficient. See:
      Prediction of the Standard Atmosphere Profiles of Temperature, Pressure, and Density with Height for the Lower Atmosphere by Solution of the (S−S) Integral Equations of Transfer and Evaluation of the Potential for Profile Perturbation by Combustion Emissions
      Robert H. Essenhigh, Energy Fuels, 2006, 20 (3), 1057-1067 • DOI: 10.1021/ef050276y

      The solution predicts, in agreement with the Standard Atmosphere experimental data, a linear decline of the fourth power of the temperature, T4, with pressure, P, and, at a first approximation, a linear decline of T with altitude, h, up to the tropopause at about 10 km (the lower atmosphere). . . . The analytical procedure adopts the standard assumptions commonly used for numerical solutions of steady state, one dimensionality, constant flux directional parameter (μ), and a gray-body equivalent average for the effective radiation absorption coefficient, k, for the mixed thermal radiation-active gases at an effective (joint-mixture) concentration, p.

    • I had in mind the change in convection near the surface, not the glazing separately. That’s part of the heat loss mechanism. I admit that it’s debatable whether that’s the right way of describing what happens, but that was the reason for my formulation.

    • The lapse rate calculation also needs an effective radiation absorption coefficient.

      That’s not true for the adiabatic lapse rate. The radiative properties of the atmosphere are essential in determining, where the adiabatic lapse rate is present, i.e. in determining the altitude of the tropopause, but they don’t influence the adiabatic lapse rate itself. It depends on the density and (effective) specific heat of the gas. Influence of the moisture enters in the effective specific heat.

      The specific heat is the other essential factor and that breaks quantitatively the validity of the erroneous argument of David Springer.

    • David Springer

      @Pekka

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

      The adiabatic lapse rates – which refer to the change in temperature of a parcel of air as it moves upwards (or downwards) without exchanging heat with its surroundings. The temperature change that occurs within the air parcel reflects the adjusting balance between potential energy and kinetic energy of the molecules of gas that comprise the moving air mass. There are two adiabatic rates:[6]

      I will concede that specific heat is a factor in addition to mass and gravity but since the specific heat of the earth’s atmosphere is practically constant throughout the troposphere (Cp = 1.05 @ -50C to +40C) it’s irrelevant to lapse rate and we’re left again with just gravitational constant and mass of the air column as the only factors of interest.

      http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/air-properties-d_156.html

    • David,

      The normal specific heat is essentially constant, but the fact that it influences the outcome proves that your original idea cannot be correct.

      Furthermore the condensation of moisture when moist air moves up has on effect similar to a high specific heat. The adiabatic lapse rate of moist air is typically much less than that of dry air. This again tells about the importance of other factors than loss of energy when moving up in gravitational field.

    • David Springer

      @David Hagen

      re; dry adiabatic lapse rate derivation

      While I’m willing to concede for the sake of argument that specific heat is a factor I challenge you to explain why from first principles. Gravitational potential energy is dependent only on mass and acceleration of gravity. We should agree on that. The internal energy of the system is defined as the sum of potential and kinetic energy. So if we lose or gain potential energy, and adiabatic by definition means there is no energy entering or leaving the system, then where does the potential energy go if not into kinetic energy and if temperature is defined as the average of the kinetic energy in the system then where the f*ck does specific heat of the gas come into play? I don’t really believe for a New York minute that specific heat has any role whatsoever in gravitationally compressed air masses. I believe it only comes into play in gases compressed by vessels of some sort so you may end up with some errors in theoretical performance of a heat engine but it doesn’t enter into the picture in an atmosphere.

    • David Springer

      @Pekka

      Don’t move the goalpost into saturated lapse rate or convecting atmospheres. I was quite specific about an isothermal atmosphere and attached no qualifiers except “dry” and “adiabatic” to “lapse rate”. If I failed to spell out all of those conditions are every mention it was for brevity not to give you an opening to make substitutions.

    • Conservation of energy allows for differing altitude distributions of the total energy. The atmosphere settles to stationary distribution and stationary temperature profile when the external influences are stationary. Changing the internal profile does not take or release any extra energy.

      From those observations alone we cannot tell, what the temperature profile will be. To find out, what the profile is, we must study the stability criteria and this study tells, what the adiabatic lapse rate is for a particular gas. The outcome depends on the (effective) specific heat.

      You can learn about that from the reference given by Steven Mosher. It’s perhaps the best reference that I have seen as freely available on the net.

    • This is a fun conversation :) Here is a bit of trivia, the R-value of a 3/4″ airspace is 2 using US units, adding a radiant barrier increases the R-value to 3. As the R-value increases, the impact of the radiant barrier on heat transfer decreases. If instead of an air space, foam is used, 1/2″ of polyisocyanurate foam backed on both sides provides a R-value of 3.3 which in RSI units would be 0.58 m^2-K/Watts.

      http://www.jm.com/insulation/building_insulation/products/bid0022_ap_foil-faced.pdf

    • David Springer

      I’m talking an ideal case of an isothermal atmosphere in a closed system with no energy lost of gained from outside the system. What can happen in an ideal system constrains what can happen in the real world. In this case to slay the dragon slayer we need to show from first principles in the simplest system that an isothermal atmosphere with more mass will not change the temperature at either the top or bottom of the column. The volume will change and the lapse rate will be smaller. If you don’t agree then you should go play in Cranksville with the rest of the nutcases.

    • David Springer said, “The specific heat is nearly constant trough the atmosphere.” Nearly doesn’t really cut it when you are looking at a very small change one component that is estimated to have a significant change in the system. Nitrogen and oxygen have near constant specific heat capacities over the atmospheric temperature and pressure range. CO2 and H2O are far from constant.

      Since the specific heat capacity is dependent on the degrees of freedom of the molecules, which decreases for H2O and CO2 as they approach a phase change, simple linear assumptions can bite you in the butt :)

    • David Springer

      @Pekka

      re; gravity leads to lower density not reduction in motion

      No. Lower density is a consequence of Boltzman distribution of energy in the air molecules. Fewer and fewer of them have enough kinetic energy to trade off for altititude to reach any given height.

      The really hard question isn’t whether gravity causes molecules in a gas to sort themselves out by kinetic energy. The hard question is whether this or not a perpetuum mobile of the second kind may be obtained, even in principle if not in practice, by the gravitational sorting. In other words is gravity acting like Maxwell’s Demon? My instinct is to say no but in principle nothing forbids a perpetuum mobile of the second kind and I can’t imagine a mechanism which can extract useful work forever from a gravitaionally induced temperature gradient. The possibility of a perpetuum mobile of the second kind is an unsettled debate going back close to 200 years.

    • The Boltzmann distribution of the speed of molecules at one altitude leads to the same Boltzmann distribution of speeds at all altitudes for noninteracting gas. Only the density changes, not the speed distribution.

      That’s the somewhat surprising but exact result that I was referring to in one of my above posts.

    • The result that I refer to in my above comment is derived in this paper

      http://web.ist.utl.pt/berberan/data/43.pdf

      It contains also other relevant material.

    • David Springer

      @Pekka

      The flaw in the paper you mention appears to be is that while there is a Boltzmann distribution of kinetic energy at all levels in the atmosphere there is no Boltzman distribution of gravitational potential energy! This is simply not possible because gravitational potential energy (GPE) is purely derived from gravitational constant and position within the gravity field. All molecules at any given level in the atmosphere have exactly the same gravitational potential energy. Since no molecule can rise without gaining GPE or fall without losing it, and conservation requires energy not be lost or gained, and the only energy wells are GPE and kinetic, then internal energy in any given mass of air in the isothermal atmosphere must be equal regardless of altitude – temperature varies because it is a measure of kinetic energy only and when GPE is taken into consideration as it must be then and only then will the books balance as they must. This is how the dragon slayers manage to convince so many people that a denser atmosphere is automatically hotter at the bottom and why the knee jerk reaction by most physicists is that this violates conservation but try getting a rational explanation of why and they fall apart. The key is that an isothermal gas in gravitational confinement is not the same temperature from top to bottom. Law of conservation that demands that temperture declines as gravitational potential energy rises. It’s really very simple. Gravity does some strange things. Get used to it. This is just one more unexpected consequence. At least it isn’t as weird as time dilation.

    • David Springer

      *just to be clear when I said all molecules at the same level in the atmosphere have the same amount of gravitational potential energy I meant to say all molecules of the same species bearing identical atomic masses

    • David Springer

      The Boltsmann distribution of kinetic energy of course holds true for any parcel of air at any altitude. The average value of that distribution is not fixed. Temperature, which is the averge of the distributed energies, must rise and fall with position within the gravity field. I don’t understand the resistance in acceptance that thermal energy is the sum of kinetic and potential. Failure to account for it causes absurd results such as violation of conservation and specious hypotheses like the dragon slayers bandy about.

    • David,

      1) In isothermal atmosphere the distribution of velocities is equal everywhere. There’s no decrease of speed with altitude.

      2) An isolated atmosphere that does not transfer any energy with it’s surroundings will ultimately become isothermal.

      3) Potential energy is energy related to one degree of freedom (the altitude). The other degrees of freedom that have energy include the three components of velocity as well as rotational and vibrational modes, which are, however, discrete.

      4) In equilibrium different degrees of freedom have their own energy distribution independently of the other degrees of freedom. Thus the altitude distribution is not correlated with the velocity distribution. Molecules at high altitudes move on the average as fast as molecules at low altitude.

      5) Molecules at higher altitude have on the average a higher energy. The difference is exactly the difference in potential energy. There’s no compensation trough slower speeds.

      All the above is about the isothermal atmosphere, which is the equilibrium atmosphere. The real atmosphere is not in equilibrium. It is approximately stationary. There’s a continuous flow of energy trough the atmosphere, which is heated from below by the Earth surface and cooled from the top by radiation to the space. This continuous flow of energy leads to the atmosphere with an adiabatic lapse rate in the troposphere. In an equilibrium atmosphere the lapse rate is zero as it is isothermal.

    • David Springer

      @Pekka

      I was reading your english blog’s most recent entry and would point out that the basic physics underlying atmospheric physics are not as settled as you seem to think. I would point to one very recent and very important finding in this regard. That is the reflectivity of clouds. There is a phenomenon called “The Glory” which was first observed several hundred years ago by mountain climbers looking downwards on a cloud with the sun at their back. The climber would see his shadow on the cloud but he would also see a rainbow halo around his shadow. If there were other climbers he would see their shadows but he would not see their halos. The sunlight, you see, is being reflected back at precisely 180 degrees so you see your own halo but not that of someone whose shadow precisely in front of you. The problem is that there is no physics which describes how light can be refracted 180 degrees by a water droplet. That angle is well beyond the optical limit of refraction. The answer, it turns out, is due to quantum tunneling. If a photon passes within a wavelength of a water droplet it can tunnel into one side of the water droplet then tunnel out the opposite side traveling in the exact opposite direction. The critical weakness in climate models, as you may know, is clouds. The rest of the stuff is, as you say, fairly straightforward and explained by basic classical physics. The empirical evidence all points to the water cycle as having a net negative feedback which serves to put an upper bound on surface temperature yet to get climate sensitivity to a CO2 doubling to something more worrysome than welcome this thing called water vapor amplification was invented out of (pardon the pun) thin air. This increases the sensitivity to a CO2 doubling from a widely agreed upon maximum of 1.1C to at least treble that number. This is pure unadulterated fantasy. The highest mean annual temperature on the earth’s surface is an equatorial salt desert. If water vapor amplification were true the hottest place would be an equatorial jungle or ocean where there’s far more water. The fact of the matter is that where you have water vapor you have clouds and clouds in sum reflect more light than they trap. This recently described quantum tunneling of light to acheive a 180 degree reflection in a photon is not contained in extant cloud models and IMO is probably why the models have the net effect of clouds making the surface warmer while the observations show them having the opposite effect. The model would have all photons not striking a water droplet passing by to a lower level in the atmosphere and, eventually, causing more photons to reach the surface. The quantum tunneling which captures and reflects by 180 degrees photons passing close to a water droplet makes a big difference. Without water vapor amplification catastrophic global warming become welcomed global warming and efforts to mitigate human emissions go from a possibly productive endeavour to a certainly counter-productive endeavour.

      http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-science-of-the-glory

    • David Springer

      @Pekka

      As an aside, if English were your native language your competence with it it is admirable. If Finnish is your native language your fluency and precision with English it is astounding. I didn’t agree with everything you wrote on your blog but it was still a pleasure to read because your thoughts were communicated so well.

    • Yes, the prose is lucid, with only a few photons turned around.
      ============

    • David Springer

      Pekka Pirilä | June 2, 2012 at 3:42 am |

      “1) In isothermal atmosphere the distribution of velocities is equal everywhere. There’s no decrease of speed with altitude.”

      Untrue. Temperature decreases as altitude increases in an isothermal atmosphere. You’re describing an isothermal gas in a closed vessel. You need to switch your thought processes over from laboratory physics to astrophysics. People who model clouds of gases that collapse under gravitational pressure into stars are laughing at your naivety.

    • David Springer

      @Pekka

      A gas cloud collapses under gravity to form a star. This is an isothermal process yet the temperature in the center of the cloud is far higher than at the periphery. When you understand this you will understand the lapse rate in an isothermal atmosphere. Maybe you’re just too old and proud to admit you are wrong. Something is causing you to have a mental block in this regard and I’m at my wits end in how to enlighten you.

    • David Springer

      @Pekka

      Upon further reading the debate we’re having is the same one that 18th century physicists Loschmidt, Maxwell, and Boltzman began in 1868. There has been no definitive resolution to date merely thought experiments which amount to no more than handwaving. I’m an engineer and thus more inclined to eschew thought experiments for real experiments.

      As it turns out there is a published experiment and the results support Loschmidt not Maxwell and Boltzmann. This is published in “The Smithsonian/NASA Astrophysics Data System”. As I indicated earlier this is more in the area of astrophysics and any other branch of physics.

      I present for your edification

      Measuring the Temperature Distribution in Gas Columns
      Graeff, Roderich W.

      http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2002AIPC..643..225G

      QUANTUM LIMITS TO THE SECOND LAW: First International Conference on Quantum Limits to the Second Law. AIP Conference Proceedings, Volume 643, pp. 225-230 (2002).

      Late in the 19th century J. Loschmidt believed that a vertical column of gas in an isolated system would show a temperature gradient under the influence of gravity, cold at the top and warm at the bottom. L.Boltzmann and J.C. Maxwell disagreed. Their theories tried to prove an equal temperature over height. Experiments with various test setups are being presented which seem to strenghten the position of Loschmidt. Longterm measurements at room temperature show average temperature gradients of up to 0,07 °K/m in the walls of the enclosure, cold at the top and warm at the bottom. The measured values can be explained by the conversion of the potential energy of the molecules into an increase of their average speed through gravity.

      I still of course do not subscribe to the dragon slayer nonsense that this is responsible for the greenhouse effect. This experimentally measured effect does not increase the temperature at the base of the column over and above what it would otherwise be. It merely makes the top of the column colder by an amount equal to the increase in potential energy due to upward displacement in the gravity well.

    • David,

      There’s on extremely strong simple proof for the equality of the temperature in equilibrium. If there would be a difference between the bottom and the top, we could build a perpetum mobile of the second kind using thermoelectricity (the Seebeck effect). That’s not the only proof but that alone is sufficient.

    • A web search revealed that the author of the paper that tells about the temperature difference has filed a patent application on his perpetum mobile device

      http://www.freepatentsonline.com/y2003/0145883.html

    • Springer is definitely talking about a contested topic with some key complications.

      From my point of view, I am entrenched in the conventional statistical mechanics theory. The kinetic and potential energy of a particle is distinct from the temperature of the thermal bath it resides in. This gets drilled into those of us that have studied electrical device physics for years. An electron or a hole has an energy distinct from the thermal environment it moves in. All of device physics is based on this premise. And it makes it easy to characterize how devices work. Change the temperature of the device and change the electrical fields and the transport follows the theory.

      However when you consider that a thermoelectric effect (Pekka talked about the Seebeck effect, which is a thermoelectric effect) can also occur with temperature gradients set up based on the electrical properties of the material, then you realize that it is more of a compliant system than a simple perturbation. Then of course everyone at least understands the situations of thermal runaway when you try to overclock a system, and that’s why we have to heat sink our computer chips. The electrons are actually heating up the system based on their motion and the equivalent of frictional losses.

      So the atmosphere is more like this latter situation. The kinetics of the atmospheric gas molecules can’t be divorced from the thermal bath they sit in. They actually create the temperature from their kinetic motion, minus whatever radiative gains and losses occur.

      One issue is that although the individual molecules respond to gravity, they scatter so much that only a bulk advective motion is observed. This means that individually the motion is largely diffusive, and to get a gravitational motion, collections of particles have to work together. This works especially for the lighter molecular weight gas, while the very heavy molecular weight gas will sink. That means much of the thermal energy is largely “in place” vibrational energy (the equivalent in an electrical medium is phonon energy in the lattice).

      So for gravity to actually make an impact and actually cause heating to occur is for the molecules to release their kinetic energy as they move. Bottomline, the gas molecules absorb energy from solar radiation, move up and down in altitude and interchange energy with the surroundings. Conservation of energy still has to apply. Generally speaking, this movement gives the adiabatic temperature distribution explained well by Landau and Lifshitz.

      Where in altitude and in what part of the EM radiation frequency spectrum this all occurs is the key to understanding how GHG theory applies.

      The perpetual motion aspects that Pekka found in the paper make that author’s assertions disturbing.

  56. Plus 1 for Professor Rovelli’s marvellous essay.

  57. One of the saddest stories in history of science:

    For the IPCC to report to policy makers without removing a global warming rate due to cyclic warming rate of about 0.12 deg C per decade in its claim of 0.2 deg C per decade for the next two decades.

  58. David Springer

    “The very expression ‘scientifically proven’ is a contradiction in terms. There is nothing that is scientifically proven.”

    Only if you divorce science from observation. Science is both fact and theory. The fact part is considered to be proven. Yesterday’s sunrise is a fact. Tomorrow’s sunrise is a theory.

    • Something can be said to be ‘scientifically proven’ if the truth of it is so obvious that no one would ever dream of actually getting a government grant to research it. Accordingly, it probably can be said that, There is nothing that is scientifically proven.. And that is why we have studies that study how good the studies are that were done to determine how well previous studies were done.

    • David Springer

      The composition of the moon’s surface is scientifically proven and that knowledge didn’t come cheap. What lies beneath the clouds on Saturn’s moon Titan is also scientifically proven. Microbes that eat iron and piss sulfuric acid in the complete absence of sunlight are scientifically proven to exist. That those same microbes use a genetic code the same as ours to produce proteins is scientifically proven. I could go on and on without end for the rest of my natural life expounding on everything proven by science but my tolerance for stupidity in others restricts the length of time I’ll spend with one individual and I’m already at that limit with you.

      .

    • If you are going to be a pedant you must first learn to read. Maybe go back and try again.

    • David Springer

      The composition of the moon’s surface is not obvious. A government program spent many billions to send astronauts to the moon to retrieve samples and bring them back for analysis on the earth. So non-obvious knowledge was scientifically proven and it was funded by a government at huge expense.

      Now you childishly ask me to go back and read what you wrote. Okay, I try to be kind to children and dumb animals. Here’s what you wrote:

      Something can be said to be ‘scientifically proven’ if the truth of it is so obvious that no one would ever dream of actually getting a government grant to research it. Accordingly, it probably can be said that, There is nothing that is scientifically proven..

      BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZT!!!! WRONG!!!! Man up and concede the point. Even an anonymous coward can do that much.

    • You’re talking to the hand Springer and it is embarassing to witness. You’re still blabbing about facts when the issue was whether we can ever really know anything scientifically. To that issue I was teaching truth through absurdity. You failed. Even Socrates admited to knowing ‘one truth,’ and even I know the moon is actually made of green cheese.

    • David Springer

      The hand evidently has a mouth and isn’t remaining silent as the hand is supposed to do. Moron.

    • David Springer

      Good grief. I just went to the source to waste some time reading Carlo Rovelli’s rant and saw his picture at the top of it. Did anyone else notice that if you aged “Leonard”, one of the theoretical physicists on the sitcom “The Big Bang Theory”, by about 25 years he’d be a dead ringer fior Rovelli? I wonder if the casting director did that on purpose.

      Check it out:

      http://edge.org/custom/leadimages/bk_503_rovelli630.jpg

      http://static.tvguide.com/MediaBin/Content/110131/News/1_mon/110131mag-big-bang-theory-john1.jpg

    • I like the way you eagerly show everyone who and what you really are Springer.

    • David Springer

      I loathe the way you hide who you are, Wagathon.

    • Al Gore is merely the putative head of the latest authoritarian movement. The AGW movement is nothing more than a nihilistic philosophy in which humans would become slaves to a new ruling class of bearded schoolmarms.

    • David Springer

      I shaved my beard off a few years ago to better dissociate myself from the wannabe new ruling class of bearded schoolmarms led by Al Gore. It hurt. I had that beard for 30 years. Now I have an electric shaver, an extra minute more each day to notice how damn old I am in the mirror, and minor skin irritation. But hey, you do what you have to do.

    • David Springer

      Is there sufficient processing power in grey matter to at least, if not formulate through your own recognizance, the hypothesis that my online behavior is affected to inspire responses?

      Bazinga.

    • Your greatest fear has been realized — to be asleep when truth happens.

      Natural Ignorance of Collective Reasoning

    • Facts are facts. Lawyers prove facts through multiple witnesses. Science makes observations. Theoretical mathematicians can do proofs. There are no “proofs” in the philosophy of the science I know.

      (Mosher says all of this earlier.)

    • David Springer

      Mosher is an imbecile. The composition of the moon’s surface was hypothesized. One of the greatest scientific and engineering programs in history landed men on the moon and brought them safely back to earth carrying carefully collected and isolated from contamination samples of the moon for laboratory analysis. It was science and engineering from soup to nuts. The hypothetical composition of the moon was scientifically proven in any reasonable metric of what is scientific and what is not.

      P.S. You don’t have to be a scientist to practice science. Even a lawyer can adhere to scientific methods of collecting/handling/analyzing evidence, forming and testing hypotheses, and so forth. The lawyer might not even be aware his processes and procedures fit the model of scientific investigation because to some people the methodology is obvious and casually re-invented without formal instruction.

  59. Steven Mosher | June 1, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    No. The physics of the theory do not say the surface is warmed by downwelling IR.
    =====================================================
    This is not true. The AGW concept is exactly about the “greenhouse gas” CO2 allegedly warming (by 7-9 degrees) the SURFACE by emitting back to the SURFACE a part of the IR produced by the SURFACE. Which makes the air near the SURFACE warmer.

    The Wood’s experiment demonstrates, that this effect is extremely weak and no significant warming is possible.

    • Greg, you really ought to read a bit more. Your supposition makes no sense at all in light of the fact that every global climate model shows the primary effect of increasing greenhouse gases to be a warming of the oceans. How does your simple and simply inaccurate explanation account for this?

    • David Springer

      Greg is correct about back radiation. That is indeed the modus operandi of greenhouse gases. He’s wrong about the Wood’s experiment though. It was poorly documented and never repeated. It’s nothing more than urban legend at this point.

  60. “R. Gates | June 1, 2012 at 4:31 pm |

    gbaike,

    You apparently don’t realize that when you drive a car powered by gasoline you’re driving on stored ancient sunlight. Small imagination I suppose, just because the gasoline doesn’t glow with light. Same too with wind and hydroelectric power. Simply converted sunlight. Hopefully you at least can understand that solar power is power from sunlight, even though the solar cells don’t glow with the light.

    The next post you type…the muscles in your fingers are powered by stored sunlight…and you’d do well to thank the plants that originally gathered and stored that sunlight for you!”

    Actually a car using gasoline is mostly powered or as powered by the oxygen. Oxygen is created by plants from CO2 using energy from sunlight.
    On any other planet in our solar system, gasoline isn’t an energy source unless inludes the oxygen needed for the combustion.
    So take the Titan moon with all it’s methane and hydrocarbons, it not a world with a lot available energy- it lacks 02 molecules.
    It and any body in solar system has lots oxygen chemically bond to rock [the oxygen has already been burnt]. And you can extract such oxygen, but the energy cost is higher than energy you get from burning any hydrocarbon. So rather than energy rich in terms of having chemical energy, Titan doesn’t any chemical energy available unless you can find an available oxidizer.
    “Fuel” is unique to Earth, and what significant about earth is it’s got 20% of it atmosphere which oxygen which allows things to burn.

    • Um…….you might need to go back to chem 101.

      Oxygen ‘powers’ my car? The ‘fuel’ in combustion is the substance that contains the energy released in the reaction.

      Hint – it’s not oxygen.

      Fuel is unique to the Earth?? – tell that to the sun.

    • Michael -

      I think gbaike could give you your chem 101 lessons

      You need to re-think your “substance contains energy”, and if you re-read gbaike’s comment you’ll find out where you’re going wrong.

      Hint – the energy comes from the process of combustion, not the substance. It’s a relationship thing :)

    • oh dear.

      Yes, the energy is ‘relased’ in combustion. it doesn’t just magically appear as part of the process.

      Where does it come from?? – the breaking of the covalent carbon bonds…in the fuel….the gasoline. Oxygen contributes zero energy to this exothermic reaction.

      Back to chem 101 with the pair of you.

    • The market will eventually value those lovingly constructed hydrocarbon bonds for their structure rather than merely for the energy contained within.
      ============

    • Michael,

      Breaking the covalent carbon bonds does not release energy, it takes energy. Breaking the bond between the two atoms of oxygen molecule takes energy as well. All this energy and more is released when the oxygen atoms make new bonds with the carbon and hydrogen extracted from the fuel. Energy is released, because the new bonds are stronger than the original ones.

      We need, indeed, both the fuel and the oxygen to produce energy. Missing either one makes that impossible.

      Is there something more elementary than chem 101 to go back?

    • pekka –

      You beat me to it!

      But well put anyway :)

    • OK, the reforming of the bond, no the breaking.

      Sorry Anteros, you’re still at the back of the class with your ‘process’.

      The energy is stored in the carbon bonds.

    • David Springer

      A better example fuel for your purposes would be something like maybe hydrogen peroxide. (2)H2O2 -> (2)H2O + O2 + heat. Not only does it not combust it produces pure oxygen as one of the byproducts. It has an energy density about 10% that of diesel. A decent fuel, easy to handle, and can be used in an exceedingly inexpensive rocket engine or any application where 650C steam is desireable. The energy density can be greatly improved by carrying enough tanked H2 to combust with the O2 byproduct (2)H2 + O2 -> (2)H2O + heat. This raises the complexity and cost of the motor by an order of magnitude though.

    • This sub-thread is utterly delicious. And the spectacle of Michael’s larger-than-life determination to brazen out his doofus screw-up is the best part.

      Enjoy.

    • You’re too late mike.

      Pekka, with style, beat you by a mile.

    • Michael,

      Michael,

      Let me keep the fun going a bit. Pekka “beat” me to what? Spell it out, Michael.

      And as your consider your response, Michael, please consider the following, delicious highlights of your little, lead-with-your-chin misadventure in this sub-thread: your original, what-an-idiot!, doofus screw-up comment; Pekka’s “stylish” (I agree) comeback to the same that–lets be frank, Michael–made you look the ass; and, finally, your Bart knock-off, slip-and-slide, double-down-on-doofus, “I’m a winner!” response to Pekka’s take-down of your original, moronic comment.

      So, again, Michael, what is it, exactly, that Pekka “beat” me to?

      Go hive!

    • Gbaikie,

      Are you suggesting that fossil fuels do not represent stored energy that originated from sunlight? A simple yes they do or no they don’t will suffice.

    • “Are you suggesting that fossil fuels do not represent stored energy that originated from sunlight? A simple yes they do or no they don’t will suffice.”
      yes.
      Of course, it’s stored energy. But not useable energy without the oxidizer.
      A “universal source of energy” in terms chemical energy on earth is
      oxygen.
      Life makes chemical energy which it uses. Plants make a dangerous substance which they use to survive, they make an excessive amount of this dangerous substance. It is called oxygen.
      Plants need oxygen, and they make more than they need, so they emit oxygen into the environment. Some types of life do not need oxygen in the environment- it’s harmful to them. This type of life:
      wiki: Anaerobic organism
      “An anaerobic organism or anaerobe is any organism that does not require oxygen for growth. It could possibly react negatively and may even die if oxygen is present. There are three types:

      obligate anaerobes, which cannot use oxygen for growth and are even harmed by it
      aerotolerant organisms, which cannot use oxygen for growth, but tolerate the presence of it
      facultative anaerobes, which can grow without oxygen but can utilize oxygen if it is present

      In humans beings these organisms are usually found in gastrointestinal tract.”
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anaerobic_organism

      Too much oxygen is least a problem for all known lifeforms, including humans.
      And with Apollo One, you had an example of happens at you use pure oxygen at 14.7 psi. Any spark can turn what could seem to be safe inert substances into a inferno.

    • David Springer

      Ironically the processes that turn organic matter into natural gas and oil are anaerobic. So is the process that turns malted barley into beer. Thank God for lack of oxygen!

    • David Springer

      gbaikie | June 1, 2012 at 11:46 pm | Reply

      “The next post you type…the muscles in your fingers are powered by stored sunlight…and you’d do well to thank the plants that originally gathered and stored that sunlight for you!””

      That’s a fairly safe bet but not necessarily true. One can consume vegetables grown under artificial lights powered by electricity from a nuclear reactor. No sunlight in the supply chain there. Ha!

    • I’ll stick with the safe bet…but your scenario, though likely very rare on Earth is of course the kind of thing that space travelers may have to do in long future space voyages. See the movie, “Silent Running”:

      For 99.9% of current humans and animals– we pretty much are eating the energy of sunlight everyday to survive. Bon Appetit!

  61. Since we are essentially done with the Wood’s experiment proving no or at best only insignificantly little “greenhouse effect” via back radiation is physically possible, I would like to give the sceptics (meaning people who do not understand the Wood’s experiment) some fresh ideas.

    Assuming there is exactly that very “greenhouse effect” the AGW people are so addicted to, we logically should be really concerned not only about our Earth, but about our Sun, too.

    The Sun sends us a large portion of IR radiation (what the warmists almost always forget to mention) and our “greenhouse gasses” block some of it, right? So, back radiation from our “greenhouse gasses” travels back to the Sun, thus warming it. Now, we all know, how extremely hot the Sun is, who knows, what happens to it, if it gets even hotter. Melting, e.g. . To save our Sun, we must act immediately and reduce our emissions, right?

    If some people possibly disagree on our “greenhouse gasses” warming our Sun, I would like to humbly ask them to provide valid arguments, thank you.

    • David Springer

      My calculator doesn’t have enough places beyond to decimal point to cipher the precise amount of insignificant effect this has on the sun. Go sit in the corner in timeout for a while for making me waste time reading something so utterly stupid.

    • My understanding of the AGW greenhouse effect is that visible light hits the ground, turns to IR which can’t escape. I still think it’s nonsense.

      Imagine an experiment in an IR reflective tube with sealed ends. Each end has a volume of CO2, separated by a vacuum contained by IR transparent material, which is able to move and separated by a removable IR reflector
      [CO2|movable partition|vacuum|IR reflector|vacuum|movable partition|CO2]

      Effectively we have a closed system which prevents heat transfer by conduction and convection. Radiation is blocked by the IR reflector. Pressure is able to equilibrate.

      If we can add heat to one end, then remove the IR reflector, what will happen??
      a. the warmer CO2 traps heat and the cooler CO2 does not warm.
      b. the two volumes of CO2 will equalise in temperature by radiative transfer
      c. the cooler CO2 radiates heat to the warmer CO2 which traps it

      Surely we can do tis experiment in a lab?

    • “My understanding of the AGW greenhouse effect is that visible light hits the ground, turns to IR which can’t escape. I still think it’s nonsense.”

      No one ever said that this is the way it works. The actual physics is that the graybody temperature of the emitting object adjusts so that the spectrally integrated radiation emitted by the earth matches that arriving from the sun. The temperature needs to adjust since certain photon frequencies are blocked unless they are emitted near the top of the atmosphere.

      BTW, the physics knowledge behind this is used to engineer everything from infrared lasers to smelting furnaces. CO2 has some marvelous practical properties. :)

    • @WebHubTelescope:No one ever said that this is the way it works. The actual physics is….

      Can’t say that I have seen a consensus description of the physics, especially one claiming to the the “actual physics” in a peer reviewed journal. Have not seen a consensus or even a sound description of an exact physical mechanism by posters here or anywhere yet.

      Nevertheless, it remains to demonstrated if the phenomenon of “certain photon frequencies being blocked” is “actual physics” or nonsence.

      My understanding of “actual physics” is that atomic bonds in CO2 molecules absorb energy at the resonant frequency. Such energized atomic bonds are also able to emit such energy at such frequencies/wavelengths and this is the actual physics of a CO2 laser. Whether absorption or emission occurs is described by the laws of physics (thermodynamics).

      Phenomena of absorption and reemission are established physics. Absorption and warming without reemission has not been demonstrated. Not by Tyndall nor by anyone else since that anyone has been able to show me. Hence my simple experiment which could easily demonstrate the phenomena of the real world atomic bond IR absorption/emission vs thermodynamics.

    • Re-emission is what provides the surface downwelling IR that keeps the surface warm. It is critical to the explanation.

    • @JimD, remission in the real world is omnidirectional at least and more likely to result in net heat flow from warmer to cooler. I have seen no demonstration of net heat flow from cooler to warmer. My simple experiment above should clarify that. The tube can be vertical if that helps people.

      CO2 created warming is nonsense until the physics can be described and demonstrated in a simple laboratory experiment.

    • blouis79, are you one of the people who doesn’t believe you can detect downwelling longwave radiation from the sky with a warmer detector? I noticed you have gone from saying AGW has no re-emission to saying yes it does, but it is wrong to assume it is absorbed at the surface. This is a typical moving-target argument shaping up. Can we go back to your statement about re-emission?

    • Yes, indeed, he changed from saying it “can’t escape” to it being re-emitted “omnidirectional”. Funnier than all get out when these pseudoscience skeptics shift the ground rules.

    • @JimD and @WebHubTelescope, I don’t have any moving targets. Please carefully read what I say about physics.

      1. Absorption and reemission of IR are present and detectable as theoretically sound physical phenomena.
      2. That absorption and reemission can result in net heat flow contrary to the laws of thermodynamics is nonsense.

      So detection of downwelling IR net heat flow down. Heat not escaping by IR radiation is an AGW hypothesis which I think is nonsense and there is no experimental proof of such a pheonomenon.

      Neither of you has proposed an answer to my simple CO2 heat transfer experiment. Chicken?

    • blouis79, what heat is not escaping? There is IR to space emitted both from the atmosphere and ground. It is only because doubling CO2 lets about 1% less heat escape that warming results. Your experiment seems to be to demonstrate radiative equilibrium, but the atmosphere has convection, so its temperature won’t become isothermal anyway.

    • @JimD, so the IR trapping effect of doubling CO2 is claimed to be about 1%? It would be easy to change the CO2 concentration of both ends of my experimental setup to measure this. Nobody has done it yet.

    • There is a branch of physics called radiative transfer. They have one-dimensional models (like MODTRAN) that could do your experiment for you. These models are based on the observed and theoretical spectral lines of gases, and have been verified by observations.

    • To say that radiative transfer theory explains the greenhouse fantasy is a serious misinterpretation of physics. Radiative transfer theory says nothing about heat trapping, and does not contradict the laws of thermodynamics. It merely describes the processes of heat transfer on the way to radiative thermal equilibrium.

      How long does it say that radiation takes to reach thermal equilibrium at the speed of light, especially in a gas with small thermal mass?

  62. “Science is not about certainty” Are you sure about that?

    • tempterrain

      That’s the only “certainty” in science, i.e. that there is no “certainty”.

      A recent practical example:

      Since around 1970 our planet was warming ever so slowly, but noticeably.

      Over the same period, human GHG emissions have continued and atmospheric concentrations have risen..

      Model simulations have shown that the observed warming has come from these increased levels of GHGs, principally CO2, corroborating the GH theory – in fact the observed warming “could only be explained” if one assumed it was caused principally by increased levels of human GHGs.

      In other words, “the science was settled”.

      Then, a strange thing happened: despite the fact that GHG emissions continued unabated and atmospheric CO2 concentrations have reached record levels, global temperature stopped rising around 1998 and has cooled slightly since then.

      How could this have happened if “the science was settled”?

      It wasn’t.

      That’s what “uncertainty” is all about.

      Max

    • tempterrain

      Max, Are you sure that ‘uncertainty’, as applied to climate science is really about that?
      Are you sure its not just a cover argument for doing nothing on the climate issue? You’ll have heard the bar room arguments about how ‘they can’t prove’ there is any sort of problem.
      Normally we don’t require absolute proof when we are warned of a particular problem. Or at least sensible people don’t. We vaccinate our kids, for example, against various diseases on the basis of probability. We don’t know, for sure, if there is a small residual risk with the vaccine. We don’t know, for sure, if the child is going to be exposed to the disease anyway.
      It’s all very uncertain. But we don’t let that uncertainty stop us acting rationally. We don’t use it as an excuse for doing nothing.
      Why should it be any different when climate science is involved?

    • Would you vaccinate your kids against a disease they might not be exposed to if there was the slightest risk of the vaccine doing them harm?

    • I was going to add – the (unfounded) MMR scare certainly stopped many parents from vaccinating their kids.
      But we know the so-called ‘solutions’ to climate change are going to hurt us, because it’s already started hurting us!

    • tempterrain

      Max, Are you sure that ‘uncertainty’, as applied to climate science is really about that?
      Are you sure its not just a cover argument for doing nothing on the climate issue?

      “Uncertainty in the attribution of recent changes to our planet’s climate has been pretty well described by our host here (as well as by others).

      This “uncertainty” translates out to a similar“uncertainty” regarding any model-based projections for our planet’s future climate.

      This uncertainty” leaves us with a large amount of “uncertainty” regarding what (if anything) we should do in the hopes of changing our planet’s future climate (if this is at all a wise thing to try) and even greater “uncertainty” yet as to whether the actions we propose to take will have any effect whatsoever on our future climate plus an even larger “uncertainty” regarding the unforeseen consequences these actions might have.

      That’s how the “uncertainty” chain you describe appears to be working in real life.

      Max

    • tempterrain

      I have already responded to your question on “uncertainty” WRT climate science.

      You added a question regarding vaccination (a different topic).

      This is a poor analogy because in the case of vaccination (let’s take polio for example), we KNOW that since vaccination of children has started the incidence of polio has dropped dramatically.

      We also KNOW that the negative side effects of the polio vaccine are minimal.

      In the case of “climate actions” we DO NOT KNOW if the actions will have any positive result at all.

      We also DO NOT KNOW what the unforeseen negative consequences of the actions might be.

      So it’s a totally different story and the analogy is flawed.

      Max

    • tempterrain

      Max,
      Before mass vaccination started we didn’t know if the programs would “have any positive results at all” or if there would be any “unforeseen negative consequences.”
      If the world had acted according to your logic, if that’s the right word, we never would have known. Just like you’re hoping we’ll never know if CO2 abatement measures would have been successful.

  63. “JC comment: [...] I am struggling to understand why climate science doesn’t seem to me to be working so well.”

    “It’s not about what you done
    It’s about what you doin’

    It’s all about where you goin’
    No matter where you been”

    — Calvin Harris featuring Ne-Yo – Let’s Go

  64. Thanks, JC, for those suggestive excerpts. As is unfortunately usual, however, the quality of the translation and editing degrades the closer to the end one gets. That last sentence borders on incoherence. “I am throwing down an open door …”
    LOL Say what?
    Oh, well …

  65. Shout down my rain barrel,
    Slide down my cellar door.
    ================

  66. David Springer

    Science is not about epistemology.

    Should the NSF fund epistemology research?

    Hell know no. It blows chunks. It’s useless. Just take a gander at the losers here proclaiming there’s no such thing as scientific knowledge. What a bunch of asshats.

  67. David Springer

    Speaking of useless crap NSF shouldn’t fund…

    Carlo Rovelli is a theoretical physicist working on quantum gravity hypotheses. These are somewhat less useful than teats on a tomcat. The only redeeming qualities is it keeps people working on the non-problem with less than a firm grasp on reality from going postal, it gives Scientific American one more useless column filler, and it gives me crap to read on the crapper which is the only place where SciAm can be found in my abode.

  68. David Springer

    I thought this was relevant. Let’s try it again to see if it sticks.

    Carlo Rovelli, theoretical physicist:

    http://edge.org/custom/leadimages/bk_503_rovelli630.jpg

    Johnny Galecki, who plays a theoretical physicist on the hit SitCom “The Big Bang Theory”

    http://edge.org/custom/leadimages/bk_503_rovelli630.jpg

    Remarkable. Coincidence or by design?

  69. David Springer | June 2, 2012 at 6:07 am |
    My calculator doesn’t have enough places beyond to decimal point to cipher the precise amount of insignificant effect this has on the sun. Go sit in the corner in timeout …
    ==============================================
    Well, then try and use your sceptical energy and your calculator to find out how many places beyond to decimal point your calculator will need to cipher the precise amount of the insignificant “greenhouse effect” on the Earth.

    Given the results of the Wood’s experiment, of course.

  70. David Springer

    Rovelli: “Then comes Anaximander and says: no, is something else. ‘The earth is a finite body that floats in space, without falling, and the sky is not just over our head; it is all around.’ How he gets it?”

    Actually Anaximander didn’t get it. The earth doesn’t float in space. It is falling in a circle around the sun. You’d think a top shelf theoretical physicist would have a better grasp of orbital mechanics. Of course Rovelli’s generation of theoretical physicists HAVE spent 30 years with their thinking caps on and came up with nothing. The standard model still rules, quantum mechanics and general relativity are still at loggerheads, and a Grand Unified Theory of Everything is a pipe dream. Maybe there’s a connection between that and thinking that Aniximander got it right about the earth floating in space like a balloon. Just a thought. I’m still reading his essay.

  71. David Springer | June 2, 2012 at 5:56 am |

    Greg is correct about back radiation. That is indeed the modus operandi of greenhouse gases. He’s wrong about the Wood’s experiment though. It was poorly documented and never repeated.
    =================================================
    Never repeated? What about this one: http://www.biocab.org/Wood_Experiment_Repeated.html ?

    Second, just a simple common scientific sense should tell you, that if the 33 degrees “greenhouse effect” were true, then given the much higher capability of glass to “trap” IR, the temperature in your in summer in the sun parked car would be like hundreds or thousands degrees Celsius. This alone should serve as a starting point.

    • David Springer

      Oh please. Principia Scientifica is not a legitimate journal. It’s a privately web page, recently created, hosted by some no-name ISP in Arizona. Give me a credible source or take a hike.

    • David Springer

      Nowhere did I say that the earth would be 33K cooler if it weren’t for greenhouse gases, by the way. I think that’s malarky. The so-called greenhouse effect is caused by the ocean which is an uber-greenhouse fluid 100% opaque to longwave infrared and quite transparent to shortwave energy and it has an albedo that’s effectively zero where and when the sun shines the hardest. Energy enters the ocean at the speed of light gradually absorbed and thermalized by impurities to a depth of up to 100 meters and then, because the thermal radiation can’t escape from depth and the absorbed energy gradient doesn’t exceed the lapse rate of water making it stable it takes like forever for the solar energy to be mechanically lifted to the surface where it escapes principally by evaporation. There’s your greenhouse effect. The maximum surface temperature of the ocean anywhere recorded by ARGO is 35C and that happens to be the same number as the highest possible mean annual temperature given the average surface insolation at the equator. Without the ocean the planet would freeze up like a giant popsicle due to the high albedo of snow having a tendency to make it colder and breed even more snow. We live on a water world. The atmosphere’s only major function in climate regulation is providing 14 psi of surface pressure so liquid water has a 100K range where it can remain a liquid. Greenhouse gases don’t do spit while the water cycle is humming along. Non-condensing greenhouse gases probably take on an important role during so-called snowball earth episoides where the sinks are blocked and CO2 from volcanic eruptions gradually build it up to several percent of the atmosphere and the same volanoes gradually blacken the snow and lower it’s albedo to something approaching water. Then the big melt begins and the over-fertilized atmosphere and lack of competition because almost everything died in the cold spurs a burst of biological fecundity and evolutionary radiation.]

      That’s in a nutshell of course but the big picture is the sun heats the ocean and the ocean heats the atmosphere. The atmosphere doesn’t heat the ocean which is essentially what the warmist nonsense is all about – CO2 warms the ocean. In a pig’s ass it does.

    • You didn’t say that the earth would be 33K cooler without GHG’s, but I’m fully willing to say so. It’s clearly a reasonable statement as calculating the temperature the Earth would have with very little GHG’s is not particularly difficult. Without absolutely any GHG’s at all the atmosphere would be so different that it might be necessary to describe the situation differently. Giving the particular value of 33K is also dependent on assumptions about the albedo.

      I’m sure no knowledgeable person disagrees with your statement that the sun heats the surface, both the oceans and the continents. The role of the atmosphere and GHG’s is to slow down the cooling so that the present temperature is reached rather than that of 33K colder. Without that the oceans would be frozen. There might be a little liquid water near the equator, but only very little.

    • Pekka, “Without that the oceans would be frozen.” Not necessarily. The southern hemisphere oceans receive 1400Wm-2 less albedo reflection for around 3 to 5 hours per day. Since only the upper millimeter or so can radiate heat, there is a good likelihood that all that energy would not be dissipated in 17 to 21 hours. There would still be conductive heat exchange with the atmosphere so the true surface temperature would likely be above 273K in the southern equatorial region. The tropopause would be limited by ein=eout-deltaS, so the layer from the surface to the tropopause would eventually be isothermal at some temperature around 280K. Since it is a thought experiment, we can’t have water vapor, so there would be no atmospheric albedo. And remember since there is oxygen in the atmosphere there would still be a tropopause and stratosphere.

    • The outcome does, indeed, depend on the albedo. If the surface would be black the effective average temperature of the equator would be as high as 50C, but it’s possible that ice and snow cover would gradually reach the equator making the albedo higher than 0.5. Around that point open water would disappear.totally.

      When we are discussing counterfactual scenarios we have some freedom in choosing what to assume on the details. Therefore we don’t have any unique answer to this question.

    • OK, this is a hypothetical example that Springer brings up.

      If the earth was all covered with ocean and H20 did not vaporize (assume this to get rid of the airborne GHG effect), we would have to determine the gray-body emission spectra of the upper water layer.

      Since long-wave infrared radiation has trouble leaving the water, the wavelength of the emitting radiation has to shift to keep radiative balance with the incoming solar radiation. If we believe in Planck’s radiation law, the temperature of the ocean will have to increase above the steady state to provide sufficient density of the shorter wavelength (or higher wavenumber) photons that can leave.

      This is indeed a greenhouse effect. If one believes this, then one has to also believe that CO2 and H20 water vapor act as GHG to raise the temperature as well. The only difference is in the strength of the effect. The latter will raise it 33C.

    • Web, The time to steady state could be enormous. Once at steady state, the average emission only has to match the average absorption. Since the rate of heat transfer would be much slower, the poles could be super cold ice with the tropics near boiling So you are back in the albedo zone.

      Assuming there is no atmospheric emission at all and perfect blackbody surface emission for its surface temperature, one half of the surface could emit nearly 90% of the heat. That would give you a wide equatorial band around 300Kaverage with extended polar regions averaging around 200K, a 250K average and about about 35% albedo. If you could force the albedo to be 30%, to get the 33C, but realistically, you would still have a range from about 40 C to 30 C for no greenhouse Earth.

      With a nitrogen only atmosphere, the rate of conductive heat transfer and diffusion would be so slow, that the small emission spectrum would likely not be negligible. It should add a few degrees to the average though. With land surface it would add a lot more.

      Interesting problem.

    • You just changed it from the hypothetical model first posed.
      Springer said that :

      “The so-called greenhouse effect is caused by the ocean which is an uber-greenhouse fluid 100% opaque to longwave infrared and quite transparent to shortwave energy and it has an albedo that’s effectively zero where and when the sun shines the hardest.”

      The problem with this statement is that no one has really evaluated it, as it is hypothetical at the expense of missing physics. Water from the ocean will have a partial pressure of water vapor, which can then act as a GHG. Yet he says that the water in the ocean is a greenhouse liquid, but by omission, that the water vapor in the atmosphere is not a greenhouse gas. That is surprising because in both cases it is a triatomic molecule, well-suited for absorbing photons and therefore of transiently storing heat.

      So what do you believe, that water is a greenhouse liquid,
      or that water vapor is a greenhouse gas?
      Or some combination?

      I would say the closest scenario to this completely hypothetical example is the planet Venus. Venus is covered with a thick superfluid layer of CO2 which at least partly functions as a greenhouse liquid and partly as an insulating layer on top of the hot planet core. Under those circumstances, the temperature is several hundred degrees.

    • … several hundred degrees higher than the earth’s temperature.

    • Once more Pekka, you are right on target. No GHG’s in the atmosphere and we return to the Ice House Earth conditions pretty rapidly. The surface of the oceans would freeze many tens of meters thick at the poles, and possibly a partially ice/open water mix at the equator. Under the ice would be liquid water that would trap much of the tectonic heat from the Earth’s 5,000C interior (about 0.1 w/m^2 of which trickles up to the Earth’s surface on average. There would likely be some living organisms in this water under the ice, at least near the thermal vents. I would liken this condition to being very similar to what Enceladus (a moon of Saturn) is like:

      http://io9.com/5319853/ice-volcanoes-of-enceladus-created-by-liquid-water-beneath-the-moons-surface

  72. David Springer

    Rovelli: “Well obviously he looks at the sky, you see things going around, the stars, the heavens, the moon, the planets, everything moves around and keeps turning around us. It’s sort of reasonable to think that below us is nothing, so it seems simple to get to this conclusion. Except that nobody else got to this conclusion. In centuries and centuries of ancient civilizations, nobody got there.”

    What? The old testament gives a pretty good description of the big bang, inflation, at roughly the same time Anaximader lived or earlier. In fact post-enlightment science had a hard time accepting that the universe was not temporally and spatially infinite. A whole universe poofing into existence out of nothing some finite period of time ago? Poppycock. Religious nonsense. That’s what they said at first anyhow. One must admit the big bang theory is not exactly intuitive. Yet somehow the author(s) of the old testament “got there”. This is lot more noteworthy than the very wrong conjecture that the earth floats in space like some kind of helium filled party balloon that leaked enough helium to attain neutral bouyancy serenely floating motionless in the room. The earth is careening around the sun at nearly 20 miles per second and barrels around the galactic center at 140 miles per second. Floating? Hardly.

  73. David Springer

    Ugh. I could only manage to skim most of rest of Rovelli’s pap. I know this for sure: sheltered professional wool gatherers like Rovelli don’t deserve a dime of public funding.

  74. David Springer | June 2, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    Give me a credible source
    ====================================================
    Here you have the description of the experiment on 35 pages: http://www.biocab.org/Experiment_on_Greenhouses__Effect.pdf .
    The results confirm the ones of the Wood’s experiment.

    You are welcome to scientifically debunk it.

    • David Springer

      “ABSTRACT Through a series of controlled experiments, I demonstrate that the warming effect in a real greenhouse is not due to longwave infrared radiation trapped inside the greenhouse, but to the blockage of convective heat transfer with the surroundings, as proven by Professor Wood in his 1909 experiment.”

      There’s nothing to debunk. No one I respect disputes this to the first approximation. The problem is Nasif whoever conducted this experiment with cardboard boxes, saran wrap, tin foil, and dimestore digital thermometers. What he do, build it with stuff leftover at a goat roast? Adding to the juvenality of it all the results are essentially self-published and one might reasonably wonder if that’s got anything to do with legitimate journals not trafficing in what appears to be less than the effort and attempt at professionalism found in the typical elementary school science fair.

      In short his experiment was done on the cheap and lacked to precision and accuracy to do more than what you can do by experimentally opening and closing the windows in a parked car on a sunny afternoon. Yeah boy its cooler when they’re open and hotter when they’re closed. Some experiment.

      NOW take a hike and take Principia Scientifica and the cranks who frequent it with you.

      Thanks in advance.

    • Take two identical 12″ square boxes constructed of 3/4″ Stryofoam. In each place a one liter bottle of water (Zephyr hills is a good choice). Set both in a sunny spot in the yard. Cover one with glass and the other with clear plastic. Monitor the temperature of the water in each box over 24 hours. Which had the highest minimum temperature? Which had the highest maximum temperature? Which had the highest average temperature?

      You might want to select the glass and plastic so they have close to the same R-value.

      Now take both experiments inside to that spare bedroom. Freeze both bottles and repeat the experiment.

    • David Springer

      Nahle (or someone else) claims Nahle is a university professor. This claim appears fraudulent. His own CV shows nothing of the sort. Not even a post graduate degree.

      http://www.biocab.org/Academic_Curriculum.html

      A google scholar search turns up a dozen or so self-published papers and one in some non-descript publication by a professional society with 75 members. He has a grand total of one citation for all those papers which pretty much translates into complete and total shunning by his peers.

      Unbelievable. But I will say this. Nashle represents the best of the best in regards to the caliber of “scientists” who Principia Scientifica attracts. I’d call it a journal of last resort except that no one actually resorts to it and it isn’t really a journal.

      A reall class act, there Greg House. I think I hear Dr. Cuddy calling you for a meeting. Yes, yes… there goes Drs Chase, Cameron, and Foreman. Say hello to Dr. Wilson for me.

    • David Springer

      Vaughn Pratt, Professor Emeritus at Stanford (an actual professor at a very distinguished school) also did the cardboard/saran wrap attempt to duplicate Woods experiment. I guess he gathered his materials at the same goat roast as Nahle. You’d think the Stanford guy could’ve maybe scrounged up something better in the labs at Stanford fercrisakes.

      In any case his results were far different from Nahle’s. So we’ve got two attempts to duplicate Woods which are diametrically opposed in results. The Stanford guy, even though he got the results he expected, credibly and admirably doesn’t trust his grade school science fair apparatus and obtained some actual rock salt windows like Woods used and claimed he had accumulated a considerable amount of data and claims he will report the results “in due course”. His cardboard experiments were done about 18 months ago. Maybe he died or something in the meantime. I’ll snoop around a bit more as now I’m wondering WTF is going on with nothing but a couple of half-assed attempts to duplicate Woods. This experiment from a full professor at Stanford is an embarassment to the university if you ask me. Something stinks.

      http://boole.stanford.edu/WoodExpt/

    • DeWitt Payne did a more detailed experiment where he avoided the card board. Cardboard has a moisture content that tend to out gas when hot, that is why I recommend Styrofoam. For some reason non of the experimenters like the dark when controlling IR cooling would have the most impact. Then why bother experimenting when ASHREA as already tested radiant barriers :)

    • David Springer

      Why bother testing? Well for one thing these tests are blocking 90% of radiant heat loss. The AGW clowns claim greenhouse gases raise the temperature of the earth 33K and that’s blocking a lot less than 90%. The IR window alone let’s 30% of proceed from ground to space at the speed of light. So this experiment needs to have about a 40K difference, minimum, between the glass and the rock salt test chambers or the 33K claim of greenhouse gas warming goes out the window (pun intended) and into the trash where it belongs. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

    • I take it you haven’t checked into radiant barrier testing. The ASHREA came in at about a third with ideal conditions, the maximum estimate for CO2 in the atmosphere is about a third at optimum conditions. There is only one optimum so everything else decreases the impact. The maximum impact at the radiant is estimated at 3.7Wm-2 for a doubling for about 1.5C at the radiant layer. The maximum impact at the surface without feed back is 1.2C per doubling. All the questions are really the magnitude of the individual negative feed backs.

      The clowns require divine intervention to exceed 50% and that is not sustainable.

      http://www.rimainternational.org/wp-content/uploads/radiant-barrier-research-ashrae.pdf

      Radiant barriers are better at blocking down welling radiation that up welling though :)

    • David

      You may read Vaughan Pratt’s thoughts on the experiment also from this site

      http://judithcurry.com/2011/08/13/slaying-the-greenhouse-dragon-part-iv/#comment-100724

    • David Springer

      @Pekka

      You should make sure a link isn’t dead before you post it. Due diligence and all that. Obviously I now know you don’t first read what you recommend that I read. A bit hypocritical of you, old chap.

    • David,

      It didn’t come to my mind that the comment wouldn’t be there. I’m pretty sure the problem is not related to that comment but there might have been something else in the thread that has led to it’s removal.

  75. David Springer | June 2, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    Nowhere did I say that the earth would be 33K cooler if it weren’t for greenhouse gases, by the way.
    ==================================================
    It is not about you. Both radical and moderate/sceptical warmists say that. And then they calculate “climate sensitivity” of CO2 and based on that want to take away our freedom and our money.

    The Wood’s experiment demonstrates, how ridiculous the notion of warming “greenhouse gasses” is.

    • Greg

      What makes you think that Wood’s experiment has anything to do with the influence of CO2 on the atmosphere.

      The fact the word “greenhouse” has been used in both connections?

      The effects are totally different and Wood’s experiment has zero relevance on understanding the atmosphere whether it’s good or bad in what it did.

    • Pekka, I actually think that the Greenhouse is a perfectly good analogy for the atmospheric effect. The atmospheric boundary layer were surface winds are low is like the walls. The effect is stronger in cities with higher structures that reduce average surface wind velocities. Thermal mass tends to stabilize the temperature variation.

      I think the real problem is the radiation-centric thinking drags the conversation down when a more holistic (I hate that word) approach makes much more sense.

    • Capt. Dallas,

      In some respect the analogy is very good, but in some other respect it fails.

      The glazing does let energy enter as solar radiation and it prevents energy from escaping freely. The atmosphere has the similar role. The details of the mechanisms are different as the dominant mechanisms for energy loss are also different.

      Many people have had erroneous thoughts on the quantitative details of greenhouses. Whether good or bad, Wood’s experiment certainly gave evidence against some erroneous ideas. It was not great science, but it serves as an example of what one scientific study does: it added a little to our understanding of real world phenomena.

    • Precisely. Is was an unfortunate choice that the emission and absorption of LW radiation by certain gases in the atmosphere became known as the “greenhouse” effect, in that it has little resemblance to physics behind a greenhouse, and every climate scientist knows this but yet many still suffer from ignorance of this fact and dwell on such unrelated experiments as the Woods experiment to try and prove as false what is otherwise fairly basic spectral behavior of simple gases in the atmosphere and the basic laws of thermodynamics.

    • Because the solar effect and convection are large and mask the IR effect, the Wood experiment is best done at night with an open box and a thin-film or glass, or whatever, covered second one. Which one do you think would cool faster? Why do you think that is? Gardeners know this stuff.

    • Yes, gardeners know that convection and evaporation dominate the surface cooling.

    • No, radiation dominates surface cooling at night. What are you talking about? You don’t get convection and evaporation at night (dew formation is the opposite of evaporation).

    • Technically you do get some evaporation at night, just much less than in the day.

    • capt. d., please tell Edim that these are not the dominant cooling processes at night.

    • Jim D said, “capt. d., please tell Edim that these are not the dominant cooling processes at night.”

      Edim, these are not dominate processes at the “surface” at night. They can be significant though :)

      If you were doing the research to buy a greenhouse, you would probably compare a few designs. So let’s compare a single glazed to a double glazed.

      The single glazed windows lose more heat at night at the roof, heat from the thermal mass in the house loses heat less quickly, so you would have a slow rate of convection, but more convection than the double glazed design. If the walls where leaky, that convection would induce colder air at the leaks reducing the efficiency more.

      Double glazing adds to the insulation value by reducing conductive heat transfer at that thermal boundary which reduces the convection.

      If you use plastic instead of glass, the conductive heat transfer at the top would depend on the insulation value of the material. The green house would still work, but not as well, even if the plastic is transparent to IR.

      If you use the plastic, you could add more water to the greenhouse. The water increases the thermal mass of the greenhouse proper and the air in the greenhouse. The water would condense on the plastic roof, the single glazed roof and to a lesser extent the double glazed roof. There would be greater heat loss due to the condensation, but the higher thermal mass could support more heat loss with less reduction in the temperature at the floor.

      Now if you want to just separate the IR impact, you could compare the various designs with a longer term test since conduction, convection, induction, thermal mass, latent heat and IR all have different impacts at different times and in different regions.

      Greenhouses are pretty much the perfect analogy for the “Greenhouse” effect.

    • sometimes I think skeptics live on a different planet.

    • David Springer

      You won’t win any hearts and minds by making opposite but equally vacuous or silly claims yourself. You’ll just make the open minded middle reject you, the horse you rode in on, and the boots you’re wearing with the same level of contempt they use on the fools inhabiting the other extreme. CO2 impedes the transmission of LWIR from earth to space by some degree and in the ideal situation a doubling can raise the surface temp about 1.1C. That’s some pretty solid physics there. The water vapor amplification that trebles the base amount is contradicted at every turn by empirical evidence of a net negative feedback in the water cycle. The only remaining question then becomes when and where that ideal 1.1C sensitivity to CO2 doubling actually occurs. My belief is it’s not over the ocean to any significant degree and to the extent it happens over land is mostly where there’s little water available for evaporation which makes winters in higher latitudes the prime territory.

    • Actually it does no such thing, but more of what it demonstrates is the ignorance of those who would relate the Woods experiment to what actually occurs with “greenhouse” gases in Earth’s atmosphere.

  76. David Springer | June 2, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    …professionalism found in the typical elementary school science fair.
    …Yeah boy its cooler when they’re open and hotter when they’re closed. Some experiment.
    …NOW take a hike and take Principia Scientifica and the cranks who frequent it with you.
    …Nahle (or someone else) claims Nahle is a university professor. This claim appears fraudulent.
    ==================================================
    Yeah, thank you for this self-revealing answer. This is the typical scientific level of warmists. Although the more intelligent ones usually choose to say nothing.

    Now, R.W.Wood was a real professor and a well known scientist: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_W._Wood . The most funny thing about the “greenhouse gasses” warming is, that it does not require any university degree to debunk the claims of greenhouse scientists. A high school level is absolutely sufficient. The Wood’s experiment is very easy and the idea is quite obvious.

    As I said before, alone the notion of the “33 degrees greenhouse warming ” and the knowledge of the fact, that glass is very opaque to IR radiation logically leads to the conclusion, that the temperature in a in summer in the sun parked car must reach hundreds or thousands degrees Celsius because of back radiation. We all know that this does not happen, thus this observation alone debunks the whole notion of warming “greenhouse gasses”. Professor Wood only made it clear by his experiment.

    • David Springer

      I’m not a warmist, dufus. Dem’s fightin’ woids! My personal opinion is that what very little warming, if any, that anthropogenic CO2 can produce happens over land, at night and in the winter, at high latitudes and has the net of extending growing seasons where such extension is critically needed and where it often spells the difference between one and two crop cycles per year. Moreover because its effect is more pronounced at night and in the colder months when water vapor isn’t drowning (pun intended) out its effect it reduces frequency and severity of late spring/early fall killer frosts which are disastrous for agricultural. Moreover, regardless of how much warming it can accomplish CO2 is plant food in every sense of the word and most plants do very well with higher concentrations while virtually none suffer unless it’s because a C4 photosynthesis-pathway competitor reaps a greater benefit (or C3 I always forget which photosynthetic pathway is the one better adapated for higher CO2 concentration). And even better, both C3 and C4 plants require less water per unit of growth because water loss happens during gas exchange through the iris-like stoma. As the CO2 concentration rises the stomata don’t open as much or as wide in order to take in CO2 and give off oxygen. Less stomata opening results in less water loss.

      For the life of me I can’t see a single damn downside to anthropogenic CO2 emission except for we can’t keep it up forever. If we weren’t emitting it as a natural consequence of fossil fuel consumption we’d want to invent a way to fluff it up.

      Even more I’m such a fan of synthetic biology that I am convinced that we will in the near future have programmable microorganisms that can build anything we want that’s possible for living things to work with. Carbon and carbon compounds are the most useful and flexible material in the world for building things. The most convenient source of carbon for the manufacture of durable goods is CO2. In the near future we’ll be making laws limiting how much CO2 individuals can remove from the atmosphere rather than laws limiting how much you can add. Atmospheric carbon is destined to become a valuable commodity. And we won’t worry about energy because synthetic organisms can capture enough sunlight and convert to chemical energy an area no larger than 10% of the Texas panhandle (ideal location, btw) to provide all the liquid fuel requirements for the entire USA.

      How’s that for being the ultimate, polar opposite to the seriously confused AGW crowd?

    • David Springer

      Yeah Woods is legit but he himself said this experiment was performed hastily and deserved more attention than he gave it. He fashioned himself a debunker of junk science after one famous episode and thought he was going to be the 18th century Myth Buster but he screwed the pooch within a couple of years and went back to his day job as a serious scientist instead of a publicity hound. In a nutshell. Vaughn Pratt did a nice job of writing that up. What’s bothering me most at the moment is why none of the climate science communiity hasn’t, long ago, done a serious and far more precision experiment. I mean you can’t throwl $10,000 and a grad student for a few months to do it right with best that money can buy? Seriously? I have to read about saran wrap, scotch tape, cardboard, and tinfoil experiments done by amateurs and one Stanford professor whose discussion of it here resulted in his paper being disappeared and him clamming up on a promise to publish the more rigorous rock salt results? As Pratt wrote about something else “I put this to the smell test and the results are ‘it stinks’.”

      This IS typical of science that becomes dogma though. Part of the tranformation that happens when going from legitimate scientific investigation to bandwagon science. The last serious attempt to measure this effect is 1909? Seriously? Before we had airplanes or transisters? That’s a red flag.

      Greenhouse gases leave open some substantially large windows for radiation straight from ground to space. In any event they aren’t blocking over 90% of the LWIR upward traffic and that’s what the glass covering will do. If you’re not careful to keep your total plastic barrier well under 1 millimeter it will be blocking too (Pratt 2010). You really can’t do it right with Saran wrap. Rock salt is still the material of choice. The tranmission characteristics have to match up too. Glass absorbs more than LWIR. It absorbs near IR from the sun too. So if you block near IR from one chamber and not from the other that needs to be addressed somehow with either a pencil whipping of the readings or (preferably) a better materials matchup. Woods put a glass pane between the sun and the rock salt to even up the short wave blockage. Reflectivity has to match up too. It’s not easy and Woods could certainly be improved upon but it ain’t gonna be done with common kitchen items. This is an important thing to not have any doubt about with an unimpeachable experiment. There should be a lab experiment proving beyond a shadow a doubt that blocking LWIR cooling while allowing convection and conduction to keep on working can raise the temperature from oh say -16C to +16C. Woods didn’t use that temperature range. The “consensus” is 255K equilibrium temperature absent GHG and 288K with it. And no one’s tested it better than Woods self-admitted hasty experiment in 1909 decades before plastic and transisters were invented? Wow. Just wow.

    • One of Pratt’s main points was to make sure the insulation value of the two windows were the same or at least close. Then the difference should be in the ballpark.

      ASHREA was an eye opener for me. One third with a perfect radiant barrier is surprisingly close to the range of 6% to 30% often quoted, with the 30 being near perfection. Calendar I believe noted that Arrhenius estimated 30% in his original paper, where Calendar revised that to 15%, which is a good mid range estimate.

      All of this is just the rough estimation stuff though. The real fun will be in the atmospheric chemistry feed backs and/or de-amplifications :) which all look negative.

    • @DAvidSpringer “What’s bothering me most at the moment is why none of the climate science communiity hasn’t, long ago, done a serious and far more precision experiment. “

      It’s been bothering me too for a long time. See my earlier post in this thread with a list of 10 problems with climate science. The justification for lack of experiment is described.

      What do you think of my experiment in post June 2, 2012 at 10:11 am ??

  77. Pekka Pirilä | June 2, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    Greg
    What makes you think that Wood’s experiment has anything to do with the influence of CO2 on the atmosphere.
    ==============================================
    Come on, make an effort, the Wood’s article is a very easy reading, the answer is there.

    OK, I’ll help you a little bit: back radiation…

    • You make the typical error of non-scientists: You take the results of one experiment as evidence on something totally different.

      In real science a lot of analysis is done to figure out what the real relevance of each observation is. Is it very specific and applicable only to the very specific case or can it be generalized and how far.

      In this case it’s obvious that what is observed in a greenhouse cannot be generalized to the very different Earth atmosphere.

  78. capt. dallas 0.8 +/-0.2 | June 2, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    I think the real problem is the radiation-centric thinking drags the conversation down…
    =================================================
    You can thank the warmists for that, because the whole warmists horror is based on the back radiation. Take it away and they are done immediately. Actually, it had already been taken away by professor Wood back in 1909 and the hypothesis died then. What we have now is a sort of a scientific zombie.

    • The sky dragon response though is not helpful either. There is a radiant impact that varies with conditions. ASHREA did a cursory test for including a radiant barrier on the R-value of construction insulation. Under ideal conditions, a radiant barrier increased the R-value of a 3/4″ air space by 50% from R=2 to R=3. The problem though was that dust, condensation and orientation impacted the values, mainly negatively. That is pretty much the same thing that is happening in the atmosphere. There is an optimum radiant impact condition that nearly everything impacts negatively. Denying any radiant impact is lunacy.

      A better way of showing the impact of “back radiation” is to separate the air temperature by individual thermal impacts. Kiehl and Trenberth’s cartoon was wrong on so many levels, but combining all atmospheric energy into one “Down Welling Long Wave” arrow was the worst. Had they separated the huge arrow into it individual components, like the NASA budget, they might have better illustrated the effect and found their 20Wm-2 error to boot :)

    • David Springer

      Yeah, sure. The messy conditions of how effective the barrier is I wrapped up into a single variable and moved out of the picture. The LWIR window from ground to space varies. It varies a lot with humidity and clouds but in no case is the global average LWIR window to space going to be less than 10%. A pane of glass blocks 90%. Perfectly large. If you can’t get a 33K bump by blocking 90% of LWIR emission with a pane of glass then it can’t happen in the real world either.

    • I didn’t say anything about 33C. In fact, -12C is closer to the overall CO2 contribution to the GHG effect. Just at this current condition, a doubling of CO2 may increase resistance in the lower troposphere by 3.7Wm-2. CO2 is like a space blanket with a whole bunch of holes in it. Manabe even has ideas of a 60 C total impact. It all depends on your frame of reference. Latent cooling alone is around 80Wm-2 which reduces the effective surface temperature to 271K I believe. So conductive/convective plus radiant would only be 17 degrees. At the surface, radiant impact is smothered by water vapor, so conductive/convective is the big player, with short wave absorption in the atmosphere next. GHGs are providing cooling for all that, adding CO2 should make that less efficient. So looking at 33C is kinda bassakwards really.

  79. Pekka Pirilä | June 2, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    The glazing does let energy enter as solar radiation and it prevents energy from escaping freely. The atmosphere has the similar role. The details of the mechanisms are different as the dominant mechanisms for energy loss are also different.
    ==============================================
    No, this is not correct.

    Both glass and for IR transparent rock salt lids in the Wood’s experiment only prevent hot air to escape, but back radiation does not play any significant part in the process. This is the central point of the Wood’s experiment: the one about back radiation. Back radiation does not work.

    In this respect, yes, the atmosphere has the similar role: back radiation of the “greenhouse gasses” is much weaker and can not work either.

    • I wrote that the analogy is good in some respect, not in some other.

      It’s qualitatively correct as long as we discuss total energy fluxes. That belongs to the good part.

      it’s bad, when we discuss what are the roles of actual mechanisms like convection and IR radiation.

      Stopping IR has little effect for a real greenhouse, because the glass is also warm as the internal circulation in the greenhouse warms the air of the whole greenhouse to approximately the same temperature.

      The atmosphere is very different, because the temperature at tropopause is much lower than at the surface. This temperature difference is essential for that kind of greenhouse effect we have in the atmosphere.

    • I think I could use a multiple radiant disc model that could compare well with triple glazing :) Actually, I suggested a three layer greenhouse experiment for the doubting Thomases at one time. If you consider the atmosphere you would have the atmospheric boundary layer at the bottom, the radiant layer in the middle and the tropopause sink at the top. Results in a remarkable good estimate of climate sensitivity :)

    • David Springer

      Greg House | June 2, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Reply

      “For us it is important, that the “climate sensitivity” of CO2 is either 0 or almost 0 and thus completely irrelevant.”

      Who is “us”? I wasn’t aware you were acting as a mouthpiece for a group of some sort.

      Email (required) (Address never made public)

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    • David Springer

      @Pekka

      Let’s be clear that back radiation doesn’t warm jack diddly squat. The surface is warmer than any emitter in the sky except in the rare case of a temperature inversion. Cooler things do not warm warmer things. The best it can do is act as a layer of insulation and impede the loss of heat via a small radiative window. As you should know by now radiative heat loss at the surface is not the path of least resistance if there is water that is free to evaporate instead and usually there is especially when 70% of the surface is ocean. In toto across the globe evaporation removes about twice as much energy from surface as radiation. Conduction is a bit player at somewhere south of 10%. Evaporation is the big kahuna. And because the heat is carried away in latent form we don’t even sense it leaving. It remains hidden until it condenses in the cloud deck thousands of feet high. When this happens the same CO2 impedes LWIR from getting away from the surface impedes the LWIR released in the cloud layer from getting back to the ground.

    • David,
      All energy transfer mechanisms have their share. That of IR can be estimated quantitatively. It’s found to be important. Qualitative arguments like yours have little weight when reliable calculations tell otherwise.

    • BIT PLAYER!! Actually, the Vaughan Pratt post you were looking for was mainly about the conductive impact being under estimated. :) It is closer to 27% BTW

  80. Pekka Pirilä | June 2, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Reply

    You make the typical error of non-scientists: You take the results of one experiment as evidence on something totally different.
    ===============================================
    I see, my little help has not helped. No problem, another hint for you. Let’s try a question.

    If much back radiation won’t warm, will less back radiation warm a) more then much back radiation or b) less than much back radiation or c) equally?

  81. Pekka Pirilä | June 2, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    The atmosphere is very different, because the temperature at tropopause is much lower than at the surface. This temperature difference is essential for that kind of greenhouse effect we have in the atmosphere.
    ====================================================
    You can talk about various things in the atmosphere and call them “greenhouse effect” but this substitution will not help.

    The “greenhouse effect” of the AGW people is based on the notion, that back radiation from the “greenhouse gasses” additionally warms the SURFACE and thus the air near the SURFACE too. The Wood’s experiment demonstrates, that this does not happen. The nature does not work this way.

    Back radiation won’t work, guys.

    • Of course nature doesn’t work that way. The impact of the increase in CO2 at the radiant layer is pretty accurate. The location of that radiant layer is not all that accurate. Energy from that layer will not be felt fully at the surface since you cannot transfer energy without some loss. Under ideal conditions, the radiant layer energy would increase by 3.7 Wm-2 (1.5C) and depending on the conditions between the surface and that layer, the surface temperature would increase by 1 to 1.2 degrees “if all things remain equal”. To go beyond that 1 to 1.2 would require some positive feed back to the CO2 forcing. Water vapor itself is a negative feed back, contrary to popular opinion. Since water vapor shares parts of the CO2 spectrum, it would absorb some of the energy at the radiant layer which would increase the rate of convection and since water vapor does not share all of the CO2 spectrum, provide a radiant path through the atmospheric window, decreasing the CO2 impact. That was the 20Wm-2 the K&T missed.

    • David Springer

      Downwelling longwave radiation from very far above the surface won’t make it back down to the surface. The same CO2 that impedes upwelling LWIR impedes downwelling LWIR just as well. It’s an equal opportunity insulator and happily blocks radiation no matter the direction it’s coming from.

    • True, but the water vapor provides an alternate route. Without it, the CO2 spectral energy would basically resonate increasing the impact.

    • “To go beyond that 1 to 1.2 would require some positive feed back to the CO2 forcing. Water vapor itself is a negative feed back, contrary to popular opinion.”

      You have the terminology messed up. Water vapor amplifies the effect of CO2 forcing but is not a positive feedback, otherwise it would amplify the effect to the rails. So it is more correct to say that the amplification has a set point whereby the condensing nature of water vapor will limit its effect.

      Perhaps a better way to look at it is that the increase of GHG water vapor with warming is a positive amplification, tempered by the negative feedback of eventual condensation. If I wanted to coin a phrase for this, I would call it operational amplification.

      I actually don’t care for many of the terms that climate scientist use, such as lapse rate, feedback, residence time, etc. But the name of the effect is really not important when all that matters is the actual physical effect which underlies it.

    • Web I have no doubt that I have probably screwed up the termonology, but hopefully you understand what I was getting at, co2 needs some help. Amplification is acceptable to me, but I get nailed using that as well. Heaven forbid I call something a forcing since that is model specific :)

    • David Springer

      You wouldn’t happen to have a copy of Vaughn Pratt’s “Slaying the Greenhouse Dragon: Par IV” would you? Pratt is one of the few people who’ve put even a modest effort into duplicating the woods experiment. The article above was originally posted here about 8 months ago. It’s been disappeared for some reason. The last I found from Pratt was in Jan 2010 when he wrote that he was dissatisfied with his cardboard box/saran wrap setup and had obtained optical quality rock salt lenses to more closely match what Woods had done. No one else has done this. I can’t find a damn thing anywhere on what results Pratt obtained. I smell a rat and the more I look into Woods replication the more it smells. Now I find the smell coming back to here where Pratt published a guest article which has subsequently been removed. I cannot find a copy of it on archive.org as this site denies it archive access.

    • David Springer

      I’d like to apologize for being harsh with you before but when I run into frauds like Nahle’s claim to be a university professor and loathesome attempts to whip up a website like Principia Scientifica and try to peddle it as a peer reviewed publisher it makes me angry with those associated with it. One is judged by the company one keeps, Dr. House. At any rate the Woods experiment is riddled with controvery and deceit that began shortly after he published in 1909 with the Smithsonian IIRC immediately trashing Woods. The red flags are up now and I’d like to give it a fair consideration but that’s proving difficult.

  82. David Springer

    Stanford Professor Vaughn Pratt at one time not long ago wrote an article “Slaying the Greenhouse Dragon: Part IV” which was posted here on judithcurry.com. There are many links to it. It received over 2000 comments at least some of which can be teased out of here:

    http://corymbiform.rssing.com/chan-1147123/all_p15.html

    Why has this article been removed? Don’t you know, Dr.Curry, that disappearing articles like that is considered one of the most egregious sins that bloggers can do? How very 1984 of you.

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

    A memory hole is any mechanism for the alteration or disappearance of inconvenient or embarrassing documents, photographs, transcripts, or other records, such as from a web site or other archive, particularly as part of an attempt to give the impression that something never happened.[1][2] The concept was first popularized by George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.

  83. David Springer

    “Slaying the Greenhouse Dragon: Part IV” didn’t get a new url in an archive here either.

    http://judithcurry.com/2011/08/16/postma-on-the-greenhouse-effect/

    It was posted on Saturday, August 13th, and the link above has Curry mentioning it in the leading paragraph and how popular it was. Evidently so popular she had to delete it. Did Stanford Emeritus Prof Pratt do some experimental climate science (for a change) that found the so-called greenhouse effect wanting and it embarrassed too many people? Did Ben Santer threaten to beat the crap out of Curry if she didn’t disappear it down the memory hole? Enquiring minds need to know.

  84. David Springer | June 2, 2012 at 5:47 pm |…when I run into frauds like Nahle’s claim to be a university professor…loathesome attempts …it makes me angry with those associated with it. One is judged by the company one keeps, Dr. House … the Woods experiment is riddled with controvery and deceit … The red flags are up now
    ====================================================
    It is getting a little bit dirty, I am nor surprised.

  85. David Springer | June 2, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    CO2 impedes the transmission of LWIR from earth to space by some degree and in the ideal situation a doubling can raise the surface temp about 1.1C. That’s some pretty solid physics there.
    ===============================================
    No, this is the same old story about climate sensitivity of CO2 being about 1.1 degrees. This is physically impossible, the experiment by professor Wood demonstrates it clearly, because a much stronger effect of glass produces almost zero warming.

    This alleged climate sensitivity of CO2 has been simply derived from an alleged 33 degrees “greenhouse effect” of “greenhouse gasses” via back radiation, which has no basis in science.

    The Wood’s experiment is a real science, this is how real physics looks like.

  86. David Springer | June 2, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    I’m not a warmist,
    ===============================================
    Well, I think it is reasonable to call people who believe in “CO2 warming the planet” as warmists. It is much better than the classification “climate scientists vs. climate sceptics” the warmists like so much. First, a lot of “sceptics” are warmists, too and second, the AGW concept has no basis in science, if one looks at it carefully.

  87. David Springer | June 2, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    Yeah Woods is legit but he himself said this experiment was performed hastily and deserved more attention than he gave it.
    =================================================
    Yeah, right, away from physics and let us talk linguistics. Sad.

    When Wood says “I do not pretent to have gone very deeply into the matter, and publish this note merely to draw attention to the fact that trapped radiation appears to play but a very small part in the actual cases with which we are familiar”, this is just a polite way to say “guys, you are done, your back radiation hypothesis is completely false”.

  88. David Springer | June 2, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    What’s bothering me most at the moment is why none of the climate science communiity hasn’t, long ago, done a serious and far more precision experiment.
    ===============================================
    This is easy. Because the actual Wood’s experiment was precise enough to debunk the “greenhouse gasses warming” hypothesis.

    Like I said before, on the basis of the hypothesis enormous high temperature should be expected and this did not happen.

    However, the Wood’s experiment leaves the question open, whether the effect of back radiation is zero or not. But this possibility is included in the results.

    For us it is important, that the “climate sensitivity” of CO2 is either 0 or almost 0 and thus completely irrelevant.

    • Except the Woods experiment tells us nothing about the actual operation of greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere. We know the absorption and emission spectral characteristics of all the greenhouse gases, with the area around 15 microns being especially important to what CO2 does. This happens to coincide quite nicely with the peak LW coming up from the ground to the sky and there is a gap in water vapor’s absorption in this area. Really Greg, I strongly suggest you read:

      http://scienceofdoom.com/roadmap/atmospheric-radiation-and-the-greenhouse-effect/

      and all 8 parts of:

      http://scienceofdoom.com/2009/11/28/co2-an-insignificant-trace-gas-part-one/

      Or just keep up your irrelevant talk about the Woods experiment.

    • David Springer

      Why are you afraid to actually test the theory, Gates? The Woods experiment does just that if it’s done right. I’m not saying it was done right. I’m not saying it was done wrong. I’m saying it was done over 100 years and can be done right today. I smell the fear in you now just like I smelled it when Anthony Watts replicated Al Gore’s bottle test anyone could do at home and found it was bullshit. When someone is afraid to submit their narrative science to the rigors of experimental science it pretty much removes all semblance of them having much confidence in their narrative.

    • David Springer

      Why are you afraid to actually test the theory, Gates? The Woods experiment does just that if it’s done right. I’m not saying it was done right. I’m not saying it was done wrong. I’m saying it was done over 100 years ago and can be done right today. I smell the fear in you now just like I smelled it when Tony Watts replicated Albert Gore’s bottle test anyone could do at home and found it was bogus. When someone is afraid to submit their narrative science to the rigors of experimental science it pretty much removes all semblance of them having much confidence in their narrative.

    • David Springer

      Agreed. Something is rotten in the State of Denmark. By optically blocking 90% of upwelling LWIR with a pane of glass on a clear cold dry day one should be able to acheive a 33K temperature differential versus the same test using a pane of material that does not block upwelling LWIR taking care that everything else remains equal. I’m not sure Woods took sufficient care to make sure everything else remained equal. Today we have measurement equipment like spectrometers that can confirm the variable of interest (LWIR) has been isolated and that everything else is indeed equal. Woods was hasty in that regard and he acknowledged his haste but even in his haste he appears to have done a far better job than anyone else has done since then.

      I personally don’t believe greenhouse gases come anywhere near generating a 33K temperature rise. I believe the ocean does the major lifting in that regard by presenting a very low albedo surface to the sun and efficiently thermalizing solar energy and sequestering it tens of meters below the surface where the thermal solar energy then has much more resistant path to escape. None of the AGW cheerleaders show any willingness to test this and that says a lot about their internal confidence in their own narrative. If they don’t trust it enough to test it experimentally then why should I trust it? It appears science has left the building. The AGW story is based on faith not facts.

    • I do find this idea of a greenhouse liquid intriguing.
      Clearly, infrared can only escape the ocean when emitting at the near surface layer. On the other hand, incoming visible light can penetrate into deeper waters where it can only effectively diffuse slowly to dissipate the solar energy. So that is the energy balance. Does the ocean have to increase the temperature of the surface layer to allow greater numbers of shorter wavelength photons to escape, and thus provide a radiative energy balance?

      I did a search for “greenhouse liquids” or “greenhouse fluids” and only found Springer’s ideas on other forums, and some ideas for using greenhouse fluid roofs in the construction of actual greenhouses.

      The question is how much of the 33 degree differential can be accounted for by this? This may be a blindspot on my part.

      BTW, I have looked at the data and found a measurable temperature increase from sunlight reaching down to 500 meters. This chart shows correlations from temperature readings at 75 meters down to 500 meters:
      http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Eq48-ospM8s/T5NI04EBLCI/AAAAAAAABHc/2BSD5B9nDfU/s1600/sst_cf_R.gif

    • Web, deep SW penetration has been neglected for a long time trying to overly simplify the total greenhouse effect. The UV change with solar maximum/minimum does appear to have a much greater impact than estimated. That is the main reason my estimates keep coming up to around 0.8 for equilibrium climate sensitivity. I just don’t know why it seems to be stronger in one solar magnetic orientation than the other. Pielke Sr. is right though, OHC is the key.

    • The underlying idea is that this is still a global warming feature but that it is only used to explain some fraction of the largely “permanent” 33 degree differential.

      Start with the radiation emission spectra of a body of liquid water. If that turns out to be perfect blackbody the argument is moot, as there won’t be a preferential wavelength.

      Here is the absorption spectra for liquid water:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Water_absorption_spectrum.png

      Notice that across the infrared band from about 4 microns to 100 microns it is relatively flat. Below about 4 microns absorption decreases which means that the emissivity must increase.
      If the temperature of the water were to rise, then it would make more of these lower wavelength photons available for emission (to make up for the attenuation of the longer wavelength photons).

      Energy balance is about integrating across the emission spectrum at a various temperatures to determine at which point the incoming and outgoing fluxes are equal.

      This may also be moot because in practice, one can’t eliminate the water vapor in the atmosphere. It makes for at least a good homework assignment, if not determining the fractional greenhouse effect.

      I have a feeling someone must have done this at some point.

    • Web, quite a few people have looked into the ocean energy balance but there are so many small variables and such a tight tolerance of error that it is pretty hard to have much confidence. We only found out about the UV change a year or so ago and you have the hydrogen di-sulfate plankton response that is pretty new as well. If CO2 were to cause 10 or 20 Wm-2 change it would be easier, but a one percent change is in the wheelhouse of dozens of other responses.

      Say the emission is a perfect blackbody since it is close. Temperature changes the spectrum, everyone is happy in climate science land. But the SW absorption and the time delays from different depths of absorption vary so much you can still be off by a couple of percent. Add changes in surface velocity with internal oscillations and you have more uncertainty.

      33C is a ballpark, Ein=Eout doesn’t specify a time frame, without having at least one variable rock solid nailed, you are shooting in the dark.

    • Earth’s ocean have enough water that if lacked elevation differences [was a more perfect sphere] it would be covered by 3000 meters of water.
      If a world had shallowest ocean of 3000 meter- globally cover with water. And was as earth distance from the sun, it seems to me there wouldn’t be
      any ice on that planet. The ocean in arctic region would be too warm to freeze during their prolonged 6 months of darkness.
      And perhaps, even if one had longer and/or greater regions which in periods longer than 6 months [a slower rotation- like Venus] then you may still not get any ice forming.

      I think such ocean covered world should be the yardstick of climate science.
      And therefore climate scientists could answer a simple question, at what distance from the sun would a world with oceans covering it globally develop ice on a long night side of the planet [planet having very long day- or tidally locked].
      And from such a standard, one add other elements- land masses, different duration of days, etc.
      Of course another basic question is how close to sun would need to be to have a small portion of planet have a surface which boiled.

    • It is the downwelling radiation that generates the 33 K differential. Above the atmosphere you don’t have any significant downwelling IR radiation and the equilibrium temperature is 33 K colder. At the bottom of the atmosphere there is a lot of easily measured downwelling longwave radiation. It is its presence that proves the effect. You can only duplicate this effect on the surface if you place an object at the temperature of space (cold) above the ground at night and let the sun shine on the ground in the day. The Moon or earth orbit might be places this could be done also.

  89. R. Gates said: | June 2, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    Except the Woods experiment tells us nothing about the actual operation of greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere. … absorption and emission spectral characteristics … 15 microns …peak LW …water vapor’s absorption…
    ======================================================
    Yes, there are a lot of things out there the Wood’s experiment tells us nothing about. But it tells us a very important thing about the warming effect of “greenhouse gases” via back radiation: it is zero or next to zero. this is all one need to completely debunk the AGW concept. Your “A”, guys, has no basis in real science.

    You know, to make it easier for you I would be ready to rename the Wood’s experiment to the “Wood’s back radiation experiment”. Better now?

    • Seriously Greg,

      Go read those links I gave you and get some basic foundational concepts of the things you seem to want to talk about. One key element you should understand is thermal gradients if you really want to understand how “greenhouse” gases work in the atmosphere of the planet. Also of course, read up a bit on the main long-term energy repository of all sunlight that falls on the planet– which is the ocean.

      Your dwelling on the Woods experiment leaves you…out in the Woods.

    • “One key element you should understand is thermal gradients if you really want to understand how “greenhouse” gases work in the atmosphere of the planet.”

      Thermal gradients do exist in an atmosphere which has no greenhouse gases. The amount water in gas phase does have significant and easily measurable effect upon the thermal gradient.
      One has the dry and wet adiabatic lapse rate. Wiki:
      “A dry lapse rate of 5.5°F/1,000 ft (10°C/km)” And
      “A wet lapse rate of 3°F/1,000 ft (5.5°C/km)”
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lapse_rate
      The definition of adiabatic: “an adiabatic process is a conversion that occurs without input or release of heat within a system.”
      It is the difference of density of air that makes the difference in measured temperature. Or the gas molecules are traveling at same average velocity but higher elevation has less molecules in a given volume.

      So if living in desert type conditions, and you on a hill 1000′ elevation, the average temperature will be 5.5 F cooler than someone living at sea level. If living somewhere with high humidity the difference will be 3 F.

      If raining at lowering elevation, and temperature is 40 F, then it can snowing on the ski slopes at higher elevation.
      Or if walk up or down a 1000′ you experience more change in temperatures then has occurred globally since the end of the Little Ice Age.
      But this significant change in the lapse rate due to the wetness of air is because the properties water as it compares to an ideal gas, rather the because it’s radiant properties.

      “At normal conditions such as standard temperature and pressure, most real gases behave qualitatively like an ideal gas. Many gases such as air, nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, noble gases, and some heavier gases like carbon dioxide can be treated like ideal gases within reasonable tolerances

      The ideal gas model tends to fail at lower temperatures or higher pressures, when intermolecular forces and molecular size become important. It also fails for most heavy gases, such as water vapor or many refrigerants.At some point of low temperature and high pressure, real gases undergo a phase transition, such as to a liquid or a solid.”
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ideal_gas

    • David Springer

      Seriously Gates, you have zero credibility. You’re a cheerleader. Rah rah go team. All you’re missing is a short skirt and pom poms.

  90. R. Gates | June 2, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    Is was an unfortunate choice that the emission and absorption of LW radiation by certain gases in the atmosphere became known as the “greenhouse” effect, in that it has little resemblance to physics behind a greenhouse,
    ================================================
    The emission and absorption of LW radiation by certain gases in the atmosphere is not debunked by the Wood’s experiment and is not a problem at all.

    The problem emerges at the moment, when someone claims that this emission (back radiation) causes HIGHER TEMPERATURE on the surface. This statement is exactly the Wood’s experiment deals with.

    • The really essential thing about back radiation is not that it is warming the ground (which it does if the ground is cooler than the air), but that it reduces rate at which the ground (and air near the ground) releases heat to higher layers of the troposphere (i.e. it reduces the thermal gradient). Hence why the warming troposphere means a cooling stratosphere. This effect of higher GHG’s on the thermal gradient is particularly strong at night, for example, for this very reason that.

      But if you are so keen at understanding (really understanding) back radiation, then read:

      http://scienceofdoom.com/2010/07/17/the-amazing-case-of-back-radiation/

    • When it is cold out at night, and you put a jacket on, is the jacket imparting energy to your body, (i.e. through back radiation) or is it reducing the rate at which your body loses energy to the colder air outside the jacket? What the jacket does is reduces the thermal gradient between your body and and the cold night air, making it less steep, such that your body will lose heat less rapidly. It is still losing heat of course, but simply less rapidly. We know of course that energy always flows from warmer to colder, and so the direction of of the energy flow in the illustration of above is from the warm body to the cold night air. The temperature of the jacket (being warmed by the heat from your body) is somewhere between your core body temperature and the temperature of the night air. Heat is generally not flowing from jacket to body, as the body is generally warmer than the jacket, and so heat is flowing from body to jacket to the cold night air, but the jacket acts in this way to slow the heat flux from body to cold night air. Someone without the jacket will loose heat much more rapidly, and of course eventually die if exposed long enough and then their core temperature will equal the cold night air. (imagine if it is 30 degrees below zero out). Increasing greenhouse gases are essentially akin to getting a thicker jacket. Your core body temperature is akin to ocean heat content. The jacket is akin to the troposphere. The only difference in this comparison is the energy or heat of the body (i.e. the Earth’s surface and ocean) comes mostly from outside (i.e. sunlight) rather than body metabolic action, and it flows through the jacket/atmosphere on the way in, and then getting absorbed and re-emitted by the jacket/atmosphere on the way out, and thus by altering the thermal gradient, keeps the surface warmer than it would have been without the jacket/atmosphere.

  91. R. Gates | June 2, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
    Seriously Greg,
    Go read those links I gave you and get some basic foundational concepts of the things you seem to want to talk about. One key element you should understand is thermal gradients if you really want to understand how “greenhouse” gases work in the atmosphere of the planet.
    ====================================================
    You still won’t get it.

    I am not interested in very many things about “greenhouse gases” except for one most important thing: whether they cause your AGW or not. Apparently professor Wood was interested just in this thing too, and not in others. Please, make an effort to understand what the subject of the discussion is.

    • It seems you are a “true believer” skeptic then, looking for whatever weak and unrelated “proof” you can that AGW is not occurring. I too, would welcome to see any RELEVANT proof that adding more “greenhouse” gases to the atmosphere will not warm the planet. I’ve not seen any.

      Get this: “greenhouse gases” keep the surface of the Earth warmer than it would be without them. Take them all away and leave an atmosphere of only nitrogen and oxygen and the oceans freeze over and we get and Ice House Earth– the oceans would freeze over. As you gradually increase greenhouse gases from zero ppm upward, the surface warms.

    • David Springer

      I’d love to see some experimental proof of what you claim. Got any ideas on how to actually test the claim?

    • David Springer

      |Sound of crickets chirping|

      Yeah, that’s what I thought.

    • David Springer

      You’ve certainly piqued MY interest in knowing whether Woods made any mistakes or not. This is supposed to be what the scientific method is all about. Wood’s experiment should be replicable. So far I haven’t of anyone even doing it as well as he did. 100 years later it might be reasonable to assume that it could be improved upon, huh? But no…. I can’t even find anyone who could afford rock salt instead of saran wrap. That’s beyond pathetic. For less than what it costs to pay the electric bill at Al Gore’s mansion for a month this could be replicated with far more accuracy and precision than anyone was able to do 100 years ago.

  92. R. Gates | June 2, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    Get this: “greenhouse gases” keep the surface of the Earth warmer than it would be without them. Take them all away and leave an atmosphere of only nitrogen and oxygen and the oceans freeze over and we get and Ice House Earth– the oceans would freeze over. As you gradually increase greenhouse gases from zero ppm upward, the surface warms.
    ==================================================
    Yeah, great story, but unfortunately for it has been debunked in 1909 by the Wood’s experiment: http://www.wmconnolley.org.uk/sci/wood_rw.1909.html .

  93. R. Gates | June 2, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
    The really essential thing about back radiation is not that it is warming the ground (which it does if the ground is cooler than the air), but that it reduces rate at which the ground (and air near the ground) releases heat to higher layers of the troposphere (i.e. it reduces the thermal gradient).
    ================================================
    You know what “W” in “AGW” means, don’t you?

    It does not matter, whether warming is really warming or just reduced cooling, the fact is, that the “greenhouse gases”‘ back radiation physically can not cause it either at all or to any significant extent. That’s the scientific result of the Wood’s experiment.

    • David Springer

      “That’s the scientific result of the Wood’s experiment.”

      Agreed. But it needs to be replicated in some manner a bit more professional than scotch tape, cardboard boxes, and saran wrap. That’s all I’m saying. I’m not going to accept some dodgy experiment that looks like something I’d find in a 3rd grade science fair. You dig?

  94. David Springer

    Pekka Pirilä | June 2, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Reply

    “Stopping IR has little effect for a real greenhouse, because the glass is also warm as the internal circulation in the greenhouse warms the air of the whole greenhouse to approximately the same temperature.”

    The air outside the greenhouse is also the same temperature from the ground to 12 feet above the ground. Try again.

    • David,

      What’s the detailed heat balance of a greenhouse is not a big scientific question. You told what Wood had in mind when he did his experiment. He was not doing serious science. That applies certainly also to what Vaughan Pratt had in mind when he did his version.

      Studying detailed heat balances may is of engineering interest. Engineers use well known formulas and computer software to calculate convection, conduction and radiative heat transfer. Such methods can certainly describe fairly accurately what happens in a greenhouse although the phenomena are such that reaching a high accuracy may be difficult.

      It may be that nobody has verified carefully the applicability of the theory for a simple greenhouse but the methods have certainly been widely and successfully used in similar more important tasks. Thus there’s no doubt that everything is understood that needs to be understood to model a greenhouse.

      The only question is: why bother? To give answers to some cranks who insist that this is a problem the science cannot explain? The scientists – and engineers – have better things to do.

      My comment was about a factor that influences the outcome. When the comment is understood correctly it explains that there’s an effect but that effect is small, so small that observing it without a carefully set up experiment may be impossible.

      There’s nothing scientifically interesting left in this question. It may have some curiosity value, but that’s all. The experiment cannot tell anything new about physics and even less (if there’s less than nothing) about the atmosphere or global warming.

    • David Springer

      Woods was doing the same thing that people were doing with Pons-Fleischman. Whether you consider testing claims to cold fusion serious science or not is an opinion. He wasn’t exactly Penn from Penn & Teller although he may have been headed that way until he made a blunder in an unrelated debunking. He wasn’t exactly Michael Shermer who runs Skeptic magazine and has a monthly one page article in Scientific American. Given the amount of time and money my country spends on global warming I consider testing the claims to be serious science and to be quite honest I don’t give a flying f*ck at a rolling donut what anyone who doesn’t vote in my country thinks about.

  95. David Springer said: | June 2, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
    “For us it is important, that the “climate sensitivity” of CO2 is either 0 or almost 0 and thus completely irrelevant.”
    Who is “us”? I wasn’t aware you were acting as a mouthpiece for a group of some sort.
    =======================================================
    This is easy. I mean people in general, who are threatened by AGW scaremongers. You may call it a group of some sort.

    • David Springer

      Ah. So it was the “royal” us. No group actually appointed you its spokesperson you just appointed yourself so you appear to represent more than you actually do.

      We understand. ;-)

  96. David Springer said: | June 2, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
    “That’s the scientific result of the Wood’s experiment.”
    Agreed. But it needs to be replicated in some manner a bit more professional than scotch tape, cardboard boxes, and saran wrap. That’s all I’m saying. I’m not going to accept some dodgy experiment that looks like something I’d find in a 3rd grade science fair.
    ================================================
    Well, you are apparently not easy to please, but in many cases the truth can be found without expensive and complicated equipment, like on the matter of alleged “greenhouse gases” back radiation warming.

    • David Springer

      Not easy to please? Maybe. I see it as I’m living in the 21st Century and I expect experimental science that’s driving expensive policy decisions about the allocation of my tax dollars and how much my energy fuel bills are going to be to supported by experiments that are beyond scotch tape and cardboard boxes and more than the results of toy computer models that have not been demonstrated as having any predictive skill.

      Yeah, I’m a hardass that way I guess. It’s the engineer in me. We don’t use toys as models when there’s blood and treasure riding on how well the job gets done.

  97. @all

    I have a question. E.g. I come back tomorrow and see that there are like 50 new comments on this thread. People usually use the reply button and the new comments are scattered throughout the thread. It is not very convenient to search the whole thread for the new comments. Is there any possibility to get only the new comment to read?

  98. David Springer

    Does anyone care that Vaughn Pratt’s August 13 article here titled “Slaying the Greenhouse Dragon: Part IV” has been removed along with some 2000 comments from this website?

    Kind makes you long for paper journals. Once those were in the mail there was no option for making anything awkward in them disappear.

  99. As I mentioned above, if you want to see the IR effect in the Wood experiment, do it at night. Have one open box and one covered box (glass, polythene, etc.), and see which one cools fastest. Which one do you think, and why?

    • David Springer

      The glass stops convective cooling. No one is interested in testing that. Even a child knows if he puts on a jacket at night it will keep him warmer. Do you have any other bright ideas?

    • There isn’t convective cooling at night. You use a box to prevent air from coming in. You choose a night that is still. That is sufficient for the air in the box to stay put. If polyethylene lets IR through, but glass doesn’t (as they say), that is an even cleaner experiment if you are really worried about convection (at night) disrupting things.

  100. David Springer said: | June 3, 2012 at 12:20 am |
    Ah. So it was the “royal” us. No group actually appointed you its spokesperson you just appointed yourself so you appear to represent more than you actually do.
    We understand. ;-)
    ======================================================
    Yes, it is just me. Or would you like all the zillions of potential victims of AGW scaremongers write here?

  101. R. Gates said: | June 3, 2012 at 12:46 am |
    …What the jacket does is reduces the thermal gradient between your body and and the cold night air, making it less steep, such that your body will lose heat less rapidly. … Increasing greenhouse gases are essentially akin to getting a thicker jacket.
    ====================================================
    Yeah, I know this narrative. Jacket, blanket…

    The first problem is whether your analogy is right or not. It is not. It is good to mislead people, but it has no basis in science. I am not going into that now, maybe later.

    Second, the problem with the “greenhouse gases” allegedly trapping “heat” by means of back radiation is that this notion has been debunked by the Wood’s experiment. That’s the inconvenient truth for the AGW people.

    I would recommend to forget all the nice stories and stick to the real physics.

  102. David Springer

    Does anyone other than me care that the article “Slaying the Greenhouse Dragon: Part IV” by Stanford Professor Emeritus Vaughn Pratt wrote was published on this website on August 13, 2011, received some 2000 comments, and was then subsequently erased?

    Silence is not golden. I WILL just keep asking until I get some answers.

  103. WebHubTelescope

    most skepticism we see here is not about science but about pitching an agenda.

    The pot calls the kettle black.

    Accelerated warming of the IPCC => http://bit.ly/b9eKXz

    Uniform warming of skeptics => http://bit.ly/L5FSBg

    Warming rate reported by the IPCC is 2.5 (=0.2/0.08) times the actual warming rate reported by skeptics.

    Web, who is pitching an agenda?

    • Girma, your agenda is one of inept deception. I noticed you changed your graph so it no longer shows your equation for accelerated warming. Yes you fit the data to a model of accelerated warming just like the climate scientists you are criticizing, but now you hide that fact.
      Hiding the acceleration … Does that sound familiar?

      Pot calling the kettle black.

    • “About 9 trillion barrels of oil in the Arctic.”

      The article says $900 trillion dollars worth of oil. By the time we get to that oil it will be $10,000 a barrel, so that means it is about 90 billion barrels. Split among a bunch of countries fighting for it. Big whoop.

    • WHT

      Your last comment to Girma is downright silly.

      Girma has posted the “smoke and mirrors” presentation of IPCC, which used statistical trickery to make it look like there was an acceleration in global warming, and then posted his own analysis of the observed cyclical nature of the past warming as a contrast.

      The IPCC graph shows various calculated linear trends for ever decreasing time intervals (a bogus comparison in a cyclical trend as we have here)

      Girma’s graph shows the cyclical nature plus the underlying warming trend of 0.08C per decade.

      The contrast is between a bogus presentation intended to bamboozle the observer (IPCC) versus an objective analysis of the observed record (Girma).

      Your comment was simply aggressive BS.

      Max

    • Look closely at Girma’s graph. It has an acceleration in it.

      Boy is that silly!

    • He hasn’t adjusted for aerosols yet. Once he does it will show anything he wants it to.

    • IPCC
      1856-2005=>0.045 deg C per decade
      1906-2005=>0.074 deg C per decade
      1956-2005=>0.128 deg C per decade
      1981-2005=>0.177 deg C per decade

      Then IPCC predicted => 0.2 deg C per decade for the next two decades

      SKEPTICS
      1895-1925=>0.05 deg C per decade
      1925-1955=>0.06 deg C per decade
      1955-1985=>0.07 deg C per decade
      1985-2015=>0.08 deg C per decade

      Nowhere is the warming as large as 0.2 deg C per decade. The warming rate due to cyclic warming of about 0.12 deg C per decade must be removed to give a secular warming rate of only 0.08 deg C per decade.

      Who has an agenda?

  104. Judith Curry

    You have commented:

    I am struggling to understand why climate science doesn’t seem to me to be working so well.

    I believe you have, in effect, answered your own question with your remarks here and elsewhere regarding the uncertainty in climate science on one hand versus the IPCC consensus process on the other.

    Climate science is, as you have concluded, full of great uncertainties – IOW we know far less than we do not know.

    This is in direct conflict with the IPCC consensus message, which is driven by a political agenda, IOW by agenda-driven “science” – in order to convey a message of “certainty”.

    “Climate science” is working OK.

    It’s just that the IPCC consensus process has little to do with real “science”.

    That’s my take on your conundrum.

    Max

  105. manacker | June 3, 2012 at 10:07 am | wrote:
    ” “Climate science” is working OK. “

    • Climate science might be working OK, for sure, but does it have it by the panhandle or by the grease fire?
      =========

  106. Global warming in the twenty-first century: An alternative scenario

    James Hansen*†, Makiko Sato*‡, Reto Ruedy*, Andrew Lacis*, and Valdar Oinas*§

    Abstract

    A common view is that the current global warming rate will continue or accelerate. But we argue that rapid warming in recent decades has been driven mainly by non-CO2 greenhouse gases (GHGs), such as chlorofluorocarbons, CH4, and N2O, not by the products of fossil fuel burning, CO2 and aerosols, the positive and negative climate forcings of which are partially offsetting. The growth rate of non-CO2 GHGs has declined in the past decade. If sources of CH4 and O3 precursors were reduced in the future, the change in climate forcing by non-CO2 GHGs in the next 50 years could be near zero. Combined with a reduction of black carbon emissions and plausible success in slowing CO2 emissions, this reduction of non-CO2 GHGs could lead to a decline in the rate of global warming, reducing the danger of dramatic climate change. Such a focus on air pollution has practical benefits that unite the interests of developed and developing countries. However, assessment of ongoing and future climate change requires composition-specific long-term global monitoring of aerosol properties.

    http://www.pnas.org/content/97/18/9875.long

  107. Here ya go Web, continue with the CO2 enlightenment.

    http://i122.photobucket.com/albums/o252/captdallas2/jubanyandmaunaloa.png

    That is the ML versus Jubany annual CO2 variation. Why should that be interesting? The colder waters of the Antarctic can hold more CO2 than the tropical waters around Mauna Loa. Each year in the Antarctic, an area the size of Australia freezes and thaws. Does the CO2 rich water form CO2 rich ice or does the CO2 stay with the denser water that sinks?

    In the warm tropical oceans, which can hold the least amount of CO2, there would be a minor annual CO2 fluctuation, but the tropics are called the tropics for a reason, they are warm all year.

    Now think about ocean acidification. If the CO2 in the CO2 rich waters sinks with the denser water following freezing, would that CO2 experience a differ pH that if it remain near the surface.

    Now here is a funny part. If the CO2 in the CO2 rich water does stay with the fresher ice formed, would that be constant or would the percentage change with conditions?

  108. The following brief outline should explain the physics involved in GHG back radiation etc, demonstrating how it does not lead to an increase in surface temperature.

    I have purposely not used equations.

    Please not that the numbers representing incoming energy and outgoing energy are arbitrary. Obviously, in the real world they will vary from moment to moment, depending on factors such as solar output, atmospheric perturbations, GHG concentrations, albedo, emissivity and so on.

    If you wish to try to beat me around the ears (metaphorically, I hope), please attempt to stick to the subject. I will try to respond to rational questions. Ad hominem comments will be disregarded, as they achieve nothing except to demonstrate intellectual paucity on the part of the deliverer.

    Starting at night, in order to remove confusion.

    There is no sunlight, so the surface emits energy, say 10 units. Some of this energy will be re radiated by the GHGs back towards the surface as “back radiation”. The balance will not, and is lost to the surface, eventually being radiated to outer space.

    So the surface has lost 10 units of energy, and has cooled somewhat. It cannot stay at the same temperature after losing energy, as this would violate the principle that energy can neither be created nor destroyed.

    The surface will receive the “back radiation,” say 3 units. Having absorbed this energy, the temperature will rise somewhat. The critical point is that the temperature rise occurring will note make up for the temperature drop involved in creating the “back radiation”. If this is unclear, go back to the initial emission of energy by the surface, 10 units, and follow thorough again.

    At this point, the surface has emitted 10, and received back 3, for a net loss of 7 units. The surface cools, but not as quickly as if the GHGs had not existed. This is not a temperature rise.

    This is the observable behaviour of the Earth’s surface at night, in still conditions, which avoid energy transfers by atmospheric heat transport. It is also to be noted that where concentrations of GHGs are low, (for example arid desert regions), less “back radiation” leads to very rapid cooling. In any case, the surface does not heat up, that is, increase its temperature.

    Precisely the same mechanism occurs when the Sun is shining. The difference is that the incoming solar radiation absorbed usually more than makes up for the energy losses which occur. However, the observed rise in surface temperature during periods of sunshine is purely due to an excess of energy received from the Sun.

    It will be noted that as the Sun passes the zenith (all else being equal), the rate of heating of the surface decreases, and eventually cooling commences. It is readily observable that “back radiation” is unable to prevent surface cooling in the absence of sufficient energy from the Sun to compensate from radiative losses from the surface.

    If my words lack clarity, I will do my best to make them clearer. In essence, GHGs do not cause the Earth’s surface temperature to rise.

    Live well and prosper,

    Mike Flynn.

    The following brief outline should explain the physics involved in GHG back radiation etc, demonstrating how it does not lead to an increase in surface temperature.

    I have purposely not used equations.

    Please not that the numbers representing incoming energy and outgoing energy are arbitrary. Obviously, in the real world they will vary from moment to moment, depending on factors such as solar output, atmospheric perturbations, GHG concentrations, albedo, emissivity and so on.

    If you wish to try to beat me around the ears (metaphorically, I hope), please attempt to stick to the subject. I will try to respond to rational questions. Ad hominem comments will be disregarded, as they achieve nothing except to demonstrate intellectual paucity on the part of the deliverer.

    Starting at night, in order to remove confusion.

    There is no sunlight, so the surface emits energy, say 10 units. Some of this energy will be re radiated by the GHGs back towards the surface as “back radiation”. The balance will not, and is lost to the surface, eventually being radiated to outer space.

    So the surface has lost 10 units of energy, and has cooled somewhat. It cannot stay at the same temperature after losing energy, as this would violate the principle that energy can neither be created nor destroyed.

    The surface will receive the “back radiation,” say 3 units. Having absorbed this energy, the temperature will rise somewhat. The critical point is that the temperature rise occurring will note make up for the temperature drop involved in creating the “back radiation”. If this is unclear, go back to the initial emission of energy by the surface, 10 units, and follow thorough again.

    At this point, the surface has emitted 10, and received back 3, for a net loss of 7 units. The surface cools, but not as quickly as if the GHGs had not existed. This is not a temperature rise.

    This is the observable behaviour of the Earth’s surface at night, in still conditions, which avoid energy transfers by atmospheric heat transport. It is also to be noted that where concentrations of GHGs are low, (for example arid desert regions), less “back radiation” leads to very rapid cooling. In any case, the surface does not heat up, that is, increase its temperature.

    Precisely the same mechanism occurs when the Sun is shining. The difference is that the incoming solar radiation absorbed usually more than makes up for the energy losses which occur. However, the observed rise in surface temperature during periods of sunshine is purely due to an excess of energy received from the Sun.

    It will be noted that as the Sun passes the zenith (all else being equal), the rate of heating of the surface decreases, and eventually cooling commences. It is readily observable that “back radiation” is unable to prevent surface cooling in the absence of sufficient energy from the Sun to compensate from radiative losses from the surface.

    If my words lack clarity, I will do my best to make them clearer. In essence, GHGs do not cause the Earth’s surface temperature to rise.

    Live well and prosper,

    Mike Flynn.

    • “In essence, GHGs do not cause the Earth’s surface temperature to rise. “

      You have a typo in that sentence. GHGs do cause the Earth’s surface temperature to rise.

    • You should look at the Kiehl-Trenberth diagram for actual numbers. They have one arrow called Back Radiation (much to my dismay, for the labeling given the comments I have on that today) which is actually twice the surface solar input. The upward surface IR more than compensates for this, so between the net upward IR, the sensible and latent heat fluxes, there is a balance. But IR is a big part, and you can imagine what happens if that downward IR was not there.

    • John Q. Lurker

      ozzieostrich | June 3, 2012 at 8:19 pm
      You fundamentally misunderstand the claim that GHGs raise the earth’s surface temperature. The correct understanding (somewhat simplified) is that the temperature increases as the concentration of GHGs increases. You yourself say, “The surface cools, but not as quickly as if the GHGs had not existed.” If, with a greater concentration of GHGs, the surface cools even more slowly, then the temperature increases as the concentration of GHGs increases.

      Many people share your misunderstanding. For many years, I’ve been surprised at the inadequacy of the treatment it receives from people who know better. Sometimes they offer criticisms that obscure the basic misunderstanding. Sometimes they’ve told me that “the temperature increases as the concentration increases” is not different from saying that GHG’s raise the temperature. In some sense, that’s correct, but it doesn’t help people like you. I’ve actually wondered if they’re trying to keep people like you in the dark.

  109. To all,

    Sorry, double paste. I grovel in mortification. It was long enough once, let alone twice. A thousand pardons!

    Live well and prosper,

    Mike Flynn.

  110. Bart @ 31/05 2.23am:
    Say Bart, where are you? You asked me to respond to yr question, ‘Is it Science or Scientism?’ I guess yer referring to ‘Knowledge’ in the Humanities so I’ll comment on historic studies.

    Wiki on Scientism – Scientism is the belief in the universal applicability of the scientific method and approach, and the view that empirical science constitutes the most authoritative worldview of human learning to the exclusion of other viewpoints – used by Hayek and Popper to describe dogmatic endorsement of scientificic methodology and reduction of all knowledge to that which is measurable.

    Popper sought a demarcation of science and the social sciences, in ‘The Open Society and Its Enemies,’ (1945) His 2 volumes are an attack in historicism and defence of rigourous scientific research against scientism.He is doing this as a defence of democratic parliamentary democracy against fascist and marxist dogma. Popper is critical of historicist interpretations of history, that seek to gain a scientific authority through discovery of laws of human and political destiny, laws conceived as properties of nature itself, and so giving history a predictive function. This changes history research from the contextual study of a specific historical past event linked to power and our environment to something with a message on how to view and accept the present

    Popper, while arguing for rigourous testing of scientific theories also sees scientism as trying to adopt the method of scientific research, not as it is done, but as it is wrongly alleged to be done. ie,,collecting observations and drawing conclusions from them instead of responding to a problem requiring a solution.In this thread and others discussion revolve around rigorous investigation involving:

    *Clearly defined technology
    *Quantifiability
    * Highly controlled conditions
    *Reproducibility
    *Predictability and testability.

    This excludes history, historicist or otherwise, but it also exludes present climate science doesn’t it? Quantifiability eg back radiation warming?
    Reproducibility eg Hockey Stick? And certainty of the settled science?
    As Popper emphasized, for even the most powerful theory, provisional acceptance only.

    Popperalso argues, however, that while there are differences between science/ humanities research, the methods of problem solving and refutation involving empiric evidence are common to both. What I would call sound historical investigation starts with a posed question, a problem situation leading to ‘testing’ not controlled but contextual analysis and the evidence’ out there’ or not. Conjecture and refutation is practised in both disciplines. It is practised in assessing the 14th century records in a city or reconstructing a damaged text and in measuring sea surface temperatures or constructing a theory of radioactivity.

    Dogmatic attachment to reductionist scientism can be found in both ‘science’ and ‘history’ though Feyman, after Socrates, reminds us that the spirit of enquiry means, ‘be critical’ and ‘first of all, do not fool yerself.’

    *Sorry, I didn’t mean this to be so long (

    • As a physicist with a lot of connection to engineering, not a climate scientist, I consider climate science to be without slightest doubt a physical science, whose problems are fully quantifiable and satisfy all criteria of science. In that climate science is a subfield of atmospheric science and further of geosciences.

      The problems of climate science are, however, difficult. It’s difficult to understand the long term behavior of the atmosphere and the Earth system more generally. Quantitative physical sciences do not always allow for controlled experiments on all relevant issues. That’s very much true for climate science. That limits the power of the science to draw policy relevant conclusions. The willingness to draw such conclusions more than the present level of knowledge allows at the level of certainty many consider appropriate has led to many controversies.

      The other side of the controversy comes from the perceived imperative to express scientist’s personal views on an issue that the individual scientist sees as essential for the future of humanity the environment. Scientists with such views consider that’s their duty to promote thinking that they consider justified even in absence of full support from established science. For that they may overemphasize the value of supporting evidence and downplay the contrary arguments. In that they don’t act as scientists but as advocates. They are, however, not the only advocates and their advocacy should not be dismissed any more than the advocacy of the other side.

      The problem with advocates is that it’s difficult to tell from their presentations, whether one of them is very close to the truth or where the truth really lies. Scientists who are clearly advocates lose their status as witnesses.

      The public view on climate science has been blurred by the advocates. Without them the public wouldn’t know any more about climate science, but fewer people would imagine that they know in one way or the other.

    • Beth Cooper | June 4, 2012 at 4:18 am |

      A very nice historical review, thank you.

      So, analyses? Syntheses?

      How in particular do you propose to advance from this knowledge given what has passed?

      Avoiding self-delusion and critical reasoning as a way of being are all well and good, but in climate, etc?

  111. “Popper is critical of historicist interpretations of history, that seek to gain a scientific authority through discovery of laws of human and political destiny, laws conceived as properties of nature itself, and so giving history a predictive function. This changes history research from the contextual study of a specific historical past event linked to power and our environment to something with a message on how to view and accept the present.”

    Many had this worry, but fortunately or unfortunately, it was an unnecessary
    concern.

  112. Tsk, apologies Richard, ‘Feynman’

  113. By the way, Ossie Ostrich, were you ever on ABC television? If so, did you meet Pluck a duck?

  114. David Hagen -

    Let me second your point about higher concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere NOT leading to high temperatures.

    But I can go one better: 2 billion years ago, beforer the appearance of thr blue-green algae that converted alomst all of it to O2, the atmmosphere was TWENTY PERCENT CO2!! And not only that, but right about that time the Earth went into s deep freeze with icecaps reaching nearly to the equator.

    So, someone tell me how 0.04 persent, or even 2 percent CO2 in the air is going to make the Earth burn up.

    You AGW types, cut the reactionary leftist political balderdash and let’s get down to honest science. Leftist politics is neither science nor honest,, but rather their opposites.

  115. Chad Wozniak | June 11, 2012 at 12:01 am |

    What is it with some dismissalists that they need the “Earth Burns Up” straw man to beat up on, when there’s plenty of room for actual reasoned investigation and criticism in the real positions of the actual science and policy?

    Why do they need not just leftists, but reactionary leftists, to be their fall guys?

    How does AGW get to be a “type”? Is there a gene for that? A retrovirus? What?

    Why do you bother to use the word ‘honest’ in the middle of a diatribe that makes no bones about its flagrant use of fallacy?

    Since this topic is about uncertainty, perhaps you could introduce some references to the data you draw on and your reasoning to support your presumed familiarity with the Earth 2 billion years ago?

    Error bars? Confidence intervals? Citations? Evidence?

    Not saying I doubt the claims, especially. I just doubt you can make a skeptic-satisfying case for anything you’ve said, and would be entertained to see you attempt to prove me wrong.

  116. My paper “Limits to Maths: Correcting Some Erroneous Foundations” sheds considerable light on this very topic. The single most pervasive tool of science — mathematics — is currently falsely founded as per infinity. This matters immensely whenever and wherever there may be infinite phenomena (an infinity of things happening all together, all at once, in an interconnected fashion) for that would be a circumstance where no mathematical formula could hope to characterize the phenomena (notice the attempts to resolve infinities in advanced physics by use of mathematical renormalization, which appears at best to render ad hoc kluges, but not a generalizable theory).

    If foundational phenomena were indeed infinite phenomena, then all of theoretical science could be imagined merely to be catalogues of situational observations of secondary phenomena — never characterizing the fundamental phenomenology, but only characterizing observed / observable finite phenomena!

    Further, if there are two categorical spheres of phenomena — one dissipative (or entropic) the other anti-dissipative (anti-entropic, syntropic, that result in the emergence of semi-persistent observable/”physical” structures) — it may be possible that the great successes in mathematical characterizations are characterizations of observed dissipative STATIC and DYNAMIC patterns but chiefly only anti-dissipative STATIC patterns (which could be because the dynamic patterns of anti-dissipative systems are phenomenologically infinite in nature).

    If this were true, then there are important and broad implications for how the conduct of science can and should shift to be more useful and productive, in ways that I believe would directly solve the “it is 30 years that we fail” problem.

    Also of great import, the implications of my paper to the philosophy of science provides not only further evidence of manifest uncertainty BUT REVEALS EXACTLY HOW UNCERTAINTY COULD BE A PERSISTENT PHENOMENA WE MISS FAR TOO OFTEN BECAUSE OUR SENSE IS THAT IF WE CANNOT WRITE WHAT IS HAPPENING DOWN MATHEMATICALLY, IT IS NOT A REAL PHENOMENA — which is completely false, as my paper shows. This misperception has a term or two used to describe it: “scientism” or “scientific materialism” or sometimes “materialist scientism”. There is risk that scientific luminaries of today are increasingly falling in the errant margins of such scientism where truth is not to be found.

  117. I delight in, lead to I discovered just what I was looking for. You have ended my 4 day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day. Bye

  118. What can i say? writer along with the write-up are excellent. I genuinely like superior data.

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