The Goldilocks Principle

by Judith Curry

On what we can learn from Goldilocks and The Three Bears regarding our perceptions of climate, climate science, communication and policy.

Continuing with the recent bear theme at Climate Etc., lets think about applications of the Goldilock’s principle to climate, climate science, communication and policy.

Goldilocks Principle

What is the Goldilocks Principle? From the Wikipedia:

The Goldilocks principle states that something must fall within certain margins, as opposed to reaching extremes. The Goldilocks principle is derived from a children’s story “The Three Bears” in which a little girl named Goldilocks finds a house owned by three bears. Each bear has their own preference of food, beds, etc. After testing each of the three items, Goldilocks determines that one of them is always too much in one extreme (too hot, too large, etc.), one is too much in the opposite extreme (too cold, too small, etc.), and one is “just right”.

My interest in the Goldilocks Principle was piqued by a presentation that I recently heard by Gary Flake entitled The Computational Beauty of Nature.  It is a fascinating presentation, but I refer here specifically to  slides 11 and 12:

Litmus tests:

Is it so simple that it’s boring, overly familiar, or simply uninteresting?

OR

Is it so unfamiliar as to seem random, intractable, obfuscated or even alien?

GOLDILOCKS PRINCIPLE

familiarity   . . .  novelty  . . .   surprise

stability   . . .    adaptability    . . .    flexibility

easy   . . .    ambitious   . . .    impossible

safety   . . .  opportunity   . . .    risk

order   . . .   meaning    . . .    chaos

THE MIDDLE MATTERS

The Goldilocks zone for climate

In planetary science, the ‘Goldilocks zone’ is terminology for the the band around a sun where temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water to exist [link].

However, when it comes to planet Earth, we have a much narrower definition of the Goldilocks zone for climate.   There is a youtube video entitled Goldilocks and the Greenhouse: the Science of Climate Change.

On the polar bear thread, Max Anacker writes:

We all know the fairy tale story of “Goldilocks and the three bears”, where GL enters the bears’ house (while they are all gone), snoops about and finds the “just right” chair, bowl of porridge and bed before being awakened by the returning bears and chased away.

Since this thread is about the Arctic, it should be pointed out that the “Blond Eskimos” (living between mainland Canada and Victoria Island) tell a similar tale:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blond_Eskimos

Also of a little blonde girl (“niviasar”) and three bears – in this case, polar bears (“nanuks”), of course.

Their house is an igloo (what else?), the “just right” porridge she eats is made of ground seal pup mush but she is very hungry (“perlertok”), so this doesn’t matter, and when they awaken her, the little blonde Eskimo girl also manages to run away unscathed despite the nanuks’ carnivore instincts and inclinations.

Returning to science, climatologists have adopted the Goldilocks “just right” principle for our climate, with the premise that our climate was “just right” before humans started to interfere with it. It is already no longer “just right” and getting less so following an accelerated trend, due to human greenhouse gas emissions.

Some climatologists, suggest that the Goldilocks “just right” level of atmospheric CO2 was between 280 and 300 ppmv (19th century level) with anything over 450 ppmv (or even 350 ppmv!) no longer “just right” – but downright “dangerous”, in fact.

Fairy tales are nice, aren’t they?

Decadal scale climate amnesia and shifting baselines contribute to this ‘just right’ perception of the current climate.

There’s a recent book titled The Goldilocks Planet.  From the blurb at amazon.com:

Climate change is a major topic of concern today and will be so for the foreseeable future, as predicted changes in global temperatures, rainfall, and sea level continue to take place. But as Jan Zalasiewicz and Mark Williams reveal in The Goldilocks Planet, the climatic changes we are experiencing today hardly compare to the changes the Earth has seen over the last 4.5 billion years. 

And through all of this, the authors conclude, the Earth has remained perfectly habitable–in stark contrast to its planetary neighbors. Not too hot, not too cold; not too dry, not too wet–”the Goldilocks planet.”

Climate Science

On a previous thread, Donald Rapp describes the effect of the Goldilocks principle on climate science:

While many estimates have been made, the consensus value often used is ~3°C. Like the porridge in “The Three Bears”, this value is just right – not so great as to lack credibility, and not so small as to seem benign.

Huybers (2010) went on to say:
“More recently reported values of climate sensitivity have not deviated substantially. The implication is that the reported values of climate sensitivity are, in a sense, tuned to maintain accepted convention.”

Thus, they have imposed their preconceived notions of the expected temperature rise on the models to make them come out “right”. As we stated previously, this is like the Three Bears children’s story where the porridge was not too hot or too cold; the canonical 3°C temperature rise is large enough to be alarming, but small enough to be be credible.

Rapp’s argument echoes some of the broader issues raised by Thomas Kelly on confirmation basis, discussed on the previous thread Epistemology of Disagreement.

Communication and Policy

The Goldilocks Principle also suggests what is wrong with the alarmist/doom approach to communicating climate science and to motivating policy action.  Climate doom seems alien and far away, or its inevitability makes mitigation seem intractable and hopeless.

Framing the challenge and the solution in terms of adaptability and opportunity, and ambitious rather than impossible, might feel ‘right’ in ways that alarmist motivated impossible policies do.

Dan Kahan has written an article entitled The ‘Goldilocks’ theory on public opinion on climate change.  Excerpts:

We often are told that “dire news” on climate change provokes dissonance-driven resistance.

So one might infer that what’s needed is a “Goldilocks strategy” of science communication — one that conveys neither too much alarm nor too little but instead evokes just the right mix of fear and hope to coax the democratic process into rational engagement with the facts.

Inside Energy has a post entitled Goldilocks, Climate Legislation and Republican Engagement.  Excerpts:

But, just as Goldilocks had to pursue a trial-and-error process, so does Congress in its search for that “just right” climate bill that will set in motion GHG reductions at the lowest cost. They obviously haven’t found it yet but having the Republicans constructively engaged in this testing is heartening.

The Middle Matters

So, does the Goldilocks Principle provide insights into the climate change debate?  I think it does.  The middle matters.

And finally, a cartoon.  I think this Goldilocks cartoon is particularly apt:

goldilocks

271 responses to “The Goldilocks Principle

  1. The Goldilocks Principle sounds a lot like the Anthropic Principle wrt to the conditions that Earth and the SS have satisfied in order for life to occur.

    There seems that an aweful lot of co-incidences have occurred.

    In this context, weather and climate are manifestations of conditions affecting the Earth, SS and the Universe over time.

    • Examples of Goldilocks Cosmology

      Had the resonance level in the carbon been 4 percent lower, there would be essentially no carbon. Had that level in the oxygen been only half a percent higher, virtually all the carbon would have been converted to oxygen. Without that carbon abundance, neither you nor I would be here.

      Beyond the Cosmos

      Moreover, carbon dioxide is soluble in water. Together they create a unified climate feedback system, and have kept Earth a lush planet for the last 500 million years. . . .
      The Moon stabilizes Earth’s axial tilt. It now varies by a mere 2.5 degrees. Such a small variation produces, over thousands of years, the mild seasonal temperature changes we now enjoy.

      The Privileged Planet p 36, 107

    • The problem is in us; not in the stars.

      “It is from the revelations of truth that all else follows,” Assange said. “…Our civilization is only as strong as its ideas are true. When our buildings are erected by corruption, when their cement is cut with dirt, when pristine steel is replaced by scrap our buildings are not safe to live in.

      “When our media is corrupt, when our academics are timid, when our history is filled with half-truths and lies, our civilization will never be just, it will never reach for the skies,” he told over 100 supporters gathered outside the small embassy near Harrods.

      http://www.londonlovesbusiness.com/business-news/politics/julian-assange-pledges-to-release-millions-more-wikileaks-documents/4270.article

    • A-climate-detective .. IJL .. ERB

      You all remind me of the most intelligent woman in the village? She is sat on a park bench with 2 nuclear physicitian’s and they are talking about a problem and infact she offred advice but both the physicitian’s realsied she did not understand the subject enough to make commnet’s and so they ignored the CHAFF from her lips and carried on picking the wheat from the coversation they were already having? So now i stand in the room blog and i see the GW and 2 physicitian’s helping and hten i see a whole load of INTElligent villager’s who QUITE CLEARLY have not got a clue what thier own GOVERMNTS are working on. We have supplied HARVARD and STANFORD with the all time once and for all how it went and not just that but how it WILL GO as we have been on stwitter for near one yr showing up scientist? With say adding thier claims then our thoeries and then the obersvations we thoeried come true and we are laffing at the forcasting abilities we have v/s the PC modeling by those above us. Do go fown this list to the other 2 post i have made lookls like a large claims YES? Thats becuse it is true we gave s both HARVARD and STNAFORD our all how it goes backed by all the evidence one can shake the proverbial stick at YOU PRE HISTORIC EVENTS Vs humans tyime line. More to it than that but let’s just say your all on the wrong SUBWAY going wrong DIRECTION ok = when can we relase this info to you all?GO raed the script heer and you will see just how soon we are willing to relase the information. Soon as we have 2.5f and maybe you guys can help that so you can all know exactly what your govermnets do? anybody with to get this corroberated then Please feel free to contact us via email and we will show you the evidence of exactly what we have given to both HARVARD and STANFORD. You advisor to OBAMA president elect=
      @Harvard is already onto it GUYS?
      @climatesleuths
      A-Climate-Detective ..
      Climatesleuths@yahoo.com
      Read our other post’s below here? then come re read this one?

    • A-climate-detective .. IJL .. ERB

      Judith Curry or anybody heer reading this plase contact us on climatesleuths@yahoo.com We would like to prove what we have said here? We need your help to release our work? Would you let it out knowing it will be used and your work taken from your feet. We have what YOU are wanting and are not supprised your all reading this and saying BLEEDIN MAD. Ha yes how many have been told this just to be redeemed later on…:P
      Conatct us we have stuff that will help you and put you all ON COURSE a sigle time with one admiral and a single fleet? We can prove that we have given this to BOTH SCIAM? And HARVARD – And Stanford and prove they are working on this subject we suplied? Now BREAK contact if your really one who wants to get involved as your all heer being the village interlectual as we can see. Your all above avaerage with your intelectual minds? But i personal speaking for Claimtesleuths cannot Knit a siigle stich? i could not tell the lady on the bench she has dropped a stich? But then she could not keep my POWER station from going critical? and to top this off the POWER station on the neuclear designs are very very much like our atmophere yes? Great g big boiler produces? energy? Just stick with us ? Becuse you are all MILES BEHIND the real climate problems. Sorry about this We do not personnally need to be involved in any forms of bam mouthing this is way to important. there is a reason we have chose to tell your all heer on this one site ok.
      But think of George and the RED INDIANS? They weer found when colubus trun right not left went west for USA called this INDIA= worng but bright guy hey. He found Myan decendants simple. and while we mention GeargCustor we have to mention

      the sales man with the BIG machine gun= gattlin?
      He went to the INDIAN chief and said..”here we have a machine gun do you wish to see it and buy it.” Indian chief’s reply? “can’t you see me busy fighting cowboys” and off went the sales man with his case leaving the Chief to sharpen the Arrows :P —
      thing’s could have been diffrent, so diffrent
      You will be shocked if you are willing to follow and have this first hand before the public ok.
      OUR promise to this PLANET
      @CimateSleuths
      ClimateSleuths@Yahoo.com

  2. The Goldilocks Principle also infests ecology, and that is why so much modern ecological research segues nicely into bogus climate ‘science.’ The researchers assume that whatever they are studying either is at, or was at (depending on the researcher’s whim) a ‘just right’ state of harmony with nature until evil humans came along and upset the delicate balance.

    It is complete nonsense, of course, and based on a Disneyfied version of nature, which is actually red in tooth and claw. Just like the planet’s climate history, really.

    • johanna,

      For what it’s worth, I look forward to your comments and find them to be invariably engaging and insightful. I also relish the craftsmanship of your trenchant prose. In that regard, your last comment was a superb one. Very thought-provoking, in fact.

    • Johanna

      After reading tens of thousands of observations covering the last 1000 years or so, it appears to me that ironically todays age is the nearest I can see to something being ‘just right.’

      Quite why we want to spend lots of money blowing on to a benign bowl of porridge in order to turn it cooler remains beyond me.

      Perhaps those suggesting it need to extend their repertoire of Fairy stories and read ‘ The Emperors new clothes.’
      tonyb

    • John Carpenter

      ‘The researchers assume that whatever they are studying either is at, or was at (depending on the researcher’s whim) a ‘just right’ state of harmony with nature until evil humans came along and upset the delicate balance.’

      It’s as if there is an overarching, unsaid rule… Humans are not a part of nature…. We have separated ourselves from nature somehow through our idea of civilization. Nature is not civil, it is harsh and unforgiving. The hubris of human civilization brings us to the idea we have separated ourselves from nature and therefore we can control it. Ideas like; If we stop emitting CO2, we can keep it below 450 ppm and therefore keep temperature rise no more than 2 C. Simply a fantasy.

      It is obvious to me humans have not reached civility to the ideal we aspire to reach in our minds eye and likely never will. We demonstrate incivility towards each other every day, we are animals in that sense of the word. We have not broken from the violence that is a critical yet difficult part of nature to understand.

      OTOH, we are capable of shaping nature and our environment in good ways too. To make our environment more hospitable to human habitation. To encourage our species to thrive and grow. We are capable of caring for our environment as well, to preserve nature and natural ecosystems to the benefit of all living species. But not all will survive and surely we should not consciously promote practices that move species toward rapid extinction either.

      But I would love to see people embrace the idea we are just as much a part of nature as polar bears and ants. We are shaping nature in new ways, as other species have and do now. We are capable of shaping nature on a larger scale than any other species… I get that, but why we should consider it unnatural is beyond me.

      Ultimately Mother Nature rules the universe. We may think we are able to set a path for our planets destiny, but more likely it is destined to become what it will be in part by our natural human actions and behaviors and in larger part by mechanisms beyond our control. I’m comfortable with that. We will adapt as necessary and in that sense, there really is no ‘just right’.

      • Thanx John, I have been trying to say exactly what you just said, but I have never been able to say it so elegantly.

        +1

      • A-climate-detective .. IJL .. ERB

        Jimmy? 20-50 million humans died in less than 3 years bcz spanish flu pandemic. Most were young adults. They never had a chance to get cancer.

        ===But thier GENE cells may have still contained the gentic muttaion of cancer cells and lay dormant in the helix and die like stated not having shown cancer .
        It’s safe to say that all species that thrive in cities have a symbiotic relationship with humans – cities don’t exist without humans.

        We come from Single Parents set’s DNA x-y so the originals are tracabl;e back to to being perfect almost? Look at the famine and the loss of Red meats and the effects on blue eyes and and blone hair for a dna mutation response to famine or more Malnutrition? One of you guy’s is very very very close to the problem here on this page? But then we have had our work out now over 1yr online just hidden frommost prying plguristic type eyes who run off with our work and then set up website saying its thier work when infact we have documented the whole time line on TWITTER climatics geen changes from hunter gather to farmer then all the way to modern man and now look at the three piggy’s designs of building as a human time line ok.
        The anser is staring you all in the FACE and has been for such a long old time BUt you really do need to understand economy also in a very very in a way second to none to see what come’s next and exactly how the negative effects of man on the planet really has the ability to push his climate up over a long long period of time when you do understand it?>
        Sorry to all the GRAMMAR Police.. Not my Forte
        Thinking yes.
        Belive me when we tell you all there, your up the worng tree Co2+GHG are just doubling the effcts to a looping situtation that starts at SEA, is amplifing a diffrent problem not mentioned at all on this page 1 time ok. and soon your all gonna be privvy to Very Very soon and you can help to help us realse all our work to the PUBLIC just as long as your not the types to run off SAY’ing yes i said this, i said that also, because fair play’s NOT ONE HERE HAS provided what we have to both HARVARD AND STANFORD on 30th Oct-31st October while we were speking live to the rest of the planet with Dr Baffenboa= Think his name was from Stanford. Any we are currently supplying the new science they are currently working on ok. We can prove all this this is not a jokle, and that i am infact trying to help you guys as your genuine? All will be reaveled when we get 2.5k followers as we do not want the rest of our work being plagurised by every single man and his PUPPY..
        When the audience is big enough to let every body know that this is ifact new and ours we are willing to realse to all the public along with a 100k word book that hand in hands the IPCC doc and their DOC supports our’s and we have only saw this report last week. Ours had been online for near 1 yr and yes our work is fast leaking to the public but we do hold all rights to our very own works. You will see that also the IPCC 2007 does not contain the same science as the AR5 bleh= leak? Our work ahs shown up also in that report but they do not have all the works becuse we have split our works into 2 -3 online sites wher you need to find the other to comple the picture but does prove the dates we worked out rthe problems and belive me the climate is the start of a massive ball of research that spread the whole HUMAN existance when understood? When you have read what we have to tell you? You will not even look a pebble on the beach the same? each one tells you any thing you need to ever know or prove. We will be leaving all the scientist baffled as to how we done this as we have the good friends of ours at
        HARVARD and
        Stanford— Please get us followed at

        twitter @climatesleuths A-Climate-Detective
        Climatesleuths@yahoo.com
        any questions about what we claim or any body wish for the proof of our claims in order to further help the release we are more than willing to pre relese to prove we are of good faith, we just want to GIVE the WORK AWAY FREE OF CHARGE? TO THE PLANET not ONE COUNTRY to take and use as this will net a nmegative Result?

    • Who is Richard Windsor?

      In the case of ecology, you have something different but related going on: the assumption of stasis. I guess you could say that the assumption of stasis is the Goldilocks Principle applied to the time variable. When politicians pass laws that state the species aren’t allowed to go extinct, they’re going against all natural history.

      There’s a variation on this in climate science. The purpose of the MBH hockey stick was less to show rapid 20th century warming than it was to show stasis prior to human influence. The idea that nothing ever changed until humans came along is a cardinal believe of the greens. It’s built in to all of the talking points, and it’s contrary to all scientific evidence.

    • Well said Johanna…

      expanding on that,

      Disneyfied Ecological Theory (DET) is also reflected in ideas about biodiversity, namely that biodiversity is an unquestionable good and must be preserved at nearly any cost.

      This notion should be challenged. Today in the PNW, the barred owl is rapidly displacing the spotted owl. The two species are largely similar except their specific habitat preferences. The spotted owl occurs exclusively in old growth forests, while the barred owl has much more flexible habitat preferences, including old growth forest. We’ve reached the point where, because barred’s are outcompeting spotted’s in the spotted’s native habitat, we’re killing barred owls to protect spotted owls.

      Does it really matter to humans, or to the ecosystem as a whole, whether the barred or the spotted owl occupies a particular niche? Is every ecological niche unique? Are ecosystems less “healthy” when one species replaces another?

      This has implications for “ecosystem” “health”.

      Is there such a thing as ecosystem “health”? Is there even such a thing as an “ecosystem” at all? Systems, after all, are built to produce a specific outcome. Ecological processes are not built nor are they tuned for a specific outcome. They are simply networks of interactions that have no intention or purpose. Whether an ecological process is “healthy” or otherwise is in the eyes of each participant. For humans and crows and rats and coyotes, cities are healthy ecosystems. For big cats, elk, porcupines and badgers, they’re not.

      • The Skeptical Warmist

        Jimmy said:

        “For humans and crows and rats and coyotes, cities are healthy ecosystems.”
        _____
        Far too much of a generalization to be meaningful with too vague of a definition of “healthy”. Cities can be both healthful and unhealthy, depending on how you define the terms. The incidence of certain kinds of cancer and other diseases in humans is much higher in city dwellers, so is this healthy? The fact that rats do well in cities is because of human presence, but humans can also suffer for the association.

      • SW,

        Health in this context is the health of the species, not the health of the individual.

        I’m pondering what it means to be “healthy” as a speicies. I’ll advance a tentative definition: A “healthy” species is one that has a stable or growing population at timescales exceeding short-term fluctuations such as predator-prey curves.

        Using this definition, higher cancer rates among humans in cities are irrelevant to the “health” of the species (as is any particular cause of death). The question is this: are human populations growing because of cities? Human populations are growing, individual lifespans are increasing, humans are increasingly living in cities, and cities are increasingly large, both in terms of population and geographic area. I’ll argue that higher cancer rates are a marker of human success: they indicate humans are living long enough to get cancer. Only 100 years ago, 20-50 million humans died in less than 3 years bcz spanish flu pandemic. Most were young adults. They never had a chance to get cancer.

        It’s safe to say that all species that thrive in cities have a symbiotic relationship with humans – cities don’t exist without humans.

      • “It’s safe to say that all species that thrive in cities have a symbiotic relationship with humans – cities don’t exist without humans.”

        And if count pets and other domesticated life, quite wide diversity of life.
        And humans would probably chose more diversity if not for various laws limiting their choices.
        And more biomass than most non-cities areas. Cities are teeming with life. Maybe not as much as tropical rain forest, but human could create cities which did.
        And humans can spread life out into the universe- an arena which has infinite resources which will allow more better cities of life.

      • The Skeptical Warmist

        Jimmy,

        Your notion of healthy cities being marked by growing human populations is an odd one. If you’ve spent any time in the 3rd world nation cities with large (and growing) very poor populations, living off scraps from dumps and in poverty that would make the poorest in the U.S. look quite wealthy, you would hardly call this healthy– unless you are very cruel person.

        Clean water, clean air, clean nutritious food, fertile land, close knit families and communities,..these are the things that define both human health and true human wealth. They have nothing to do with cities at all and certainly not with the measuring the sheer numbers of humans. By your definition, just before a species crashes from overpopulation it is the most healthiest?

        Back to square one for you Jimmy.

      • SW,

        “Clean water, clean air, clean nutritious food, fertile land, close knit families and communities,..these are the things that define both human health and true human wealth.”

        I don’t see an ecological basis in your “definition” of the “health” of humans as a species. I see only your personal values as you apply them to individuals. Your “definition” of species “health” can’t be extended to other species. It’s human-centric.

        It’s unfortunate that so many people in 3rd world nations suffer. Nonetheless, they perceive that their prospects are better in cities than they are in the countryside – that is, they perceive that they will be less poor in cities than they will be in the countryside. When crops fail in the country, it offers not even scraps to live on.

        Cities offer a wider range of occupations; they draw on food supplies from wide areas (mitigating local weather and climate effects); they pool resources to protect water and food supplies and to provide better health care than is available in the country (meager as those may be for the world’s poor); they offer greater opportunities for education and self-advancement; most offer at least some charity for the poor – and because poor folks are more concentrated in cities, charity dollars spent there help more people.

        “By your definition, just before a species crashes from overpopulation it is the most healthiest?”

        I direct you to my definition above, where I excepted the effects of short-term population dynamics.

        I think it’s safe to say that the current human population is far larger than what could be supported by “natural” means alone. In that sense it’s probably fair to say there is “overpopulation” of humans. By the same reasoning, it’s also safe to say that humans passed the “natural” population threshold many millennia ago. Perhaps it was when they first made spears, or perhaps with the emergence of agriculture. Perhaps when they first built cities!  Whatever the case, “natural” environmental “capacity” is no longer a constraint. What constitutes “overpopulation” for humans is now a technological issue, and, as human population is still rising, it’s pretty hard to argue we’ve reached any limit.

      • RE the discussion between jimmy & R Gates:

        very well argued from both sides, but jimmy gets the nod for the superior position. Bottom line, you can’t argue on the health (good or bad) of a species based on the health of any particular organism(s) of said species.

        The living conditions and health standards in 3rd world cities is irrelevant to the discussion. The fact that people are moving to those cities and their populations are growing is relevant.

      • Gratzi, timg56.

        Yes, individual causes of death are meaningless. It’s population size that matters. I mean, it’s likely that today more people are dying of age-related diseases than ever! Does this mean the population is declining? That cities are bad? :)

        Interesting too that all species have populations that live (suffer?) a bitter existence at the margins of the species’ habitable range of conditions. Would be interesting to know – I suspect it’s the case – that most beneficial adaptations arise in those marginal conditions.

        This new bit on human evolution suggests something similar – that is, challenging conditions compel adaptation: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121226080906.htm

        That study closes the loop back to climate quite nicely.

        gbaikie has an interesting point too about humans carrying their closest biological companions (dogs, cats, rats, potatoes, corn, bacteria, etc) with them as they travel through the universe.

  3. David L. Hagen

    Sufficient stored biomass for RD&D to develop sustainable energy
    Too cold – no life – eg Mars
    Too hot – no life – eg Venus
    Just right – life – eg Earth

    Prehistoric conditions and climate oscillations were sufficient to form and bury massive amounts of solar energy as biomass. We have enough natural gas, oil and coal to grow and develop economically and technologically for long enough to now develop sustainable solar and/or nuclear fuel and power.

    Developing sustainable transitions in fuel and power are the critical economic/technological issues we need to address. “Global warming”/”climate change” is a diversion of relatively small import.

  4. The Goldilocks Principle is essentially the Golden Mean: Aristotelianism: the desirable middle between two extremes, one of excess the other of deficiency. Capt’nDallas links us to Tierney et al re: Lake Tanganyka record of 60,000 years of paleoclimate temperatures: temperature variations +/- 2.5 C. Other paleoclimate data, since water has dominate earth’s surface for 3 billion years, there has been a remarkably narrow variance of global temperatures. Earth has gone from ice ball to hot house without reaching some “tipping point” that could lead to either perpetual glaciation or boiling away of the oceans. There is no compelling data to say our current global temperature is “golden” and shouldn’t be messed with. Creatures large and small have flourished and disappeared depending upon the climate with which they had to cope. Evolutionarily species have progressed to more adaptability to climate change rather than less ability to adapt: mammals and finally man as illustration.

    My observation: earth continues to entertain a relatively narrow temperature range, and the creatures above and below the waterline through epigenics, adapt to wide fluctuations of temperatures. So the Golden Mean of temperature embraces those creatures who adjust to the fluctuations, either by finding a comfortable niche, or being able to endure multiple vicissitudes.

    The Golden Mean concept has been in the human dialogue for a mighty long time for a reason, it seems to work for most issues man confronts.

  5. “We often are told that “dire news” on climate change provokes dissonance-driven resistance.”

    Being interested in history, my dissonance started a decade ago when the medieval warm period and the little ice age were disappeared.

  6. Humans evolved in a period with 200-300 ppm CO2. Now we are near 400 ppm and rising. The Eocene with 500-1000 ppm was a hothouse period that favored the evolution of smaller mammals less than 10 kg, probably due to the greater heat-loss needs for larger warm-blooded mammals. You can imagine temperatures exceeding 30 C with 90% humidity occurring regularly in large areas of what is now a temperate climate. Evolution tells us what is optimal. Before the Eocene it was a little cooler, and larger mammals survived, and towards the end of the Eocene it cooled faster and the Eocene-Oligocene extinction resulted from the cooling because warm-adapted life could not take it, but larger mammals again could evolve. The climate change we are going through now is the start of a comparable size event to past extinctions. I am not saying this is happening in the next century, but this is the path the CO2 level sets for evolution or extinction. If you are looking for a Goldilocks climate, the Eocene one is not it, at least not for life as we know it.

    • “But this is the path the CO2 level sets for evolution or extinction”. Evolution or extinction of what? And “Goldilocks Planet” for whom. If humankind were to go extinct, the planet earth and the majority of species on it would carry along just fine. We just wouldn’t be around to feel the guilt of our own decisions

      • The Skeptical Warmist

        The majority of species could go extinct at the same time as humans and it wouldn’t really matter in terms of life on Earth. Within 10 million years or so of such an extinction event, new species would arise and life would once more flourish.

      • @skeptical warmist

        George Carlin would agree with you.

    • Ummm

      Am I wrong in believing that humans evolved in Africa (Kenya??) where the temperatures are much warmer than in the temperate climes that many of us now inhabit? And that the really big mammals (eg elephants) are also more at home in these warmer climes?

      If so there doesn’t seem much for us to worry about…..warmer is better.

      Late news:

      See this article in The Smithsonian

      http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/smartnews/2012/12/most-arctic-animals-should-deal-with-climate-change-just-fine

      • Key point:

        “for most (sub)arctic mammals it is not climate change per se that will threaten them, but possible constraints on their dispersal ability and changes in community composition.”

        This is likely the case for most extinctions: they will occur long before they are force by climate because of development pressures.

      • Max, fear yes, but guilt more. This CAGW social mania has been amplified because of the human soul’s huge capacity, nay necessity, for guilt.

        Once it is generally accepted that warmer and higher CO2 is a net good, both the fear and the guilt may be ameliorated. We’re a long ways from there yet, but it seems almost inevitable.
        ===================

      • The average temperature in the tropics is now 30 C or less, but back then it was 35 C, which makes it much harder for warm-blooded mammals to lose heat. 35 C (average) and humid really is like a different planet from anything seen anywhere now, except maybe in Turkish Baths.

      • Extract: “The reason they expect global warming to benefit Arctic mammals rather than hinder them, they say, is that most high-latitude species are generalists: they’re used to having to cope with a wide range of climatic conditions and aren’t too dependent on any one feature of the ecosystem. Think of the North American beaver, a hardy creature, compared to, say, koalas, who wouldn’t make it far without their eucalyptus trees.”

        and “… irrespective of the scenario, most species (43 out of 61) will expand and shift their ranges, mostly in a north-easterly direction, in response to expected climate change …”

        So, as ever, adaptability is the key in most cases, most animals are adpative because its a survival trait, humans are the most adaptive. Be happy, don’t worry. It’s only hard if you are an eco-worrier.

      • kim

        You are right about the “guilt factor”. It’s the “white man’s burden” to feel guilty about the “white man’s (inherited) affluence” (when others are less fortunate). It also plays into the Judeo-Christian value system most “white men” in the industrialized world grew up with. There is also the concept of “fairness” (often played up by politicos, who are interested in anything but).

        [It's also why the "rich white man's guilt-driven phobia with CO2" does not "sell” very well in China or India, where people have totally different mind sets and priorities.]

        But I still believe that the strongest visceral emotion of all is that of fear.

        And the promoters of CAGW have appealed to this emotion with a well thought out program of fear mongering – and it has worked up to now (for how much longer may be questioned, because all fear mongering campaigns eventually die, when people realize that the conjured-up hobgoblins are imaginary).

        Since fear is such a strong emotion, people who are truly afraid are unable to think rationally.

        This makes a rational debate with these people very difficult. We see evidence of that here.

        But keep up the good work. Reason will eventually prevail.

        And have happy holidays!

        Max

    • David Springer

      Jim D | December 22, 2012 at 10:58 pm | Reply

      “Humans evolved in a period with 200-300 ppm CO2.”

      We also evolved to live an average lifespan of 35 years. What’s your point?

    • There is a trend to larger mammals with cooling, from the Eocene to late Pleistocene. Even so, mammals weighing up to half a ton did fine in the warmer early Eocene.

      http://dinosaurs.about.com/od/mesozoicmammals/p/coryphodon.htm

      At the rate we’re going, humans may well reach half a ton, concievalbly somewhere near the upper limit for a vwarm climate, but I don’t see it happening soon, at least not as long as Bloomberg has anything to say about it.

      • At the plumbers this morning, I was told that being Christmas Eve, they only had a “skeleton crew.” Everyone in sight was obese or getting there. Make no bones about it.

    • Jim D

      CO2 levels did not have much to do with human evolution, as I’m sue you will agree..

      The fear you have of future warming from AGW, which lies outside your personal comfort zone or outside the “Goldilocks just right” range for humanity and our environment is undoubtedly real.

      But try for a moment to remove the fear from your mind and to look at things rationally (without fear).

      Humans evolved in Africa, in a climate that was several degrees warmer than the climate today in most of the industrialized world.

      People living in Singapore today are doing just fine – as are those living in Minneapolis.

      More human deaths occur when it is colder (in winter) than in warmer summer periods.

      Warmer must be “better” when one considers the many retirees who move from northern cities to the “sunny south” for retirement

      Greenhouse theory tells us that most of the GH warming would occur at higher latitudes. The increased surface area of arable crop land across northern regions of North America and Eurasia would result in higher agricultural productivity. The increased CO2 concentrations would also benefit crop yields.

      The fear you have is that the warming from AGW would lie outside the “Goldilocks just right” range – possibly even as high as 5°C above today’s level – but this is an imaginary hobgoblin.

      There is not enough carbon in all the remaining fossil fuels on Earth to get us even to 3°C warming (let alone 5°C).

      A more logical “upper limit” would be between 2° and 3°C.

      Since most of this warming would occur at higher latitudes, this would still lie well within the “Goldilocks just right” range.

      Even IPCC concedes that sea level rise from maximum AGW would be gradual, so this would present no problem for people to adapt if and when it would appear necessary to do so (as the Dutch have been doing for centuries).

      Fear is one of the strongest emotions. IPCC and other climate alarmists have used fear mongering very effectively to sell their message.

      But, Jim, I think if you remove the fear from your mind and look at the situation rationally and unemotionally, you will see that we are very unlikely to get outside the “Goldilocks just right” temperature range from AGW and there could be significant net benefits for humanity and our environment from a bit of warming.

      Max

      • Oops, missed placing my reply in the right place, Max. See just a bit above for a response about fear and guilt.

        Sic semper tyrannis.
        =======

      • manacker, I am not saying humans will go extinct, so don’t be afraid of that. They already live in hostile environments and just stay indoors in the summer daytime (e.g. Phoenix, Houston and Miami), and this practice will just spread north a couple of thousand kilometers. A/C will be our friend, maybe solar powered in the future. We (at least some of us) can adapt to the possible 6 C rise. Sea-level will rise slowly to 70 m, and we can move to the remaining smaller area of higher ground that some countries don’t even have as an option. Currently a third of the world’s population lives below 100 m, and this is 20% of the inhabited area. You can prefer that outcome or consider the current climate better than that in some way. It depends on Goldilocks’ tastes. 800 ppm is Eocene. We need to research that to see what it looks like before forcing everyone to go there. Reptiles and palm trees survived at high latitudes because there were no freezes. Forests and wetlands extended to the Arctic Ocean with no frozen tundra. The tropical abundance of life also includes more varieties of insects and diseases, but that just comes with the territory.

      • Jimd

        I told you to stop watching ‘water world’ or it would give you irrational nightmares.
        Tonyb

      • Jim D

        What is the “ideal ambient temperature” for human beings (the “Goldilocks just right” temperature)?

        I have seen the figure “23C” mentioned.

        Whatever it is, it appears that (at around 15C) the globally and annually averaged surface temperature of our planet lies below it.

        So, if people in Phoenix, Miami and Houston will need AC for cooling down (as you indicate), those in Minneapolis, Missoula and Buffalo will need heating for warming up, right?

        And, if we consider human population density across all latitudes, there will be more “warming” needed than “cooling”.

        If the globally and annually averaged surface temperature were to warm to 17C (with most of the warming occurring at higher latitudes, as is surmised for GH warming), wouldn’t this logically be a positive development for humanity?

        If not, why not?

        Max

  7. While many estimates have been made, the consensus value often used is ~3°C. Like the porridge in “The Three Bears”, this value is just right – not so great as to lack credibility, and not so small as to seem benign.

    And

    Thus, they have imposed their preconceived notions of the expected temperature rise on the models to make them come out “right”. As we stated previously, this is like the Three Bears children’s story where the porridge was not too hot or too cold; the canonical 3°C temperature rise is large enough to be alarming, but small enough to be be credible.

    So there we have it, climate science is a fairytale.

  8. I am so pathetic. The cartoon cracked me up.

  9. …nice if it was…

    The End

  10. The Rapp comment repeated by Baa Humbug above about 3 C being just right is pretty strongly supported by the 1979 NAS report, which established (for the first time, or is there an earlier reference?) not only the 3 C central estimate but also the uncertainty (they say from 1.5 to 4.5 C). Basically just what IPCC has been saying in all four reports.

    It appears that Goldilocks is now at least 33 years old.

    • That is not too far from the Arrhenius estimate over a century ago. It is interesting that even though much has been learned estimates of climate sensitivity median and range has not varied a damn bit.

  11. The Skeptical Warmist

    Certainly Judith’s site and public expression of her position on the issues represents the Goldilocks of climate blogs. Not too warm or too cold. One could see this as attempting to create a sort of Mediocristan of blogs and middle ground position. It may aid in furthering true discourse on the issue, but the reality is likely to be something from Extremistan, with the actual Reality Monster dwelling either at “it’s no where near as bad as forecast– in fact the extra CO2 has been a good thing” or “Oh my god, why didn’t they see how bad this was going to be!”.

    • The Goldilocks Middle means different things to different people for different reasons. For activist climate scientists, 3°C is the perfect middle – to drive the policy changes they believe are important.

      As an climate activist will tell you, scientist or not, Climate Etc isn’t an effort to find the “middle” in climate science. Its objective with respect to climate science is to question the “middle” – the Mediocristan – of climate science for the purpose of finding the reality of climate variation. Where the reality is not attainable, it seeks to explore tools for decision making that are robust to the uncertainty that is widely ignored in Mediocristan.

      Incidentally, the search for the Goldilocks mean by activist scientists emerges from another Goldilocks ideal: the existence of the Pristine and Harmonious Mother Earth, where everything is just right.

      • “Climate Etc isn’t an effort to find the “middle” in climate science.”

        It’s an effort to deny the middle to satisfy the desires of libertarian government-haters who want an excuse to bend the science to fit their politics.

      • The Skeptical Warmist

        Jimmy said:

        “Climate Etc isn’t an effort to find the “middle” in climate science. Its objective with respect to climate science is to question the “middle” – the Mediocristan – of climate science for the purpose of finding the reality of climate variation.”
        ____
        Not sure what the “middle” means in terms of climate science. There is no “middle” to physical climate facts. Things either are true or are not true. There is only a middle to human perception or agreement of those facts and then an even muddier middle in terms of what to do (if anything) as a result of the agreed upon facts. But the definition of what we intend by “middle ground” is also of importance. Are we talking about mean, median, or mode in the sample of perceptions as to what the data says?

      • SW:

        “Its objective with respect to climate science is to question the “middle” – the Mediocristan ”

        The “middle” in this statement is the Goldilocks Mean (GM) of the activist climate scientist set, the group that calls itself “mainstream” climate science. It’s not a mean or a mode or a statistical value of any kind. It’s a general agreement.

        The most famous Goldilocks Mean is the magic 3° of warming. Not too much to be believable, but enough to be alarming. Just right. The MO for obtaining this mean is similar to the MO for obtaining many other “consensus” views:

        The “middle” – or consensus – value or idea is loosely based on physical “facts” because the available data cannot rule out this particular value. However, in this sense it’s indistinguishable (or nearly so) from many other possibilities: that is, there’s no specific physical reason to choose this value over any other. This convenient outcome – that physical processes are too poorly understood to point clearly to any particular value – leaves the consensus to choose the Goldilocks Mean via opinion rather than analysis.

        You suggest that there are physical facts that are either true or not true. Everything I know indicates you’re right. However, if we don’t know those physical facts (e.g., climate sensitivity, cloud forcing, amplitude and frequency of natural variations in temp, ice cap melting, drought indices etc etc), we may be left with a range of outcomes that are indistinguishable, or of only marginally different apparent probabilities, from one another. We enter our opinions to constrain the problem. Our opinions are notoriously liable to our biases.

      • lolwot

        Huh?

        Come back down to Planet Earth, where Christmas is approaching and all is well…

        Max

  12. Forgot to include the link to the 1979 NAS report.
    http://www.atmos.ucla.edu/~brianpm/download/charney_report.pdf

  13. The Skeptical Warmist

    Regarding the broader principle of the perfect conditions for life in this solar system or elsewhere in he universe. The nearly daily discovery of exoplanets with many of them falling in the habitable zone of their associated star or stars, it seem more and more ad though creating the conditions for life is what this particular universe is all about.

    • David Springer

      Not finding a hint of life anywhere else in the universe speaks against your thesis that the universe was designed for creating the right conditions. The evidence rather points to the conditions being so rare it takes a zillion galaxies each with a zillion stars & planets zillions of years to produce just one planet with the right conditions. Wake me when someone discovers life anywhere else.

      • The Skeptical Warmist

        David,

        Your perspective is rather skewed and would be akin to the mindset prior to Copernicus that would posit Earth as the center of it all, and humans at the center of creation. Our fairy tale is that somehow we are the most advanced living creature– the “chosen ones”. But despite feeding our egos with this, bit by bit, we have come to realize that we are just one millions of living things in the web of life, and, assuming you are alive 10 years from now, with the rate of discovery of habitable exoplanets and other discoveries, you will come to understand that life, and the creation of the conditions for life, seem to be what this particular Universe is all about, albeit the vastness of it, and the little islands called galaxies where gravity temporarily overcomes dark energy enough to spark fusion in stars are so sparsely separated that it makes it hard to see how plentiful life is. May you live long enough to see our true position in this Universe.

      • The Skeptical Warmist

        By the way David, I do know how big “a zillion” is, but based on the rate of discovery of habitable exoplanets, or those falling in habitable zones around their respective star or stars, habitable planets in this galaxy alone probably number in the billions. It would seem that galaxies are little islands of life in the vast emptiness of the universe. They are areas where gravity is locally stronger than dark energy such that negentropy can temporarily overcome entropy and life can exist.

      • The Skeptical Warmist

        In the previous post, I meant to say I DON’T know how big a zillion is…

      • I agree David. Mercury and Venus have no moon. Hmmm… could it be that Earth would be moonless without the collision of a Mars size planet (at just the precise angle) that created our enormous moon. Apparently, Mercury and Venus are too close to the sun to allow moons to form. Perhaps the goldilocks position of the Earth is too close as well? We’ll probably never know but it might be worth thinking about. If this is indeed the case, then the very long term stability enjoyed by the Earth in the habitable goldilocks position might be very, very rare. Certainly, some form of microbial life abounds in the universe but intelligent life may be much rarer than many believe.

        Jim

      • The Skeptical Warmist

        JimJ said:

        “Certainly, some form of microbial life abounds in the universe but intelligent life may be much rarer than many believe.”

        ______
        Jim, any estimates as to the frequency of intelligent life in this galaxy and by extension, in this particular universe, are a moving target, with the original Drake equation being a huge moving target with the nearly daily discovery of exoplanets in the habitable zone of their associated stars. This is the most exciting and revolutionary area of astronomy going on and represents a true revolution in our understanding of the universe. The discovery of exoplanets capable of supporting life is as revolutionary as the discovery that the Earth was not the center of the solar system. Our paradigms have just not caught up with this just yet, but they will.

      • David Springer

        I suggest Gates read “The Privileged Planet” by Guillermo Gonzalez. Gonzalez pioneered the detection planets around other stars, coined the phrase “The Galactic Habitable Zone” and had the cover story on Scientific American for an article by the same name in 2001. I could go on but I’d rather teach you to fish so start googling and get outside the box for a change.

      • David Springer

        By the way Gates, my perspective is not skewed. The proper term for it is pragmatic. There isn’t a shred of evidence that a single microbe exists outside this solar system and less than credible evidence that it exists anywhere beyond the earth’s atmosphere. I was all gung ho about SETI 40+ years ago. Not so much today after 40 years of disappointment.

        Feel free to provide any actual evidence of extraterrestrial life in any form whatsoever.

      • “By the way Gates, my perspective is not skewed. The proper term for it is pragmatic. There isn’t a shred of evidence that a single microbe exists outside this solar system and less than credible evidence that it exists anywhere beyond the earth’s atmosphere. I was all gung ho about SETI 40+ years ago. Not so much today after 40 years of disappointment.

        Feel free to provide any actual evidence of extraterrestrial life in any form whatsoever.”

        Best actual evidence, is the rapid development of life on planet Earth.

        Another aspect is life is everywhere in Earth. Miles under solid rock, on black smokers in blcakness of Earth ocean. In dry frozen deserts in Antaratic. In radioactive pools. In very caustic and acidic environments.

        It of course, is true we have not found life beyond Earth; it would a headline few would miss. But we haven’t really looked for it, in places in solar system where it’s most likely to be. Interior of Mars, Europa’s ocean, or in other Jupiter moon’s oceans. It might have a possibility at Ceres- but don’t enough about this dwarf planet to much a clue if possible.

      • The Skeptical Warmist

        gbaikie,

        Yes, from the specific to the general. We can start to see huge hints that Earth is not so special overall– though of course, it is infinitely special to those who dwell here.

        David Springer,

        All I have is math and logic to posit the very likely existence of life, and even intelligent life, spread across this galaxy.

        SETI is a worthwhile attempt, but the latest reworkings of the Drake equations using new estimates based on the latest habitable exoplanet data is that it could be only about 4 or 5 light years between solar systems with some form of life on their planets, but on average about 1500 light years between planets with intelligent civilizations.This number could go down a bit as more exoplanets are discovered in habitable zones. Considering our galaxy is some 100,000 light years across, and 20,000 light years “thick”, this gives the potential for quite a few intelligent civilizations within just our galaxy. This 1500 light year mark is well beyond the area where SETI has been looking, but it begins to give a range for future searching. The Fermi Paradox may yet fall as a paradox within our lifetimes. It would of course be the most dramatic event in human history.

      • David Springer

        Interesting. We see the hallmarks of design wherever we look in this universe from the smallest scales to the largest. But many of you insist it’s all just an accident and in the same breath imagine the universe is bursting with life. You deny the evidence you actually have and imagine things for which there is no evidence. Incredible.

      • The Skeptical Warmist

        David,

        This is an interesting philosophical and even religious question– whether or not a universe in which life, and even intelligent life, was an inevitable result represents some kind of intelligent design. Let’s assume, for sake of argument that my supposition is correct, and that every galaxy in this particular universe was teaming with life– that every where life could evolve it does. Furthermore, suppose that intelligent life is quite common as well, and that just in our galaxy along there are tens of thousands of intelligent species. Does all of this mean there is an intelligent design behind it? Not necessarily. One would have to believe that the alternative to a universe full of life was equally possible. That is, it would have to be proven that a universe completely devoid of life could exist in equal probability to the universe with life that we find ourselves in.

        But all this makes for very interesting discussion.

        Merry Christmas to you…

    • David Springer

      The author of the OP has Goldilocks on the brain. Not too smart, not too stupid…

    • TSW @ 2.18: for years there has been increasing evidence on our planet of the tenacity of the life force, with living organisms being found in environments thought impossible for life. It seems that where life can exist, there’s a good chance that it will, and the range in which is might exist is probably greater than we imagine. For decades, I’ve thought that it was inconceivable that life existed only on Earth. But I don’t think that the astronomical knowledge justifies a claim that life is common throughout the universe, we’ve found some planets which might have life-viable environments, but so far a drop in the ocean. The best we can say is that conditions for life may be widespread, but we’ve only surveyed a minute fraction of the universe; and lack sufficient knowledge to indicate that life is likely on any specific extra-terrestrial body.

      • The Skeptical Warmist

        Faustino,

        If you had to place a bet as to whether there was Life elsewhere in the universe, what do you think the odds would be?

        If you had to place a bet as to whether there was intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, what do you think the odds would be?

        The tenacity of life here on Earth and range of environments in which it is found compounded with the new exoplanets being discovered in habitable zones of their respective stars makes the above odds extremely likely. It’s great to have had the illusion that Earth was special and the humans were special, but sooner, rather than later, I suspect that illusion will be broken.

        You are correct that we currently lack specific knowledge of that life is likely outside our own little planet, but logic and the increasing exoplanet discoveries being to make a strong mathematical and logical case against it. After the math and logic fall into place, one can then only appeal to some religious reason why life should not be incredibly abundant throughout this entire universe.

  14. If I explore the story a little from the bears perspective (ursidopic principle) then things look different. For papa bear the big chair, hot porridge, and big bed are just right; for momma bear her chair, porridge and bed were just right; and for baby bear the little chair, porridge, and small bed were just right. That is, in an ursine universe we seem to need a multi-model. One that is just right.

    This leads to a couple of issues. First, selecting the right averaging scheme is a bear of a problem. Second, how do the unique sets of landmarks for each bear–low, just right, high–map into the Goldilopic universe. Here the assumption is that Goldilock’s and the bears’ realities (formally pictures) must at least intersect to some degree–what physical invariants constrain the different pictures or better yet what is the best way to split the total system Hamiltonian in order to clearly see Goldilocks-Bear interactions.

    It’s been too long and I just can’t figure it out. It is pure chaos. Hence I shall fall back on the ‘Hansel and Gretel Principle’, shove it all in the oven and bake the hell out of it.

    • I tried it for a number of baking times. It seems to be converging to some sort of Zeno’s paradox. No matter long I bake it, it comes out half baked. (At least it is renormalizable.)

    • mwgrant,
      Interesting way to look at this (although I am ignorant of the different principles). The GL principle, if it leads to irrational center seeking for consensus sake will only result in mediocrity. We each arrive at the table (or chair or bed) with a different bias. Some of us are bias to prefer big, hard, and hot and some cold, soft, and small. This doesn’t mean that the middle is correct. I would rather see the debate come to a conclusion based on hard data instead of seeking this middle ground conclusion.

      • But the debate is about the data because it is not hard. In any case policy seeks the middle ground because it gets the most votes. Democracy is about compromise.

      • Some points to be made here are 1.) the science and technology inform the policy debate–as do other key aspects; 2.) policy is likely the result of a democratic compromise, but ideally science is not–democratic middle ground and scientific consensus are not the same; and 3.) technology can be a result of both democratic middle ground (via policy) and scientific consensus.

    • I like your “Hansel and Gretel Principle” (otherwise known as the “Grimm gambit”). A variation:

      If the data don’t look too “grim”, shove ‘em in the GCM oven and “cook the hell out of (or rather into) the books”.

  15. Why the Goldilocks Principle isn’t

    The Goldilocks Principle is not a principle because its application is not constrainted to getting at some intrinsic truth. Rather it is more of a rule-of-thumb, heuristic. Applying it as a principle gives unmerited perceived credibility to its ‘prediction’. It belongs in pop culture.

    • The only one satisfied would be Goldilocks, The rest of us are just trying to get the “kum-by-yah” song out of our heads.

  16. A long time regular lurker here who is nowhere near the intellectual level of the other posters here .
    It seems that “mwgrant” is closest to the real Goldilocks principal.
    Most commenters are equating the Goldilocks principle with the ability of the human race to survive plus maybe something a bit more exotic in the way of life forms than humanity both towards the warm end of the Goldilock’s limits as well as the cold end.

    I think of that “Just Right” bowl in the middle as being a very big bowl indeed with a rather eclectic mix of all sorts of warm, and cold, salty, salt free, coarse or fine ground porridge, each of which just happens to suit the needs of some particular group of species or life forms.

    The big bowl of porridge in the middle is “just right for life” in all it’s variations. But as “life” works it’s way through that porridge and hits all those hot and cold and salty and different ground porridge spots it is forced to adapt and adapt fast.

    And THAT is the true key to how life has evolved and become so adaptable within that big bowl of porridge in the middle between the too hot bowl and the too cold bowl.
    Without those big changes in the global climate and environment, life in it’s single celled and most primitive and simplest forms might never have been challenged and had to adapt to survive if that bowl of porridge in the center was just perfectly right forever. That porridge was perfectly even and forever unchanging.

    But that big bowl of porridge in the center is not very even at all although even enough for life in it’s never ending variations to feast on and even to gluttonise itself on.
    That unevenness led to a forced adaptability and then to an arms and adaptability race.
    . Failure to adapt to the next and very different spoon full of porridge in that middle bowl meant extinction.
    We as a species have adapted but to only one tiny narrow spot in that bowl of porridge for we are only the present newly arrived example of innumerable outcomes from life’s journey through that “Just Right for life”, bowl of porridge.
    We despite our arrogance are not the end of life’s great journey through time. We may even be still near the beginning.
    For the present we regard ourselves as a race at the pinnacle of life on this planet.
    Our competitors and enemies are immense in numbers and species with the most important and most lethal of them using us humans, both internally and externally as the vehicle to promote their own species.

    For how long we as a species will remain at the pinnacle of life is not for us to know but there will be a day when we no longer adapt at the speed or in the direction needed to survive and another or many better adapted species will get a go at that “Just Right for life” porridge in that middle bowl between the too hot bowl and the too cold bowl.

  17. The Goldilocks principle is being used in different ways for different commentators purposes. Per Taleb (Antifragility), is “just right” a static area of resiliency or a dynamic zone of adaptability? I.e. is the climate “fragile,” and can be catastrophically disrupted by an addition of C02 molecules? Is it resilient– it will bend but not break? Is it antifragile, that is, an organism that thrives in disorder?
    Just asking.
    But– it Goldilocks is, herself, fragile. She cannot respond flexibly and creatively to conditions that are not, in her view, absolutely perfect. That may or may not be the apt climate metaphor.

  18. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    Judith Curry advocates the Goldilocks Principle  “Framing the challenge and the solution in terms of adaptability and opportunity, and ambitious rather than impossible, might feel ‘right’ in ways that alarmist motivated impossible policies do.”

    Yeah! Let’s get started! \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

    • Oceans choked with coral reefs are hard to navigate!

    Oceans largely devoid of coral reefs by 2100 are too hopeless!.

    • Oceans with vibrant, living, healthy coral reefs are “just right”.

    Hmmmm. In practice, the Goldilocks Method doesn’t work so well, did it?

    Because the Goldilocks Method in practice is difficult to distinguish from shortsighted denialism presented in shiny wrappings of condescension, eh? \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\frown}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries???}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\frown}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

    • The Skeptical Warmist

      In practice, when you poke a complex system with a rapidly changing variable as we have with GHG increases, you’re not likely to get porridge that is “just right” and thinking that you will is a fairy tale?

  19. The Goldilocks principle implies a negative system response to any potential disruption.

    AGW theory relies on the absence of a negative system response and instead the substitution of a positive system response.

    • The Skeptical Warmist

      It is one of degree and timing. We know the Earth has a series of negative system responses to increasing CO2, but sometimes the natural response can become overwhelmed by how rapidly a variable changes.

      • Skeptical

        The past history of our planet shows that (barring cataclysmic disasters following such events as meteorite strikes) the climate has not shown any “tipping points” or runaway tendencies, such as one would expect from large positive feedbacks, but appears to have self-modulated as one would expect from a series of negative feedbacks at work (putting us back within the “Goldilocks just right” range).

        Even after the few cataclysmic upheavals, there was a “return to normal” after a period of time.

        As you write, it is a “matter of degree and timing”.

        The one extinction event that has been linked to increased CO2 concentrations from massive natural eruptions (PETM) involved a surmised rapid increase in CO2 levels many times higher than could be possible from the combustion of all the fossil fuels on our planet.

        There just isn’t enough carbon in those fossil fuels to reproduce anything like a PETM.

        And there is no logical reason to believe that the one or two degrees of warming, which AGW could cause over the next 100 years or so, will have any catastrophic consequences for humanity or our environment.

        Max

      • It doesn’t take as much carbon as during the PETM to have the same effect. CO2 now is much lower so a doubling of CO2 requries far lower amount of CO2 emitted.

        The PETM was also far slower than today in both CO2 rise and temperature rise.

  20. Natural Variability comes from the freezing cold North.
    - all calm at far North, the mid-latitudes cool
    - all action at far North, the mid-latitudes warm
    Confused?
    So you should be until you read with due attention
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/NaturalVariability.htm

  21. A re run of yesterday’s, or was it the day before’s
    ‘Thought fer Today? ‘ Today,’ in relation ter fairy tales.

    ‘Stand at ease in Nature. Be self balanced for contingencies,
    storms, hunger, accidents, rebuffs, as the trees and animals do.’

    H/t Walt.

    Except these animals in fiction that seem surprisingly
    unaware of ‘Hume’s Problem.’

    “Living in Mediocristan, A Story Of THree Bears.”

    “Everything was going along nicely fer the three bears,
    everything ter their liking, not too hard or soft, not too hot
    or cold, and then … a black swan entered their lives in the
    form of Goldilocks …”

    (Seems, animals in stories jest don’t behave the way they do
    in real life.)

    .

    • The Skeptical Warmist

      Until the hunter burst into the bears home just as they were sitting down to eat and…

      • The Skeptical Warmist

        But in reality, animals don’t eat that way, especially not bears. Just try to mess with a bear when it’s eating. You”ll find Extremistan as the bear is well prepared and “balanced for contingencies…”

      • Aw, c’mon, Skeptical – we all know that was “Li’l Red Ridinghood” getting saved from the Big Bad Wolf just as he was getting ready to gobble her up in her late Grandma’s house. You got your fairy tales mixed up

        Max

  22. Bears balanced for contingencies, yes, SW, bears black, brown
    and white. Better not mess with them.

  23. We are here because the Earth is Goldilock enough to have sustained the development of a diverse ecosystem.

    It’s quite possible that part of that Goldilock nature of the Earth system is that there have been major disruptions that have help new forms of life take over. The development of mammals and later humans may have required that the conditions have at some moments wiped off most of previously dominating species to give opportunity for new beginnings.

    This kind of generic principles cannot help us much in deciding whether the outcome of anthropogenic CO2 releases will be benign or severe. They leave too much freedom for being helpful in that.

    The argument that the world is best when left undisturbed by humans is not convincing but neither it’s convincing to claim that humans cannot damage their environment severely or that this damage could not reach global dimensions. The human capabilities have clearly reached the level were causing sever damage on global scale is not unconceivable. CO2 releases are one of the possible pathways to that. Whether that’s likely cannot be answered without extensive research. How well it can presently be answered with help of such research is what we are arguing about. We are also arguing about what should be done when we know as much or as little as we presently know.

    The Goldilock principle has clearly been used in setting goals like the 2 C goal for warming or 450 ppm (or some other commonly stated value) for concentration. These are Goldilock goals as it’s very widely admitted even by their supporters that they are based more on what might just be achievable (having an optimistic view) than evidence that the particular value is a fundamentally more correct choice than some other value like 1.5 C or 3.0 C for warming.

    • The Skeptical Warmist

      Pekka said,

      “It’s quite possible that part of that Goldilock nature of the Earth system is that there have been major disruptions that have help new forms of life take over.”

      Indeed, we know that is exactly what happens. When some extreme event takes place and the ecosystem changes too much for some species, others find opportunity. Such was the rise of mammals when dinosaurs declined.

      • Do we really know that?

        It’s too common to take the most promising theory as scientific knowledge. Often we have strong enough evidence to justify the use of the word “know”, but is this one of those cases?

        Similar comments might be made on much of cosmology where plausible theories exceed the limits of empirically verified knowledge. And similar comments are fully justified on many parts of the most likely description of the atmosphere and the other parts of the Earth system.

      • See, I knew it; Pekka’s a skeptic. Now if he’d only quit being so skeert of this molecule which miraculously is both plant food and a thin warming blanket against the next ice age.
        ==============

      • The Skeptical Warmist

        Pekka,

        You raise interesting philosophical and epistemological questions. In as much as we can know anything for certain that occurred in the past, the fossil record would seem to indicate that the rise of mammals occurred coincident with the end of dinosaurs after some significant extreme shock to the biosphere. Out of extreme events, opportunity arises as one species decline equals another species opportunity.

      • The end of dinosaurs is a clear effect. That there’s a connection to the later following development of mammals is certainly plausible but plausible explanations of this type bear a major risk of confirmatory bias in science.

        I’m certainly not at all an expert on this but with the power of ignorance I dare to question whether there’s enough evidence to support a high level of certainty. Is there good evidence that the dinosaurs were the principal impediment for the rise of mammals or could the it be that mammals just happened to have reached the level of maturity that was needed.

        Of course I wrote my own comment having this example in mind as one case of probably many. I was just careful enough to write about a possibility rather than certainty.

    • I did not think I would ever agree so wholeheartedly with Pekka. I dont know which of us has changed. Let me add my own thoughts on the issue he has raised.
      I dont know whether I can express my ideas clearly, but it seems to me that, according to the laws of physics, there is a value for climate sensitivity, however that quantity is defined. Maybe there are several values, depending on what the definition is. Until someone works out how to measure that number, all we have are estimates. Hopefully, these estimates are getting better at concluding what the proper number is. I am sure that those of us who take an interest in the subject of CAGW, all have our own ideas as to which the best estimate is.
      How does this relate to the topic under discussion; Goldilock solutions? If we skeptics are right, then adding CO2 to the atmosphere has a neglibible effect on global temperatures. In which case, the concept of a Goldilock solution to the problem of CAGW is meaningless. If we have a negligible effect on global temperatures, then they will turn out to be what the laws of physics say they are going to be. All we can do, is follow the empirical data, and, hopefully, improve on our estimate of what the value of climate sensitivity is.

      • Jim (and Kim),

        It’s not the first time I agree on general principles with someone with whom I may disagree strongly when these principles are applied to practice.

        I have defended the value of indirect evidence that combines empirical observations and theoretical considerations. I give great value for such evidence but I do admit that judging its significance is often difficult. Skeptics use that difficulty to dismiss the evidence even in cases where I consider it strong, but there are also cases where I feel rather helpless in deciding what to think about some arguments.

        I trust generally scientists (who have not given reason to consider themselves less trustworthy) when they discuss issues that should be easy for them but I know that new scientific results are very often wrong or at least inaccurate. Therefore independent confirmation is usually needed to make any new result worth of trust.

      • John Carpenter

        ‘I did not think I would ever agree so wholeheartedly with Pekka. I dont know which of us has changed.’

        Neither of you have changed. You should listen to Pekka more. This comment of his is no more or no less different than the point of view I have read from him over the years. Often I find what Pekka has to say to be ‘just right’.

      • Pekka, you write “Skeptics use that difficulty to dismiss the evidence even in cases where I consider it strong, but there are also cases where I feel rather helpless in deciding what to think about some arguments. ”

        I think you have highlighted where we differ. I look upon any theoretical evidence as useful,and even essential, only in so far as it helps us arrived at the empirical data. You are prepared to accept some aspects of theoretical estimations as having validity in their own right. I think you are going too far when you say we sketics “dismiss the evidence”. It is not that we dismiss theoretical estimations; we only value them in so far as they have been verified by actual measurements.

        I dont feel at all helpless about any arguments. Only when I see the hard measured data do I believe any issue in physics is “settled”. And this is my main issue with the proponents of CAGW. They have claimed that “the science is settled”, when they lacked, and still lack, the vital empirical data. For that, I will never forgive them. That is where CAGW has, IMHO, done an enormous disserevice to science in general, and physics in particular.

      • The Skeptical Warmist

        Jim Cripwell said:

        ” If we skeptics are right, then adding CO2 to the atmosphere has a neglibible effect on global temperatures.”
        ____
        This is not at all what is indicated by anything we are discussing. This is wishful thinking on your part Jim. A sort of “fairy tale” you are telling yourself.

      • deniers are good at telling and believing fairy tales. just look at any of the guest posts authored by bastardi, d’aleo, etc on wuwt, or anything steven goaddard writes on his blog

      • The Skeptical Warmist writes “This is not at all what is indicated by anything we are discussing. This is wishful thinking on your part Jim. A sort of “fairy tale” you are telling yourself.”

        Fair enough. Now produce some sort of reference where someone has actually gone out and measured how much the CO2 has increased in the atmosphere, and then proved that this measured increase has actually caused global temperatures to rise, and then measured how much global temperatures have actually risen as a result of the added CO2. When I see those figures, and with them an actual measurement of total climate sensitivioty, I will be prepared to start a discussion of whether CAGW is real.

        That is what I call proper empirical data which would porve that CAGW is real.

      • Jim, you’re asking for references, or calculations and figures demonstrating a positive value of climate sensitivity.

        You wrote earlier on the “Climate sensitivity in the AR5 SOD” thread :

        I still believe that the empirical data shows that the true value of cliamte sensitivity is indistinguishable from zero.

        Would you mind providing the details?

        Then perhaps others in the debate can determine what kind of empirical data and analysis (however simple or complex) you find acceptable to demonstrate a climate sensitivity indistinguishable from zero, and proceed from there, either to be convinced, or to provide hopefully constructive feedback.

      • You are quite correct I wrote “I still believe that the empirical data shows that the true value of cliamte sensitivity is indistinguishable from zero.” I am afraid I wrote it in haste, and not with my usual caution. What I usually write is that the empirical data gives “a strong indication”, rather than “shows”.

        I have this explained many times, I base my ideas on what I call “negative data”. So far as I can make out, there is no positive data from which we can measure climate sensitivity. What I observe is that there is no CO2 signal in any modern temperature/time graph. No-one can show that there has been an appreciable change in the rate of rise of temperature since we have had reasonably accurate data. Depending on your idea of what is “accurate” data, this either dates to the start of the CET data in the middle of the 17th century, or data like HAD/CRU which dates from the middle of the 19th century.

        I would note that if global temperatures are to rise to unreasonable levels before the end of the 21st century, then at some point the rate of rise of temperature must show a significant increase from it’s historic level, for a prolonged period of time.

        What I conclude is that since no-one can show that adding CO2 to the atmosphere has caused a change in the rate of rise of global temperatures, there is a strong indication that the total climate sensitivity is indistinguishable from zero.

      • Sorry, I did not copy the first part.
        oneuniverse, you write “Would you mind providing the details.”

      • What I conclude is that since no-one can show that adding CO2 to the atmosphere has caused a change in the rate of rise of global temperatures, there is a strong indication that the total climate sensitivity is indistinguishable from zero.

        Jim, thanks for your reply.

        The “GHG” hypothesis doesn’t predict that the 20th C increase in CO2 concentrations should have lead to “an appreciable change in the rate of rise of [global] temperature”. CO2 hasn’t been the only climate forcing in the 20th century, and our knowledge of other processes that may have affected the Earth’s energy balance (eg. via changes in cloud cover, ice cover, atmospheric aerosols concentrations and distributions) is incomplete and contains uncertainties on the order of the estimates of the forcing changes themselves.

        Given the above complexities, please provide reference(s), or the calculations to the analysis or analyses that lead you to believe that the empirical data gives a strong indication that “the true value of cliamte sensitivity is indistinguishable from zero.”

        Is your “null hypothesis” that the climate is insensitive to changes in concentrations of GHGs?

      • oneuniverse, you write “The “GHG” hypothesis doesn’t predict that the 20th C increase in CO2 concentrations should have lead to “an appreciable change in the rate of rise of [global] temperature”. ”

        I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. CAGW requires that global temperatures will rise to unacceptable levels in the 21st century, not the 20th century. For global temperatures to rise to unacceptable levels by the end of the 21st century, it is axiomatic that at some point they must rise at an elevate rate for prolonged periods of time. I have no references as such. All I look at are the published empirical data, which appear in all sorts of forms on all sorts of web sites. These have been plotted in various forms, and none of them show that there has been a change in the rate of rise of temperature, sinced accurate records became available. You cannot provide a reference to negative data. The issue is not what the data shows, but what it does not show.

        If the warmists followed the scientific principle, which they dont, then it ought to be up to them to show that there is empirical data to prove that as you add CO2 to the atmosphere, it directly causes global tmeperatures to rise. From this, it is trivial to measure total climate sensitivity, and prove, scientificly, that CAGW exists. This was the point I was making to The Skeptical Warmist when you came in on the conversation.

        If you dont understand what I mean by “negative data” I understand. But please try to keep the discussion on track, and not add a whole lot of red herrings.

      • If the warmists followed the scientific principle, which they dont,
        then it ought to be up to them to show that there is empirical data to prove that as you add CO2 to the atmosphere, it directly causes global tmeperatures to rise.

        If the hypothesis was that atmospheric CO2 is the only factor affecting global temperature, you might have a point. Since that’s not the hypothesis, you’re argument is wrong (there are other factors affecting global surface temperature, such as changes in cloud cover, ice cover, and atmospheric aerosols, and as far as we know, these have not been fixed and unchanging over the 20th C.)

        In my comments above, I’m not making a claim that climate sensitivity is high or low, or that it is or isn’t zero. I’m just saying that I believe that the reasoning you’ve used (in your two comments to me) to conclude that the empirical data gives a strong indication that the true value of climate sensitivity is indistinguishable from zero, is flawed, for at least the reasons I’ve given.

        I have no references as such. All I look at are the published empirical data, which appear in all sorts of forms on all sorts of web sites. These have been plotted in various forms, and none of them show that there has been a change in the rate of rise of temperature, sinced accurate records became available.

        Apart from yourself, who has predicted that, if AGW was in effect for the period, then the rate of rise of temperature in the 20th C. must have been increasing? (Any of the mainstream climate scientists?)

      • oneuniverse, you write “If the hypothesis was that atmospheric CO2 is the only factor affecting global temperature, you might have a point.”

        The IPCC in it’s various reports claims that CO2 is the main driver of climate change. I dispute this, but for the sake of argument I assume it is correct. I agree with you completely that there are many other factors affecting climate, and that, in fact, CO2 is an insignificant factor. That is what the scientific evidence suggests, and that is what the warmists and the IPCC will not admit. If the likes of lolwot, The Skeptical Warmist, Pekka and other warmist denizens on Climate Etc.would admit this simple fact, that CO2 is not the only driver of climate, and the effects of the other drivers is largely unknown, it would eliminate a lot of the repetitious discussions we continually have.

        You also write “conclude that the empirical data gives a strong indication that the true value of climate sensitivity is indistinguishable from zero, is flawed,”

        I also agree with you. My logic, in the normal course of science, is flawed. Any comment relying on negative data is, by definition, flawed. I cannot prove that CAGW is wrong. What I am trying to do, as I have noted many times previously, is flush out people like Pekka to admit that there is no empirical data that proves that as you add CO2 to the atmosphere, it causes global temperatures to rise. Again if the warmists would just admit that I am correct, then we could avoid another series of fruitless discussions.

        You also write “Apart from yourself, who has predicted that, if AGW was in effect for the period, then the rate of rise of temperature in the 20th C. must have been increasing?”

        Why do you persist in talking about the 20th century, when I am specificly talking about the 21st century? Please discard anything on this subject that has to do with what has already happened. I am talking about predicitons as to what is going to happen in the future. The warmists claim that by the end of the 21st century, global temperatures will have risen to unacceptable levels. All I am saying, is that if this is going to turn out to be true, then at some point in the immediate future the rate at which global temperatures are going to rise will have to exceed the rate that has existed since the LIA, by a considerable amount for a prolonged period of time. Where is this statement illogical?

      • A-climate-detective .. IJL .. ERB

        All climatic anthropological inputs all the variables and constants have been worked out already read what we have wrote above on this thread to make it more clear to you? so this is how we reply m:)

      • Jim:

        I agree with you completely that there are many other factors affecting climate, and that, in fact, CO2 is an insignificant factor.

        I never said CO2 is an insignificant factor. (If you write “I agree completely with you that A, and that, in fact B”, it implies that I’ve said I believe A and B).

        Jim:

        If the likes of lolwot, The Skeptical Warmist, Pekka and other warmist denizens on Climate Etc.would admit this simple fact, that CO2 is not the only driver of climate, and the effects of the other drivers is largely unknown, it would eliminate a lot of the repetitious discussions we continually have.

        I can’t speak for them, but I’m fairly sure that they’d agree that (A) CO2 is not the only driver of climate, and that (B) there are significant uncertainties in the estimates of the other forcings (as per the IPCC WGI reports) – although they may not agree that the forcings are largely unknown (it’s probably best to start quantifying what we mean).

        However, this leads to a contradiction in your argument: since you’ve been trying to get the “warmist” denizens to accept that “the effects of the other drivers is largely unknown”, I take it that you accept the statement yourself. How, then, have you determined that the empirical data gives a strong indication that “the true value of climate sensitivity is indistinguishable from zero” ? How does your analysis allow you to distinguish between a climate sensitivity to changes in CO2-effected radiative forcing of 0 K/(W.M^2) and say 0.3 K/(W.M^2) , if there are these large uncertainties in the values of the forcings?

        Why do you persist in talking about the 20th century, when I am specificly talking about the 21st century?

        I was responding to what you’d written (“All I look at are the published empirical data [..]“). The empirical data is mostly from the 20th century. That’s why my reply was about the 20th century.

        If I may ask again, apart from yourself, who has predicted that, if AGW was in effect for the period, then the rate of rise of temperature in the 20th C. must have been increasing? (Any of the mainstream climate scientists?) The reason I’m asking is because it seems to me that you’ve misunderstood the AGW hypothesis, since you’re misrepresenting its predictions (imo).

        All I am saying, is that if this [AGW prediction of 21st C temperature rise] is going to turn out to be true, then at some point in the immediate future the rate at which global temperatures are going to rise will have to exceed the rate that has existed since the LIA, by a considerable amount for a prolonged period of time. Where is this statement illogical?

        It’s not all you were saying. You’d written that you believe that the empirical data gives a strong indication that the true value of climate sensitivity is indistinguishable from zero. That’s what I was asking you about, and discussing.

      • Correction: units K/(W.M^2) should be K/(W.M^-2)

      • oneuniverse, you write “However, this leads to a contradiction in your argument”

        I agree, and I have previously agreed. What I argue is that IF, and it is a mighty big IF, but if CO2 is the main driver of climate, then the fact that no CO2 signal has appeared is a strong indication that the climate sensitivity of CO2 is indistinguishable from zero. If, on the other hand, we agree that there are unknown factors, then this line of reasoning gets one nowhere, since it is impossible to say how much of any observed rise in temperature is due to CO2.

        You also write “It’s not all you were saying. ”

        You are misrepresenting me. The discussion as to whether there needs to be a rate of rise of temperature in the 21st century that is significantly greater than the historic mean, has nothing to do with my estimate of climate sensitivity, which I agree refers to 20th century data. All I am pointing out is that, if the predictions of the IPCC are to be true that global temperatures are going to be at unacceptable levels by the end of the 21st century, then sometime in the immediate future, global temperatures will need to rise at a rate which is above the historic mean. That is all.

        As the the other warmist denizens on Climate Etc., I do not intend to put words in their mouth. If any of them want to join in, then I would be delighted if they would state explicitly what they believe is the case for unknown natural forcings. When I see what they have written, then I will know what they mean.

      • “It’s not all you were saying. You’d written that you believe that the empirical data gives a strong indication that the true value of climate sensitivity is indistinguishable from zero. That’s what I was asking you about, and discussing.”

        We could have two types of sensitivity.
        One is if add 1 watt per square meter, it basically takes awhile to reach
        a warmer state.

        And another where you 1 watt per square meter is added, this causes other factors to increase their forcing [adding their 1 watt or fraction of a watt per square meter. What one could call runaway effects.
        So one increase in Co2 levels, and this warming can cause further rise in CO2 levels and/or other greenhouse gases such as water vapor.

        The first type could largely about ocean temperatures- though one also imagine runaway effects with ocean temperature. And other oceans, one put glaciers into this type, though runaway elements are probably seen as bigger factors as compared to oceans.

        The second type is the addition of CO2, causes warming, causes more water vapor, which is more greenhouse effect. Plus things like more natural CO2 and methane emissions. But mostly about increasing water vapor.

        I believe there is significant effect of the first type, and this has nothing directly to do with Greenhouse Effect theory. And we have seen it, in 20th century, and will probably see bit more in 21 century [and probably a little bit in the 24th century or 30th Century- assuming things continue as they had during the 20th century- but that's not likely. Or the ocean should warm as they done in all interglacial periods].

        And if you wanted to see the Greenhouse Effect described in the Greenhouse Effect theory, one just needs to look at the tropics. The tropics has already had it’s greenhouse effect “runaway”.
        It’s warm and has little daily temperature variation [high average temperature] when it’s over ocean regions.
        And without this effect, one would have hotter days and much cooler nights- though winter and summer in terms of yearly temperature difference from solar insolation is irrelevant- little variance.

      • Jim:

        If, on the other hand, we agree that there are unknown factors, then this line of reasoning gets one nowhere, since it is impossible to say how much of any observed rise in temperature is due to CO2.

        You’ve been trying to get lolwot and others to admit that “the effects of the other [non-CO2] drivers is largely unknown”. The IPCC WGI also reports that there are significant uncertainties in the changes in climate forcings, on the order of the estimates of the forcing changes themselves.

        These uncertainties render the conclusion of your earlier statement (that the empirical data gives a strong indication that “the true value of climate sensitivity is indistinguishable from zero”) unsupported by any analysis that
        you’ve presented.

        You’ve also mentioned a few times that you believe that a lack of change in the rate of rise of temperatures in the empirical record invalidates the AGW hypothesis. You wrote :

        What I conclude is that since no-one can show that adding CO2 to the atmosphere has caused a change in the rate of rise of global temperatures, there is a strong indication that the total climate sensitivity is indistinguishable from zero.

        Apart from yourself, who has predicted that, if AGW was in effect for the period that CO2 was being added to the atmosphere, then the rate of rise of temperature in the 20th C. must have been increasing? (Any of the mainstream climate scientists?)

      • Three times in the last century and a half, the rate of temperature rise has been about the same, and in only the last of these was the CO2 rising. Phil Jones heself told me this.

        I believe anthropogenic CO2 raises the temperature of the earth, but I’m with Jim; I don’t see it yet.
        =============

      • Kim:

        Three times in the last century and a half, the rate of temperature rise has been about the same, and in only the last of these was the CO2 rising.

        According to instrumental records and proxy-based reconstructions, atmospheric CO2 has been rising for the last century and a half. What is the basis for claiming that CO2 has risen only during that last period of temperature rise?

        Kim:

        I believe anthropogenic CO2 raises the temperature of the earth, but I’m with Jim; I don’t see it yet.

        How will you recognise it if it’s occurring ?

      • The first two times CO2 was rising at a trivial rate, certainly much different than the third time. You can try to talk yourself out of this but it is a killer point.

        When the temperature curve deviates from the course determined by natural climate changes. Sure, it’s a tough one, and requires better understanding of natural climate processes. So let’s do it, otherwise, you’ll be just guessing, and will be basing desperately important policy on guesses, and stand a fine chance of getting policy wrong, desperately.
        ===========================

      • You have another think coming if you think the governments of poor countries are going to deny their people the opportunity for wealth available through cheap energy on the wild guesses of a precious coterie of climate scientists who mock the scientific method, destroyed peer review in their field, deliberately blinded themselves to natural climate change, and now complain about the ‘diversity’ entering their ranks.
        ========================

      • Thanks, kim. I am sure oneuniverse has some sort of scientific point or other, but I am at a loss to understand what it is. I have tried to talk science to him, but I find his responses incomprehensible.

      • Kim:

        The first two times CO2 was rising at a trivial rate, certainly much different than the third time. You can try to talk yourself out of this but it is a killer point.

        I was correcting your statement that CO2 was only rising in the latter
        period of temperature rise – it was actually rising for the whole 150 year period you mentioned – please don’t read too much into it. I should perhaps have included more detail, so I’ll do that now.

        You’ve upgraded your description of the earlier rate of CO2 increase to “trivial”. The per-ppm increase in forcing is greater for lower CO2 concentrations. The rate of change starting ramping up around 1950.

        - The CO2 forcing from 1850 to 1950, due to the 26 ppm increase from 285 ppm to 311 ppm, is estimated to be about 0.5 W/M2.
        - The CO2 forcing from 1950 to 2010, due to the 78 ppm increase from 311 ppm to 389 ppm, is estimated at around 1.5 W/M2.

        (If one chooses to consider 1850-2010 as two 60-year periods, the numbers are a 23 ppm increase from 285 ppm to 308 ppm, about a 0.4 W/M2 forcing, and a 81 ppm increase from 308 ppm to 389 ppm, about a 1.6 W/M2 forcing.)

        So is a 0.4 or 0.5 W/M2 forcing, over a period of decades, trivial with regards to Earth’s energy balance ? Is it trivial enough to be implicitly described by you as zero? Zero does make for a ‘neat and tidy’ story, I suppose.

        By the way. these numbers come from figures and sources used in AR5 SOD Ch.8 : the concentrations are sourced from NASA GISS, the W/M2 forcings I eyeballed off Fig. 8.6a.

      • Correction: “60-year periods”, in third-from-last paragraph, should be “80-year periods”.

      • Heh, nice try, Zombie.
        ================

      • oneuniverse, you write “So is a 0.4 or 0.5 W/M2 forcing, over a period of decades, trivial with regards to Earth’s energy balance ? Is it trivial enough to be implicitly described by you as zero? Zero does make for a ‘neat and tidy’ story, I suppose.”

        I suggest it is irrelevant to discuss whether a change in radiative forcing is or is not trivial. What counts is what a change in radiative forcing makes to global temperatures. It is the negligible change in global temperatures as a result of ANY change in radiative forcing from current levels, that is trivial.

      • Me: How will you recognise it if it’s [AGW's] occurring ?

        Kim: When the temperature curve deviates from the course determined by natural climate changes. Sure, it’s a tough one, and requires better understanding of natural climate processes.

        Yes, an understanding we don’t yet have – we don’t know what all-natural (no antho) climate change would’ve looked like over the last 150 years. This was the point I was making to Jim.

      • Jim, thank you – as I understand it, you believe (or assume) that the all-natural climate change signal in the GMST record is a linear rise over the entire good instrumental period eg. see your comment at Dec. 23 7:27 pm, which I’ve quoted several times, or for another example, your comment on the “Cool First, Warm Later” post (22nd September) :

        My observation is that since no-one can prove that any rise in global temperature has been caused by the rise in CO2 concentration, and that there is no discernable change in trend in any temparature/time graph since we had good records, and even before we had good records, therefore the total climate sensitivity of CO2 must be indistinguishable from zero.

        I’ve asked you three times now to explain why you believe that the AGW hypothesis predicts a change in the rate of rise of temperature over the historical instrumental period. To put it another way, why do you believe (or assume) that the all-natural warming signal is a linear rise over the past century and half or so?

        Of course, you’re free to assume that the all-natural signal in T was a linear rise. However, you’ve neglected to state that important (and speculative?) assumption when you’ve repeatedly concluded on this blog that your analysis gives a strong indication that climate sensitivity to CO2 is indistinguishable from zero

        Also, when you write “there is no discernable change in trend in any temparature/time graph since we had good records” – may I ask, to help me check what your argument, what date you’re using as the start of the reliable instrumental periods (eg. around 1850, or 1900, or the start of the satellite period?), and which published recordset(s) you used ?

        (If you find this post incomprehesible, please let me know, with details if possible, and I’ll do my best to improve the communication).

      • oneuniverse, you write “To put it another way, why do you believe (or assume) that the all-natural warming signal is a linear rise over the past century and half or so? ”

        I think you are trying to make it look that I am using more science than I am. I start with the idea that if CAGW is correct, then somewhere in the modern temperature/time graphs there must appear at some point in time, a discernable CO2 signal. This signal should manifest itself as a discernable change, increase, in the rate of rise of temperature. As I have said many times, if the global temperature is to rise to unacceptable levels by the end of the 21st century, then at some point in the immediate future, the rate of rise of global temperatures must become considerably greater than it has been for the last 150 years or so, and remain at an increased level for a significant period of time.

        I have looked for this CO2 signal, and cannot find it. To me, the onus should be on the warmists to find the signal, and demonstrate that the signal was, indeed, caused by rising CO2 levels, and not some unknown natural phenomenon. This is why I keep asking the warmist denizens on Climate Etc. to admit that there is no empirical data to prove that as more CO2 is added to the atmosphere from current levels, it causes global temperatures to rise. And they refuse to do so.

        All I have tried to do is to describe how I have looked for the CO2 signal.. This is not a very exact scientiifc effort. It is a rather vague way of looking at all the data I can find, and see if, somewhere, anywhere, there is a CO2 signal. I make a number of assumptions to try and help me. Whether these assumptions make any sense is not for me to judge. If I assume that the rate of rise of temperature since records began, but before we started putting massive amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere, I can detect no change in the rate of rise of temperatures which added CO2 ought to give us. I could make all sorts of other assumptions in an effort to find the signal, but this is the one I think is the easiest to explain. Is it a valid assumption? I have no idea.

        But as I say, I am operating with negative data. This ought to be unnecessaary. The warmists ought to take the positive empirical data, and use it to prove that CAGW is real. It is only when they refuse to do this, and not only refuse, but to insist that refusing is the scientific way to proceed, that I resort to trying to tease out a CO2 signal by some sort of half-arsed logic.

      • Sorry, I left out a bit in the penultimate paragraph. After “since records began”, add “is due entirely to natural causes”.

      • Jim Cripwell:

        If I assume that the rate of rise of temperature since records began but before we started putting massive amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere [is due entirely to natural causes], I can detect no change in the rate of rise of temperatures which added CO2 ought to give us.

        Jim, thank you. I think you’re also assuming that the rate of change during the first period would have continued during the second. I really think you should state these assumptions explicitly when you declare, as you repeatedly have done on this blog, that climate sensitivity is likely indistinguishable from zero.

        Regarding the two key (but unspecified) dates used in the analysis you just
        described, I’d be grateful for some more information (namely, what are the dates) so that I may numerically follow your argument :

        a) I’m assuming (please correct this if neccessary) that the date you’re using as the point at which we started putting massive amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere as being sometime shortly after WWII (the rate of CO2 increase had dropped during the war, and didn’t become ‘unprecedented’ until the early 1950s).

        b) Which date are you using as the start of reliable temperature records?

      • Sorry : “climate sensitivity” in previous poist should have been “climate sensitivity to increases in CO2 from pre-industrial levels”

      • Jim, I got the following results using the Wood For Trees website.
        If any Climate Etc. readers can provide some insight regarding the start date of the reliable portion of the instrumental temperature , I’d be grateful. (I’ve often seen graphs of global temperature starting from 1880, but I don’t know the reasoning behind the choice ).

        - Using dataset HadCRUT4 (global mean, land and ocean), and a start date of 1850, mid-date of 1950, end-date of 2012, the OLS fit to first period is 0.025 C/decade, OLS fit to second period is 0.106 C/decade (the second period rises more quickly).

        - Changing the start date to 1880, the OLS fit to first period becomes 0.054 C/decade. (the second period still rises more quickly).

        - Changing the start date to 1900, the OLS fit to first period is 0.105 C/decade. (almost identical rates of change).

        Using GISTEMP LOTI (global mean, land and ocean), CRUTEM4 (global mean, land only) or BEST (global mean, land only), the three analyses above all have the second period warming faster than the first (although there’s really not much in it with GISTEMP).

      • oneuniverse you write “a) I’m assuming (please correct this if neccessary) that the date you’re using as the point at which we started putting massive amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere as being sometime shortly after WWII (the rate of CO2 increase had dropped during the war, and didn’t become ‘unprecedented’ until the early 1950s).
        b) Which date are you using as the start of reliable temperature records?”

        I did not explain myself clearly. Neither of these questions are relative to what I am trying to do. I am looking for a CO2 signal. That is the issue, and the only issue. I observe all the temperature/time records I can find, and in none of them can I detect a CO2 signal. It matters not when anyone assumes that CO2 started to increase, or which date I start on. Whatever one chooses for these, the key is to find a CO2 signal. It does not matter where I start, when I finish or anything else. I cannot find a CO2 signal.

        What you wont address is my point that I should not need to be doing this. I can never prove that there is no CO2 signal. But the warmists must, IMHO, be able to prove that there is a CO2 signal before they can claim that they have proved CAGW is correct. That is the issue. And you studiously avoid it, picking on minutae of my attempt to find a CO2 signal, which are of no importance whatsoever.

        The conclusion of climate sensitivity being indistinguishable from zero does not rest on any particular set of data. It rests soley on the fact that I have not detected a CO2 signal. If the warmists could detect a CO2 signal, then they would be able to measure climate sensitivity. They cannot. I cannot find a CO2 signal, and from this I conclude that there is a strong indication that the climate sensitivity is indistinguishable from zero.

      • Jim Cripwell, the warming IS the CO2 signal. These are connected through science, so your problem is not with seeing the signal, which is quite clear, it is with seeing the science that explains it quantitatively.

      • Jim Cripwell:

        I observe all the temperature/time records I can find, and in none of them can I detect a CO2 signal. It matters not when anyone assumes that CO2 started to increase, or which date I start on. Whatever one chooses for these, the key is to find a CO2 signal. It does not matter where I start, when I finish or anything else. I cannot find a CO2 signal.

        By your criteria (and I don’t endorse them), the CO2 signal is potentially there for many (IMO reasonable) choices of datasets and dates – for some examples, see my preceding post at 8:22pm.

      • Jim Cripwell” I observe all the temperature/time records I can find, and in none of them can I detect a CO2 signal.”

        I also don’t see any signal in any temperature record of CO2 causing warming.
        Though there obvious signal of CO2 increasing following warming.

        And why does it do this?
        Yes, a warming ocean will hold less CO2 and there is a lot CO2 in the ocean. But is it actually as simple as warming ocean equals more CO2.
        For instance, could it have something to do with amount global rainfall.
        Could have something to do what plants are doing.
        Or why do CO2 levels decrease during long periods of cooling?

        It takes long time for the entire ocean to warm or cool. Say somewhere around 1 C per 1000 years. And whatever amount CO2 absorbed or emitted by warmer or cooler, that number is divided by 1000 by amount added or subtracted per absorbed/emitted per year. How does this number per year compare to human emission.
        Or if we do 30 billion per year, a thousand year is 30 trillion tons- which seems more than 1 C difference in ocean temperatures.
        And we have humans add 30, and less than half gets added to Atmosphere. In seems if ocean added 30 per year, half of it would get added to atmosphere.
        Anyhow seems something is missing from the “natural” doubling or halving of global CO2, during interglacial and glacial periods, other than just the ocean warms or cools.

      • oneuniverse, you write “Jim, I got the following results using the Wood For Trees website.”

        You never seem to give up on irrelevance. It matters not one iota what changes there are in any global temperature/time you look at, unless and until you can prove that any such changes were directly caused by changes in the amount of CO2 in the atmopshere. That is the issue. That is what you refuse to discuss.

        Where is the empirical data that provides the proof that adding CO2 to the atmosphere causes global temperatures to rise?

      • Jim D

        You wrote:

        the warming is the CO2 signal

        This is simply a statement of faith, not an indication of empirical evidence of causation (which is what Jim Cripwell has requested).

        Max

      • Jim Cripwell:

        I can never prove that there is no CO2 signal. But the warmists must, IMHO, be able to prove that there is a CO2 signal before they can claim that they have proved CAGW is correct. That is the issue. And you studiously avoid it, picking on minutae of my attempt to find a CO2 signal, which are of no importance whatsoever.

        I wasn’t avoiding it – the claims of the “warmists” just weren’t relevant to my focus on checking your claims about your climate sensitivity conclusion based on your examination of the empirical climate observations.

        Jim Cripwell:

        oneuniverse, you write “Jim, I got the following results using the Wood For Trees website.”

        You never seem to give up on irrelevance.

        I was re-doing your described analysis of temperature trends, to check your claims and to hopefully understand the subject better myself. I don’t see that as irrelevant (rather, it’s part of the scientific process), and it’s turned out to be helpful :

        - A contradiction in your thinking was uncovered.
        - The highly challengeable but unstated assumptions that you’ve used in making your indistinguishable-from-zero sensitivity claim were made explicit.
        - Redoing the analysis* underlying your claim showed different results to what you claim (the rate of rise in the second period is generally higher than the first period, so there is an ‘extra’ warming signal, possibly involving CO2).

        [ *: At some points in your description, you indicate that there are specific dates you've used to mark (a) when the good temperature records start, and (b) when we started putting "massive amounts of CO2" into the atmosphere. Later on , in your post on 27 Dec 8.27pm, you seem to claim (as far as I can decipher your meaning) that your analysis holds for any choice of dates for (a) and (b). (You wrote: "It matters not when anyone assumes that CO2 started to increase, or which date I start on. Whatever one chooses for these, the key is to find a CO2 signal. It does not matter where I start, when I finish or anything else. I cannot find a CO2 signal.")

        If you claim the latter, it's easily disproved if one presents a counter-example (as I do in my post at 27 Dec 8.22pm). If the former, I've tried to pick (in the same 8.22pm post) a reasonable set of dates for (a) and (b), and this preliminary analysis still indicates that your claim is in error. ]

      • Three times in the last century and a half, the zombie arises.
        =============

  24. But surely the point is that Goldilocks could have tasted and eaten any of the porridge, but chose one that is just right. She does the choosing, it’s her preference, not because that is how it needs to be but because it’s how she wants it.
    Is climate science the same? Mere choice about pretty numbers?

  25. The Three Little Pigs is a better fairy tale analogy.

    The Glowball Warming Fear Mongering Hysteria pushers are all huff & puff and trying to blow their ride on the Fame & Gravy Train further down the track.

    Now that’s how s modern science works

  26. Goldilocks revisited

    Let’s first look at the “Goldilocks just right CO2 level for our planet”, ignoring first the greenhouse impact on temperature.

    First of all, there is an absolute constraint regarding anthropogenic CO2 emissions. The constraint is the amount of fossil fuels still left on our planet. This is optimistically estimated (WEC 2010) to represent 85% of all the fossil fuels that were ever on our planet (IOW we have “used up” 15% of the total to date). The first 15% got us from 280 to 392 ppmv so the remaining 85% would contain sufficient carbon to cause atmospheric CO2 to rise from today’s level to an absolute maximum level when they are all gone of ~1000 ppmv.

    Within this “Goldilocks just right” range, plant life on Earth will flourish, and animals (including us) will not be adversely affected.

    But let’s look at the “Goldilocks just right temperature” for our planet.

    We start off with a problem here: the “globally and annually averaged land and sea surface temperature” itself.

    This is an artificial construct. If we live in a temperate zone, our ambient temperature may reach this level for a few hours during a few days or nights in one or another season.

    In other words, diurnal and seasonal variations (which we will feel) will bounce all around this arbitrary number (which we will only encounter rarely). So it really doesn’t mean too much to us per se.

    But let’s forget about this problem for now.

    Let me suggest this answer (taken from several sources): 23°C is close to the optimum ambient temperature for humans, 6°C is close to the coldest the planet has gotten naturally, 35°C is close to the highest natural temperature and 15°C is close to the current global temperature (so we are somewhere below the middle of the natural range today).

    5 million years ago the average temperature is believed to have been around 5°C warmer than today, or 20°C.

    During the last Glacial Maximum, it is believed that the global average temperature was as much as 6°C colder than today, or 9°C.

    According to IPCC, the temperature now would be around 14°C if there had been no human influence (back-calculated using IPCC estimates of CO2 impact and checks with older records). This was just as the planet was coming out of a colder period called the Little Ice Age.

    Is this the “Goldilocks just right” temperature for our planet?

    Over the past decade we have seen a very slight cooling. Over the prior three decades there was stronger warming.

    In fact, since the modern record started we have seen several multi-decadal warming and cooling cycles of around 30 years each, with an amplitude of ±0.25°C and an underlying warming of 0.7°C over 160+ years.

    Would the Goldilocks principle pick the temperature we had in 1998 as “just right” (15.3°C)? Or maybe the one in 2008 (around 15.0°C)? How about 1988 (just below 15°C)?

    Or how about the temperature of 1850 (around 14.6°C)?

    Even Goldilocks would have a hard time picking the “just right” (globally and annually averaged) temperature of the past.

    If we look into the future, let’s see what constraints there are.

    First of all, there is the CO2 constraint mentioned above.

    Then there is the (2xCO2) climate sensitivity at equilibrium (ECS).

    Recent estimates put this at 1.6°C to 1.7°C.

    Using the logarithmic relation, this means the maximum possible GH warming from human CO2 emissions would theoretically be:

    1.7*ln(1000/392) / ln(2) = 2.3°C.

    This is the level one could theoretically reach when all fossil fuels on our planet have been used up.

    The question is: would this added level of global warming still lie within the “Goldilocks just right” temperature range for our planet or not?

    And, if not – why not?

    It appears that until we can scientifically define the “Goldilocks just right” globally and annually averaged temperature for our planet, we cannot decide whether AGW could put us outside the range or not.

    Max

    PS As someone else has already stated: it’s “a bear” of a problem.

    • What’s a “Goldilocks just right” global average temperature?
      That’s a silly question. I can think of some other silly questions if we are entertaining silly questions.

      What’s the “just right” sea level?

      What’s the “just right” wind speed?

      What’s the “just right” humidity?

      What’s the “just right” color of the sky?

      What’s the “just right” human height?

      What’s the “just right” interest rate?

      But getting back to what’s the “just right” average global temperature. I like it where it is now. I don’t think where it is now is causing any problems. Suppose I would like it better about 5 degrees C higher. Would that be a problem? Getting there might be.

      • Max_OK

        Agree that the Goldilocks “just right” concept is illogical.

        But it is being used by IPCC to sell its “CAGW” message.

        Max_CH

        PS You apparently live in OK, and “like the temperature where it is now”. I live in Switzerland and would frankly like to see it a bit warmer than it is now. Location, location…

      • Max_CH

        I no longer live in Oklahoma but still have business interests there. I did like the climate. I do not like very hot climates (Las Vegas in summer). For me, Florida is the worst, because it’s both warm and humid.

      • Iolwot

        That’s weird, I am now on an iPad which is showing a lot more information than on my laptop

        Wel that graph has really been stitched together hasn’t it?
        Noted the chief author is(was?) employed by Berkeley earth surface temperatures! I’m surprised mosh didn’t mention that, always assuming he was replying to our interchange, it’s sometimes difficult to tell
        Tonyb

      • Robert rohde who works for BEST runs a co called global warming art who created the highly spliced chart that iolwot referenced above. This is his site
        http://www.globalwarmingart.com/wiki/Special:NewFiles

        This is just a place mark in case I want to return to this reference in future. Sounds a nice sincere guy with an obvious desire to get the message over in a graphical manner
        Tonyb

      • Alexej Buergin

        Florida is a big state, and there are places where it is warm (lower 90′s) and not very humid in summer (ask John D. Rockefeller). And the hurricanes used to pass to the south or to the north, when there were still any of these.

    • “5 million years ago the average temperature is believed to have been around 5°C warmer than today”

      More like 50 million years ago. The planet hasn’t varied much in degrees over the past 10 million years. Here’s a graph depicting that
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:All_palaeotemps.png

      The speed of warming caused by our GHG emissions stands to be unprecedented in Earth’s history.

      • Iolwot

        Where did this graph emanate from?
        tonyb

      • it’s stitched together form several sources which are in the links

      • Iolwot

        Sorry, what I meant is who was the author?The history shows someone called glen fergus posted it but it’s not a graph I’ve seen in any science journal so I just wondered where it came from. Thanks
        Tonyb

      • Lolwat,

        A recent abstract constrains the age of the PETM to a range of >200Kyrs. The duration of the PETM (i.e., relative age) is constrained to within ~50Kyrs. This is an extraordinarily well-studied event. Few periods in the 4.45 Ga of Earth’s history prior to PETM have comparably strong constraints, not to mention most of the 0.5Ga following it.

        How do you propose to use data of this resolution to demonstrate that the “the speed of warming caused by our GHG emissions stands to be unprecedented in Earth’s history.”?

        (http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2011/2010GC003426.shtml)

      • Warming over the PETM was far slower than today. 6C in tens of thousands of years. Yet despite being so slow the PETM is considered one of the fastest examples of rapid global warming of the past.

        It looks very much like left to it’s own devices nature does not shift global temperature as fast as humans are now doing.

      • Lolwot?

        Warming over the PETM was far slower than today. 6C in tens of thousands of years. Yet despite being so slow the PETM is considered one of the fastest examples of rapid global warming of the past.

        I have a few questions:

        1. Is warming during the PETM and today comparable since the PETM increase started when the planet was near its ‘maximum operating temperature’ whereas we are currently in a coldhouse phase and nearer to the ‘minimum operating temperature’. The consequences of a temperature increase from near max operating temperature is quite different to the consequences of a temp rise from min operating temp.

        2. Temperature rise has been good for life in the past. What persuasive evidence is there that continued temperature increase will be damaging?

        3. What evidence is there that the rates of temperature rise over periods of a year, decades and a century during the 20th century are faster than periods of warming over periods of a year, decades and a century in the distant past before we had temperature instruments?

        4. What are the fastest rates of warming over a year, decade and century in the period before instruments? (e.g. during the PETM, Younger Dryas, etc?

      • wikipedia gives the rate of warming over the PETM as 0.003C/decade.

        Warming out of the last glaciation was about 0.01C/decade.

        Warming into the medieval warm period was about 0.007C/decade.

        Warming since 1900 is about 0.07C/decade.

        If we take Nic Lewis’s CS figure of 1.6C per doubling of CO2, and we double CO2, the rate of warming from 1900 to 2100 will be about 0.08C/decade.

        So even going by a CS estimate that is low we still see human driver of climate causing a much faster change than is known to have ever happened in nature. Probably because nature doesn’t shift things that fast. Ie CO2 level doesn’t alter that quickly in nature, eg as seen in the ice cores covering the last 800,000 years of CO2 levels, never has it doubled in 200 years and why would it? No conceivable mechanism by which it could.

        The danger from warming is the abruptness and uniqueness of the change into a climate state that has never been tested before by life on Earth.

      • lolwot,

        You have misunderstood my question. I was very specific that the answer requires you to compare rates of warming over periods of the same duration. Comparison an average rate over a 1000 years with a rate over 100 years is meaningless. But that is exactly what you did and it is common for Alarmists to give exactly the same answer as you just gave. But it is complete nonsense. Worse, it discredits the Alarmists because they continually try to bluff their way through questions with these sorts of nonsense answers.

        Do you want to try again, or do you want to acknowledge that you cannot answer the question? I suggest you cannot show that the rate of warming over recent periods is any faster than over periods of similar duration in the distant past.

      • lolwot,

        your rssponse shows you can’t (answer the question).

        A clear example of avoidance.

      • Lolwot,

        My point is that age constraints throughout the entire geologic record are too poor for you to establish your claim that the current rate of warming is the most rapid in Earth’s history.

        Your point about the rate of warming during the PETM is fair enough, except that it’s averaged over a much longer period than the current warming period. If we could dissect PETM into 100 year increments, is it possible that the maximum warming rate over 100 years was higher than the average that you quote?

        I’m slogging through the PETM literature. Perhaps I’ll find more detailed information on the age constraints.

      • lolwot

        The PETM involved the emission of CO2 equivalent to six to ten times the amount available in all the fossil fuels on our planet today.

        This is the key constraint today, which prevents us from having a repeat of the PETM warming (estimated at 6 degrees C on average) – not the rate of warming.

        If latest estimates of 2xCO2 equilibrium climate sensitivity at 1.6C to 1.7C are correct, AGW from CO2 is constrained to an absolute asymptotic maximum of around 2C above today’s temperature (when all the fossil fuels are completely gone).

        IOW the “C” is no longer in “CAGW”.

        A happy thought for Christmas (hope you have a good one).

        Max

      • Merry Christmas to everyone!

        Peter Lang has some interesting questions for Lolwot:

        “1. Is warming during the PETM and today comparable since the PETM increase started when the planet was near its ‘maximum operating temperature’ whereas we are currently in a coldhouse phase and nearer to the ‘minimum operating temperature’. The consequences of a temperature increase from near max operating temperature is quite different to the consequences of a temp rise from min operating temp.”

        A similar question would be if our current ice caps, didn’t exist, could there be possibility of higher global temperature being reached in relatively quick period of time

        Or defining aspect of the coldhouse we currently in, is our polar ice caps and a cold ocean.

        Said differently one can not expect very high global temperatures, when you have a cold ocean and vast amounts of ice in the polar regions.

        One may talk about Greenland ice caps melting rapidly and/or oceans warming and sea levels rising- and discuss how scary that could be.
        That would something you could discuss, but you can’t get PETM type warmth before ocean warm and ice caps melt.
        All the warming of PETM started from world with no ice caps and warmer ocean.

        The idea that within a thousand years one melt all polar ice cap and warm
        all of Earth oceans due to trace gas is unlikely. Having this happen within 500 or 100 years is less likely.

        The elements which make our world having an average global temperature of around 15 C is due to a large ocean surface area in the tropics which has high average temperature. And it’s important is this region has a very high average temperature and it’s a large portion of the surface area entire Earth
        Next in importance in terms of the accounting of the average global temperature is the large ocean surface area in both North and South Temperate Zones. Next in importance is all the land area of the northern Hemisphere, which about 90% of all land masses- or
        about 130 million square km of the total of 510 million square km of Earth.
        Because these 3 groups comprise over 90% of entire surface, there average temperature is essentially Earth global temperature.
        The polar caps and the deep ocean waters are really accounted for
        in terms of average global temperature. Deep ocean is not being entered into the average temperature books, and polar ice caps are insignificant in terms of global surface area. Or one could say deep ocean and ice caps are most significant in regards to their volume and surface area is all about two of the three dimensions: area.

        “2. Temperature rise has been good for life in the past. What persuasive evidence is there that continued temperature increase will be damaging? ”

        None.
        Though we talking warmth from the sun, rather large volcanic
        events and impactor events. Either or both were probably involved
        as major elements of PETM.

        “3. What evidence is there that the rates of temperature rise over periods of a year, decades and a century during the 20th century are faster than periods of warming over periods of a year, decades and a century in the distant past before we had temperature instruments? ”

        The beginning of our current interglacial period had a long period of massive sea level rise and about 5 C increase from very cool conditions to conditions as warm or warmer than current temperature which occurred within short period. It was vaguely similar but of much smaller magnitude to our warming since the end of the Little Ice Age.

        “4. What are the fastest rates of warming over a year, decade and century in the period before instruments? (e.g. during the PETM, Younger Dryas, etc?”

        It is difficult to compared proxy measurement to instrument measurements.
        But one fastest rates of warming in our measurement record is after cooling events due to a volcanic eruption. Also things like El Nino can have large warming effect. The 1997-1998 El Niño was a significant spike in global temperature, and such spikes would difficult to detect in proxy measurements.
        And that one of largest eruption of 20th century occurred 1991, should not be ignored in this context:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Pinatubo

    • 1. 1.6 is an ESTIMATE. but lets use it.
      2. 1000ppm is an estimate built on estimates, but lets use it.
      3. 2.3C Above today would be a global average of around 17.5 degrees.

      since humans evolved the world has vacillated between 12C and 16C.
      at 20C in the past we had allegators at the north Pole.

      Do you think its safe to go.
      1. To a temperature our species has not adapted to
      2. Half way to an utterly different kind of climate.

      And note, youve taken the LOW END of the estimates in 1 and 2. So unless YOUR SCIENCE is settled ( 1.6 ECS and 1000ppm) you are taking a risk on uncertain estimates and pretending that you know everything will be ok.

      • Could I please see reference documentation for the asserted alligators at the North Pole?

      • “Could I please see reference documentation for the asserted alligators at the North Pole”

        Steven must have meant, polar region:

        “Scientists say Arctic regions of Earth were inhabited 50 million years ago by animals not usually associated with the area today, like tortoises and alligators. ”
        http://esciencenews.com/sources/upi/2010/08/24/study.tortoises.alligators.arctic

        “A dramatic warming event occurred at the onset of the Eocene, probably due to the release of methane that had been trapped in sediments on the ocean floor. In fact, the first 5 million years of the Eocene were warmer than any other time in the Cenozoic. Polar-region fossils include warm-weather species of plants, alligators, turtles, and flying lemurs. However, after the middle of the Eocene the climate became cooler and drier, a trend that continued for the rest of the Cenozoic Era. Throughout the epoch, mammals continued their rapid post-Cretaceous diversification. Giant titanothere herbivores, the first whales and sea cows, numerous hoofed mammals, primates, and rodents populated the landscapes. ”
        http://paleobiology.si.edu/geotime/main/htmlversion/eocene1.html

      • Steven Mosher

        Your assumptions are screwy.

        1000 ppmv is the absolute maximum CO2 level we could ever reach from burning all the fossil fuels that are still on our planet.

        This is the asymptotic theoretical maximum warming we could ever reach from human CO2 emissions:

        1.6*ln(1000/392) / ln(2) = 2.2C

        That’s it, Steven -ain’t no’ mo’.

        We are not going to reach this level anytime in the next 200 years or so, i.e. “never” for practical purposes. Long before we’ve used up the last expensive drop of fossil fuels, we will have switched to something more economical.

        So let’s do your little estimate again with a more realistic 600 ppmv by the end of this century and you get warming of:

        1.6*ln(600/392) / ln(2) = 1.0C

        Yawn!

        If you are going to try to convince me that a warming of 1.0C would cause any problems whatsoever for humanity or our environment, I’ll tell you you’re goofy. Even Goldilocks was smarter than that.

        The same goes for warming of 2.2C above today’s temperature.

        When humans evolved, they did so in Africa, where the temperature was much warmer than 17.2C.

        And GH theory tells us most of the warming would occur at higher latitudes. Do you think folks in Minneapolis or Moscow would be concerned about a few degrees of average warming?

        So fuggidaboudit, Steven.

        Your scare tactic doesn’t hold water.

        If the 1.6C estimate for ECS holds up, CAGW is a dead duck.

        Max

      • “1000 ppmv is the absolute maximum CO2 level we could ever reach from burning all the fossil fuels that are still on our planet.”

        What about the frozen hydrates? methane? nitrous oxide? sulfur hexaflouride? halocarbons?

        There’s far more to human GHG forcing than just CO2. I would estimate your 1000ppmv should actually be at least about 1500ppmv equivalent under business as usual factoring in all these other gases.
        http://www.earthonlinemedia.com/ebooks/tpe_3e/energy/radiative_forcing_agents_present_IPCC.jpg

      • manaker they were your assumptions.

        you are assuming 1.6 is the correct answer
        you are assuming 1000ppm is the limit ( forgeting other GHGs )
        you are assuming its safe to go to 17.5 C.

        your science is settled. you are a fake skeptic

      • “1. 1.6 is an ESTIMATE. but lets use it.
        2. 1000ppm is an estimate built on estimates, but lets use it.
        3. 2.3C Above today would be a global average of around 17.5 degrees.

        since humans evolved the world has vacillated between 12C and 16C.
        at 20C in the past we had allegators at the north Pole.

        Do you think its safe to go.
        1. To a temperature our species has not adapted to
        2. Half way to an utterly different kind of climate.

        And note, youve taken the LOW END of the estimates in 1 and 2. So unless YOUR SCIENCE is settled ( 1.6 ECS and 1000ppm) you are taking a risk on uncertain estimates and pretending that you know everything will be ok.”

        Well said. A lower estimate for climate sensitivity doesn’t solve the problem of AGW. Realistic numbers for climate sensitivity still leave us in dangerous territory with BAU emissions. I made a similar point in these posts:

        http://theidiottracker.blogspot.com/2010/09/between-science-and-hard-place.html

        http://theidiottracker.blogspot.com/2010/09/between-science-and-hard-place-part-two.html

      • Steven Mosher and Robert

        The constraint of carbon content in all remaining fossil fuels is a real one, when we are discussing warming resulting from human GHG emissions based on fossil fuel combustion..

        The (2xCO2) ECS is a second real constraint.

        Using the latest estimates for both, we see that AGW is constrained to around 2C warming above today, or to a “globally and annually averaged land and sea surface temperature” of a bit more than 17C.

        This may frighten you two – and that’s quite all right.

        It doesn’t frighten me.

        This has nothing to do with “the science being settled”, Steven, it’s just that there isn’t anything to get all frightened about IMO. In fact, I think this amount of gradual warming could actually be a good thing for humanity and our environment.

        Idiotic fear-mongering predictions like Robert Watson’s “7C warming from AGW by 2100″ are exactly that: idiotic fear-mongering predictions.

        But, hey, if you guys want to believe these idiotic fear-mongering predictions, there is nothing to stop you from doing so. It’s a free world.

        Max

      • manaker.

        you still miss it. you are using the lower estimates for both your unknowns and claiming certainty about there being no danger. 1000ppm is a low estimate. 1.6 is a low estimate. You are not certain of either, unless your science is settled. ha.

      • First this:

        This has nothing to do with “the science being settled”,

        Then this…

        it’s just that there isn’t anything to get all frightened about IMO.

        “Rational skepticism.” Heh.

      • Steven, you write “you still miss it. you are using the lower estimates for both your unknowns and claiming certainty about there being no danger. ”

        Precisely. Everyone is using estimates, simply because no-one has the requisite empirical data. Until we have the empirical data which proves how much global temperaturs actually rise when a given amount of CO2 is added to the atmosphere from current levels, all we have are SWAGs (Scientific Wild Arse Guesses). But since none of the warmists on Climate Etc. will ever admit that there is no empirical data to prove how much added CO2 to the atmopshere causes global temperatures to rise, this sterile discussion will go on into the indefinite future.

        Why cannot everyone accept the blindingly obvious. When it comes to whether CAGW exists or not, no-one actually knows.

      • Steven Mosher

        You state that “1000 ppmv is a low estimate”

        This is false, Steven.

        It is based on a rather optimistic estimate of the WEC of all the inferred possible fossil fuel resources on our planet.

        This estimate tells us that 85% of the original fossil fuel resources are still in place (IOW we have “used up” 15% to date).

        I have seen many lower estimates of remaining fossil fuels (Hubbert, etc.) but no estimates that were higher.

        So this is not a “low estimate”, but rather a “high estimate”.

        And it tells us that 1,000 ppmv is a most likely upper limit of atmospheric CO2 caused by human GHG emissions, not a “low estimate”.

        As far as the latest Lewis/Schlesinger estimates of 2xCO2 ECS (based largely on physical observations) are concerned, I also have no reason whatsoever to believe that these are “low estimates”, just because they are at the lower end of earlier (model-derived) estimates. Science moves on and error ranges get narrowed down.

        Any future projection is based on estimates, Steven.

        But it is false to say that these are “low” estimates, just because you think they should be higher, without presenting any real data to back up your reasoning.

        Max

    • As I mentioned before, the 1.6 C ECS is questionable and more likely is a TCS. Land already shows a 4.5 C per doubling TCS.
      1000 ppm does not include other GHGs which will also increase. The CMIP5 projection called RCP8.5 is an extreme scenario with more than 1000 ppm CO2 equivalent. Even this doesn’t include the natural methane release that may grow as the permafrost thaws, but includes agricultural projections.

      • Jim D

        Your opinion on whether or not the latest ECS estimate of 1.6C is realistic or not is beside the point until you scientifically refute this estimate with new empirical scientific data.

        I predict that several “consensus” insiders are already working on rebuttals.

        But until this estimate is falsified by a rebuttal bringing compelling new empirical data, it stands.

        The past record since 1850 would tend to show a CO2 temperature response of 0.8C to 1.5C, depending on how much of the past warming one attributes to natural forcing (7% per IPCC or 50% per several solar studies).

        IPCC AR4 tells us that there is 0.6C warming still “in the pipeline”. But that estimate was made based on a mean ECS of 3.2C, so would be too high with an ECS of 1.6C.

        Adding in 0.4C to 0.5C for warming still “in the pipeline”, one would arrive at 1.2C to 2.0C for ECS – or very close to the 1.6-1.7C value. So the latest estimate sounds reasonable to me based on the past physical observations.

        But that is all conjecture – the latest study using empirical data arrived at 1.6-1.7C, so I think we should stay with that until we have something better.

        Max

      • “the latest study using empirical data arrived at 1.6-1.7C”

        and based on models.

        models which you suddenly accept?

      • lolwot

        Empirical data were the bases for the latest ECS estimate.

        Let’s see if someone falsifies these studies with new empirical data.

        Till they do, the latest estimates stand.

        ‘Nuff said, lolwot.

        Max

      • Ocean heat uptake for the period 2000-2010 was estimated using Argo.

        Ocean heat content for the period 1880-1890 was estimated using a GCM.

        Is that empirical evidence?

      • lolwot

        OHC figures after 2003 are based on fairly comprehensive ARGO measurements (empirical data). These first showed cooling (Willis’ “speed bump”) but were then “corrected” and “adjusted”, so that now they show very slight warming. I have not seen the specifics of the “corrections” and “adjustments” made – have you?

        Just prior to ARGO the data came from spotty measurements from expendable XBT devices, which were known to introduce a “warming bias”, and before that the data are even more dicey.

        So we do not have anything like reliable empirical data for OHC prior to 2003.

        I will concede that it is logical to assume that the ocean warmed slightly at the same time that the atmosphere above it did so, IOW it is very likely that there was some increase in OHC prior to 2003, but unfortunately we do not have any conclusive empirical data to confirm this.

        Hope this answers your question.

        Max

      • A-climate-detective .. IJL .. ERB

        You Are all Barking UP the WRONG tree’s ? As your all going to FIND OUT VERY shortly. YOUR All looking at the wrong things and NOT one of you understand the real problem.. LIsten to the x comments here? NONE of you have a clue? BUT your all willing to dip your hand to the KEYBOARD..
        Little do YOU guys KNOW we have been working WITH PD SCHRAG HARVARD AND BAFF AND KEN KILDEIRA STANFORD AND they are now onto our theory? and this we can prove. We have the whole story from GENE chages to modern day man and have added all the amplifiying GHG CO2 and what not’s done the time line of proof and YET YOUR ALL HERE TALKING OLD NEWS AS THE normal… YOU SEE one study is by far nowhere near enough to cover the full picture? So when you lot have got your head arround what i have just wrote and understandit you will be better off finding out what we did put forward and fast before your all left heer talking nonsence ..(sorry there is much merit in what has been said ehere sorry) just bit mISSGUIDED reson for me wanting to help you all ok.
        Please belive me? your wasting your times heer even debating what your debaiting.. YOur GOVernment knows the score? they just do not wish to mention it just now becuse it is alarming to say the least as we have been warnibng USA all yr as to what comes next for there? Look at history
        PIGGY 1 dies in straw hosue to a hurricane?
        PIGGY 2 dies in wooden hse with nails? hurricane again blow this one over?
        PIGGY 3? =modern day man and his more modern daybuild the hurricane cannot get him it will send Earthquake of flooding but it will get that piggy out.. Belive me .. D P SCHRAG = Harvard and obamas advisor? Ken Cildeira and Banffen boaa stanford have our work are recntl;y our theory wer put before HQARVARD so do we need your attacks on this post .. NOT really and can we provide you with al;; the proff that yes the climatic problem of global warming is more than well understood even all the interaction that will eventually cause earthqukaes also.. Belive me when i TRY to tell you IT has been SOLVED and is IN the HANDS OF THE BEST IN USA AND EUROPE just your the ones know knowing this vital information
        Climate sleuths have been on this study for a long time ..We used a Proper High caibre detective.
        Now then NONE of YOU are GOING to Take any notice just now of this email but if you would l;ike it proooved then do feel freee to join us at @Climatesleuths twitter and await the full script we are going to release.

        Your US Top Claimate Proffesors are working our work JUST NOW ? And yes this is no talll story as yes we can prove all we have typed quite simple. YOUR all IN for a SHOCK when you reaslise just how simple the answer was but how it takes understanding and Historical knowlage that many of you simply DO not posses along with all the other relasted climatic studies?

      • Perhaps you have been reading too much willard.

      • You do have a point, Tom.

        Only reading ze Book provides a more expedient answer:

        > So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

        http://bible.cc/revelation/3-16.htm

      • willard,
        A much better bit of Good News, keep it up. Happy New Year too.

  27. Dr. Curry well done.

    Pekka, Jim and Max you raised the bar to a very interesting level in a short period of logical thinking and writing. If most climate discussions, studies and policy groups started with your preface the whole of climate science would have been elevated.

    Thank you

    • Garry, There are a number of Jim’s (and Max’s for that matter) who are denizens of Climate Etc. I do hope you mean me.

    • Agree GarryD, in fact the whole thread has much of value. I always, however, appreciate Pekka’s thoughts, notwithstanding that he is a scientist and careful with his words. The complete absence of ad homs and inflated ego-driven rhetoric is very much appreciated.

      • Peter,
        Could not agree with you more. Judith has had a good couple of weeks of thoughtful thinking and contribution on this blog (which is good for everyone).
        GarryD

  28. I hope everybody posting here has a wonderful holiday season.

    If somebody pointed this out, I missed the comment. In terms of the Goldilocks temperature and CO2 ranges for the planet, we are most assuredly near the bottom of both ranges. Geologic history tells us that the biosphere can tolerate much higher temperatures and and CO2 concentrations than today. If human activity ends the current ice age and thrusts us into an “Anthropocene” in which the ice sheets eventually melt, the biosphere will thrive and humanity will adapt. Habitable land area will increase. Human history has seen mass migrations of peoples before. Indeed, we are seeing it now but we do not realize it because we are in the middle of it. One only need to look at the change in impact of South Asians on US society and culture in a single generation to see this.

    • Why do the alarmists hate plants?
      ==========================

    • RobertInAz

      Agree 100% with you.

      The problem here, as I see it, it that we are dealing with an irrational emotion – FEAR.

      It is “fear of an imagined unknown”.

      And those promoting the CAGW scare have exploited this fear very well.

      Max

  29. Would you trade today’s climate for the climate of 300 years ago?
    Would you trade today’s climate for the climate of 15,000 years ago?
    Would you trade today’s climate for the climate of 60,000 years ago?

    I visualize academic climate activists as two-year-olds in the backseat of mum’s car trying to figure why their colorful plastic steering wheel doesn’t do anything.

    • Nice analogy.

      Anyone want to guess which present day climate scientist was the one most likely to whine and cry during most of the trip?

  30. This post is catalogued under “sociology of science”. It has actually nothing do do with sciency, it’s purely faily tales (are fairy tales “sociology”? maybe).
    Science attempts to determine what is – i.e. the facts.
    The facts are “out there” – in Nature, not in fairy tales.
    For me, the point of this Goldilocks tale is, that since the facts (like sensitivity) are unknown – what the IPCC claims is arrived at by the Goldilocks method and not by science – i.e. it is fairy tales, not science.

    • True. Game theory better explains what ulterior motives that underlie the acquiesence of Western academia to the fearmongering of government scientists–i.e.,

      Funny thing happened on the way to Qatar from Kyoto…

      “Ben Santer [federal climatologist] just published a pal-reviewed paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science loudly proclaiming that the dreaded man-made global warming signal has emerged from our naturally chaotic climate… pretty much what he wrote in Nature for the UN’s 1996 edition of this conference, 16 years ago. If at first you don’t succeed…”

      ~Patrick Michaels: “My activist-scientist friends don’t want to go back to flying in coach.”

  31. It is amazing to think about Al Gore’s place in history today and what it really means going forward. The fraud and corruption that global warming represents is part and parcel of any man identified with it. That tells us Gore was a hoax as a lifetime politician from Tennessee beginning January 1977 with 32% of the vote. And, Gore became the apple of the Democrat party’s eye (an apple doesn’t fall far from the tree). All that is so contemptible about Al Gore — the duplicitous hypocrisy of all eco-apocalyptic doomsayers of the federal government bureaucracy and redolent of privileged material comfort from life in a luxurious mansion to travel in private jets — that by comparison elevates George Bush to country gentleman and patriot in the mold of the founders. Isn’t it too bad for the world that a European equivalent to Bush just was not there to stand against and prevent the likes of Ndolf Nitler from assuming office? What does that say about Europe then or us now?

  32. I prefer the “The Momma Bear Principle”. It comes from a slight modification of the Goldie Lock story:

    Once upon a time there were three bears. It was approaching dinner time. Poppa bear come running into the kitchen: “Someone’s been eating all my porridge!” Baby runs into the kitchen: “Someone’s been eating all my porridge!” Momma bear steps up saying: “Bitch, bitch, bitch,.that’s all you two ever do. I ain’t even poured the damned stuff yet!”

    In other words, be sure you have the correct data before you start mouthing your theory.

  33. Just fudges the issue. Who gets to define what’s extreme, and what’s right “up front”? Post-facto justification for consensualization!!

  34. A-climate-detective .. IJL .. ERB

    Ok Goli lock and the three Builders of empires our human existance and time? First builds a house of mud and straw but a hurricane slams it piggy eaten? Second builds a bitt stronger = wood and screws but then so does the hurricane grow bolt? and piggy2 = MORTAL. Next PIGGY 3? Modern man? He builds a strong home, city? But the hurricane blows and it do not work,
    setting the inbalance or offset it is feeling from mans claws as we drive it’s system? So it comes back to the third piggy and Floods HIM out. So much for his clever design?Need stilts and lots of pre thought? Can go more..
    @climatesleuths
    Ps stop adressing the climate.. Jobs done? We have Nailed that one .. ?
    You are sceptics hey.. Let’s See
    A-Climate-Detective
    Hence the piggy description.
    Our work will be revealed to all, very very soon. Has been for near 2 yr in public domian not advertised?

  35. It is very likely that the porridge in Papa Bear’s bowl is too hot.

    There have been statistically significant trends in the number of heavy porridge consumption events in some bear habitation regions. It is likely that more of these regions have experienced increases than decreases, although there are strong regional and subregional variations in these trends.

    Economic losses from incursions of small blond-haired girls into bear habitations have increased, but with large spatial and interannual variability (high confidence, based on high agreement, medium evidence).

    Long-term trends in economic disaster losses adjusted for bear wealth and population increases have not been attributed to small blond-haired girls, but a role for small blond-haired girls has not been excluded (high agreement, medium evidence).

    The uncertainties in the historical porridge records, the incomplete understanding of the physical mechanisms linking porridge temperature metrics to cabin atmosphere, and the degree of porridge temperature variability provide only low confidence that the porridge in Baby Bear’s bowl is too cold.

    There is limited to medium evidence available to assess Goldilocks-driven observed changes in the magnitude and frequency of porridge spills at regional scales because the available instrumental records of porridge spills at gauge stations are limited in space and time, and because of confounding effects of changes in the arrangement of bear living quarters and type of porridge bowl used. Furthermore, there is low agreement in this evidence, and thus overall low confidence at the global scale regarding even the sign of these changes.

    There is low confidence in any observed long-term (i.e., 40 years or more) increases in goldilocks-incursion activity (i.e.,intensity, frequency, duration), after accounting for past changes in observing capabilities. It is likely that there has been a northward shift in the main Goldilocks forest traverse patterns. There is low confidence in observed trends in small spatial-scale phenomena such as dashing in for a quick taste of porridge because of data inhomogeneities and inadequacies in monitoring systems.

  36. Great historical successes of the Goldilocks Principle (aka The Church of the Muddled Middle):

    Neville Chamberlain and peace in our time;

    The Missouri Compromise (slavery in only selected states) which averted the American Civil War (oh, and kept millions of Blacks in slavery);

    The Paris Peace talks that kept North VietNam from invading the south;

    Any one of the numerous “Peace Accords” between Israel and its fascist/islamist neighbors, which brought an end to terrorism and peace and safety for Israeli school children everywhere;

    The series of emergency solutions that have returned the PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain) to firm economic footing averting the collapse of the European economy;

    AGW lukewarmers who saved the west from socialism by voting for politicians who would not implement CAGW policies that are really just central planning of the energy economy, in the middle of the current rush to economic collapse.

    All together now. Let’s hear it for the moderates!!!

    • Gary M

      All the examples you provide illustrate that the hidden agenda of advocating moderation is maintenance of the status quo. Chamberlain’s victory was an acknowledgement of Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. Admittance of any one state into the Union through the Missouri Compromise was balance by another state to preserve a one-to-one power relationship in the Senate with filibuster power. 50,000 US soldiers killed was to preserve a South Vietnam under the guise of a John Foster Dullas Communist containment policy. The policy was in reality a mechanism to shield the South who were the recipients of the Catholics who themselves had fled the North during the French IndoChina War; Buddhas monks didn’t go along. The killing of Anwar Sadat was pivotal in destroying peace prospect in the Middle East for more generations. The idea of the Peace Accords was sound. PIGS as you point out are just that, preserving the Mediterranean lifestyle.

      In my opinion the Golden Mean does not preclude reaching beyond the obvious nor dropping anchor to prevent movement. Rather, within the bounds of a climate that earth has experience since water was a dominant surface effect, there are constraints to surface temperatures. These limits provide for a construct within which we can project future climate, and allow us to adapt.

  37. A companion to the Goldilocks principle, the lukewarming Overton window:

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

    Maybe it’s just a vocabulary thing.

    • personally, I dont see us as being in the middle of the debate.
      We are above the debate or ahead of the game, take your pick.

      • kim

        Course you can’t be wrong (warmer IS better).

        As the redneck sitting in front of the pot-bellied stove in the “International Herald Tribune” post-Kyoto cartoon said:

        “toss another one of them Kyoto protocols on the fire, Jeb – it’s gettin’ cold in here”.

        Max

      • A corollary is that those who claim warming is bad cannot be right. So in that curious sense moshe is out of the debate.
        ==================================

    • “personally, I dont see us as being in the middle of the debate.
      We are above the debate or ahead of the game, take your pick.”

      Unfortunately for your faction a comment like that assures you are in the debate.

      • One hallmark of curiosity is humility. As curious as moshe is, it could be improved with the consideration that he might be wrong.
        ================

      • I, however, cannot be wrong with ‘warm is good, cold is bad’. Heh, heh, heh.
        =============

    • David Springer

      Yes of course. And a window has a frame. The good political tactician frames his debate literally and figuratively defining its bounds. It’s elementary, my dear Watson.

    • David Springer

      Yes of course. And a window has a frame. The good political tactician frames his debate literally and figuratively defining its bounds. It’s elementary, my dear Watson!

  38. I’ve long thought along similar lines – in my case, I’ve suggested that there is a Panglossian ‘best of all possible worlds’ strain in climate alarmism. These people seem to think that up until 1970, we lived in the best of all possible climate worlds, and now we’re spoiling paradise by deviating from this most perfect world.

    • Mark B,

      These people seem to think that up until 1970, we lived in the best of all possible climate worlds, and now we’re spoiling paradise by deviating from this most perfect world.

      Yes. It’s the same arrogance that caused people to believe the world is the centre of the universe and humans are the only intelligent life in the universe.

    • 1970?

      When I first began investigating these arguments the magic date when all was goldilocks was still the LIA – and all the meme arguments the dreadful Industrial Revolution changing that paradise..

      This cherry picking cold start date was the first indication I had that lying with statistics was in play.

      That meme changed in response to having no answers to the LIA erasure, the fact that the greater temp rises were before any industry to speak of, the great HockeyStick and OneTreeYamal debunking, and finally, that they couldn’t get rid of the hot and cold changes in the 20th C – so they’ve moved their start date to the 1970′s? Again a cold spell, around the time that most talk was of the impending ice age conditions, of course, brought about by the dreaded cheap fossil fuel coal.

      Which in the beginning terrified the infant oil industry and then nuclear – the clever move by these industries was to include themselves in greenie resentment which they funded as greenie emotional energy was cost effective in promoting this anti-coal agenda. Setting up CRU to alter historical temperature records across the world and still funding the manipulation of temperature data under the ongoing meme that it is sceptics who are funded by big oil.

      Happy Xmas.

    • MarkB – Where the hell have you been? The Climate Has A Fever! Haven’t you heard??? Some people.

  39. > The rule of three is a writing principle that suggests that things that come in threes are inherently funnier, more satisfying, or more effective than other numbers of things. The reader or audience of this form of text is also more likely to consume information if it is written in groups of threes. From slogans (“Go, fight, win!”) to films, many things are structured in threes. Examples include The Three Stooges, Three Little Pigs, Three Billy Goats Gruff, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and Three Blind Mice.

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_of_three_(writing)

    Another lukewarm tale for Xmas.

  40. This is the best of all possible worlds

    Every day in every way things get better and better

    • > It is demonstrable that things cannot be otherwise than as they are; for as all things have been created for some end, they must necessarily be created for the best end. Observe, for instance, the nose is formed for spectacles, therefore we wear spectacles.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Candide#Conclusion

    • It is remarkable the yinyang similarity of Cooie and the Alarmists.
      ==================

      • kim,

        “It is remarkable the yinyang similarity of Cooie and the Alarmists.”

        Yes. ‘To organize is to destroy.’

      • Indeed, Confucius was the first adept of laissez-faire.

      • Coue, fooey.
        ==========

      • Hi, Willard

        This one is Lao Tzu. It’s stuck with me over the years–perhaps as a rationalization (inconsistent!) of the way I maintain my local environment. But it does seems to me that when we start parsing things we sow the seeds of their eventual demise. Of course science and reasoning entail parsing. Things degenerate from there.

        No model is perfect. … to organize is to destroy …

      • These two words, which taken literally mean “not doing,” form a distinctive term in Taoist philosophy. It should be stated, at once, that the literal meaning is not the true meaning. This is clearly stated in the 19th essay. The writer of that essay says, “Some maintain that the person who acts in the spirit of wu wei is one who spends his time in serenity and meditation, doing nothing: he will not come when called nor be driven by any force. I never heard such an explanation from any sage.” And he goes on to say that the men who act in the wu wei method are the most laborious men in the world. They are hard workers in every field.

        I think it also means more than the mere influence of personality. The late Dr. Edkins once wrote, “The principle of wu wei, non-action, is also Confucian. Confucius says that Shun ruled the empire by non-action. By this he meant that people obeyed him, from admiration of his virtue.” This is quite true; but the influence of personality or a good life is not quite the same as wu wei. It is said that Lord Grey dominated the House of Commons. He had but to rise to his feet in order to command rapt attention. Yet he was not a great speaker and did not often speak. And Lord Northcliffe said of Charles Hind: “When he spoke, everybody listened; but to Charles nothing seemed to matter. He had an effortless superiority.” Professor Driesch calls attention to what M. Baudouin calls “the law of reversed effort.” I resolve to make a suggestion, and herein lies the volition. For the rest, the formula is now: “It will happen, and it does happen.” In effect, “I do nothing; but the thing is done. That is something like the activity of inaction.” (Times, Lit. Sup. Aug. 21. 30.). The language is similar to the Taoist; yet there is no resemblance in the doctrine. Taoism is not a mere matter of willing. It is a principle of life.

        http://www.sacred-texts.com/tao/tgl/tgl008.htm

        Cf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confucianism#Governance

      • Hi Willard,

        “It should be stated, at once, that the literal meaning is not the true meaning.”

        Absolutely no argument there and I did not intend the it to be taken lightly.
        To me the phrase is [in my own way] so profound that to analyze it is a distraction.* That is the reason it has stuck with me. There is no cpncious philosophical adventure for me, just a bemused appreciation left over from early years pondering the analytical nature of western thought. The original source for me and hence th attribution was “The Way of Chuang Tzu, Thomas Merton, Shambhala 1965, p.70. Two Kings and No-form) That particular read seems so relevant to some limitations to analysis in general. For me that is just the way it is and will be. (For better or worse, I broke out laughing after that read–Brecht and a couple of other cheery Germans were by then well ensconced in my mind.

        If the local environment remark bugged you–well that is an inside joke to me–let just say that the Goldilocks move to the center does not apply there–and I hope you can live with my use there.

        Texture, live is all about texture wherever you can get it. It certainly isn’t about climate change.**

        * For sure, no offense intended there–I find your discussion interesting and appreciate seeing deeper meaning. Thank you for the links I don’t think that hurts me or anyone else.
        **That has some texture, though.

        Hope you holidays are going very well.

        mwgrant

    • The statement that this is the best of all possible worlds does not, stricly speaking, entail that there will be improvement from day to day. Think of “best of all possible worlds” as the result of a maximizing process. If you are going to take on Liebniz bring a better game. ( See modal logician Alvin Plantinga for some ideas– He looks scary but I can tell you he is a nice man)

    • Yes, things have been getting better and better for century after century. If you disagree, you’re welcome to live in the London of 1600, or the Great Britain of 400. Or perhaps you’d prefer Alaska, 500 BC?

    • This may or may not be the best of all possible worlds for we don’t know the full range of what is possible in worlds. As it is though, it is currently (and perhaps forever) the only world we have, and as such is both the best and worst, and is infinitely valuable.

      • Gates,

        This may or may not be the best of all possible worlds for we don’t know the full range of what is possible in worlds.

        We know that live struggles when colder then now and thrives when warmer then now. And it thrives during warming phases. That’s a good start. Surprising all the statisticians here haven’t managed to project that trend, eh?

    • Eli Rabett,

      This is the best of all possible worlds

      Every day in every way things get better and better.

      Absolutely correct.

      Global GDP increased 89.0% from 1990 to 2010.

      Isn’t this a wonderful result, nearly 100% increase in wealth in 2 decades. A real cause for celebration in terms of what it can translate to in terms of food & shelter, education, medical care, justice delivery, entertainment, and quality of life generally, especially since population has only increased by 30% in the same time.

      And isn’t it wonderful what 18 climate summits have achieved – a 44.5% increase in emissions, and just -0.8%. change in carbon intensity of energy over that 20 year period (this is not 0.8% per year, its just 0.8% change in 20 years. What do they call it when you keep doing the same thing while expecting a different result?.

      Imaging how much better off we could be if the ‘Progressives’ and doomsayers had not been blocking progress for the past 20 years (and 50 years).

    • Eli.

      Dont worry

      If that doesnt work try this, step into the light

  41. Why a Goldilock Principle?

    1.) Humans are limited to juggled a few concepts at a time — seems like I read something like that when I was poking around in decision theory/analysis.(I bought into that and still do.)

    2.) We are ‘social’ animals and moderation seems wired into us–(supposition on my part) The nail sticking up gets hammered in, etc.

    3.) We are equipped with some innate faculty referred to as common sense.

    4,) We seek comprehension we have parsed the hell out of knowledge on one hand and have readi-made templates in our intellectual toolkit–’science’, religion’, …,

    Do these account for a propensity to fall back on something like the Goldilocks Principle? Once again I start a topic with a snort of disdain, hang around a bit and find some interesting texture. Good topic Dr.C.

  42. <b?dishonesty . . . sort of honest . . . honest ???

  43. mwgrant,

    See, yer jest can’t help it … you say ‘moderation seems
    wired into us – (supposition on my part)’ : ).
    Re ‘dishonesty…sort of honest .. honest ???’

    ‘Thought fer Today: ‘
    Never attribute ter dishonesty what is probably human fallibility
    to con – fur – mation – bias.

    O – we are creatures of the light, of enlightenment,
    Drawn to the light flickering on the river,
    The riffling silver threads disturbing its opacity.
    Drawn to the litter of stars that spark
    In the dark abyss of the night, to the harvest moon,
    Palpable as globed fruit, forgetting it’s reflected from the sun.
    Shine on, O shine, harvest moon.’
    Seeking through poetry and science, to probe
    The secrets of the heavens and deep abyss,
    We yearn for honey from the golden hive,
    Enlightenment – O.

    Beth

    • Hi Beth.

      “human fallibility”
      We do be walking paradoxes. So why do we sometimes pretend to be slaves to rationality?

      I am indeed pleased at your perception — made my Christmas. +5 at you.
      Still me thinks my triple does show a limitation to the GP template.

      It is something the way words can move across a page. I hope you Christmas was nice and your recovery is progressing.

  44. Hi mwg,

    I find yer comments are always insightful, though sometimes
    over me head ( Thx fer enquiry, visit to Dr today and I am on the
    the mend, he says I’m a miracle healer. Hmm …

    O/t the Lilian Lieber ‘Einstein Theory’ arrived. Beautiful old book
    and I am able to comprehend the Introduction. ) Now if I can
    understand the maths )… Holiday reading at the beach, along
    with Xmas present, Hilary Mantel’s new novel, ‘Bring up the Bodies.’
    She is a wonderful writer.
    Happy New Year, mwg.

    • Glad to hear that you are mending well. It sounded pretty nasty.

      Lieber really is a beautiful book and I kinda thought you would like it. (I have both an original hardcover and the newer paperback.) I hope it may give some ideas if you ever toy with putting together a collection. You know there is a visual aspect to any words on paper. I think you could do something really nice–content-wise and visual.

      As for the content of Lieber, I think you will do quite well. The book is from another era–one where science writers had more respect for the intellect of the lay-reader.

      About commenting on the blog–well it just is doesn’t seem to be my cup of tea–very uncomfortable, typo-polooza. But I thank you for your kind remark. If it will hlep, instead of over the head, think beside the head–off the mark ;oP

      Gesælig Niw Gear <- Another possible retirement 'project'.

  45. “The science is NOT settled”

    The above statement is undoubtedly true, when it comes to identifying and quantifying all the natural and anthropogenic factors, which have influenced our climate in the past and will shape it in the future.

    But there are limits within which the science IS settled.

    For example, it is inconceivable that AGW, caused principally by human CO2 emissions, will result in 7C or more warming over the next 100 years.

    It is also inconceivable (if we rule out cataclysmic events like meteor strikes, etc.) that natural factors will result in 7C or more cooling over the next 100 years.

    “Tipping points” leading to a “runaway Venus effect” from AGW are simply model-derived figments of some scientists’ overactive imagination and not to be taken seriously.

    In fact, it is extremely likely that our planet’s climate will continue to remain within a “Goldilocks just right” range.

    The unanswered question is whether or not it will warm slightly, cool slightly or remain essentially as it is now over the next several decades (with a slight statistical advantage for the premise of slight warming, based on the past century or so).

    And within that “Goldilocks just right range”, the science is NOT settled.

    Just my opinion, based on the evidence at hand.

    Max

  46. It was inconceivable that Obama would have been reelected:

    > And it has been shut down because Obama has violated a fundamental rule of the presidency. Call it the “Goldilocks principle”: presidents who under-reach their agendas end up tasting “too cold” to the American people, while presidents who over-reach their agenda end up “too hot.” But presidents whose agendas are ambitious but limited taste “just right.” They not only get to eat their porridge, but they get re-elected, too. Examples of all three types of presidencies have been observed throughout American history.

    http://www.fandm.edu/politics/politically-uncorrected-column/2009-politically-uncorrected/the-goldilocks-principle-in-american-politics

  47. Vintage 1988:

    > But despite all the seminars, speeches and articles, its champions insist on describing the Third Way at an unhelpful level of generalisation. “My fellow Americans, we have found a Third Way: smaller government and a stronger nation” (Bill Clinton). Sometimes it just seems to mean compromise. Peter Mandelson, Britain’s trade secretary, says the Third Way in a European context means something in between the nation state (too small to cope with some problems) and a super-state (too big and too remote). All agree on what the Third Way isn’t: neither the Old Left nor the New Right. But nor, say its visionaries, is it just splitting the difference. No, it is “about traditional values in a changed world” (Blair); a “very fundamental paradigm shift in politics” (Giddens).

    http://www.economist.com/node/179847

    Perhaps are we lukewarmingly witnessing a paradigm shift in the American politics of science?

  48. Sometimes, the Goldilocks principle is lukewarmingly received:

    > The first debate, of course the audience was quiet and Speaker Gingrich said that threw him off, he cant debate before a quiet audience. Then the next audience was very loud, very loud, and he said that threw him off, he can’t debate before a real loud audience. It’s like Goldliocks you know, it has to be just so.

    http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/the-buzz-florida-politics/content/romney-mocks-goldilocks-gingrich-excuses

  49. I think Michael Mann’s hockey stick chart didn’t pass the Goldilocks test. But I didn’t realize he et al have a sea surface temperature hockey stick chart. This one does have code and data included. It also uses, in part, tree rings.

    http://climexp.knmi.nl/getindices.cgi?WMO=RapidData/sst_mann&STATION=Mann_global_SST&TYPE=i&id=someone@somewhere&NPERYEAR=1

  50. confirmation basis

    presumably meant

    confirmation bias

  51. WUWT just posted a similar question, but I’ll add a thought here rather than there. In the end it is not so much the absolute temperature that matters, within reason, but its rate of change, because that is what forces adaptation and that correlates with the extinction rate. Are we in a good climate state when the temperature is changing this fast? Ecosystems are strained, agriculture is challenged. The world is changing fast and unfamiliar things are starting to happen, and we have to adapt as we see them because they are not entirely predictable. The future is more like Alice in Wonderland than Goldilocks.

  52. Interesting thought Judith. I had been working on “Goldilocks Principle” for quite some time but I could not mention it so elaborately. Thanks! This is helpful.