Open thread: 11/15/10

Several people have asked  for a new open thread.  I hope that people can bring me up to date with what is going on elsewhere in the blogosphere, since I haven’t had time to check.   I will have time starting next Friday to engage more in the comments and get back to writing some technical threads.

204 responses to “Open thread: 11/15/10

  1. How can the sun generate winds on this planet? Radiation does NOT contain physical energy. But current science never included rotational energy that is stored at 1669.8km/hr at the equator.

    • Joe Lalonde

      Uh.. wow.

      Ohhhkay then.

      • That is not light having actual physical energy. That is light having a reaction to argon gas in a vacuum (one gas, like CO2). Crap like this is why science is so screwed.
        I’m talking actual pulled around physical energy that the planetary rotation generates.

      • Violates 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, or the planet ought slow down much more quickly than it does now.

        Not convincing mathematically.

      • Have you ever thought your law could be wrong?
        Nope! Blind following the blind without question.

      • So, if the planet were to suddenly stop ALL the science would be the same eh? No massive shift of all the debris sand and molecules that rotate with this planet would move…hmmm.

    • Hmmmmm……..

    • Radiation does NOT contain physical energy.

      Joe, I suggest you find a nice hot tropical desert area (NW Australia would be a good choice at the moment) and lie out in the sun naked for several days. I think you will find this a convincing demonstration of the physical effects of radiation.

      • That is reactive to our bodies. Absorbsion or deflection if your wearing sunscreen. Where is the wind it is suppose to generate then? I suppose tornado warnings are to watch your feet a current science says the wind is from the sun and reacts with the Earth’s surface. Rotational energy is the molecules following with the planet at close to the speed of 1669.8km/hr. Observed science is not always correct to actual science.

        This is a good example how our forefathers screwed up the minds of people being taught through traditional science and not using their heads to actually see the mistakes.

      • AFAIK no scientist says that wind is created by the sun. Wind comes from pressure differences. Air moves from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure.

      • What specifically causes the differing air pressures .. think about it

      • I know.

      • Current science believes the wind energy is created by the sun. Meanwhile the planet pulls this atmosphere to close the same speed of rotation which gives this planet the massive physical energy for wind. Current science believes hurricanes are formed from the ocean energy. Then why do tornadoes form from cloud heights? There is the massive wind energy in the atmosphere but not in the oceans. The oceans give far less friction compared to land masses.

  2. I scare so many people when I can introduce how a coil spring can compress mass, change density and store and release stored energy. It is totally against current science LAWS especially when used to show the shifting of density.

    • Joe Lalonde

      I just put a Slinky in a bathtub and stretched and compressed it.

      Couldn’t get a reading indicating a change in the volume of the system, such as would correspond to either compression of mass or change of density.

      Can you recommend a ratio of Slinky to water that would produce visible readings when stretched and compressed?

      • Boy, your science is really bad when you try to introduce water displacement. Water is already compressed gases. Could boil it or let it evaporate.

      • And yet, Archimedes has withstood two millennia.

        Without displacement, there is no measure of volume.

        Without measure of volume, there is no evidence for compression of mass or change of density.

        As I trust Archimedes’ well-tested hypotheses more than notions that collapse in a bathtub with a toy spring, again, what you propose does not convince.

      • You fail to realize that water is under pressure from the atmosphere and the relaxed form is gases. If you put gases in a cylinder and compressed them to a liquid, you hold stored energy. Puncture this and a massive release of stored energy occurs back into a gas form.
        If you were to play with a coil spring, a weight and motion, this can show how you can change density in a material. It is the pseudo-science centrifugal force. The shifting of the center of balance in material.

    • Well, feel free to scare me.

      But I would ask: Can you give a clear and succinct statement of what your new theory is regarding spring energy storage, and how it differs from the standard Newtonian spring mode? A set of statements indicating that you posess such a theory, whilst being unwilling to spell it out, does make you look a bit of a crank (and besides, assuming that you have just overturned a bit of long established physics, it would seem a bit mean to keep it to yourself).

      • Cool, a coil spring was invented LONG after Newton kicked the bucket. So, how can he have a theory on something not even invented or concieved? If he would have, many of his theories would have changed drastically. Now they are unbreakable LAWS taught from generation to generation as absolute.
        Newton never concieved the ability to change density with motion and how this can store energy molecularly.
        I have not been “keeping it to myself”. Current science protects the current science even if it is terrible science. You should know this by now. Peer-review is for like minded and anything that could change the current system is ignored. Why is it that there is no understanding of the mechanics in science? Two individual areas of study that have boundaries.

      • Ok, that’s more of a rant than an explanation.

        Currently, we assume that a spring works in the following way:

        – Compressing a spring distorts the crystalline fabric of the spring material – typically a metal, although you should be able to make a spring out of anything.
        – This means that some atoms in the spring will be held further apart than they would be at electrostatic equilibrium, and some closer together, at a very low level. The net combination of this is a bulk force exerted by the spring to regain its former shape.
        – When the containment is released, these atoms will revert to their equlibrium positions and the spring will regain it’s shape.

        This is complicated by non-equlibrium processes; inevitably compression will not be 100 % efficient, so a spring will heat up as it is compressed. This will mean you will get less energy from the expansion of a spring than from the compression. Additionally, there will be some creep of the material meaning the prior shape is not fully regained.

        Now, how does your theory differ from this?

      • All very interesting. Is this open thread for schizophrenic theorising (next up: electric universe, growing Earth, tired light, David Icke thinks Obama is a lizard taking Human form….), or about contemporary issues in the on-going Warming/Cooling/Disrupting/Changing/Perambulating climate of ours?

        Just asking….

      • My understanding is that there is actually an increase in mass corresponding to the stored energy in the atomic structure. However, this is too small to meaure in any realistic sense.

        Here’s a forum thread thrown up by google.;prev_next=next

        I’m sure I remember this cropping up on Wikipedia somewhere also…

      • The thing with science is that you have to cover all angles. You just can’t go so far and say that is my theory incomplete. You have to follow it to it’s conclusion even if it is not in the field you are in. Too many barriers of laws that individulaize science also made it incorrect.
        If you use a coil spring on a string with a weight and rotated it, the spring will compress showing that you can ccompress mass, your storing energy in that spring and when you allow it to float, it will uncompress and the rotation slows. Gases can compress the same way with mothin to turn into a liquid, storing energy. Why do you think after 4.5 billion years, we still have volcanic activity, as the planet slows, gases are being compressed from liquids.

      • Joe, ‘scare’ is not what you are doing on this. Think of the rule of holes.

      • Again I was after more of an explanation than a critique of scientists in general.

        Oh, and volcanoes still go off because of the heat generated by radioactive decay (with possible contributions from core crystallization and/or a natural nuclear reactor at the center of the planet).

      • I totally agree with you, Joe. Science has got us nowhere because peer review and cronyism are so strong. Once they start taking seriously the new out-of-the-box thinking like yours, I’m sure we’ll actually start to see some progress. Maybe even cure a disease, or invent some kind of mechanical carriage, or communicate remotely with each other, or have artificial fire. Oh, wait. Nevermind.

  3. David L. Hagen

    A critical sea-change in official liquid fuel perspective:
    In the World Energy Outlook 2010, the International Energy Agency graphs global crude oil as having ALREADY PEAKED in 2006.

    Contrast the exponential CO2 growth projections of IPCC.

    That is a MAJOR uncertainty to report.
    This will have the greatest serious harm to our economy in the very near future. Lloyds of London warns that this global energy crunch is likely to hit between 2012 and 2015.

    • David,

      Richard Courtney (I think) posted a succinct account of estimations of oil reserves on one of the threads, and the gist of it was that there is always about 40 years’ supply left, for a set of at least plausible reasons. In the long run that can’t be right, of course, but if right for say fifty years or so it gives us time to explore and develop alternatives for transport fuels.

      But I agree with you on the implications of the IEA news for projections by the IPCC (and also for reports like those of Stern and Garnaut).

      • Don

        I’ve posted on this issue several times

        There are two major points to predictions on “length of time” for various energy sources:

        1) hard, Proven Reserves (a properly defined geological/engineering term). In the case of crude oil, extracting these figures from OPEC or eg. Russia, in reliable reports is impossible. Crude oil Reserves are regarded as national security secrets

        2) reliable estimates of future consumption levels. Again, almost impossible. For oil, yes, consumption is likely to rise, but at what rate ? One has to estimate population growths, the impact of Chinese and Indian vehicular demand and so on

        The IEA does not have a good prior record in regard to these two essential parameters, despite its’ undoubted earnestness

      • Thanks, Ian. Your first point is obvious, and I should have thought of it myself. But it assists Richard’s argument. Those who cry that we are at peak oil, or have passed it, have made assumptions about supply and demand that have to be questioned. Where does the forecaster get these data from?

      • For the hard reserves, presumably our spy in Moscow has come up with the necessary figures :p.

      • Later, November 17


        I do this stuff for a living. It always amazes me when a layperson asks something like: “How long will the oil (or coal, or uranium, or whatever) last, then ?” and when you point out the requirement of accurately knowing current Reserves and then reliably estimated future consumption, the immediate reaction is to ignore such a requirement and pontificate madly on looming catastrophe just around the bend

        I’ve read most of the posts below that are responses to this point, and with the exception of Richard Courtney, they mostly follow the pattern I’ve described above. It seems most people simply don’t really want to know, so basically I’ve given up trying except for those who show genuine curiosity

      • David L. Hagen

        Affirm your 2 points. On:
        “2) reliable estimates of future consumption levels.”
        Do historical trends count? Tad W. Patzek shows that global world oil consumption grew 6.6%/year for 90 years from 1880 to 1970 before slowing to a lower rate!
        How Can We Outlive Our Way of Life? 20th Round Table on Sustainable Development of Biofuels, 2007, Figure 3.

        On 1) resources, at a recent 2010 oilsands conference, the Deputy General Chengbao He of China’s PetroChina said they were planning on China’s oil use growing 7.7%/year for the next decade. To achieve that, it was assuming NO oil would be available from the Mideast. All its oil was to come from bitumen (aka “oilsands”) and heavy oil. To process that they were planning to “cookie cutter” build 7 world class heavy oil refineries (at 1 million bbl/day each?) installing them every 18 months. That is a multibillion dollar vote that light crude production has “peaked” or “plateaued”.

        The “law” of supply and demand. Oil prices increased from $10/bbl in 1998 to > $80/bbl in 2010. That was NOT due to an abundance of cheap oil. Oil majors drilling offshore again indicates that the “easy” oil is gone.

        Brown Foucher & Silveus show that oil exporting countries exports drop rapidly after peaking due to internal growing consumption. eg. at a rate of 100%/10 years for Indonesia and 100%/6 years for the UK. They project the five major oil exporters dropping to zero within 20 years from their peak.

        Yes there are about 5 trillion bbl of “oilsands” / heavy oil vs 1 trillion of light oil. What are the prospects of replacing 63 million bbl/day by 2030?

        After the IEA started looking at actual field data, its projections for crude oil production have declined until they flat lined this year.

        Any reason to be any more optimistic? The IPCC’s CO2 projections appear to be selecting various high increases and fitting growth to match regardless of “light oil” or coal availability.


      • Richard S Courtney

        Don Aitkin:

        Yes it was me. Do I need to copy it to here?


      • How much oil is in the ground is irrelevant. All that counts is the flow rates and the NET energy returned. Flow rates from those remaining fields will be lower than from conventional fields of the past, and will not be able to keep up with declining rates from conventional fields.

        The ERoEI is critial. Society needs at least a 4:1 NET energy return. In the 1960’s the net return was 100:1. Today that ratio is down to 25:1 and falling. The Alberta Tar sands is 6:1 for the surface mining only. And does not include downstream processing and local infrastrcuture growth supporting the tar sands. It could very well be close to the 4:1.

        Net energy is everything, once it takes more energy to get the oil out of the ground than we get back from it, the deposit is essentially spent and we have run out of oil, even if 3 trillion barrels remains in the ground.

      • “and the gist of it was that there is always about 40 years’ supply left, for a set of at least plausible reasons.”

        That is a total nonsense.

        Of course you can also add what was found on Titan, and you got hundreds of years of reserves left.

        It doesn’t mean the production rate can meet demand.

        That’s what peak oil is.
        It’s all about drilling for the easily accessible oil first.
        What is left is the more inaccessible one, with very bad EROEI and small production capacity.

      • Just to give you an idea of how political IEA reports can be (=business as usual, everything will go nicely for a sustained growth) , here is a little flashback :

        WEO 2006 – Crude Oil Production (Projected)
        2015 : 80.3 mb/d
        2020 : 84.7 mb/d
        2030 : 89.1 mb/d

        WEO 2008 – Crude Oil Production (Projected)
        2015 : 73 mb/d
        2020 : 74.1 mb/d
        2030 : 75.2 mb/d

        WEO 2010 – Crude Oil Production (Projected)
        2015 : 68.5 mb/d
        2020 : 68.5 mb/d
        2030 : 68.5 mb/d
        “Crude oil output reaches an undulating plateau of around 68-69 mb/d by 2020, but never regains its all time peak of 70 mb/d reached in 2006”

        We just lost 21mbd !
        That’s equivalent to losing Russia + Saudi Arabia + USA !!!
        The 3 top oil producing countries !

      • Richard S Courtney


        If you want to dispute what I said then do, but making up total nonsense and aserting I said it is not acceptable.

        I wrote:

        “There is no foreseeable end to oil supplies. Oil reserves have been ~40 years supply throughout the last century and will remain at ~40 years supply throughout this century. This is because oil companies need a planning horizon of ~40 years. So, oil companies do not pay people to look for oil when they have 40 yeas supply, but they do pay people to look for oil when they have less than 40 years of reserves.

        And then there are tar sands, etc.

        Importantly, there is at least 300 years supply of coal (estimates vary up to more than 1000 years). And coal can be converted into liquid and gaseous products.”

        All of that is true. Indeed, it is not capable of rational dispute.


      • It’s meaningless.

        What matters is production rate.
        Adding reserves accessible by just digging a hole in the sand in Saudi Arabia and reserves offshore Brazil under 5.000 meters of water, 2.000 meters of salt and 2.000 meters of rock is meaningless.

        Why not adding the oil reserves found on Titan too ?
        Technically, we can, right ?
        But it would be very expensive ($/barrel) and the production rate would be really really slow, right ?

        Well, same thing for the ones offshore brazil with respect to saudi arabia. The easily accessible fields get depleted at a 8% rate, demand increases at 1.5%, let’s see how many fields with such low production rates you neet just to meet the rising demand and what price you get for a barrel.

        Moreover, speaking in “years of production” is meaningless too.

      • Small nuclear plants would be “just right” (and look cute at the same time) for the heat source to mine tar sands.

      • Richard S Courtney


        It seems that you do not understand these issues. Concerning the very adequate reserves of oil, you say:

        “It’s meaningless.

        What matters is production rate.

        Adding reserves accessible by just digging a hole in the sand in Saudi Arabia and reserves offshore Brazil under 5.000 meters of water, 2.000 meters of salt and 2.000 meters of rock is meaningless.

        Why not adding the oil reserves found on Titan too ?”

        Yes, production rate matters, but that is an economic judgement. And your facile comment about Titan is just plain silly: nobody can get anything from there so whatever is there cannot be a resource.

        The issue is reserves and resources, and both of these are determined by economics.

        If there is insufficient supply then the price will rise until balance is re-established between supply and demand (this is economics 101).

        The balance is achieved by two effects.
        1. When the price rises then producers have an incentive to increase production (and vice versa).
        2. When the price rises then purchasers have a disincentive to buy (and vice versa).

        So, the limiting factors are
        (a) the need for oil by its purchasers (i.e the maximum they can or will pay for it),
        (b) the resources available to oil producers,
        (c) the costs of production the oil producers have.

        These factors determine the reserves (i.e. the amount that can be produced at economic cost).

        But the profits available to producers vary with both output (that has production cost) and price. Producers provide a production rate that maximises their profits.

        If the supply gets too great then the saleable price falls so producers reduce output with resulting return to higher price.

        And if the supply gets too low then the saleable price rises so producers increase output with resulting return to higher price.

        Therefore, the available oil from “digging a hole in the sand in Saudi Arabia and reserves offshore Brazil under 5.000 meters of water, 2.000 meters of salt and 2.000 meters of rock ” is NOT “meaningless”: such possibilities are crucial ecause they enable additional production with additional production rates (albeit at higher production cost). Simply, the availability of any source affects both the available rate of production and the cost of production.

        The most important factor affecting production is price because at low price the sources with highest production costs are not economic.

        Importantly, these factors are complicated by
        (i) the oil companies making most profit from trading and not production
        (ii) short-term market fluctuations.

        But that does not alter the fact that there oil companies have little difficulty in adjusting output as they wish (unless governments prevent them) so long as adequate resources exist. Indeed, this is why OPEC was founded. At that time there were insufficient producer countries around the world for market forces to operate and, therefore, producer countries were concerned that a single producer country could ‘game’ the system. But OPEC has since lost its power to control production rates as more countries have become oil exporters so market forces have taken over OPEC’s power.

        Simply, oil is a fungible commodity. Reserves and resources are what matter and market forces determine production rates.


      • Richard S Courtney

        OOps: I typed:
        “And if the supply gets too low then the saleable price rises so producers increase output with resulting return to higher price.”

        Of course I meant

        “And if the supply gets too low then the saleable price rises so producers reduce output with resulting return to higher profits.”



      • Don’t you understand that prices rise because you have to drill deeper and deeper (“structural price”, “extraction price”, goes up), then you have less people that can afford it ? Therefore you kill demand ?

        People will want oil but won’t be able to afford it.
        With very little demand, price will never go under the extraction cost otherwise people won’t extract it as it is not profitable.

        Your whole reflexion is based on the idea that prices will go up because of demand, and not because of the fact that structural “extraction” price is going up.

      • So..

        The price of oil has gone from a range of $20-30/bbl in the 1990s to a sustained price range of $70-90/bbl since 2005 or so. Despite which, production appears to be largely flat.

        This would appear on the face of it to disprove your assertion of a relationship between production and price; indeed, many producing countries have seen oil production decline as prices rise. To me this strongly suggests that there are physical constraints to production.

      • There is a common misconception about the use of the term ‘peak oil’ or ‘peak coal’.
        They are not geology terms, they are economic terms.
        At what price point does a substitute good become cheaper?

        If I go to Istanbul, most of the taxi’s run on CNG. A substitute good for oil, natural gas, is cheaper in Turkey.

        ‘Business as usual’ dictates that when a substitute good becomes cheaper, all other things being equal, that is what will be used.

        Hence, the concept of ‘peak oil’ . At some price, the relative benefits of oil, high energy density, are outweighed by the price.

        If we use the TV industry as an example, when the costs of flat panel TV’s became the same as the cost of TV’s with Cathode Ray Tubes, peak production of Cathode Ray Tube TV’s occurred and then declined.

      • I kond of agree with you, but not completely.

        What you say is true for any secondary good.
        When you are talking about primary sources (i.e fossil fuels), the notion of “a substitute good” is hypothetical.

        For example : for a given standard of living, you need a certain amount of [liquid] energy. When production from new [liquid] energy sources cannot sustain the depletion rate of already producing sources, prices go up and fewer people can keep the wanted standard of living.

        It’s as simple as this.

        (Liquid is between bracks coz you can take it off and to make people realize that energy sources cannot be interchanged that easily so you cannot just add all sorts of energy sources without looking what’s hidden behind).

      • I’ll agree, high density energy sources command a price premium and will be more difficult to replace.

        The history of oil though is that a substantial portion of it is used where ‘energy density’ has no real value. I.E. The production of electricity or as a heating fuel.

        I would note that the Saudi’s get 50% of their electricity from burning oil. 5 or 6 years ago, when oil was $30/barrel it may have made marginal sense. With oil at $80/barrel it’s just throwing money away. Compared to 80/barrel oil Solar-Thermal would be a much cheaper option for the Saudi’s.

        Other examples are the average length of a US Postal Service delivery route is 18 miles. USPS has 220,000 Liquids fueled vehicles, the vast majority of which don’t need the range/energy density that liquid fuels provide.

        as an aside, It’s only recently that someone, somewhere in the Government figured out that if there is going to be a ‘transportation revolution’ it will start in the large government and commercial fleet sector. Large fleets operate from central locations, so the other hurdle with adopting new fuels, refueling infrastructure is less of a challenge.

      • I agree with you that the world around us was built on cheap energy.

        Anyway, back to the topic : we can’t get over 600ppm, no matter how much you wanna play with the numbers.

        SRES scenarios are not realistic in any way (and when you look in the details of the energy usage by energy type for each of the 40 scenarios, it’s even crazier for about 30 of them).

      • David L. Hagen

        Don Aitken
        That is due to a key methodology difference:
        i.e. current changes in allowable reserves due to SEC rules, vs “backdating” to original field discovery.
        See numerous publications by Jean Laherrere. at
        See especially:
        Comments by Jean Laherrere (, ASPO, ASPO France, member of AAPG, member of the SPE/WPC 1997 task force on reserve definition under the lead of Anibal Martinez) on the SPE Nov.2006 draft
        especially page 10. Backdating clearly shows a peak ~ 1979 at 1100 Gbbl, declining to 800 Gbbl in 2007.

    • These are not ‘scientific’ reports but rather annual annexes to State of the World political reports that the investment brookers use to squeeze more money out of idiots willing to quiver in their socks. This is about money not oil.

    • In discussions on Peak Oil, the crucial question that I have never seen asked, let alone answered, is what does the supply curve look like at progressively increasing oil prices?

      What is apparently being missed is that the concept of oil “reserves” is an economic concept. Any statement of “reserves” is that part of the known hydrocarbon resource that can be economically extracted at a known planning price. What is that planning price?

      The point is that there are simply huge hydrocarbon resources of various kinds. The key thing is what are the costs of extraction. It is very clear that most discussions regarding Peak Oil are referring to the extractable supplies of sweet, easily recoverable oil that can be produced from traditional oil fields for, say, less than $50 per barrel. However, if a sustained oil price of say, $200 per bbl could be guaranteed, I think you might find that secondary and tertiary recovery of the remaining oil in known fields might become recoverable. Oil shale, coal to oil conversion, tar sands, shale gas etc etc.

      The real issue is that if a sustained oil price of $200 was accepted by enough energy entrepreneurs and their financiers, a flood of supply would emerge that would be more than enough to satisfy demand for a very long time. The inevitable result would be that oversupply would drive prices down, as we have seen many times.

      • The more expensive it gets, the less people can afford it, the less demand you have.

        “a flood of supply would emerge that would be more than enough to satisfy demand for a very long time. ”
        What “demand” are you talking about ?

      • Benjamin – did not demand continue to grow well into the recent spike toward $145 a barrel?

      • Barrel was 20$ a barrel.
        It went to ~80$.
        Then speculation made it go to 150$.

        What happened in the meantime ?
        Inflation went up in the US partly due to this increase in the price of energy.
        What did the FED do to counter inflation ? They rose their interest rates.
        What happens to credit rates (not sure of the term in english) when interest rates go up ?

        Supply level was flat for the past 5years now.,&syid=2005&eyid=2010&freq=M&unit=TBPD

      • Richard S Courtney


        Yes, please ee my explanation above.


      • However, if a sustained oil price of say, $200 per bbl could be guaranteed, I think you might find that secondary and tertiary recovery of the remaining oil in known fields might become recoverable. Oil shale, coal to oil conversion, tar sands, shale gas etc etc.

        Economics will not allow oil prices to get too high. Once energy costs pass a threshold, becoming too much for the economy to pay for, we laps into recession. It’s no co-incidence that this recession hit when oil hit 149 and popped the housing bubble. As each recession hits, that kills demand, perminantly (demand destruction) as companies go belly up and never recover. Then demand for oil drops well below supply and price collapses making unconvensional sources too expensive to process, which kills supply and the price starts to increase again, precipitating more recession, more demand destruction, etc.

        And down we go on the decline side of oil production.

      • Yup, I defintely agree with that !

    • This is just another of several end-of-oil reports that have floated around over the last ~100 years or so.
      It will join the dustbin with the rest of the failed end-of-oil studies.
      My grandfather, growing up in a nice part of Boston during the Wilson Administration, told of how the oil was running out then and how Wilson appointed a panel of experts find out when it would and what to do about it. One solution was to place barrels of salt water in attics to help store heat.
      I think one thing we can bet on is that academics and government people consistently over estimate known issues and ignore the actual important ones.

      • “It will join the dustbin with the rest of the failed end-of-oil studies.”

        You’re completely missing the point.
        Please get informed on the subject first.

      • No, you are apparently missing the point.

      • Richard S Courtney


        You say:
        “I think one thing we can bet on is that academics and government people consistently over estimate known issues and ignore the actual important ones.”

        Yes! You are right on the point. please see my explanation (above) of why and how total production rates of oil are governed by economics alone.


      • Richard, I do not see how you can say that economic alone dictates total production. Flow rates and net energy returned are critial. So is political posturing. As oil producing countries keep more of their production for domestic use that’s less oil for exporting. So the net available oil for export drops, regardless of the price of oil.

      • Richard has some troubles understanding that all reserves are not equivalent.

        I tried an analogy with Titan, which is right on the spot and his argument that “And your facile comment about Titan is just plain silly: nobody can get anything from there so whatever is there cannot be a resource” is wrong. Of course we could bring oil back from there, we know Titan’s surface much better than that the deep oceans ! It would just be expensive and at a very small rate.

        It’s the same thing with the difference between readily available reserves in Saudi Arabia and reserves offshore Brazil under 5.000 meters of water, 2.000 meters of salt and 2.000 meters of rock.

      • Yeah, and for an amount of oil that would supply the world for one year. That means it will have a very low flow rate, and the net returned energy will be low, and the net costs huge. I’ll believe the deposit is worth it when it’s up and pumping, in 10 years.

      • David L. Hagen

        Get some data. See US oil production – peaked in 1970 – now importing 65% growing 5%/year.
        See The Oilwatch Monthly
        See Brown Foucher & Silveus 2010.

  4. Spencer’s 19 points across at –

    are certainly worth some comments, discussion & debate.

    • Michael Larkin

      Not for the first time on this blog, I note a teleconnection. I independently referenced this same URL on another thread! :-)

      • Scott Basinger

        Now this is getting really weird, I just sent the same article in an email to a friend.

  5. 3 things Money, Energy Gap and Politics

    If any of the investors in Green technology and the carbon economy (Deutsche Bank 60 Billion dollars alone) start to get nervous and make a quiet exit… AGW is finished.. A New Consensus – Money

    “Global Warming: Wouldn’t the followers of Scientific American have a pretty good understanding of what’s really going on …”

    “…This isn’t what we expected from the readers of a magazine that Cato’s Patrick Michaels says “has been shilling for the climate apocalypse for years.” Yet we’re not shocked. A new consensus is emerging as the unraveling of the global warming tale picks up speed.”
    Politics and Energy Gap – UK

    The Scotsman : Scotland ‘risking a blackout’ in a bid to go green

    By Nathalie Thomas, Chief business correspondent

    “THE “lights could go out” over Scotland unless new power stations are built in the next two years to ward off a looming electricity crisis, the head of one of Scotland’s most successful companies has warned Alex Salmond”

    “He urged both the Scottish and UK governments to postpone green energy targets by a decade. Unless “the concrete is poured” on a new fleet of power stations within the next two years, Mr Soames warned, “we will be inserious danger of the lights going out”

    “Rupert Soames, chief executive of power supply firm Aggreko, told the First Minister that the National Grid will lose a third of its capacity by 2018 as a string of nuclear, gas and oil-fired power stations across the UK are retired – including several in Scotland.

    Mr Soames claimed that no other industrialised country in the world is at risk of losing so much of its energy supply at the same time – and without a realistic back-up plan”

    “But Mr Soames did not reserve his criticism for Scotland.

    “At the moment we as a nation are turning up to meetings with the bank manager in jeans and a T-shirt that says: ‘Jesus loves you’,” he said.

    “All of this leaves investors shaking their heads
    Conservative Party blog (UK )- More Politics and Energy Gap

    “Chris Huhne should worry about warming gran’s house, he can’t do anything about global warming

    An extract – full article above:
    “By massive margins, Tory members have long believed that energy prices, not climate change, will be voters’ top priority. They have been vindicated. There is going to be no progress on combating climate change for the foreseeable future. The climate change lobby was badly wounded at Copenhagen, late last year. Last week, because of the US mid-terms and the election of a sceptical Republican Congress, the lobby is close to death. Yes, we should continue to do green things that have other benefits (eg energy conservation). Yes, we should invest in clean technologies (but Dalibor Rohac sounds a warning on this). But no, we should not be doing anything that pointlessly hurts energy consumers, handicaps UK manufacturing and which does nothing to stop China, India and other energy-poor countries from increasing the world’s carbon footprint.

    We need to do what Lord Lawson has long recommended. Get richer so we can afford to adapt. A richer world can then afford to invest in resilence against extreme weather events. In the meantime Chris Huhne should we worried about warming Aunt Mabel’s house. He can’t do anything about global warming.”

    A ggod place to look is what is happening in the business and finance pages, not just sceptical and warmist blogs.

    • If any of the investors in Green technology and the carbon economy (Deutsche Bank 60 Billion dollars alone) start to get nervous and make a quiet exit… AGW is finished..

      How does this follow?

      AGW is a strongly backed scientific theory.

      Green technology and the carbon economy – by which I assume you mean ‘Wind power, Solar power and carbon-trading-with-far-too-many-permits – are a largely ineffective attempt to slow AGW.

      The failure of these will not falsify AGW, just as the abandonment of hydrogen-filled airships did not falsify the universal gas laws..

      • AGW is mainly supported by Politics and business egged on by lobby groups. Should the politicians and businees sector, think it’s vote losing, stop believing, then the IPCC bandwagon is over.

        Wind farms do not work….

        There is an Energy Gap coming in the UK, read the Scotsman article above..The Green’s can hum Kumbyya, as much as they like, engineering reality means in 5 years the UK faces the problems described.

        SPain is reneging on Solar subsidies, so is germany, I recommend people read the business and fionce sections of nespapers sometimes…

        The hard reality is, green technologies are not capable of replacing existing technologies, in the very short time frame demanded, plus a massive economic recession, means a serious look is at last being taken of the costs involved…

        Finance has a herd menatlity, isf a big player get nervous and seeks a quiet exits (right or wrong) the herd will/can panic and follow. ‘carbon crunh time’

        Thus, to be clear the promotion of AGW theory by business, politicians and media will stop, whatever the lobby groups demand, thus AGW policies are finished.

      • Sorry, I think you’ll find that AGW is a scientific theory, not politics. And as a theory it predates environmentalism as a political force. There is quite a lot of literature on the subject.

        You seem to be talking about the political efforts to stop AGW from happening, which have been pretty feeble to date.

      • I am well aware it is a scientific theory.

        But rather a lot of policy is based on a catsrophic, unproven (CAGW) alarmist intolerant to debate version of it…

        should feedback/sensitivity be small or even negative (the unknowns) then the policies are not required…

        Please tell me you have noticed that AGW theory is driving policy..

        AGW will remain real, even if it is shown to be only 0.1C a century.
        Just that no one will care about it’s effects.

      • This still has nothing to do with ‘Failure of policy on AGW falsifying AGW as a scientific theory’

        And if policy was actually based on an overinflated view of AGW and its likely consequences, it would be more than a few wind turbines. Let’s face it; even in Europe most energy policy seems based on continued use of fossil fuels with a few fig-leaf measures to placate the green lobby; outside of Europe AGW appears to have no bearing on energy policy at all.

        On the plus side personally, I fully expect to be vindicated when climate sensitivity turns out to be circa 3K. On the minus side, it’ll cost the world economy a small fortune at best. And we’ll still have to switch away from fossil fuels at some point.

      • Andrew, it’s not easy to falsify a theory which has no falsfiable content. Until measurments are accurate over a sufficiently long period, uncertainty, and the equal plausibility of alternative hypotheses are a fact of life. No matter how hard the IPCC scientists, politicians, Journals and Media try to drive them underground.

      • The National Grid has said that they expect that 30% of the UK’s electricity will come from renewable sources by 2020.

      • Has anybody actually asked them how that is actually going to be ACHIEVED???

        The article is fantasy, propsed future capacity of wind, assuming any of it actually gets built (ie the enormous cost – investors won’t fund it) is not the same as real world output, in the UK windfarms sruggle to get to even 15% of their theoretical capacity… Ignore the PR/medai spin. What do the ctual engineers think?

        Wind can’t do it, definetly not solar…
        What else…

        Cold winters December day, 4:00 pm just before peak demand, ir is dark the wind is not blowing. 30% of base load power staions have not been replaced….

        How are the lights going to stay on.

        see The Scotsman article.
        Scotland ‘risking a blackout’ in a bid to go green
        By Nathalie Thomas, Chief business correspondent

        “THE “lights could go out” over Scotland unless new power stations are built in the next two years to ward off a looming electricity crisis, the head of one of Scotland’s most successful companies has warned Alex Salmond”

        “He urged both the Scottish and UK governments to postpone green energy targets by a decade. Unless “the concrete is poured” on a new fleet of power stations within the next two years, Mr Soames warned, “we will be inserious danger of the lights going out”

        “Rupert Soames, chief executive of power supply firm Aggreko, told the First Minister that the National Grid will lose a third of its capacity by 2018 as a string of nuclear, gas and oil-fired power stations across the UK are retired – including several in Scotland.

        Mr Soames claimed that no other industrialised country in the world is at risk of losing so much of its energy supply at the same time – and without a realistic back-up plan”

        “But Mr Soames did not reserve his criticism for Scotland.

        “At the moment we as a nation are turning up to meetings with the bank manager in jeans and a T-shirt that says: ‘Jesus loves you’,” he said.

        “All of this leaves investors shaking their heads

      • Did you actually read the link?

        “National Grid today shows that 31,950 MW of existing and proposed renewable generation have agreements in place to connect to the high voltage transmission system by 2020, placing the UK on track to meet 2020 renewable targets.”

        Your preference for comic (?) op ed peices as opposed to facts says more about your attitude than any words you could have written.

      • Capacity is not the same as what is achieved with wind farms ,typically less than than 20%

      • You embarrass yourself by believing that windmills actually deliver even a significant fraction of their capacity.
        It is typical of the AGW true believer to also believe in windmill power. Odd but poetic: to believe in a bad solution for a non-existent problem.

      • Louise

        I did actually read the link. I’m sure that you did too.

        And like me you will have noticed that it is about nothing more than rearranging the schedule over which ‘existing and proposed’ schemes would be allowed to connect to the National Grid.

        It is the equivalent of granting planning permission for these schemes from a Grid point of view. But as we all know, plans do not necessarily come to fruition. And ‘having agreements in place’ is a very very long way from pouring concrete, building stuff and pulling the big ON switch.

        National Grid may wish you to wander away with a warm fuzzy feeling that renewables will save the world. But if you read what they actually say as compared with what you would like them to have said, you will be sadly disillusoned.

        And Barry’s point about actual achieved power compared with theoretical optimum capacity remains a good one.

        Simply put, the wind deosn’t blow at the rate required to generate the optimum capacity for much of the time. Sometimes it doesn’t blow at all. Why did windmills go out of fashion 200 years ago? Because it was an unreliable unpredictable power source. Has anything about wind changed since then? Nope.

      • Oh and please are actually Louise Gray from the Daily Telegraph aren’t you?Pretty please?

      • The National Grid has said that they expect that 30% of the UK’s electricity will come from renewable sources by 2020.

        Supplying their current demand? Not a chance. Wind will never do it. Solar will never do it (unless people shut power off at night, and freeze in winter).

        It’s a propoganda pipe dream that will never happen.

      • We need to distinguish scientific AGW (the theory) from political AGW (the movement). The present ambiguity is a major source of confusion. Some of this ambiguity is deliberate, for example the IPCC deliberately blurs the line between assessment and advocacy.

        Political AGW appears to be running out of gas. In fact Kyoto looks to have been its high water mark. How the scientific community reacts to this, especially the growing skepticism, if it lasts, remains to be seen. As a minimum we may see a lot fewer scare studies that assume catastrophic AGW. Ideally we will see science openly embrace the need to explore and debate alternative hypotheses. But first the funding countries have to drop AGW as official policy.

      • AGW is NOT “strongly backed scientific theory”. It (AGW) is merely an unproven hypothesis based upon some concepts of physics.

      • You confuse ‘strongly believed’ with ‘strongly backed’.

      • David L. Hagen

        Strong backing for a “scientific theory” does not guarantee either validity nor economics. Compare the the strong backing for Aritotle until Galileo published his experiments. Similarly the “ether” and “ulcer” theories. See:
        Public carbon trading dead in the USA.
        Great enthusiasm did not translate into viable business without public coercion (aka “cap and trade”).

  6. China – Will the USA public suffer as China grows…

    From the Air vent, and picked up by Watts Up.
    A long artcilce about hard economic realities not wishfull green thinking

    “This is a map of China; 102 new airports in the first twenty years of this century will be built. This is on top of expansion of existing airports in main cities as traffic grows. (There are equivalent maps for power stations, for factories, for new towns and cities.) It puts the CO2 argument against one extra runway at Heathrow into perspective, ditto the global benefit of a wind-farm off the Scilly Isles.”

    here we are – we’ve ear-marked a few billion here and there to spend on getting our CO2 down, or rather a few tens of billions after the solar feed-in tariffs. Other European countries have done the same, although in the cases of Germany and Spain they are beginning to realise that the CO2 bang for their buck is derisory, and Norway has put its huge carbon capture scheme on hold. All of it wouldn’t even begin to quiver the needle of global CO2 emissions, let alone move it. Look at this chart if you don’t believe me, it isn’t stopping. The USA generates c. 50% of its electricity from coal. 20 years ago the regions shown in this chart consumed 1 1/2 times the US. They now consume 4 times as much, and are commissioning new coal power stations everywhere. If the US cut its coal consumption to zero, in five years these regions will fill that gap. So what difference will a few wind farms in little old Britain, a few solar farms in Germany, actually make? As close to zero as makes no difference.

    We should completely stop our efforts to stimulate and subsidize existing alternative energy installations. It does the planet absolutely no good. It’s Magical Thinking of the most muddled kind. The reasoning behind it incorporates every confused and do-good thought in a bouillabaisse of unintended consequences. The thoughts range from ‘fossil fuels are finite, we must act now’ to ‘how can we expect China to act if we don’t’ to ‘we will be at the forefront of green job creation’ to ‘we are controlled by Middle East oil and Russian gas, we need security’ to ‘our consumerist society is unsustainable’, to ‘we are guilty of all past emissions, we must suffer now’, a Big Tent of Nonsense that manages somehow to offer something for everyone. It’s a tough tent to stay out of, but putting a lot of indifferent or plainly wrong arguments together, none of which stands up to examination on its own, does not create a coherent platform for policy action.

    The fact is that the world is not going to emit less CO2 in the next 30 years. It’s going to emit more. China and India and Africa will see to that. If we’re going to fry, we’re going to fry. There is no source of energy commercially available other than nuclear that can make a dent in it. So we, in the UK and Europe, should stop trying. It’s pointless, costs money and jobs, and we may as well fry rich as poor, at least we’ll be able to afford adaptation policies.

    There are two other arguments put up by the proponents of renewable policies, or carbon taxes. Firstly, the argument from peak oil – fossil fuels are finite, the price will rise sharply, so bad wind farms now will look good in a few years. This displays a very poor grasp of how electricity is generated, and what oil is used for. There is minimal substitutability between oil on the one hand, and gas and coal on the other, and there is no peak gas or peak coal. Secondly they suggest that pricing carbon will stimulate private sector innovation and installation. Do they have no idea of the price gap between electricity generated from coal and gas versus renewables? They’d have to double, and then double again the price of electricity to start getting close. Existing renewable technologies work, just at completely the wrong price, and there is no real prospect, pace Lomborg, of getting them close.

    Finishes with:

    ” My preferable moral imperative is providing energy to the worlds’ poor, not trapping them in the poverty that we have escaped by continuing to deny 1.3bn people access to electricity. And wearing a hairshirt myself just won’t help, it’ll hinder.”

    • UK policy: reduce CO2 emissions by 80% by 2040…..utter madness! What are they thinking?

      • Richard S Courtney


        You assert:
        “UK policy: reduce CO2 emissions by 80% by 2040…..utter madness! What are they thinking?”

        Yes, and the way they are trying to do it is physically impossible.

        I covered this in a lecture I was asked to provide in 2006. It is from a few years ago but is not dated except that the impossible to achieve ‘renewables target’ has since been increased (but raising a low target to a higher one changes nothing when the low target is so high that it is physically impossible to achieve).

        The lecture includes an overview of all the possible ‘renewables’ that could be used. It is titled
        “A suggestion for meeting the UK Government’s renewable energy target because the adopted use of windfarms cannot meet it”

        It can be read at

        I hope you find it useful or at least interesting.


      • Richard, you may find this interesting:

        Can analysis like this be done on UK wind projects?

  7. Dear Judith. I don’t know if you already responded to the sheer number of criticisms about your italian flag, Connolley, RC, etc., etc. Do you have any interest in doing so, have you already done so, where can I find it, etc.?

    • Luis, I have stated my intent to deal with this issue a number of times. My next technical thread will be on the Italian Flag. I originally intended to this 3 weeks ago. But external events have gotten in the way of doing this (scientific american article, anniversary of climategate, testimony) plus being extremely busy right now in both my day job and my weekend job. I should get to this within the next week.

    • Actually there i much mudslinging, I can’t decipher much in the way of actual criticism, mostly misinterpretation of what i was trying to do.

      • The criticism was perfectly clear – it’s the orginal post that required much deciphering and clarification. Will be interesting to see if any is forthcoming.

      • Well it isn’t clear to me, since i haven’t had time to wade through all the %$#@. I’ve asked several times for a clear statement for what the issue is, no response. An IF post will be forthcoming on the timescale of a week, whether or not it addresses the specific issues that tobis and whoever are concerned about depends on somebody communicating this to me in a clear way.

      • Well, I’m flummoxed.

        I can’t see any way of more clearly explaining it, but mixing confidence levels with percentage attributions was not a helpful way to think about uncertainty. I understand what you’re getting at, but it made a bit of a mess of the flag idea.

        The white bit of the flag is a problem. I have trouble seeing how one can assign a number to the white section – this calls for certainty about the uncertainty, which seems to be the opposite of the point you were making. Or I just have completely misunderstood what the white was supposed to represent?

      • My whole point in introducing the italian flag was make the point about uncertainty, known unknowns, unknown unknowns, and otherwise uncommitted belief. We don’t know how big the white area really is if we include the possibility of unknown unknowns. But if we include uncertainty and known areas of ignorance, the white areas can be pretty large on many of the premises of detection and attribution.

        The application of the IF on the hurricane thread was presumably straightforward, used to make the point that “conflicting certainties” of Emanuel and Webster versus Gray and Landsea is easily resolved once you acknowledge that evidence for agw induced increase in hurricane intensity (green) and evidence against (red, which is by default natural variability) is actually a minor part of the overall story, since there is so much about the problem that we just don’t understand (e.g. white).

        The problem with the IPCC attribution statement is that it mixes all these things up, both in the statement, and in the explanation for how they arrived at the statement. I was using the IF as an heuristic device to illustrate the white part, in support of my argument that the confidence levels are too high and the statement is ambiguous. I did not in any way intend or attempt to set up the IF as an alternative way of doing things for the IPCC. But that is not a bad idea, and I am pondering this as part of my invited paper in Climatic Change on how the IPCC treats uncertainty. Which is why I plan to write an extended piece on this.

      • One other point. 1 minus the confidence level is arguably interpretable as the “white” area.

      • I’m not quit sure you can do that. Isn’t a good part of the white area an undefined space, in which case it’s not valid to assign it a probability?

      • That is the whole point of the Italian Flag analysis: from the main link i posted previously:

        “Evidential judgments based on classical probability theory follow two-value logic, whereby evidence must either be in favour of a hypothesis, or against it. This is sometimes described as a ‘closed world’ perspective, in which evidence ‘for’ and evidence ‘against’ are treated as complementary concepts (i.e. p(A) + p(not A) = 1, where p(A) is the probability of event A occurring, or in other words the evidence supporting the occurrence of A). Three-value logic extends this to allow for a measure of uncertainty as well, recognising that belief in a proposition may be only partial and that some level of belief concerning the meaning of the evidence may be assigned to an uncommitted state. Uncertainties are handled as ‘intervals’ that enable the admission of a general level of uncertainty (Waltz and Llinas, 1990), providing a recognition that information may be incomplete and possibly inconsistent (i.e. evidence for + evidence against + uncertainty = 1). This is illustrated in Figure 3, which adopts the so-called ‘Italian flag’ representation of three-value logic, in which evidence for a proposition is represented as green, evidence against as red, and residual uncertainty is white (Blockley and Godfrey, 2000).”

      • Hi Dr. Curry,

        This idea interests me. I have seen for some time an idea that ‘we have a theory about global warming and we don’t need to discuss it until you have an alternate theory.’ My thought has always been that this is false, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what bothered me. If the white represents uncertainty does that indicate that neither of two propositions may be true, or even only parts of both? If so, I think this is a useful way for me think about these issues. If not, how have I missed the mark?

        Thanks, Chip

      • Do you see why I have a hard time figuring out what the heck I am being criticized for?

      • Just ignore all the nonsense from blogers, have a good rest, walk in some greenery could be refreshing, and most of all have a good sleep. Good luck.

      • I get the bit about assigning uncommited belief into the white area. It’s a bit Dempster-Shafer. That’s OK.

        And I think you’ve explained it somewhat better here compared to the ‘Doubt’ post where it did really jump around a bit and confuse matters somewhat, for instance when you went from a fairly straighforward question of belief in anthropogenic warming, to the ‘litmus test’ question, which didn’t really fit the three-value logic model all that well.

      • Why? In fact, if you do not know all the ways something could happen, how can you even assign a probability?

        You must narrow down/explicitly define what you are making a probability of. If ONLY X and Y interact, then the probability of Z happening is ___%. If an unknown unknown is found to also interact, your conclusions based on your assumption must now be revised.

        So while you cannot calculate a probability of an unknown unknown, you must still realize that a study that says something is 90% probable is only the probability of the situation as stated.

        Scientists must keep in mind that tomorrow could reveal an unknown unknown, turning what was thought of as a fact into an incorrect assumption.

        There is a reason assumption is the mother of all F’ ups.

      • As mentioned above, I have taken a first shot at a logical analysis of the IF, as you call it. See

        What gives the white area meaning is that there can be specific evidence of uncertainty. This evidence is different from evidence either for or against the hypothesis, premise, etc., in question. So there are in fact three kinds of evidence. We can weigh each and sum across all three kinds setting the sum equal to 100, giving the quantitative IF. QED?

      • As far as people who have made criticisms of the Italian Flag Analogy who are worth listening to, there’s Bart Verheggen and von Storch. James Annan and Chris Colose have also posted criticisms of the Italian Flag Analogy at their respective blogs that are mostly substantive. The snark wasn’t negligible, but it didn’t overwhelm issues, as in certain other cases.

        Many Pro-AGW Consensus advocates and scientists are framing the IFA as a do-or-die issue for Judy Curry’s credibility. If she can show that the IFA is a logical framework that offers great insight into the IPCC and a road to improvement, then her views on other issues might be worth attending to.

        But if the IFA turns out to be inapt or trivial or illogical, then Curry has been proven to be has-been former scientist whose views should be dismissed or ridiculed.

        I wouldn’t accept that framing. As with most analogies, I didn’t see much “there” with the IFA, and moved on. Having an off day isn’t the same as exhausting one’s credibility. Which is fortunate for most of us, I think.

      • I’d agree with you that it seems to be something best left alone, and is a fairly trivial matter anyway.

        Move on.

      • If somebody could summarize the actual substance of the arguments and even provide links, this would save me a lot of work and actually serve the purpose of moving this forward or dissipating the issue. I’ve glanced at tobis and annan’s, haven’t even seen the others.

      • Hans von Storch on the IFA: I can’t locate commentary by him. Nor can I locate IFA commentary by Eduardo Zorita (anybody?… Bueller?… anybody?).

        Chris Colose: I was thinking of Judith Curry on ‘dogma’ and ideology (11/9/10), which on re-read does not specifically address the IFA.

        Bart Verheggen on the IFA: Judith Curry on anthropogenic versus natural causes of global warming (9/20/10).

        James Annan on the IFA (um, somewhat more peevish than I had recalled): Where’s the beef, Curry? (11/6/10).

      • David L. Hagen

        Stick with and expound your Italian Flag. With complex systems, this is a major improvement in describing uncertainties under political involvement in “science” over complex systems (climate) over the technical Type A and Type B uncertainties.

        Known “unknowns”: Spencer’s issue that global warming models may have the cause/effect backwards is one of the major uncertainties that we KNOW.
        However, there are also unknown phenomena that we do not know. The full canopy of ALL models – both AGW Climate models and skeptics natural cause models are able to model some but NOT ALL of the natural variability seen over the last 100 million years.
        AGW models depending on CO2 CANNOT model the 60 year PDO cycle warming/cooling variations seen etc.

        Especially highlighting the unknown magnitude of what we do NOT know. What UNKNOWN phenomena are there?

        Some clues can be drawn based on the magnitude of temperature/ice changes over the last x million years – and the portion that currently cannot be predicted based on existing models of CO2 AGW.

        Highlight the Chaos based limits on weather vs climate projections – weeks vs centuries:
        Are CO2 projections linear? Obviously absorption is logarithmic. However, we do NOT know if the CO2 changes average out through chaotic “noise”. With non-linear cloud phenomena etc. they may not.
        If the magnitude of feedbacks is way off, those assumptions are questionsable.
        IF the SIGN of the feedbacks is off, then models are even further off. e.g. negative cloud/water feedbacks may/may not override humidity increases.
        IF the Cause/Consequence is backwards, then major rethinking/model transformation is needed. e.g. if solar/planetary/cosmic causes drive clouds which drive warming which drives CO2 and ice albedo, coupled with multiple oscillator synchronization. (See Scafetta)

        These area all unknowns of increasing magnitude.
        Some are addressed in the Red flag/skeptic models.
        However, much of this is in the White – covering unknowns in magnitude, sign, and cause.

        So refine and stick with your flag of unknowns for complex systems in political environments.

        Funding driven bias: Funding controlled by gatekeepers (CAGW/Military) in itself distorts/biases the information, perpetuating the orthodoxy that highlights the “unknowns” that perpetuate its funding while dismissing contrary “unknowns” that would eliminate their funding.

        Push for funding to “kick the tires” by independent “red” teams to check/verify/validate/ climate models.
        e.g. Current climate models strongly underestimate Hurst/Kolgomorov climate persistancies and uncertainties. e.g.: Koutsoyiannis, D., Hurst-Kolmogorov dynamics and uncertainty,

        Apparently, the stationary description with Hurst-Kolmogorov stochastic dynamics results in higher uncertainty in comparison to either nonstationary descriptions or to typical stationary stochastic processes. In particular, the uncertainty under Hurst-Kolmogorov dynamics is dramatically increased at large scales, i.e., time scales comparable to those used to define climate, to lifetimes of engineering projects, and to horizons of management strategies. In addition, as far as typical statistical estimation is concerned, the Hurst-Kolmogorov dynamics implies dramatically higher intervals in the estimation of location statistical parameters (e.g., mean) and highly negative bias in the estimation of dispersion parameters (e.g., standard deviation).

        See Red Team Wiki.

        In wargaming, the opposing force (or OPFOR) in a simulated military conflict may be referred to as a red team and may also engage in red team activity, which is used to reveal weaknesses in military readiness. The key theme being that the aggressor is composed of various threat actors, equipment and techniques that are obscured from the defender’s complete knowledge.

        Some of the benefits of red team activities are that it challenges preconceived notions by demonstration; they also serve to elucidate the true problem state that planners are attempting to mitigate. Additionally, a more accurate understanding can be gained about how sensitive information is externalized, as well as highlight exploitable patterns and instances of undue bias with regard to controls and planning.

        In the last major Blue/Red team exercise, the red team using asymmetric warfare klobered the blue team. Highlight that corporate groupthink (aka CAGW) is very dangerous in underestimating the bias and uncertainties involved!

        We look forward to your testimony!

    • Luis, if Dr. Curry has not responded to some particular criticism some of the rest of us may have. Is there something in particular you want to know? She can’t possibly respond to every comment.

      • I have no particular criticism in mind. I’ve read some of them, and I found it quite hard to read it, given the number of persona attacks in them (my brain usually shuts down when that stuff happens except for the tribal neuron that starts to kick in really hard). Given that these people were mostly using the IF as “evidence” that Judith was already lunatic, I was curious to know if she had already responded to these things or not.

        I find the social dynamic pretty interesting. Prof. Judith says some stuff that the group doesn’t like, and then follows a kind of sniper attack at the slightest weakness these people *smell*, with some echos here and there, giving the impression of a “huge debunk circle”. Then she becomes the most debunked person on the planet over climate science. It’s incredibly ridiculous. Still, this social dynamics is almost entirely independent of the fact of whether the IF is a good idea or not…

      • The IF makes sense to me, in fact I am working on it. But the IF is just one post. Beyond that, nobody is debunking anyone here. It is a debate between people with very different views. Perhaps that is why you find it hard to read. You don’t seem to understand the substantive issues, which are quite deep, especially the logic of uncertainty. The social dynamics is largely irrelevant. We are working a problem.

      • Ok, thanks.

  8. A superb article by Mike Hulme on the one year anniversary of climategate

    • Paul in Sweden

      “Instead, there is a new pragmatism in the air. This pragmatism has many colours and shades, but at the heart of it are three principles:[…]”

      I am not sure but I think I heard …always look on the bright side of life… from Monty Python while reading that article. COP15 would have crashed and burned regardless of climategate. COP16 later this month will also crash and burn. Should the IPCC still exist for COP17 in South Africa there will be no discussion of a Global Climate treaty but instead talks regarding the exiting Obama administration in the USA.

      Climategate did not in anyway change the fact that there is no low carbon energy source that can readily meet the demands of the earth’s growing population. This is the one and only issue.

      Climategate woke some people up but until a cost effective low-carbon energy alternative is discovered eco-activists might as well hold their breath to prevent anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Climategate was insignificant in relation to the failure of a global governance and rationing of energy as was envisioned at COP15 — The Copenhagen Accord was doomed to failure.

    • Judith

      I think Mike Hulme writes good stuff. You should invite him to do a guest spot on your blog

      Regards Gary

    • Sorry Judith

      I have now read later comments about Mike Hulme. I think his public comments simce Climategate show a reformed character. I see no reason why he should not be pardoned as he no longer poses a threat to the (sceptical) public


  9. Mike Hulme is a post normal scientist – ie junk political social agenda science…

    He also sent out the letter for signaturies – to get the Pre-kyoto consensus, to push policy… linking up with the lobby groups like Greenpeace…

    So he has had a big part in creating the bandwagon…
    Tom Wigley’s reply was devastingly critical….

    Just one extract, he goes into a lot more deatil..

    Tom Wigley:
    “Your approach of trying to gain scientific credibility for your personal
    views by asking people to endorse your letter is reprehensible. No
    scientist who wishes to maintain respect in the community should ever
    endorse any statement unless they have examined the issue fully
    themselves. You are asking people to prostitute themselves by doing just
    this! I fear that some will endorse your letter, in the mistaken belief
    that you are making a balanced and knowledgeable assessment of the science”
    — when, in fact, you are presenting a flawed view that neither accords
    with IPCC nor with the bulk of the scientific and economic literature on
    the subject.

    Mike Hulme’s email

    Reference: Statement of European Climate Scientists on Actions to Protect
    Global Climate

    > Dear Colleague,
    > Attached at the end of this email is a Statement, the purpose of which is
    > to bolster or increase governmental and public support for controls of
    > emissions of greenhouse gases in European and other industrialised
    > countries in the negotiations during the Kyoto Climate Conference in
    > December 1997. The Statement was drafted by a number of prominent European scientists concerned with the climate issue, 11 of whom are listed after the Statement and who are acting as formal sponsors of the Statement.
    > ***** The 11 formal sponsors are: *****
    > Jan Goudriaan Hartmut Grassl Klaus Hasselmann Jill Jäger
    > Hans Opschoor Tim O’Riordan Martin Parry David Pearce
    > Hans-Joachim Schellnhuber Wolfgang Seiler Pier Vellinga
    > After endorsements from many hundreds of other European climate-related scientists are collected (and we hope that you agree to be one of these), the Statement will be brought to the attention of key decision-makers (e.g. EU Kyoto negotiaters and Environment Ministers) and other opinion-makers in Europe (e.g. editorial boards of newspapers) during the week beginning 24th November. The UK and other European WWF offices have agreed to assist in this activity, although the preparation of the Statement itself has in no way been initiated or influenced by WWF or any other body. This is an initiative taken by us alone and supported by our 11 Statement sponsors.


    We would very much like you to endorse this Statement. Unfortunately, at this time we can no longer take into account any suggested modifications.

    Nevertheless, we hope that it reflects your views closely enough so that you can support it. If you agree with the Statement, then:
    1. PLEASE IMMEDIATELY FILL OUT the form below and either reply via email (preferably) or telefax (only if necessary) to the indicated fax number.
    Replies received after Wednesday 19th November will not be included. If
    replying by email please do not use the ‘reply all’ option. If this invitation has been forwarded from a colleague, please make sure your reply is directed to the originators of this invitation, namely: (on behalf of Mike Hulme and Joe Alcamo).

    2. We have identified about 700 climate-related scientists in Europe who are receiving this email directly from us. If you feel it is appropriate,
    PLEASE FORWARD THIS MESSAGE to up to three colleagues in your country who are working in climate-related fields, who you think may support the Statement and whom we have not targeted. To identify colleagues whom we have already invited you can examine the email address list we have used for your country in the email header (or else appended to the end of this email).

    We realize that you are very busy, but this action may have a very positive influence on public discussions during the critical period leading up to
    Kyoto and during the Conference itself.

    With best wishes,
    Michael Hulme, Climatic Research Unit, UEA, Norwich
    Joseph Alcamo, University of Kassel, Germany

    Tom Wrigley’s response…

    Dear Eleven,

    I was very disturbed by your recent letter, and your attempt to get
    others to endorse it. Not only do I disagree with the content of
    this letter, but I also believe that you have severely distorted the
    IPCC “view” when you say that “the latest IPCC assessment makes a
    convincing economic case for immediate control of emissions.” In contrast
    to the one-sided opinion expressed in your letter, IPCC WGIII SAR and TP3 review the literature and the issues in a balanced way presenting
    arguments in support of both “immediate control” and the spectrum of more cost-effective options. It is not IPCC’s role to make “convincing cases”
    for any particular policy option; nor does it. However, most IPCC readers
    would draw the conclusion that the balance of economic evidence favors the
    emissions trajectories given in the WRE paper. This is contrary to your

    This is a complex issue, and your misrepresentation of it does you a
    dis-service. To someone like me, who knows the science, it is
    apparent that you are presenting a personal view, not an informed,
    balanced scientific assessment. What is unfortunate is that this will not
    be apparent to the vast majority of scientists you have contacted. In
    issues like this, scientists have an added responsibility to keep their
    personal views separate from the science, and to make it clear to others
    when they diverge from the objectivity they (hopefully) adhere to in their
    scientific research. I think you have failed to do this.

    Your approach of trying to gain scientific credibility for your personal
    views by asking people to endorse your letter is reprehensible. No
    scientist who wishes to maintain respect in the community should ever
    endorse any statement unless they have examined the issue fully
    themselves. You are asking people to prostitute themselves by doing just
    this! I fear that some will endorse your letter, in the mistaken belief
    that you are making a balanced and knowledgeable assessment of the science– when, in fact, you are presenting a flawed view that neither accords with IPCC nor with the bulk of the scientific and economic literature on the subject.

    Let me remind you of the science. The issue you address is one of the
    timing of emissions reductions below BAU. Note that this is not the same
    as the timing of action — and note that your letter categorically
    addresses the former rather than the latter issue. Emissions reduction
    timing is epitomized by the differences between the Sxxx and WRExxx
    pathways towards CO2 concentration stabilization. It has been clearly
    demonstrated in the literature that the mitigation costs of following an
    Sxxx pathway are up to five times the cost of following an equivalent
    WRExxx pathway. It has also been shown that there is likely to be an
    equal or greater cost differential for non-Annex I countries, and that the
    economic burden in Annex I countries would fall disproportionately on
    poorer people.

    Furthermore, since there has been no credible analysis of the benefits
    (averted impacts) side of the equation, it is impossible to assess fully
    the benefits differential between the Sxxx and WRExxx stabilization
    profiles. Indeed, uncertainties in predicting the regional details of
    future climate change that would arise from following these pathways, and
    the even greater uncertainties that attend any assessment of the impacts
    of such climate changes, preclude any credible assessment of the relative
    benefits. As shown in the WRE paper (Nature v. 379, pp. 240-243), the
    differentials at the global-mean level are so small, at most a few tenths
    of a degree Celsius and a few cm in sea level rise and declining to
    minuscule amounts as the pathways approach the SAME target, that it is
    unlikely that an analysis of future climate data could even distinguish
    between the pathways. Certainly, given the much larger noise at the
    regional level, and noting that even the absolute changes in many
    variables at the regional level remain within the noise out to 2030 or
    later, the two pathways would certainly be indistinguishable at the
    regional level until well into the 21st century.

    The crux of this issue is developing policies for controlling greenhouse
    gas emissions where the reductions relative to BAU are neither too much,
    too soon (which could cause serious economic hardship to those who are
    most vulnerable, poor people and poor countries) nor too little, too late
    (which could lead to future impacts that would be bad for future
    generations of the same groups). Our ability to quantify the economic
    consequences of “too much, too soon” is far better than our ability to
    quantify the impacts that might arise from “too little, too late” — to
    the extent that we cannot even define what this means! You appear to be
    putting too much weight on the highly uncertain impacts side of the
    equation. Worse than this, you have not even explained what the issues
    are. In my judgment, you are behaving in an irresponsible way that does
    you little credit. Furthermore, you have compounded your sin by actually
    putting a lie into the mouths of innocents (“after carefully examining the
    question of timing of emissions reductions, we find the arguments against
    postponement to be more compelling”). People who endorse your letter will
    NOT have “carefully examined” the issue.

    When scientists color the science with their own PERSONAL views or make
    categorical statements without presenting the evidence for such
    statements, they have a clear responsibility to state that that is what
    they are doing. You have failed to do so. Indeed, what you are doing is,
    in my view, a form of dishonesty more subtle but no less egregious than
    the statements made by the greenhouse skeptics, Michaels, Singer et al. I
    find this extremely disturbing.

    Tom Wigley


    Which drew Tom Wrigley’s devasting response (Tom former head of CRU)

    • When I ask myself what has changed over the past year as a result of climategate, I have to say “not much.” But one of the things that seems to have changed is Mike Hulme. He has been saying alot of provocative and IMO on target things over the last year.

  10. OH for an edit function, line breaks looked ok!!!
    If Tom and Mikes email are too hard to read – look here…

    I wonder if ALL the emails were released last year……? ;)

    • The question of the hour. And of course we know they were not.
      How many hard drives have been wrecked (errr…replaced and retired) over the past year?

      • And of course the cyncial among us might suspect that all UEA server backups have been ‘lost’ as well.

        Actually one doesn’t have to be too cynical…Harry_Read_Me – and Phil’s defence of ‘we’ve lost the data’ – show that they are absolutely crap at keeping and understanding data. Probably they don’t know what a backup is anyway.

  11. Tom Yulsman has a very interesting post on climate journalism

    • There was an ABC artcile about how newrooms and newspaper editors had responded to environmental reporters/analysts… thinking they had gone native. Some extracts below.
      A stormy forecast for climate change reporting

      “Where did all the climate change stories go? “The [programmers] are against it because it loses ratings,” says a senior BBC journalist. “The wave [of public interest] has gone. There is climate change fatigue. That is why I am not [reporting] it now.”

      “It’s the editors, stupid
      Probably the most important reaction to the UEA hacking for journalists was in their own newsrooms, among their own editors who are the gatekeepers controlling if your work appears and how prominently. While some UK surveys show no dramatic loss of credibility for climate scientists with the public, here’s how some senior journalists described what it was like in their newsrooms after hacking:

      “dirty looks”
      “sense of betrayal”

      thought we’d “gone native”

      “you told me the science was settled – and it isn’t!”

      “Climate-gate was extremely damaging in many ways. It gave the impression that journalists had been duped. I think in the end it was mountains out of mole-hills but it looked really bad,” said a print journalist.

      “Other journalists agree. Even reporters at The Guardian, which especially targets environmental reporting, complain that it’s difficult to get a run. Another UK broadcast journalist said he was warned that putting climate change on prime time would risk losing a million viewers.”

  12. This planet does have a cycle that keeps changing from Ice Age to Ice Age. Due to planetary slowdown, this cycle is making the oceans fresher that is effecting the next cycle of Ice Ages to be longer and longer until the final outcome is a solid Ice planet. It doesn’t help that we are also moving further away from the sun on each cycle as well.

    This planet has a very facinating history to tell of how it changed and the cause. But does science really want the truth? Hell no, too many people are milking the gravy train of research funding for garbage science.
    This planet developed a very effective way to stay cool and keep water from evaporating into space. Water developed a partnership with salt and pressure for it’s survival.

  13. One scientist told me being ignored must be the highest form of flattery as nobody has any argument with the research. So you must be correct!

  14. you should defintely talk about the fact that SRES scenarios used in IPCC AR4 are based on energy resources well above what actually exists.

    This is due to the fact that SRES scenarios are based on WEC1995 and that their figures have been GREATLY modified (down) since then.

    All the alarmism/catastrophism comes from those unrealistic sceanrios.

    James Hansen(yes, the one from NASA) himself says we can’t get over ~600ppm with realistic (i.e. based on physical world resources) scenarios !
    “Implications of “peak oil” for atmospheric CO2 and climate”
    His paper was initially rejected for publication because it was showing too obviously that SRES scenarios are completely unrealistic.

    David Rutledge – Caltech – ppt (5Mb),%20The%20Coal%20Question,%20and%20Climate%20Change.ppt

    Thesis (look starting page 70) – pdf


    • You should check this out too (on the same topic) :
      (accepted for the International Journal of Coal Geology)

      Check out p27-28
      “This is a clear indication that something is wrong with the category, and that neither number should be used. However, IPCC did use the category, and it chose to use the higher number. To do this, the IPCC had to add the contributions from the individual countries themselves, right past this explicit warning from the World Energy Council, repeated on each page,
      The WEC gave compelling reasons for not summing the category, but the IPCC did it anyway.
      Since 1998, the additional recoverable reserves have collapsed, and in 2007, they were one-twentieth as large as they were in 1998.”

    • I did run the numbers once.. (you’ll have to take my word for it)

      I came up with estimates of around 560,880, and 1100ppm+ for low, medium and high extractables (all fossil fuels), disregarding some alternatives.

      • Well, you did it wrong, obvisouly (except if you used SRES figures of course).

        You should try it again (sincerely)….

  15. fusion would solve a few issues:

    Any thoughts on the realities of this, how close to it are we really?

  16. In the field opf biology and the conflict between evolutionists and creationists or ID’ers as they sometime rename themselves the main evolution denial sites now have a list of argument that they reccommend their followers AVOID using.
    This is because those arguements are now so roundly refuted and clearly seen to be false by any neutral disinterested party that the CXreationists recognise that it is counter-productive to use them.

    Perhaps it is time for the skeptics to formulate a similar list of claims that they should now abandon because they make the claiment look foolish rather than engage with the subject.
    The Gerhard Gerlich, Ralf D. Tscheuschner paper denying the existance of a ‘greenhouse’ effect would be one. The Miskolczi paper another that labels the advocate an idiot. These and other basic fallacies could be listed as stupid arguments that are best avoided.

    While these inanities remain part of the dialog the skeptic side will have zero credibility with any rational thinker.

    But the denial and revisionism goes deeper. I notice that there are posters here that are trying to re-write what IS established or settled science. At least as well established as plate tectonics and the DNA theory of inherited charateristics. While JC may be philosophising over the epistemology of uncertainty there are those denying the chemistry of the ozone hole and ‘Epsom’ Courtney is trying to put acid rain in the Orwellian memory hole.

    While the skeptic side is peppered with this egregious dissonance with reality any credibility it may hope to garner in its arguments for legitimate alternatives to the IPCC are rendered moot.

    • Hi Izen

      I’ve only recently come across the Gerhard Gerlich, Ralf D. Tscheuschner paper and up until now accepted the greenhouse effect as fact. However, reading the paper raised doubts that I hoped someone here could either allay or confirm. I’m not a physicist but logic suggests that they are right. If you consider what happens in a real greenhouse (empty and with no independent heat source), it warms because the floor absorbs inbound radiation from the sun, warms the air above it which is then circulated by convection. The radiative effect (of the floor) is negligible in comparison.

    • Izen – I enjoyed your remarks the other day on climate sensitivity and they gave me pause for thought, but these remarks about creationists is utter nonsense and are not really worthy of this blog. As Judith said elsewhere – go and check the details of the denizens of climate etc. Many who comment are skeptics but few struck me as being religious fanatics. Trying to compare skeptics with creationists smacks of smoke and mirrors IMHO. Oh BTW I am an atheist in case you wondered.

      • I don’t think that is what he is saying at all: saying skeptics are comparable to creationists.

        He’s saying creationists dropped obviously false arguments. He’s basically suggesting Skeptics should consider that. Then they would be somewhat like creationists. :)

    • This is one of those ‘straw man’ visions of climate change skeptics. There is no unified story as such. There certainly does not need to be. What is common, of course, is questioning of the details of the science of AGW. Someone who’s field is not specifically climate science can legitimately question claims of predicted causes and/or effects of climate change as relates to their field of expertise.

      A biologist may legitimately comment on and disagree with claims about biology by climate scientists without having to have a expertise or even knowledge of the full scope of climate science. A physicist or chemist may comment on their fields without needing a full background in climate science. This is what is causing a disintegration of the confidence in AGW science. When a claim is made about a particular phenomenon as being a cause of enhancer of climate change and an expert in the field that phenomenon pertains to sees that claim in error, it is right that expert should question both that specific claim but all claims derived from it.

      What we are seeing is not a unified front of people attempting to disprove AGW but many individuals detecting errors in areas that they are qualified to judge. There is no central authority passing out arguing points. There is not even the equivalent of a climate science “Tea Party.” There is just a lot of separate experts out there saying to themselves (and now others) “Wait a minute here. That’s not right!”

  17. Some items of note:
    When businesses are built around subsidies such as are solar and wind, they risk having the rug pulled, as in Spain and Germany. Subsidies are not a stable business model.
    EPA wants to increase ethanol in gas to 15%. This is the point at which it destroys lawnmowers and snow blowers. Can’t wait for the backlash.
    EPA is putting in place regs for wood fired boilers that appear to be impossible to meet at the same time that renewable energy mandates are coming into play for utilities in many states. It will be an interesting train wreck to watch.

    • @ – Craig Loehle
      “When businesses are built around subsidies such as are solar and wind, they risk having the rug pulled, as in Spain and Germany. Subsidies are not a stable business model.”

      It depends on the level of political support.
      US subsidies of agriculture have been running since the 1920s and still going strong. Farm income stabilization has been propping up American agriculture, mainly the big agri-business players, for many years and attempts to stop or reduce thios subsidy are met with strong political opposition.

      It is difficult to see why if subsidising cotten or sugar is acceptable for its social benefit despite its distortion of the free market, subsidy of clean energy generation for ITS social benefit is not.

      • The difference would be that a price support for agriculture does not inherently make food more expensive (though it does reduce incentives for ag to cut costs), whereas forcing utilities to use inherently more expensive solar power (multiples of the cost) does, and the cost of this is very high.

      • It makes food less expensive; it makes your taxes more expensive. So how much does food cost?

      • It makes food less expensive; it makes your taxes more expensive.

        Not really.

        The price hike of your food bill is a great deal more than Ag subsidy increases (at least those that deal with food and not turning perfectly good corn into ethanol.) And as you can see Ag subsidies aren’t that much.

        Subsidies keep farmers in business when free market forces would otherwise bankrupt them. The overall end result? It’s a wash; the consumer probably pays less in tax than what the market could otherwise dictate.

        Subsidies for “renewables” that don’t work is something else altogether. This is like comparing apples to garden hoses.

      • People actually eat, and farmers actually grow what people eat.
        If govt. price supports for food were the same as for windmills, food would unaffordable, in short supply, and of poor quality.
        If govt. subsidies for windmills were the same as for food, there would be no windmills.

      • When subsidized, farmers often grow what no one will eat.

        They sometimes get paid not to grow at all.

        Nations compete to out-subsidize each other’s agricultural production and out-dump their own surpluses.

        The price of food has ended up higher than it would have elsewise been, and the food itself more fructose, alcohol and transfat than nutrient and soil replenishing remediant.

        Farm stabilization is a dubious practice pursued out of necessity, political and administrative, not from sound principles nor in hindsight efficiently or effectively.

        How sound is a principle if it takes hindsight to obtain anything but harmful results from the democratic process?

        Ninety-some years of a world with the best farm practices dominating over the best farm politics, with no subsidies except to foster infant industries during their development phase, to help implement a viable farm insurance mechanism, and to help establish a farm intelligence network would certainly have helped bust the farm trusts and reduce the terrible farm practices too extant today while preserving the best of the farm lost over the past century of raising taxes not crops, and raising political lobby groups not families or communities. Food prices would be lower, food quality better. If we believe in principle.

        Though someone would have had to pass and enforce laws keeping government from treating some more equally than others.

      • The price of food has ended up higher than it would have elsewise been, and the food itself more fructose, alcohol and transfat than nutrient and soil replenishing remediant.

        Baseless assertion. Useless. Unless of course you’re part of the “proof by repeated assertion” crowd.

      • It is difficult to see why if subsidising cotten or sugar is acceptable for its social benefit despite its distortion of the free market, subsidy of clean energy generation for ITS social benefit is not.


        Simple: sugar and cotton aren’t boondoggles; “renewable” energy is.

        If we want clean energy that works, nuclear isn’t a boondoggle and works rather well. If power companies were subsidised for nuke energy, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion. No energy utility would go with PV or windmills if left alone and charged with supplying greener energy than fossil fuels. They would build nuke plants. These work, and they scale. The only reason “renewables” (PV and windmills) exist are because the government forces the issue regardless of sanity: “thou shalt have n% of the grid supplied by what we’re going to idiotically call ‘renewable’ energy by 2025. Forget the fact that it doesn’t really work and doesn’t scale. Deal.”

    • Would that the intrinsic and explicit subsidies be removed from the entire energy industry, and oil companies have to hire mercenary armies to enforce peace in regions with more petroleum than amity instead of national armies; coal companies have to pay market price for their land rights and a fair wage to their miners; oil tankers having to pay for their cost to ports; pipelines pay for the land they are built on; auto manufacturers pay for paved roads and parking lots, and the hospitals and mortuaries made necessary because of their vehicles?

      • Bart R

        “coal companies have to pay market price for their land rights and a fair wage to their miners;”

        They already do, mate. In fact, land is currently bought in Aus by miners at up to 3x the rate prior to the onset of exploration … this has caused anger amongst those landowners whose properties are not endowed with commercially mineable deposits, since they can’t hope for similar prices

        The median wage for Aus miners is cuurently over AUD$100k pa. Again, this has caused anger in the workforces from other industries, for the same reason

        To misquote the Rubaiyat: “Nor all thy specious piety wash away one word of the actual truth”

  18. Previously, Dr. Curry’s work inspired me to ask about future equatorial storm trends. (

    Most planets with atmospheres that we can observe appear to have some sort of circumequatorial storm systems, or ‘standing global storm’, if I’ve read discussions of Saturn, Jupiter, Mars and Venus correctly.

    What would it take for Earth to have such a system, in terms of total Climate Disruption?

    • The first thing you would have to do is get rid of the Moon, the fact that the earth’s moon is 1/81st the size of the earth, creates huge atmospheric tidal effects that are driving the global circulation via the generation and maintenance of the Rossby waves, and jet streams that define their boundaries.

      The declinational 27.32 tidal perturbations keep the circumequatorial storm systems, from becoming stable and long lasting, with every crossing of the equator the moisture with its residual positive ion charges are pulled into the mid-latitudes where they enhance the frontal boundary intensity of interactions, where the tidal bulges formed from both more polar and equatorial air masses, drive the episodic surges in cyclonic precipitation.

      The repeatability is consistent enough, if properly filtered for, is more predictive than current weather models. For example see 35 month lead time daily forecasts by this method @ name link.

  19. Dr C
    Responding to Annan, Tobis etc may be counterproductive?

    For something useful to happen from responding, they have to have fully understood what you were trying to get across with your IFA framework. For that you’d have to have fully formulated it, in some sembleance of totality, in one single place. There has to be a common ground for analysis as well – does the IF apply to all kinds of evidence? Does it only apply to evidence non-quantitative by its nature? Do you want to apply it to model outputs? And of course, they have to evaluate what you are saying, with a sympathetic eye – not squint hard enough to miss your point.

    Without these things being clear, the whole thing will again descend to another round of mudslinging

    • Shub,

      I have taken a first shot at unpacking the Italian flag model. See below. I look forward to discussing it in the fullness of time.

    • The Black Goat says:

      Dr C
      Responding to Annan, Tobis etc may be counterproductive?

      I think this depends a lot on what she wants to accomplish, and I think there will be many more rounds of mudslinging no matter what. I must admit I think that to a large extent responding to them is a waste of time.

      Good science requires a shared mutual understanding of the an objective base with honest reasoning from this base. As the great Dr. F said, “If you can’t explain something, you really don’t understand it.”. Having a common language and framework helps with this understanding, but some work is always required to translate to/from the various subjective viewpoints. (i.e. what are your assumptions and terminology and how did you reason from point A to point B)

      Annan strikes me as a very bright guy, who would rather play the pedant and make “Judith is a idiot jokes” than honestly engage. He does not seem to have a lot of capacity to adapt or explain to a viewpoint that is not his own. He might believe he knows what he is talking about, but since he does not seem to be able to communicate this or engage questions effectively, in this setting, he is mostly worthless. My strategy, read his papers and otherwise ignore him.

      Tobias wears arguments like others wear suits. They are good only as long as they further the agenda. Today it’s all the rage to demand formalism in Judith’s probability, tomorrow we will simply ignore all the formalism and attribute the rains in Pakistan to AGW based on some convenient handwaving. This doesn’t mean he isn’t going to make some arguments that should be considered, but answering Tobias should hardly be Judith’s primary goal.

      I think where Judith was going could be useful and interesting and definitely needs a bit more formalization. If those opposing voices show up and are willing to actually clearly communicate what they are thinking, by all means include their inputs and concerns into the structure being built. If they simply want to stand off and sneer, ignore them and move forward anyway. The goal is to understand and communicate to a wider audience, not appease the pedants and hyper-partizans.

      • I’m don’t plan to respond to Tobis, Annan (can’t find anything to respond to). I plan a really interesting thread on the IF :) which should sort out any confusion that people have.

      • Yes it would be hard to respond to Annan, since he pointed everybody to Eli’s hole, who had a pointer back to a comment Eli left at Annans blog. Where Eli called you a crazy aunt.

        Maybe you could deny the aunt part?

  20. Unpacking the Italian flag model of uncertainty

    As a logician I have started working on the Italian flag model, which is starting to look pretty straightforward (until you folks try to shred it). There is an analog in the old 3 verdict legal trial system, which had verdicts of not guilty, guilty and not proven. Not proven is a form of uncertainty.

    The central principle is that in addition to evidence for and against a hypothesis, there can be evidence for uncertainty per se. If we quantify the strength of the evidence and sum across all three kinds then we get the Italian flag.

    There are basically three epistemic propositions that we are evaluating, for a given hypothesis, call it hypothesis A:
    1. We know that A is true. There can be evidence for this proposition.
    2. We know that A is false. There can be evidence for this proposition.
    3. We do not know if A is true or false. There can be evidence for this proposition, which is the uncertainty claim.

    Note however, that we do not include any of the direct evidence for or against A as part of the evidence of uncertainty. This is very different from a 2-valued (true/false) system in which evidence both ways is the usual measure of uncertainty.

    For example, if there is an alternative hypothesis B, that is not evidence against A directly, rather it is evidence that A is uncertain. In a trial the analog is having multiple suspects, such that none can be convicted.

    Likewise for, say, measurement problems with the evidence for A. These problems are not evidence for A, nor against A, rather do they increase our uncertainty regarding the truth or falsity of A. A legal analog is evidence that certain evidence has been planted.

    It seems clear that many of the issues in the climate debate, perhaps even most of them, are of this epistemic uncertainty sort. If so then the 3-valued modal logic of the Italian flag may be the correct model for capturing the dimension of uncertainty with AGW, as opposed to its simple truth and falseness.

    • This sounds a little like fuzzy logic, which I did a few undergrad classes on.

      • Interesting, but I can’t say as I know nothing about fuzzy logic. The basic point is that there are three kinds of evidence: evidence for a hypothesis, evidence against it, and evidence that its truth is uncertain. The latter does not include the fact that the evidence for and against is mixed.

        Classical confirmation theory says make a prediction and look to see if it happens. If it does that tends to confirm the hypothesis. If it does not the hypothesis is falsified, or at least somewhat dis-confirmed. This ignores things like problems with the experiment , or the existence of alternative hypotheses, or there being subsidiary hypotheses that can be questioned, etc. All these common sources of uncertainty have largely been ignored in inductive logic, which has focused on the evidence-hypothesis relation.

      • If only matters were that simple. Climate controlling events may or may not be predictable, e.g. sequence of volcano eruptions may or may not cause global cooling (number of factors involved), effects are but the eruptions are not predictable.
        Here is another example in a composite I just completed:
        Variable NAP is not predictable, but it has all attributes to affect the N. Atlantic.
        Variable GP has some predictability characteristic (in this case downward trend), but no obvious relationship to the CET except an apparent correlation.
        Hypothesis dilemma: Is GP variable acceptable as a possible factor on the basis of its apparent correlation, or rejected as no power transfer mechanism is obvious.
        Here is another case:
        predictability and mechanism available, but ignored by the climate science as:
        ‘At the time of this writing, causes for (and predictability limits of) the PDO are not known’

      • Indeed, the classical model of hypothesis confirmation is very simple. It is 100 years old, if not 400. It is based on simple hypotheses and a controlled experimental setting. In many ways AGW is the very opposite, which is why it calls out for an uncertainty analysis. AGW is on the scale of a paradigm, not a simple hypothesis. Climate science is observational, not experimental. Even worse most of what we are trying to observe is long past. One of the most vexing problems is that prediction is largely impossible even on a decadal scale. As a result uncertainty is by far the dominant feature.

      • I may be able to help. Some 20 years ago I wrote a multilanguage fuzzy logic source code generator that was distributed by the IEEE FL interest group to act as a primer on FL use in industry.

        Fuzzy Logic allows perspective to resolve ambiguity. Example: Subject A is attacked. A describes the attacker as “tall.” A witness, B, describes the attacker as “short.” Ambiguous terms.

        And yet… both statements in this case are true. A is an 8 year old girl and B is a 6′ adult male. Using FL we infer the height of the attacker as ~5′ tall.

        IFA isn’t fuzzy logic. In IFA there’s data “broadly consistent” with CO2 warming and natural warming (LIA rebound) and both Red and Green can be true. It seems that IFA boils down to an attempt to segregate into red and green the data that can *only* be consistent with their respective colours (think of an eXclusive OR functionality) whereas the “both” (AND or OR) and “neither” is assigned as white. “Both” and “neither” in this case are the same value (not certain.)

        In sum, IFA looks to be an attempt at XOR, which is the obverse of fuzzy logic.

      • At last! Or should I say amen?

  21. Judith – It is interesting to note that as this blog has matured the quality of the debate has gradually declined and has become more adversarial. Is that because the arguments are now all out in the open and further discussion has therefore become circular? Let’s hope it doesn’t end up like the usual boxing match. An objective and balanced discussion was the main attraction of the site.

  22. I hope this is in the vein of a more objective and balanced discussion, and I apologize in advance for this being behind a paywall (Saltelli has other resources like slides available if you Google), but I wonder what people here think of this paper:

    Sensitivity analysis didn’t help: A practitioner’s critique of the Stern review

    It address rather different aspects than the usual discount rate back and forth’s with Stern (in Hulme’s book, for example). It also plays to Judith’s Robust Decision Making Under Uncertainty ideas.

    The conclusion of this paper seems to be that, given the Yale RICE/DICE models and current climate science ideas, the case for action (or for inaction), urgency (or non-urgency) is very poorly resolved (something like wider than between 1.7% and 81.8% according to Saltelli). This is the global case for action. The case for any actual decision maker under the same techniques must surely be much worse owing regional variability being so much larger than global variability.

  23. Could someone please explain to me (understandably) why a thermal image of a greenhouse shows it radiating more than it’s surroundings. ?
    (I know the greenhouse radiates more because it is warmer than it’s surroundings, but it is supposed to trap radiation, yet (somewhat inconveniently) greenhouses, as far as I’m aware, radiate according to the Planck curve)
    I thought a greenhouse was supposed to “trap” radiation.
    Is Plancks law wrong, surely not.

    So, would the better question be. Why are the greenhouses surroundings so much cooler than the greenhouse, although the surroundings do not actually “trap” radiation, they do appear to be radiating far less than the greenhouse.. ?
    What then is cooling the surroundings. ?

    I am assuming the best explanation would be because the surroundings are cooled by something far more powerful than radiation looses, namely conduction and convection of sensible and latent heat.

    A greenhouse “works” because it reduces conduction and convection to it’s surroundings.
    It would appear reasonable to say observation of a thermal image of a greenhouse and it’s surroundings indicates that conduction and convection (of sensible and latent heat) is far more powerful than radiation looses, and is responsible for cooling the surroundings mostly.
    Is this a correct series of assumptions, or rather statements of the blitheringly obvious.

    I too am bored with the way “climate discussions” seem to be either circular, or descend into mud slinging.
    Maybe, just maybe, present discussions are discussing the wrong “things”..

  24. I offer the start of a discussion on the role of research/data/analysis that is not reserved for ‘internationally peer-reviewed journals’.

    It seems to me that much of the AGW response to criticism has been of the form ‘If you think you’re so smart why don’t you publish a paper and submit it to peer review? That’s what we have to do!’

    I have some sympathy with it, as someone who worked that system when I was an academic, sat on editorial boards, did my share of peer review, and so on. Peer review is not a great system but, as Churchill said of democracy, it’s better than anything else. But it is largely for academics and scientists who inhabit research establishments. When you’re not part of that world any more, what can you do?

    Technology has offered alternatives, and the blog has appeared. Quite a few of the blogs offer data, analysis and argument, and they attract people both from within and outside ‘academia’. And they are quick. Yes, I know that some parts of the journal system are quick too, but the blogs, and what happens in them, seem to me to be a new forum, a new way in which we argue about things that are important to us, and do so without respect to where we live or who we are. In the blogosphere you can engage, ask questions, get answers, disagree, learn, teach…

    I recognise that there is a lot of nonsense there as well, much hectoring, too much ad hominem, and so on. I guess that simply means that human beings are there. But I am beginning to think that we are entering a new world of analysis and argument which, when assisted by hardware/software like Kindle and iPad, will democratise and internationalise debate in an unprecedented way.

    What will it be like in ten years’ time?

    • Actually, i think the mainstream science community is completely clueless about the “radical implications of the blogosphere” (Ravetz’ phrase). Science and science publishing will look really different in 10 years time, i agree. My technical essays posted on Climate Etc. could each be published in some sort of journal; i prefer to post them on a blog. In terms of climate data records (creating them, auditing them, using them), the open source movement could be a huge boon. The rapidity at which dialogue can take on the blogosphere (time scale of days to weeks) compares with months to years for a few rounds of back and forth in journals. Exciting times. But the blogosphere challenges the turf of the establishment, so they will resist.

      • Judith –

        An addition to the science blog ecosystem that would be wonderful would be the CliffNotes version in which the author quickly summarized her view of the major points made in the responses as a quick executive summary. In some ways, this would be as informative as the original post as to where the author was coming from and what she considered important. Probably way too much work . Maybe you should hire some summer interns :)

      • this has been brought up before, someone tried to recruit Andrew Montford for this :)
        I’ve been trying to do a summary for the technical threads

  25. Brandon Shollenberger

    Seeing as I participated rather extensively in the initial IFA dispute (I think I coined the acronym?), I figure I should chime in here. Of the bloggers mentioned in reference to it, James Annan and Michael Tobis are the only ones who criticized IFA in and of itself. Annan merely parroted Tobis’s claims, adding nothing new. This means the only criticisms against IFA are those initially raised by Michael Tobis. I walked through the failures of his criticisms extensively before, so I don’t see there being anything else to add.

    For a summary, we have Michael Tobis making obviously incorrect criticisms. James Annan parroted them. Chris Colose didn’t speak about the IFA issue. The interesting one is Bart Verheggen. He didn’t criticize Judith Curry on the IFA issue. Instead, he criticized the numbers she assigned using IFA. In other words, he was fine with the IFA.

    As best I can tell, no blogger other than Michael Tobis has actually attempted to say IFA is wrong.

    • Michael Tobis’ arguments on the IFA were very usefully re-presented by Paul Daniel Ash on his blog, Tobis on Curry’s Uncertainty and Doubt Series.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        I probably should have put “show” instead of “say” in my last sentence. Plenty of people have repeated what Michael Tobis said, some without the ridiculous behavior Tobis demonstrated. However, other than Tobis, I have yet to see anyone actually attempt to show IFA is wrong.

        What PDA did may be useful, it still leaves us with nobody but Tobis trying to show IFA wrong.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        The lack of a preview feature gets me again. It seems I left out a conjunction in that last sentence. That, or I forgot to add “while” at the start of it.

  26. mt said i “conflates confidence in a hypothesis with weighting.” Well the conflation was done by the IPCC, I am trying to sort that out. In any event, I am planning a good post on the IF.

    • This is not true. “Most” is the weighting of the anthropogenic causes with respect to natural causes. “Very likely” is the confidence in the statement. They are very distinct (“Most” = > 50%, “Very Likely” = > 90% confidence). The conflation of the two is yours alone.

    • I will be very interested to see how your unpacking of the IF compares to mine. But then there is more than one concept of uncertainty here, so plenty of room for multiple models.


    First, I assume the global warming pattern observed in the last century continues in this century. Second, I assume the sea level rise is proportional to the rise in mean global mean temperature.

    In the last century, from 1910 to 2000, the sea level rise was 20 cm.

    For this period, from 1910 to 2000, the global mean temperature trend (with all noise removed) is shown in the following plot.

    From this plot, the global mean temperature anomaly (GMTA) in deg C for the turning point years are as follows:

    1940=>-0.05 (which is a warming by 0.45 deg C from 1910 to 1940)
    1970=>-0.15 (which is a cooling by 0.1 deg C from 1940 to 1970)
    2000=>0.3 (which is a warming by 0.45 deg C from 1970 to 2000)

    From this table, the increase in GMTA in the last century, from 1910 to 2000, was 0.80 (=0.3+0.5) deg C.

    From the above table, we establish the following repeating pattern for the GMTA for the previous century:

    30-years of global warming by 0.45 deg C followed by 30-years slight global cooling by 0.1 deg C.

    Assuming this repeating pattern continues to apply, the following is the predictions for the GMTA for this century:

    2000=>0.3 (warming by 0.45 deg C from 1970 to 2000)
    2030=>0.2 (cooling by 0.1 deg C from 2000 to 2030)
    2060=>0.65 (warming by 0.45 deg C from 2030 to 2060)
    2090=>0.55 (cooling by 0.1 deg C from 2060 to 2090)

    From this table, the increase in GMTA in this century, from 2000 to 2090, would be 0.25 (=0.55-0.3) deg C.

    As the sea level rise for GMTA rise of 0.8 deg C was 20 cm, the sea level rise for GMTA rise of 0.25 deg C would be about 6 cm (=20*0.25/0.8) or about 2.5 inch.


    If the pattern of the last century continues, the seal level rise in this century would be be about 1/3rd of the last century!

  28. Judith,

    You should do a piece on the “peer-review” process. Too much faulty science has passed through to publish magazines. This process should litterally try to rip apart the science and find fault to the theory or science before being published as good solid science.
    I see too many examples of incomplete science or “got what I was looking for” and no further.
    A sensitive experiment should have factors around that contamination from current surroundings would be asked. What questions does this experiment answer? What questions does this experiment create? Does this experiment cover other materials related or just what it is being experimented?
    Too many times one experiment will blanket a who area even though the whole area has many variables.
    Who has the right to review current science to show flaws or mistakes?
    LAWS are so ingrained as absolute that any errors shown are fluffed off and the vail of blindness is in place.

    If I was a reviewer, very few papers would be published. I have extremely high standards that it must be as correct as possible at this time until further evidence can be shown. I have no barriers or boundaries in science that I cannot go past. Their is a great deal of physical evidence from the past that shows current mistakes in science.

  29. How science really works (hint: all politics at its core):

  30. Joe-

    When people “rip aprt” science they are much more likely to inject their own bias into the review, which is exactly the problem with current peer review. Scientists whould dispassionately remove themselves from any review and focus only on the data and the conclusions drawn therefrom.

    • Fred,
      Current science does not include that our planet rotates nor any of the energies that are created with this process. Science LAWS were well in place and established as absolute. So, current science is only missing an atmosphere on the moon for all the same science peramenters to be the same. Has science missed a massive amount of correct science?
      Yes it has. Don’t be surprised if this next massive cooling is much greater than scientists predicted.

  31. Dear moderator,
    I am having a difficult time typing replies. I get a 10 – 15 second delay between when I type and when the words show up in the reply box. Is this something WorPress can help with? If I am the only person having this problem that is not a big deal, but if it’s common it may suppress the free flow of ideas and cause potential contributors to drop the blog.


  32. Chip I think it is a compatibility problem with your machine…..

  33. Dear All,


    I am confused why the terms ‘climate alarmist’, ‘climate skeptic’, ‘climate denier’, and ‘climate realist’ continue to be used in the mainstream media to label proponents and opponents of anthropogenic global warming (AGW). I mean, c’mon! It’s like saying you’re a ‘hemisphere alarmist’ or a ‘hemisphere skeptic’ or a ‘hemisphere denier’ or a ‘hemisphere realist’. These climate labels make no sense whatsoever.

    I’m an AGW skeptic and would therefore greatly appreciate it if the media would stop trying to insult me with climate labels that don’t make any sense. Instead, please consider inciting hatred and physical harm upon me by calling me a ‘global warming skeptic’ or ‘global warming denier’. Come to think of it, the world isn’t even warming anymore, so those terms probably shouldn’t be used either.

    Tell you what! Feel free to call me a ‘carbon taxation nigger’. In fact, I insist. ‘Carbon emissions faggot’ is fine too. But no pressure!

    Judith, if you feel the need to censure the words ‘nigger’ and ‘faggot’, then let me ask you this: if it’s not ok to publish the words ‘nigger’ and ‘faggot’ on a blog, then how can it be ok for mainstream newspapers and journals to repeatedly use the word ‘denier’ to stigmatize AGW skeptics as Nazi sympathizers?

    Any publisher that censures the words ‘nigger’ and ‘faggot’ should then also censure the word ‘denier’, because all three words are used for the same purpose: to stigmatize and incite hatred against others.

    I’m curious to know just how many Black, Jewish, or homosexual AGW proponents have in the past labeled AGW skeptics as ‘deniers’. Better them than me, right?

    It must really suck to be a Black Jewish homosexual AGW skeptic.


    They came first for the Communists,
    and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews,
    and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

    Then they came for me
    and by that time no one was left to speak up.


    • So you are a ‘carbon emissions faggot’ huh. Next you’ll be claiming to give off Quer waves.

      Personally, I’m offended by the term ‘forcing’. Raping would be more Misanthropically Correct. (MC)

      Besides even with my minimal technical understanding, it seems as if it’s the incident solar radiation and re-radiation which is pumping/driving/forcing in the dynamic sense.

      Calling it CO2 forcing conjures up the ill fitting image of brutally gassing a helpless mother nature

  34. David L. Hagen

    Soot: an “Anthropogenic Change” – that’s NOT CO2. The soot from wood and coal cooking fires and rapid cheap engines has a major impact on developing world – which most cannot imagine given the clean air in No. America and Europe. See:
    Time to call the sweep? ”Soot gets everywhere. Even into the world’s highest mountains Nov 18th 2010 | Kathmandu”
    By analysing atmospheric circulation patterns, Dr Marinoni and her colleagues found that winds could bring soot and dust from as far away as Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. And if that were not bad enough, the Himalayan valleys act as chimneys, pumping pollutants from the Indian plains to the mountain peaks. Dr Marinoni estimates that the combined effect of this crud could reduce the glaciers’ ability to reflect light by 2-5% and increase the amount of melting by 12-34%. . . .
    The glaciers in the south-eastern part of the plateau, by contrast, are downwind of the Indian subcontinent—and Dr Xu found that the concentration of soot in those glaciers went up by 30% between 1990 and 2003, coinciding with a period of rapid industrial growth in India.

  35. Parking. I got it down to 750 words.

    Global Warming in the 20th Century: An Alternative Scenario
    Julian Flood

    AGW may have causes other than CO2, e.g. alternative GHGs, soot, and land-use albedo change. There is another forcing to be considered which may limit estimates of CO2 sensitivity.


    NASA gives figures for oil pollution: [].
    Oil effects on water have been known for millennia [Pliny, Plutarch, Bede, Kipling]. Franklin’s experiment [] allows the rough calculation that 5ml of light oil will smooth one hectare and that enough light oil flows onto the oceans to cover them completely every fortnight. Surfactant pollution also smooths the surface, with the contribution of synthetic surfactants being particularly interesting.

    A smoothed ocean surface means fewer breaking waves []. A breaking wave drives bubbles down to where gas exchange is facilitated and organic debris entrained. When the bubble subsequently bursts it releases cloud condensation nuclei as salt and dimethyl sulphide from stressed phytoplankton (dimethyl sulphide, DMS, is produced by phytoplankton and converts to particularly effective cloud condensation nuclei (CCNs)). Fewer waves, therefore, mean fewer CCNs. Only near shorelines and in very shallow water will the normal amount of stirring and CCN generation occur.

    An oily oceanic boundary layer generates oily water droplets which are more prone to join together and fall back [Garrett 1978], further reducing the number of CCNs. Polluted CCNs are less hygroscopic [Fuentes et al Feb 2010]. Polluted nuclei will grow more slowly and local relative humidity around them will be higher. Droplet size will be larger and the resultant cloud — oceanic stratocumulus — will have lower albedo.

    A smoothed ocean surface has lower albedo and lower emissivity than one ruffled by wind.

    Reduced wind/wave coupling over a smoothed surface will slow currents and reduce upwelling of nutrient-rich water. Wave action stirs the upper ocean, replenishing nutrients which are continually depleted by phytoplankton and pumping in atmospheric CO2. Fewer breaking waves means lower nutrient levels in the upper ocean.

    Plants fix carbon by different methods: C3, good when there is an abundance of CO2 and nutrients; C4 which needs less of both; CAM, the same; and C4-like, employed by diatoms. Only the first discriminates strongly against the heavier carbon isotopes.

    The System Of The World

    Oil covers the oceans. The wind/ocean interface decouples. Evaporative cooling slows. [ G. Meyers, J. R. Donguy & R. K. Reed 1986] The stratocumulus layer above becomes less opaque and with a higher relative humidity as the number of mechanically-produced CCNs falls. The smoothed surface exposed to sunlight warms more readily and, at night, cools more slowly. The surface layer warms. Less CO2 is absorbed.

    Warm water stabilises and the upper ocean becomes stratified. Mixing, already slowed by the lack of wave action, reduces further. The starved waters feed fewer phytoplankton and the amount of DMS falls. Warmer air slows cloud formation. Stratocumulus cover is further depleted. The cumulus heat pump slows.

    Starved phytos revert to C4 carbon fixation or are replaced by obligate C4 species: a light isotope signal is left in the atmosphere.

    Silica from farming runs into the oceans or falls as dust. Diatoms flourish as limiting silica is more readily available. Their C4-like metabolism adds to the atmospheric C12 signal. [Dugdale and Wilkerson 2001, Neff et al 2008]

    Phytoplankton populations collapse [Boyce et al, 2010] and ocean albedo reduces further, while oxygen fixation falls.

    Oceans have reduced biological production and lower DMS generation. Relative humidity rises above them and water vapour GHG heating warms the surface. Warming surfaces discourage low level cloud formation.

    ‘Natural Experiment’ Demonstrations

    The WWII Kriegesmarine offensive caused vast oil spills and a temperature ‘blip’ []

    PETM [], a leaking oil reservoir heated the oceans beyond the clathrate tipping point.

    The Gulf oil spill where the slick can be seen rotting clouds around its edges [ ]

    The Andaman Sea []

    Lake Tanganyika’s anomalous warming. [Verburg, Piet, and Robert E. Hecky
    The physics of the warming of Lake Tanganyika by climate change ]


    Oil and surfactant polluted oceans have lower albedo, higher emissivity, less evaporative cooling, and produce fewer DMS and salt CCNs, reducing the albedo of oceanic stratocumulus cloud and slowing the cumulus heat pump. These effects warm the surface and limit the value we can put on CO2 sensitivity.

  36. Also explains:


  37. I’m not sure where I should put suggestions for blog posts. This is the most recent Open Thread, except for the Skeptical Thread which I have also used for suggestions.

    How about a blog post on the controversy at NIWA? Or did I miss that one? NIWA is being criticized because the entire warming trend in their temperature record is due completely to adjustments to the surface record. Surely, it is reasonable to question such adjustments! NIWA has issued an updated temp series which attempts to justify all of the adjustments, but with very little or no change to the result. There are a couple of different graphics floating around showing these things. I am quite certain this fight is not over.

    If it is true that New Zealand did not warm during the last quarter of the 20th century, that would be additional evidence of warming oscillating between the northern and southern hemispheres. Arctic ice extent goes down when ice in Antarctica is growing. New Zealand warmed from 1945-1975 when the Northern Hemisphere cooled. In a strange way, it actually makes sense that New Zealand may have cooled from 1976-2000 as the raw temperature series seems to indicate. Someone competent needs to review the adjustments NIWA is attempting to defend.

  38. I would also like to suggest a new Category – Comic Relief. For the first post, I recommend this Dilbert cartoon.

  39. Can someone answer a silly small question I have been wondering about some times:
    In 2008 we consumed on average 15 Terawatts of energy, of which roughly 80-90% was from fossil fuels. That would equal roughly 0,03W/m2. Practically all that energy ends up as heat, right? Not much compared with absorbed solar energy, but still a small shift in the balance.
    How much heating should we (according to the majority view) expect from that 0,03W/m2?