4 degrees

by Judith Curry

John and Michel are hypothetical pub owners in Britain and France.  Lenny Smith asks the following questions:

Can today’s science tell John what +4 degrees would be like for his pub? Or his insurer? (or their reinsurer?) Or better still “climate-proof” his business? Is it a question of mere probabilities? Or might models see a “Big Surprise”? How to best manage Expectations (Theirs) and Credibility (Ours) ? Why is this so hard? Should Michel care about global mean temperature?

Lenny Smith is Director of the Center for the Analysis of Time Series (CATS) at the London School of Economics and Senior Research Fellow in Mathematics at Pembroke College, Oxford.  I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of scientists who work on the climate topic that I avidly read just about everything they write or say; Lenny Smith corresponds to one of those 5 fingers.  His publications are listed [here].

The link to his 4 degrees presentation is [here].

He starts by posing the following questions:

How many physical details can our models miss and still yield useful quantitative decision-relevant information downstream?

How can we tell in the case of a given decision?

What do 4 degree warmer GCMs tell us about a 4 degree warmer Earth?

From his overview slide (JC bold):

There are many many different 4 degree worlds.

􏰀 Today’s models appear unlikely to provides quantitative decision-relevant probabilities about details.

􏰀 Climate science and climate models make it very clear exploring a 4+ degree world empirically would carry huge ecological, human and economic costs.

􏰀 The credibility of science is at risk if we fail to communicate our deep uncertainty quantitative results provided to decision makers.

􏰀 Honestly lowering the bar makes applied science more useful, less volatile, and much much easier to advance.

How might we outline a test for decision-support relevant probabilities from models? And communicate the result to decision makers (and impacts modellers!)?

From his slide titled  Schematic of Test For Quantitative Decision Relevance:

􏰀 Specify the Decision Question in terms of local environmental phenomena that impact it. (“hot dry periods”)

􏰀 Determine the larger scale “meteorological” phenomena that impact the local. (“blocking”)

􏰀 Identify all relevant drivers (which are known). (“mountains”)

􏰀 Pose necessary (NEVER SUFFICIENT) conditions for model output to quantitatively inform prior subjective science based reflection.

􏰀 Are local phenomena of today realistically simulated in the model? (If not: Are relevant larger scale (to allow “prefect prog”)).

􏰀 Are all drivers represented? (to allow “laws-of-physics” “extrapolation”) 􏰀 Are these conditions likely to hold given the end-of-run model-climate?

If one cannot clear these hurdles, the scientific value of the results does not make them of value to decision makers. They can be a detriment.

And claiming they are the “Best Available Information” is both false and misleading.

From his slide titled: How clear is our vision of 4 degree worlds?

Our models sample an ill-defined mathematical space of bland worlds, similar to the Earth but systematically less rich: mere abstractions.

Where implementation details matter (in distribution) in those models- worlds, we have no rational way to interpret ensembles as probabilities.

Can climate science suggest the space and time scales, as a function of lead time, on which we can make arguably robust statements or “decision-relevant probabilities” ?

How do we communicate this insight to decision makers? ? Is there a better approach than quantifying Prob(Big Surprise) ?

How do we explore methodologies without misleading decision makers?

On Why is Decision Support Hard?

Most decisions depend neither on “average meteorological variables” nor “standard deviation of the average weather” they depend on the trajectory.

As they are nonlinear we have to evaluate them along trajectories. Crops, cables, wind energy and system failures depend on what and even when weather events unfold.

We need to communicate whether or not we believe current models can provide robust, relevant and informative quantitative information on decision relevant distributions:

Prob(Big Surprise)

More words of wisdom plucked from the slides:

On what space and time scales do we have (robust) climate information? Today’s State-of-the-art models are better than ever before.

((The usual numerical arguments require much larger scales than the model’s grid, at least!)

Before using phrases like “based on the Laws of Physics” to defend hi-resolution predictions, we might check for internal consistency (quantitative).

Or better: find necessary (not sufficient) conditions for this model to contain decision relevant information.

On “Big Surprises” (BS):

Big Surprises arise when something our models cannot mimic turns out to have important implications for us.

􏰀 Climate science can (sometimes) warn us of where those who use naïve (if complicated) model-based probabilities will suffer from a Big Surprise.

(Science can warn of “known unknowns” even when the magnitude is not known)

􏰀 Big Surprises invalidate (not update) the foundations of model-based probability forecasts. (Arguably “Bayes” does not apply, nor the probability calculus.)

􏰀 Failing to highlight model inadequacy can lead to likely credibility loss)

Including information on the Prob(BS) in every case study allows use of probabilities conditioned on the model (class) being fit for purpose without believing it is. (or appearing to suggest others should act as if they do!)

JC comment:   Well, I couldn’t have said any of this better myself.

258 responses to “4 degrees

  1. Warm weather is good for pubs.

  2. All good points, but if you are asking the question “Should we cut carbon emissions by 90 percent by 2050?” your answer comes early:

    􏰀 Climate science and climate models make it very clear exploring a 4+ degree world empirically would carry huge ecological, human and economic costs.

    The rest is (very interesting, very thought-provoking) details.

    • There could be huge cost and even larger benefits. So what? Pessimist versus optimists, who will win?

    • Evidence in the real world Robert that “emissions” impact climate?? Holding breath……………………………………….I didn’t think so.

      • Holding breath……………………………………….

        Texas Summers

        Sorry MT, I couldn’t resist.


      • That is weather and not climate though correct?

      • AFAIK it’s a posteriori evidence of a higher probability of very extreme outliers than we would otherwise have thought. And it’s not alone:

        But now we add up the number of bizarre coincidences, for each of which John can make comparable arguments. The tornado outbreak this spring. The huge blocking event in Asia last summer which did so much damage in central Russia, Pakistan, and parts of China. The fires in Australia in 2009 and the floods this year. The floods in the midwest. Heat waves in Europe. [from the link above]

        Each single event is weather, but a change to the overall probability might be climate:

        That is, what we have is not because of a change in the mean but because of a spreading, an expansion of the cloud of possibilities. From a dynamics perspective, that’s not surprising in the least. We’re passing, year by year, from one climate configuration to another at a very rapid pace, and we are used to thousands of years of unusual stability.

      • And you can write “might be” and get away with anything. The evidence is that TX had a hot summer and nothing more.

      • The blocking highs that have been in the news for the past three years is the result of the angle of culmination of the lunar declinational atmospheric tidal effects being in phase with the solar declination so as to combine the tidal bulges at times of peak correlation between the angles portended by the solar and lunar declinational tidal effects in the period of shifting from greater to lesser declinational angle extremes in the 18.6 year cycle.

        The location and times of these blocking highs effects are predictable by looking at the past effects in the same relationships, with the same results in extreme outbreaks in droughts, floods, tornadoes, heat waves, and the activity levels in hurricane production.

        As long as the main driver of the global circulation ( the Lunar tidal effects) is not considered there will continue to be Big Surprises, but for the next several (7-9) years we will be going through a period of less extreme weather patterns due to the reduction of the Lunar declinational angle at culmination passing through the minimum 18 degree stages and climbing back up toward the 22+ degree angle (post 2018-2020) with its then attendant re surge in global atmospheric turbulence, increased precipitation trends and more examples of extreme weather out breaks.

        CAGW fans will need to pace themselves if they expect to make much hay for the next ten years on playing the extreme weather

      • La Ninia causes TX droughts. A known (although inconvenient) fact.
        A look in history will give perspective something warmists repeatedly fail to do).

    • Well no, that is not what Smith is saying:

      􏰀 Climate science and climate models make it very clear exploring a 4+ degree world empirically would carry huge ecological, human and economic costs.

      􏰀 The credibility of science is at risk if we fail to communicate our deep uncertainty quantitative results provided to decision makers.

      􏰀 Honestly lowering the bar makes applied science more useful, less volatile, and much much easier to advance.

      The next sentence says it all: “The credibility of science is at risk if we fail to communicate our deep uncertainty [in] quantitative results provided to decision makers.”

      • In typical British fashion, Smith’s warning is understated. The unknown magnitude of what we do not know can overturn the whole applecart! See: New peer reviewed paper: clouds have large negative cooling effect on Earth’s radiation budget

        …the cloud radiative cooling effect through reflection of short wave radiation is found to dominate over the long wave heating effect, resulting in a net cooling of the climate system of −21 Wm−2.

        Anthony Watts summarizes:

        The cooling effect is found to be -21 Watts per meter squared, more than 17 times the posited warming effect from a doubling of CO2 concentrations which is calculated to be ~ 1.2 Watts per meter squared.

        i.e. that makes current models more than an order of magnitude off in the opposite direction!
        See: Combining satellite data and models to estimate cloud radiative effect at the surface and in the atmosphere Richard P. Allan Meteorological Applications, Special issue: Sensing the weather Vol. 18 #3, pp 324-333 Sept. 2011

        Allen’s results support those of Spencer & Braswell (2011) and Lindzen and Choi (2011)

        Nigel Fox of the UK National Physics Laboratory observes that cloud uncertainties alone are ~ 0.24 out of 0.26 total uncertainties (~93%) in IPCC’s models. See slide 13 of 55 in his presentation:
        Accurate radiometry from space: An essential tool for climate studies Dr Nigel Fox25 Jan 2011 (Video Seeking the TRUTHS about climate change)
        I find that:
        “The credibility of science is at risk if has been severely damaged since we failed to communicate our deep uncertainty [in] quantitative results provided to decision makers.”

      • Should read: “The credibility of science [strike] is at risk if [/strike] [insert] has been severely damaged since[/insert] we [strike] fail [/strike] [insert] failed [/insert] to communicate our deep uncertainty [in] quantitative results provided to decision makers.”

        The “The credibility of science has been severely damaged since we failed to communicate our deep uncertainty in quantitative results provided to decision makers.”

      • David – The cooling effect of clouds has been known for decades, and there is little controversy about it. However, Allan’s results don’t support Spencer/Braswell or Lindzen/Choi. These authors are claiming negative cloud feedback (although not regarding CO2 but rather ENSO changes), and Allan’s work doesn’t address feedback.

        The warming effect from doubled CO2 is estimated at 3.7 W/m^2, not 1.2 W/m^2. The figure of 1.2 refers to temperature change before feedbacks are factored in, not W/m^2.

      • Fred,
        Many AGW promoters claim that clouds warm things up.
        I think that you are simply rushing past the inconvenient work of Allan.

      • Hunter – To the best of my knowledge, there is universal agreement within climate science that the overall effect of the presence of clouds is a cooling one. It’s true that an increase in high, thin cirrus clouds can have warming effects that outweigh cooling, depending on cloud height among other variables, but averaged over all cloud types, cooling predominates, and I don’t think this has ever been controversial.

      • Fred Moolten, 9/20/11, 5:09 pm, 4º

        FM: The cooling effect of clouds has been known for decades, and there is little controversy about it.

        Thus a change of water vapour, sky radiation and temperature is corrected by a change of cloudiness and atmospheric circulation, the former increasing the reflection loss and thus reducing the effective sun heat. Callendar, G.S., The artificial production of carbon dioxide and its influence on temperature, Q. J. R. Meteorol. Soc., 64, 2/16/1938, 223–237, p. 230.

        This has been known since man, and for three-fourths of a century in the journals. It was known before Hansen, et al. (1984) introduced feedback to climatology from systems science (Bode (1945)) for IPCC to misunderstand and butcher in its Assessment Reports. When IPCC rediscovered this highly significant phenomenon for itself, based on the simplest theoretical grounds, it found the results unsettling (AR4, ¶1.5.2, p. 114) and a problem with no clear resolution of [an] unsatisfactory situation. Id., p. 116.

        IPCC models parameterize cloud cover with statistical constants, and so omit the most powerful and necessarily dynamic feedback in all of the warm state climate: cloud albedo. IPCC models did manage to make humidity dependent on surface temperature, but that was to compensate for the weak CO2 greenhouse effect. IPCC gives that humidity no effect on cloud cover. Cloud feedback is negative with respect to temperature, mitigating warming from all causes, and it is positive with respect to TSI (the burn-off effect; see TAR, ¶6.7.8, p. 374), providing the missing amplification of TSI reported by Stott, et al., (2003) and Tung, et al. (2008). As a result of omitting this dual feedback, IPCC committed two errors: (1) it determined TSI variability was negligible on warming, and (2) it calculated AGW based on for all practical purposes, an open loop climate sensitivity.

        Sometimes just getting out of the laboratory and looking up at the sky is worthwhile.

      • Fred,
        You seem to be correct on this.
        A glimpse of reasonableness from the climatocracy is very welcome.

      • Fred. Thanks for your comment clarifying Allen’s paper.
        Mae culpa on citing Watts without digesting Allen’s argument.
        Richard Allen posted:

        I was surprised that this paper was mis-interpreted as suggesting negative cloud feedback. This is a basic error by the author of the post that has been highlighted by many contributors including Roy Spencer.

        To which Anthony Watts replied:

        REPLY: Dr. Allan, thank you for visiting and for your correction. Please note that I’ve made an update to the post, removing the word negative from the headline and including why I interpreted the paper to demonstrate a negative feedback for clouds. I welcome your thoughts. It seems to me that if clouds had a positive feedback, the dips in 1998 and 2010 in your figure 7 would be peaks rather than deep valleys.

        Roy Spencer posted:

        Bart is correct. This paper is not about cloud feedback…it is about the average effect of clouds on the climate system, which the IPCC, Trenberth, Dessler, et al. will all agree is a cooling effect. It is an update of the early estimates from ERBE many years ago.

        Feedback is instead how clouds will change in response to a temperature *change* from the average climate state.

        Now, it might well be that since the average effect of clouds on the climate system in response to radiative heating by the sun is to cool the Earth, then a small increment in radiative heating (e.g. from more CO2) will ALSO result in clouds having a further increment in cooling. That’s basically what Monckton has been claiming, and he might well be correct. Lindzen pointed this out also in his 1990 BAMS paper.

        I just wanted to point out that the IPCC view is that this paper is not about cloud feedback….even though it might be about cloud feedback. ;)

        REPLY: Thanks Roy for the clarification. The question of whether clouds act as feedback, forcing, or both is one that will occupy us as a while. My interpretation is as both, they act as a forcing (albedo) and as a feedback via the water vapor cycle, see Willis: Further Evidence for my Thunderstorm Thermostat Hypothesis

        See the update I’ve posted.

        Anthony Watts then added the following update:

        UPDATE: Some people in comments including Dr. Roy Spencer, (and as I was writing this, Dr. Richard Allan) suggest that the paper isn’t about feedback (at least in the eyes of IPCC interpretations, but Spencer adds “it could be”). Thus I’ve removed the word from the headline to satisfy such complaints. My view is that clouds are both a feedback and a forcing. Others disagree. That’s an issue that will occupy us all for sometime I’m sure.

        Regarding cloud feedbacks, here’s what I noted in the paper in section 6, near the end. Allan is referring to figure 7 which shows (a) net radiation and (b) net cloud radiative forcing:

        Substantial negative anomalies in net radiative flux from ERA Interim are apparent in 1998 and 2010, both El Niño years, suggesting that the substantial re-organization of atmospheric and oceanic circulation systems act to remove energy from Earth during these periods.

        See Figure: Cloud radiative effect at the surface and in the atmosphere
        You can clearly see the famous double peak in the 1998 El Niño, but it is inverted. To me that looks like a thermostat action, and not one with stuck electrical contacts, i.e. a negative feedback. – Anthony

        Full paper is here: http://www.met.reading.ac.uk/~sgs02rpa/PAPERS/Allan11MA.pdf

        Sounds like both/and. Yes it does not strictly address “feedback”, and yet it raises issues which may indicate cloud feedback. It will be fascinating to see how this develops.

      • “Anthony Watts summarizes:
        The cooling effect is found to be -21 Watts per meter squared, more than 17 times the posited warming effect from a doubling of CO2 concentrations which is calculated to be ~ 1.2 Watts per meter squared.”

        Oh god who let Anthony Watt’s near the crayons again. How many elementary errors just that little statement.

      • man I just read his “update” too. He doesn’t even understand the corrections handed to him by his own people.

        “My view is that clouds are both a feedback and a forcing. Others disagree. That’s an issue that will occupy us all for sometime I’m sure.”

        How do you run a blog like that and not understand the difference between cloud feedback, cloud forcing and cloud radiative cooling effect is? Blaze statements like “This -21 w/m2 figure from Richard P. Allan is in good agreement with Spencer and Braswell” are staggering given he didn’t even understand the nature of what the -21wm-2 figure was. I like how his “fix” is simply to remove the word “feedback” from the title even though that title accurately reflected the entire post (ie the entire post is still wrong)

      • “The cloud radiative cooling effect through reflection of short wave radiation dominates over the long wave heating effect, resulting in a net cooling of the climate system of − 21 Wm−2”

        Thats from the abstract.


      • I would argue that -any- change of the status quo in any direction or way could carry huge ecological, human and economic costs. Anything that changes the equilibrium and causes adjustments and new adaptations will carry cost; the bigger the changes the bigger the costs to adapt. Be it colder, warmer, wetter, dryer, volcanoer, meteorer, etc.

        Therefore, it’s hard for me to see how saying “things could change and thus carry costs” has any relevant meaning in a sense of “change is bad and should be prevented by us taking drastic sacrificial measures”, as some present the issue (especially in politics and policy that impact everyone’s lives). And in reality, I think it’s when scientists try to present a change towards warming as the only negative that could exist, that they risk to lose credibility before the public.

      • Well said.

      • So do you think the climate will remain unchanged if there were not human impacts? Yes the climate will change over time and so will the weather. Humans need to build people infrastructure to prepare for these events. Why is that difficult or more expensive than in the past?

      • Rob,
        You nailed it well: Change is inevitable, and we are better off doing what we have always done well: adapt.
        As Fred’s inability to list any mitigation plans that actually work demonstrates, the AGW believers are following a dream in their vision of a greatly diminished Anthro-CO2 world, and the idea that managing the CO2 will have some sort of significant impact on the world’s climate.

      • Don’t rebuild in flood plains, leave them for the agricultural use they are better suited for, build power grids that are more protected from storm damage, stop wasting power and water resources, build more dams for better long term storage and distribution systems to support urban sprawl, encourage landscaping with natural flora to offset the loss of natural habitat.

        Invest in maintaining public transportation infrastructure (roads and bridges), as well as systemic advances in managing field run off with many more small farm ponds, encourage people who want to be off grid to do so at their on cost, improve weather forecasting to minimize farmers long term losses, and better prepare rescuers and first responders to extreme weather outbreaks, build more safe rooms below ground in new construction in tornado alley, subsidize support for those who include them in storm damaged home replacement building.

        Just a couple off the top of my head.
        Richard Holle

      • Rob and hunter,

        Dr. Tenberth’s had a few thoughts about mitigation and adaption that he shared at a American Meteorological Association meeting ealier this year. http://ams.confex.com/ams/91Annual/webprogram/Paper180230.html – Two assertions of his that caught my attention-

        1) “You will be affected by climate change, and you already are, whether you believe it or not. But more then that, you will be affected by the outcomes of legislation and international treaties even more!”

        2) “Instead , we must recognize that while there is considerable merit in slowing the pace of climate change, and we should work to reduce emissions, it is also essential that much stronger steps be taken to plan for and adapt to the change that is surely coming. How we cope with the challenges ahead and build more resiliency in our system, are major questions that should be higher on the agenda.”

        Out here in CA we have focused on the mitigation side of things (AB32 and the 33%RES for electrical generation). Unfortunately, this approach is going to make it a bit difficult for the state to have the funds available to add some resiliency into our infrastructure as many of the RE efforts we have put in place have been at premium costs that we will have to pay for via some allocation of the costs over the next 20 to 25 years.

      • I directly quoted Smith.

        You say: “that is not what Smith is saying.”

        As evidence, you give quotes from Smith . . . starting with the exact quote I cited.

        Color me confused.

        Now if you mean they Smith would not agree that the statement you and I quoted is the most important as regards emissions cuts as a possible goal, you’re entitled to your opinion, but Smith did not address this directly.

        Naturally you are most interested in the uncertainty stuff, because that is your thing; it draws your eye. I am interested in the bottom line for the human race, and how our choice to take action to reduce emissions, or not, affects that bottom line. So for me there is one key statement. To quote it again:

        Climate science and climate models make it very clear exploring a 4+ degree world empirically would carry huge ecological, human and economic costs.

        Smith is concerned with recognizing, owning up to, managing and reducing uncertainty. But he clearly does not feel that there is very much uncertainty about the correctness of that statement. Do you think there is?

    • The better question to ask:

      Now that we have encouraged China to use twice as much coal as they did 7 years ago and probably 4x as much as they did 14 years ago, shall we attempt to encourage them to not quadruple coal usage in the next 14 years by burning more shale gas and encourage industries to move back to the US with cheaper energy? Or should we be dumber than Robert and Obama combined (a scary thought) and keep going down the stupid, expensive, job killing, coal encouraging green road we are on?

      • China has just begun! See Tad W. Patzek:

        the rates of oil production in the world and in the United States doubled 10 times, each increasing by a factor of ca. 1000, before reaching their respective peaks.

        Exponential growth, energetic Hubbert
        cycles, and the advancement of technology
        Archives of Mining Sciences of the Polish Academy of Sciences, May 3, 2008, Fig 7 and Fig. 10.
        Have any of the GCM’s factored in what would be required for China to increase its fuel use by 9.9%/year for another 60 years? Let alone India, Brazil etc etc.?
        What policies would be required for the developing world to attain the same standard of living as Europe and No. America?
        What policies are being implemented to enable the 2 billion people who live on < $2/day to rise out of poverty?

      • The fossil fuel energy industry was built on big surprises.

        The magnitude of the big surprises in climate pale in comparison to the big surprises one finds in oil production. The classification of super-giant oil reservoirs follows closely the Zipf-Mandelbrot distribution where for every super-giant you will find 10 reservoirs 1/10 the size, and of those you will find 10 reservoirs 1/10 the size of those and so on. The size distribution is so fat-tailed that a mean oil reservoir size doesn’t really exist. Just like the lop-sided wealth distribution among the population, but much worse, the majority of the oil by volume is found in the top few hundred reservoirs. The problem is that all those super-giants and giants have now been found and almost all have been drained past peak. We have essentially built out cheap energy economy on big surprises, and now we have run out of them.

      • Love to respond to this, Bruce, but there aren’t enough connections between your fantasy world and reality to have a basis for discussion.

      • “Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) – the main cause of global warming – increased by 45 % between 1990 and 2010”

        “This increase took place despite emission reductions in industrialised countries during the same period. Even though different countries show widely variable emission trends, industrialised countries are likely to meet the collective Kyoto target of a 5.2 % reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2012 as a group”

        All for nought … jobs and CO2 emissions just moved to China et al.

        Greenies have screwed the industrial world.


        Lucky for us, CO2 seems to have no effect on temperature.

      • “t only took China 7-8 years to achieve this great doubling. While the sustainability of this rate of growth is certainly in doubt, it bears mentioning that last year a number of global coal producers increased production to help China meet its needs. Indonesia, in particular, raised its production of coal by an almost insane 20% over 2009. Indeed, a number of the regions that I have previously identified as having deep, recoverable reserves raised production in 2010 by substantial margins.

        The global transition back to coal is fully on course, with a veritable second Age of Coal now on the horizon.


      • “coal is booming. Since the millennium, global oil consumption has risen just 13 per cent, that of gas by 31 per cent, but coal use is up almost 50 per cent.

        The driving force for this explosive growth is, of course, China. Despite all its efforts on developing green energy, and on scouring the world for oil and gas supplies, the bulk of the energy to feed its ravenous economy comes from inexpensive, secure, domestic coal. ”


  3. Best available information? How can the consensus reconcile that some of the best available information is now being provided by skeptics? http://centaur.reading.ac.uk/21857/ R. Allen must be a skeptic.

    A.A. Tsonis was mentioned as playing for the other team (skeptics) when published his new method for determining dynamical shifts. Spencer and Lindzen are not only skeptics, but crackpots in the pocket of big oil, big tobacco, big whatever. Swanson even mended bridges on realclimate to salvage his reputation.

    The notion that there may be more clouds with more water vapor is heresy. The notion that climate oscillates naturally is heresy.
    Not believing that a modeled 0.85 W/m^2 is more reliable than observable data is heresy.
    Mentioning that uncertainty is not properly communicated is heresy.

    Climate science doesn’t seem to be trying to advance, the best information is obviously flawed if it doesn’t fit the model estimate.

    • A.A. Tsonis was mentioned as playing for the other team (skeptics) when published his new method for determining dynamical shifts. […] Swanson even mended bridges on realclimate to salvage his reputation.

      I thought the original Swanson-Tsonis paper was perfectly clear that it was about natural climate oscillations and that AGW was not being called into question. They even made this explicit near the end. The realclimate post was informative, but I didn’t see it as a reputation-salvaging move.

      Climate skeptics will grasp at anything remotely resembling a straw.

      • “Climate skeptics will grasp at anything remotely resembling a straw.”

        including now two attempts to distort papers about clouds

      • I agree that some skeptics have been overly exuberant about the S_B and R. Allen papers. Neither paper is particularly fantastic. Allen’s though is interesting in the amount of correction that may be needed for negative cloud feedback, er.. reflected SW. The warming effect of high thin clouds may be more than offset it his paper is correct. While the paper does not focus on feedback, the data does tend to lean toward S-B’s fragmented hypothesis.

        The 4.7% increase in Arctic cloud cover the past decade or so, and the apparent increase in global cloud cover, the just happens to coincide with what can not yet be called a trend, is also interesting.

        Again, I could be wrong :)

      • The Swanson-Tsonis was. In the 2007 Tsonis et al paper,
        This is in the conclusions:
        “It is interesting to speculate on the climate shift
        after the 1970s event. The standard explanation for the post
        1970s warming is that the radiative effect of greenhouse
        gases overcame shortwave reflection effects due to aerosols
        [Mann and Emanuel, 2006]. However, comparison of the
        2035 event in the 21st century simulation and the 1910s event
        in the observations with this event, suggests an alternative
        hypothesis, namely that the climate shifted after the 1970s
        event to a different state of a warmer climate, which may be
        superimposed on an anthropogenic warming trend.”

        K. Swanson was the second author. There were quite a few comments by the “team” about the conclusion. Salvaging is my interpretation of the post Swanson and Tsonis made on realclimate, http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/07/warminginterrupted-much-ado-about-natural-variability/

        I could be wrong of course :)

      • There’s a world of difference between events “which may be superimposed on an anthropogenic warming trend” and denying that there’s an anthropogenic warming trend. Objecting to the former as a knee-jerk reaction is itself a form of climate denial. People need to be open-minded about all the possible mechanisms contributing to climate change and not simply react as though their pet ox had just been gored.

  4. Norm Kalmanovitch

    The best fit linear value for global temperature averaged over the RSS and UAH MSU data is cooling of 0.01°C/decade since 2002.
    The HadCRUT3 dataset shows well over twice as much cooling in the past nine years. To have a temperature increase of plus 4.0°C would first require this cooling to end and to date even the IPCC has yet to comment on when this cooling will end and when the warming to 4°C will start to occur.
    The only thing that we can determine from the current minus 0.01°C/decaded temperature trend is that at this rate we will be 4°C cooler in 4000 years!

    • Since the solar maximum in 2002? Yeah way to choose an unbiased start point.

    • Since the solar maximum in 2002? Yeah way to choose an unbiased start point.

      The nice thing about the WoodForTrees.org website is that one can back up these claims and counterclaims with a link that allows readers to check the claims for themselves.

      Backing up lolwot’s complaint that Norm is just cherry picking,
      the graphs since 1999 show a rise of 0.18 °C/decade (green trendline) for UAH (red time series) and a rise of 0.08 °C/decade (magenta trendline) for RSS (blue time series).

      If the best cherry Norm could find in all that satellite data is a fall of 0.01 °C/decade by picking the period starting 2002, his claim that the sky is cooling is about as credible as that it’s falling. Out of all the possible starting years between 1999 and 2009, no starting year except 2002 shows a fall in the average of RSS and UAH MSU.

      Not that Norm would ever agree to that. He’s firmly wedded to the proposition that AGW is rubbish and will never acknowledge any flaw in his reasoning. The same thing happened a couple of weeks ago when he tried arguing that there was no correlation between the annual 2.2% increase of anthropogenic CO2 and the annual 3% increase in fossil fuel consumption on the ground that fluctuations in the latter weren’t showing up in the former. When I pointed out that those fluctuations were far too small to be visible in the Keeling curve, he seemed unable to grasp that. Arguing with Norm is a waste of time.

  5. It seems clear that a 4 degree warmer world would bring huge ecological, human, and economic benefits. The huge costs would come in a 4 degree cooler world. I’m talking about net cost-benefit effects.

    • It seems clear that a 4 degree warmer world would bring huge ecological, human, and economic costs and benefits. It seems clear that a 4 degree cooler world would be a disaster. CH is rapidly cooling. Also accusing you of soliciting quickies. You can calculate the net?

      • BillC,

        On net, plants grow better during the warm seasons. When it’s less than 0 Celsius plants don’t grow so much. Sometimes common sense calls for quickies.

      • Quick, eh? 39 minutes by the clock. A great green biospheric carbon absorbing and sequestering net.

  6. Since 40 increase by mid-century is a cheap sci-fi sotory idea, why is this even being discussed as if it were something policy makers should worry about?
    Weak minded believers, as we see upthread, alread glom onto it as if it ffers guidance on reality. Ths is not really any different than the fundamentalists who read the “Left Behind” series of biblically based fantasy books and see them as credible ways to predict the future.

  7. A warmer environment can be good for business, e.g., a white and blue banner under the marquee at the Fox Theater in San Diego, California circa 1950 reads: “Cool Inside.”

  8. Both pub owners will sell a lot more beer – ‘nuf said.

  9. profootballwalk

    The snakebite question is my new favorite. How ‘precautionary’ do you want your precautionary principle to be?

    • The Precautionary Principle, a paean to ignorance, should be applied to the Precautionary Principle. What would we get then, though, the second derivative of ignorance?

    • There is a “weak” and “strong” version of the precautionary principle. This is discussed in my forthcoming paper on the climate null hypothesis. This is actually a very critical issue IMO.

      • While we’re being precautionary, we might want to keep ocean acidification in mind.

        I’m reminded of the “fact”* that marginal agricultural societies tend to be very conservative, especially towards non-incremental societal changes. Presumably this is because the very vast majority of such changes are for the worse.

        * I put the word in quotes because I don’t have ref’s at hand, not because I’m not pretty sure they’re available.

      • The fact is that anyone on the margin is more sensitive to change as they have no reserves to allow them time to move, adjust, or fix negative impacts. Putting our civilization on the margin by bankrupting it with over costly schemes that MIGHT work for something that MIGHT be happening is exactly the issue. If we are wrong we will no longer have the ability to adjust to the situation.

      • Kuhnkat, had you been the captain of the Titanic, and been given more warning of the iceberg, you would not have bothered to give it a very wide berth because it would needlessly consume the reserves of fuel and time that were urgently needed to make it to New York by the deadline. You would then have discovered too late that the portion of the iceberg underwater extended much further to the left than had been apparent from the bridge, and that you had committed a fatal error in choosing to keep fuel in reserve rather than distance from the iceberg.

      • Mr. Pratt,

        I am amazed a man of your abilities spends any time at all fantasizing about what I might do in some fantastical situation.

        What I can tell you is when you actually have some real observations that support your silly claims I will listen. Until then, full speed ahead.

      • Judith
        Look forward to your paper on the climate null hypothesis.
        The Copenhagen Consensus its climate focus: Fix the Climate view the “precautionary” issues from benefit/cost – and find “mitigation” comes in dead last. For climate per se they advocate research into efficient energy and geoengineering.
        Adaptation looks much more cost effective than “mitigation” – and much more accommodating to the issues faced by three billion living on less than $2/day.

  10. Smith loses me at the snake slide (4th from end), which proposes a dilemma in which you are bitten on the hand by an unknown snake. If it was the “deadly carbonblack snake” you have five seconds left to chop your hand off with a hatchet or you die…if it was a carbonblack snake. Do you cut off your hand?

    This is such a peculiar and far-fetched scenario which stacks the deck so far in favor of climate alarmism that, but for Judith’s recommendation, I’m tempted to dismiss Smith entirely.

    A truer scenario is that you’ve been bitten and you have heard that some herpetologists claim that there might be such a snake and that amputation might save your life but you don’t know the odds of encountering such a snake or the odds that amputation will save your life or that it might be too late already or the odds that you will faint from shock and bleed out if you do cut your hand off.

    In my scenario, you wold be a fool to chop your hand off — assuming you could muster the will power in the next five seconds.

    • For the moderately well informed person, it is very easy to determine if a particular snake bite is venomous.
      This is more of a demonstration about how ignorance leads to false perceptions of risk rather than a demonstration of the precautionary principal of any strength.
      The use of snakes as part of a threat always triggers my bs detector, since so many people have such non-rational responses to snakes in the first place.
      Many otherwise well educated people are incapable of making good choices about snakes, and simply kill them all no matter what.
      What this illustrates for me is that the climate issue is being dominated by an AGW movement that is not able to make rational decisions. Hence we see big treaties that do nothing but are touted as huge advances. We see a willingness to tolerate undependable, environmentally destructive things like windmills because of a non-rational perception of CO2.
      We see people still going on about ocean acidification, no matter how absent the evidence and how phonied up the experiments to support it.

      • Hunter

        Windmills may be a bad investment due to reliability issues, but do you really think they are “environmentally destructive”? A few dead birds doesn’t make it environmentally destructive does it?

      • They build them in the Whooping Crane flyway. Ever of a Whooper being killed by a wind turbine? House cats probably kill way more birds, and there is a way to remedy that.

      • No I haven’t heard of any Whooping Cranes killed by windmills. They apparently have other issues.


        Of course, stopping the building of expensive feel good projects that enrich a few large companies and do NOTHING for our energy security is reasonable in its own right.

        Also there are bats, hawks, and even eagles being killed by the vaunted la machines in the Altamont Pass in northern California.


        When your tabby drags in that Golden Eagle let us know how it tastes barbied.

      • Rob,
        Drive by a windmill farm and tell me the landscape is not wrecked.
        I dirve by the one next to the whooping crane wintering area severl times per year. The windmills just to the southwest of the preserve are hideous and take up large tracts of land.
        The number of cats killing whooping cranes is small to zero.
        And yes, cats, feral and otherwise are a serious source of bird losses worldwide.
        So cat predation justifies windmills in exactly what way?
        In the California area, windmils are infamous for killing eagles.
        That whooping cranes are not yet reported to be killed is not exactly a ringing endorsement for windmills.
        It is astonishing to me to read how CO2 obsessed people, who represent themselves as environmentally sensistive will tolerate windmills- a clear and visible blight and threat- while wanting to impose a regime of unreliable environmentally dubious alternative power on the world.

      • I think of something as environmentally destructive if it does damage to the environment on a long term basis. If you turn out to not like the windmills because they were a bad investment after a few years they can be easily and cheaply removed and the environment is basically returned to as it was.

        The would not be the same as when you open a copper or coal mine. Those investments really change the environment in ways not easily returned to the prior state. All that aside, humans need energy and there are always negative consequences as a result of energy production. It is simply that we have decided the positive benefits out weigh the negative.

      • Rob,
        Nothing about windmill power is cheap. They cost, cost, cost.
        They require infrastructure of buried power lines, long term leases, easements, etc. The energy and wastes that are part of their manufacturing footprints are quite large.
        If the enviro-insiders were not making money off them by way of govt.operating subsidies, they would be opposing them like crazy.

      • Hunter

        I am not disagreeing that it appears that wind mills are not a a good economic idea today in many situations. I have looked into them from an investment perspective and I didn’t think I would make an adequate return on investment. The problem in that case was the long term maintence costs. That issue will probably become better as designs mature, but people who think the wind is the long term solution are uninformed.

      • yeah it does seem odd to me that building all those houses complete with bird killing windows, animal killing roads roads and airports is fine. But wind turbines – those are just environmental destruction and must be stopped.

      • At least houses, roads and airports are useful

      • Rob,

        “If you turn out to not like the windmills because they were a bad investment after a few years they can be easily and cheaply removed and the environment is basically returned to as it was. ”

        You can pay to take them out. I have no interest in paying to pull up tons of concrete and dispose of the metal, fiberglass, and toxics that they contain. Or is this Obama’s next big JOBS project??

        They will probably end up like the power line bases. The structure is taken down as the metal can be recycled and could be a danger, but, those huge concrete bases will be left as a blight!!! The companies will be long gone and won’t pay a penny for the removal like the toxic dumps in the past.

      • @hunter…

        We see people still going on about ocean acidification, no matter how absent the evidence and how phonied up the experiments to support it.

        I suppose you’re as much of an expert on marine biology as you are on climate. So perhaps you can point out the specific “phonied up” science in the following peer-reviewed reviews and the references therein:

        Ocean acidification: a critical emerging problem for the ocean sciences

        Ocean acidification: Present conditions and future changes in a high-CO2 world

        The Effect of Ocean Acidification on Calcifying Organisms in Marine Ecosystems: An Organism to Ecosystem Perspective

        Don’t worry, I understand the subject well enough to know whether you’re spouting denialist BS. And speaking of denialist BS, I’m well aware of the typical denialist trick of spouting a quick lie that requires substantial work for somebody to refute. Since I took the time to find these reviews, I expect you to take the time to demonstrate your understanding of what’s wrong with them. Don’t forget to include your references. (You don’t need page numbers, I’m sure I can find what you’re talking about if it’s there.)

        Oh, and don’t try that old chestnut about how the oceans are “basic”: acidification refers to lowering the pH (you do know what that is, don’t you?), no matter whether it’s 4 or 10.

      • Oops!

      • AK,

        there has been no new useful science on acidification since you looked into it which should tell you something. The only new paper was based on historic data that was both sparse and poor quality. you know, similar to what Beck’s CO2 measurements are claimed to be.

        There IS no good science showing that there is a real danger of getting too close to acid. In fact, the only good studies show that what is considered acidification is primarily a near shore pollution issue and has little to do with CO2 in the atmosphere. Other paleo studies suggest that past oceans were more acid with greater biodiversity. Most of our current life developed in the more acid conditions.

      • At some other thread I would like to have a more detailed exchange of the issue described as ocean acidification.

        Do you believe that a peer reviewed paper with unsubstantiated conclusions is necessarily accurate? Do you believe that additional atmospheric CO2 is the most serious harm that humans are doing to the world’s oceans?

      • @Rob Starkey

        Do you believe that a peer reviewed paper with unsubstantiated conclusions is necessarily accurate?

        Please quote the conclusion that’s unsubstantiated. I’m not going to waste my time on your vague accusations at large.

      • Sorry, Rob Starkey, my reply (or rather its tone) was aimed at Hunter. It’s been almost two years since I dug into ocean acidification; it looked like a valid concern then and I’ve seen nothing but denialist dialectic against it since. Of course, that doesn’t mean some of the issues haven’t been shown to be less dangerous, but if the “falsifications” are of the level of Lindzen (2008), please don’t waste my time with them.

        I’m highly skeptical of all the “science” used to justify frantic alarmism, however that doesn’t mean I don’t consider most of these projections to be probably correct. I just don’t think that “probably correct” justifies trashing the world’s financial system.

        I’ll try to put up a post on my blog on the subject when I get time (for a new literature search), but it may well be weeks.

      • AK–you and I are probably largely in agreement

      • AK,
        I know contrived bs experiments when I read them.
        There is no experiment I am aware of that takes current ppm CO2 and shows any damage at all to marine life.
        There are experiments showing that ppm CO2 much higher than the present have no significant impact on marine life.
        You can show all of the experiments putting H2SO4 into sea water all you want, but those are, to put it nicely, unrealistic.
        While the AGW comunity seeks to have it both ways- pretending that acidification is not a marketing term to describe the alleged diminution of pH, it is clearly designed for fearful impact.
        But there is the punchline- there is no credible evidence from actual data that pH has done anything like diminish in any meaningful way.
        Once again, the AGW fear mongers make a few calculations and rely on their results, rahter than actually taking the trouble to fully understand the system they sell fear on.
        But selling fear works for the fearful and uninformed.

      • Please quote and ref the paper that put “H2SO4 into sea water” so I can see context. For that matter, please quote and ref the paper with a contrived bs experiment.

        Once again, a denialist offers vague time-wasting accusations rather than specific quotes and explanations of what’s wrong. This sort of internet hooliganism is just as disgusting coming from the anti-AGW side as it is from the supporters. (And yes, I’ve gotten my share of that, if not here.)

      • this one seem realistic: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13569442

        I think it’s a bit reckless to presume that one of the fastest drops in ocean pH in earth’s history is going to be fine.

      • Oops, I meant HCl, not H2SO4.

        But thanks for doubling down on the bigotry. It seems like you to tak eto bigotry like a duck to water.

        What fastest drop of pH in history?
        The amount of bs you happily eat implies a real e. coli problem.

      • Hunter,

        not to mention the experiments where they pour acid into the water to increase the acidification!!!! Yup, those showed some real issues!! 8>)

      • OOOPS, I need to read to the end before posting.

      • AK, 9/20/11, 4:45 pm, 4º

        If you had addressed that question to me, here’s what I would have said:

        Your three references rely on CO2 causing acidification by shifting the operating point for the three carbon species in the DIC. Accord IPCC:

        The uptake of anthropogenic carbon by the ocean changes the chemical equilibrium of the ocean. AR4, ¶ Ocean Acidification by Carbon Dioxide, pp. 405-406.

        This conclusion is based on a pair of the chemical equations for the marine carbonate system in the surface layer, including the stoichiometric equilibrium constants. Wolf-Gladrow, D., CO2 in Seawater: Equilibrium, Kinetics, Isotopes, 6/24/06, referencing Zeebe & Wolf-Gladrow (2001), behind the paywall, and relied on by IPCC. See AR4, ¶; Box 7.3, eqs. (7.1) and (7.2), pp. 528-529. Zeebe and Wolf-Gladrow rely on the Bjerrum solution to the equations. IPCC implicitly relies on that solution, and never mentions it.

        The surface layer is turbulent, and not in equilibrium. See Wanninkhof, R., Relationship Between Wind Speed and Gas Exchange Over the Ocean, JGR, v. 97, pp. 7373-7382, 5/15/92, passim; relied on by IPCC, AR4, Figure 7.8 sea-air flux of CO2, p. 523; TAR, ¶, p. 197. Wanninkhof was a contributing author to AR4, ch. 5.

        When IPCC wants to show that the natural CO2 flux is benign compared to anthropogenic emissions, it puts the surface layer in turbulence. When it wants to scare the PolicyMakers with acidification, it puts the surface layer in equilibrium.

        Even Al Gore could be convinced that the surface layer is not in equilibrium. He ought to be able to understand equilibrium. After all, he learned anthropogenic.

        Therefore, the equations for acidification are not applicable.

        P.S.: A principle of science is that all the prerequisites for a theory or law must be met.

      • @Jeff Glassman…

        I’m not interested in anything the IPCC says, since their process and marketing communications literature have already been shown to be flawed (see Curry and Webster 2011). I was actually trying to make a point to one person regarding making accusations that take him a minute to make and somebody else an hour or more to respond to.

        The surface layer is turbulent, and not in equilibrium.

        AFAIK the surface layer is in mechanical turbulence that produces mixing down to a depth that represents the bottom of the surface layer. AFAIK it is near chemical equilibrium with a few slow flows (e.g. CO2 in from the atmosphere, down by diffusion through the bottom layer). I’m going to take a look at the Wanninkhof paper tonight, maybe get back to you tomorrow evening. (or maybe later depending on other schedules.) Perhaps by then I’ll have changed my understanding.

        The problem with ocean acidification is that changing the pH almost certainly puts the entire marine surface ecosystem into a state it hasn’t evolved in since at least the beginning of the Pleistocene. Continuing to burn fossil fuels will continue to pump carbon into the surface layer (at least until we implement Dyson’s carbon-eating trees or whatever), and if it causes the CO2 level in the atmosphere to continue increasing (I’m a little skeptical of that, I’m not convinced the higher CO2 level is due to fossil fuel burning) it will continue forcing the pH down.

        I really don’t consider ocean acidification any more of a “cut off your hand” issue than global climate change seems to be, but pending a lot more literature research on my part, I could be wrong.

        One thing I am sure of is that if we keep dumping fossil carbon into the ocean, we’ll push it past a tipping point. Complex ecosystems aren’t simple like planetary atmospheres, IMO they’re perfectly capable of producing a sudden state change without forcing (i.e. the End-Permian extinction could well have been due to internal variability). However the community behavior of all the “species” involved has been evolved (to the extent that it has) under conditions other than today’s, and intuition (admittedly linear-system-based) suggests that the farther it gets from today’s the higher the probability of a sudden change, that is an eco-catastrophe. Given the complex non-linear nature of the system(s) involved, there’s no way to quantify the risk, of course.

        The obvious policy recommendation is to transfer away from fossil fuel burning as quickly as is consistent with not crashing the economy. (For a value of “crashing” that would consider the present troubles a minor stumble.) This would probably be faster than many oil companies want. It would also probably be much slower than many alarmists want, including the general agenda represented by the IPCC.

        Accelerated development of carbon-fixing GM of the sort (of research project) that produced the Internet might also be indicated. AFAIK many types of plant vary their CO2 intake depending on a number of growth-related factors, that is they aren’t fixing carbon nearly as fast as they can, or would under other conditions. Probably minor genetic modifications to e.g. sugar cane would produce a crop plant capable of perhaps a 1000% increase in carbon fixing when provided with all the other nutrients it needs.

        I’ve also proposed growing this GM sugar cane on large floating platforms, so it could be grown in otherwise non-productive parts of the tropical ocean. This would replace deforestation by manufacture as a source of agricultural “land”. One of the reasons I’m convinced there’s a general conspiracy around Climate Change is the way alarmists seem to blow off any such ideas and go back to shouting about shutting down the Industrial Revolution.

      • to be honest I would blow off that idea simply because the idea of a future in which climate is kept in check by large floating platforms of sugar cane just sounds to mental to take seriously

      • Well, lolwot, if you’d been there 20 years ago, you’d probably have blown off the idea that in 2 decades we wouldn’t have to worry about big publishing companies controlling who gets to see what.

        Oh, AK’s imaginary cell-phones and internet… it’s just too mental to imagine that in only 20 years people will be able to publish their thoughts whenever they want, and even read other people’s thoughts on these imaginary little “cell-phones”, or were they “twitter-phones”? Just too mental.

      • it’s not that the technology seems infeasible, just that the idea seems too much like an ACME cartoon solution, like a giant space mirror or a pipe sucking carbon out of the atmosphere. Doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work just that I can’t envision a world where something so important looked like that. Then again I supposed the same could be said about giant spinning wind turbines.

      • AK,
        The bs about the marine environment not being able to handle the current or likely future pH levels only demonstrates an incredible ignorance about how dynamic pH levels are in the marine environment.
        Check the link above for a long term accurate range of pH.
        Coming out to a discussion with arrogance and misleading statements, plus the bigotry you and so many AGW believers rely on really makes you look…..inadequate for a serious discussion.
        I do like how you avoid the IPCC by simply dismissing it, while still clinging to its hype and misleading conclusions.

      • AK,
        You are getting a bit snarky there.
        ‘denialist tirck’?
        You sound like an old racist complaining about those “uppity ni**ers” trying to sneak something by the land owner.
        Maybe you dropping the bigotry would uncloud your mind a bit and permit somce honest communication?

      • I’m entitled. I get it from both sides, and I hand it back. Denialists and alarmists are both antithetical to reasoned discussion.

      • AK,
        But of course you rise above it all and are gifted to pass judgement?

      • AK,
        After reading our posts, it reminds me that it is better to seek accord than discord.
        Slamming people who would otherwise generally agree with you may not be the most constructive strategy.
        I would be pleased to suspend our little flame-a-thon if you would as well.

      • Fine by me, hunter.

        However, I’m not sure we agree on whether it’s appropriate to play games with bad science. I consider bringing a paper like Lindzen (2008 or 1995) into a technical discussion a nasty trick, especially in support of a position I generally agree with. It polarizes the opposition, and drives good science out the way bad money drives out good.

      • After an ugly and stupid fight with Carrick I learned that he is an independent and informed observer.

      • Norm Kalmanovitch

        The oceans are saturated in the carbonate ion and most of the observed increase in atmospheric CO2 is from outgassing as this equilibriun is changed. Outgassing reduces the CO2 content of oceans so if the oceans are becoming more acidic it is not from atmospheric CO2 that comes from burning fgossil fuels.
        The oceans also contain salts of several different compositions and as long as the metalic ion of these salts in in seawater it will remain basic regardless of how much CO2 is present.
        Do any of your references mention this fact?

      • @Norm Kalmanovitch…

        I can’t make sense of what you’re talking about. Do you have ref’s for any of your statements? I did mention above:

        Oh, and don’t try that old chestnut about how the oceans are “basic”: acidification refers to lowering the pH (you do know what that is, don’t you?), no matter whether it’s 4 or 10.

        It looks to me as though you don’t understand chemistry well enough to be discussing this. Did you get these talking points from Glem Beck or Sean Hannity?

      • “Oh, and don’t try that old chestnut about how the oceans are “basic”: acidification refers to lowering the pH (you do know what that is, don’t you?), no matter whether it’s 4 or 10.”

        Actually, if a pH is above seven and acid is added to reduce pH toward 7, it is not considered acidification, it is considered neutralization. Not until you have moved through pH of 7 (neutral) are you now acidifying. Same thing if pH is under 7 and base is added to increase pH toward 7, that is also considered neutralization. One must go through ‘neutral’ to get to acid or base. Neutral is a unique position on the pH scale.

        The term ‘ocean acidification’ is used specifically to conjure up the idea of the oceans becoming acid due to CO2 absorption. The term ‘ocean neutralization’ just doesn’t really conjure the same mental image. There is not enough acidic material on the planet, let alone CO2, for such an event to occur.

        Be that as it may, there will be no changing the term ‘ocean acidification’, it will be used improperly and one can not lose sleep over it, take solace in knowing the oceans will never be ‘acidic’.

      • AFAIK it’s used that way normally in marine biology. And there’s nothing magical about pH 7, it’s just the value that pure water has.* AFAIK little or no life has actually evolved in a pH somehow clamped to 7. And it’s no sort of stopping point, either. It’s just a number. Changing the proportions of any ion can push the pH across 7 just as it can push it across 7.2 (or 6.8, or 5.8). The only important thing is the change in pH: lower (more acidic) or higher (more basic).

        *If there are any (controlled) ion channels that actually pass both protons and hydroxide ions, I’m unaware of them. Certainly none that are important. And even if there were, there’s no reason to suppose they’d somehow magically change their behavior at exactly equal ion concentrations. Certainly changes to pH inside the cell don’t have any magical “breakpoint” at 7.

      • The whole argument about acidification, basification is silly, as AK notes. The whole question is about buffering, which will accelerate most likely as the anthro CO2 aliquot is dissolved.

      • AK,

        From a chemistry definition point of view, perfect neutrality is when [H+] and [OH-] are equal, that happens at pH = 7. That is the definition of ‘neutral’ and is a unique spot on the pH scale. (Perfect neutrality is also somewhat hypothetical because it is almost impossible to achieve or measure, but the condition does exist at some point when moving from base to acid.)

        What I am saying above is, when a solution is ‘basic’ ( > 7, like the oceans) and the pH is moving toward 7, that process is considered as ‘nuetralization’ not ‘acidification’. The process has to pass through neutral to get to acid and vice versa. By definition, this is what neutralization is, otherwise there would be no such term.

        Think of the ‘neutralization’ process as a vehicle in motion. If the vehicle is moving forward it must, at some point, come to a complete stop before it can move backward. It must pass through the ‘stop’ or ‘neutral’ position. You call that ‘stopping’ not ‘backwardizing’ when you execute that process.

        Once past the ‘neutral’ position, more acid into the process would be considered as ‘acidification’.

        There is no doubt that ‘ocean acidification’ sound like a much bigger problem than ‘ocean neutralization’, but neutralization is the actual process that is occuring.

        Purity of water is independent of pH. It is possible to have dissolved solids in water (not pure) and be at pH = 7. Changing the proportions of ‘any’ ion will not change pH either. It is the change in [H+] ions that changes pH. When the proportion of [H+] is > [OH-], then it is ‘acid’ and when it is < [OH-] it is 'base'.

        Kim, the use of the term 'ocean acidification' is a pet peeve of mine. :) A battle I will readily admit is futile in fighting, but never the less one I will engage in from time to time.

      • Biosphere buffers,
        Phytoplankton bloom, perish.
        Big wheel keeps turnin’.

      • John, you don’t know enough chemistry to support your arguments about ocean acidification.

        First, neutral pH is not 7.

        It is dependent on temperature, such that neutral boiling water has a pH of about 6. Neutral ice cold water slightly more than 7.

        And second, water, which we are talking about, the ocean being an aqueous solution, is always both an acid and a base. It is never one or the other. Any movement to lower pH is acidification, no matter what the pH.

        It’s called acid-base chemistry for a reason, you have two reactants, one is an acid and one is a base. Water can react as the acid or the base. It can lose a hydrogen ion to react with a base, or it can absorb a hydrogen ion to react with an acid.

      • I suspect that pH is quoted because it’s easier to measure than determining how much carbonate remains. As long as there’s any carbonate it continues to buffer the CO2. Once it and any other buffering agents are all gone the pH can then quickly drop to below 6 even with just the current .04% level of CO2 in the air.

        The real problem is with the lack of carbonate, which CO2 converts to bicarbonate, which crustaceans are unable to use to build their exoskeletons. They depend on the carbonate, which the CO2 is taking away.

        But I do enjoy these debates over whether a shift from 8.1 to 7.9 counts as “acidification.” It’s like when Michael Palin screams “Help, he’s stabbing me to death,” and John Cleese says “No I’m not, I’m slitting your throat. Slitting’s not the same thing as stabbing.” Not an actual Monty Python skit, but you can imagine it.

      • Vaughan,

        shouldn’t you have at least mentioned some research indicating that the small amount of acidification to be expected form 1500ppm CO2 would have some actual deleterious effects on those poor critters who won’t be able to build their shells and other terrible things??

        CO2Science.org has reported on a number of papers researching the effects of increased CO2 on ocean life if you don’t happen to know of any good ones.

      • Let’s try again

      • But I was trying to dig into what drives people to fear things like snakes with so little rational basis, and how that is similar to the CO2 obsessions of the AGW movement.

      • Snakes, spiders, and cats are solitary predators, striking by surprise. Snakes nearly always startle, spiders startle at close range, and cats startle mice.

      • hunter, Max Manacker usually scores highest on my “makes-sense-to-me” indicator, but you are gathering some good points today.

  11. Agreed. you are promoting the weak precautionary principle, and also the “watch out for the cure that is worse than the disease” principle. Smith’s snake scenario points out the problems with the strong version of the precautionary principle.

    • Red Herring = “Precautionary Principle” in regard to AGW and co2 emissions.

      It always seems you are seeking Dr. Curry some mild form of eco-left delusion as a solution to the greater one. Really, it’s the total narrative of central planning for the common good regarding eco-management that fails.

      Artificial rationing of climate is killing the poor in particular, it should be denounced.

  12. Lenny Smith, 9/20/11, 4º

    1. Re all the effects of climate change: Yawn!

    2. Re humans the cause: It’s hidden, and it’s a fake. Smith sneaks it into his analysis in his Chart 4 from AR4, Figure SPM.5, with its emission scenarios. He mentions the human cost (Chart 2), but never the alleged human cause, or any alternative cause for the fearful warming. It is as if CO2 and not the Sun caused global warming, as if the climate could be predicted from a delicate and fanciful radiation equilibrium caused by greenhouse gases, and as if the feedback of albedo could just be left out of the modeling.

    For the sake of argument, just grant the Believers that their hysterical notions of catastrophe are all valid, from floods to droughts, and accept their pretense that subjective probabilities have a scientific meaning. Get all that stuff off the table, and get on with the problem that AGW and the models are failures, as it must be because the Sun is the source of both Earth’s climate and its climate change, and that CO2 just goes along for the ride.

    • This is really more like: ‘I might be bitten by a deadly snake so I’m gonna chop my hand off to prevent my death.’

      • Kim, 9/20/11, 2:34 pm

        Very good! If I might make a little suggestion:

        I might be bitten on the hand by a deadly snake so I’m gonna chop my hand off to prevent my death.

      • Jeff

        Your example assumes a higher level of certainty that is warranted.
        How about channging that to ” I dreamt I might be bitten on the hand by a deadly snake so when I woke up I chopped my hand off to prevent my death.”

      • tonyb, 9/20/11, 3:06 pm, 4º

        Good. OK. How about,

        I was told by a consensus of anthropologists that it was extremely likely that everyone would soon be bitten on their left hands by snakes with Tipping Point venom, convincing our PolicyMakers to order our left hands chopped off to prevent a slaughter.

      • No, the increased absurdity of my scenario matches that of the CAGW movement. What they’ve actually done is amputate their brains. It’s called panic.

        Razors & tunes.

      • Removing the hand prevents reaching under the bed at night, and turning the pages of ‘Where the Wild Things Are’.

    • It’s all yesterday’s news anyway, they’re moving on to Agenda 21 and sustainability. Right back to where it started; Population Bomb, Zero Growth, WWII Controls and Rationing as religion.

      AGW is a stage prop.

      • Like a dog to offal, the AGW movement circles back to failed ideas.

      • Like a dog to offal, the AGW movement circles back to failed ideas.

        Anyone get the feeling hunter is just a computer program? Joe Weizenbaum’s Eliza program used to be able to carry on like this back in the 1960’s.

        What’s odd is that even though modern computers are a million times faster, the repartee of modern Eliza programs has barely doubled.

      • cwon14, 9/20/11, 4º

        What you say is literally true. Did you notice that Lenny Smith’s piece was dated 8/28/09?

      • Damn you cwon and your ilk for forcing your skeptical thoughts on me!


        I don’t want to believe you! Seriously!

      • “what if” games can be fun but can always be counter with a different “what if”

      • If the world population could be satisfied with simply breathing out CO2, instead of having their Chevy Corvettes, Boeing 737’s, and power grids do it for them, the planet might be able to cough up the resources needed to support a few more billion people without choking on their fumes.

        But if it can’t be (which I rather suspect), the question of whether the population is going to increase is less relevant than whether the existing 6 billion people whose CO2 output today is mainly their breathing are contemplating upgrading to emulate the 1 billion for whom breathing is the least of their CO2 output.

        My forecast is that the planet cannot reach even a population of 8 billion, let alone 10 billion, because the 6 billion who currently aren’t having any significant impact on CO2 (besides their breathing) are going to upgrade faster than we can get to 8 billion.

        Mark my words. If I’m wrong, and if inertial confinement fusion has not solved the problem in the meantime, my estate will shout you a beverage of your choice.

      • Vaughan, we should already be over 7 billion.


        8 billion is forecast for 2025

      • we should already be over 7 billion.

        Oh, I agree, kermit. So who’s to blame more that we aren’t, me or you?

        8 billion is forecast for 2025

        That will work if today’s 6 billion CO2 breathers don’t upgrade to more serious CO2 production between now and then. What are the odds?

      • Vaughan, & that’s alot of Coca-cola drinkers. Maybe your estate can give out some non-cabonated beverages :)

      • My forecast is that the planet cannot reach even a population of 8 billion, let alone 10 billion, because the 6 billion who currently aren’t having any significant impact on CO2 (besides their breathing) are going to upgrade faster than we can get to 8 billion.

        Dr. Pratt: Your colleague, Dr. Ehrlich, made several forecasts for how it was all going to come crashing down on our heads in the ten or twenty years. His forecasts turned out to be total bunk. In the “How Scientists…” topic you defended Ehrlich and I tore your defense apart.

        Why should we trust your forecast any more then Ehrlich’s?

        You and Ehrlich are unaccountable when it comes to such forecasts. If the doom bell doesn’t ring when you say it will, you just move the goal posts another ten, twenty years into the future and return to all the perks and prizes of your ivy league lives.

        Then you complain about how so many of us lesser mortals despise your brand of science.

  13. this is one of the more obtuse presentations I’ve seen. I’m sure it would have been better with the narration. The Fitzroy quote at the end is the best part and is much more clearly written than most of the uncertainty-related references I’ve seen in the blogs.

    can somebody please interprest “Can climate science suggest the space and time scales, as a function of lead time, on which we can make arguably robust statements or “decision-relevant probabilities” ?”

    and this “As they are nonlinear we have to evaluate them along trajectories.”

    as far as “((The usual numerical arguments require much larger scales than the model’s grid, at least!)” and the example profile of the Norwegian mountain (I hope the models are better than that?!?!?) I guess I agree, I have thought there would be value in exploring the need for model resolution from
    ‘bottom up’ as opposed to ‘top down’ i.e. starting from the proposition that we should model every molecule, and trimming it from there. What parameter identifies the strength of the chaos in an atmosphere thick enough that the mean time between collisions is much shorter than the probable time for relaxation back to the pre-excited state…?

  14. If John is in the Uk I would suggest he looks at the evidence


    and recognise that the UK climate has seen a precipitate decline in temperature over the last five years.

    A benign warmer world is becoming a distant memory so perhaps he ought to forget the highly touted Plan A -covering warming-and be like me and implement Plan B-for cooling.

    I suggest John thoroughly insulates his property, buy in a large pile of logs and purchase warm clothing in the autumn sales-just picked up a £140 ski jacket for £40.

    I would also suggest he buys in some big bags of rock salt so he can grit his pub car park.


    • and recognise that the UK climate has seen a precipitate decline in temperature over the last five years.

      Mainly England, whose population has gotten out of control lately. God intervened in Scotland to the same effect long ago with suitable clothing.

      If ye want the temperature back up, dress appropriately.

  15. The apt analogy, instead of a snake injecting a deadly toxin, is to a nurse injecting a life-sustaining nutrient. Monitor the dose? Why, yes, glad ya thought of it. This anthropogenic CO2 is like a K-Rider, an infusion of potassium solution, both potentially dangerous and life-sustaining.

    If the plant side of the biosphere thrives with increased CO2, so should the animal house.

    • The nurse is injecting larger and larger doses each day and a chemical is building up in the body at a rate which is untested.

      Some, pointing at model results suggesting danger from the chemical at projected future levels, argue that the patient must be gradually moved to a less risky drug where the chemical does not build up, even if that drug is more expensive.

      Others deny there’s any danger and demand the issue be ignored, advocating the nurse increase the dose (surprisingly enough the company that sells the drug tends to agree)

      • lolwot,
        But the record shows these levels have been reached in the past, that the climate of the time was not bad, and no one is saying ignore the larger problem of the environment except your strawmen.
        But the one claiming it is a crisis has a ‘cure’ that has never been demonstrated to work, costs huge amounts of money and is proven to be harmful- yet is extremely profitable to the one pushing the ‘cure’.
        I think that if you were to want to write an accurate analogy, you would have said something like what I just wrote.

      • I’ll take my nurse over yours. Mine’s aware of the dangers and the benefits. Maximum safe dose is unknown and Lethal Dose/50% probably very high. The patient is clearly benefitting so far. The earth is greening.

  16. Hey folks!

    While we’re “dream scheming” about a 4 degree warmer world, let’s put on our thinking caps and imagine a 4 degree colder world.



  17. With the coldest UK summer I can remember behind us with an average temperature of just 13.6C (57F), 17.6C would actually look like something of a blessing!

    • You don’t live in East Anglia then? That would become part of the North Sea if temperatures did rise that much.

      The London Underground would have to be renamed the London Underwater.

      • It must make you feel better once you learned that there is zero evidence of any dangerous sea level rise. That is if you accept the satellite data showing that the rate of rise is less than 1 foot every 100 years.

      • It wouldn’t be 3mm per year if temperatures were allowed to rise by 4 degrees.
        Evidence from the Eemian period (the previous interglacial) shows sea levels were several metres higher even though temperatures were only a degree or two higher than in the Holocene (the current period).

        I can understand that the UK climate may not be too much to your liking. If so, then move! Don’t argue that the global climate should change, including Africa, Asia etc where its quite warm enough, and should be even warmer just to suit you Poms (Brits)!.

        Is that selfish, and arrogant ,or what?

      • The Eemian peaked at 3C above present temperatures according to the Vostok ice cores.

        CO2 followed temperature rises.

        The ice age returned despite a 100ppm rise in CO2.


      • According to offical statistics the UK average temperature has warmed by 0.7C since 1659. There’s more chance of us going to war with Germany than there is of a 4 degree rise in temperature within my lifetime.

      • Rick,

        You’re right in saying that 4 degrees is probably not going to happen in your lifetime. And if you are a typical AGW denier , > 50 years old, retired or semi retired with nothing else to do but write crap about science you don’t understand on climate blogs, AGW is just not going to be a problem for you at all in your lifetime.

        So that’s all right then, is it?

    • tempterrain,

      No I’m 36 and I learnt in my teens how the temperature would be several degrees hotter by the 2010s, parts of East Anglia would disappear underwater and large areas of London would be inundated with water by 2030. Nothing much has happened so far, if anything with the exception of April which was an unusually hot month the past years have been unusually cold.

      Now it could turn out to be true, which is why I use little in the way of energy and avoid car use where possible. I also work with heavy industry in carbon reduction programmes – I do this because it’s the right thing to do regardless in a world of finite resources. I kind of like the antithesis of Al Gore, he says he believes in catastrophic climate change but has the carbon footprint of a small country, I say I’m skeptical because I’ve heard it all before but this should be no excuse for inaction!

      • I don’t think you’ll have read any scientist say ” the temperature would be several degrees hotter by the 2010s”

        That’s over 1 degree warming per decade.

        You’re just making this up.

      • It was in the news this week that the Welsh Assembly has paid for climate change material for schools. I had a very quick look through the materials and the same claims are being made today that were being made 22 years ago. Have a look here
        and download ‘Theme 2: The Welsh climate perspective’ it says as far as I can see that by the 2020s Wales will be >1-2C warmer.

        This is science as it is taught in British schools!

      • I’d just make the point that this information is not from a scientific source. It seems to rely on this link for its information:

        But, as you can see you can get just about any answer you like depending on which percentile grouping you choose. Presumably the 0.8 deg C warming already experienced would have to be included.

        There is a tendency amongst many, and I would include people like Al Gore, to compress the timescales involved to match human experiences. A warming of 0.2 degC per decade doesn’t seem that serious from one decade to the next. So, people like yourself look at a period of 20 years and ask what all the fuss is about!

        The problem isn’t so much about what the Earth will be like in 2020 or even 2050 but what it will be like in 2100, 2200 and later. 2100 is normally considered in climate discussions. I’m not sure why we feel that year is any more important. We’ll all be just as dead in 2100 as in 2200.

        David Archer explains the timescales well in his book:
        “The Long Thaw: How Humans Are Changing the Next 100,000 Years of Earth’s Climate”


      • “2100 is normally considered in climate discussions. I’m not sure why we feel that year is any more important.”

        I was surprised to learn that a lot of that has to do with computing power. Until recently, it was really hard to do enough model runs to 2200 and beyond. The AR5 will do better.

        I took a run at the long term here: http://theidiottracker.blogspot.com/2011/09/what-if-we-took-4c-as-inevitable.html.

        Easterbrook has a first look at the AR5: http://www.easterbrook.ca/steve/?p=2634. Check out the BAU graph, yowsiers.

      • My reply seems to have appeared at the bottom of the list.

  18. Judith

    I followed the link to the point mentioned here

    “The link to his 4 degrees presentation is [here]”
    which seems to be broken. .
    Can you fix

  19. Judith

    Panic over -at the sixth attempt it connected.

    I think you need to be at his climate presentation in person-I detect a distnict lack of enthusiasm from the denizens for the online version. Lets see if that changes as more people read your post.


  20. I’ve just come across this link which does answer the often made claim that reducing CO2 emissions doesn’t have to mean the end of industrial based civilisation as we all know and love it!


    • “So to ensure the overall emissions that result from our transport needs are genuinely minimal, that power will either need to be created in nuclear power plants or it needs to come from renewable energy sources such as hydropower or wind farms.

      So as long as fossil fuels such as coal and gas remain part of a nation’s energy mix, the vision of completely emission-free motoring will remain a pipedream.”

      China get 70% or more of its electricity from coal. The US 46%.

  21. I can’t help but wonder if the BigSurprise might not turn out to be that Earth’s climate is resilient and self-regulating through cloud-cover responses and that the weather that we get will not be discernibly different than the wild array of weather we’ve seen in the modern era (say, the last two thousands years).

    Discussions of ‘What will a +4° world look like?’ are only interesting to me if there is some chance that we will see such a thing during the next century or so. And so far, there has not been any reliable science that successfully supports this claim.

    • “I can’t help but wonder if the BigSurprise might not turn out to be that Earth’s climate is resilient and self-regulating through cloud-cover responses”

      That would be a Big Surprise given that past climate doesn’t at all resemble a system that is resilient and self-regulating.

      If it was self-regulating there wouldn’t have been periods of ice ages or palm trees in the arctic.

      • lolwot: You may be conflating two or more general topics: those that span geological history of the Earth and the subject of climate change in the modern era. I don’t believe that the topics usually under discussion here at Climate Etc. concern issues of spanning geological time periods, where the driving factors affecting climate are confounded by geological upheaval, continent building, and other factors not yet understood.

      • You have to take into account that the CO2 changes expected in this period (1900-2100) are comparable with those on geological time scales of tens of millions of years, so geological time scales are very relevant to what we are seeing in just these couple of centuries.

    • Kip,

      “A resilient self regulating climate” ? That’s a nice idea; but, the evidence of the last million or so years which have seen large changes of global temperature, ice ages to interglacial warmer periods, at approximately 100,000 year intervals shows that is all it is.

      The climate forcings which have brought these about haven’t been large. Just a small change in the concentricity of orbit, or a small change in the tilt of the Earth’s axis has been enough to send the global climate sliding into a new quasi-stable state.

      The reliable science is there. You just need to read up on it a bit more.

      • Cold climate is way more stable than warm climate by a 9 to 1 ration.

        It will get cold again. The next ice age will come. Co2 has never saved any other interglacials from ending.

      • Tempterrain –> Yes, my point exactly. Without the real climate changers — ‘a small change in the concentricity of orbit, or a small change in the tilt of the Earth’s axis’ and we might add, periods of high volcanic activity — the climate has been in a ‘quasi-stable state’ for thousands of years, and more likely to remain in that state, absent a return of those climate changers, than not.

      • Kip,

        On a point of information the term “quasi -stable sate” means that the state is not that stable at all. Like if you stand a pencil vertically on your desk.

        It means that the climate will stay the same only if there are no applied forcing factors applied. If the sun changes we can’t do much about that of course, but the evidence is that it is not currently changing much at all. So, climate will stay the same only if the GH gas concentrations remain the same.

      • “Co2 has never saved any other interglacials from ending.”

        That’s because it hasn’t been this high during previous interglacial periods.


    • And so far, there has not been any reliable science that successfully supports this claim.

      Right. All the claims you believe in are supported by unreliable science. We know your kind well.

  22. H2 is an energy loser and creates a lot of water as a waste product.
    Wet (frozen/muddy) roads are generally not considered so wonderful.
    But as to the idea of the AGW community demanding an end ot industrial civilization as we know it, check this out:

    • Water isn’t a problem! It is emitted as a vapour and very quickly, a matter of hours or days, condenses out of the atmosphere. Unlike CO2 which stays there for hundreds of years.

      The science of global warming, as you put it, isn’t designed to appeal to, or repel, any particular community. There is no politics involved at all.

      However, having said that, I’m sure we have all noticed there are those who seem quite gleeful that this particular problem has arisen. On the other hand there are those who are find the political consequences of effective climate action to be so repulsive, it’s driven them to outright denial of even the possibility that mainstream science has correctly assessed the situation.

      FWIW, my attitude, and I’d say that of all sensible people, is that AGW is nothing to celebrate at all. It’s rather like being told by a dentist you need a filling. Yes, the diagnosis is deniable for a short period, but the longer the treatment is deferred the worse it’s all going to be in the end.

  23. In Lenny Smith’s slide show, he puts this near the end:
    [start of slide text]
    We are walking in Florida.
    You find you have just been bitten on the hand by a snake.
    We did not see the snake.
    If it was the deadly carbonblack snake, the bite will kill you in a painful
    way, unless you cut off your hand within 15 secs.
    I have a hatchet.
    You have 5 seconds left.
    Did you cut off your hand?

    How would a society learn to make such decisions?
    Luckily with climate change we have more than 15 seconds. Without knowing exactly how much more.
    [end of slide text]

    The most important question in relation to this slide is this: Is the ‘deadly carbonblack snake’ and its toxicity REAL? or an urban legend? Having caught wild snakes for a living, I would have snatched the hatchet out of the victim’s hand before he acted on his unfounded belief – the ‘deadly carbonblack’ being entirely imaginary and the bite resulting from nothing more dangerous than a common black rat snake [the proper level of immediate first aid for such bites is ‘wipe wound on pants’.]

    The analogy is quite apt — if CO2 climate change is limited to +/- what we’ve experienced to date (last couple of hundred years) then we must be very careful not to ‘cut off our hand[s]’ in haste and ignorance.

    • “We did not see the snake.”

      So … it could have been a mosquito? Kind of drastic action to shop off your hand if you were bitten by a mosquito.

    • Kip, to me the snake analogy illustrates how AGW depends on misperception and ignorance to drive decision making in a direction AGW promoters want.

    • This seems to be quite a crude analogy. The correct treatment for a snake bite is to tightly bandage the wound. Not chop off limbs or even try to cut open the wound and suck out the poison. Aussies, having some of the world’s most venomous snakes, know about such things!

      The analogy should be: if there is a problem, you seek the best medical or scientific advice and what needs to be done to treat it.

      • The difference between a snakebite and .8C of warming over a 100 years is one could kill you and the other is completely within the bounds of normal variability.

      • I do agree — the analogy is a bit crude — but it is Lenny Smith’s analogy, not mine. I just start with his given, and extend it with my own experience. I have seen mothers rush a child to the emergency room after a snake bite, terrorizing and traumatizing the liitle tike, in areas where no poisonous snakes — absolutely none — exist. Acting out of ignorance, with the best of intentions, thus causing harm that they would have avoided had they been in possession of better data.

        The real lesson for mothers (and hikers and outdoorsmen) is Know Your Environment and its Real Hazards.

        Your suggested treatment for poisonous snake bite is correct of course, especially if in reasonable reach of professional treatment. For non-poisonous snake bite (know your area and its hazards) is ‘Wipe wound on pants’ — snakes do not carry germs that effect mammals. I have been bitten by hundreds (quite literally) of non-poisonous snakes, and have yet to suffer even a minor infection of a wound.

        The Komodo ‘dragon’ is an exception to the ‘wipe on pants’ rule for reptile bites — post-bite infection is it’s greatest weapon. The Komodo eats carrion and doesn’t brush its teeth.

  24. Sponsor of this study is the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, a group whose stated mission and policy objectives are (bold type by me):

    We advance public and private action on climate change through rigorous, innovative research.

    Climate change and its potential impacts are increasingly accepted, but economic, social and political systems have been slow to respond.

    There is a clear and urgent need to speed up efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to unavoidable climate change – and our mission is to respond to this need
    Policy objectives
    In pursuit of its mission, the Centre has two main policy objectives:
    · Advance climate change policy and increase the capacity of public and private decision makers to respond to one of the most critical challenges facing the world today; and
    · Support a ‘new global deal’ on climate change, through a formal state agreement and through a wider set of actions worldwide, by improving both the evidence base and the tools and implementation strategies available to decision makers.

    OK. So the study is sponsored by a self-declared climate advocacy group, who is pushing for a “new global deal” on climate change (whatever that entails).

    The whole discussion revolves around a hypothetical premise: a “4 degree warmer world”.

    As Willis Eschenbach has commented eloquently on a previous thread, the premise that this is something we might face and, even more so, that it is something we humans are causing, is based on a:

    crappy, untested model prediction, which represents only the modeler’s fantasy of what will happen

    The ”crappy, untested model prediction” of a ”4-degree warmer world”is shown on page 4 as one of the first graphs in the presentation (taken from IPCC).

    In a earlier slide we read (a point that Judith highlighted):

    The credibility of science is at risk if we fail to communicate our deep uncertainty [regarding] quantitative results provided to decision makers.

    I would fully agree with the concept, but as far as the credibility of climate science is concerned, the genie is already long out of the bottle.

    Quantitative results and projections have already been provided to decision makers (latest version in AR4 SPM, including the graph on page 4).

    These have included distortions, exaggerations, fabrications, understatement of uncertainties and omissions of data, all going in the direction of making human-induced climate change sound more alarming.

    Climategate and other revelations have exposed some of this.

    As a result, the credibility of climate science has already suffered.

    Honestly lowering the bar makes applied science more useful, less volatile, and much much easier to advance.

    “Honestly lowering the bar” would be a step in the right direction, as Judith agrees, but it will take a lot more than that to re-establish credibility and trust in climate science. To achieve this (maybe) IPCC must drastically change its approach and its process, which has become totally corrupted.

    The problem with the “4-degree world” postulation is that it is being presented as a plausible reality, which could actually be even worse than that (as we see from the next chart, with temperature shooting up to the ceiling almost as sharply as in Al Gore’s “AIT” film).

    Judith is right, the bar should have been lowered honestly: this presentation should have been called the “±2-degree world”, with a clear message that we have no earthly idea what the temperature will be in 2100, nor do we have any notion what part of any change could or could not be caused by humans, but we should look at how we would need to adapt if it happened to get 2 degrees warmer – or 2 degrees colder.

    That would have been an honest “what if” question.

    The “4-degree world” premise is not. It is simply fear mongering hidden behind pseudo-scientific double-talk.

    Then to add a sense of urgency in sort of a “reality show” approach (page 16):

    You find you have just been bitten on the hand by a snake. We did not see the snake. If it was the deadly carbonblack snake, the bite will kill you in a painful way, unless you cut off your hand within 15 secs. I have a hatchet. You have 5 seconds left.
    Did you cut off your hand?

    Luckily with climate change we have more than 15 seconds.
    Without knowing exactly how much more…

    Gimme a break!


  25. Judith

    Looks like we have everything formatted in italics.

    Is there a reason for this?


    • fixed . . . blame hunter :)

      • Moi?
        If so, please accept my apology.
        I do not typically ever use use italics and did not notice I have ever done so on your blog. My kung fu does not have me using italics and I thought I noticed AK take responsibility.
        But thanks for fixing it, and if I somehow did it, again I am sorry.

      • Yup. I dunnit, and tried to fix it but couldn’t.

  26. How clear is our vision of 4 degree worlds?

    The proper question should be: How clear is our vision of a 0.15 deg C world by about 2030?


  27. I can think of something much scarier than a +4 C world, that would be a -2C world

    • There are those living in the tropics and equatorial regions who may disagree.

      How about agreeing to a compromise and agreeing that we do what we can to keep temperatures as unchanged as possible?

      • tempterrain

        How about agreeing to a compromise and agreeing that we do what we can to keep temperatures as unchanged as possible?

        “Unchanged” from what level?

        We have had this conversation before, but what would you personally say is the “Goldilocks just right temperature” for our planet?

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

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

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

        But let’s forget about this problem for now.

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

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

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

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

        Is this the “Goldilocks Ideal Global Temperature” (GIGT) for our planet?

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

        In fact, since the modern record started we have seen several multi-decadal warming and cooling cycles of around 30 years each with an underlying warming of 0.65°C over 160+ years.

        Would you say the GIGT is the temperature we had in 1998 (15.3°C)? Or maybe the one in 2008 (around 15.0°C)? How about 1988 (just below 15°C)?

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

        Before fretting about “doing what we can to keep temperatures as unchanged as possible” you need to define the desired temperature you want to “keep” (and why).

        Without this you are just spouting hollow, meaningless words, tempterrain.


      • You ask Unchanged from what level ?

        Two suggestions:
        1) the 20th century average.
        2) We aim for dT/dt =0 (Using 10-20 year block comparisons. Santer says 17 years)

        Stabilising CO2 atmospheric concentrations at 350ppmv is another suggestion I’d go along with.

      • Isn’t it the case, that the models predict that the warming will be greater at the poles than the equatorial regions?
        Having just come back from a lovely 2 weeks at a gorgeous 30-34C holiday in Greece, to a miserable, cold 14-18C UK, I’m all for a bit of warming!
        The chances of the global temps. being 4C higher in my, or my children’s lifetimes are zero.
        The models have been proved to be worthless, look at Hansen’s 1988 predictions. Real temperatures are bumping along below those of his Scenario C, emmissions of plant food, haven’t stopped rising since 2002, as model C assumed, no lower tropospheric hotspot, thus models are garbage.
        A more pragmatic excercise, would be to look at the effects of global temperatures being + or – 2C from where they are today.
        I’d bet that a +2C difference, would be far preferable to -2C.

      • Adam,

        I think yours is the “Global warming is a good thing” argument:


  28. Back to reality, MiniTrue lurks its head again;


    The swamp money pit, it’s got nothing to do with real science.

    • cwon14,
      I had forgotten Clintgon’s mean streak.
      And he is such a slick talker he is able to slip in his little knifing with hardly breaking a stride.
      Lately, every time he is on an interview he sounds ticked off and uncomfortable.
      He also looks like heck.
      My bet is he has a significant health issue and is not feeling well.
      But it is a bit immature to use that, if that is the case, to dump on everyone who might possibly disagree with him.
      The sturm and drang about 30 year assault on the American dream and his infantile bs about AGW just sounds like he is having some sour grapes over money he may have invested with his pal Al Gore in a carbon exchange.
      The best thing to do when Clinton goes off like this is to remember when he is grumpy he is still eloquent and not take him seriously.

      • I’m sort of sick of the taboos on this board. The blood lust politics that revolves around the alleged “science” and players in the “consensus” is met by an obtuse denial on the part of the moderator and of course the supporting agw minions found here. This and next topic are perfect example.

  29. I think that he is right that climate science needs to explain the huge uncertainties. But there is an even bigger problem that climate science needs to admit — the quality of much of the work is just awful. In the end, failure to acknowledge and resolve this lack of quality control will bring far more pain and angst for the climate science community than failure to explain all the uncertainty.

  30. Most of the global warming (0.45 deg C) at the end of the last century occurred in a six years period from 1992 to 1998.


    Is a change in global mean temperature in a six years period climate change?

  31. Dr. Curry,
    A serious question:
    What is the difference between a ‘general cooling effect’ and ‘negative feedback’?

    • this issue is coming in the next thread

    • “What is the difference between a ‘general cooling effect’ and ‘negative feedback’?”

      That is a great topic! A general cooling effect can be a feedback and a feedback can result in a general cooling effect. With climate sensitivity defined as the temperature resulting from doubled CO2, only a cooling effect resulting from the change in CO2 would be a negative feedback with the exception of aerosols since there is a human component. So natural climate variations due to internal oscillations get lost in the CO2 shuffle.

  32. Norm Norm Kalmanovitch

    The current cooling is 0.1 deg C per decade, not 0.01 deg C per decade as shown below:


  33. What, so few actually wants to play the war game?

    What would be different about a pub in a +4º world?

    Well, you might fly to the pub in your jet pack or hovercar, reserving your favorite barstool and ordering a drink before you arrived by the cybernetic chip implanted in your skull and watch the game in 3D holographic video.

    So, it’ll be fun. Nothing to be alarmed about.

    By my lights, it’d take between 130 and 500 years from today or — if we based +4º on the start of the Industrial Age 250 years ago — 100 and 470 years from today to hit +4º.

    We can’t reliably predict sea level rise on speculation alone, as a 6º-8º warmer Antarctic might accumulate more ice due still being cold enough to freeze water, but by being warmer might experience more precipitation and no longer be a frigid desert. Just a frigid water-retaining behemoth. Nothing alarming about that, right?

    Odds are slim of the Antarctic ice glutton effect, so sea level rise is likelier, merely entirely unpredictable in level and timing.

    And the beer? Likely skunky artificial crap trucked in from someplace. I mean, you’d have to move breweries to higher altitudes. You ever taste beer from hot zones? You want your beer brewed someplace cold.

    Pub food?

    Well, if weather extremes are a product of more heat in the system, and as it’s my war game, I’m postulating this is inevitable, the food is in tiny little servings, probably jellyfish. Deep fried jellyfish. Expensive deep fried jellyfish. So many other species failed, though that would be overfishing and fish farming until the fickle weather on the sea made that unsustainable, not climate change directly.

    You want a girlie drink?

    Too bad.

    No pineapple; that whole branch of the plant kingdom evolved when CO2 levels were always sub-300 ppmv. The stuff won’t grow as a crop out of doors — let’s say, for the sake of argument. Do you know for sure it will?

    No banana, either. Once the banana soil fungus Fusarium wilt hit its favorite CO2 and heat range, it wiped out the entire Musa line around 2140 or so.

    No Clamato, as both adult hard-shelled sea life and tomato seedlings found it difficult to survive the high CO2 levels, shells so thin predators wiped out clams, and the plant-hormone inhibition effects of CO2 leading to multigenerational degradation of tomato plants.

    The loss of sorghum (5th most important food crop in the world, and 3rd most important in the USA) won’t affect you in the pub, of course. Unless you’re poor and famine wiped out your ancestors or is wiping you out. Plenty of barley to replace it — low grade, nutrient poor barley, makes for horrible beer — but lots of it.

    You don’t want to mention the word ‘rye’ as the peak conditions for ergot, the hallucinagenic and deadly rye smut, also found their place with higher CO2 and heat, rendering generations revolted by the rye plant. Though it grows vigorously everywhere.

    And celery. Yum. Indeed, most plants are just fine.

    Merely crop failure is more common than in the good old days. Because, well, extreme weather.

    Smog is endemic, too. Fun stuff.

    Looking forward to it.

    • What kind of a girly metro drinks clamato?

      • In 500 years time? None. In my war game.

        If you want clamato-drinking girlies, get your own war game.

    • Bart R’s glass is half empty. Someone take pity and top it up.

    • OK, Bart, I’ll play your game.

      IPCC has won the climate war.

      We have shut down the global carbon economies of the Europe, Australia and New Zealand and even convinced North America and Japan to do the same.

      At night there is no more light pollution – satellite images show that these countries all look like North Korea (with per capita GDP sinking to one-third its pre-shutdown level).

      The developing economies originally continued to grow, although at a slower rate since exports dropped dramatically; toward the end of the century even these economies started to decline..

      As a resultof the lower human CO2 emissions, AGW has been reduced by a calculated 0.3°C

      At the same time, Nature has helped out, with temperatures dropping another 0.7°C naturally, and the “globally and annually averaged land and sea surface temperature” now back to pre-1800 levels (when we were still emerging from the Little Ice Age). Back to a joyful Dickens world.

      As was expected, much of the global cooling has come in northern latitudes, which had previously benefited most from the earlier warming.

      Canada has essentially stopped producing wheat for export, as have Russia and northern sections of the USA, Europe and China. Crop shortages and resulting regional and global famines have become more frequent.

      Rioting and looting have become epidemic throughout the worst-hit areas with governments no longer able to maintain law and order.

      John has long ago shut down his bar and is working on the assembly line of a state-owned company producing wind turbines. Electrical power is rationed in the UK, with no domestic usage permitted after dark or when the wind is not blowing; the same restrictions apply for commercial consumers, such as restaurants and bars, with no local diesel generators allowed..

      Michel has also shut down his bar, but is a bit more fortunate than John, since France still kept its nuclear power capability, which is, however, unable to cope with the demand of all of Europe, so electrical power is rationed in France, as well. Michel works for EdF, as an operator in a nuclear power plant.

      Both John and Michel regret the “good old days” when living was easy and turning on a light switch was taken for granted..

      Interestingly, John’s son emigrated to India in search of a better life, while Michel’s daughter emigrated to China for the same reason.

      John and Michel occasionally received post cards, which they paste on the wall.

      There’s a snapshot of your “low-carbon 1 degree colder Earth”, Bart.



      • manacker

        Now there’s the spirit! You must be an old hand at war gaming. To judge by your military language, one must suspect you’ve been battling conspiracies and spies, fifth columnists and terrorists hiding behind every corner all your life.

        I note you don’t give a timescale, which makes it difficult to relate to your war game. Do these things happen in one week? One year? One century?

        Do you imagine them a fixed and inevitable state, or a point in evolution?

        And really, you imagine a world where the bars and pubs are all shut down. That’s just not fair gamesmanship.

        Where will people be drinking?

      • Bart, thanks for the compliment, but this is my first attempt at war gaming, just following your brilliant lead.

        If you read closely, you’ll see that it all happens gradually over the 21st century. The 1°C cooling happens over a few decades, but this is not a fixed state. As we both know, our climate is continuously changing (and will continue to do so, regardless of what we try to do to influence it).

        Bars and pubs are not ALL shut down, of course. That would be a sad world, indeed. But with electrical power rationing and the many blackouts after dark, many have been forced to do so. But, as we both know, bars and pubs were open during pre-industrial times, and even during periods of extreme poverty.


      • manacker

        Extremely well-played, sir!

        So, we now have two disjoint scenarios (I’d prefer six or seven, but two suffices).

        What actions would we be able to detail that would fail for both scenarios, and which actions would be helpful for both?

        Which actions would work for one but not for the other?

        Your scenario is slightly awkward to work with, but then so is mine (I’m rusty at this form of problem evaluation).

        I propose that in both cases, continuing to have a body like the IPCC advance the climate body of knowledge while closely audited and skeptically evaluated in all its findings is a winning strategy. Personalities and politics aside, both scenarios demand improving the state of understanding from where it now is.

        Further, it’s apparent that food security issues, and general security issues, are common to both scenarios. Clearly, efforts to make food supply more secure and to pacify populations are going to be wanted.

        Both scenarios share significant need for physical infrastructure — in the one to deal with snow, in the other with sea-level perturbations. Investment in the basic industries and training necessary for each, and in developing the means for those in need to pay for these services on demand, made of win.

        Significant trade agreements with the BRICS countries, also win for both, though slightly more explicitly with the manacker scenario. Learn Portuguese, Russian, Hindi, Cantonese (or is it Mandarin?) and Afrikaans, and something of the history and culture of business in those zones.

        What would fail for each scenario? It appears cutting spending on technical and scientific education is a sure loser either way. Isolationism and protectionism, made of fail.

        What works for one but not the other? Committing to any expensive scenario-specific investment not firmly founded on absolute knowns — either building dykes and moving cities inland or turning the economy toward making parkas and mukluks and training in building igloos — would be desireable if we could be certain of one and only one scenario.

        As it is, as both scenarios are somewhat far-fetched, those singleton investments are ill-advised.

        Any other observations?

      • Bart R

        OK. Let’s look at your proposals for “action”, first with my comments and then with my counterproposals.

        I propose that in both cases, continuing to have a body like the IPCC advance the climate body of knowledge while closely audited and skeptically evaluated in all its findings is a winning strategy.

        This has not been a “winning strategy” to date, so there is no reason to believe it will suddenly become one. IPCC has outlived its usefulness by squandering its credibility. It should be abandoned.

        Climate science should continue, of course, in a reduced magnitude of scope. The UN has proven to be worthless as the umbrella organization for this. Unfortunately, the political leadership of the old scientific organizations like the RS, NAS, etc. have become part of the problem by politicizing climate science, so these groups are not of much value here, either. I’d say a small panel of non-aligned scientists, including “mainstream supporters”, “skeptics” and “lukewarmers” could be set up to fulfill the function of periodically summarizing new scientific findings. Names such as Christy, Lindzen, Curry, Soden, Dessler, Spencer, come to mind. “Mainstream” scientists implicated in Climategate plus activists, such as Hansen, should be excluded.

        efforts to make food supply more secure and to pacify populations are going to be wanted.

        Agree. This should include an immediate end to government subsidies and fuel regulations favoring corn ethanol, and other such nonsense, which is being pursued by government edict to “reduce carbon footprint”. This could include specific local studies on the impact of already experienced as well as anticipated changes in CO2 levels and climate on agriculture, including suggestions for changes in types of crops, need for genetically modified crops to cope with altered growing conditions, irrigation proposals; the key is that ALL these studies should be local or regional, where the impact of the possible changes will be felt.

        Both scenarios share significant need for physical infrastructure — in the one to deal with snow, in the other with sea-level perturbations.

        Agree. But both should be on an “if and when actually needed” basis. IOW “if and when” it looks like local actions might be needed to stem rising sea levels based on consistent mm/year increases in local sea levels, as determined by local tide gauge measurements, then these should be considered locally with ratification by the local taxpayers (either directly or through elected representatives). Global satellite altimetry sea level readings could be continued as interesting background information, but all decisions should be made based on local tide gauge measurements.

        The same would go for any deleterious impacts of global cooling – all adaptation should be locally (or regionally) approved and implemented on an “if and when actually needed” basis.

        [Negotiate and implement] significant trade agreements with the BRICS .

        Why not? But this is nothing new.

        What would fail for each scenario?

        Forced “top-down” solutions would fail. Spending large sums of taxpayer money “chasing windmills” or subsidizing economically unviable “green” industries is not working today, so there is no reason to believe that it will work if we substantially increase it in the future.

        It appears cutting spending on technical and scientific education is a sure loser either way. Isolationism and protectionism, made of fail.

        Education is always a good investment, as long as it is real “education” and not simply “political indoctrination”. Let’s emphasize education in real science and de-emphasize classes in such socio-scientific fields as “sustainability”, “environmental awareness”, etc.

        “Isolationism” or “protectionism” have also failed in the past. It’s a global market out there and the best regulator is the market itself, with governments regulating those things their voters want them to do: avoiding crime, stopping real pollution, etc.

        as both scenarios are somewhat far-fetched, those singleton investments are ill-advised

        Agreed. Spending government effort and taxpayer funding to regulate carbon emissions or teaching people how to build igloos would be a waste, so should not happen.

        Any other observations?

        We do not know a) whether or not it is going to get significantly warmer, significantly colder or not change significantly at all, and b) whether or not human activities have any perceptible impact on our planet’s climate.

        As a result, we should stop the myopic politicized obsession of taxpayer funded climate science on human CO2 emissions and their purported cause for anticipated dangerous AGW, all of which is based on suspect computer simulations backed by theoretical deliberations rather than empirical scientific data.

        Hope this has addressed your points.


      • manacker

        Max, I can see the spirit is willing, full marks for that, but the preconceived notions are weak.

        From a standing start in the 1970’s, before the IPCC existed, the notion of an IPCC would’ve been so incredible as to be laughed at by anyone with half a brain; the UN was pretty much at its nadir in popularity then, too, in the USA among those to the right of center, or in the case of Libertarians, a half bubble off level.

        Even now, both the UN and the IPCC are far healthier in credibility than they were four decades ago.

        Even if they aren’t, we have to by the very disjoint nature of the two scenarios and the huge Risk costs involved, allow that some body of some type must advance climatology globally as a body of knowledge to develop better information on which to base decisions.

        If it’s not the IPCC, it’s unlikely to be the NIPCC, which is as laughable now as the IPCC was 40 years ago.. and I don’t think we want to waste 40 years building from scratch a straightforward BOK organization. If it’s the IPCC separated from the UN.. might work, if it can be made to stand on its own feet somehow.

        The utter disaster of every country running its own disorderly and politically-skewed climatology effort is so obviously a waste of money and a farce that it’s likely to become a major presidential campaign platform in the USA sometime soon.

        I do like your depoliticizing and cost-saving notions, and there really ought be some good ways to get climatology done cost-effectively.. just not if done in some balkanized or deprioritized way. Think of the shoddy science that came out of, for example, a balkanized Europe in the first half of the 20th century under such conditions. ;) (Heh.. maybe poverty, endemic war and adversity does produce better science. But if you’re planning to experiment, I’m willing to bet the smart scientists figure a way to get into the control group.)

        While we agree on some things about food security, in particular local studies, and an end to ethanol subsidies and all biofuels that decrease food production, and your suggestions largely look symmetrical for both scenarios, we have to admit we’re not experts so they may not be entirely workable as they stand.

        By ‘negotiate’ trade agreements, I suppose you mean as opposed to ‘impose’ or ‘conquer and extract’. Over the next 100-500 years, I hope the USA leans toward negotiation with the BRICS over colonization, as I’m sure the BRICS hope (and especially, they hope of each other, too). Be a less stable world where the C tries to eat up the R and the I.

        As for the rest.. likely need a whole series of war games to make headway on those. Perhaps we’ll pursue them in another thread.

    • My word Bart, how ever did the Bannana survive the Medieval Warm Period? Let alone the Roman, Minoan ones & Holocene Climatic Optimum?
      You need some real beer, not that piss passed by Budweisser! Try Cobra or Kingfisher, Indian beers! (Ooooh, they’re brewed in “Warm Climates”)
      Ergotism was rife in Medieval Europe (Ooops, that dreadful MWP rears its ugly, denialist, head again!) , still would be now, except we’ve got fungicides.

      • Adam Gallon

        While a learned discussion, you’ve only gotten a little of the way through the step of looking at historical (or fictional history-inspired) analogies for insights into the evolution of the war game.

        The banana may indeed survive Fusarium wilt, but it won’t be the dominant agricultural lineage. Banana, terribly genetically vulnerable due overspecialization since Columbus. Unless you can name the banana plantation running since the time of the founding of Rome, your examples are moot.

        Speaking of moot, while beer is ancient and far-faring, let’s face it, it reached the peak of its art in cold climates. The few marginal warm weather beers that are tolerable aren’t to everyone’s tastes. Pubs will primarily devolve into wine bars.

        We’ve got fungicides. And fungi and microbes in general produce resistant strains. Which they do best when they have ideal conditions of heat and CO2. Which conditions we don’t know yet.

        So what does history teach us happens in pubs when food prices soar, the drinks are substandard, uncertainty dominates the economy and the weather gets hot?

      • Ole Stumphole.

    • Bart R,
      When you talk about bananas and pineapples going extinct or becoming unavailable, you are only demonstrating a tremendous lack of knowledge about agriculture, and nothing about climate.
      You AGW true believers latch onto this bs like fundies talking about the rapture and parsing bible verses until they yield out some cool scenario.
      It is fun talk for the faithful but has no value in dealing with possible futures.

    • “By my lights, it’d take between 130 and 500 years from today . . .”

      So it’s an appeal to authority — yours. So where’s your publication list, so we can start to evaluate your credibility?

      • Robert

        You miss the point of what a “WAR GAME” exercise is.

        The scenarios developed are not intended as predictions.

        The scenarios aren’t arguments to prove hypotheses.

        There is no appeal to authority, except that by the convention of the game, within the scenario, the author is playing god for the span of their scenario within the set up of game.

        The authors relinquish godhood and authority after the set up, as you saw manacker and myself do, to play out the game.

        No scenario is treated as having more or less predictive power or likelihood than any other scenario.

        The only thing that invalidates a scenario is if it does not contribute to the purpose of the game.

        The ultimate objective, to discuss policy alternatives for their strategic benefits and liabilities over the span of all scenarios.

  34. Even if we get runaway warming, which I personally think is fairly low probability, a flat increase of ‘n’ degrees seems most unlikely. More likely colder regions will get higher increases and the hottest regions much less.

  35. Back to Willis’ earlier quote on model studies as it relates to the “4 degree warmer Earth” premise:

    crappy, untested model prediction, which represents only the modeler’s fantasy of what will happen

    How did we get this “4 degree warmer Earth” storyline in the first place and how realistic is it?

    In arriving at this storyline, IPCC downplayed the importance of natural climate forcing and then used “crappy, untested model predictions” to arrive at a 2xCO2 “climate sensitivity” of 3.2°C, which is very likely exaggerated by a factor of 3 (or more).

    Then IPCC used another set of “crappy, untested model predictions” to arrive at atmospheric CO2 “storylines and scenarios” that are also most likely exaggerated by another factor of 2 (or more).

    IOW the whole premise is exaggerated by a factor of 6 (or more).

    Following the advice of the “4 degree warmer Earth” author himself and “honestly lowering the bar” rather than exaggerating the impacts in order to incite fear, the premise would be a ”0.7 degree warmer Earth” with the snakebite replaced by a gnat sting and the whole story becoming a yawner.

    But “honesty” was not part of the intent here.


    • “In arriving at this storyline, IPCC downplayed the importance of natural climate forcing and then used “crappy, untested model predictions” to arrive at a 2xCO2 “climate sensitivity” of 3.2°C, which is very likely exaggerated by a factor of 3 (or more).”

      What an extraordinary claim. Where is your extraordinary evidence?

      • What an extraordinary claim. Where is your extraordinary evidence?

        Extraordinary evidence: http://bit.ly/oI8dws

        IPCC projections of global warming=>0.2 deg C per decade

        Observed global warming=>0.06 deg C per decade

        IPCC exaggeration factor = 0.2/0.06= 3.3 (a factor of 3 or more)

      • That’s not good evidence, let alone extraordinary evidence.

        You got the warming trend wrong.

        Maybe you should leave the discussion to the science literate?

      • Sorry, Robert, your answer to Girma was not only an evasion it was an unwarranted insult.

        The warming trend projected by IPCC in AR4 was +0.2°C per decade (i.e. warming) “for the next two decades”.

        The actual linear trend since January 2001 (HadCRUT3) was -0.057°C per decade (i.e. slight cooling at around one-third the rate of the predicted warming).

        Robert, you need to learn that you cannot win a debate simply by denying the observed facts and tossing out insults.

        It just makes you look silly (even if you aren’t).


      • Hey Max,

        Since Girma can’t, how about you.

        Can you provide error bars and confidence levels for the -0.057 degree cooling trend?

  36. Tomas Milanovic

    I know Leonard Smith’s papers (some) but this slide show doesn’t do him justice.
    The slide show is an elaborate way to answer the question “Can today’s science tell John what +4 degrees would be like for his pub?” by No.

    But it is hardly a surprise because we already know that the problems of relevant time and space scales in models is not solved and that the question of what L.Smiths calls contours of the probability distribution are beyond grasp.

    However I’d like to ask you a question Judith.
    Is it only me who sees a contradiction in the following 2 statements :

    Today’s models appear unlikely to provides quantitative
    decision-relevant probabilities about details.

    Climate science and climate models make it very clear
    exploring a 4+ degree world empirically would carry huge
    ecological, human and economic costs.

    Or what have I missed that you have seen?
    As I have developped at some length in the thread about the “ink blots”, I indeed fully agree with the first statement. Most of my arguments can also be found through L.Smith slide show. An infinity of (spatial) model distributions, impossibility to validate an invariant probability distribution, impossibility to rationally found the relevance of “ensemble statistics”, the parameter averages don’t matter but the orbits (trajectories) do, etc.
    The computer models are not a field theory of the climate and therefore they must fail in the “details” (this is me who speaks but L.Smith is not far from that formulation).

    Yet the second statement says exactly the contrary!
    L.Smith is sure and the models make it very clear that there would be huge human and economic costs.
    Yet as he himself explains at length, such costs are necessarily local and based on those details where precisely models fail.
    So how did he quantify the costs to be sure that they are huge?
    How huge is huge and what are “human” costs as opposed to “economic”costs?
    What does he mean at all with “ecological costs” and what is the metrics to measure and quantify it?

    One has to observe that after having made this statement on the first slide, he never comes back to it to justify it or to attempt to quantify.

    My explanation of this contradiction is that the second statement was only meant to make sure that he will not be agressed by the CAGW usual suspects and that he won’t have to resign from his job (he’s talking here to an insurance company so if he said that costs are unknown and possibly not “huge” then nobody would listen)
    In other words it is merely a political precautionary statement which explains why he neither elaborates nor justifies it later.

    What would be your explanation Judith?

    • Tomas, re the apparent contradiction, and I say apparent since I know Smith pretty well:

      – Today’s models appear unlikely to provides quantitative
      decision-relevant probabilities about details.
      – Climate science and climate models make it very clear
      exploring a 4+ degree world empirically would carry huge
      ecological, human and economic costs.

      Rather than saying “Climate science and climate models” he possibly meant “Current assessments of climate science and climate models clearly state”

      If you read his 2002 paper, it is clear what he thinks of future projections of climate change.

    • Eco costs are what you might call priceless or unquantifiable. I hope that’s not what you mean. If you a species go extinct could be an example.

  37. Tomas Milanovic


    Even with this slight correction :
    Rather than saying “Climate science and climate models” he possibly meant “Current assessments of climate science and climate models clearly state”
    it still doesn’t make sense for me.
    What do the climate models say about the size of the costs?
    And where they occur (all those local details) that are necessary and that the models can’t provide?
    And what should “huge ecological costs” mean at all? Are we talking billions or trillions € and how does one get from “ecology” to €? You see? I can’t even guess what he is talking about within 3 orders of magnitude or more!

    Or do you refer to things like the Stern report?
    I do not think so because the Stern report is anything but science and all but clear. Yet I have to ask because I really can’t still understand what those certain and huge costs may mean and how they are related in any way to what models (or the real weather) do.

    • Climate models say nothing about the size of the costs, it is the assessment process (e.g. IPCC, millenium ecosystem assessment, also stern report) that makes this inference from the climate model results. The chain of reasoning to get get from an ensemble of climate model predictions to ecosystem and economic impacts, is fuzzy at best

      • Tomas Milanovic

        Thanks Judith! Now I got it.
        What he means is all those people who take some/any model projection without any understanding of physics and then write a paper that the wing size of birds will decrease because of global warming or that the frogs will lack water etc?
        But then how can somebody who has a good grip on models like L.Smith and (rightly) assesses the (limited) validity of the model projections and then suddenly qualifies as clear this scientific no-man’s land (I am being kind) where people rave about birds, trees and beetles?
        You say that it is “fuzzy at best” – I bet that you had not the guts to read the full Stern report.
        I did it and it can be done very fast – there are many pages that you will read in 5 seconds.
        I recommend it-you will look then for a much harsher word than “fuzzy” :)

    • Tomas Milanovic

      I will read he 2002 paper but from what I already read, I am pretty sure I will be at least to 80% in agreement.
      My problem is ONLY this strange statement about costs that arrives from nowhere, is totally heterogeneous to the rest of the slide show and is never mentionned again. It really reads like a random sequence of buzzwords where one doesn’t care about definitions and just copy/paste it everywhere to produce some subjective impression.

  38. During mid-miocene climate had around 4C above todays temperature. At the very peak, central europe had climate similar to modern-day gulf coast. I think I may like it, although summer may be too hot. So bavarians can be relieved – they are not gonna die.

  39. Badly posed question. First tell Eli where the pub is. On the Thames??? might be some big problems.

    • Eli

      A badly posed answer. If it was ON the Thames it would float. Presumably you mean BY the Thames. A great part of the Thames is non tidal so wouldnt be affected by abnormal sea level rise-highly elusive as that concept is.

      As i said in my earlier reply I recommend the pub owner to formulate a Plan B and assume cooling by getting in a good stockpile of logs and insulating his property. At the very least it would be more comfortable for his customers-assuming they can get there through the snow.

  40. “JC comment: Well, I couldn’t have said any of this better myself.”

    Well, that’s a shame, because I can’t see any sensible guidance for the pub-owners here. If I were John, I’d be thinking “Business as usual, if it heats up, people get thirstier and my turnover will increase. No worries, mate.”

  41. Too much black&white and not enough systems thinking here. What happens if it is 2 degree rise, but then the rest of the predicament is a much reduced flow of crude oil, phosphates, and eventually other non-renewables (and that has nothing to do with warming). I know it makes the brain hurt, but that is a higher likelihood scenario, as two higher probability events have the advantage in likelihood over one lower probability (4 degree rise) event.

    • Web,
      We are not going to run out of phosphate, oil or gas.
      That is what seems to make the Malthusians’ brains hurt.

      • Where did I say “run out”? That’s equivalent to someone saying that the global temperature will go to infinity.
        Adapting to increased temperature and adapting to the law of diminishing returns go hand-in-hand. It is a serious policy discussion, but like discussing mortality, something people don’t really want to think about in the here and now. That is part of human nature.

        Of course technology and “the market” will save us, but someone has to give them a kick in the pants.

  42. Any ‘prediction’, given the fact that one is dealing with ‘scenarios’ with (whatever) error function, is nonsensical.
    Even fraudulent.
    Admit it, Judith.

    • Evil Denier

      Any ‘prediction’… is nonsensical.


      But some are more ”nonsensical” than others.

      Let’s take the SRES “storylines and scenarios” used by IPCC to arrive at the most alarming projections of global warming by 2100 caused by AGW.

      These are “A2” and “A1F1”.

      These project a “model-based best estimate” temperature increase from today to 2100 of 3.4°C and 4.0°C, respectively (the purported “4 degree warmer world” we are all fretting about here).

      But how did they get there?

      Both “storylines and scenarios” assume a sharp increase in the exponential rate of atmospheric CO2 increase, three-times the current rate for “A2” (arriving at 1280 ppmv) and four-times for “A1F1” (arriving at an astounding 1590 ppmv).

      This seems improbable, but let’s look even closer at these assumptions.

      The World Energy Council has published a 2010 report: “2010 Survey of Energy Resources”

      This report lists the worldwide proven reserves of coal, oil and natural gas and also the “inferred possible total resource” on our planet of these fossil fuels.

      This represents:

      Coal: 861 Gt (proven); 2,462 Gt (inferred possible)
      Oil: 1,239 billion bbl (proven); 13,059 billion bbl (inferred possible, including global tar sands and shale)
      Natural gas: 186 trillion cubic meters (proven); 486 tcm (inferred possible, excluding methane clathrates)

      A portion (20 to 25%) of both oil and natural gas is consumed for non-combustion end-uses (fertilizers, petrochemicals, etc.).

      If one excludes this, the total carbon contained in ALL the inferred possible fossil fuel resources on our planet is 2,873 Gt.

      This total would generate enough CO2 (10,536 GtCO2) when combusted to increase atmospheric CO2 level to around 1,060 ppmv.

      That’s it, folks. There is no more.

      And this would happen in well over 300 years at current consumption rates.

      So the IPCC model-based “storyline and scenario” inputs for arriving at cases “A2” and “A1F1” are based on physically impossible assumptions and can, therefore, be discarded as ”nonsensical”.

      There are three further “storylines and scenarios”, ranging from projected warming of 2.4°C to 2.8°C from today to 2100 (“A1T, B2 and A1B”).

      The assumptions here may not be outright “nonsensical”, but they do assume a radical increase in the observed exponential rate of CO2 increase (1.5 to 2 times the current CAGR), so they could be classified as ”dubious”.

      The remaining case “B1” assumes a continuation of the current CAGR in CO2 increase, which would appear to be an “upper case”, based on the UN projections of dramatic decrease in global population growth rate over the 21st century.

      This case projects 1.8°C warming to year 2100.

      A final hypothetical case is shown whereby atmospheric CO2 levels remained constant at 2000 levels; this case projects 0.6°C warming to year 2100.

      In other words, once the ”nonsensical” and ”dubious” cases have been removed, we see that a TOTAL SHUTDOWN of human CO2 activities today would only result in a reduction in global temperature by 2100 of 1.2°C.

      That’s it folks (even using IPCC’s 3.2°C climate sensitivity, which may in itself be exaggerated by a factor of two to four!).

      IOW if we drastically reduce our worldwide CO2 emissions to one-half the current levels (at immense suffering and pain, mostly for the developing and underdeveloped nations) we might theoretically reduce the global temperature in 2100 by 0.6°C.

      So let’s be clear about it.

      – The “4-degree warmer world” postulation is based on ”nonsensical” model assumptions.

      – Even with a globally implemented maximum CO2 reduction effort, humans are only able to reduce global warming by 2100 by around 0.6°C.

      So let’s lay this silly rationalization of imposed top-down CO2 mitigation steps to rest as ”nonsensical”, rather than spend too much time discussing it any further.


  43. The one aspect of this paper that screams out at me which (AFAIK) is not commented on in this thread is the reference to “decision makers,” as though that is the purpose of science — to inform “decision makers” so they can make decisions. For me, that is one of the fundamental flaws in climate science. It reflects a very “fascist” way of thinking: that someone with authority/ power in society should “make decision” for “us,” the proletariat, who certainly do not have the intelligence, education, or advisors (or maybe it’s because we don’t have the funding for the scientists…) to understand or act on the knowledge created by scientists. What would it take to get climate scientists to understand that “we the people” are the “decision makers” to whom they should be providing their knowledge; that they should do so in both highly technical and in not-so-technical, ways; that it then should be up to “we the people” to elect representatives who understand our interests in policies to implement any society-wide actions we feel approipriate. That scientists want to appeal to “decision makers” (i.e., to both elected officials and, worse yet, to unelected bureaucrats such as EPA, Energy Dept., etc.) by going over our heads or around our democratic process, and that scientists don’t seem to understand the thin line between those actions and fascist ideology, boggles my mind.

    Please, Judy, question yourself about this idea you have that you and other scientists are the employees — I’m being kind here — of “decision makers.”

    I will accept those who might say, “But, what would have happened to the US in WWII had we had that kind of thinking: no A-bomb and maybe a million more young American men de.” Maybe, but Eisenhower understood the ultimate risks to our freedoms as a result.

    • Science is science. Climate science is policy relevant. The problem is the climate science-policy interface, which has been the topic of much discussion on this blog. Part of that problem is the naive views of scientists about the policy process, which is a point I have made many times. Pielke Jr’s Honest Broker has been one effort to educate scientists about these issues.

    • JPSF –

      Does it also boggle your mind that over $4 billion is spent each year on lobbying-decision makers, or that the SCOTUS has ruled that there should be no limitations on the amount of money corporations can contribute to decision-makers?

  44. “Science is science” as Judith rightly states, and “climate science is policy relevant”.

    Also there is no doubt that Pielke Jr’s “Honest Broker” has been an effort to educate scientists how to handle the science-policy interface more adeptly than they have in the past, BUT…

    The problem here is not only the “interface”, but the quality of the science itself.

    If there is ANY suspicion that the “science” is being manipulated by some scientists,.in order to either satisfy a corrupted IPCC process, or to influence the “policy makers” or in order to support “policy makers”, who already have a hidden political agenda, then the “interface” between the “scientists” and the ultimate “decision makers” (i.e. the taxpaying public) can become severely damaged.

    When a climate advocacy group publishes serious clucking about what we should do to mitigate against or adapt to a “4-degree warmer Earth”, and it becomes clear that the whole premise of a “4-degree warmer Earth” is based on nonsensical assumptions multiplied by absurd projections, all skewed to exaggerate the warming to an alarming level, the general observer becomes leery of the “science” itself, and hence the “scientists” behind it.

    (When this same group is affiliated with insurance groups, who stand to gain financially from a “global warming scare”, it starts to smell even more strongly.)

    As is usually the unfortunate fact, the honest scientists out there are lumped into the same category as the dishonest ones, so that a general skepticism of any projection that comes out of climate models results, especially if the prediction is alarming (the old “crying wolf” syndrome).

    That’s where we are today, as you have alluded in earlier posts.

    Absurd postulations, such as the “4-degree warmer Earth” presentation simply pour more fuel on the fire and make the situation worse.

    This write-up should never have been published, as it was garbage from the start and hurts real climate science.


    • And your idea of real climate science is the stuff written by people like Spencer and Lindzen?

      Mind you, given the stuff you’ve written on Beck and CO2 levels, maybe you think even these guys are dangerous warmists?

      • tempterrain

        Are you changing the subject here?

        We are discussing the credibility of the “4-degrees warmer Earth” postulation in the lead post, in case you missed it, not Spencer, Lindzen or Beck.


  45. Josh,
    Nope, doesn’t boggle my mind. “Corporations” are not bad things in our society. Actually, they are quite good things. But, aside that, banning lobbyists (whether they are lobbying for GM or WWF or the Teamsters) is not an answer to anything. Banning spending money to talk to representatives solves nothing. We get to vote for our representatives. If we do not like who they are listening to, we should vote for the other candidate.

    Scientists, because of their role in society — creating knowledge about the world — have a special obligation to avoid policy advocacy, irrespective of what they believe should be “policy” as a result of “their” knowledge. I will confess ignorance on the current state of discussion in science about the obligations of scientists in regards to government policy. 35 years ago I took a PhD seminar with Donald T. Campbell (respected experimental social psychologist) and Aukie Feldman (avowed Marxist prof at Nwtern U) about the role of science in society. Seemed to me that thinking on this topic was quite immature at that time. And from what I can see in blogs here, thinking is still immature and has blind spots no one appears to recognize; specifically, that the “policy process” is somehow an appropriate “given” and the only issue is how (but never whether or not) to play a direct role in it.

    • JPSF –

      I’m not sure that a discussion of whether lobbyists should be banned, or whether corporations are “good” or “bad” really captures my point. You say the following:

      We get to vote for our representatives. If we do not like who they are listening to, we should vote for the other candidate.

      Which was almost exactly my reaction to your earlier post. If people are upset that “decision-makers” are listening to scientists, they can vote them out of office.

      I would question whether or not “decision-makers” listening to scientists as opposed to paid corporate representatives is necessarily good or bad, respectively.

      What I find odd is when people object to policy advocacy on the part of scientists – based on assumptions about how financial self-interest is a driving factor behind that advocacy – yet seem to have no particular problem with corporations spending billions of dollars yearly lobbying politicians specifically because of the financial interests of the corporations footing the bill. The same sort of argument would be apply to those who think, depending on their starting political orientation, that union or environmental group lobbying is alternately acceptable or not acceptable in contrast to lobbying from private corporations (not saying that you make such a distinction).

      In contrast to your view, I think that scientists have a obligation, just like anyone else in a democracy, to appeal to their elected politicians to act in ways that they see as consistent with their own and with societal interests. That is a separate question as to whether or not scientists allow their political ideology to overtly influence how they interpret the science. The second question is one that seems to me should be the point of focus. The notion that somehow a Spencer or a Hansen should not advocate for policies when they interpret science to have a dramatic impact on society, not only seems inherently anti-democratic to me, it also seems inconsistent with what we know about human nature. Do you expect that Spencer should not be a policy advocate (as he has described is obligations as a scientist) if he interprets the science in such a way that it has server societal implications?

      • What I find odd is when people object to policy advocacy on the part of scientists – based on assumptions about how financial self-interest is a driving factor behind that advocacy – yet seem to have no particular problem with corporations spending billions of dollars yearly lobbying politicians specifically because of the financial interests of the corporations footing the bill.

        I can’t speak for others, but what I find questionable is the blending of the roles. Using Hansen as an example, have you ever seen mention of his advocacy activities where his NASA affiliation isn’t mentioned? His day job is used to lend credence to his advocacy.

        By the same token, there is an expectation that someone in a public position acts objectively. I absolutely agree that scientists (and others for that matter) have every right to take part in the political process. High-profile advocacy brings that objectivity into question. Would you tend to trust an EPA scientist who was also a spokesperson for “Hooray for Chemicals” or a head of a crime lab who was the president of “Hang ’em High”?

      • Josh, your points are taken, but I believe there is a fundamental difference between a corporation lobbying in its self-interest and a scientist lobbying for a policy that only makes sense (or not) on the basis of the “facts/ reality” that scientist has had a fundamental hand in creating, especially when there are other scientists who argue otherwise. Corporations do not have any special claim on what is “true.” Scientists do. This puts them in a special category. I have no problem with scientists talking to politicians about their work in terms of its implications for fact. I do have a problem with scientists arguing for policy based on “facts” in which their work is involved. This is not a superficial issue. Many of us understand in the reason why there should be a separation of Church and State. Analogously — and possibly even more than analogously — I am arguing for a separation of Church and Science.

      • JPSF,

        you were doing well until bringing in the Separation of Church and State. You must make that argument on your own.

        “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”

        Notice that it only talks about what CONGRESS WILL NOT DO!!!! There IS no Constitutional separation of Church and State in the US. There is only a Constitutional prohibition of Congress passing laws about religion. Argue whatever else you want around it or pass an Amendment.

  46. Speaking of “something our models cannot mimic”, the models are having a problem replicating seasonal temperature variances in the ocean:


    I don’t know if this is important or not.

  47. tempterrain

    You say it’s not from a scientific source, here’s the background:

    Developed by academics at Cardiff University’s School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, the pack has drawn on the views and concerns of the Welsh Young People’s Climate Change Forum (YoCCo Forum) – a collaboration between Cardiff University, the Wales Youth Forum for Sustainable Development, the Severn Estuary Partnership and Techniquest.

    Also the link that you gave refers to Defra which is one of the two government agencies which is widely used for environmental data throughout science and industry in the UK.

    Now to address your point over timescales the article starts off ‘John and Michel are hypothetical pub owners in Britain and France’. The obvious aim is to make people think about a time like the present or the near future, the one thing that has changed in the last 20 odd years in Britain, is that the number of pubs has reduced significantly. With most fighting for survival I can’t imagine there are many landlords overly concerned with what happens to their business in 2100. When there’s environmental damage and destruction in the world on the scale that there is at present, this type of scenario is an unwelcome distraction to the real issues around us today!