Year in review: 2011

by Judith Curry

So, during 2011,  what was interesting and what “mattered” in the climate debate?

A few other blogs have put out top 10 lists of stories related science, climate, and/or energy.

Neil Wagner at Huffingtonpost has an article entitled “Climate Change 2011 Year in Review:  Good News, Bad News.

Climate change news in 2011 played out like a “good news, bad news” joke. “Good news! This year wasn’t as warm as 2010!” “Good to hear.” “But it was history’s tenth warmest year.” “D-OH!”

We read that renewable energy has surpassed fossil fuel in new energy investment for the first time in history, but learned from the same article that the United Nations’ climate talks are going badly.

RealClearScience Top 10 Stories for 2011 includes a climate story as #8:

#8. Climategate 2.0 & BEST Study.

The son of Climategate returned as Climategate 2.0. Yet another batch of unflattering emails — around 5,000 — were leaked onto the Internet in mid-November. The emails showed an apparent attempt by prominent climate researchers to be less than transparent about the scientific evidence of anthropogenic global warming. In stark contrast to the scandal redux, a leading team of scientists released the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) study in October. Analyzing temperature data from over 39,000 temperature stations worldwide, BEST found that global warming is indeed real, reporting, “reliable evidence of a rise in the average world land temperature of approximately 1 degree Celsius since the mid-1950s.”

Top Energy Stories from National Geographic:

10.  Time Running Out on Global Warming

This was the year that dashed the hopes raised over the seeming slowdown in carbon dioxide emissions, now clearly seen as a brief pause caused by  economic slowdown. Although global economies have not rebounded, fossil fuel emissions have. The World Meteorological Association confirmed late this year that the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a new post-industrial age high in 2010, and the rate of increase has accelerated.

Fueled largely by coal, in 2011 China overtook the United States as the world’s biggest energy user—one of many reasons that greenhouse gas emissions have broken new records, after a dip in 2009 following the economic crash. (Above, laborers in China look for usable coal at a cinder dump site.)

The International Energy Agency (IEA) concluded that fossil fuel demand is growing so fast that the world now has only about five years to make a dramatic turnaround in policies to keep global warming below 3.6°F (2°C), a threshold many countries have pledged to stay below.

In many richer nations, economic woes had governments pulling back on policies to limit the burning of fossil fuel. Spain and the United Kingdom, among others, slashed their subsidies for renewable energy, and investment in wind and solar did not continue to soar as it had before the crash. Nonetheless, in 2011 investment in renewables surpassed that for fossil fuels for the first time.

The other big stor(ies) have been about weather/climate disasters, for a review see Yahoo’s Year in Review:  Extreme Weather.

Climate Etc.’s greatest “hits”

While all of the above topics have been at least been mentioned at Climate Etc., we have mostly been talking about other things.  Since Climate Etc. is still a relatively young blog and the participants are rather fluid, I can’t usually predict which posts will attract a lot of comments or links from other blogs.  The blogs that seem to attract the greatest number of hits are issues that are hot topics in the politics of climate science (with the obvious exception of the greenhouse dragon, which I will discuss below).
The posts with the largest number of hits over the past year are the following:
When I have a technical post, there is generally some good albeit limited discussion, but comments invariably want to veer onto broader topics.  The greenhouse effect remains of enduring interest.  On some of the threads, physical chemists and molecular physicists showed up to provide their insights and clarify understanding.  But these misconceptions remain in the dragonslayer group, although that group seems to be shrinking.
JC’s picks
Number of hits does not equate with quality of post of of discussion, IMO.  Last year, I selected certain posts based upon my perception of the quality of the original content of the post.  This year I am using a different criteria:  posts that reflect new understanding or changes to my thinking relative to a year ago (this list does not include any of those on the greatest ‘hits’ list).  My selected posts are:
If you missed any of these the first time around, check them out.
Your views?
So, what do you think were the most interesting stories for 2011, and the most interesting posts at Climate Etc.?  What did we miss? On New Years day, I will do a post on ideas for the new year.
My very best wishes to all of you for the New Year.  My thanks to all of you for reading and participating.  Special thanks to those of you that have done guest posts, and also to those of you that email me with suggestions for topics.

334 responses to “Year in review: 2011

  1. Hands down, this was my favorite thread:

    Climate scientists are different(?) from the general public

  2. Fred from Canuckistan

    Best Headline of the year:

    “Global Warming Hysteria Cools Down”

    Next year it will read

    “Global warming Temperatures Drop Dramatically”

    Just because it is fun to know that the current glacial interstitial period is very long in the tooth.

    So go long on long underwear futures and have a wonderful 2012.

    You have a great blog, keep up the great work.

  3. incandecentbulb

    We went from the Space Age to the Communication Age to where we now find ourselves. Western civilization is now in the Virtual Reality Age.

    Global warming is a manifestation of this social phenomena. It arises from Leftist-liberal bureaucracy that has used highly technical statistics based on self-fulfilling preconconceptions and ideologically-driven observations as a method of social control and to maintain politcal power.

  4. Uncertainty and the IPCC is mine. Dr. Tol’s eye-opener re: estimation of uncertainty was mind boggling.

    Happy New Year to all.

    • Maybe it’s not a sham at all, after all, BEST only looks at surface temperatures while MSU looks at the lower troposphere. We have seen big differences recently with and that was explained as inversions of temperature at the surface, due to nocturnal cooling, which are not seen by MSU. Also it has been remarked that most warming occured in the arctic during winter time, exactly the time of the strongest inversions.

      So one could ponder if anthroponic changes have changed the pattern of inversions. The point is that wind induced turbulence which removes inversions. But this effect is stronger when there are more obstacles around. Without obstacles the wind will just blow over the inversion, hardly touching it. So if you build a few sheds around a weather station, you also build inversion killers, with less inversions you introduce a warming trend, especially in winter time.

      So this idea is easily testable with detailed weather data of an arctic station that started at a plain, where some buildings have been added in due time.

      So there is a fair chance that Mullers curve is fair and honest and that there is a logical explanation for this diversion problem.

      Happy New Year

  5. We have not got the final numbers in, as yet, but it is clear that 2011 was significantly cooler than 2010. Precisley what this means is by no means clear; we need to get more data. But one of the things that I have noted is that in the Pacific Ocean we seem to be getting back-to-back La Ninas. It is not clear how strong the present La Nina is going to be.

    Another story that I think is significant is Is that where Grey and Klotzbach have abandonded using their model to predict hurricane activity in the North Atlantic from data available in December. They did all the things that the proponents of CAGW do with their models; hindcast them, calibrate them, etc, and then claim they have predictive capabilities. When G&K looked at 20 years of data, they found their model had zero forecasting capability; so they have abandoned using it for forecasting. I just hope the proponents of CAGW will learn from this, and stop pretending their models have any predictive capabilities.

    • The issue with Gray and Klotzbach’s hurricane forecasts is that pretty much everyone else in the hurricane community knew that there was no hurricane predictability across the springtime predictability barrier of ENSO. The doesn’t stop the reinsurance industry from making forecasts in Dec and Feb of next years hurricane activity. There is just no skill in doing this.

      • Fascinating. Couldn’t they save money by rolling dice?

      • I’m planning a post on this topic, reinsurance hurricane forecasting, probably for next april

      • There is no money in unpredictability.

      • I hope you will include comment about Dr. Ryan Maue findings in re ACE. I have been looking for well-qualified review.

        In the past 5-years, global tropical cyclone activity has decreased markedly. Tropical cyclone ACE is modulated by ENSO and PDO on a global scale. Heightened North Atlantic hurricane activity is not unexpected.

      • Judith, hurricanes are merely one of the many insurable phenomena predicted to increase by CAGW theory.

        Ever since Climategate1, when I started to take a serious interest in this subject, I have wondered what the insurance industry is telling itself (as distinct from those to whom it wants to sell cover) about climate change.

        Surely you can find an insider/s to do a guest post? Perhaps a recently retired actuary with nothing to lose by candour?

      • Judith, you write “The issue with Gray and Klotzbach’s hurricane forecasts is that pretty much everyone else in the hurricane community knew that there was no hurricane predictability across the springtime predictability barrier of ENSO.”

        I am sure what you have written is correct, but it is not the main issue. Gray and Klotzbach tested their predictions against observations. That is the important point. In the case of the proponents of CAGW, no attempt ever seems to be made to test the predictions of their climate models, against actual observed data. Certainly some of these predicitons are so far in the future that they cannot be tested in any sort of reasonable time frame.

        But we have Smith et al, Science, August 2007, where we are now within the prediciton time frame. They predicted temperatures would be flat until 2009, when temperatures would then start to rise rapidly. Why have we seen absolutely nothing from Smith et al, updating us on how accurate their forcast has been? Could it be because they know that the hindcasting of their model is simply inadequate to make it capable of doing predicitons? Or maybe because they realize that their forecast is going to be so wildly just plain wrong, that they want to keep quite, and hope no-one will notice?

      • But we have Smith et al, Science, August 2007, where we are now within the prediciton time frame. They predicted temperatures would be flat until 2009, when temperatures would then start to rise rapidly. …

        What they said is half of the years after 2009 would exceed 1998, and that 2014 would exceed 1998 by a specific range. I do not think they used the “rise rapidly.”

        Smith et al update, figure 1

    • There was a top-level blog post about an article by an actuary named Gail Tverberg about a month ago.
      So if you are wondering what an actuary thinks, there you go.

  6. The bandwagon is falling apart. All the GW indices are plateauing, at the maximum CO2 forcing too. Climategate2 is the bomb, foia seems to be a socialist. The public is slowly waking up to the travesty.

    It’s been a good year for science.

  7. incandecentbulb

    The fascilitators of global warming fearmongering continue to fire bullets into the air.

  8. GW has become a religion, meaning belief is independent of evidence.

    2012 may bring the first paper from the Team showing how multi-decadal global cooling is, in fact, predicted by Global Warming.

    Happy New Year, with the wish for a return to sane science.

  9. Norm Kalmanovitch

    While the unified theory has eluded physicists the unified theory; a Unified Theory of Climate has emerged replacing the GHE with PTE (Pressure Induced Thermal Enhancement) which is independent of the atmospheric composition and undermines the entire AGW concept which is based on changes in atmospheric composition.

    This paper can be found on WUWT at:

    We present results from a new critical review of the atmospheric Greenhouse (GH) concept. Three main problems are identified with the current GH theory. It is demonstrated that thermodynamic principles
    based on the Gas Law need be invoked to fully explain the Natural Greenhouse Effect. We show via a novel analysis of planetary climates in the solar system that the physical nature of the so-called GH effect is a Pressure-induced Thermal Enhancement (PTE), which is independent of the atmospheric chemical composition. This finding leads to a new and very different paradigm of climate controls. Results from our research are combined with those from other studies to propose a new Unified Theory
    of Climate, which explains a number of phenomena that the current theory fails to explain. Implications of the new paradigm for predicting future climate trends are briefly discussed.

    • Ira Glickstein has a post over at WUWT poking holes in this, this is just a zeroth order cut at what is wrong with that paper.

    • And I got piled on for poking just one little hole. The mob isn’t being very nice to Ira, even though he’s a regular author over there. Who don’t Josh and Robert use their considerable rhetorical skill over there where it’s needed (hehehe)?

    • Sorry Norm,

      The new theory has no clothes. . The physics used in engineering that works, engineering that brings you satellite pictures of the earth, engineering that designs missiles that hit targets and radars that see weather, engineering that designs cell phones, engineering that designs C02 detectors, that physics which underpins the engineering in areas of national security, personal communication and personal safety shows that Green house gases increase the opacity of the atmosphere, raising the effective radiating height of the atmosphere, resulting in a surface that cools less rapidly than it would otherwise. In short, GHGs, slow the rate of cooling which is colloquially referred to as “warming”

      The open scientific questions are How much warming? how fast will the warming hit us, where will it be worst, and who will suffer, who will benefit and who will call it a draw.

      get to those questions and you have something interesting to say

      • I agree with your conclusion, but that’s no argument. To argue against it, you need to talk about the N&Z paper, not the part of the greenhouse theory that only a handful of cranks are arguing with.

      • Sorry Steven, but I think the open questions are very different. (This has nothing to do with the new paper, as your comment also does not.) I am willing to grant you the open question as to why what you claim should happen is not happening. But otherwise I am more interested in understanding climate change, as you apparently are not, since your open questions have nothing to do with it..

      • PE.

        actually you dont. If I presented you a long proof that 2+2= 5, a proof that was too long physically for you to check in your whole lifetime…

        You STILL know one of two things.

        1. there is something wrong with the proof OR
        2. 2+2 =5

        You, do not have to discuss the proof, understand the proof, refute the proof or even read the proof.

        The notion that one has to “engage” the proof is not a logical requirement its a social practice.

        Do you know what the Moorean shift is?

      • Steven, you sum up the issue well. It is also clear the climate system is different from the other engineering systems you describe. I believe we are going to find the answer as to why the apocalypse is not arriving as predicted due to additional aspects of the climate system not well described, not due to a failure of the basic physics.

      • This statement is based on radiation theory alone and does not take account of natural processes in the atmosphere such as cloud behavior. Given these so-called “feedbacks,” warming might be much less than the calculation from radiation theory shows. Warmists use the radiation only calculations. They treat cloud behavior as an epiphenomenon of changes in radiation and not as a natural process with their own integrity that might be influenced by changes in radiation. (It is all “a priori.” Nice work if you can get it.)

      • Steven Mosher


        you have nothing interesting to say, then.
        I dont claim that anything is happening. the data actually show it, unless you resort to hacked up tricks.

  10. My highlight of the year on this blog:

    Noticing that Joshua will respond to almost every single post by pointing out that Curry’s response to person A on subject B was arguably slightly contradictory to her response to person C on subject D.

    And those are pretty much the best arguments to be mustered for the IPCC POV.

  11. My highlight was arriving at Climate Etc. I’ve learned much, read a lot, opened my mind very slightly and found out a great deal about what I believe and why.

    My thanks to Dr curry and all the denizens. I wish you all a happy new year.

    • Another of the highlights for me was the realisation that “Anteros” and “Nullius in Verba” are the two most annoying people on the interweb.

      Every time I want to say something I find that one of those two has said it already. And said it better, wittier, and more knowledgeably than I could.

      Utterly irritating.

      • Anteros’s entry to the field is very welcome, but as a policy-oriented non-scientist, manacker is my favourite poster. And I enjoy Willis.

  12. Andrew’s 2011 Primary Observation:

    Climate Science again did not improve this year. I could list some suggestions, but I suspect nobody (Warmers included) takes Climate Science seriously enough to even bother, least of all Climate Scientists themselves.


  13. Pielke Jr. could have started a list for 2011, but instead he just identified the worst NYT climate story ever.

  14. Judith – I see you reference BEST.

    I was still hoping for a reply to my points regarding the BEST study. I have waited for literally months now (pretty good for tAV) ;) . My opinion is that the very much critical confidence intervals are seriously underestimated due to a mathematical error in the use of the Jackknife method. I have taken the time to first discuss in private and then to show on my blog why it is not properly employed. No response from the BEST group yet. All that was required to convince me was for someone to either recognize the error or tell me why I am wrong. Even a sentence explaining the apparent concerns from your group regarding my apparently unworthy thoughts would have been useful.

    Chiding aside, I don’t expect a perfect integration of data to change much about your result but my critique was reasoned enough that I expected some thoughtful interest from the your group.

    The BEST study needs to take great care that the combination of station information is mathematically correct and that CI’s are within reason such that the data will tell the story. The unintentional introduction of even more bad math in climate science is disappointing and makes the communication to the technical public impossible.

    • I felt BEST was one of the bigger scientific disappointments of 2011. We are promised a review and reworking of the temperature data with “open” standards and a broadly talented scientific team. I was actually looking forward to watching open discussion of real issues with frank appraisal of method and data.

      Instead, I am treated to a media press release to score political points and utter silence on the technical issues raised in the blogosphere. Sigh, I had hoped for better.

    • JeffId, how naive of you, The BEST project did exactly what it was designed to do, get the message out that “Warming is confirmed as is still going on unabated” before the Durban meeting.
      Has anybody seen any announcements about corrections to the data that was “Not Suitable” for use?
      Corrections to anything?

      • Heck, I was just hoping for some realistic discussion. It is very difficult to do the sophisticated math of a project like BEST without any issues. The CI calcs are a big one though. I would have preferred a much simpler amalgamation process because it is less possible to screw up. That is just the engineer in me though. Fancy stuff (like step detection or Jackknife w/reweighting) is not often required and when it is believed required, it should always be compared to simple stuff to make sure that it didn’t incorrectly skew the result.

        The problem I found won’t change the trend but it does represent a factual error in the math. Big deal! Figure it out, fix it and move on. Or tell me my mistake. I just like good math. Unfortunately, it appears that I may be relegated to troll status here which is not my intent at all. Data is data, math is math and we cannot change either of those.

      • Jeff,

        You have a lot of silly mischief to do, before you are relegated to troll status here. See the incessant foolishness of bobbie, josh, loltwot, and the lesser trolls.

  15. I think this has been a pretty good year for the deniers among us. The climate continues not to warm despite rising Co2 levels (13 years and counting). climate-gate 2 arrived like an early Christmas present, and even the alarmists are beginning to admit that the sun (what a novel idea) might have something to do with climate trends after all. Meanwhile, sea levels continue not to rise any faster than they have for thousands of years, and hurricanes have generally gotten weaker, not stronger (ace index in the tank.)

    And those millions of climate refugees? I personally only know of two. My wife and I who are looking to move from wintry New England (where snow is not yet but a rare and exciting event) down to south Florida.

    Thanks Dr. Curry for what has to be hands down the best climate blog in existence. And thanks to all the denizens, skeptics, believers, and everyone in between. Happy New Year to all.

  16. Since I am only in the climate debate for policy purposes, having no interest in climate science per se, for me the biggest event by far was the continuing slow-motion collapse of the UNFCCC negotiations. I look forward to the day when this wonderful blog will no longer be necessary.

    • David

      I also believe that the policy questions are the important ones, and I tend to look at the issue from an engineering and economic perspective.

      I think generally, 2011 was the year in which the IPCC’s conclusions were more closely examined and were ultimately found to be deeply flawed.

      To me, the key is what is done in the future. Imo; the key to the future will be the actions taken by the EPA in the USA. The discussion on this topic is fairly complex and crosses political, environmental and economic issues. At the end of the day, I sense that the economic realities of the world will prevail.

      • What is counter intuitive of the bulk of the glacier being in decline?

        Well, the post child glacier, Kilimanjaro, was in decline because of sublimation. It has shown some growth recently which would indicate climate variability plays a large role.

        In the Western Himalayans, some glaciers are growing while some are in decline. The Southern Cascade glacier was declining faster in 1928 that it was in 1965 with about the same temperatures. The recent Google earth photo from 2010 shows that it has increased somewhat.

        In general, most glaciers have been and should be in decline since they grew in a colder climate and have been declining since the last glacial. The fact that ANY of them are advancing is counter intuitive, especially in the warmest decade in the past two thousand years.

      • Rob, unfortunately EPA is hard to stop. The Courts almost never rule on issues of technical substance, but there is a pretty good procedural argument that EPA should do their own assessment, which they have not done. The Court may well remand the endangerment finding on procedural grounds.

        But ultimately only Congress can stop EPA from imposing CO2 controls and I am not sure skepticism is that strong yet. The upcoming elections will be crucial. EPA knows this so they are proceeding cautiously on CO2 controls, biding their time.

    • I’ll say this again. Nobody’s interested in science. Everybody’s interested in policy. The sooner we all admit that, the sooner we can stop wasting time pretending about temperatures and sea levels and glaciers, and start shining the spotlight on the hare-brained schemes hiding behind the skirts of science.

      • But the shaky science has to be kept at bay. It is the green’s standard wedge. Eternal vigilance and all that, is called for.

      • yes those lying glaciers.

        They must stop pretending the be in decline.

      • lolwot, Actually, a good deal of the glacial information is counter intuitive. Then that is something one would realize if they were curious, which you are obviously not :)

      • what’s counterintuitive about the bulk of glaciers being in mass decline around the world?

      • a good deal of the glacial information is counter intuitive.

        Indeed as this extract from the NZ institute 1874 tells us’

        I have alluded to Phillips’ opinion, because I see in Geikie’s late work that reference is made to the fact that from the foot of glaciers in Greenland streams of water issue and unite to form considerable rivers, one of which, after a course of forty miles, enters the sea with a mouth nearly three-quarters of a mile in breadth—the water flowing freely at a time when the outside sea was thickly covered with ice.

        This flow of water, Geikie thinks, probably circulates to some extent below every glacier, and he accounts for it by the liquefaction of ice from the warmth of the underlying soil. I am sure you will find a more natural solution of this flow of water from glaciers—estimated not less than 3000 feet thick—in the suggestion first made by Professor James Thomson, and subsequently proved by his brother, Professor W. Thomson, that the freezing point of water is lowered by the effect of pressure 0.23° Fahr., or about a quarter of a degree for each additional atmosphere of pressure. Now, a sheet of ice 3000 feet thick is equal to a pressure of eighty-three atmospheres, at which pressure it would require a temperature of 19° below freezing point to retain the form of ice. In the state of running water below the glacier, it might readily, as Geikie states, absorb heat from the underlying soil sufficient to retain its liquid form, as the overlying weight gradually lessened at the edge of the glacier. In this, too, we have a safe assurance that these enormous thicknesses of glaciers can exist only where there is scarcely any or no inclination of the land to the sea board, and that no sheets of ice of such enormous thickness could possibly exist on the sides of mountains, as they would have between them and the mountain side a stratum of water; and, to use a common expression, would come down “ on the run.”

      • At the other end antarctica we find that observations were also counterintuitive eg nz institute 1910

        Note on Glacier-Recession, By T. V. Hodgson.

        A great deal has been said and written about the retreat of the ice from north to south, and the glaciers from low to the higher levels. This has been based upon the fact that the edge of the Great Ice Barrier is some miles further south than it was when seen by Ross in 1839–40.

        The various sledge parties encountered many glaciers the extremities of which do not reach the sea, or even come within reasonable distance of it. One fact must impress the Antarctic explorer, and that is the thinness of the ice-sheet and the large proportion of exposed rock. The thickness of the ice on the inland plateau is purely conjectural, and with the appliances of the average sledge party it would be impossible to measure it. Theoretical calculations have shown that ice cannot exist at a greater thickness than 3,000ft., and one feels—for one can do nothing else—when in those regions that there is no reason to believe that it might possibly be more than this.

        I would ask, what right have we to accept so readily the assumption that the temperature-conditions are becoming less severe, and that therefore the ice-cap is receding? It appears to me that the evidence is very weak at the best.

        To begin with the Barrier, the amount of recession is small compared to its enormous area. It is greatest on the eastern side, where we have absolutely no knowledge whatever as to the source of supply. As compared to the mountains of the west, King Edward VII Land, from the little that has been seen of it, is low-lying country, and if such should ultimately prove to be the case it may also prove to be the larger feeding-ground.

        Only in one spot has the rate of movement of the Barrier been measured. It was a rather crude measurement on a sledge journey near Minna Bluff, and is probably only local; it works out roughly at about a quarter of a mile a year. There is no evidence whatever as to the seasonal fluctuations of this ice-sheet: a series of mild or of severe seasons seems to me to be amply sufficient to account for the difference in the position of its northern face. The icebergs met with by the “Discovery” were for the most part very small, and I think I am right in saying that none of them were over three miles long.

      • Speak for yourself. I am interested in scientific method only. I am interested in preserving the achievements of the Enlightenment.

        I am not here to persuade James Hansen or anyone like him that he should stop publishing the hysterical remarks that are his trademark. I am no fool.

    • David, I’d give you a +1 on this (and on many of your other illuminating comments upon which I’ve happened to lurk!) But with the IPCC’s younger sibling (IPBES) waiting in the wings – ready, willing and able to subsume our dreaded (and misleadingly named) “carbon footprint” under the aegis of a kinder, gentler “environmental footprint” – with its attendant (recycled) financial “mechanisms”, “schemes”, “regimes” and such – I’m inclined to think that this wonderful blog will still be necessary … and long may it reign :-)

      • Thanks hro and I agree that watching the IPCC clone itself is a bad sign. See As an activist organization the IPCC has been very successful, although we are getting a handle on how to counter it. I am waiting to see which issues the Greens back next, but climate change is not going away in any case. It is too deeply institutionalized for that, like recycling.

  17. Judy, Thanks for a stimulating year. I’ve spent more time here than on almost anything else, to the improvement of my mind and knowledge. My agnosticism, based on a need for clear argument and supporting observations (DATA!), remains intact.

    As to whether or not 2011 is going to be warmer or cooler than 2010, can somebody tell me why this competition makes any sense at all? Those involved use GTA figures expressed to three decimal places. I accept that with a thousand or so land-based thermometers, three decimal places is acceptable in principle, but given the errors in measurement and the smoothing and extrapolation needed to obtain the GTA, the result is surely devoid of real meaning.

    We might take the average height of a thousand or so men and find that it is 170.675 cm. Why would we bother with the numbers after the decimal point? The accuracy is meaningless.

    And of course a single global temperature figure is of no consequence to any of us in real terms. It is the temperature where we live that is important.

    • Long ago, I was told there that precision is different than accuracy.

      • Next, I will work on writing sentences in English. :-(

      • And now you think they are the same?

        Or are you commenting on Don’s misuse of the term accuracy?

        Or perhaps, just add a comma, and tell us where you were.
        Long ago, at MIT, I was told there, that precision is different from accuracy.

        True, with respect to GTA, we need accurate reports of precise measurements of temperature.

      • Pooh, Dixie

        Long ago, so was I. But the trouble is, that was long ago, and not everything has stuck!

        But thanks for the correction. You are absolutely right.



  18. Harold H Doiron

    Dr. Curry,
    This quote from your introduction “We read that renewable energy has surpassed fossil fuel in new energy investment for the first time in history, but learned from the same article that the United Nations’ climate talks are going badly.” caught my eye because I couldn’t believe this statement to be true. I had to read the referenced article to learn that the energy investment mentioned related to new electrical power generation plants only, not the broader field of fossil fuel energy production.

    I don’t know the numbers off the top of my head, but I think most folks take for granted and don’t really appreciate the overwhelming investment risk that energy companies make each year to produce fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas to meet our demands for afforable energy in the vast quantities needed. It is nice to see renewable energy production begin to get cost competitive and not be so dependent on taxpayer subsidies, but I for one appreciate the much maligned energy companies that continue to invest the vast majority of their stockholder assets into fossil fuel production, because that is the only way our demands for affordable energy can be met at present and with any confidence for the next 50 years.

    • That sounded funny to me, too. Here’s the quote:

      Electricity from the wind, sun, waves and biomass drew $187 billion last year compared with $157 billion for natural gas, oil and coal, according to calculations by Bloomberg New Energy Finance using the latest data.

      Two issues: 1) there is no mention of the scope of this. I suspect cherry picking countries. But the other thing is: 2) this is money plowed in, not MW of capacity. All this says is that they’re spending billions, not getting anything for it.

    • There is a short term boom in US wind construction because the tax breaks are about to run out. On the fossil (or real) side, US peak demand grows about 20,000 MW a year so we have a 200,000 MW fossil building boom every decade or so, the last being in 2000-2002. In the next few years we will invest about $150 billion in gas fired generation. Renewables are still trivial and probably always will be, due to intermittentcy.

      • actually a primary research topic for me next year (fingers crossed re funding) will be predictability of wind power, on a range of time and spatial scales

      • I did a little research on the Bonneville system a year or so ago, because they have all their SCADA data available for several years online with excellent resolution. The results were downright shocking. And not in a good way. And this is real live system-wide data, not modeled results. Anyway, be sure to check Bonneville’s website out; it’s low hanging fruit.

        Bonneville’s own words: “power output is essentially random”.

      • Predictability is not the issue. Even if we knew just when the wind would not blow (about 70% of the time) we would still have to have a fueled power plant to produce the needed power, either that or some humongous expensive power storage systems.

        Renewables reduce emissions by idling existing fueled power plants. That is the most they can do. They are not an alternative to fueled power plants.

      • In the specific case of Bonneville, they have enough hydro in the system to where reserve/backup isn’t an issue. The windmills allow them to use less water when it’s available, making more hydro power available when it’s needed. That’s the ideal situation for wind (and solar). But not that many places in the world can do that.

      • PE, You are so full of it as to be embarrassing. I have done statistical analysis of wind energy and it follows maximum entropy principles. You can read all about it and more to come, as I seem to have the knack for environmental modeling. Too bad you missed the boat on this one.

      • Web, go do the analysis yourself, and then come back after you’ve looked at some real data. They seem to have changed their web site around, but here’s a place to start:

        And this:

        There used to be some huge excel spreadsheets as evidenced by the two articles above (that my computer would choke on), but they’re either moved to another part of the site, or no longer available to the public.

        Maybe I’ll do a FOIA. :twisted:

      • Correction: they’re right here:

        Item #5. Now go to work, or eat your words.

      • Oh, and Web – if you need any help with Excel, I hear Phil Jones is really good at it.

      • Wind power predictability can be no more predictable than the winds themselves. You may be able to build a statistical model that gives you a 95/95 to meet demand needs but 95 or 99 isn’t good enough if your several thousand Mw short. Develop a utility scale storage method and you could make yourself rich.

        Real power (P) predictability of is not the only issue. There are also the issues of angle stability, voltage stability, and reactive power (Q) support when wind power penetration is significant.

      • Judith
        On your interest in wind, some suggestions:

        I have done statistical analysis of wind energy and it follows maximum entropy principles.

        . There are numerous papers on maximum entropy principles, including the impact on climate.

        Models of earth as a heat engine help evaluate temperature variations and winds from equator to the poles.
        Thermodynamic optimization of global circulation and climate, Adrian Bejan and A. Heitor Reis Int. J. Energy Res. 2005; 29:303–316

        Paul L. Vaughan has found interesting correlations between the derivative of the Length of Day and the neutron count. See
        Solar-Terrestrial Power Update. i.e., suggestive evidence for cosmic rays affecting clouds which affect temperature which varies winds.

      • P.E., That’s the problem with your ilk. You are basically ashamed about not being able to do the analysis yourself so lash out at someone like me that knows something about probability and statistics. It is all pathetic, this transparently petty jealousy.

      • WHT, who do we believe? Someone who cites a third party that is actually running a windfarm, or a self declared genius like you who has not bothered to challenge the citation, but blames the person who referred to it?

      • Hunter, The problem is that he shows a spreadsheet with raw data of a few weeks. I have analyzed data from wind farms, compiling the data over the span of a year in terms of a probability distribution. I have it right here on my blog
        And it is also in my recent book which you can click on my handle to read for free.
        You have to keep up with renewable research, otherwise you will be left behind.

      • Web, wind is crap , delivering z small fraction of its rated capacity.

      • For the record, that’s not a few weeks, that’s five years. And just for the edification of the ignorant, Bonneville Power Authority is the largest federal hydropower agency in the US, including the Grand Coulee dam at something like 7 gigawatts. This isn’t some small-potatoes outfit.

        But keep kvetching.

      • Kiddies all jealous over the fact that I know how to do the analysis.

  19. Most interesting to me, and I think most relevant to policy decisions, was the Padilla et al paper on estimating transient climate sensitivity. I hope to review a bunch more papers on the topic in 2012, and write one myself.

    • Sensitivity is an abstraction that is irrelevant, or worse, to the policy issues. CO2 does not determine actual climate, which is all that policy is interested in.

      • Thanks for saying this David. My thoughts have been moving in a similar direction this year, thanks to Tomas Milanovic on Spatiotemporal Chaos, to Nic Lewis on how the IPCC treated the ‘real world data’ of Forster & Gregory in such a cavalier way – convincing me that they don’t believe in the relevance themselves – and to Indur Goklany on the little thing the IPCC SREX Summary for Policy Makers failed to mention last month. I’ll present something on this on my little blog later today.

      • David: Sensitivity is an abstraction that is irrelevant, or worse, to the policy issues. CO2 does not determine actual climate, which is all that policy is interested in.

        I think that is unwise. If CO2 accumulation causes an increase in global heat retention and global mean temperature increase, I think that it is important to know how rapidly how much change will occur.

        I do think that detailed mechanistic analyses, as I have argued in the past, would probably be more useful, but to me the Padilla paper was the most important item at Climate Etc. I discovered an important paper at Isaac Held’s blog, and I mentioned it here. I may write a longer post about it. It is more along the lines you recommend, of studying the actual change in heat flows induced by a change in atmospheric CO2 concentration. “CO2 does not determine actual climate ” may be mostly true, but CO2 change will determine changes in actual micro climates by changing heat flows.

    • Matt – I had forgotten about that post, but I agree with you – I think Padilla et al was one of the best posts and threads on this blog during the past year. The thread also referenced the earlier paper on the same theme by Gregory and Forster, which arrived at similar estimates of transient sensitivity. As you point out, the practical relevance of estimating the warming potential of a forcing from CO2 (or other modality) over a time scale measured in multiple decades or a century is more relevant to near term policy deliberations than are estimates of equilibrium sensitivity approached asymptotically over many centuries..

      • Is this the shortest Moolten post ever, a new record? As usual, I have no idea what it means, but it didn’t take me long to find that out.

        Judith, thank you for the time and effort you put into the blog, and all the best in the new year to you and your family. For everyone else, thank you for (mostly) interesting discussions, and may they continue.

      • Nick,
        Fred means that the nearer the abstract threat is to now the greater its potential to scare people. Sounds true to me.

        Mind you, one cannot get too close to now or you get a testable prediction. Just kidding or course, sort of.

      • David:
        Fred means that the nearer the abstract threat is to now the greater its potential to scare people. Sounds true to me.

        That is not what he said. Padilla et al hold out the possibility that the doubling of CO2 will cause a modest increase in mean temperature by 2080, with the greatest effects centuries later; that is not a greater potential to scare people.

  20. Thank you Dr. Curry for allowing me to insert my opinions on topics with which I feel comfortable. It is a credit to the breadth of your blog that posts by Tomas Milanovic and Ken Wilson appear. Each post, the comments, follow-up posts, improve my understanding of my own beliefs, biases, uncertainties and intellect. More than ever, I understand that most of the simultaneous conversations going on in my head are interconnected and help me grow incrementally. I am as it were, learning new tricks.
    Happy New Year; may it be worthwhile and prosperous; a net gain.

  21. @curryja Dec 30, 5:26pm

    >actually a primary research topic for me next year (fingers crossed re funding) will be predictability of wind power, on a range of time and spatial scales<

    Beginning to commence to start to become vaguely practical. Please include experienced power station engineers in this (the EU has plenty, although most of them are now bald, having torn their hair out several times over). This topic needs numbers, not arm waving. You will find a very, very large Curate's Egg

    BTW, the threads I learnt most from were the discussions from (sadly now missing) Chief Hydrologist. He managed to convince me about 70% to discard the concept of "the past is the key to the present" in relation to climate predictions … that was no mean feat

    • Yes it is unfortunate that Chief Hydrologist has “disappeared” Several others who have made very substantive posts have disappeared for awhile and came back, hopefully CH will return at some point.

      • Chief, you are greatly missed. Please come back soon.

      • I think Climate Etc is also poorer for Bart’s disappearance (R, not Simpson..)
        I suppose I might be in a minority missing Girma’s graph’s….

      • Robert (CH) e-mailed me in July to say he was “retiring his computer.” His blog shows up as “suspended.” Definitely one of the top posters here, perhaps he will resurface.

  22. hmm, I have a new question.
    Where does most of the Earth’s night time energy radiate from?
    As in near top of atmosphere, near surface atmosphere, or the surface features.
    Though not new question relating to 2011- if you wanted to shield from radiated heat from Earth what wavelengths causes most heating of spacecraft in orbit. Or flip side, if wanted heating, what wavelengths do you need to absorb while facing earth [from night time radiation].

    • Of about 239 W/m^2 infrared radiation emitted by the climate system, approximately 40 W/m^2 come from the surface (the so-called “atmospheric window” of wavelengths not intercepted by greenhouse gases or cloud water), about 30 W/m^2 are emitted by clouds, and the remaining 169 W/m^2 are emitted from various atmospheric altitudes. Most of these are below the tropopause, but radiation emitted at about a 15 um wavelength (the center of the main CO2 absorption band) is emitted mainly at a very high altitude – in the stratosphere.

      I haven’t seen data on day/night differences, but I think they would be small. Because daytime temperatures are higher, there would be a shift toward the shorter wavelengths, but the proportions would probably not be radically different. This refers to radiated emissions, not to reflected sunlight, which of course is a daytime phenomenon and comes from bright surfaces (snow, ice, sand, etc.), clouds, atmospheric aerosols, and scattering by atmospheric molecules.

      For some of the numbers, see the bottom figure at Trenberth-Fasullo-Kiehl, and for the radiating altitudes, see Figure 3a – note that at the CO2 center (wavenumber 667 = wavelength 15 um), the characteristic emission temperature, about 220 K, is in the stratosphere.

      • “For some of the numbers, see the bottom figure at Trenberth-Fasullo-Kiehl, and for the radiating altitudes, see Figure 3a – note that at the CO2 center (wavenumber 667 = wavelength 15 um), the characteristic emission temperature, about 220 K, is in the stratosphere.”

        Some interesting stuff, but it doesn’t appear to answer my question.
        It seems to me one would look at angle to the Earth surface to help determine where. Though one may only need to look directly down [perhaps].
        And I don’t see mention what angle the instrument measuring the Earth- and assume directly down

        As for what I thought was interesting- but first quote from fig 3:
        “Figure 3. Satellite measurements of emission spectra are not limited to Earth. (a) The left panel compares a computed global-mean, annual-mean emission spectrum for Earth (blue) with observations from the satellite-borne AIRS instrument (red); both are superimposed over a series of Planck distributions.”

        As I see it, there the blue computer model showing a range from 200 to 1600. The red lines from AIRS indicates reading in range of 650 to 1600
        [mostly infrared range- one can assume using instrument which for measuring infrared].
        This indicates in sunlit side- as earth can not emit 650 wavelength [it’s sun temperature’s wavelength- so it’s reflected sunlight.
        It be interesting to compare to incoming spectrum, such as here:
        It seems similar though obviously some difference. I understand the solar spectrum is sunlight with what is removed [absorbed] by atmosphere.
        And fig 3 a, since it includes reflected light, would combination reflect sunlight and Earth emission. And if done on unlit side you remove the noise of reflected sunlight.
        As far as interesting:
        “(c) The panels here show a Venusian equatorial night thermal spectrum as measured by the Venera 15 orbiter 14 together with a typical temperature profile for the planet.

        Figure 3 also shows emission spectra for Mars and Venus. The Martian spectrum, obtained on a summer afternoon, mainly takes the form of blackbody emission from a 260-K surface, but as with Earth’s spectrum, it has a region centered on the main CO2 absorption band where the radiating temperature is much colder. As far as one can tell from its IR spectra, nighttime Venus looks about as cold as daytime Mars.”
        And that seems weird, or wrong. The night venus is showing high amounts of 150 to 500 wavelength. It’s not surprising to see similar wavelengths from Mars daytime [reflected sunlight] but why does Venus show this wavelength at nite side?

        “Climate scientists routinely use spectral inferences such as those discussed above to monitor the state of Earth’s atmosphere from space. Every time you see an IR weather satellite image, you are seeing radiative transfer in action. Earth’s liquid or frozen water clouds act essentially as blackbodies. They emit at the cloud-top temperature, which is cold if the clouds are deep. On an IR satellite image, clouds appear as regions of weak emission, though by convention IR weather satellite images are usually presented with an inverted gray scale that makes clouds look white, as one expects from everyday experience. ”

        How are clouds vaguely like blackbodies?
        But one can expect to reflect lots of sunlight- but interesting if they actually emit [rather than just reflect] any IR.

        This seems wrong:
        “In a single second, Earth absorbs 1.22 × 10^17 joules of energy from the Sun.”
        but later goes on:
        “The momentum of atmospheric photons is too small to allow any significant portion of their energy to go directly into translational kinetic energy of the molecules that absorb them. Instead, it goes into changing the internal quantum states of the molecules.”
        Which means sunlight does not add Kinetic energy to gases, therefore do not warm gases.”

        That’s what I thought, but I wasn’t sure that was broadly accepted.

  23. Time for a little end of year praise;

    Judith does have the best of intentions with this blog.

  24. Most intriguing:
    Carbon Cycle Questions

    Most relevant:
    Posts on Spatiotemporal chaos, spatial and temporal aliasing due to sampling “errors”, discussions on feedbacks and sensitivity. In particular, my realization that the “global” sensitivity value cannot be constrained by simply knowing what it is/was based on a single region and/or a single point in time. And that we may not reliably know what it is during my lifetime.

    Most irrelevant:
    BEST, there was never much doubt that the earth has warmed since 1800. They did nothing to address the issues with previous studies regarding UHI and error bars.

  25. Climate/Energy: IPCC Durban versus ASPO Washington DC

    Plateaued temperature with rapidly increasing CO2
    Energy use is foundational to the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming argument (politically renamed “climate change” by equivocation.) The dramatic evidence for 2000 to 2010 is that:
    Global Coal Consumption Jumps Almost 50% – Yet Global Temps Drop! See graph.
    China coal use tripled from 1.2 billion tons/year to ~ 3.5 billion tons/year from 2000 to 2010, shooting 53% above US CO2. China has been installing a power plant per week. China alone now accounts for 25% of global CO2 emissions (8.33 out of 33.16 billion tonnes in 2010). China pledged to reduce its energy intensity by 40-45% by 2020 (This is actually a pragmatic effort to improve energy efficiency where economically practical and to consequently improve profitability.) Consequently,

    “The Chinese delegation said here Sunday that the just-concluded United Nations climate change conference produced “progressive and balanced outcome.”

    Declining Available Net Oil Exports
    Much more critical is the <rapid decline on Available Global Oil Exports since 2005 after 20 years rapid growth in exports. Available Net Oil Imports (after China & India) PEAKED in 2005 and DECLINED 13% by 2010. China’s oil imports increased >70% from 2002 to 2010. See: Peak Net Exports—A Five Year Retrospective and a Look Forward Jeffrey J. Brown, Samuel Foucher, PhD ASPO 2011.

    This declining trend in Available Net Oil Exports is the primary cause underlying the economic chaos of the last five years. The projected severe decline in fuel exports over the next decade will dominate the economy of importing countries. See Robert Hirsch (2011) Thoughts on Declining World Oil Production & Energy

    Severe declines in the economies of oil importing countries with the urgency to develop alternative fuels, will almost totally dominate public policy over the next generation. The primacy of economic growth will drive developing countries to increase coal use as the most cost effective energy over this period. Together these trends will effectively eliminate any political action to “control climate.” High prices and fuel shortages will drive higher transport efficiency and development of fuels other than light oil.

  26. This is the post I come to to continue my ‘climate science’ education.
    Thanks Judy, and keep up the good work!

  27. Judith,

    I’ve wasted too much time on the current consensus of scientists.
    It is obvious that they feel that their is no uncertainty in science and every past theory was absolutely correct.
    2012 will be the year of change or be crushed by the stupidity train facts over fiction.
    One thing is to be ignorant and another to choose to be that way!

  28. JC-I’m not sure if this topic would interest you or not:

    1) Most GW climatologists are western
    2) The agenda of the UN, IPCC, many climatologists, and liberal western politicians seems to be the downfall of western civilization to the lowest denominator (third world status), through taxation.
    3) When societies are perceived to fail, the citizen masses will rise and overthrow the failing government (many examples throughout human history)
    4) The new powers always rid themselves of the former power holders, especially politicians and intellectuals, via prisons, executions, and banishing.
    5) Have none of those listed in 1 & 2 above ever studied history?
    Are they and the rest of mankind doomed to repeat history?
    Think Russian and French revolutions, Pol Pot, even Rome.
    I truly worry for my grandchildren, and not because of AGW.

    Thanks, Daniel

    • Daniel,

      Much of our technology was created by the “trial and error” method.
      Not much was actually achieved by the way of science in understanding how the technology actually works.
      We had all these nifty theories and laws that all these individual areas were to be categorized but no actual evidence. Massive amounts of papers were generated and consensus with no one accountable.
      Pretty graphs and creating new terms ensured not many people could understand scientists and they were totally in trust by society to look after their best interests.
      Career and prestige became their best interest and NOT the science.

      • I’m not sure whether I agree or disagree with your comment, but I am pretty certain it has nothing to do with my comment above.

  29. Sort of germane:

    JANUARY: An enterprising BBC reporter — seeking to prove the practicality of electric cars — drove from London to Edinburgh. The journey took four days — longer than a horse-drawn stage would have taken for the trip 150 years ago — including nine stops of up to ten hours.

    • Germane to what? That the actual story of the millennium is about the depletion of crude oil reserves, and the diligent research of those offering up alternative transportation fuels?

      • ian (not the ash)

        And this year’s ‘colossal cranky pants’ award goes to…;-)

      • Story of the millennium? All 1000 years of is just about oil?
        Bit of a singular obsession here.

        Suggested New Year Resolutions for Webbie

        1. Get out more
        2. Meet people face to face
        3. Work on your humility issues

      • WHT,

        I agree with you. Change in crude oil reserves since the start of the millennium is a notable story. Unfortunately, the EIA says you have your story bass ackwards. Reserves have increased by 32% since 2000 and are more than double the reserves available in 1980.

        World crude oil reserves in billions of barrels.
        1980 644.934
        1990 1,002.213
        2000 1,016.772
        2009 1,342.207

      • Resolution for Alder: try to resist temptation and not use sock-puppets to push phony belief system.

      • Sorry – forgot one other thing for Webbie’s resoultions:

        4. Read up on Doomsday Cults/Religions.

        History is full of examples ..going back thousands of years. So far, they have all had similar trajectories, and none has actually come to pass. You need to make a compelling case (which you have so far completely failed to do) why your one is different.

      • Web, you are becoming indistinguishable from Joe or Oliver.

      • Just shows your lack of intellectual savvy in not being able to distinguish nonsense from perfectly good science. But I have come to expect that from you Hunter.

      • Lat, That’s why I get a kick reading about what you Malthusians, Luddites, and Cornucopians have to say. You are the real doomers, hoping to prevent any kind of progress in alternative energies. I enjoy it like I enjoy reading “why people believe weird things”, while at the same time it helps to keep my arguments exercised. Believe it or not, occasionally I will gain a nugget of wisdom from a doomer pessimist.

      • Bob Koss
        Sadly you have been misled by narrow SEC rules which only allow reporting resources near wells. However any geologist can extrapolate to get a reasonable idea of the full field from the early original wells. Backdating oil discoveries to the original wells gives an entirely different picture.
        Production of light oil has exceeded discovery every year since ~1980.
        See Jean Laherrere’s detailed graphs, especially: Backdating is the keyJean Laherrère, ASPO France 2011

        The discrepancy between backdated (green) and current (brown) reserves explains why economists do not believe in peak oil.

        Laherrere uses official Canadian data to show both methods.

      • Web

        As you have done frequently, you continue to rant about the concept of peak oil, (which is a poor term since the actual issue would be peak fossil fuel) but you continually fail to offer specific suggestions for reasonable solutions. Your attempt to link that issue to climate change seems very weak at best.

      • David L. Hagen,

        That is interesting information, but WHT asserted depletion of crude oil reserves. Not just light oil reserves. So I consider WHT’s assertion refuted.

        Additionally, not all light oil is equal. So it seems people can easily pick their subset of crude to come to many different conclusions.
        US light is between 37° API (840 kg/m3) and 42° API (816 kg/m3)
        Non-US is between 32° API (865 kg/m3) and 42° API (816 kg/m3)
        Canada uses less than 875.7 kg/m3 (30.1° API)
        Pemex uses between 27° API (893 kg/m3) and 38° API (835 kg/m3)

        For myself, I’m not really interested in digging into the subject, so I’ll go with my EIA reference above.

      • @web hub telescope

        ‘hoping to prevent any kind of progress in alternative energies’

        I’d be delighted to see practical and economical progress in alternative energies if such a thing were ever forthcoming. Just as I’d be the first to cheer if somebody really could make a perpetual motion machine.

        But the fundamental concepts of thermodynamics and energy density can’t be changed by wishful thinking, however much true believers like yourself would like to think that Gaia will answer you prayers.

        The truth about ‘alternative energy’ is that it usually comes down to being a way to extract poor taxpayers money via a hare-brained scheme and put it into the pockets of rich folks in exchange for them doing f.. all. Wind mills, solar PV, offshore wind are classic examples of heavily subsidised delusions. Monuments to wishful thinking.

        If anyone really has a good idea for alternative energy, they can develop it using their own money, than sell it at commercial rates to the rest of us. If that can’t be done, then it is not practical and/or economical.

        So Webbie, please put your money where your mouth is. I’ve more than enough other things to worry about than whether you can convert fairy dust into megawatts by sprinkling from the horn of a unicorn. So I’ll kepp my money thank you and you can play with yours.

        Good luck…I genuinely hope it works. But it needs more than prayers to the Goddess to make it happen.

      • “So I’ll kepp my money thank you and you can play with yours.”

        You are of course welcome to any money you have printed yourself.

        Of course, anything that says “US Mint” or “dollar” or anything of the like belongs to the one who created it, as I’m sure you’d agree. And if that creator wants it back, you will of course have to return it. You wouldn’t want to be a thief! ;)

      • Isn’t it valid to point out where theories match empirical data? Conventional crude oil production has reached a peak globally. Anthracite coal production has reached peak in various historically important regions, such as the UK and Pennsylvania. Next in the food chain is bituminous coal, and then lignite if we want to scrape the bottom of the barrel. The Dutch burned all their peat as they claimed low-lying areas from the sea with the help of windmills. And the windmills only remain. Get the picture?

      • Robert, He’s a Brit, and probably frustrated that he has no control over how other nations wish to exercise their sovereignty.

      • Ringo, I have my own solutions that I have documented comprehensively. I can’t help if you start whining about that as well.
        In the fallacious arguments list, that one’s called “raising the bar”.

      • Rob Starkey
        The key issue of “peak oil” is first the physical constraint on the rate of production from a given geological areas with a given technology. Secondly is the economic constraint on the value.

        Globally there was a rapid growth of crude oil for 20 years of about 1 million bbl/day every year.

        Since 2005 global oil production has plateaued.
        Why – if oil is that abundant?

        Yes there are some 5 trillion bbl of bitumen/tar, similar large quantities of shale oil and coal. Yet you can’t drive your car on those. First they need to be extracted, then upgraded to syncrude, before being converted to gasoline/diesel. That extraction/upgrading costs about $100,000/bbl/day of production.
        i.e. about $10 trillion to replace current crude oil production as it is being depleted. That is the critical investment needed to sustain the global economy.

        Bob Koss
        “That is interesting information”
        Those facts are driving the global economy along the economic roller coaster since 2005. Study them carefully.

        re “WHT asserted depletion of crude oil reserves.”
        I was using “light oil” to distinguish from heavy oil in Venezuela or bitumen in Canada.
        Though politically renamed “oil sands”, bitumen in winter has the consistency of a Canadian hockey puck!
        Re WHT

        That the actual story of the millennium is about the depletion of crude oil reserves, and the diligent research of those offering up alternative transportation fuels?

        Those remain the key foundational issue driving global economies, especially of oil importing countries. The value of oil/fuel needed over the next 40 years is $100 trillion. You have provided no evidence that production has exceed backdated discoveries since 1980, and thus WHT observations stand.

        For initial development of hydrogen as fuel see:
        High Temperature Solar in Low Carbon Hydrogen Alan Weimer 2011

        For coal syngas see Linc Energy

        PS In context, by “millenium” I understood WHT to refer to AD 2000.

      • David

        I am reasonably familiar with the specifics regarding world oil production. Actual crude oil production has not risen because there is no economic justification for it to rise. There is actually a greater shortage of refining capacity than there is of production capacity.

        I am not stating that there is not, or will not be; a planet wide need to transition away from fossil fuels to produce energy. That is really quite obvious, but the issue does not really tie very well to the cAGW issue. The timing is quite different.

        The issue of oil is one of very basic economics. What does it cost to produce energy from fossil fuel vs. what it costs to produce energy from alternative sources. You can easily argue that countries should heavily tax the use of fossil fuels to produce energy, and the revenue is certainly needed if western countries plan to continue delivering the promised benefits to their citizens. This unfortunately becomes complicated because a fossil fuel tax impacts those who earn the lowest amounts the hardest and that is often considered politically unpopular.

        Personally, I am an advocate of hydrogen technology and of nuclear technology. Hydrogen is simply not cost effective and modern nuclear is being avoided due to emotional reasons. Look at what a person like Web writes about nuclear. He is reportedly knowledgeable on the topic and is absolutely wrong about the risks and economics of modern nuclear power. Like many others, he prefers to evaluate 40 year old nuclear technology as a means of not promoting the tech currently available.

      • The Dutch had ten thousand windmills to pump water. Now they have one thousand windmills for tourists. They now use electricity to pump water.

      • Web, you vastly over estimate what you do, and dramatically misunderestimste what I see. You are drifting off course. I sincerely hope you can find a way back.

      • Rob Starkey
        Interested in your comment of refining capacity constraints. Any references? That does not appear to match the facts that refining capacity was able to keep up sustained growth of 1 million bbl/day each year for twenty years to 2005. Nor the more than four fold increase in price over the last decade with flat production since 2005.
        China has bee rapidly expanding its petroleum use and rapidly increasing oil imports. increasing its refining capacity as fast as it can.

        China’s oil refining capacity increased from 274 million tons per year in 2000 to 560 million tons per year in 2010, and will amount to 750 million tons in 2015. According to authoritative intelligence institutions, by 2013 over 20 oil refining bases will be built in China with an average capacity growth rate of over 10 million tons per year.

        I heard one china petroleum executive describe plans for a very large refining plant being build every year for the next decade to refine oil sands.
        I see regional changes. e.g. see
        Global Refining Capacity Stephen Bowers (TOD user carnot) March 30, 2011

        If those refining capacity estimates are correct for the next 5-10 years then one has to ask where will all this oil come from, since it amounts to around 1 million b/d each year for the next next 10 years. . . .Meanwhile if the fall in gasoline consumption in Europe continues as predicted, in some forecasts by as much as 30% by 2020, then there is the probability that further closures of European refineries are likely, and that Europe will be looking East and West for jet and diesel to fill the shortfall in production. By 2020 Europe has legislation in place to reduce the average CO2 emissions for new cars to 95 gms per kilometre – a tough target that few cars are capable of to date.

      • The thing about refining capacity is a myth, at least in the US. Exports of refined petroleum products are at a record high, even as we import lots of crude. In fact, the dollar value of petroleum products exported from the US recently exceeded that of aircraft, which used to be the #1 export, but now is #2.

      • David & PE

        I have to run but wanted to respond quickly before I took off. The issue on refining capacity (as I understand it) is one of total cost of the refined product. Worldwide capacity is available, but it is more expensive to get the raw material to the available capacity and then get the refined product to the ultimate user than was true previously.

        ok-I am out of here this year

      • Rob, that jives with what I said. For whatever reason, the US has too much capacity, and the ROW not enough. This won’t last, but when the ROW adds more capacity, the US will still have plenty. And yes, we’re shipping stuff around too much.

      • Hunter, You excel at being a scold, and add zero original research. On course to becoming irrelevant, if you haven’t reached that stage yet.

      • Latimer Alder: If anyone really has a good idea for alternative energy, they can develop it using their own money, than sell it at commercial rates to the rest of us. If that can’t be done, then it is not practical and/or economical.

        The Boeing Dreamliner assembly plant is S. Carolina is powered entirely by roof-mounted PV panels. Some of America’s PV fabrication plants are partially powered by roof-mounted PV panels. Look for more of that in 2012 – 2016.

        It doesn’t matter that the power is distributed; people will move to where the power is, as job-seekers have flocked to Las Vegas, Alberta and The. Dakotas.

      • Latimer Alder


        ‘The Boeing Dreamliner assembly plant is S. Carolina is powered entirely by roof-mounted PV panels.’

        Nice idea. Sadly, not what actually happens.

        There are indeed some solar panels on the roof of the assembly building. You can read about them here…..and see pictures and an interesting rah-rah video.

        But they do not provide ‘the entire power for the plant’. Even smothering the whole of this huge building with panels produces just 2.6MW of rated power. And that only at ‘peak sun time’. The rest of the power for the building comes from ‘a biomass facility’.

        The video carefully does not specify what the actual total energy demand for the plant is. But unless they are all shutting up shop and going home on a cloudy day and at night, we can be sure that there is a substantial contribution from biomass.

      • Latimer Alder



        The solar PV installation at the Dreamliner plant will provide about 20% of Boeing’s electricity needs at the site

        The remaining 80% of it comes from the ‘North Charleston Biomass Generator’ – which is a fancy name for burning the town trash. In one article, burning the trash at this plant is said to have (unspecified) ‘green attributes’. Though it is not made clear what these attributes might be. And I can’t really think of any either.

        All in all a successful bit of PR spin for Boeing. They get some other guys to put a ginormous amount of junk on their roof, (probably free for a reference site) then power the plant by burning rubbish. And hope that gullible greenies will look kindly upon them for using ‘renewables’.

        As an afterthought…if this was in UK, we poor taxpayers would be paying Boeing about ten times the asking price for every pathetic solar watt they generated, even if they used it all themselves. Please say it ain’t so in the Land of the Free.

      • Latimer Alder, you are correct about the S. C. Dreamliner assembly plant. It gets its electricity from the PV panels, not all of its power.

        Sorry for the exaggeration.

      • WebHubTelescope: Isn’t it valid to point out where theories match empirical data? Conventional crude oil production has reached a peak globally. Anthracite coal production has reached peak in various historically important regions, such as the UK and Pennsylvania. Next in the food chain is bituminous coal, and then lignite if we want to scrape the bottom of the barrel.

        Those are good points. Right now, “peak oil” looks more like a broad shoulder than a peak, but the energy return on $$$ and energy invested is declining.

        For some reason, you have buried your good points in a camoflage of indirection and arrogant insults. I preferred your previous incarnation.

      • P. E. The thing about refining capacity is a myth, at least in the US. Exports of refined petroleum products are at a record high, even as we import lots of crude. In fact, the dollar value of petroleum products exported from the US recently exceeded that of aircraft, which used to be the #1 export, but now is #2.

        Indeed, the dollar value of petroleum-based exports exceeds the dollar value of petroleum imports. This was reported by the EIA just a few days ago.

    • The story of the year is the religious belief in bureaucratic organizations when it comes to energy accounting, but absolute hatred to these same organizations when they talk climate change. The hypocrisy is astonishing.

      You people should probably take up P.E.’s suggestion of horse-drawn carriages, since the blinders are already in place.

      • Yep. I’m sure that we were all gripped by the story of the energy accounting. I know that I was…..when not diverted by sorting out my paperclips or watching the grass grow. Fascinating stuff and well worthy of ‘story of the year’.

        But where would this year mark in excitement in the whole millennium of depletion of crude oil reserves? Somewhere in the 600s? Or maybe down among the 700s? Please give us your excellent historical judgement,…..

      • Maybe Amish vehicle futures are the only foreseeable option,as the US national credit card is maxed out again.Peak money is an insumountable barrier maybe the only viable option is to think reframe the structual problems such as the telecommunication and computer industries have.

        More players, the more probable an evoultionary stable solution(s) will arise.

      • The millennium started in the year 2000 and I stand by my assertion. The year 2005 saw the conventional crude oil peak and plateau, as the bureaucrats furiously created new accounting metrics to “hide the decline” in production. Climate scientists are rank amateurs at deceptive data manipulation in comparison to the bureaucracy.

        Late in the year 2009 marked the time that the administration stopped using “climate” as a policy word and started focussing on the “energy” word. That was the claim made on a top-level ClimateEtc post a few weeks ago, and I consider that a key insight made by Curry.

      • Somehow I do not anticipate that I will be spending a sleeplees night worrying about whether or not we have or have not reached or surpassed the Peak Oil production.

        As a question, it fails the ‘So F……g What?’ test, bigtime

      • Oh for crikey’s sake. Where did anyone suggest horse drawn carriages? Please stop making stuff up. Admit defeat gracefully.

      • Um, I think it was you that quoted horses could match an electric car from London to Edinburgh. Just riffing off of that inanity, which you used as somehow proof that the wheels have come off.

      • Web. Let me ‘splain something to you. On the innernet, there are these thingys called blockquotes. They look like this:

        This is a quoted text

        Whenever somebody uses those thingys that look like that, it usually means they’re quoting somebody else. It’s complicated innernet techy stuff like Excel.

      • I said you were quoting someone else. The fact that someone else is from a Jed Babbin article in American Spectator is embarrassing enough.

      • WebHubTelescope: The story of the year is the religious belief in bureaucratic organizations when it comes to energy accounting, but absolute hatred to these same organizations when they talk climate change. The hypocrisy is astonishing.

        Really? That’s the “story of the year”? Where is it even a “story”?

      • We broke a big story in showing a discrepancy between EIA and JODI numbers (bureaucratic vs open), and also in showing the “hide the decline” techniques in crude oil reporting. It’s my perspective of course, and I find this data arguably easier to analyze than tricky climate data.

        Hagenuk also described a

    • Personally, I am an advocate of hydrogen technology . . . . Hydrogen is simply not cost effective

      I think that sentence might have come out a little more honest than you meant it to be.

      • Nitwit Robert-

        I may be wrong, but not dishonest. When I am wrong on something I have no fear of admitting the fact. Hydrogen for energy is a very interesting technology and over the long term I estimate it will be adopted. The issues are how to make sufficient quantities in a cost effective manner and how to distribute the hydrogen equally cost effectively.

      • The basic question concerning hydrogen as energy carrier is, whether it will be superior to alternatives in any important field of application.

        For stationary applications it has to compete with electricity, in cars various other fuels and batteries are alternatives that may be difficult to beat. Will it win in any field is totally open.

      • Pekka

        I agree with your assessment. I think hydrogen is a high potential source of energy for mobile applications. Batteries have numerous issues as I assume you know.

      • I am a big fan of hydrogen as well. Fuel cell technology is close with mass production, but storage is still an issue. It can be useful for load balancing in wind and solar applications even with low efficiency electrolyzation, since the net cost of most alternate energies, once you accurately consider true costs, is competitive.

        Basically, hydrogen, as a storage medium of course, can be an effect bridge between the not ready for prime time sustainable energy options.

      • In the end, the market will determine which applications H2 is appropriate for and which not. However, there are two ways to use H2; first as a thermal fuel, and second as an electrochemical fuel. The electrochemical route has some theoretical advantages, and may in the future have some practical advantages (i.e. efficiency).

        If we see it in mobile applications as a fuel cell fuel, it will be in the large vehicles first. We’ll see it in ships and trains and trucks before we see it in cars. The reason why is that present technology fuel cells have to be kept hot. This will favor large commercial applications, especially if they run 24 hours a day (or even 12-18 as with trucks and buses).

        The H2-powered personal transport vehicle is a lot further off. But replacing the diesel fleet could make a substantial dent in petroleum demand.

        Also, it’s not as easy to make H2 electolytically as most people think, at least on a commercial scale. Resistance losses go way up as current density goes up. The most practical technology on the horizon for making lots of H2 without making lots of CO2 is a type of pebble-bed nuke that makes H2 directly by thermal cracking. This is far more efficient than generating electricity and then doing electrolysis.

        As a physicist, I think why that’s much more efficient should be obvious to Pekka.

      • P.E. You are right on the money for larger scale applications. There is a niche in smaller scale projects that is kind of interesting if the greens what to put their money where their mouth is :)

        I was researching direct electrolysis a while back and 50-60% efficiency is possible on that side. Allowing for a fuel cell efficiency of roughly 65% 30% overall efficiency is easily obtainable. Not sexy by any means, but if the greens want to do their part and prove their technology of the future, they can go off grid as entrepreneurs and sell their solutions the old fashion way, by financing the prototype community of the future with their own money :)

      • Capt, that’s after losing 70% in the thermal generation. That’s why the only scheme that has a prayer of being economical is the nuclear water cracker.

      • P.E. said, “Capt, that’s after losing 70% in the thermal generation. ”

        A regenerative fuel cell has better efficiency than that. If you consider input power efficiency it is on that order though. That is why it is only viable for solar PV and wind on smaller off grid applications. If they are making energy and there is no efficient use for the energy at that time, the inefficient direct electrolysis of water is better than getting nothing out of the deal at all :) There are a couple of island communities that are playing with it since the cost of battery storage is so high.

        Storage of the gas is a problem since the maximum pressure is about 1500 PSI without adding compressors.

        High temperature sulfer/iodine is a better way to go, but many smaller island complexes can afford the technology. I think it is one of the islands around Newfoundland that is trying a wind/hydrogen hybrid system with reversible fuel cells. With no way to connect to a grid, it was a reasonable option for them.

      • There are lots of problems with hydrogen solutions. The worst are related to efficiency losses and high investment costs. Both electrolysis cells in production of hydrogen and fuel cells in it’s use have best efficiency, when operated far below their maximum power, because increased power density leads to voltage losses. Due to laws of thermodynamics their efficiencies are basically optimal at lowest temperatures that allow each particular technology to operate, but some of the technologies require high temperatures. It’s true that these specific technologies are most promising in larger scale application, but the efficiencies of production and use remain problems. Low temperature fuel cells may on the other hand be most competitive at the smallest scale.

        The most efficient electrolysis and fuel cells use expensive catalysts. There has been a lot of research in developing more economic catalysts, but results are still lacking. This is less a problem for high temperature (solid oxide) fuel cells than for low temperature fuel cells.

        Hydrogen is not easy to store, Gaseous hydrogen takes a lot of space even when pressurized, the pressure tanks are also heavy. Hydrogen leaks also from tanks and underground storage more than most other cases. In particular it can penetrate many metals and make them brittle.

        Liquid hydrogen is really cold (20 K) and even then its density is low. Thus the required volumes are large. Cooling to the required temperature takes much energy. Thus it would be really valuable to use the cold to drive a heat engine before the hydrogen is used, but that’s very difficult to arrange.

        Many people consider metal hydrides the most promising approach for storage. It allows for similar hydrogen densities as liquid hydrogen without the need to cool down. The metal is, however, rather heavy making the storage heavy. Furthermore the metal hydride storage solutions do not allow for limitless number of storage cycles.

        The explosion risks of hydrogen are also large. i don’t think they have been given enough attention. Hydrogen is very risky in any closed or semiclosed place like a building, tunnel or underground parking hall. It detonates more easily than any other gas, and a detonation may be very destructive.

        I wrote a report on the prospects of hydrogen technologies in 1981. At that time I concluded that the most promising application would be in air traffic. The low weight would be a great advantage in an airplane, and the infrastructure needed for liquid hydrogen could be built on all major airports. I have not followed the development as much since, but enough to know that very much that I found out 30 years ago is still valid. The progress has been slow and we may be now as far or further from the goal, which has shifted when the competitive technologies have also developed.

  30. Whilst the technicalities of most threads are beyond me I appreciate Dr Curry’s drawing attention to the uncertainty/complexity aspects in climate change.

    To me the highlight of 2011 was the gradual diminution in attention given to climate change and esp that far less scare stories have been around, and that when they do occur there are people like Dr Curry to say “now there children, settle down”.

    Actually I think the big issue to face up to in coming years is (and I have just posted this on Keith Kloor’s blog, and for the sake of argument I’m accepting that the target reductions in CO2 emissions are required)

    “how would we get to an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions without causing economic decline with knock on effects for employment and standard of living, not just in the West but in the developing world as well.”

    I understand this question is beyond the scope of this blog.

    • randomengineer

      I understand this question is beyond the scope of this blog.

      On the contrary. Yours is the *only* relevant question. To date the AGW cheerleader squad (not to be confused with the Climate Rapid Response Team, who rappel upon unsuspecting denier encampments from black helicopters) have yet to spell out a plan that is anywhere within screeching distance of logical, much less has a snowball’s chance of working.

      I’ll assume for a moment, same as you, that reductions are required. Short of bombing the entire non-western world there is no way to enforce reductions on these economies, burgeoning or otherwise. We cannot export love of gaia to china and india at the point of bayonets. We can’t get places like Zimbabwe to settle on a stable political regime; how in the name of god do the cheerleaders propose to convince Zimbabwe to abstain from fossil fuels? Reagan was unable to convince 1980’s teenagers to abstain from something as trivial as sex. We all like sex, sure, but Zimbabweans strangely enough seem to like other things just as well — like food, comfortable living conditions, etc. Who knew?

      Ahhh, the cheerleaders sniff, nuclear works. In a pig’s eye. You don’t want nuclear plants in places undergoing arab spring. You don’t want it in any regime that isn’t ridiculously stable. The state department of the US experiences convulsions every time a political leader in Pakistan farts.

      This means that reductions in the west are not only likely to be economically ruinous in the wrong hands (we’ll take it as a given that much of the western political leadership are morons or corrupt) but aren’t going to work. Reductions don’t work unless everybody plays, and there’s no way the cheerleaders have offered to get everyone to play.

      In a nutshell, until we can address *your* question then the rest of this is either academic interest or arguing about how many peak oil pinheads can dance on the head of a pin.

      • Nuclear to generate power for charging electric cars so that we can save petroleum for manufacturing. I’m behind you on that random peak-oil pinhead.

      • “Ahhh, the cheerleaders sniff, nuclear works. In a pig’s eye. You don’t want nuclear plants in places undergoing arab spring. You don’t want it in any regime that isn’t ridiculously stable. The state department of the US experiences convulsions every time a political leader in Pakistan farts. ”

        It seems if we can’t use nuclear, we have to go off world.
        One can argue the future energy needs can be met by
        using nuclear power. That is the only technology we have at
        the moment- if you look decades to centuries into the future
        to meet energy needs.
        Unless you are willing allow 1/2 the world to remain in poverty.
        And if you “allow this” there no guarantee these billions of
        people are going to go along with it. Which means, lots of wars- whether
        they maintained as merely “police actions” is also not one should
        be confident of.

        My suggestion is to “mostly ignore” all these problem areas- as we have
        been mostly doing. And provide a tiny bit of attention on opening the space frontier. Opening the space frontier will also help with these
        problem areas. Similar to waving a toy in front crying children- it’s a distraction. Maybe they will have “process” what “star trek” has to do with Allah. Which direction do you face when praying and all kinds of important stuff to worry about.

      • “We cannot export love of gaia to china and india at the point of bayonets.”

        India already taxes every ton of coal sold. China is investing more heavily in renewables than we are. The bland assertion that they will “never” act is doubly wrong. They are acting — in some ways more aggressively than we are — to cut emissions. And just like we can get more serious about it, so can they.

      • Robert:
        When you get to it, we need your answer, if you have one.

    • David Palmer

      We did indeed tackle the question of carbon reduction in this blog

      One of the basic problems is the very tiny impact that can be made on achieving a temperature reduction by cutting carbon. The western world by itself can have no measurable impact as our emissions are a diminishing fraction of the total world emissions.

      • tonyb

        Yes. The topic, i.e. the utter futility of trying to change our planet’s climate by selectively cutting back on CO2 emissions) has been discussed ad nauseam here and elsewhere.

        It is clear that:

        – the large developing economies, which have nuclear technology, such as China, India, etc. are going to develop their economies and improve their quality of life (surprise!) and they are going to do it pretty much as we did it, by utilizing the energy resources they have in place (primarily coal), importing oil as needed and topping it off with nuclear power plants (all of which they are now doing) – the projected increase in CO2 emissions over the next century will come primarily from these economies.

        – the developing nations, which do not have nuclear technology (especially those with unstable or dictatorial regimes) will have to develop by using fossil fuels, as there is no viable alternate today in view of proliferation concerns

        – the developed economies (EU, North America, Japan, Australia/New Zealand) have a real dilemma to face: either bury their post-Fukushima phobia of nuclear power and go nuclear, continue expanding using fossil fuels or chase windmills until the lights go out.

        No matter what the developed nations do, they will not impact our planet’s climate one iota. If they ALL cut back to 50% of today’s CO2 emissions for the rest of this century at an enormous cost, it would have less than 0.5C impact on the temperature in 2100, even using the exaggerated IPCC notion of 2xCO2 climate sensitivity.

        Specific actionable proposals to reduce CO2 emissions (e.g. by shutting down all US coal-fired plants, by equipping half of all new coal-fired plants with carbon capture + sequestration, etc.) involve the investment today of around $1 trillion per 0.05C of warming theoretically averted in 2100.

        In other words, Tony:

        We cannot change our planet’s climate, no matter how much money we throw at it.

        It is pure fantasy to think otherwise.

        On this happy thought – Happy New Year!


      • Tony,

        How do you create carbon?
        Scientists ensure not to separate heat from carbon even though both are created at the same time.
        So, you reduce carbon by generating a different heat source, which still, “in theory” generates more heat.
        Just changed the amount of carbon produced for more heat.

    • “how would we get to an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions”

      • Max et al

        The ‘West’ is progressively raising the price of energy to discourage the use of carbon emitting sources.. The developing world isn’t.

        There appears to be a close correlation between prosperity and the price of energy and we (UK EU Australia) appear to be on the road to deliberately impairing our propsperty even though we can have no impact on reducung temperatures.

        Oue economy appears to be suffering badly with sky high petrol prices, eye watering energy costs for heating, and punitive and ever increasing taxes on ‘undesirable’ activities such as air travel

        High fuel costs also impact on inflation with the net result that people dont have the money needed to boost the economy. Has anyone come across a table of comparitive costs for energy for other countries? I would be interested to see if growing economies are also those with the lowest energy costs or if efficiency is a big factor.


      • The ‘West’ is progressively raising the price of energy to discourage the use of carbon emitting sources.. The developing world isn’t.

        Citation needed. India taxes every ton of coal sold, and China is investing heavily in renewable energy and debating a carbon tax of their own.

      • It is also interesting how most western countries like to spend more than their economies generate in revenue and then pretend this behavior can be maintained. That is one good reason for a fuel tax.

      • It can be maintained, and should be maintained, in the middle of a recession.

        In the longer term, I agree with you. As long as there have been governments and money, governments have had a bad habit of spending more revenue than they have.

        This ties in with the general human problem of short-term thinking.

        I don’t know what the solution for that is.

      • Robert

        The behavior by governments is actually fairly recent.

      • Not at all, Rob. I suggest Thucydides’ “History of the Peloponnesian War” and Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall” for some examples of deficit spending in the ancient world.

        Of course, any history of the Middle Ages and onward you will find to be replete with examples of excessive borrowing by monarchs. Their inability to live within their means was legendary and featured prominently in almost any major historical shift you could name, from the transition from feudalism to mercantilism to the persecution of the Jews to the Magna Carta. Modern governments continued the tradition.

        While it is, as you and I agree, a problem, it’s not by any stretch of the imagination a new one.

  31. randomengineer

    WebHubTelescope —

    On the subject of nuclear…

    Wind and solar don’t work. As they are configured they never really will. The data shows that the nameplate capacity is never reached. And when you realise that up to 40% of all electrical power is lost in transmission, the actual usable output is simply scandalous.

    However, as I see things, this is easily fixed. All you need is two large reservoirs of water. One is an uphill tank, the other, downhill. Wind and solar would be used to solely at a “local” level to run electrical pumps pushing water uphill to the upper tank. The upper tank release to the lower tank is tried and true hydroelectric. This is what feeds to the grid 24/7/365, rain, snow, whatever. Baseline reliability. The losses from renewables in transmission lines is negligable. Solar fed pumping only happens during the day. Big deal. Augment with wind. Water is the storage mechanism.

    What appears to be wrong with renewables is they aren’t being used correctly. There are no new physics, no magical unicorn horn batteries on the horizon. In that case the simple answer is to use a storage mechanism we already know something about.

    • RE “One is an uphill tank, the other, downhill. Wind and solar would be used to solely at a “local” level to run electrical pumps pushing water uphill to the upper tank. ” I have often wondered whether this kind of storage medium has been employed in small-scale “renewable” technologies, and if not why not. Consider, though, (Here in Australia it is well into New Years’ Eve and refreshment has begun, so bear with me) an electric funicular “truck” on a vertical track, with an onboard motor/generator, and powered, as a motor, by one or more of the intermittent sources of renewable energy, such that when their output exceeded demand, it would rise, and vice versa. Descending, it would generate electricity. The “truck” would be loaded, to provide a store of energy. The higher the weight/extent of track, the higher the unreplenished capacity of the system. Time for a refill…

      • Indeed Pekka, I worked on a large pump storage system on the Allegheny River in northern PA as a junior engineer. I was the one that got to be lowered down the 900 foot deep, 36 foot diameter vertical shaft in the mountain, for final inspection. These systems are not cheap, plus there are significant power costs when you pump the water up and losses when you let it down to generate power. Their economics is based on the day-night power price difference.

        No matter how you do it the cost of either storage or alternative generation makes intermittent renewables highly uneconomical. Wind is an expensive emissions reduction technology, not a primary power technology, if people are going to get juice when they need it that is. Ironically the hottest and coldest weeks, when need is greatest, tend to be windless, at least in the temperate zone.

        Of course the Green’s alternative is to stop needing electricity. They call it conservation.

      • My comment above got misplaced. It follows Pekka’s comment below.

      • Good idea but nothing revolutionary as the Dutch have been doing this for centuries. Use the turbines and windmills where appropriate. As energy costs are going back up, the Dutch are returning to the old standby for fighting the battle against the sea.

    • We have one in UK

      Note that only one was ever built. You might like to wonder why. Lack of suitable topographic formations is certainly one reason.

      • It’s not the only one, not even for the Northern Wales. (The other one at Ffestiniog is older and smaller.)

        There are several pumped hydro stations in many countries, but their share in the total generating capacity remains very low. The reason is obviously the cost of the reservoirs and also the lack of favorable locations. The lack of suitable locations for pumped hydro has resulted in many attempts to find other methods for large scale energy storage. Compressed air is used at a couple of locations. Batteries are common, but the cost of capacity remains an obstacle for large scale storage.

        The storage capacity is always a problem. The Dinorwig Power Station can store enough water to run 6 hours at full capacity. The bigger Bath County Pumped Storage Station in Virginia in Appalachian mountains can produce 3000 MW for about 10 hours. Few, if any, of the large pumped storage systems have enough storage capacity to run for 24 hours at full power. They have been built to respond to rapid variations in load rather than to help survive a couple of calm days when operating in combination with wind power.

      • Pekka,

        There is a vast amount of stored untapped energy in ocean pressure.
        Just not much taught or research on this area.
        It would be an extremely challenging adventure with many restricting parameters to overcome.
        But certainly a vast amount of stored energy.

    • I live in Ontario, Canada. At Niagara Falls we run one of the largest pumped storage systems in the world. The Falls are “turned off” at night when there are no toruists, the water is pumped into a resevoir, and used the next day. We also have many systems on rivers where there are a series of storage lakes and hydro plants in series. On the Madawaska, near here in Ottawa, there are two storage lakes, and three hydro plants in series. Yet Ontario has never instituted any sort of pumped storage system, in conjunction with wind, to make use of any of this. I have no idea why, and I would dearly like to know. My suspicion is that wind power is so intermittent that you cannot run pumps DIRECTLY from a wind generator. The power needs first to be stabilized. That is just a guess on my part.

    • What if you don’t have “Hills”?
      Are you going to build them on the flats?

  32. Stories of the year:


    Continual decline of interest in/worry about climatological matters in the West. Lack of political/media interest. Failure of ‘climate change’ initiatives.

    Some specifics:

    Pathetic failure of Durban insider sunshine gabfest and p**s up to come up with anything more concrete than an agreement to agree something (maybe) in the future.

    Commentariat worrying that the problem is ‘communication’. Wrong. It’s credibility…and we just don’t believe you any more. You’ve been ‘economical with the truth’ too many times. The genie is out, and you can’t get it back in.

    Further exposure of dubious practices and shenanigans among the leading climatologits in Climategate 2. They are a disgrace to science and to their institutions.

    In UK . finance minister at last waking up to implications of ‘green agenda’ and pledging not to sacrifice our economy for the sake of a futile grand gesture over emissions cuts.

    And the deep reduction (from obscene to merely outrageous) in subsidies for the solar PV scam. How pleasing to hear the howls of outrage as the parasites found their get rich quick support scheme partially demolished. And a dreadful warning to all those spivs and shysters who use ‘global warming’ to advance their personal, financial and political agendas.

    So overall.. a pretty bloody good year. Mush more work remains, but things are pointing at last in the right direction. How refreshingly different from the dark days of The Ascendancy in October 2009.

    • Latimer,

      Someone has to show what and where the mistakes are made.

      Unfortunately you choose what science you feel is correct to letting the science itself decide.
      The consensus system is inter relying on each other and growing off of each other. If one is incorrect, all are incorrect.

      • Robert

        And the evidence that the world is adopting what you claim is necessary is what again? LOL

        Face it Robert, there will be no significant reduction in CO2 emissions and we will see the result in the next few decades.

      • “Face it Robert, there will be no significant reduction in CO2 emissions and we will see the result in the next few decades.”

        The ability of climate deniers to predict the future is not one of your strengths.

        We’ll see what happens, but rest assured, if inertia wins out in the short term, it won’t be because of you.

      • @joe

        Your second sentence seems to be gibberish. Please resend.

    • Latimer Adler

      Good summary of the year’s “CAGW” events.

      It appears that the CAGW hysteria is declining with a half life of around two years (i.e. the level of post-Durban enthusiasm is only about one-half of that, which exited post-Copenhagen and this was only around half of the frenzy immediately following the IPCC AR4 report two years earlier).

      Of course, as you point out, there are still some politicians who are slow in getting the word, but I predict that even these will soon fold or be replaced, as well.

      Abraham Lincoln was right about fooling all the people all the time.

      It doesn’t work

      Hooray for democracy.


      • Max, your half-life estimate may be correct as far a global treaties go, but I see CAGW as becoming a permanent political standoff, along the lines of recycling. That is, many small things will always be done in its name but nothing big ever happens.

    • actually there has only been a decline of interest in climate change, only so far as the economic crisis has taken a front seat.

      Once that blows over I am sure we’ll be back to climate change. Especially given global temperature will probably be much higher by then, much contradicting the cooling that skeptics predict.

      • @lolwot

        Weird argument. To paraphrase:

        ‘We are only not worried abut climate change because we’re more worried about something else more important’.

        Ummm…yes…exactly. It has fallen off the radar. Few give a toss anymore. It has the whiff of a story just fading into insignificance..together with the storytellers. And you will start to see that the funding dries up along with the public concern.

        BTW – as a sceptic I do not predict cooling. But I’m not terrified witless by a modest rise in temperature either. It ain’t important either way.

      • “BTW – as a sceptic I do not predict cooling.”

        Enough of your pals have. Climate skepticism will be widely discredited within 10 years when we fail to “peak” according to the mythical “natural cycles”

        The politicians will get back on the climate issue once the more immediate problem of the economic crisis is dealt with. That and the heightened temperatures, sea levels and other metrics will refocus them.

      • Climate skepticism will be widely discredited within 10 years when we fail to “peak” according to the mythical “natural cycles”

        If only that were true. But the fact is that ten years ago “skeptics” were predicting a peak then, based on different natural cycles.

        In ten years they will simply fiddle with the numbers, doomsday-cult style, and come up with another reason why the present moment represents a peak from which temperatures will surely decline.

        Among my posts for 2012, I’m planning one on statistical significance titled “Bombshell: There Will be No Statistically Significant Warming Between 2017-2022.”

      • @lolwot

        ‘Enough of your pals have’

        You fall into a common trap of believers. Because you all believe in one ‘message’ about Anthropogenic Global Warming, you imagine that all sceptics must subscribe to a similar (but opposed) agenda. That there is an ‘anti agenda’ that is defined just as the opposite of your agenda. This is not so.

        There are a zillion different reasons to be sceptical about your agenda. That some sceptics are of the opinion that there will be cooling would not invalidate all other sceptical opinions if it did not occur. But it would invalidate all conventional warmist thinking since warmist thinking by definition requires the planet to be warming.

        To defeat ‘scepticism’. you guys have to win very battle. We don’t. We just need to win one to defeat warmism.

      • “You fall into a common trap of believers.”

        You were the one who took it upon yourself to speak “as a sceptic.” Lolwot’s observation that other “sceptics” believe differently addresses a claim you made.

      • You fall into a common trap of believers. Because you all believe in one ‘message’ about Anthropogenic Global Warming, you imagine that all sceptics must subscribe to a similar (but opposed) agenda.

        Bingo. See Mosher’s mini-essay on tribe v.s. confederation of tribes. What they don’t understand is the nature of their adversary. And Sun-Tzu tells us what happens to those who fail to understand their adversaries.

      • @Robert

        Please see the earliest remark from lolwot

        ‘Especially given global temperature will probably be much higher by then, much contradicting the cooling that skeptics predict’.

        I did not ‘take anything upon myself’ in remarking that not all sceptics are of this opinion.

        Just showed that his understanding (as so often) was incomplete…seen through a warmist perspective, the only alternative to warmism must be cooling. Wrong again.

        And it is a very grave strategic error not to understand your opponent. Please keep making it.

      • “you imagine that all sceptics must subscribe to a similar (but opposed) agenda”

        You all do, but that’s not my point.

        My point is that skeptics hide the level of disagreement among themselves from the public. So when the public are repeatedly told by self-proclaimed climate skeptics that the world has stopped warming, or even is now entering a “cooling cycle”, they are going remember that as a prediction made by climate skeptics. It doesn’t matter if some minority of skeptics silently didn’t believe it.

        You’ve already seen this happen when the BEST results were released. The public had been repeatedly pounded by self-proclaimed climate skeptics that scientists at CRU and NASA had faked the warming. So when BEST showed the same warming it was considered to vindicate CRU and NASA and discredit climate skeptics.

        The decentralized structure of skepticism where anyone can be an expert might have it’s advantages but it also has a very obvious flaw.

      • @lolwot

        Congratulations! You have fallen exactly into the trap that I warned you and Robert of.

        You still seem t imagine that here is some form of ‘Sceptic Central’ (no doubt well-funded by Big Oil and/or the Koch Brothers) that gives sceptics their orders each day/week/month.

        And that somewhere behind the scenes (perhaps ‘in shadowy corners of the military industrial Tea Party complex’) our puppet masters fight battles among themselves, hiding disagreements and producing the single sceptic consensus to which we all adhere.

        Keep on thinking so. Nothing could be further from the truth, but if it floats your boat, who am I to ruin your fantasy world?

        Example from religion. No offence meant to anybody. Many people do not believe the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church. This does not mean that they are defined as ‘anti-Catholic’. They may be Protestants or Pagans, Atheists or Muslims or Taoists or Cargo Cultists. They share at least one thing in common…that they do not believe in the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church.

        But it is not the case that if a Muslim (for example) were to say ‘I believe in Allah’ that I (an atheist) should agree with him just because neither of us believe in Catholicism.

        I hope this example isn’t too complex for you to understand. Think of yourself as a catholic and us sceptics as all the rest. Then it will be clearer to you.

      • “You still seem t imagine that here is some form of ‘Sceptic Central’ (no doubt well-funded by Big Oil and/or the Koch Brothers) that gives sceptics their orders each day/week/month.”

        No I understand how it works. It’s a circus populated by wanna-be experts and political ideologues.

      • @lolwot

        OK .. I’ve done as much as I can to help you understand. You clearly can’t/won’t.

        On your own head be it.

        But I strongly suggest that you don’t look for a future career as a strategist. You are temperamentally unsuited. Ciao

      • lolwot

        Actually it is a situation where policies must be enacted by the citizens of individual countries and therefore it is necessary to convince those who make decisions in each country that what you propose makes sense for them. Those who fear that higher CO2 levels will lead to a disaster for humanity have thus far failed to convince most of the relevant decision makers to implement the planet wide reduction in CO2 emissions they believe is necessary.

        There are many who disagree with the idea that significant actions to reduce CO2 emissions are warranted. Some of the rationale makes sense, while other parts border on insanity. At the end of the day what matter is the 200 independent nations drastically reduce CO2 emissions and what happens as a result of their actions. Time will tell.

      • randomengineer

        The public had been repeatedly pounded by self-proclaimed climate skeptics that scientists at CRU and NASA had faked the warming.

        Even being ridiculously charitable and bending things just shy of the breaking point, this would still be outrageously wrong. The skeptics were questioning UHI and any “fake” business refers strictly to data infill such as TOB adjustment.

        And even then you aren’t addresing the mainstream skeptical argument whatsoever; you’re looking at minor sub-arguments. The mainstream skeptical argument is and has been that the world is warming naturally and has done so as a recovery from the LIA, and that whatever “A” signal exists isn’t clearly defined.

        I think that what happens here is you are conflating arguments. Yes UHI is questioned, but not because it disproves warming, but because it speaks to the ability to separate the “A” component from the data. Some skeptics (a minority) seem to think there is no “A” component but they are demonstrably wrong, even to the majority of skeptics. Mankind has demonstrated the ability to detectably pollute the landscape so it’s no big stretch to conclude that man affects his enviromnent always and yes this includes the climate. Other than the fringes who you drag up as your strawman “typical skeptic” the mainstream skeptics aren’t arguing and never have that man has no impact.

        The UHI argument is simply that without accounting for UHI it’s easier for the AGW cheerleader squad to point at incorrect data and make incorrect claims, and frankly, the skeptics are right to do so. You have no problem conjuring up absurd strawman “skeptics” so I wouldn’t put it past you to exaggerate or lie to try to score points.

        In 2012 it would be wonderful if you could address what skeptics actually say rather than continuing your sideshow. It’s getting a bit long in the tooth, frankly.

      • “necessary to convince those who make decisions”

        Fortunately, few internet “skeptics” meet that description.

      • “And even then you aren’t addresing the mainstream skeptical argument whatsoever; you’re looking at minor sub-arguments.”

        That is not really his fault; internet “skeptics” like to abandon arguments without ever admitting they were wrong and they have had to move on. So it’s hard to keep track of which lie you’re telling at any given moment.

        But as far as any real influence is concerned, the “mainstream skeptical argument” is the one advanced by Rush Limbaugh, Rick Perry, and the rest of the clown college; that global warming is a complete hoax and the world is not warming.

        If you, as a “skeptic,” do not yourself belief that, you might want to take some time in the new year to persuade the other “skeptics” to acknowledge the basic reality of AGW.

      • “Just showed that his understanding (as so often) was incomplete …”

        Nah, you tried, but as usual, just ended up highlighting your own ignorance.

      • @robert

        Rush Limbaugh, Rick Perry and the rest are almost completely unknown and unheard outside of the USA. Whatever they say has no influence or traction on sceptics here in UK.

        Please continue to fail to understand the distributed nature of scepticism. You should be getting good at it by now…you’ve had plenty of practice.

      • In the US it’s Limbaugh, the UK it’s Monckton. In Australia, Plimer.

        There’s a clown for every continent

  33. That story #10 I’m guessing is misworded. The rate of increase of carbon emissions accelerated? Does that mean a positive third derivative?

    • MikeN

      Let’s check that “accelerated acceleration” in CO2 emissions.

      Here are the CDIAC data on world CO2 emissions by year over the past 30 years in millions of metric tons per year:

      1981 18887
      1982 18770
      1983 18696
      1984 19371
      1985 19925
      1986 20544
      1987 21072
      1988 21853
      1989 22297
      1990 22546
      1991 22884
      1992 22462
      1993 22484
      1994 22913
      1995 23419
      1996 23921
      1997 24380
      1998 24310
      1999 24094
      2000 24706
      2001 25300
      2002 25502
      2003 26726
      2004 28127
      2005 29227
      2006 30158
      2007 30675
      2008 29888
      2009 31630
      2010 33509

      Chopping this into 5-year segments and drawing linear trend lines for each, we see:

      The most rapid 5-year linear rate of increase was for the period 2001-2005 (+1048 million tons per year), followed by the period 2006-2010 (+766 per year) and the period 1986-1990 (+523 per year).

      Slowest 5-year linear rate of increase was for the period 1996-2000 (+128 per year).

      Of course one can torture the data to prove anything by carefully picking the periods, etc., but there does not appear to have been a recent acceleration in the rate of CO2 emissions, let alone in the rate of acceleration of the rate of CO2 emissions.

      So write the statement off to “hot air”.


      • Of course one can torture the data to prove anything by carefully picking the periods, etc., but there does not appear to have been a recent acceleration in the rate of CO2 emissions, let alone in the rate of acceleration of the rate of CO2 emissions.

        Yes, indeed, as you just proved.

        Looking at the data it’s clear that the emissions have since 2000 been much higher than over any earlier decade. It’s also clear that the absolute increase from previous decades has been much larger than it has been ever before. The relative increase of emissions was faster in 1960’s and 1970’s, but the absolute increase was never even close to the recent one.

        You did really show, how a very clear message can be made to almost disappear by clever manipulation of the data.

      • Right, Pekka, the data are the data.

        They do show (taking 10-year periods for comparison) that the latest 10-year period has shown a greater rate of increase (both in % and in absolute terms) than the previous 10-year period (as you state).

        They also show (taking 5-year periods for comparison) that the latest 5-year period has shown a smaller rate of increase (both in % and in absolute terms) than the previous 5-year period (as I wrote).

        IOW (as I wrote) “one can torture the data to prove anything by carefully picking the periods, etc., but there does not appear to have been a recent acceleration in the rate of CO2 emissions, let alone in the rate of acceleration of the rate of CO2 emissions”.

        So we agree!


      • I calculated from the data the changes in the carbon (not CO2) emissions over 10 year periods both in absolute terms and as percentage. The results for the change per year are as follows:

        1910   28.5   4.4 %
        1920   11.3   1.3 %
        1930   12.1   1.2 %
        1940   24.6   2.1 %
        1950   33.1   2.3 %
        1960   93.9   4.7 %
        1970  148.4  4.7 %
        1980  126.3  2.7 %
        1990   83.5   1.5 %
        2000   59.9   0.9 %
        2010  238.9  3.1 %

        We can see that the most important periods of growth where 1950-1980 and 2000-2010. Before 1950 the absolute amounts were still small enough to have little direct influence. The slow growth of 1990-2000 is a bit surprising and it can be considered also to be one reason foe the rapid growth of the last 10 years. This development is likely to be the result of slower growth in industrial countries since the oil crises of 1980’s and a fast growth of in the production of China and other emerging economies since 2000. We see now an acceleration, because the rapidly growing economies have reached such a level of consumption that they start to dominate the overall pattern. As an example China’s oil consumption was 6.2% of total in 2000, In 2010 it was 10.4%. Chinas consumption has risen by 90%, while that of OECD countries has decreased 3.5%.

        In the case of coal the changes have been even more dramatic. China’s consumption is now about half of world total and 132% higher than 10 years earlier, while the OECD consumption has gone slightly down for coal as well. For gas China’s share is still only 3.4% and the OECD consumption has kept on rising slowly (1.3%/a since 2000).

        For CO2 emissions China’s share has risen from 14.3% in 2000 to 25.1% in 2010, while OECD’s share has dropped from 55.4% to 42.6%. In absolute terms OECD emissions have changed very little since 2000.

        (Most of the above data is from BP Review of World Energy).

      • Pekka, correct me if I’m wrong (I’m not an IPCC junkie), but don’t the IPCC scenarios assume an exponential growth? I don’t see exponential growth in that data. A semi-log plot would be all over the place.

      • None of the scenarios is defined to be based on exponential growth in emissions. In AR4 three SRES scenarios were used A1B, A2 and B1. A2 has a roughly linear growth while A1B and B1 turn to decline after 2040 or 2050, all that in absence of additional climate policies. All six scenarios are shown in this picture

        The scenarios were defined in 2000. Now have new scenarios been chosen for AR5. A new acronym RCP (Representative Concentration Pathway) is used for these. They are discussed in a recent special issue of the journal “Climatic Change”, which is openly accessible still today.

        Most of the articles of this issue remain openly accessible also after this special period.

      • Some of those have a monotonically increasing first derivative (which fist exponential better than linear), and some don’t. Unfortunately, they’ve muddied the water by using “CO2 equivalent”, rather than real CO2. The “CO2 equivalent” just confuses things, because they conflate a lot of things that are separate phenomena, and more importantly, call for different policy.

    • A.K.A. “jerk”.

    • Arfur Bryant

      MikeN, manacker, Pekka and PE,

      Not wishing to barge into the discussion, and I’m sorry if I’ve misread something but the original quote was about ‘the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere’, not CO2 emissions as such.

      A graph may help to visualise any acceleration:

      From the graph, the slope of the last ten years is definitely steeper than the first ten years. However it is also true to say that the slope has been linear for the last ten years with no visible acceleration in that period.

      This is not necessarily the same as CO2 emissions.

      Hope this sorts out any confusion.



  34. Judith,

    As each year passes, my research and science knowledge is just getting stronger, while the consensus is just slowly falling apart.
    Generalized theories and laws were not created to be examined closely, only built upon.
    Who outside the enclosed community of scientists can be absolutely impartial?
    All were trained and educated the same. New terms, pretty graphs and staying in the group has only made the path of looking for answers far more cloudy than it should be.
    Anyone who slapped an AGW label to their research were rewarded with funding from a government agency that also paid their salaries…hmmm.
    Government agencies also were rewarded with the created science to generate policies.

    Who has the right and ability to review science?
    Who is totally impartial from the system that does not gain from it or protect it at all costs?

    So far millions of students have paid for inferior science knowledge or put as teachers themselves to pass on these bad theories and practices.

    Scientists are NOT accountable but should be. But their failures would sooner be hidden rather than learned upon.
    Trying to use psychologists to communicate bad science rather than correcting the bad science….hmmmm.

  35. Dr. Curry, thank you for providing this forum. It is difficult to offer a list of significant articles different from yours. You have coveted it well. In terms of climate issues, I believe the most important development is the admissions by an increasing number of qualified observers and workers in the field that there is a great deal of uncertainty. And you played a very significant role in that. The other is the realization that AGW politics is not based on irrefutable knowledge. In the coming year I hope we will see more work on the role freshwater systems play in the carbon cycle. Thank you for your part in making 2011 an interesting year , and best wishes for more success in 2012 and beyond.

    • Dr. Curry

      I’ll second hunter’s thanks for the past year and best wishes for the new year.


  36. I congratulate Dr Curry on the success of this Forum, it has had interesting topics.
    It does however also have some ommissions, the biggest of which is no actual post or analysis on the Climategate 2 emails.

  37. A few years ago, those pushing the IPCC story used the line that the top 1500 climate scientists in the world all agreed that ….fill in the blank. But the top storyline has changed to attributing extreme weather to AGW. The culmination of that seems to me to be the NYT front page, Sunday edition, Christmas article last week on attribution. Pileke, Jr. skewered that article two days later on his blog, with the title “The Worst NYT Story on Climate Ever?”

  38. My approach to climate change shifted in 2011.

    I started out in blogging in 2010 with the specific aim of critiquing climate denial and analyzing the politics, rhetoric, and psychology of the debate. I doubted my ability to contribute substantially to the analysis of the science.

    In 2011 I gradually became less interested in the people and more interested in the science. I’m still interested in politics, rhetoric, and psychology; I still like to poke fun at people who do and say dumb things, whether or not they themselves are truly “idiots.” But I’m drawn more and more to the details of the science itself and the consequences of climate change for humanity. I realize now that there is a place for a blog where the science is explored with a maximum of curiosity and a minimum of jargon. So I’ve been doing more of that. I’m considering changing the name of my blog to reflect this broader interest.

    In terms of where the science went in 2011, it was an interesting year. Climate models did very well. The surface temperature record got another confirmation from BEST. Higher climate sensitivities (at least in the short term) seem less likely to me than they did in 2010. 3C per doubling keeps looking better and better.

    At the same time, the research I read in 2011 underscored for me how little warming it takes to create massive changes in our world. 18,000-year-old glaciers vanished. 30,000-year-old permafrost melted. The Russian heat wave, that killed tens of thousands, was strongly linked to climate change. Nordhaus found that the damage of hurricanes varied with the top wind speed to the ninth power. Such that a 5% increase in wind speed with climate change could be expected (if Nordhaus’ model is correct) to increase damages by more than 50%.

    What we learned about carbon feedbacks contributed to my sense of how little human action is needed to cause massive disruption. It’s now pretty evident that we are dangerously close to a situation where we could cut carbon emissions by 90% and still see CO2 continue to rise for a century or more. Geoengineering looked more and more like a necessary stop-gap later this century.

    I was involved in a lot of unpleasant exchanges at Climate, Etc this year. This was a direct result of a philosophy of on the one hand harshly criticizing denialist fallacies, and on the other hand choosing to be rude to people who were rude to me. And I continue to believe that when people behave outrageously, too scrupulously withholding outrage is the wrong response. If people who scream “Fraud!” and “Scam!” and “Liar!” are met with gentle disagreement, people observing the interaction are likely to conclude that the attacker has a point, because an innocent person or persons accused would be outraged.

    As I’ve said, that was my philosophy, and to some extent it still is. But it’s been my observation that attempting to follow that philosophy has led to a lot of wasted time, and a lot of bad feelings, and a distraction from learning and even from more cogent and lasting critiques of the ideas I am contesting.

    I apologize to anyone whom I have, in the heat of battle, maligned unfairly. They are many. I apologize for having, at times, lowered the tone of a discussion, rather than raising it as I would like to. And in the new year, though you may not seem me become as patient as Fred, I hope to learn by his example, and in discussion of our differences, which will persist in 2012, to remember the advice of a favorite author of mine: “Identify, don’t compare.”

    • I don’t understand the part about “Climate models did very well” how can they do very well for a single year?

      • In terms of the research that came out this year examining model predictions vs the past.

        Also in terms of research observing things that have long been predicted, like the Arctic ozone hole and upper ocean hypoxia.

        Not in the sense that one year of temperature records makes a big difference.

      • Actually they did worse in some regards

      • In terms of the research that came out this year examining model predictions vs the past.

        Hansen 2011 blames everything for the models predictive divergence.

        Observed surface temperature change and ocean heat gain together constrain the net climate forcing and ocean mixing rates. We conclude that most climate models mix heat too efficiently into the deep ocean and as a result underestimate the negative forcing by human-made aerosols. Aerosol climate forcing today is inferred to be −1.6 ± 0.3 W m−2, implying substantial aerosol indirect climate forcing via cloud changes. Continued failure to quantify the specific origins of this large forcing is untenable, as knowledge of changing aerosol effects is needed to understand future climate change. We conclude that recent slowdown of ocean heat uptake was caused by a delayed rebound effect from Mount Pinatubo aerosols and a deep prolonged solar minimum.

      • Continued failure to quantify the specific origins of this large forcing is untenable, as knowledge of changing aerosol effects is needed to understand future climate change.

        You mean … it’s a travesty?

        It’s dead, Jim.

      • Hansen and Sato’s paper is very interesting. I wonder if it might prove to tie in with this research on organic aerosols:

        Of course, some people are going to think they’ve won a point because scientists continue to do science and improve our understanding. Those people are telling us how little they understand about the scientific process.

    • Robert

      Have you finally discovered that GCMs are extremely unreliable and that their development has taken away from more effective model development that could actually predict weather on a regional basis? What did you actually learn about modelling?

      • The many uncertainties that persist despite the success of the GCMs present a major problem for those, like you, who want to argue that radically altering our climate is safe.

        Have you made any progress in meeting your burden of proof there, or are the limitations of the models hindering you?

      • Robert

        I am comfortable with adapting to the future and believe the US will adapt just fine. I am not aware of any radical altering of the climate that is harmful.

      • “I am not aware of any radical altering of the climate that is harmful.”

        Your lack of awareness, unfortunately, doesn’t change the facts. Ignorance is not a superpower.

      • Robert–where is you evidence?

      • There are a couple of problems with your question as you have framed it:

        1. The burden of proof lies with you to show the radical change in the earth’s climate you propose is safe.

        2. The evidence for specific harms is not “my evidence,” it is a huge body of scientific literature. It is your responsibility to be familiar with it, at least in broad strokes. I’m happy to discuss aspects of it with you, but not to present it to you as if you were totally ignorant of it, because that pretense can mean only one of two things:

        a) You truly know nothing about the science of impacts, and need to do some reading before you have anything useful to say.

        b) You know that there is evidence of harm, but are insincerely pretending that you don’t rather than describe the problems you have with the science as it stands.

      • Robert

        Here you go again.

        You wish to change (my and other’s) behavior yet you wish to have those who do not see a need to change their behavior to present a case as to why they should not change. That seems to be an insane request. If there is not a good (or great) case for action, people will continue doing what they have been doing for centuries- getting and using energy as cost effectively as possible. If you want people to change their behavior it is necessary to either convince them or force them. You are unable to do either.

      • “Here you go again.”

        Ronald Regan you are not. ;)

        You seem not to be making any progress in meeting your burden of proof that radically altering our climate is safe.

        Perhaps that is why moderate Republicans and independents are rejecting climate denial in droves?

        Most likely, you’re not that important. In any case, if you want to radically alter my atmosphere, and my climate, you need to prove to me that that is safe. I do not need to prove anything to you as long as your behavior directly impacts me and my property.

        You have no more an inherent right to behave that way than you do to poison a well with cyanide. It violates the freedom of others.

        I hope in 2012 you will grid up your loins and start trying to support your arguments with evidence.

      • Robert:

        “You seem not to be making any progress in meeting your burden of proof that radically altering our climate is safe.”

        “radically” altering our climate may not be safe. The problem is we are not radically altering our climate . We are changing the atmosphere. Is the change “radical”. I dont know radical is not really an objective word. Assuming the changes we are making are “radical”, there is the question, what will these changes to the atmosphere do to the climate? So, there you are at a science question. And you dont have much to say about that that already hasnt been said in rather unconvincing manner. GHGs warm the planet. duh. how much? there is a lot of guess work, not much convincing science.

        Assuming the answer to a science question ( radically changing the climate) to place the burden of proff on somebody else, isn’t a sharp approach to changing minds and hearts.

      • Steve

        GL tying to have a meaningful exchange with Robert. I have generally failed.

      • Mosher vs Mosher

        Assuming the changes we are making are “radical”, there is the question, what will these changes to the atmosphere do to the climate?

        Well . . .

        GHGs warm the planet. duh.

        Yes they do. And acidify the oceans, don’t forget that.

        how much? there is a lot of guess work, not much convincing science.

        That’s an excellent description of what happens when a English major spams FOIA requests and doesn’t know what to do with the data. It has nothing to do with the actual science and the actual scientists.

        Since your denial doesn’t affect that reality, you’re still left arguing a radical change in the earth’s climate is safe.

      • Robert:
        When you get a chance. AGW being falsified is kind of important, all things considered.

      • David,

        According to your graph the temperature has risen. Splitting the interval in two flat pieces does not change that fact. Claiming otherwise is really nonsense.

      • Robert, you need to pause before you hit the key board.

        Yes, Im an english major. And Philosophy. and linguistics, and statistics.
        ( spent a lot of years in school, just soaking up stuff)
        But I started as math and Physics, only cause I was declared gifted in math at a young age, but it didnt interest me much. That’s kinda how I was a vice president of engineering. That was kinda boring too, so I decided to do marketing, which is kinda boring so Im going back to math and physics, which is less boring now than it was when I was 18. whew.


        1. We are making changes to the atmosphere. This is measureable.

        2. Whether or not those changes are “radical” is a point you would have to prove.

        3. Changes to the atmosphere can change the climate over time. You would need to prove what kind of changes and over what time periods

        4. The burden on you is to prove that the changes we are making to the atmosphere

        A. will continue
        B. will change the climate in a way that is harmful

        Trying to flip the burden by saying that people have to prove that harming the climate is safe, doesnt really engage the point.

        You havent done so well listening to your favorite author. If you are willing to take a suggestion…I’ll give you one.

      • Pekka, I am not claiming it has not warmed. Where did you get that idea? (In fact I am fascinated by people’s apparent inability to grasp my simple point, which suggests that I may be on to something deep.)

        My point is that the only warming in the 30+ year period occurs in a single sudden step, coincident with a big ENSO cycle. This is not GHG warming, by any known mechanism. So there is no evidence of GHG warming in the UAH record, which falsifies the claim that there has been GHG warming over this period, which falsifies AGW. This is how falsification works. One predicts something which does not occur.

        Science is about specifics. One can’t just claim that any kind of warming is evidence of GHG warming. When the only warming in 30+ years occurs in a single sudden jump, that specific pattern does not look like warming that is due to the slow buildup of GHGs. Not unless there is some kind of capacitor in the system that stores up the slowly building GHG warming then suddenly releases it, and no one has proposed this that I know of.

        So on the face of it AGW is falsified by the lack of any GHG warming in the UAH record. I can imagine the counter arguments, but they are not strong, so I have concluded that AGW is falsified for now.

      • I maintain my judgment: pure nonsense.

        Picking one time series out of many and being able to split it as you did proves absolutely nothing when put in the present context. Maintaining that it does is detrimental to your credibility. To me it means that you are incapable of using quantitative data and through that worthless as a judge on essentially anything related to climate change.

        I did put it very crudely, but it seems that this is required to get the message through.

      • Pekka,

        David’s observation using the time series is a bit simplistic, but there are a number of step changes in the temperature record that indicate oscillation shifts not related to anthropogenic causes. In your area, Scandinavia, there was a two to three degree shift in temperature in circa 1989.

        The PDO which is an indicator of change not a true index of an oscillation, appears to have thresholds indicating shift points instead of more predictable oscillation periods.

        I doubt there is any way to analyze the short temperature record that is satisfactory for making solid determinations. It can provide hints, especially regionally, of internal system changes that impact climate. The global average masks the subtle signals that may be present in the data we have. Regionally, there is a different story.

        Happy New Year! Now off to catch fish :)

      • The globe is cooling. Help me find the context to explain that.

      • The Emperor is clothed with CO2 and is shivering.

      • Pekka, calling my analysis nonsense is not a counter argument. What we see has to be explained. That is the nature of science. This sudden step pattern is clearly there, so it has to be explained. How do you explain it using the GHG buildup? I cannot.

        In fact it looks a lot like a small abrupt event. Abrupt events are thought to have been rapid warmings of several degrees in a few decades. The abrupt event mechanism is conjectured to be a change in ocean circulation. Such a change could easily come in smaller versions. Moreover, the fact that the only warming during the 30+ year period coincides with a very big ENSO supports the notion that it is due to an ocean circulation mechanism, not to a GHG buildup. Not that I am claiming that, as I am merely pointing out the pattern.

        Seeing patterns where others have not is something I have done more than once. The issue tree is my best because people have been speaking for many thousands of years and writing for six thousand and no one saw it. Yet it is obvious once seen.

      • Steven,

        I’d be even more interested in hearing someone put forward a convincing case why significantly altering atmospheric concentrations of GHGs, won’t have a significant effect on climate.

      • Steven Mosher


        “Michael | January 1, 2012 at 8:50 am |

        I’d be even more interested in hearing someone put forward a convincing case why significantly altering atmospheric concentrations of GHGs, won’t have a significant effect on climate.”

        1. you would have to define significantly

        It’s trivally true that changing the atmosphere will change the climate. Whether that change will be

        1. too small to measure
        2. measurable
        3. measureable and significant
        4. significant and harmful
        5. significant, harmful, and more harmful than the measures used to prevent it

        are the interesting questions. Robert’s rhetorical effort to change the burden of proof is actually harmful to his case. He doesnt see how the methods he uses to convince people ACTUALLY have a result that he doesnt want. People end up not liking him, not liking what he argues for, and fighting him “just because” he is a jerk.

        It’s not ‘winning’ the conversation. It’s been tried for years and years. Yet people like Robert are in denial about their ineffective strategies for changing the way people think and act.

        personally, I believe in AGW and think we would be wise to take action. And its best to start with actions we would take regardless of the truth of AGW.

    • Thanks Robert
      I affirm your desire to raise the level of discussion and to exercise patience.

    • Craig Loehle

      Robert: Your premise in your comments below (where for some reason I can not “reply” is that we will be radically altering the climate–and then you want sceptics to prove that this radical alteration is safe. I am afraid it is the other way around. First you need to demonstrate skill (not just qualitative but quantitative, including uncertainty) in how much, how, where, and when we will be altering the climate. (And if much of the change we have seen is natural, then there is even less we can do about stopping it) Then you need to assess both the positive (CO2 increases plant growth) and negative (sea level rise) costs AND the costs of prevention versus mitigation. The IPCC chapters on impacts are sloppy and vague and they ignore benefits and exaggerate costs. So it is not so black and white as you suggest.

    • Steven,

      As for what is significant for Co2 levels – that’s seems already settled, given we are currently levels not seen for hundreds of thousands of years.

      Significant in times of altered climate? A bit trickier, but I’m pretty happy to use the past few thousand years as our yardstick as being the range of ‘normal’ given that this rather stable interglacial is the when civilisation has sprung up. Personaly, I don’ think that, this is much of a coincidence, so anything that is, or looks to be departing from, this state is to be viewed as a bad thing ,regardless of whether or not we know the exact outcome.
      The only alternative to this that I can see, is we wait around and see how it all pans out. Not a great one.

      From your comment about wanting to act, I must have mis-perceived your past contributions, as I had the impression you were dvocating a we-don’t know-enough-to-act position.

  39. “I gradually became less interested in the people…”
    Robert, please pay the fee & then ask the State to issue you a progeny license. Try to have some fun now. You need a rest. Oh, happy-new-year, too.

  40. Hey Jude Happy New Year to you, your contributers and posters.

  41. I see we have wandered into personal accounts of the past year. It was a big year for me, as I made the transition from skeptic to denier. That is, I used to think that AGW was merely unproven, but I have decided that it is actually disproven, or falsified (in the jargon of philosophy of science). I suddenly noticed that the UAH record shows no evidence of GHG warming for the last 30+ years. There is no warming 1978-1997 and no warming 2001-2011, with the only warming coinciding with the big 98-00 ENSO. In my view that is sufficient to falsify AGW.

    • I suddenly noticed that the UAH record shows no evidence of GHG warming for the last 30+ years.

      Those who created that record along with all credible climate scientists reject your interpretation absolutely — which might give you pause as to whether your reasoning is as compelling as you think it is.

      I urge you to write up your analysis and submit it for peer review. If valid, it would be a stunning scientific achievement. Good luck!

      • Robert, simply reading data is not a publishable result, not that I know of. I have published my observation here for peer review. Review it by all means.

        Here is the graph:

        Can you show me where any climate scientist has actually rejected my interpretation, much less “all credible climate scientists” (whoever they might be in your mind)? I have not seen that. I am not aware of any climate scientist even reviewing my interpretation, much less rejecting it. What reasons did they give? I would like the chance to rebut their arguments, but I see no hands raised. Rats!

        I am used to being ignored. Hell, it has been 38 years since I discovered the hidden structure of expressed thought (speaking and writing), the issue tree, and so far no one has noticed. I am used to seeing things no one else sees, as it were.

      • “Review it by all means.”

        It’s nonsense — not only wrong, but damaging to your credibility as such.

        Glad I could help!

      • Robert, you have to actually give a reason. Sorry.

      • Robert, regarding this universal rejection you refer to. I hope you understand that when a new idea comes along it has not been rejected by those who have not heard of it.

      • Robert, which is the nonsense part? The lack of warming before 1998? The lack of warming after 2001? The idea that a steady buildup of GHGs can’t explain the ENSO step? What? Say something scientific, if you can manage it.

      • See above for an elaboration of my position. There seems to be some confusion abut it.

      • Latimer Alder

        It’s nonsense because Robert says it is.

        Surely you would not wish him to have to give any reasoning. Did people ask the Oracle at Delphi to explain herself? Or interrogate St. John the Divine about the finer details of his Revelations?

        Just be grateful that he walks among us and is here to give his pronouncements. Be guided by his infallible remarks. Accept no cheap and nasty substitutes. Only the real Robert will do.

        /sarc (I have to put this in in case there are any really literally-minded people viewing)

      • “Robert, you have to actually give a reason.”

        David, you need to make a case. If you think a blog comment like yours is sufficient to raise an issue, then, rationally, an answer like mine should satisfy you, since we have both supported our positions with an identical amount of evidence.

        You are wrong in saying you cannot submit a data analysis to peer review. BEST did not collect new data, nor did M&M (2005). If you think you can show that there is no warming trend in the record, contrary to what those that gathered the data and all real scientists think, that is absolutely publishable if you can support it with facts.

        Until then, easy speculation is easily dismissed.

      • Robert, I never said there was no warming trend, in the statistical sense. But the trend is due entirely to a single sudden warming event coincident the the 1998-2001 ENSO cycle. GHG buildup cannot explain this event.

      • Robert, you say we have provided equal amounts of evidence. My evidence is a statistical analysis of the UAH record. What is yours? I don’t see it.

      • David,

        You have drawn two lines on a graph.


      • Toto, I don’t think we’re in ‘simple physics’ anymore.

    • A little history may be useful. The fact that the UAH record showed no warming was a big deal until the 1998 El Nino hit, when everyone said well look now there is warming. But the fact that there has been no warming since the ENSO cycle ended is equally significant, and the two flat lines need to be considered together. The only warming is coincident with the ENSO. Nor are we talking about a short time series. It is 30+ years.

  42. Thank you, David.

    Alright people, smoke em if you got em…

    it’s a wrap.

  43. Happy New Year from “Pope’s Climate Theory”!
    The money spent on Wind and Solar is mostly wasted. The power we get for the money we spent is a crime. The same money could have been spent on helping clean the coal plants and building nuclear and we would have been much better off. We need to get the CO2 science right. More CO2 is much better than less CO2. More CO2 makes green things grow better while using less water. Mother Earth is going to cool us using the Arctic Ocean water and other warm ocean water and turning it into snow to rebuild the ice packs and glaciers. That ice will advance and cool us again, just as it did after the Medieval Warm Period. If CO2 does any warming, Mother Earth will provide more ice. Earth temperature is going to stay in the same range that it has been in for the past ten thousand years. Look at the data. When Earth is warm, it always gets cool. You cannot change that with a small part of a trace gas, or even with a lot of a trace gas. This warm cycle is at, or near the peak. The snows have started and Earth will now cool. The temperature history of earth is the best model for the future of the temperature of the earth. It is arrogant of mankind to believe that he can easily change that with a tiny bit of a trace gas. You can save these words and I will eat them in public if Earth warns by even one more degree. There is nothing in the temperature data that shows it outside the range of the past ten thousand years and there is nothing in the temperature data that shows it to be headed outside the range of the past ten thousand years. The only things that are unstable are the Theory and Models of Consensus Climate Scientists. NOAA does say on their web site, that the only thing that shows that CO2 will warm us is the Climate Models. Temperature is stable because it snows more when earth is warm and it snows less when earth is cool. It is that simple.

  44. David Wojick writes “Jim, is the Niagara flow really mechanically pumped uphill into a reservoir? That is news to me and electric power was my field for 10 years (1994-2004). Having a series of hydro plants using the same downhill flow is not pumped storage. There is no way to store externally generated power in such a system, except by adding pumps to make the water go uphill”

    With respect to the pumped storage at Niagara. What happens is that water is drained from above the Falls after midnight, and goes into normal turbines, until around 6 am. These turbines drive special pumps, which are also generators. These pumps drive the water into a reservoir as high as possible in the Niagara region. I visited the reservoir several years ago; it is a minor tourist attraction. Then the next day the pumps are changed over to generators, and add hydo power to the grid.

    I know one needs to have pumps to get water uphill. What surprises me is that we have all the hydro infrastructure already in place; the storage facilites are all there, the hydro plants are all there. All that is required is to pump water from one storage lake into the next storage lake higher up. But we dont do it; and I dont know why we dont use wind power to do just that..

    • Jim

      The answer is that there is no compelling economic reason to take such actions. Do a cost benefit analysis.

    • Thanks Jim. Yes a pump and a generator are the same device run in opposite ways. basically a spinning magnet. Any idea what the MW capacity of the pump storage is? I can look it up but my books are old.

      As for turning the hydro dam system into pumped storage for wind it is not that easy, although it could be done in some places. You would need pipes and pumps of course. Hydro generators are not also pumps unless designed to be such, and it costs extra.

      Plus you need excess storage capacity in the reservoirs, for pumped water beyond what the river provides. If you have to spill river water to make room for pumped water you are defeating yourself. River reservoir systems do not normally have excess storage capacity. They are carefully designed. I used to design them.

      All things considered it would still be a very expensive storage system. Especially because river level storage is very low head, so you need a lot of it. For that matter one could simply use recirculating pumped storage, especially with fluids heavier than water. I designed such a system many years ago. It looks like a silo. But it is expensive and as long as we are allowed to burn coal and gas it is uneconomical.

      • It actually depends on time of year. In the spring, there’s usually more water than they can handle, but by September, there’s plenty of space in the reservoir for pumped storage until the early winter rains come. It also depends on the region; different regions have different rainfall and snow pack dynamics. I don’t think that anywhere they can use pumped storage all year round.

      • David Try

        “We have storage in Ontario already! The 174 MW
        Sir Adam Beck Pumped Storage Generating Station
        in Niagara Falls hosts a 300-hectare reservoir, which
        was constructed at the time of the development
        of the Sir Adam Beck II Generation Station. Water
        diverted to the Sir Adam Beck generating complex
        is typically pumped in the reservoir at night so it can
        be used to generate electricity during subsequent
        periods of high electricity demand. The facility has
        six reversible pumps that are capable, in a period
        of about eight hours, of filling the reservoir. The
        facility offers a method of translating what would be
        surplus energy at times of low demand into primary
        energy at times of high demand. The change over
        from turbine to pumping sequence is accomplished
        in a matter of minutes and occurs several times a
        day. Next time you visit the Falls at night look to see
        if there is reduced water flow.”

      • Thanks Jim. 174 MW is tiny, which is why I had not heard of it. As Pekka mentioned, the Bath pumped storage facility is 3000 MW. I think the Niagara Falls hydro facility runs 10,000 MW or more, probably around the clock, as the river is draining the Great Lakes.

        Just for scale, US coal fired generation is about 350,000 MW. Total generating capacity exceeds 1,000,000 MW. I think wind is around 40,000 MW nameplate, but it only runs about 25% of the time, so think of it as 10,000. Mind you these numbers are from old memory.

    • They do that at Grand Coulee, too. I don’t think that’s an uncommon practice.

  45. Happy New Year, Dr. Curry. Your posts on your Uncertainty Monster were the bets posts this year.

    I propose that April Fool’s Day should be set aside for Dr. Curry to choose some animal to represent each poster who has given her grief over the preceding year. Her description of each animal will tell us a lot. Saint Judith, it is now clear that only Job exceeds your patience.

    This blog remains a great gift to genuine science and Dr. Curry continues to grow quite wonderfully through her work on this blog.

  46. “There are many who disagree with the idea that significant actions to reduce CO2 emissions are warranted. Some of the rationale makes sense, while other parts border on insanity. At the end of the day what matter is the 200 independent nations drastically reduce CO2 emissions and what happens as a result of their actions. Time will tell.”

    What is insanity is your idea that a State has or should have this much power. Frankly they are a bunch of flunkies that we find amusing.
    We will kill them if they annoy us too much- as in don’t trend of me, and we have guns. This is assuming they became “sane” according to your view- that for some “reason” they delude themselves so much that they imagine they are some kind absolute rulers.
    This ain’t the Soviet Union comprised of stupid peasants who can be whipped to comply with orders, we are free and we will remain free.

    Now, the big dream of the Left is they somehow can make us so pissed off
    that we will overthrow the government. It ain’t going to happen, as never, ever, we are too happy and we will simply vote the fools out. The left is little minority who have too much arrogance with no justification. And it is sort of waiting game before they over step and show their true colors.

    So in summary the US was never going to do this, and isn’t going to do this.

    BUT that doesn’t matter, because neither are the Chinese.
    With Chinese there is even less chance- not because they are intelligent, they simply don’t buy your silly demands- why, would they? And as for other 200, mostly they in it for the money- they think have have something gain. These losers are joke. They aren’t going to do jack- obviously no one is stopping them from saving the world- but it’s talk only. They beggars at the door.
    So American don’t care about this issue. Americans are normally right, and in this case they obviously correct. Obama doesn’t even care or even pretends to care about what you think is insane not to do.
    Nor do the Dems in general as demonstrated when had full control of executive and Congress. You have more “support” with republicans.
    If McCain was elected you might got what you wanted- that’s one reason he wasn’t elected. Old, stupid and pathetic clown were the other reasons.

    • If you read my comment more closely, is was written with an international perspective and not US centric. I do agree that the decision makers in many nations are in it for the money, and I do not blame them for their efforts, but I do not want to pay them.

      You incorrectly frame this as a republican vs. democratic issue in the US. It is an issue of what makes sense vs. what does not. BTW, you are mistaken on the costs of nuclear power.

  47. Is Peace Possible in a Chaotic World?

    The results of observation, experimentation, contemplation, meditation and prayer suggest that a blending of science and spirituality may be society’s only hope for Peace:

    1. Observations our chaotic universe:

    2. Experiments on the “Origin of Elements in the Solar System”

    3. Meditation and prayer all yield the same conclusion: “Fear not! The universe is in good hands!”

    But futile efforts by leaders of nations and science to control Nature and information:

    a.) Global Climate Changes (1971-2011)

    b.) Corruption of Government Science (1961-2011)

    Have set the stage for conflict in 2012: Occupy Wall Street? Tea-party? A quiet Sun? Economic collapse? Global Warming? Another Ice Age? Depression? Data manipulation? Terrorists? Freedom of information? Mutated flu virus? Americans to Gitmo? Drug abuse? WikiLeaks? Genetically modified foods? Prison planet? Nuclear proliferation? Undeclared wars?

    If “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players,”

    Then the world’s most powerful leaders are trapped, like you and me, in a drama that may end in disaster if we do not find a path to Peace.

    May 2012 Bring Peace,
    Oliver K. Manuel

    • Oliver,

      Peace will not likely happen when countries owe each other for materials or services rendered.
      Technology is not being created faster for the world population to have sustainable work.
      Massive debt at some point has to be repaid in our current system. Mind you the U.S. was very inventive in creating ways to generate wealth without having any actual capital. But even that system has drained itself to the max.

  48. Hamish McDougal

    FWIW, my assessment is that number of hits equates, rather, to ‘interest in the topic’. The “quality of post of discussion” is purely subjective.
    You (and I) may hate it, but vox populi, vox dei reigns. Live with it (as do I)! Elitists still exist.

  49. I suggest to everyone that it is unimportant what particular idea people favor or hope will succeed. What matters is the economic reality associated with a new or potential technology. I personally “believe” that hydrogen power has potential for mobile applications, but that may be proven to be incorrect if it turns out that battery and capacitor technology advance faster and the materials from which they are made are available on a cost effective basis.

    On this issue, as in the overall issue of AGW, I believe it is necessary to be practical. Understand how decisions are made by independent governments in the real world and not in some world based upon your imagination. What will make people (or really the people who make decisions for the 200 countries on our planet) worldwide want to adopt the suggested solution?

    The above point is where actions in regards to AGW have frequently failed. The models available from which decisions are expected to be made are inaccurate more than a hand full of decades into the future. Some people get angry when countries do not implement policies to reduce CO2 emissions, but these same people refuse to acknowledge that the proposed actions are ineffective on a cost basis for those paying for the actions. Does a 17 year old in the US owe something to the 17 year old in Nigeria because the US emitted CO2? IMO, that is an impossible case to make effectively.

    I hope you all have a happy new year. I am off to party!

  50. Sensitivity-Ocean Diffusivity
    The most significant climate sensitivity analysis insight I read was Roy Spencer’s diffusive model of ocean temperature with depth. The actual temperature decline appears too low for high sensitivity.
    Oh, the Insensitivity! More on Ocean Warming 1955-2010 July 21st, 2011
    Modeled Ocean Temperatures from 1880 through 2010 July 22nd, 2011

    Solar Cycles-Barrycenter
    The best insight into solar cycles I saw was by Ed Fix in his damped motion of the sun about the barrycenter linked to the Jovian planets. His damped oscillator model provides a remarkably good fit for the nonlinear solar cycle changes. Fix predicts two very short solar cycles peaking in 2013 and 2020. Such a change will be a strong deviation from conventional wisdom and is worth tracking closely.
    Solar Max – So Soon?
    Ed Fix: Solar activity simulation model revealed Posted: July 25, 2011 Tallbloke
    See Ed Fix’s paper “The Relationship of Sunspot Cycles to Gravitational Stresses on the Sun: Results of a Proof-of-Concept Simulation”. <a href= Ch. 14 p 335, Dr. Donald Easterbrook, ed. (Elsevier, 2011) ( Search for “barycenter”.

  51. IT is OFFICIAL
    The CET 2011 was second warmest year on the record at 10.7 degrees C.

    • Latimer Alder

      But still no 50 million climate refugees? How much hotter does it have to get for them to show up?

      And what about the increased hurricanes? How are they panning out?

      Melting of Antartica? Any progress?

      Flooding of lowlying areas up to 7m? Acceleration of sea-level rise to terrifying proportions?

      Or just more BAU all round…even in the second hottest year ever.

      Still maybe all the AGW disasters will strike in 2012…like they were uspposed to in 2010..and 2009..and 2008…and 2007…and 2006..and 2005..and 2004 and……….

      • That’s the thing, the more we allow CO2 level to increase the higher chance there is of passing a tipping point.

      • 2011 was about 2 degree C up on the 2010; doubling of CO2 temps go let’s say modest 1C up, so there must have been quadrupling of the CO2 since last year ?!
        Strange theory that.
        I hope it gets even warmer, no ice, no car defrosting, most of the garden geraniums are still there, not to mention the savings on the house heating.
        Onward and upward, will do me fine.

      • Latimer Alder


        ‘That’s the thing, the more we allow CO2 level to increase the higher chance there is of passing a tipping point’

        Do you have any evidence of the existence of such tipping points? A good understanding of where they are and what is ‘tipped’ when they are passed?

        Or is your fear no more soundly based than your Mother’s admonition that of you don’t eat all your vegetables, the bogeyman will come down the chimney and get you?

  52. To David Woijck and others with respect to Robert et al. Let me tell you some history of what actually happened. In the days before the www and blogs, when the Internet was in it’s infancy, and was still run by the universities, they invented something called Usenet. This was a series of bulliten boards; text only, unmoderated; anyone could post anything, at any time. The one I was involved with was rec.crafts.textiles.needlework; rctn for short; which still extsts. At it’s height we went for years with a minimum of 100 messages per day, peaking around 300+.

    We never knew who they were, but we suspected male teenagers. They would find an active bulliten board, scan it to see what was being talked about, and then post a few highly controversial messages. They would then scan the group for a few days, and count how many replies each message got. The one who got the most replies won.

    That, to me, defines Robert et al.

    • “They would then scan the group for a few days, and count how many replies each message got.”

      Wait how would you know that part?

      • lolwot, Someone found this sort of discussion on other forums. It is quite true that we never got a one-to-one proof that this actually happened, but there was sufficient circumstantial evidence that it was most likely what was occurring.

  53. Judith,

    Their are a great deal of very restless skeptics.
    They are tired of bull crap with the uncertainty gig after all, this was what scientists were paid for. So that our planet would be less uncertain.
    Instead, they created their own science and laws which must NEVER be attacked as it is the corner stone to the basis of scientists consensus.

    Who thought anyone would actually check on scientists that they were actually correct???
    Now the emphasis is on “who has the right to question a scientist except other “consensus scientists”.

  54. Craig Loehle

    In reading this and other blogs, I am struck by the terrible reasoning ability many people exhibit. For example, if glaciers started melting 100 yrs before CO2 began to rise, the arrow of time prevents the latter from affecting the former but people cite it anyway. If there is no evidence for Antarctica or even Greenland ice sheets to be melting much, there is no way to get 100 ft sea level rise, though Hansen proclaims it anyway (or people take a rise that will take 3000 yrs and apply it to 2100). If solar and wind can be 100% unavailable at times and cost absurd amounts, they aren’t much good, but people still support them. As Spock would say “highly illogical”.

    • Craig Loehle

      As another example, IPCC cites 1500 (or 2000 or whatever) scientists who “agree” but they are counting the reviewers who do NOT agree as agreeing. And they ignore review comments they find inconvenient (I was a reviewer for one of the reports). Again–illogical.
      So in the realm of policy or advocacy, I find it offensive when people are basicly lying about stuff. Just because you feel strongly about something does not justify making stuff up [nobel cause corruption] as for example when EPA attributes so many benefits to the clean air regulations that together these benefits account for a major portion of the GNP. Just fantasy. Make your best argument for a policy based on the best numbers you can find, not by trying to trick people. The web makes fact checking possible, and the public is not stupid. /rant finished.

    • I have to say that one of the most shocking things for me when I started paying attention to climate wars was the abysmal logical abilities of some ostensibly qualified scientists. And then they circle the wagons when the philosophers start beating the doors down for violating what they should have learned in Logic 101.

  55. R. Timothy Patterson has developed a very high resolution microtome for sediment analysis that gives annual resolution temperatures:
    Macumber, A.L., Patterson, R.T.,Neville, L.A., Falck, H., 2011. A sledge microtome for high resolution subsampling of freeze cores. Journal of Paleolimnology, v. 45, p. 307-310. DOI 10.1007/s10933-010-9487-4.

    Dinoflagellate cyst-based reconstructions of mid to late Holocene winter sea-surface temperature and productivity from an anoxic fjord in the NE Pacific Ocean R. Timothy Patterson, Graeme T. Swindles, Helen M. Roe, Arun Kumar, Andreas Prokoph Quaternary International 235 (2011) 13-25
    This gives very high resolution temperature fluctuations:

    This drop in winter SST culminated in the initiation of neoglacial advances in the NE Pacific by w3500 cal BP. Following the termination of glacial conditions in coastal areas therewas a general increase in winter SST through the Late Holocene linked to a weakening of the California Current, which would have resulted in a greater influence of the warm central gyre and overall more El Niño-like conditions. Winter SST temperature spikes coeval with megadrought conditions recorded in continental records are found in both core TUL99B03 and TUL99B11.

  56. Wow that was odd. I just wrote an really long
    comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again.

    Anyways, just wanted to say superb blog!