Lindzen et al.: response and parry

by Judith Curry

In recent weeks, we are seeing two very interesting debates, both of which involve Richard Lindzen.  The first debate involves the recent WSJ op-ed No Need to Panic About Global Warming.  The second involves Lindzen’s seminar at the House of Commons.

Lets take a look at the latest response and parries in these ongoing debates.

New York Review of Books

The original op-ed in the WSJ is No Need to Panic About Global Warming.  Nordhaus replies in the New York Review of Books Why the global warming skeptics are wrong.  The New York Review of Books has published a response by Cohen, Happer and Lindzen entitled In the Climate Casino: An Exchange, which also includes a response from Nordhaus.  It is a lengthy exchange, here I focus on the Norhaus’ 6th point related to policy response.

Cohen, Happer and Lindzen:

In his sixth point, Professor Nordhaus says that we did not properly represent his results when we said, “Nearly the highest benefit-to-cost ratio is achieved for a policy that allows 50 more years of economic growth unimpeded by greenhouse gas controls.” The difference between Professor Nordhaus’s optimal carbon tax policy and a fifty-year delay policy is insignificant economically or climatologically in view of major uncertainties in (1) future economic growth (including reductions in carbon emissions intensity); (2) the physical science (e.g., the climate sensitivity); (3) future positive and negative environmental impacts (e.g., the economic “damage function”); (4) the evaluation of long-term economic costs and benefits (e.g., the discount rate); and (5) the international political process (e.g., the impact of less than full participation).

Professor Nordhaus computes a $0.94 trillion difference between the net benefits of the two policies, just 4 percent of the computed maximum $22.55 trillion in supposed environmental damage. Results are given to three or four numerical significant figures. Yet we do not know the underlying driver for all of this, the climate sensitivity, to even one significant figure.

This relatively small difference, indeed whether it is positive or negative, depends critically on factors such as the five listed above, in particular the value of the climate sensitivity. Professor Nordhaus chooses 3.0 degrees C for doubling of CO2,9 a value that empirical evidence suggests is greatly exaggerated.10 To illustrate the point, for a climate sensitivity of 1.0 degree, a value suggested by a number of empirical studies, Professor Nordhaus’s “DICE” model calculates that the optimum policy’s net benefits drop from about $3 trillion to a net cost of about $1 trillion, and the benefit-to-cost ratio plunges from 2.4 to 0.5. The fifty-year-delay policy is then greatly preferred.

We are asked to take the computed difference between the two policies seriously despite Professor Nordhaus’s finding11 that the optimal policy ultimately “saves” only about 0.1 degree C in global warming relative to the fifty-year delay. Putting this in perspective, 0.1 degree is only about 10 percent of the observed warming since 1850 and is a typical year-to-year fluctuation. This tiny difference is predicted by the DICE model to occur fifty years to two centuries in the future, and yet climate models have failed the test of prediction over twenty years. Furthermore, as outlined in our Op Eds, the strong negative environmental impacts assumed in the DICE model’s economic damage function are acknowledged to be extremely uncertain. There exist potential net benefits of increased atmospheric CO2, especially for a small climate sensitivity (e.g., in agricultural and timber productivity).12

Thus, when one considers the nature and magnitude of uncertainties in the climate sensitivity, the economic damage function, and the discount rate, Professor Nordhaus’s defense of a difference in policies that is tiny compared to these uncertainties is difficult to understand.

The larger point here is that uncertainties in the physical science and the economic science need to be properly considered. As suggested above, a key uncertainty in the economic analysis can be treated by examining the economic impact of realistic values of the climate sensitivity. We have seen that a likely small climate sensitivity turns the optimum policy economic values sharply negative. Mother Nature continues to tell us that the climate sensitivity is likely to be below the range considered by Professor Nordhaus.15 This is not surprising because his choices of its most likely value and its statistical “spread” were strongly influenced by a suite of climate models that have exaggerated past warming and that share common problems. These considerations make Professor Nordhaus’s option of a fifty-year delay the wisest policy choice.

Nordhaus replies (excerpts):

The final part of the response of CHL comes back to the economics of climate change and public policy. They make two major points: that the difference between acting now and doing nothing for fifty years is “insignificant economically or climatologically,” and that the policy questions are dominated by major uncertainties.

But the larger point is that climate-change economics and policies are haunted by vast uncertainties. They mention five: economic growth, physical science, the impacts of climate change, politics, and discounting.

The first is a set of threats from climate change to the “world’s cultural and natural treasures” (to cite the words of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention), among them major glaciers, marine and terrestrial biodiversity, archaeological sites, and historical cities and settlements.

A second and even more dangerous uncertainty is caused by “tipping points” in the earth system. Among the global-scale tipping points identified by earth scientists are the collapse of large ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, changes in ocean circulation, feedback processes by which warming triggers more warming, and the acidification of the ocean.h

The thrust of CHL’s argument is that the uncertainties are likely to resolve in favor of inaction rather than strong action to slow climate change policies, and in any case, they argue, policies are unimportant given the size of the uncertainties.

However, the major problem with the conclusions of CHL is that they ignore the perils of the climate-change uncertainties. To illustrate, think of the issues as if we are playing roulette in a Climate Casino. Each time the roulette wheel stops, we resolve one of the uncertainties. Our best guess is that CO2 doubling will increase temperatures by 3°C, but if the ball lands on black it will be 2°C while a ball on red will produce 4°C. Similarly, a ball in a black pocket will lead to minimal damages from a certain amount of warming, while a ball in a red pocket will lead to much larger warming than we anticipate. On the next spin, a ball in the black will produce low growth and slow growth in emissions, while a ball in the red will produce rapid growth in CO2 emissions. And so forth.

But, in the Climate Casino, the ball also might land on zero or double-zero. If it lands on zero, we find significant loss of species, ecosystems, and cultural landmarks like Venice. If it lands on double-zero, we find an unanticipated shift in the earth’s climate system, such as a rapid disintegration of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

CHL suggest in effect that the ball will always land in the black pocket. We might hope that all the balls land to our advantage on black, but the odds of that outcome on five spins of the wheel are only 1 in 50.i Moreover, when the different uncertainties interact, the outcomes are likely to be even more costly because of nonlinearities in the physical system. For example, assume that the climate uncertainties are larger than we thought and that the impacts were much more damaging than we projected. This would lead to disproportionately larger damages than in the “best-guess” case.

The point is that CHL have the impact of uncertainty exactly backward. A sensible policy would pay a premium to avoid the roulette wheel in a Climate Casino. This means that the economic model estimates of the cost of doing nothing for fifty years are understated because they cannot incorporate all the uncertainties—not just the obvious ones such as climate sensitivity but also the zero and double-zero uncertainties such as tipping points, including ones that are yet undiscovered.

It is possible that the world will not warm over the coming years. It is possible that the impacts will be small. It is possible that a miraculous technology will be invented that can suck CO2 out of the atmosphere at low cost. But in view of the evidence we now have, it would be foolish to bet on these outcomes just because they are possible.

Lindzen’s House of Commons presentation

Lindzen’s presentation to the House of Commons was discussed previously here and here.  Several blogospheric critiques were pointed out in Part II.   There is a new rebuttal out (h/t BishopHill), written by some of the biggest names in UK climate science:  Hoskins, Mitchell, Palmer, Shine and Wolf entitled A critique of the scientific content of Richard Lindzen’s Seminar in London, 22 February 2012.  Key excerpts:


We agree that scientific arguments should be based on physical reasoning and data, without exaggerating either the effects or our certainty (or uncertainty) about them. RSL is right to draw attention to uncertainties in climate change feedbacks e.g. associated with clouds. However, it is wrong to infer from this that we know nothing about these feedbacks. Contemporary science suggests unambiguously that there is a substantial risk that these feedbacks will lead to human- induced surface temperature change considerably larger than 1oC in global average this century and beyond.

Temperature and other data

We do agree with RSL that “obsessing” over the global-average temperature is not useful. However a global average is not exactly “an obscure statistical quantity”. It is certainly true that on time-scales of a decade or less it is usually a residual of positive and negative anomalies in different regions and shows considerable year-to-year variability, associated with, for example, natural variations of sea- surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean. We also agree that “the quantity is easy to abuse”. Unfortunately one of RSL’s slides (Slide 12) on this contains a major error. The slide purports to show that one of the research institutes that performs an ongoing analysis of the global temperature record since 1880 revised its 2008 analysis of past data in 2012 so as to give an increased warming at a rate of 0.14oC per decade. In fact RSL’s figure was obtained by looking at the difference between data from land regions only in the later analysis and land plus ocean in the earlier analysis. Since the land is warming quicker than the ocean, a spurious impression of “manipulation” resulted. RSL has since admitted this error.


At every stage models should be evaluated by exhaustive comparison with observations. The models encapsulate our understanding of the basic science of the climate system, including for example, Newton’s laws of motion, the laws of thermodynamics and the quantum theory of radiation. When deficiencies are found at one level then improvements are sought and the lessons learnt should cascade to models at other levels. This is, of course, the ideal: the actual development of the science is rather more irregular but very definitely in this direction. Even the models at the more complete and complex end contain many uncertainties and deficiencies, which are widely recognised within the modelling community, but they are the best guide we have as to how the climate system may change in the future. Their results are not to be accepted in an unquestioning manner; they should be analysed in detail, with the dominant processes behind any climate variability and change thoroughly investigated using observations and simpler models in the hierarchy.

It is interesting that, given his general scepticism over models, RSL is able to “know that the models are correct”, and hence “some of the recent temperature data must be wrong” – Slide 22, in giving a maximum in warming in the tropical upper troposphere – a hot spot. His view is based on the physical argument that the tropical atmosphere will have a temperature change with height consistent with it being neutral to tropical convection. Whatever the cause of surface warming in the tropics, our current understanding, in agreement with RSL’s, is that this warming will amplify into the upper troposphere. Whether this is consistent with observational data from radiosondes and satellites has been a continuing source of debate, and has been used by those who question the validity of models as strong evidence for their rejection. The current understanding is that models and data are probably consistent within the model uncertainty and observational error, but there is still no firm observational confirmation of the “hot spot”. However, RSL uses the possible conflict between models and data to question the accuracy of the temperature data. Surprisingly his focus is not on the data for the middle and upper troposphere but on the surface data, with the suggestion that the warming there is actually less than analyses have given.

Similarly in slides 34-38, RSL surprisingly invokes the lack of change in surface temperatures during summertime in the Arctic as evidence that “CO2 in not a major player”. It has been well-established for decades, using the same models invoked by RSL for his “tropical upper troposphere hot spot” argument, that Arctic summer temperatures are not expected to increase significantlly, in response to increasing CO2 levels, while sea-ice still exists in the Arctic. The physical reasoning is straightforward: once the Arctic sea-ice has been brought to melting point (as it is during summer), any additional energy goes into melting the ice, rather than raising its temperature.

Climate forcing and sensitivity

On Slide 3, RSL claims that the derived sensitivity of climate to a doubling of CO2 is less than 1C, based on the assumption that all the observed warming is due to atmospheric greenhouse gases. This claim would be wrong even without this assumption, because it confuses the transient warming as CO2 rises with the larger warming that would later be achieved as the oceans, with their large thermal capacity, come into equilibrium with the changed atmospheric state. The assumption itself is unjustifiable as it neglects other mechanisms that drive climate change. RSL notes that high sensitivities are possible only by “invoking unknown additional negative forcings from aerosols and solar variability as arbitrary adjustments”. It is indeed true, as is made clear in successive assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, that there are considerable uncertainties in estimating the impact of aerosols on climate. However, to characterise these as “unknown” fails to recognise the considerable advances in understanding of the distribution and characteristics of aerosols over recent decades, from individual field campaigns, establishment of new observing networks, and observations of trends in solar radiation reaching the Earth’s surface. These present strong evidence that, in total, changes in aerosol concentrations will have cooled the climate system over recent decades. “Uncertain” does not imply “unknown” which in turn does not justify the assumption that their effects are, therefore, zero.

On the other hand, RSL’s assertion that the water vapour feedback may be negative goes against the body of observational, theoretical and modelling evidence which indicates that it is strong and positive. Modelling and observational studies do not rule out the possibility of a negative cloud feedback, though most models suggest a weak to moderate positive cloud feedback (there is not a strong positive feedback in models as RSL insinuates). In short, there is little credible evidence to support the low climate sensitivities that RSL proposes.

Concluding Comments

A pervasive aspect of RSL’s presentation was the conflation of uncertainty with ignorance; in his view, because we are uncertain about some aspect, we therefore know nothing about it and any estimate of it is mere guesswork. In this way we believe RSL does a disservice to the scientific method, which seeks to develop understanding in the face of inevitable uncertainties in our knowledge of the world in which we live. The scientific method has served society well for many hundreds of years, and we see no reason to doubt its validity for trying to quantify the risk of climate change and its impacts on society this century. On this basis we reassert that there is a substantial risk of human-induced climate change considerably larger than 1C in global average this century and beyond. There is nothing in RSL’s talk to cast doubt on the existence of this risk. It is up to policy makers, not scientists, to decide whether governments should take concerted mitigating action to try to reduce this risk. On this we do not comment.

Judge Judy’s verdict:  I think that these exchanges have been terrific, getting to heart of the scientific and policy issues, and showing some genuine back-and-forth debate.

With regards to the exchange with Nordhaus, IMO the original 16 and the rebuttal written by Cohen, Happer and Lindzen have come out ahead of Nordhaus in this exchange.  In the end, it seems to me that Nordhaus is justifying his argument based upon the possibility of truly catastrophic change on the timescale of a century.

With regards to the Hoskins et al. article.  There were weaknesses in Lindzen’s argument, and even some bonafide errors.   I agree with Hoskins et al. that Lindzen’s high level of certainty that climate sensitivity is 1C is unjustified.  That said, I didn’t find the Hoskins et al. rebuttal to be all that effective.   So points go to Hoskins et al. on this one, but far from a knockout.

In summary, both of these public discussions in the media and on the internet have been very very good, and valuable contributions to the debate and discussion on climate change.

1,195 responses to “Lindzen et al.: response and parry

  1. So what do the economic numbers look like if we use the “consensus” figure for climate sensitivity? My reading is that the Lindzen figure of 1 is generous. Where is the economic analysis of the money that should be spent on scientific research to clarify the uncertainties. Surely they would take a lot less than 50 years to generate results which would only improve our certainty of atmospheric physics.

  2. Re: Lindzen, clouds and negative feedback.

    Recent measurements from the Terra satellite suggest that cloud heights have decreased by 1% (30-40m) in the last decade, and this would provide a negative feedback, says Professor Roger Davies:

    ‘In a “negative feedback mechanism”, lower cloud height would allow the Earth to cool to space more efficiently, reducing the surface temperature of the planet and potentially slowing the effects of global warming.’

    Have there ever been any negative feedbacks programmed into the models?

    • I understand the models have paramaterised cloud models – low clouds negative, high clouds positive. The problem is that the accuracy of the cloud models is very suspect, and improving all the time in specific fine resolution cloud models.

      • Both of these comments are misplaced. “Positive” and “Negative” feedbacks are not programed or parametrized into models, but rather emerge from the model physics (and can be influenced by parametrization schemes, that for example modify convection properties).

        There are good physical reasons to expect the presence of low clouds to cool, and high clouds to warm, but that does not demand any specific feedback sign. There’s also an abundant literature discussing the evidence for cloud feedback, and also in evaluating the relative strength of various parametrization schemes and how they can improve. Understanding is incorporated via process-based models and are constantly evaluated against in-situ and remote-sensing measurements. This still remains one the grand challenges in climate modeling and in most big climate problems in general.

      • David Wojick

        What is the difference between being parameterized into the model and being influenced by the chosen paramaterization scheme? Sounds like a distinction without a difference.

      • As is important in the practice of scientific publication, it is a difference without a distinction; the basis for most publication.

      • Most papers; more of the same, but different. ie no distinction.

      • Things like the feedbacks and the sensitivity are properties of the whole system and emerge from the interactions of all the parts of the system.

        If one changes a convection parametrisation then that will change the diagnosed feedbacks in the model, but it will also change a whole host of other things as well: the distribution of clouds, the diurnal cycle of cloud development, sea and land temperatures, albedo etc.

        The choice of parametrisations is usually done bottom up: a new scheme is introduced because it gives more realistic local behaviour, either by comparison with field experiments, in weather forecasts, or in comparisons with models that can resolve the particular process explicitly.

        One could twiddle all the different knobs, swap in different schemes, and run the model over and over again to get a particular feedback – run it top-down, if you like – but that would most likely leave a completely unrealistic distribution of all the interesting parameters at the small scale.

      • ‘“Positive” and “Negative” feedbacks are not programed or parametrized into models, but rather emerge from the model physics (and can be influenced by parametrization schemes, that for example modify convection properties).’

        That is not a truthful statement and you know it is not a truthful statement. A model is filled with, a prior, human guesstimates. The way the models are designed is so as to show increasing future temperatures, whilst being trained on past temperatures.

      • Steven Mosher

        They are not trained on past temperatures.

      • Steve,

        Without regard to model temperature training,

        Please, can you quantify what the *future* prediction successes rates of the GCM or other climate models are? What they have been? What predictions and results been cataloged?

        Is there any categorized quantification of *real*, prediction-of-the-future, model prediction?


      • David Springer

        Saying models are not trained on past temperatures is a quibble.

        If a model fails to predict past temperatures it is modified or discarded. Any honest arbiter will call that “training”.

      • David Springer

        Negative feedbacks aren’t programmed into the models. They are programmed out of the models. :-)

        Of course this discounts the other means of tweaking the models… if the model doesn’t predict the temperature record then you can adjust the data instead of the model.

        In reality both of these are done. Temperature records, proxy reconstructions, and current measurment techniques are subject to modification as well as tweaking of physical models to come into agreement. Anyone who truly believes this does not happen to some extent is naive.

        “We seek and offer ourselves to be gulled.” ~Michael de Montaigne

      • Steven
        the models are “trained” on past temps… however, they were not able to get them to predict multidecadel temperature drops and rises properly.

        So, they are not very trainable, huh? bad dog!!!

      • Steve Milesworthy

        David Springer,

        Please list which models have failed to reproduce past temperatures and have for that reason subsequently been discarded.

      • David Springer

        A list of software that never worked? Really? That’s a bit absurd isn’t it?

      • Chris,
        You keep repeating this bit of AGW dogma, but all you really demonstrate is that if your assertion is correct is that the models are even farther from reality than the current results state. But frankly I doubt your assertion. Something is consistently and systemically wrong with he models, and most especially the confidence believers like you claim the models deserve.

      • i think Chris is right in a sense but docM’s point about human guesses (minus last sentence as called out by Mosh) is valid. We should just think of this in terms of “scale” and “emergent properties”. The key is if the properties that emerge at large scale in the climate models are the same as the real world.

      • billc,
        You restate my main point well. The models are not working, the people using the mdoles are shown to be massaging data and hiding inconvenient digressions from their models, and hiding this. AGW promoters have gotten a very expensive free ride at the public’s expense. It is time to end the free ride Colose and his ilk have received from us.

    • “Recent measurements from the Terra satellite suggest that cloud heights have decreased by 1% (30-40m) in the last decade”

      Is this the last decade skeptics claim the Earth has cooled?

      Because if that’s the case then this represents a positive feedback, not a negative feedback.

      “Have there ever been any negative feedbacks programmed into the models?”

      Feedbacks are outputs of the model, not inputs.

  3. It is trivial to show that a warmer world is a more beneficial world. It is nearly trivial to show that any effort humanity can make to warm the world will be laudable, worthy of the effort.

    So why are we saddled, albatrossed, with shame and guilt? Man deserves plaudits, both for bootstrapping culture and for buffering all the Earth’s inhabitants against chilling.

    • It’s probably all a western plot to help halt the rise of the advancing eastern economies – make their coal cost more, fill them up with nukes, control their numbers by keeping the winters cold.

      • David Springer

        Yet again it’s the law of unintended consequences at work with the greenies. They effectively killed nukes and aerosol emissions decades ago with things like the movie The China Syndrome and the acid rain scare. Nukes could have vastly decreased the amount of coal being burned and leaving aerosols in coal exhaust would have cancelled the warming effects of CO2 in those same emissions. Hoist by their own petard. Again.

      • David Springer

        It’s largely about misanthropy. Greenies hate humans. They think that by limiting cheap energy it will limit the number of people on the planet. This is wrong. When times get tough people have more children, not fewer, so to improve the odds that some of those children will be born fitter and stronger. Thus we find that the nations with the highest birth rates are the poorest in the world and that the wealthiest nations arrive at birth rates at or below replacement level. The greenie agenda will increase the number of people in the world not reduce it. The way to reduce is to raise the living standards of poor countries and the only way to do that (aside from sterilization or other draconian measures) is to make access to energy greater and cheaper which history proves raises living standards lowers population growth.

  4. Thanks again Judge Judy. I couldn’t agree more that the debates in both areas are very good news, involving as they do senior people on both sides. Onwards and upwards.

  5. MattStat/MatthewRMarler

    Judge Judy: In the end, it seems to me that Nordhaus is justifying his argument based upon the possibility of truly catastrophic change on the timescale of a century.

    And on the likelihood that intervention can prevent it. It’s possible that $13T spent on reducing atmospheric CO2 would have no effect on atmospheric CO2, but the cost would detrimentally affect our ability to adjust to changes. And even reduce our ability to adjust to the natural variability that will occur in any case.

    • Cor, hadn’t thought of that.

      That was me impersonating certain activists and even it seems to me some scientists. Who is willing to underwrite policy A, B or C for cutting CO2 emissions with a guarantee that they will have effect X on concentrations, let alone globally averaged temperature anomaly? Not to mention extreme events and anything supposedly downstream from GATA. This is very seldom mentioned, for example by Mitchell, Hoskyns and co. Thanks for making up the lack.

  6. philjourdan

    You (Judith Curry) should have moderated the debates live!

  7. Judith, you write “I agree with Hoskins et al. that Lindzen’s high level of certainty that climate sensitivity is 1C is unjustified.”

    Surely the value of climate sensitivity for CO2 goes to the heart of the differences between the two sides. What Girma’s graph shows is that there has been a signal, from unknown causes, of about +0.06 C per decade since records became available around 1850. The noise in the system is around +/- 0.25 C. Thus we can detect this signal with considerable certainty.

    Now the signal from adding more CO2 to the atmosphere is supposedly around, and greater than, +0.2 C per decade. Yet the record clearly shows that this signal cannot be detected. Why is it that we can detect a signal of +0.06 C per decade, but one of +0.2 C per decade is not visible?

    The only conclusion that I can come to is that the climate sensitivity for adding CO2 to the atmopshere from current levels is indistinguishabel from zero, And we can make this statement with considerable certainty, since it is obtained from observed data, not the output of non-validated models..

    • Steven Mosher

      Your conclusion would be demonstrably wrong primarly because you dont understand the temporal evolution of c02 forcing and the lags involved.
      We know, in fact Lindzen argues, that from first principles we know that sensitivity ( ECR) is around 1.2C prior to feedbacks. There is no evidence that feedbacks drive this figure any lower and substantial evidence that the figure is higher than 1.2C.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Mosh, once again you give claims with no citations. I know of NO evidence, much less “substantial” evidence, that would allow us to calculate the so-called “climate sensitivity” with any degree of accuracy.

        So how about a citation to some of your “substantial evidence”? Please don’t bother linking to climate models, they are only evidence of the beliefs and errors of the programmers.

      • Mosh has convinced himself that man-made CO2 is the cause of the 20th century temp increase, is the cause of present, purported but statistically non-significant, increases and will continue to drive temperature in future. No other variables need apply.

        The fact that temperatures have not only fluctuated but by most historical accounts have been higher that today several during the past two thousand years does not count as in his view [explicitly stated at the Balckboard a couple of years ago in an exchange with me] there is no credible evidence for either the MWP or the LIA – without providing any evidence/citations for that statement other than to deride the multi source non-thermometer evidence that exists in the historical record for both phenomena.

      • tetris

        Mosh seems to have an aversion to ‘historical climatology’ but he’s not alone in this. If it doesn’t emanate from a computer model there are some people that seem to believe its only ‘anecdotal’ and of no value. Anecdotal has become a sub text and pejorative term for ‘of no value’ or ‘unscientific’ even though historical climatopogy was a respected part of climate science long before computer models.
        Did you ever catch my artcle that dealt with the LIA?

      • Steven Mosher

        See julios paper as an example. you need to read more

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Who the heck is Julio? You need to cite more.


      • Willis forgive me for interjecting myself here, but I have a real problem with this “positive feedback” meme. For a start the oceans don’t know where the heat comes from they just know it’s there, so when the world has heated up in previous eras, which despite the Mannic Steady State Theory, it has, why haven’t we seen evidence in the records of postive feedback before? Or have we?

        The second issue I have is that a system prone to positive feedback doesn’t start the positive feedback at a fixed point, it is always adding the input (unless of course there are dampeners on the feedback loop that suppress the feedback, but if there are in the case of temperature I’m not sure what they are). So we have warmed by 0.8C in the last 150 years or so, so presumably that has led to more water vapour and we must be experiencing the positive feedback already. i.e. Some portion of the 0.8 C must be as a result of positive feedback, and we should be able to measure it, or at least find it if we look for it. So my question is to Mosh and others if the feedbacks are positive, what portion of current temperature rise is caused by positive feedbacks.

        Thirdly, positive feedback is a destructive force, if it has occurred before, then why didn’t it turn the earth into a new Venus? What stopped it, and what is going to stop it going beyond 3C, 7C or 100C.

        Finally, while we’re agonising over reducing our CO2 levels China and India, one third of the world’s population are driving CO2 levels to new heights, and they are unlikely to be swayed by warnings of catastrophe, because there people are already experiencing catastrophe’s that we couldn’t imagine in terms, of life span, child mortality, poverty, hunger, lack of education etc. So telling them that it’s important that Tuvula doesn’t disappear into the ocean isn’t going to delay their drive to get their people out of poverty and into the state we’re in where they too can fund thousands of scientist to tell us we’re all going to die unless we become greenies.

      • geronimo, w.r.t. positive feedbacks you are correct.
        A stable system is stable because it has stability; trite but applicable. If you have a mechanism that pushing a steady state in one direction, that’s the way the steady state will go. The opposite of a positive feedback is a true sink, and irreversible component.
        Take a kindergarten with 100 kids, and add a trap-door leading to a snake pit. At the end of the school year you will have less children than when you started; the directionality is univectorial. The kinetics depend on the size of the trap and the rugrats random walk, but the thermodynamics is in one direction only.
        Same with a positive feedback loop, going one direct is easy and going the opposite way is very hard, so the system will go in one direction.
        The best model of positive feedback is biological growth,take a released species on an Island.The species number will come to the same steady state if you introduce one pregenent female or 50.

      • Mosh said

        ‘There is no evidence that feedbacks drive this figure any lower and substantial evidence that the figure is higher than 1.2C.’

        Please cite this substantial evidence

      • Steven Mosher

        start with knutti. read more.comment less.
        any lgm recon will be a good start. any study on relaxation after volcanoes. seriously tony ur a big boy.start with the bibliography from ar4.

      • Mosh 1.28

        I think you are creating a smokescreen. If I make an unsubstantiated uncited comment you will ask me for evidence, especially if I had claimed there was ‘substantial’ evidence. The rules are the same for both of us. Of course I’ve read the bibliography of AR4 and read through the draft of AR5. You’re surely not going to turn into one of these people who, when they are asked for evidence point to the entire canon of IPCC work?

        Of course I already ‘read more’; . I’ve got 8 climate books out from the Met office library at the moment to read and am also ploughing through hundreds of climate papers on the Arctic in preparation for a new article.

        I also note what other people say in blogs like this and follow their links and read them. . A couple of days ago R Gates linked to an article behind a pay wall. I went and got it from the Met office library and read it so I could discuss his point . There is already loads of material out there to assimilate and only a certain amount of genuine value. So stop being so cryptic and actually point to the specific stuff you believe to be important. Willis has said the same above about your lack of citations.

        As regarding claims of ‘substantial evidence’ generally, it often seems to be a chimera. I had exactly the same problem with the IPCC who asserted there was lots of evidence of abyssal cooling but refused to divulge it as it hadn’t been specfically cited in the AR5 draft. Catch 22..


      • Steven Mosher

        For something simpler start here
        Or this
        Simple model to estimate the contribution of atmospheric CO2 to the Earth’s greenhouse effect,” American Journal of Physics, Volume 80, Issue 4, p. 306 (April 2012)

        when you’ve finished reading and understanding those, then start on the AR4 bibliography.

        As I said, there is not much evidence for sensitivities lower than 1.2C.
        The majority of the evidence that exists argues for numbers higher than this for ECR.
        Now, dont get tripped up by confusing TCR for ECR.. and dont expect “proof”. If we had proof that ECR was exactly 3C there wouldnt be any discussion. What evidence there is ( paleo evidence, first order estimation, studies of the observation record ) all points to numbers higher than 1.2C.

      • Steven, you write “Now, dont get tripped up by confusing TCR for ECR.. and dont expect “proof”. If we had proof that ECR was exactly 3C there wouldnt be any discussion. What evidence there is ( paleo evidence, first order estimation, studies of the observation record ) all points to numbers higher than 1.2C.”

        It is easy to say this. It is entirely another issue to provide the appropriate data. What I am saying is that the really good modern data we have from satellite and ground based stations, shows absolutely no sign whatsoever of a CO2 signature. This fact is carefully ignored by the proponents of CAGW. They find all sorts of proxies, and hypothetical estimations. But they carefully ignore the most accurate data that we have.

        And the reason is simple. The modern reliable data shows absolutely no sign whatsoever of any CO2 signal; any sign that adding CO2 to the atmosphere actually causes global temperatures to rise. If you claim this modern data proves a CO2 effect, then where is it?

      • Am I overlooking something or is the simple (and very nice) thought experiment at making the following reasoning: The difference between black body equilibrium T and actual T is greenhouse effect?

        That may be wrong, because earth is not a black body but a gray body. The difference is not large, but large enough for the thought experiment to have a significantly smaller sensitivity.

      • Mosher
        There are a good number of us who do actually read; it’s not just you who are capable doing that. In his piece, SteveF is very careful in wording his conclusions and leaves all sorts of grey zone, so nothing hard there to substantiate your contention. Blowing smoke like that leads nowhere. Will have a look at the AJP article.

        And by the way if after all that is known about how the IPCC, its “capi” and their methods you still think that the AR4 bibliography has credibility, you’re not doing your own credibility any favours. Holding up one of the most heavily filtered and cherry picked “bibliographies” as reference is not very clever.

        Keep your eye instead on what we already know, and what will no doubt be leaked out as things progress, about how in report #5 everything is being done to eradicate whatever literature exists on any possible impacts of solar activity on climate. Why, because IPCC dogma holds that whatever the sun does, it does not count. Only CO2 need apply.
        Reductio in absurdum, and scientifically untenable nonsense.

      • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

        Steven Mosher: Your conclusion would be demonstrably wrong primarly because you dont understand the temporal evolution of c02 forcing and the lags involved.

        What do you mean “would be”? Provide the demonstration. The demonstration will start with some assumptions (possibly the model elaborated in Pierrehumbert’s book.) Show how you know the assumptions are accurate to the degree needed to disprove his Jim Cripwell’s claim. Granted, the claim is based on Girma’s graphs, which you could simply have said were not decisive — but you made a stronger claim which I think can not be convincingly demonstrated.

        in fact Lindzen argues, that from first principles we know that sensitivity ( ECR) is around 1.2C prior to feedbacks.

        In fact, Lindzen does argue that, from a simple model that you call “first principles”. However, it is not “known” that future CO2 increases will cause future temperature increases: that claim follows from an untested model (well, partially tested but not shown to be terrifically accurate.) Some other untested models have different projections/scenarios/predictions/forecasts/results for future temperature, including short-term and long-term declines. It is assumed from a simple model, but not “known” about the actual atmosphere, that the stationary equilibrium response to a doubling of CO2 is even constant.

      • Joe Sixpack

        Please summarise the nature of the evidence for so that I can convince my mates in the Dog and Duck. They are all very sceptical of AGW and are not inclined to read lengthy academic papers between their beers.

        You obviously have it well to hand and have studied it in depth, so are best placed to give us all three short paragraphs on this highly important topic.

        Example: We did experiment x and it showed y. Then we did experiment a and it showed b. As conclusive proof we did c and it showed d.

      • Nature shall do the convincing. The mates at the pub will never be convinced by science no matter how thorough it is when the issue becomes one of potential economic sacrifice. If they really wanted to understand the science behind the current and future energy imbalance of Earth based on increasing greenhouse gas concentrations it is readily available. But when you add potential economic sacrifice into the mix, they’ll find every reason not to want to think the science might be true.

        The theory of evolution was mocked and discredited at first because it challenged some people’s religious beliefs. Anthropogenic climate change (and the whole notion that we might actually have transitioned from the Holocene to the Anthropocene) brings out some skeptics because it might require economic sacrifice. Hence, it will likely take increased climate and weather disruptive events until some actually are convinced. And of course, even then, some will never be convinced, just as some people still don’t believe that humans and apes could possibly share a common ancestor.

      • @r gates

        None of my mates in the Dog and Duck have ever expressed the slightest doubts about evolution. Over here in Europe it is not and never has been an issue in my lifetime. I cannot recollect a single instance in any context where it has even been seriously discussed. So there is no point in continuing to whinge about people whose views are not relevant to this discussion.

        Your argument seems to be along the following lines:

        1. We know that the answers from out theories are all bad future news.
        2. You are putting undue weight on the selfish economic consequences of our theory.
        3. Therefore we refuse to try to convince you further. We are right you are wrong. Ya Boo!

        But I find it very difficult to distinguish your argument form the following

        1. We know that our case is very weak and does not stand up to outside scrutiny
        2. We must therefore prevent such scrutiny by hiding data and methods and refusing to discuss with people we disapprove of
        3. We will therefore cast doubt upon their motives and satisfy ourselves that we have the moral high ground.

        My mates at the D&D are not stupid. And while once upon a time a few years ago they were willing to give the ‘scientists’ the benefit of the doubt, as costs increase with absolutely no discernible benefit, they are getting more and more suspicious that the Emperor CAGW is actually naked.

        And wittering on endlessly about evolution only reinforces that suspicion.

      • @r gates

        I asked you

        ‘You obviously have it well to hand and have studied it in depth, so are best placed to give us all three short paragraphs on this highly important topic’

        which you have neglected to do. I assume that either you do not have the knowledge you claim to have, or you are wary of revealing it – as per my other remarks. You would rather that we all believe that it is so well known as to need no discussion than show us how weak it is.

        ‘If they really wanted to understand the science behind the current and future energy imbalance of Earth based on increasing greenhouse gas concentrations it is readily available’

        Is just a copout. 3 short persuasive paragraphs on your specialist subject wasn’t a big ask. But somehow it is beyond you.

        I expected no better but hoped for more.

      • David Wojick

        The phrase “….the science behind the current and future energy imbalance of Earth based on increasing greenhouse gas concentrations…” is both inaccurate and revealing. It should be the science behind the hypothesis that the energy imbalance is due to increasing GHG concentrations. You are asserting a controversial hypothesis as a fact. And we know the science behind this hypothesis very well. The problem is that we also know the science against it.

      • David Springer

        There is considerable evidene that feedbacks drive this number lower, Mosher. The highest mean annual temperature ever recorded anywhere is an equatorial sea-level desert with 1-3 inches of annual rainfall.

        The whole sensitivity greater than 1.1C hinges on increasing CO2 causing increasing water vapor. That CO2 will increase the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere is not reasonably disputed. However, the empirical evidence is that more water vapor causes a lower mean annual surface temperature. This is because water vapor doesn’t exist in a vacuum and the net effect of evaporation, convection, and condensation is a lower mean annual temperature at the surface.

      • I have a question.
        First Jim Cripwell says:

        Now the signal from adding more CO2 to the atmosphere is supposedly around, and greater than, +0.2 C per decade. Yet the record clearly shows that this signal cannot be detected. Why is it that we can detect a signal of +0.06 C per decade, but one of +0.2 C per decade is not visible?

        to which Steve Mosher answers:

        We know, in fact Lindzen argues, that from first principles we know that sensitivity ( ECR) is around 1.2C prior to feedbacks. There is no evidence that feedbacks drive this figure any lower and substantial evidence that the figure is higher than 1.2C.

        So one person says that the real world data does not show a signal from adding more CO2 in the atmosphere, to which the other person states that this is irrelevant because “we know” that the signal is there.

        What is a lurker like me to believe? The one guy’s claim based on the real world data or the other guy’s claim based on the belief that we know?

      • Rob Starkey

        Steve Mosher- Isn’t one of the key foundations of your conclusion that “The sun’s intensity (as measured in space) is reasonably accurate” really incomplete.

        For your logic to be sound it would seem to also be necessary to conclude the this intensity is constant over time. That would seem to be an inappropriate conclusion to make based upon available data.

      • Neil Fisher

        One thing that this layman does not quite get about your arguement Mosh – if CO2 is the forcing, if it is causing a temperature rise, then this rise should start from a warming atmosphere, which then transfers heat to the “rest” of the climate system, right? So lags should be apparent in the ocean heat content, ice melt and so forth, but should be missing from the air temperature data – or did I miss something?

      • Neil Fisher | April 8, 2012 at 7:17 pm |

        CO2 is extremey lagged by mixing and buffering, has huge seasonal variability relative to the increase in CO2 in any one season, is often accompanied by the short-term countereffects of particulates, is often hidden by short-term influences like water vapor feedbacks and albedo feedbacks, and is extremely persistent in a number of ways that do not necessarily reflect in its atmospheric content.

        The signal is extraordinarily noisy and the system is complex, chaotic, spread across some four dozen basins that themselves have sometimes multiple regional pseudocycles, and also strata from TOA to bottom of ocean, not to mention biota and land use.

        It’s like picking the sound of a mosquito out from a mosquito swarm at a demolition derby while listening to Anthrax on your 8-track tape player, because that’s how old some of the equipment used is.

      • The atmosphere warming should lead the ocean. The ocean provides a large heat sink and this can accumulate an unrealized warming.

        The partitioning of heat between the atmosphere and the ocean has to follow the boundary conditions of the heat equation.The general idea is that it will look like this, which is similar to Hansen’s view back in 1981.

        The diffusion of heat is slow into the ocean so that it has to lag the atmospheric temperature which has a much lower thermal capacity.

      • It might accumulate an unrealized heating, but warming would probably be recognized.

      • The oceans absorb in the visible light band to 100m and more. This is the only energy source for heating the oceans.

        If you look at the schematic energy budget you will see that emitted IR exceeds ‘back radiation’ by a significant amount. So the oceans lose energy in the IR and it cannot be any other way. Net IR emissions are upward leading to – as IR is emitted and absorbed in the top microns – the cool ‘skin’ effect. Heat can’t diffuse into the ocean at all – the ocean loses heat to the atmosphere which loses heat to space.

        As the atmosphere warms a little the back radiation increases and the net loss of heat declines. At the same time evaporation might increase increasing energy loss. If say back radiation increases suddenly by 0.5 W/m^2 – then this is really energy that stays in the ocean for longer – effectively increasing the heat content of the ocean. The energy increase is 1/2 a Joule/s and it is more or less instantaneously. The same thing if clouds change by 2 W/m^2 as a result of ENSO say – the increase or decrease in energy immediately changes the energy content of the oceans by 2 Joules/s.

        The world ocean/atmosphere is a coupled system and the concept of heat diffusion from the atmosphere to the ocean is quite wrong.

        Robert I Ellison

      • If I float a black screen on the surface of a swimming pool on a bright day, the pool heats dramatically. This is compared to either a pool without a dark screen on top on a bright day, or a pool with any screen on a dull day.

        A heated swimming pool in an unheated enclosure takes more energy to heat to the same temperature than one in an otherwise equivalent heated enclosure.

        If I have a glass of cold water next to a hot stove and another in a cool room, the glass of cold water gets warmer faster.

        The same if I repeat the experiment with a pair of shallow plates.

        Now, if I boil a bucket of water and leave it outside beside another bucket of cold water on a subzero day, the hot bucket freezes first, but that’s different.

        These observations do not sound much like what Mr. Ellison suggests.

        Clearly, I’m unclear on the concept.

      • ‘If I float a black screen on the surface of a swimming pool on a bright day, the pool heats dramatically. This is compared to either a pool without a dark screen on top on a bright day, or a pool with any screen on a dull day.’

        On the remote chance that you are not simply playing games and naming names – let’s see.

        The dark cover of course absorbs most of the visible light. The pool can’t lose heat by evaporation. Let’s say it warms up to an equilibrium temperature – it is in local thermodynamic equilibrium with its surroundings. It still must lose more heat in the IR than the pool gets as back radiation because it absorbs and converts SW to heat in the pool. As Homer says we ‘obey the laws of thermodynamics in this house.’ The first law says of course that you can’t create or destroy energy merely change it. The same amount of energy must leave as enters. It just changes from SW to IR.

        This is somewhat like the ocean where:

        Ein(sw + ir) = Eout(ir) + E(latent) + E(conduc.)

        In the pool E(latent) is zero and we will assume that E(conduc) is small relative to the other factors.

        Ein(sw) + Ein(ir) = Eout(ir) – so you can see that Eout(ir) > Ein(ir) as it must be if we are to preserve Homer’s delicate sensibility.

        The power flux is from the Sun straight into the pool (or black cover) and from the pool to the atmosphere and thence back to space.

        In the ocean there can be no diffusion of heat from the atmosphere to the ocean because the ocean is warmer than the atmosphere – you can see that in the net IR flux in the schematic budget I linked to. IR up from the surface of the ocean is greater than IR down from the atmosphere. As well there are latent heat losses for the ocean to the atmosphere.

        The atmosphere heating the ocean doesn’t really work directly by diffusion – but it does work by reducing the net IR from the ocean to the atmosphere and therefore more heat stays in the ocean.

        ‘A heated swimming pool in an unheated enclosure takes more energy to heat to the same temperature than one in an otherwise equivalent heated enclosure.’

        The heated pool loses energy to the enclosure – unless the enclosure is hotter than the pool. The second law applies in that heat flows from the warmer to the cooler body. It is all net flows of photons.

        ‘If I have a glass of cold water next to a hot stove and another in a cool room, the glass of cold water gets warmer faster.

        The same if I repeat the experiment with a pair of shallow plates.’

        Again this is just the application of the second law.

        Now if the water were hotter than the stove – then the water would heat the stove. Perhaps not enough to cook on but somewhat.

        ‘Now, if I boil a bucket of water and leave it outside beside another bucket of cold water on a subzero day, the hot bucket freezes first, but that’s different.’

        The Mpemba – a lad who noticed his hot ice cream makings froze before the cooled makings of his schoolmates – effect is still unexplained. Suffice to say that we are repeating the experiment until we get it right.

        “The technician reported that the water that started hot did indeed freeze first and added in a moment of unscientific enthusiasm ‘But we’ll keep on repeating the experiment until we get the right result’ ” – E. B. Mpemba and D. G. Osborne, “Cool?,” Phys. Educ.4, 172-175 (1969).

        ‘These observations do not sound much like what Mr. Ellison suggests.’

        But clearly Captain Kangaroo rides again. Hi Ho Shibboleth –

        ‘Clearly, I’m unclear on the concept.’

        Clearly that’s the case. I have noticed a bit of a pattern emerging in that regard – and unlike Girma I have lots of data.

        Best Regards
        Captain Kangaroo

      • Ray Boorman

        Bart R | April 9, 2012 at 1:00 am |
        Bart, the examples you give above are not relevant to the idea of the atmosphere warming the oceans. A black screen on a pool absorbs all radiation, (its albedo is zero), which then heats the water. No similarity to the real world. The enclosure on your heated pool traps the evaporated water vapour, raising the humidity & slowing any further evaporation, which results in faster warming of the pool. Your post is disinformation to convince people who have no understanding of basic physics, but this layman who was hopeless at physics can see through it. If you have to rely on such methods to advance your theory, than it is obvious your theory sucks.

      • maksimovich

        ‘If I float a black screen on the surface of a swimming pool on a bright day, the pool heats dramatically. This is compared to either a pool without a dark screen on top on a bright day, or a pool with any screen on a dull day.’

        Sort of,in the real world the pool is rarely clear,we have biology the nearness of the analogy is close,but less important eg Dickey and Falkowski .

        One of the clearest examples of biology affecting physical processes is the modulation of upper ocean heating rates by variability in phytoplankton and their associated pigment concentrations and related optical characteristics. Because phytoplankton absorb visible radiation in spectral regions that are relatively transparent for water itself, these photosynthetic organisms are potentially capable of altering the upper ocean heat budget. The extent to which this occurs depends on the concentration and vertical distribution of pigments within the water column, as well as the incident spectral irradiance. Intuitively, one can understand the effect by considering two bodies of water, lying side by side—swimming pools, for example. If one adds black ink to one pool while keeping the second clear, the darker pool will absorb virtually all of the incident solar radiation and become warmer faster. This effect is used to heat water in rooftop solar systems for homes. Similarly, the addition of phytoplankton to the upper ocean can have measurable effects on the rate of heating of the euphotic zone, with consequences for the depth of the upper mixed layer and vertical eddy diffusivity (e.g., Lewis et al., 1983, 1988).

        Morel suggest the rates and bio attenuation are important variables eg

        At 15m the heating rate in clear oligotrophic water is 100 times higher then in green eutrophic waters. Similar Heat deposition occurs at around 100m instead of 10m in extremely blue and green waters, respectively.In the former case a significant heating may therefore take place below the mixed layer.

        This complicates models significantly.

      • re: floating black screen

        Evaporation? Huh.

        So.. if I painted the bottom of the pool black, and beside it had another pool with a black bottom.. I should see a dramatically different effect than if I floated a black screen on top?

        Because, I can tell you I didn’t.

        If you don’t believe me, try it yourself.

        And this evaporation thing.. are you saying there are no circumstances where natural oceans don’t have dramatically curtailed evaporation while the air above them is warmer than the water?

        Because that flies in the face of my personal experiences too. If you don’t believe me, look it up yourself.

        And if the two indoor pools have identical conditions other than the heating of the air.. including ventilation not dissimilar to exchanges above oceans.. how again does your argument work?

        I’m sorry, apparently I’m still confused by all these observations that inconveniently don’t fit your explanations.

      • Second pool with a white bottom, obviously.

        And yes, there’s also the comparison of floating black and floating clear screens on pools with white bottoms..

        Unsurprisingly, oceans do appear to tend towards thermal equalibration with air; that they seldom get there is that it takes so very very long to heat an ocean with the heat content of surface air.

        The idea that hotter surface air doesn’t heat cooler surface water .. that was what was being suggested by someone saying, “Heat can’t diffuse into the ocean at all”, no?

      • Captain Kangaroo pointed to:

        which essentially justifies what Bart is saying.

        Bart, Fascinating to actually interact with an imbibing blogger. No other way to explain the Roo’s behavior. Unless the Joey is punch drunk.

      • Ray Boorman said:

        “Your post is disinformation to convince people who have no understanding of basic physics, but this layman who was hopeless at physics can see through it.”

        Are you by chance an Australian as well?

        Seriously, what is up with the Australians on this site? I realize that Bart implied that skepticism is a national past time down there, but this is way beyond that. This is just clueless grasping at straws.

      • ‘The diffusion of heat is slow into the ocean so that it has to lag the atmospheric temperature which has a much lower thermal capacity.’ Webby

        Even scepticalscience disagrees. Heat doesn’t diffuse into the ocean – heat just doesn’t emerge from the ocean. So then he just argues that my link to a bastion of warminista science simply shows they were right despite saying explicitly that they were wrong.

        I am well over the endless pointless and trivial remarks from this guy. Someone who seems invariably wrong and treats everything as a tribal bunfight. Perhaps it is an object lesson in the foolish and irelevant but I have wasted too much time on this nonsense to care what the lesson is.

        I quite like America and Americans – and I know there is a deep and abiding respect. Our lefties say that we play the deputy sheriff in every idiotic battle on the planet. I say give me a badge and swear me in. But the battle for freedom, democracy and the rule of law is now in our backyards and it is against the neosocialist, authoritarian ideologues of limits and state control.

        As a tactic the anti Australian jibes are mere buffoonery intended to incite some sort of retaliation in kind. However – these particular buffoons are fringe dwellers – not representative of a free and vibrant America. They are beneath contempt but still a threat to be regognised.

        Best regards
        Captain Kangaroo

      • So the Captain Kangaroo doesn’t have a deep feel for stochastic processes. That’s why he makes so many mistakes, and why he can’t even tell whether the quote pulling he engages in supports his agenda.
        That’s just the way it goes.

        “Even scepticalscience disagrees. Heat doesn’t diffuse into the ocean – heat just doesn’t emerge from the ocean.”

        This is just double-speak. The rule is that thermal energy will flow from regions of high concentrations to regions of low concentration, in keeping with an increase in entropy.

        “They are beneath contempt but still a threat to be regognised. “

        Nice. Cliche Olé.

      • ‘Sunlight penetrating the surface of the oceans is responsible for warming of the surface layers. Once heated, the ocean surface becomes warmer than the atmosphere above, and because of this heat flows from the warm ocean to the cool atmosphere above.’ op.cit.

        Webby – ya got it arse around as usual as we say in Oz. Ya take something simple like the 2nd law of thermodynamics and totally misapply it to the real world in the service of a warminista agenda. You have still got it wrong misunderstanding skepticalscience in this very simple thing.

        We have a couple of options:

        a) you don’t understand English;
        b) you are just hopeless at simple physics;
        c) you are lying and indulging in pointless schoolgirl debates.

        Best regards
        Captain Kangaroo

      • Oh – and the ‘cliché’. I wasn’t talking to you but past you.

    • No what you’ve done is stick a line through 100 years of up and downing and claim the variation around that line is a “cycle” and so you’ve defined the line as the “signal”.

      Effectively it’s circular reasoning.

      • To my various critics. No-one, so far as I can make out, has ever produced a measure of climate sensitivity calculated from observed data. That is, no-one has ever identified a specific rise in global tempratures, and shown conclusively that it was caused by increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. All the measures of climate sensitivity are hypothetical.

        What I am trying to point out is that, some 30 years after CAGW was supposed to have started, there is absolutley no indication whatsoever, in the observed data, that the agreed increase in the level of CO2 in the atmosphere, has had any effect on global temperatures.

        What surprises me is that people like Dr. Curry cannot see that this is true, and cling to the mistaken idea that we can base firm conclusions on any sort of study that is not based on observed data.

      • Latimer Alder

        And I am equally surprised that nobody ever seems to have thought of trying some experiments about anything at all in climatology Having done some fancy stuff with IR spectrocopy and CO2, all the experimentalists they seem to have abdicated in favour of pure theoreticians.

        The way to do science is to test Mother Nature by experimentation, not just by sitting in computer rooms hypothesising after the fact. Science is an active, not a passive pursuit.

      • @Jim Cripwell

        The radiative forcing of CO2 should be no different than any other forcing. Climate sensitivity is supposed to be a natural characteristic of the earth system. Actually there have been recent volcanic eruptions in which forcing could be reasonably estimated en therefore response to forcing reasonably well separated from the forcing itself. It is not much, but at least it is something.

      • I’ve asked (and argued) the same point on other blogs but as yet have not been pointed to any definitive proof of such. Maybe someone here will be able to do so without resorting to Ad hominems or argument from authority.

  8. Judith,

    One point in Hoskins et al. that caught my eye was:
    >>A pervasive aspect of RSL’s presentation was the conflation of uncertainty with ignorance; in his view, because we are uncertain about some aspect, we therefore know nothing about it and any estimate of it is mere guesswork. In this way we believe RSL does a disservice to the scientific method…

    As a physicist, it seems to me that they are simply wrong here, scientifically speaking. if we do not have established results, then, yes, we have ignorance. Of course, if you have a good, well-tested statistical model, you may be certain about your statistics, but uncertain about any particular role of the dice. But, obviously, there has been no chance to gather such statistics by multiple experiments in which we again and again subject the earth to the same experiment with increasing CO2 and study the statistical distribution of the results!

    I think it was the probability theorist Richard von Mises who distinguished between “probability” and “uncertainty,” the first being the mere statistical uncertainty of a role of the dice (when the dice are known to be fair), the second being the “true” uncertainty where you do not even know the statistical distribution.

    It is obvious from these exchanges that all informed people agree that climate change is in the second category. I think a lot of the debate consists of trying to evade that basic fact and somehow coming up with an analytic way of transmuting real ignorance, which is very hard to handle, into statistical probability, which we feel more comfortable with.

    But, even in principle, I do not think such a transmutation is possible.

    Incidentally, a related question is: can we really ever get the science good enough to resolve these questions? Of course, because of the complex, non-linear, chaotic nature of the equations governing the weather, no one believes that we will ever have weather forecasts good enough to predict, say, whether it will be raining in Boston on a particular date eighteen months from now. Since climate is really just averaged weather, one could therefore suspect that climate might be forever intractable to successful modeling.

    Of course, that well might be too pessimistic: perhaps, the unpredictability of the weather can be averaged out over the long term, and climate will turn out to be easier to model than the long-term weather. Certainly, that happens empirically, or it would make no sense to talk of “climate” at all.

    But, speaking as a physicist, I have trouble seeing how this can be achieved in terms of any sort of mathematical model. I suspect that truly successful long-term climate modeling might turn out to be similar to controlled, sustainable, practical nuclear fusion, the energy source which has been “just around the corner,” for my entire lifetime, more than half a century: as the joke goes, “nuclear fusion is the technology of the future — and always will be!”

    It may be that really good climate models are the technology of the future, and always will be. I think this possibility needs to be kept in mind more than it often is: of course, this does not rule out empirical, phenomenological studies that enable us to understand more and more about pieces of the climate, even if the one grand “Theory of Everything” is never achieved.

    Perhaps the slogan should be: “Leave climate to the empirical climatologists, not to computer programmers and physicists like me.”

    Dave Miller in Sacramento

    • Dave, I agree with you re the ignorance issue, this is not sufficiently acknowledged in the climate science assessments.

      • It’s rather worse than that, Judith. A large part of the CAGW edifice is built on a rejection of Dave’s position. The catastrophists say certain kinds of uncertainty are not forms of ignorance. Dave seems to say they are simply wrong, not that the matter needs more ‘acknowledgement’.

      • tomfop,

        While I agree with your point, Judith’s more diplomatic way of phrasing it may be more effective in communicating that point.

        Your (and my) more brusque approach to communication tends to cause people to lump us in with the Myrrhs and the Dragonslayers. Judith seems more skilled at conveying the point that she really is not denying the established physics, but rather merely pointing out complexities, failures to properly test the models, etc. If she gets those points across, well, I see no reason to criticize her for using a different tone than the tone that comes naturally to you or to me.


      • peterdavies252

        Dave I agree totally with what you have said because if the language is not sufficiently civil, the debate becomes personal and people will switch off. Hence if anyone wishes to be more effective in putting their point across then they must address the issue in a neutral tone without recriminations.

    • Dave–

      I am not sure about who gets priority on risk versus uncertainty. In Frank H. Knight’s 1921 book Risk, Uncertainty and Profit, the distinction was central and crucial. I find one assertion online that Richard von Mises may have been talking about the same distinction as early as 1919, but do not know where, or how. At any rate Knight didn’t cite R. Mises, and we economists generally credit Knight. It could be a case of independent insight, which does happen.

      • NW,

        Funny coincidence that you bring up economics — I think I first heard about R.Mises’ work in a book by his brother, the economist L. Mises! As I recall, the brothers generally disagreed on philosophical issues, but R. did convince L. of this particular distinction.

        I suspect that the point has occurred to numerous people independently over the decades.

        In any case, it is an important distinction: we are very lucky when we actually possess a solid statistical description of some phenomenon. Usually (i.e., in most of real life outside the lab), we don’t.


      • physicistdave | April 5, 2012 at 5:22 am |

        We’re never going to possess a solid statistical description of all of climate.

        Our knowledge will always be bounded, and within those bounds both probability (we have a high degree of confidence in the probability distribution, for example we’re pretty sure of the temperature of the freezing and boiling of water under various conditions of pressure) and uncertainty (whether we have better or poorer grasp of the probability distribution, or not enough information at all to speculate on probabilities at all, or don’t even recognize there’s a phenomenon to measure — remember the old days, when we didn’t even know there _was_ Dark Matter or Dark Energy? Wow were we ignorant then, compared to now!) or even realize we’re measuring something that isn’t even really there (someone has a ‘Republican Candidate Sex Appeal’ rating chart!).

        While an extreme reductionist might be satisfied with throwing “Uncertainty” up on the wall and leaving it there, it’s been my experience that this often is a dodge, where the uncertainty complained of is in a category easily dealt with by competent analysis, simply to avoid coming to the patent conclusion.

        However, in this case, I’m good with shelving the entire CAGW temperature debate as moot from a Policy point of view. Uncertainties or no.

        After all, with it or without CAGW, CO2 emission is swept away by the simple and more beneficial expedient of privatizing the carbon cycle per capita.

      • “After all, with it or without CAGW, CO2 emission is swept away by the simple and more beneficial expedient of privatizing the carbon cycle per capita.”

        That’s it. Keep on hammering that theme, as light bulb moments will start to click on. IMO, crude oil prices will also keep going up and up (exclusively due to depletion) until we learn how to respond to the privatized cost properly.

      • Bart R | April 5, 2012 at 11:19 pm

        “However, in this case, I’m good with shelving the entire CAGW temperature debate as moot from a Policy point of view. Uncertainties or no.

        After all, with it or without CAGW, CO2 emission is swept away by the simple and more beneficial expedient of privatizing the carbon cycle per capita.”

        Bart, ‘moot’ means debatable. Don’t know if that’s what you mean…

        How so the privatizing the carbon cycle per capita? Can you espouse on that?

      • jim | April 7, 2012 at 1:21 am |

        “Bart, ‘moot’ means debatable. Don’t know if that’s what you mean…

        How so the privatizing the carbon cycle per capita? Can you espouse on that?

        Yes. I meant wastefully and pointlessly moot, as in the sense of “not admitting of a final decision.”

        Policy loves finality in decision. Makes Policy feel all tingly inside. The Policy preference, if it has a choice between undecideables details and clear big pictures, is to deal with the big picture.

        And while I’m already espoused to the precepts of Fair Market Capitalism that engender the privatization argument, I can hope you become espoused to it, and will gladly expound on the privatization case for the carbon cycle:

        A longish case is at — I’d be glad of any questions or comments that may help me improve my presentation.

        The short case can be expounded on thus: some benefit little from the unpriced lucrative uses of the carbon cycle, a rivalrous, excludable resource; others benefit disproportionately. This is patently unfair, and hence damages the entire precept of the Fair Market economy. The only solution to protect the integrity of the Fair Market Capitalist system is to privatize the carbon cycle for lucrative uses so far as is possible.
        This can be done about 70% by straightforward |fee per unit sold and dividend per capita| with the state taking nothing to general revenues and price level determined by maximum revenue level alone, plus;
        about 25% |strictly bounded cap & trade| on those impossible to administer uses using the price level determined under Fee & Dividend, plus;
        the 5% remaining, should a state so choose, recovered through Pigouvian taxes on proxy activities linked to CO2E emission, such as luxury taxes on extreme vehicles, concrete edifices, inefficient buildings, and asphalt paved surfaces, plus;
        a transition program of infant industry export insurance and import restrictions to equalibrate across national borders where foreigners poach from the carbon cycle by failing to fully privatize in their industries.

        This plan a) compensates the owners of the carbon cycle for the increased Risk of its overuse and for the depletion of their share, to stop the redistribution of wealth from all to a few flagrant free riders; b) imits the abuses of cap & trade systems, which are inherently vulnerable to scams and inefficiency where they are implemented as the only solution to a resource issue; c) avoids the plague of command and control regulation by putting decision power into the hands of those who ought have it – individual buyers and sellers acting democratically in the Fair Market; d) restores the level playing field which is now abused both by Free Riders within nations and by those who dump carbon-intensive products by failing to price the process that disposes of industrial waste.

      • Thanks, Bart. What you say is a little confusing (contorted). I’ll probably like to ask a question about it, in a moment.
        Thanks for the espousement.

      • Bart,
        “A longish case is at — I’d be glad of any questions or comments that may help me improve my presentation.”

        First, re the above: I The ‘prezi’ presentation is a little difficult for me. My criticism of it is that the cartoons (the literal, descriptive, use of the word; not the dismissive meaning) and the motion graphics are used too much. ‘Conservation is the sole of brevity.’ Save the ‘affects’ for when you most need them!

        I understand your idea. I desire conservation of resources and and non-human environs. Your idea should be an ‘economical’ means to that end. I’d even espouse it, if I got to write the ‘vows’.

        A long time ago I was a radical utilitarian, probably much more radical than you are now. With age, I saw what the greater good of utilitarianism always and ultimately devolves into; a fight over who gets what. I’d go along with your scheme, if I get to decide ‘who gets what’. Don’t worry, I’m sure I’m much more parsimonious than you are. I never jet plane anywhere. I just sit passively in a solar home and read dead tree books; they sequester carbon and only consume gravity, the ultimate non-exhaustible resource. (and I garden my vegetables.) I’m stricter than Calvin and Hobbs. I’ve got only a very small manbear to be gored. No loss that I care about..

        That’s the problem. I agree with your plan, and I’ll test your catholicity and doggedness when you install it. But what about every one else. How do you convert them? And after we’re all inside the walls, what will your cathedral be then? It will be our republican democracy, something that every one of us espouses, but we all fight over the true meaning of it. That is; what goodies we get from it… and the ultimate lack of meaning (everyone gets them, no meanness, no meaning)

        I agree that incentivizing conservation is an imperative. For our own goodness to the environs and for the sake of future people. I don’t think Nordhaus’s roulette double-zero is a winning argument, to reach that conservative end. And our current path of environmentally industrializing indulgences is worse than wrong!


      • Thinking of your prezi animation, do you know the multimedia and film work of Ray and Charles Eames? They knew impact well.

      • Bart, if your stomach can take anymore of this, I have a suggestion. your explanation of privatized capitation, above three posts, is not very understandable. It would improve your argument to streamline it. eg no compound sentences.

        My suggestion to present it: explain the propose of your plan (and leave “fairness” out of it, fairness is for you-know-whats, close relatives of pixies, if you know Welsh and history)(no one else cares about impersonal fairness) next show the allocations and disbursements of your plan of privatization of carbon exhaustion, in a simple way that shows that they add up to 100%. conclude with the benefits of your plan. do leave out all of the jargon, the jargon makes it read like any page from the fat volume of Marx, where he calculates the value of beets in China… the jargon is sales put-off. make it a strong, simple presentation. The most successful advertising sells to peoples’ insecurities.

        Hope that helps…

      • jim | April 8, 2012 at 12:28 am |

        I ought explain, the prezi is intended, as are most of mine, as a whiteboard exercise or mind-map to work out the kinks in my (as you’ve observed) very contorted and confusing mentation on subjects.

        Indeed, I’ve exceeded the practical limits of the prezi format with the current whiteboard clutter. Imagine — me, cluttered!

        So I will take economy of message to heart, in a later incarnation. To paraphrase Samuel Pepys, I apologize for the length of this communication; had I more time, it would be briefer.

        I expect rather than the sparse geometry of the Eames’, I’ll try to integrate Tufte with Scott McCloud at that juncture. Only using small words.

        I see the issues you introduce, but as I say in my prezi, the solution to this one problem cannot resolve all problems, or undo every mess, or reduce every complexity and make life wonderful for everyone.

        Slicing the Gordion Knot got Alexander the Great pretty far.. but in the end he still had other problems. I don’t see the point of contorting all of them with just this one single issue.

      • Bart, as Pepys said, shut-up and talk to me. No… that was Feyman’s wife, calculating… No, that is my wife… right now.

      • Bart, in the big picture, what is your ideal quantity/projection for co2 emission reduction, world wide? Ideal? And achievable?

      • “A calculated ambiguity that will be clearly understood…”

        don’t think you want to be “Green Haigs and Ham”

      • jim | April 8, 2012 at 2:03 am |

        Bart, in the big picture, what is your ideal quantity/projection for co2 emission reduction, world wide? Ideal? And achievable?

        I don’t care.

        So long as the genius of the democratic will of the Fair Market decides it, my only objective of any import in this debate is achieved:

        Integrity is restored to the Market by the distortions endemic to every part of the fossil sector being expunged.

      • That’s the problem, I do care, when I listen to the dire predictors.

        I don’t want to nibble around the edges if we’re all going to die whole hog.

        (nice when I say this, but your last sentence (word, not justice) doesn’t have any meaning, that I can divine)

      • Bart,

        “A calculated ambiguity that will be clearly understood…”

        don’t think you want to be “Green Haigs and Ham”

        I ambiguously dropped it in the wrong spot, above, dooh!

      • Bart R | April 8, 2012 at 2:18 am |

        “…restored to the Market by the distortions endemic…” So says Sam I Am.

        I guess you mean ‘Integrity is restored… by the expunging of fossil fuel distortions?’ (my version stinks, too… best to start afresh)

      • jim

        I can’t help the dire predictors, or those obsessed with them.

        The best I can do it furnish the technical solution to the technical issue in question.

        That so many think there’s some other question, not my fault, and not much I can do about it.

        The technical issue of climate that people demonstrably have a driving compulsion to act on is the sense of inequity to do with allocation of scarce climate-impacting resources. Whatever climate impacts there will be or may be or have happened? Immaterial to the solution.

        It’s a tried-and-true solution. It’s a classic, traditional solution. It’s been shown to work without failure in every case where it’s been competently applied. Heck, even some broadly incompetent implementations have eventually worked themselves out.

        Privatize. Use the Law of Supply and Demand to fix the price level. Let the Market decide the outcome. Hunt down and eliminate cheating.

        All else in climatology, fascinating though it may be, is subsumed by the act of correcting the inverted system of incentives.

      • jim

        In plain talk, that means the horse goes in front of the cart.

      • Yea, my brain’s in my head, and my feets’ in my shoes. And carts (calks) are in the horses’ shoes.

        I don’t blame you for any obsessions; I asked you thus to put you someplace on the map. You defend Nordhaus, resident of an inner circle, but your own proffered place seems farther from… the center. Good by you.

        Do we agree on this; conservation for the sake of the plants, animals, and people? I agree with a market price for CO2, for the sake of conservation, so long as there is no distortion of the market.

        So maybe we agree on something important, without any climate exercises? (being exercised by climates)(climate exorcisms?) If so, the rest of the blog is a mighty large bunch of angles dancing…

    • “transmuting real ignorance, which is very hard to handle, into statistical probability, which we feel more comfortable with.”

      And which, unlike a finding of nullity, is llikely to get you your next grant, or politically useful scare story.

      Brick by brick, a wall of statistics and faulty logic has been built to obscure the Null Hypothesis.

  9. 10 C??

    Don’t count on it.

  10. 50 years is a long time in science. Lawrence Livermore Lab plans to get fusion breakeven in the next year. In 50 years we may have fusion power plants dropping greenhouse gas emmissions to low levels in the developed world. Lots of uncertainties in the future but wouldn’t it be grand.

    • Scott,
      I don’t know what is new at LLNL. But in other times and places, even when I was much younger, ‘breakeven’ was very often a year away… some thing to do with calendars and budgets…

    • The running joke about fusion is that is it always 50 years into the future. That was the actual number that was usually trotted out by the physicists in question. I haven’t heard it lately, but it used to be pretty common to hear that.

      • Jim, I don’t know anything real about the LLNL NIF. Before that, I saw a few magnetic confinement experiments. After being trotted around, and maybe hearing the capacitors discharge (dramatic effect), we’d be told that break-even was soon. (What went untold to the unknowing; theoretical “break-even” what was meant, there were no glimpses of any means to recover the excess energy) I do remember a couple of ‘next year’ projections. The cynic in me thought “next funding cycle, and then untill the yet next one” .

      • “Fusion research has been under way for
        a little more than 50 years. Some believe
        that commercial fusion power is still an-
        other 50 years away.”

      • Some people like me think that fusion power generation is a humbug. And will always be so.

        Project the LLNL NIF test chamber into a design of a practical reactor. Cooling or heat extraction has to happen somewhere. Tritium breeding has to happen somewhere. The reactor/test chamber is a sphere with 200 holes and windows in it “…more glass than wall”

        Magnetic confinement doesn’t suffer this, But both will need continuous evacuation and fuel conditioning (recycling). The whole fuel conditioning plant will be ‘hot’. Tritium is not benign.

        Neutron economy precludes sustained tritium – deuterium reactions, only one neutron to breed another tritium; how many of them can be caught?. (When the reactor wall is mostly holes and light paths?) Requisite deuterium – deuterium reaction quantities are a big step up.

        Fission is the very well practiced answer to the power generation question. Fusion is for weapons!

    • Joe Sixpack

      ‘Lawrence Livermore Lab plans to get fusion breakeven in the next year’


      Sounds like a notice in the Dog and Duck

      ‘Free Beer Tomorrow’

      And after 30 years very regular attendance, I’ve yet to see it.

    • I hope you’re right, Scott. I think most physicists think it should be possible, but it certainly has proven enormously more difficult than was originally anticipated.


      • Dave,

        It is being much more difficult than projected, that I can see. Scaling is a big thing. I know nothing about inertial confinement. But for magnetic confinement, scaling hasn’t happened. The proposed international consort is maybe a five-fold increase from initial pratice, nothing to gain much traction.

    • Scott, LLL and others have been promising fusion energy in a few years for about 60 years. I doubt if fusion is any closer now than it was decades ago.

    • David Springer

      “Lawrence Livermore Lab plans to get fusion breakeven in the next year.”

      ROFLMAO – economic breakeven is maybe in the next millenium however, if ever

    • Little trumps big.
      Check the work at Lawrenceville Plasma Physics, (, a comparatively miniscule entirely private outfit using DPF (Dense Plasma Focus). It is on the verge of graduating from D-D tuning and experimental work, having attained the highest reaction temps ever (150kev ions, = 1.8bn K), to aneutronic pB11 fuel. Peer-reviewed, published. Using a reaction core you can hold in your hand.

      If scientific break-even is attained in 2012, as planned/hoped, about another 4-5 yrs. should see a commercial design for licensing to any and all mfrs world-wide, at very reasonable cost.

      Distributed, dispatchable, zero-waste, direct current generation, no radioactivity (below b/g after 9 hrs for maintenance/refueling), at <10% best current costs anywhere.

  11. Cheap solution;

    Stop spending money on windmills and solar.

    Put a 10% on all non-gas fossil fuels and use that 10% to encourage use of natural gas.

    Automatic eventual drop of 25 – 50% in CO2. Since shale gas has resulted in really cheap gas, there will be no net cost.

  12. I picked up a news clip on the LLNL project for anyone interested in what could yet be ahead in 50 years of scientific uncertainty.;contentBody.

    100 years ago the car was starting to replace the horse.

    • Scott – I agree heartily, but it would help if the multiple approaches in the US fusion budget weren’t being cut in order to put all the fusion eggs into one huge, international (and probably unmanageable) megaproject.

      • cui bono,

        I disagree. If practical fusion power is ever achieved, public acceptance of deployment of it and nuclear risk would still be difficult. International mega-blame would probably help acceptance. Spread the risk of blame wide and thin, across all borders.

      • Jim,

        I don’t quite understand.

        If it works there’s no need for blame.
        If it doesn’t work there’s no need for ‘public acceptance’.

      • What I mean is that if it works, there will not be universal public acceptance. Just as with industrial processes today, none are universally accepted. Not even childhood vaccine. If fusion power generation does work, much of the population will fear it, and will blame ‘bad guys’ for inventing it and promoting it.

        If the bad guys have many faces and languages and backgrounds, fusion power maybe could successfully deployed.

        If the bad guys are the US government nuclear (weapons) labs people, LLNL formerly and maybe still a nuclear weapons developer, international acceptance and employment of fusion power will never happen.

        An mega-national project is not a bad thing, if it works…

        I hope this explains better what I wrote above!

  13. Temperatures records measured at the edge of the Arctic Circle
    do not show any room for the CO2 feedback input; even Lindzen can be wrong.

    • Milivoje :
      Interesting chart. I just did a similar exercise using Norwegian data from to check some numbers in an incendiary article by Lisa Marie Norgaard. I also found no discernible trend in the temperature. It doesn’t matter whether you look at Northern Norway or South-east Norway. Are the GISS adjustments that potent?

  14. I’m heartened by any actual debate. This is progress and in my opinion is
    to be appreciated as a sign that things are finally changing. That said, the AGw movement is like a massive ocean liner. It’s going to take a very long time to turn it around. The biggest hindrance of course is the many billions of dollars devoted to “climate research.” As long as the government is in effect paying scientists to support Agw it’s going to be slow going.

  15. Brandon Shollenberger

    As a warning, there is what appears to be a copy error:

    On Slide 3, RSL claims that the derived sensitivity of climate to a doubling of CO2 is less than 1oC, based on the assumption that all the observed warming is due to atmospheric greenhouse gases. This claim would be wrong even without this assumption

    Presumably that should be 1, followed by a degree sign.

    • It is one degree. It’s not a copy error. It’s how the kind-of superscript oh comes out when the kind-of superscript can’t be resolved.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Dan Hughes, what you described is a copy error. It’s an error introduced during the copying process. In the original text, it was one thing. When copied, it came out as another.

      • He shouldn’t have superscripted the letter “o”. There’s a UTF character ‘°’ made specifically for this. So superscripting required.

      • Alexej Buergin

        The problem is that the standard US keyboard is way too simple.
        How about a keyboard that can do this: ° ç¢üèöéêÄ£ñô§€$£@#[]{}¬ and more, directly by just pressing one or two keys.
        It should be a simple thing to produce a specialized keyboard for scientists that has all the main signs on the keys.
        Then one would not have trouble distinguishing 1°C from 10 deg C.

      • Don’t use the numeric superscripts. Use the degree symbol. On a PC, Alt-248 (numeric keypad). ° Then 1°C won’t look like 10C.

  16. Well, this is strange and an odd coincidence, I was preparing a comment on the Bishop Hill Post and up pops this post by Professor Curry.

    At the Bishop’s, and noted in Curry’s post above, is this sentence by “some of the biggest names in UK climate science”:

    The models encapsulate our understanding of the basic science of the climate system, including for example, Newton’s laws of motion, the laws of thermodynamics and the quantum theory of radiation.

    en cap su late: express the essential features of (someone or something) succinctly

    This is yet another display of Bumper Sticker Climate Science. The number of mis-characterizations and omissions are many: so many that it is difficult to encapsulate these in a Blog comment.

    Newton’s laws of motion are not included in the models. Instead, models of these laws form the basis of part of the descriptions of fluid motions. And these models are significantly less effective than the basic formulation of these laws. Actually, when the subject is fluid motions, the reference should be to persons other than Newton. The basic mathematical formulation of the generally accepted equations for fluid motions contain only material properties which describe the nature of the fluid. That is, in addition to the dependent variables the equations contain only physical properties of the material and these relate to diffusion of momentum and thermal energy.

    For the all-prevailing turbulent flows of interest, characterization by use of “Newton’s laws of motion” does not even begin to correctly describe the situation. In addition to replacing sub-grid gradients in driving potentials with empirical-data based parameterizations, and replacing / supplementing the physical properties with parameterizations, the continuous-equation system itself cannot be closed at the fundamental level.

    In contrast to the sentence quoted above, the models are useful only to the degree that the numerous overarching parameterizations are good representations of states that the material has experienced in the past, and that these states are sufficiently close to those that will be encountered in applications of the models.

    The characterization completely ignores the fact that the numbers produced by the models are the results of numerical calculations of very large systems of algebraic equations. These numerical methods do not automatically carry over from the continuous-equation domain the fundamental properties of conservation of mass and energy. The theoretical and practical problems associated with numerical methods are far more difficult than those associated with development of the continuous equations. The focus in any discussions about the model results should be on fidelity of the discrete equations to the fundamental requirements of the basic laws ( mass and energy conservation, for examples ) and the fidelity of the numbers relative to actual solutions of the discrete equations.

    These comments can be illustrated by the situation with clouds. All aspects of the vertical motions of clouds are parameterizations. Newton is nowhere to be seen. Additionally, all aspects of the physical phenomena and processes associated with cloud formation and precipitation from clouds and everything else are based on parameterizations. The critical importance of clouds relative to future states of the climate has been well documented, including the importance of the altitude of the cloud tops. Modeling of a critically important aspect of climate is solely based on parameterizations: not the fundamental formulation of Newton’s laws of motion and the laws of thermodynamics.

    As for “the quantum theory of radiation”, well that is about as far from a proper characterization that one could come up with, in my opinion. Again, in reality, parameterizations rule. And they rule again in a critically important aspect of climate. Modeling of all aspects of the all the physical phenomena and processes associated with aerosols are based on parameterizations. How does one apply the quantum theory of radiation to a situation that involves finite-size aerosols in a radiatively-interacting radiative-energy transport media such as our atmosphere?

    I was wondering about where I could leave this comment because it does not fit into the previous discussion of Lindzen’s presentation. It might not fit here, either, and Professor Curry can snip at will.

    Corrections for all incorrectos will be appreciated.

    • Dan, thanks for your comment

    • Absolutely fabulous Dan. Coarse grained numerical models of quantum processes? This is arm waving gibberish.

    • Dan,

      Very good comment.

      That’s exactly what has bothered me about inferences from ‘butterfly effect’ numerical models.

    • The critical importance of clouds relative to future states of the climate has been well documented, including the importance of the altitude of the cloud tops. Modeling of a critically important aspect of climate is solely based on parameterizations: not the fundamental formulation of Newton’s laws of motion and the laws of thermodynamics.

      As Basil Fawlty would say, “Everything else OK?” (To the hotel inspector who has just listed a large number of atrocious health and safety problems. Just this is enough to torpedo the GCMs.)

    • Dan Hughes
      Excellent observations.

      “the quantum theory of radiation”. . . in reality, parameterizations rule.

      A detailed reality check of the global optical depth shows no major trends over the last 61 years based on available data. See Ferenc Miskolczi
      The stable stationary value of the Earth’s global average atmospheric infrared optical thickness Slides 16-19.
      This complements the evidence of -1.6% decline in cloud cover in China.

    • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

      Dan Hughes: These comments can be illustrated by the situation with clouds. All aspects of the vertical motions of clouds are parameterizations. Newton is nowhere to be seen. Additionally, all aspects of the physical phenomena and processes associated with cloud formation and precipitation from clouds and everything else are based on parameterizations. The critical importance of clouds relative to future states of the climate has been well documented, including the importance of the altitude of the cloud tops. Modeling of a critically important aspect of climate is solely based on parameterizations: not the fundamental formulation of Newton’s laws of motion and the laws of thermodynamics.

      What do you think of these simulations at Isaac Held’s blog?

    • As I noted over at Bishop Hill the above is not particularly controversial as far as the scientists involved in the rebuttal are concerned . I’ll take the liberty of reposting one reference (and in particular note comments around uncertainty – see the second issue raised below) even though I think this series received some attention here at the time it was held.

      “A very grand challenge for the science of climate prediction”
      Palmer, T


      A rather prevelant picture of the development of climate models throughout the 20th Century, is for the idealised, simplified, and hence mathematically tractable models of climate to be the focus of mathematicians, leaving to engineers, the “brute force” approach of developing ab initio Earth System Models. I think we should leave this paradigm in the 20th Century, where it belongs: for one thing, the threat of climate change is too important and the problems of predicting climate reliably too great. For the 21st Century, I propose that mathematicians need to engage on innovative methods to represent the unresolved and poorly resolved scales in ab initio models, based on nonlinear stochastic-dynamic methods. The reasons are (at least) threefold. Firstly, climate model biases are still substantial, and may well be systemically related to the use of deterministic bulk-formula closure – this is an area where a much better basic understanding is needed. Secondly, deterministically formulated climate models are incapable of predicting the uncertainty in their predictions; and yet this is a crucially important prognostic variable for societal applications. Stochastic-dynamic closures can in principle provide this. Finally, the need to maintain worldwide a pool of quasi-independent deterministic models purely in order to have an ad hoc multi-model estimate of uncertainty, does not make efficient use of the limited human and computer resources available worldwide for climate model developement. The development of skilful stochastic-dynamic closures will undermine the need for such inefficient use of human resources. As such, a very grand challenge for the science of climate prediction is presented in the form of a plea for the engagement of mathematicians in the development of a prototype Probabilistic Earth-System Model. It is hoped that this Newton Institute Programme will be seen as pivotal for such development.

      • From the above:

        ” Firstly, climate model biases are still substantial, and may well be systemically related to the use of deterministic bulk-formula closure – this is an area where a much better basic understanding is needed. Secondly, deterministically formulated climate models are incapable of predicting the uncertainty in their predictions; and yet this is a crucially important prognostic variable for societal applications.”

        Are ‘we’ still at the garbage in, garbage out level? Is the above true?

        And, re the ensembles of climate models probability distribution for prediction of climate CO2 sensitivity; by the above, that wiggle function curve is just multiple more garbage in, compiled multiple more garbage out times.

      • Hmmm…

        My wife, a biologist, once asked a friend who was a mathematician how to calculate the area of a cell membrane from some electron microscope data she had.

        His response? “Define ‘area.” ”

        The discussion got angrier and angrier; I finally suggested that she triangulate and use Heron of Alexandria’s formula for the area of triangles. (To any lurking mathematician, yes, I do know that is an approximation to the “true” area. But her *data* was an approximation, too. Can’t be helped.)

        In short, I am not sure mathematicians will be of much help. Possibly physicists could be, though, as a physicist myself, I am not optimistic. Frankly, I’m not sure the technical problems you allude to can be solved.

        Most problems in math and physics never are solved. We just hear about (and study in school) the ones that someone did manage to solve. And, we use those solutions as Procrustean beds to try to fit the real world.

        It’s amazing that sometimes this actually works.

        Dave Miller in Sacramento

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        “My wife, a biologist, once asked a friend who was a mathematician how to calculate the area of a cell membrane from some electron microscope data she had.’

        Dave, might this work ? How about enlarging the photo, printing it on waterproof paper, cutting the image out by laser, repeat a hundred times, then sink the bundle of images in water and the volume displaced will tell you the area ?

      • The surface are a of a proteolipid membrane is fractal and motile. Proteins are added and removed all the time, the surface undergoes endo/exo-cytosis where large patches of membrane are removed (via envagaination) or added. The volume of the cell changes and like the surface of a balloon the cell membrane expands or contracts. Cells typically are undergoing growth, so cells are integrated into the cell cycle, growing and then splitting. The actual protein composition changes, with some protein surface markers having half-lives of 20 minutes and some about a day (which is longer then cell doubling time).
        On top of all this we have a heterogeneous population, a mixture of large and small cells, and different morphology.
        However, in context, measuring surface area is trivial. What we really want to know is if a cell is dying, and how it is dying.
        The only fly in the ointment is, what is a living cell and what is a dead cell? Sounds easy doesn’t it, but we have no working definition of living and dead cells. Some cells are obviously dead and some obviously alive, however, different viability assays interrogate different biological pathways, you can measure viability by three different techniques and for an individual cell get answers ranging from 0,0,0, to 1,1,1. Different people use different guesstimates, and not everyone reports what their viability cut-off’s were.

      • Doc, That is something I know nothing about, and your description has intrigued me to go and try to learn a little, scratch-the-surface, about it. Thank you!

      • Doc, “your description > your remarkable description”

      • I just ran across your reply.

        The problem was that she only had a a relatively sparse sampling of data points on the cell surface: this was just a preliminary study back in the early days of electron microscopy. As DocMartyn points out below, there were a huge number of uncertainties that dwarfed any questions about the mathematically best way to define area. Given all that, Heron’s formula was going to do as well as anything else. In context, worrying about the “right” definition of area was simply silly.


      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        Doc, how does one decide that a surface is to be considered non-flat ? I understand the point you made that the surface is fractal and so you then seem to indicate that a measuring taking that into account is necessary.

        My question is general, in that for many measurements, e.g. “area of a city”, we do not take into account all the surfaces that exist within the city. At other times it would not be helpful to disregard all the surfaces when calculating area.

      • How you measure something depends on comparing it to something else; we compare one thing to a standard. When you measure small things, things get interesting.
        When we measure things at an interface, things get even more interesting.
        You have a cell, typically stuck to the surface of a plastic dish. The outer membrane consists of a lipid bilayer, with some proteins pocking through and some adsorbed on the surface. The surface has a fixed charge, with polar lipids and polar proteins being asymmetrically distributed on the outer and inner surface. The surface is two dimensional and the inner/outer bulk phases are three dimensional. So a cation like potassium in bulk phase has a concentration, amount/volume, but a potassium ion in an equilibrium with a binding site on the surface has no concentration; amount/area.
        The inside of the proteolipid membrane is hydrophobic, having a dielectric constant of about 2, the outer bulk layer has a DE of >100. We could design a fluorescent probe that was hydrophobic, with a linker, then a cluster of charge ammonium groups. We add the probe to the cells, allow the dye to equilibrate with the cell membranes, then do one of two things.
        1) Fix the cells with PFA, an amine reactive cross-linking reagent. This holds all the proteolipid in place and will immobilize all the probe that has stuck to your cells, trapped in the lipid bilayer.
        2) wash the cells and then add detergent to explode the lipid membrane.
        Using 1) you can place the cells in a microscope and measure the level of probe per cell, then compare the fluorescent against spherical liposomes made from proteolipid. As you know the size of the liposomes, you know the surface area, you can do the correlation.
        Using 2) again you use liposomes made from proteolipid as a control, measuring them using quasi-electric light-scattering and you can compare the fluorescence signals.
        1) and 2) will give you different answers for the amount of probe per amount of lipid surface.
        Using 1) you will note that different areas of the cell surface have a different distribution of dye. You will see that some cells have high labeling and some very low. Very small changes in the composition of the membrane, and if the membrane is bound to the plastic surface or not, make a big difference to dye binding.
        The biggest difference is in the cells plasma membrane potential, which changes the electrical properties of the surface. This potential is not present in your standards, even the surface potential caused by fixed charges is different. Sphere’s have a different micro-environment on their surface than do the highly invaginated surface of a living cell.
        If you can live with guesstimates, knowing that everything you measure is an approximation based on an unrealistic model of a complex process, you can measure just about everything. The trick is not to trust anybodies numbers, including your own.

      • Thanks!

    • My comments do not address the many critical and difficult issues surrounding the fidelity of the GCMs relative to the application areas and system-response functions of interest. I think that the characterization offered by the sentence under discussion does a dis-service to climate science, and science in general. The implications being that there are no issues at all, none what so ever, with the continuous-equation systems. The chasm between that characterization and the real world of GCMs is enormous, and I see this kind of statement frequently. I take it to be an attempt to characterize the GCM modeling methodology as a purely computational physics problem, when it is in fact a nitty-gritty, both-feet-deep-in-the-mud process modeling problem.

      As I mentioned in my comment all fundamental formulations of the equation systems which capture the basic laws and provide descriptions of all physical phenomena and processes will contain only parameters that relate to properties of the materials of interest. Applications of these equations do not require so-called tuning or calibrations, none. There will be no checking of the sensitivity of the calculated system response to variations in these physical properties. No calculations carried out to investigate the uncertainties associated with the physical parameters. There will be no ensemble averaging of calculated results by many different models having many different numerical values of these parameters and different starting values of the dependent variables and different spatial and temporal resolutions at the discrete-equation level. There will be little chance of getting the right answer for the wrong reasons. In fact, the previous sentences contain information that can be used to differentiate between a computational physics formulation and a process model formulation.

      As an example of the mis-leading characterizations, consider that the fluid motions in the Earth’s cimate systems are for all practical purposes always turbulent. The only known computational-physics formulation of turbulent flows will never be incorporated into GCMs. And that does not address the fundamental issues associated with the fact that a computational-physics formulation for turbulent flows of mixtures of solids, liquids, and gases is not yet readily at hand. Newton’s Laws of Motion haven’t yet been quite worked out for these situations. Process modeling will always be present whenever real-world turbulent flows are of interest. Process modeling is needed to close the continuous equations. The difficulties are increased due to the very large spatial extent of the application areas leading to introduction of process modeling that is a function of the size of the discrete increments used in the numerical solution domain.

      Finally, the calculated numbers come from the approximate solutions of the discrete approximations to the continuous equations. The parameter-based modeling, in which gradients of smooth functions, present in the fundamental formulations, are replaced by algebraic approximations and switches has the potential to introduce discontinuities into the numerical solution methods and these are known to wreck havoc with calculated numbers.

      The parameterizations, not Newton’s laws of motion and not the quantum theory of radiative-energy transport, carry the fidelity, or lack thereof, of the modeling. The Bumper Sticker Climate Science approach, almost always, never mentions this well-known aspect. None of this is meant to say that process modeling, in and of itself, will necessarily lead to lack of fidelity between calculated results and the actual physical world. It is clear, however, that care is required in order to avoid tuning the wrong parameters for the wrong reasons and getting the right answer. There are simply too many free-floating pieces parts, and these are coupled in complicated ways. Both successes and failures can be expected to occur.

      • Dan – I often find your comments thoughtful and provocative, but here, I think you’ve misfired in aiming your criticisms at the statement by Hoskins et al –

        “The models encapsulate our understanding of the basic science of the climate system, including for example, Newton’s laws of motion, the laws of thermodynamics and the quantum theory of radiation.”

        The bolding was mine, to emphasize the point that the statement was citing examples rather than attempting to be all inclusive. Based on that understanding, I find the statement to be quite accurate.

        Newton’s laws are an important element of fluid dynamics, as you indicate, but they are also a centerpiece of hydrostatics, which is a foundation for our understanding of atmospheric temperature profiles underlying climate change mechanisms. An example is cited at Newton’s Second Law and the Hydrostatic Relationship, and many others can be found. Here, the applications are direct, fundamental, and much less vulnerable to the uncertainties that pertain to fluid dynamics. Hoskins et al are justified in citing Newton’s Laws as an example.

        The quantum theory or radiation is equally fundamental. Without it, there would be no absorption of IR photons, no radiative transfer codes, and no means to characterize the atmospheric warming or cooling in response to changes in greenhouse gas concentrations. It’s probably not much of an exaggeration to state that without the quantum theory of radiation, modern climate science could not exist.

        You have correctly pointed out that attempts to arrive at approximate solutions of differential equations through numerical techniques and discretization require careful monitoring to ensure that the results don’t stray too far from true values, but this is hardly news to those engaged in climate modeling. The critical question is how well do the models perform in this regard, and the answer seems to be that they do well in some circumstances (basic radiative transfer) and less well in others (e.g., internal climate fluctuations, cloud microphysics, and other aspects of fluid dynamics). While this is a well recognized challenge, I didn’t see anything in the statement by Hoskins et al that suggested otherwise.

        Finally, as I understand it, Hoskins et al were responding to a Lindzen presentation to a lay audience in an attempt to correct Lindzen’s misrepresentations of our current understanding. Their efforts were therefore conducted on an elementary rather than sophisticated level. Indeed, when it came to pointing out to Lindzen that average Arctic temperatures (sea and land) can’t respond dramatically to summer increases in heating as long as much of the energy is going into sea ice melting, this might even by called climate science at the kindergarten level. I’m sure that these authors share some of your interpretations about challenges to current modeling efforts, but I don’t think you can fault them for making a general statement about models that mentions examples of important principles that the models make use of. They didn’t claim in the statement you quoted that models are perfect, but in the same paragraph, in a statement you didn’t quote, they state “the models at the more complete and complex end contain many uncertainties and deficiencies, which are widely recognised within the modelling community,”. If you had included that statement in your comment, readers might have had a more accurate perspective on what was being claimed.

      • There’s seems to be a problem with WordPress, which won’t let me log in with my legitimate email and passwords.

      • A try with a new email/password

      • hi fred, welcome back

      • Fred, welcome back. Whilst you were away a subscription membership service was instituted. If you’d just like to pass me your 200 dollar joining fee I’ll make sure Judith gets it. :)


      • Tony – The check is in the mail.

      • Wait.. Why does Fred get such a steep discount?

        Is he being subsidized? ;)

      • The statement carries no information relative to: (1) the actual approach to modeling the climate that is used to construct GCMs, (2) the overarching critically important role played by the parameterizations, and (3) the careful, tedious work that is critically necessary to ensure that the numbers presented as results from the modeling correspond to (1). Correct characterization is vitally necessary in order to reach correct understanding

        We might as well say that we employ quantum mechanical concepts to determine the energy state of the atoms that comprise a material in order to calculate its temperature and then express that result in terms of the Boltzmann distribution and his constant. While that is fundamental to all of thermodynamics, it is almost never the actual approach for any practical thermodynamic applications.

      • Deep in this post Arctic Sea Ice Volume: PIOMAS, Prediction, and the Perils of Extrapolation at RealClimate we see

        Model calibration is of course necessary. We need to determine parameters that are not well known, deal with inadequately modeled physics, and address significant biases in the forcing fields.

        I find this characterization to be somewhat in contrast to this characterization :-)

        The models encapsulate our understanding of the basic science of the climate system, including for example, Newton’s laws of motion, the laws of thermodynamics and the quantum theory of radiation.

        For more info on Newton’s Laws relative to fluid motions, check this out. Sir Isaac dealt almost exclusively with point mass situations and actions outside, on the boundaries of, the materials of interest. He was successful in analyses of the interactions between two point masses, and failed for three. Decades of additional work were required to bring to fruition concepts relating to actions, and consequent deformations, within the materials of interest. Some of those who contributed to this work included mainly Euler and the Bernoulli boys, and additionally Lagrange, D’Alembert, Leibniz. The Navier-Stokes equations, generally accepted to be a good description of fluids having a linear relationship between rate of strain and the associated stresses, were not formulated until the nineteenth century, almost 150 years following Newton’s Laws.

        Hydrostatics, by way of Archimedes, pre-dates Newton’s Laws by several centuries: almost 20. The first edition of his Principia was published in 1687: Archimedes lived until c. 212 BCE. Stevin, somewhat later in the early seventeenth century, also made contributions that pre-date Sir Isaac.

      • Dan – I think you’re trying too hard.

    • May I make another point. The people who do these modeling studies are human. Humans, including scientists, are prone to delusions. I am not speaking of insane delusions, but normal, common, day to day ones. We all live in a fictional world of our own design, ignoring evidence of our biases and deliberately weighing incoming information that fits a preformed matrix.
      The climate modelers ‘know’ past temperatures and have a good idea which way ‘they want’ future temperature to go; based on the notion that 1) CO2 is going to increase and 2) Temperature is going to track CO2.
      What we don’t know is the models that the modelers have discounted.
      The models do not emerge from a pristine intellectual background, they are made by people, using interation. A constant is chosen, from a range, to generate a result that is wanted.

      Self delusion is very common, and here is a demonstration.
      In this video, you are going to see three young men and three young women playing basketball. All you have to is to count the number of passes made by the people in WHITE shirts.
      While you watch, just count the number of passes from player in white; easy peasy.

      To test a model, what one has to do is to establish a reasonable range of a constant, a prior, and run the model using the reasonable range of this constant. You do that for each constant used. The, a prior, is the most important point. It is very easy to justify any value, post-hoc, as each value is ‘reasonable’.
      Thus, models are indeed trained.

      • Steven Mosher

        That is not hardly what one I would call “training” as a modeler.
        Lets get down to specifics. Let’s take NCAR as an example.

        “Once the components are coupled, then the only parameter settings that are usually allowed to change are the sea ice albedos and a single parameter in the atmosphere component. This is the relative humidity threshold above which low clouds are formed, and it is used to balance the coupled model at the TOA. ”

        As you note we often pick a constant apriori and then run sensitivities around that. Take sea ice albedo. Nice thing about is it varies between zero and 1. we might have a best estimate of it, apriori, of something like,

        fiddling with a value like that could hardly be called “training” In fact, it’s precisely the best thing to do when you have a parameter that cannot be easily pinned down. In fact its one of the ways modelling can drive discovery.We have a parameter for which there are only rough estimates.
        We fiddle with it. We see large sensitivities to it. That drives research into pinning it down. Still, during the course of this process if we are asked to provide our best understanding, the answer is the output of fiddling.
        It’s an entirely different question whether this level of certitude is enough to drive policy. Personally, I think a simple recognition that Co2 causes at least 1.2C of warming is enough to drive a policy. No GCMs required.

      • “Personally, I think a simple recognition that Co2 causes at least 1.2C of warming is enough to drive a policy. No GCMs required”

        Yes, personally. However, policy is a matter of international and national politics.

      • Steven Mosher

        says who? policy can be local policy. national policy. or international.
        For example: a bare boned back of the envelope model of sea level rise over the next century could be enough to drive local policy about building a power plant on the coast. We use all sorts of planning tools to make make policy decisions. can we predict earthquakes? nope. Does that mean we dont account for them in planning? Nope.

      • “Personally, I think a simple recognition that Co2 causes at least 1.2C of warming is enough to drive a policy.”

        True, but that would be a more rational policy :) Starting with building the UNtopia complex in the Sahel and exiling alarmists to their own fantasy land to mold into perfection. :)

    • Steven Mosher

      Dan. since the models include orbital dynamics I think the description is accurate

    • David Young

      Dan, I generally agree with your observations. The characterization of the models as representing Newton’s laws of motion is a gross distortion. The models have large errors associated with going from the laws of motion to a discrete algebraic system of equations and the only way to claim that they represent the fundamental conservation laws of mass, momentum, and energy is to postulate the doctrine of the attractor, a dubious proposition at best. It is basically a leap of faith that I have evidence has been challenged before in reviews of Hansen’s past proposals. The challenge has not to my knowledge been addressed, certainly not by any posters here, including the imminent communicator Schmidt. I suggest that those who are interested in this look at some of the literature on aerodynamic noise where similar doctrines are invoked with little justification. The difference is that in noise, there is actually data that is reasonably consistent and accurate.

  17. Here (slightly amended) is my first comment at Bishop Hill on the Hoskins et al note. I read it keeping in mind Lindzen’s introductory comment (Slide 2). An extract:

    “The debate is simply over the matter of how much warming the increase in CO2 can lead to, and the connection of such warming to the innumerable claimed catastrophes. The evidence is that the increase in CO2 will lead to very little warming, and that the connection of this minimal warming (or even significant warming) to the purported catastrophes is also minimal. The arguments on which the catastrophic claims are made are extremely weak – and commonly acknowledged as such.”

    Although the note may contain some valid criticism of Lindzen (I leave that to those who are better qualified than I), the test of its validity must be whether or not it demonstrates that he is wrong to state that “the connection of this minimal warming (or even significant warming) to the purported catastrophes is … minimal”. That, I suggest, is the key issue: if evidence for such connection is weak, what basis is there for the global economic and political upheaval we’re told is essential?

    I believe the paper fails the test in its first paragraph – an extract: “Contemporary science suggests unambiguously that there is a substantial risk that these feedbacks will lead to human-induced surface temperature change considerably larger than 1oC in global average this century and beyond”. But how can you “suggest” something “unambiguously”? And what does “substantial risk” mean? And I can find nothing elsewhere that demonstrates a strong warming/catastrophe connection. Indeed, in places the authors seem to agree with Lindzen. For example, in the section entitled “Models”, they say:

    “Even the models at the more complete and complex end contain many uncertainties and deficiencies, which are widely recognised within the modelling community, but they are the best guide we have as to how the climate system may change in the future.”

    That “the best guide we have” contains “many uncertainties and deficiencies”, surely demonstrates precisely the weakness of the claimed warming/catastrophe connection?

    • “suggests unambiguously that there is a substantial risk that” I thought exactly the same thing on reading that. We have a claimed certainty of doubt…

      • Latimer Alder

        Are all climatologists so far removed from reality that they can no longer even read what they write? Is their own variant of English so far removed from the mainstream usage as to be completely unintelligible to outsiders?

        Or do they just think that the normal public, in thrall to the myth of climatological infallibility, are either too stupid or too trusting to notice that they are presenting complete BS most of the time?

        We may not be trained in the finer points of Principal Components Analysis (and not alone in that!) but we can see a stupid argument when we see one. There is only one set of fools in this communication transaction and it isn’t the recipients.

    • Yes, this is an old argument, quite abused, and I can’t understand they are still using it.

      but they are the best guide we have as to how the climate system may change in the future.

      So? Who told you the “best guide” is good enough to guide you? How do you know you are going to end anywhere near where the guide says? Did you check?

      “Best guide”, by itself, has no meaning. You may as well call it “best dream”. Or “best nightmare”, for that matter.

  18. The point of difference in policy superficially relates to taxes or caps. In a deeper sense there are profound differences on economic and political systems that can’t be reconciled. One side stresses the necessity of economic growth and the other critical resource limits. The latter is leading to strident declarations of intent to ‘suspend’ democracy and to dismantle essential elements of free markets. It is a dangerous and disturbing development.

    The underlying motivations of the neo-socialists become important in preventing a response to what after all are relatively large emissions of gases that are radiatively active in the atmosphere and chemically in the oceans. Regardless of uncertainties in determining and predicting effects – and they are many and varied – it does warrant a response and there are ways forward that seem less contentious and have immense potential to both increase human well being and reduce emissions. These include reducing black carbon and ozone emissions, conserving and restoring ecosystems, improving agricultural systems, provision of safe water and sanitation and investment in energy technology. The government sector is important in some of these things. The rule of law, democracy, effective corporate governance, management of the monetary system and the provision of some services are all within the essential ambit of government. I would argue that the bigger role is with corporations, farmers and with people in the social context more generally.

    I suggest that there are many people who actively resist sensible and pragmatic responses and this is motivated by a disdain for free markets and economic growth and a desire to transform western systems of government and production. This commonly translates into a willingness to dispense with political freedoms – openly advocating suspension of democracy and installation of authoritarian regimes. Thus progress has been so paltry for a generation because we are locked into an ideological battle with these people and the world can go to hell in a hand basket otherwise as far as they are concerned. On one hand we have enlightenment principles and on the other tyranny – the climate war is to be won or lost with far reaching consequences.

    We have the high ground in that they have seriously underestimated natural variability – as we have been saying for a long time. So it not warming for a decade or three more – as the science keeps saying. I suggest offering them terms of surrender. Either drop the nonsense and compromise on pragmatic solutions or we roll the dice on climate change.

    Robert I Ellison

    • Captain K, How about putting your hydrologist hat on for a moment.

      Since there is an ongoing geo-engineering project, no till or conservation agriculture, I am trying to get a better guestimate of the impact. No till reduces the maximum soil temperature by about 8 degrees F and improves soil moisture retention from about 8% to 12%. It also reduces runoff.

      Right now there are only about 200,000,000 acres under no till, mainly in the western hemisphere. It seems to me that that should, or will soon, have a measurable impact on climate. Do you have a good estimate of the overall hydrological impact for no-till versus conventional till?

      Low impact versus over grazing pasture land also has a similar impact, so there is whole bunch of land involved in the experiment. Looks like Africa is volunteering to be the control group. If there is a way to come up with a better agricultural land use impact, most of this non-sense would quietly go away.

      • Hi Dallas,

        First of all – conservation farming (and it is not just no till and rotation grazing) is absolutely essential to feed the world this century.

        The sunlight captured by vegetation is transformed into organic carbon in an endothermic reaction. Some of that organic carbon ends up in soil carbon stores and this path is significant in relation to agricultural productivity and anthropogenic emissions.

        Vegetation absorbs and transforms energy rather than reflecting it back into space as bare earth does. The difference in temperature possibly involves as well the ability of plants to regulate temperature by evaporating water.

        The change in infiltration is without a doubt a good thing. A lot of the flashiness of floods disapears and the increased soil water stores contribute to increased base flow and drought resiliance.

        Rotational grazing increases biodiversity, agricultural production, reduces erosion, conserves soil moisture, increases carbon soil stores and decreases atmopheric carbon concentration. Conservation farming is entirely a good thing.

        Coud it cool the world? Easily I think.

        Robert I Ellison

  19. It would have been much more interesting to see Hoskins, Mitchell, etc go head to head with LIndzen and others, on equal terms.. (ie face to face debate)

    As others, have commented that Lindzen was talking (as he acknowledged ) to a lay audience..

    Is it possible that they would ever agree to have any sort of scientific debate with Lindzen and others directly.. as Andrew Montford has commented, both Mitchell and Hoskins behaviour in the climategate emails, can not really be ignored either. (ie goodwill aspects)

    As an aside (perhaps a cheap shot) their is tha video of Sir Hoskins saying computer models were and STILL are lousy.. Perhaps a debate could be had where that could be expanded on…

  20. Dyson already commented on Nordhaus’s book, and said basically the same thing as the 16 – regardless of Nordhaus’s opinions on the matter, his own numbers don’t support doing anything. And Nordhaus responded to Dyson’s review and apparently didn’t argue this point.

    • Mike, thank’s for the link to Dyson’s review, I doubt I would have seen it otherwise.

    • Dyson gets shredded by Robert May in this part of the response

      Dyson doesn’t believe that the residence time of CO2 in the environment is very long, and May schools him on this point.

      Notice that Dyson’s response to May reads like a dog walking away with his tail between his legs, as he tries to rationalize by suggesting that he was talking about residence time in another context, that of artificially sequestering CO2 with additional plant life. Yet this admission completely destroys Dyson’s original argument as he was using that point to prove CO2’s insignificance for persistent global warming. So Dyson isn’t much of a skeptic after all.

      • maksimovich

        May cites Hansen 2007, ie a giss model studythe abscence of biophysicists amongst the authors is telling,May;s assumptions ,are incorrect as he does not identify the biological potential.

      • Robert May is discussing the issue of adjustment time versus residence time of CO2 concentrations. A short residence time is likely but the adjustment time is very long. Dyson didn’t discriminate between the two and assumed it was residence time that was important. Thus, May had to write that comment to straighten him out.

        As May suggests, that if Dyson was under the impression that a short adjustment time is operable as well, then it is clear how he became a skeptic. As so would I, but I have since learned the slow diffusional aspects of sequestering. Dyson thought that biota was semi-permanent but on the adjustment time scale it is still transitory, as the biota will decay within that period.

      • I don’t understand why you’re repeating this. It is perfectly clear what Dyson was saying, if you’ll just read his original statement. Attacking a straw-man – a view of Dyson based on “As May suggests” – seems like a bad idea.

      • sorry web, I know Dyson, don’t care to read someone-against-Dyson who I’ve never heard of. Too old for that…

      • Shredded? Maybe you didn’t read Dyson’s original review, which was about sequestering CO2 with plant life. Which is what he said. It sounds as though May was just confused.

        In any case, you’re changing the subject. Whether or not one agrees with Dyson’s interesting ideas about high-tech futuristic adaptation (he is also invented the Dyson Sphere that would surround the entire sun) has nothing at all to do with his comments on Nordhaus.

      • blueice2hotsea


        [Dyson] tries to rationalize by suggesting that he was talking about residence time in another context, that of artificially sequestering CO2 with additional plant life.

        Tries to rationalize? Another context? Of course this is the context Dyson would be using. Dyson has said that the work of which he is most proud – over his entire career – is his analysis of using carbon sequestration by plants as a CO2 mitigation solution.

        Yet this sequestration idea would create legions of losers from those wedded to CO2 tax and trade schemes. Perhaps that is why some of the criticism directed towards Dyson is transparently disingenuous. Be careful not to add to it.

      • WHT,
        You are pooping in your own nest when you asert someone has shredded Dyson.

      • The Ents march with Dyson.

      • But I think when the fishes leave they’ll say ‘Thanks for all the plankton’.

      • Dyson: There were giants, once. I remember a few…

  21. I notice WUWT is trying to push the idea that falling cloud cover contradicts manmade global warming.

    “A paper published last week finds that cloud cover over China significantly decreased during the period 1954-2005. This finding is in direct contradiction to the theory of man-made global warming which presumes that warming allegedly from CO2 ‘should’ cause an increase in water vapor and cloudiness.”

    Man-made global warming presumes there will be an increase in cloudiness? No citation given of course. Well this is WUWT we are talking about.

    I suspect if cloud cover had RISEN in this study they’d be citing it as evidence of negative cloud feedback reflecting more sunlight…

    • I suspect if cloud cover had RISEN in this study they’d be citing it as evidence of negative cloud feedback reflecting more sunlight…

      Well, of course they would, after all, they’re a horrible bunch of denialist scum, aren’t they? Total pond life who don’t deserve to live – I mean, true believers never stoop to those sort of tactics, do they?

    • ‘During the 1997–1998 El Niño, observations indicate that the SST increase in the eastern tropical Pacific enhances the atmospheric convection, which shifts the upward motion to further south and breaks down low stratiform clouds, leading to a decrease in low cloud amount in this region. Taking into account the obscuring effects of high cloud, it was found that thick low clouds decreased by more than 20% in the eastern tropical Pacific… In contrast, most increase in low cloud amount due to doubled CO2 simulated by the NCAR and GFDL models occurs in the subtropical subsidence regimes associated with a strong atmospheric stability.’

      Most models include positive cloud feedback but this is not a result of physics but parametisation. Clouds physics are very uncertain – but observation really shuld trump models.

  22. I’m a bit surprised when there finally is actual debate how weak the arguments are. The whole ‘we might roll a double zero’ is just baffling to hear in a science context. He then goes into how odds work on multiple rolls of a roulette wheel, as if his metaphor is now so apt he can use it to calculate the chances of catastrophe. From the footnotes of “but the odds of that outcome on five spins of the wheel are only 1 in 50.”:

    “More exactly, it is (16/38) 5 = 0.0238. Moreover, on five rolls of the wheel, there is a 24 percent chance that a zero or double-zero catastrophic event will occur. These probabilities are only illustrative to show how multiple uncertainties interact.”

    Whaaaa? Five spins? And that illustrates how multiple uncertainties interact? Is he seriously saying spin one interacting with spin 5? All I can think of reading this is ‘crack cocaine’. The guy has a weak grasp on reason if he thinks saying the forcing could be anything from -10 to +50 makes his point. We would be better to prepare for zombie armageddons if that is the case.

    • robin | April 4, 2012 at 5:56 pm |

      Just so I’m clear, you’re saying the arguments of Dr. William D. Nordhaus, Sterling Professor of Economics at Yale University, an internationally regarded Economist with more books, articles, and citations in the field than the entire Economics departments of some high ranking universities, is making ‘crack cocaine’ arguments, and has a weak grasp on reason?

      Well, at least you’ve shattered the myth of deference to authority.

      • Bart R –

        Defer to economists on the grounds that they’re reasonable?

        Paul Krugman is Professor of Economics and International Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, Centenary Professor at the London School of Economics, winner of the 2008 ‘Nobel’ Prize in Economics, expert on international economics, and author of 20 books and over 200 scholarly articles in professional journals.

        And he still writes total b*ll*cks every week.

      • No Fair! You’re citing a crack cocaine krugman economist… Nordhaus might not be one.

      • Bart,

        What if I said “Dr Nordhaus is incorrect in his understanding of and representation of the climate debate, in a few places”, without reference to any drugs?

      • jim | April 4, 2012 at 10:01 pm |

        Then I’d conclude, based on word count, that you’re not an Economist. ;)

        Support your claims with reasoning and data, and I’m all ears.

        It’d still shatter the myth of deference to authority, but it’d also move the discourse forward.

        Who wouldn’t prefer that?

      • I think the problem here is that the good professor is postulating a highly specific kind of catastrophe. It isn’t as he characterises it, one that just might happen within our imagination (in fact the roulette wheel analogy suggests it has to have a finite probability); it is one that is within our imagination and that we know with some kind of certainty spending some trillions (in NPV) we can stop happening.

        Much rarer kind of catastrophe IMHO.

      • Outright, I don’t defer to authorities. I question them. (I remember at a Beckman Hall lecture, Feyman closed it with the exhortation “Question authority!” A kid yelled “Why?”. It brought the house down.)(There is a reverence to authority! The next best substitute for deference?)

        I am an economist, all of us who seek reasons for human behavior are economists. Economics is all that there is to explain humans behavior. That, and sex. Sex is the unpublished, elephantine en roomy, part of economics. That is how I know that most all academic, published economists are full of s***. They don’t acknowledge the sex part. The stripper who blogs is a better micro economist than Krugman, Nordhaus, Freedman, etc. Sex workers know micro things and cheapskates when they see them.

        When I have time, I’ll support what you wish to see supported with reasoning. But not data. Data is for the young, those with excess time and energy. Old people retreat to reason.

        Seriously, I’ll parse Nordhaus and then comment on it.

        But to me, this sensitivity argument is something of a pinheaded argument. And a pointless one. Without regard to the warming consequence of continued world wide combustion, I cannot see how we rich and wise people of the world will compel the poor peoples of the world to leave extractable carbon in the ground, The poor peoples, each and every, see the easy lives that we live. Why would they forgo our comforts? They’ll say, ‘You’ve got yours, we’ll extract ours!’. So far as our sacrificial green renewable energy effort goes, it is all the better for them. We use less carbon > means more, and cheaper, carbon for their lives’ improvement. I’d like to see their lives improved, and I’ll give up some of mine, for them to do so. I directly give some now, and would allow the taking of a little from others like me, to improve the comfort of the world’s poor. But down at the bottom line, the world wide combustion quantity isn’t going to change, in any future that I can foresee!

      • Above is reply to Bart

      • is the word now count at the economical quantity?

      • Bart R,

        I’ve studied under economists far more prominent than Nordhaus, including Nobel prize winners and some of the biggest names in finance, so I don’t find his “authority” particularly impressive. I’ll concede that I only have a masters degree unlike Dr. Nordhaus, but I I’ll warrant that I have far more practical experience. I find Nordhaus’ rebuttals rather weak.

        One point he gets right is that in capital budgeting, higher uncertainty on a cost that is unlinked to revenue results in a higher (negative) NPV. This is the reverse of the standard situation where increased risk requires a higher discount rate. However, his extrapolation of this well known principle to climate and the rest of his argument is surprisingly poor. His comparison, for example, of Exxon funding dollars to Yale receipt dollars is a head-scratcher. You can’t meaningfully compare payers to recipients – it is an old trap and Nordhaus really should have known better.

        I find Nordhaus following statement (in his original paper) also puzzling: “The first problem is an elementary mistake in economic analysis. The authors cite the “benefit-to-cost ratio” to support their argument. Elementary cost-benefit and business economics teach that this is an incorrect criterion for selecting investments or policies. The appropriate criterion for decisions in this context is net benefits (that is, the difference between, and not the ratio of, benefits and costs).”

        I fear that Nordhaus is showing a lack of real business experience here. What he says is correct in a world unconstrained by capital. The real world doesn’t work that way and capital rationing is a major factor that those of us who make investment decisions have to respect. Benefit-to-cost ratios (or NPV per investment dollar) are not the only metric to consider and should not be considered in isolation, but they are very far from an elementary mistake. Again Nordhaus should have known better (and he seems to implicitly concede this point in his second rebuttal by ignoring the Lindzen et. al. response to this specific point). Rather embarrassingly, Lindzen shows that Nordhaus used the same metric in his own book.

        But ultimately, I agree with Judge Judy that real weakness in Nordhaus’ approach is his reliance on the zero and double zero argument. When you include what is essentially an unconstrained scenario, you get a meaningless economic answer. Nordhaus’ argument is really just an appeal to the precautionary principle.

      • estry | April 5, 2012 at 4:57 pm |

        Best commentary on Nordhaus’ arguments all thread.

        Not said explicitly in my spoof of Nordhaus v. Lindzen below, but one more reason the match was closer than it ought have been, when an Economics professor successfully engages a meteorologist while holding the weatherman to almost all Economic arguments.

        Who knows how much closer it may have been, had you been Lindzen’s corner man?

      • Bart R | April 4, 2012 at 9:34 pm,

        We’ll need at least 5 sterling professors (and 12 TA’s) to overturn the idea that five spins of a roulette wheel do not illustrate how multiple uncertainties interact, which in turn does not illustrate the potential catastrophes we face in future climate. Sorry, it is kind of old semi-revered math and I don’t make the rules.

        Until then we’ll just have to take weak arguments on their merits.

      • Bart,

        I had an offer to do a post-doc in econ after I got my Ph.D. in physics (should have taken it — I could have been one of those quants who got rich and helped wreck the financial system!).

        I know enough econ to be quite certain in pointing out that, to put it diplomatically, economics does not have anything like the firmly established results, confirmed by empirical tests and generally accepted in the field, that the natural sciences possess.

        To be less diplomatic, economics is closer to theology than to physics.

        Your “argument from authority” (Yale, Nobel, etc.) is stunningly weak in the case of econ.


      • physicistdave | April 5, 2012 at 5:50 am

        I’m entirely cool with shattering deference to authority in scholarship of any sort, as well as in general.

        It’s more or less my point.

        Last topic was Authority(?) in political debates involving science. This topic is a political debate involving science that shows no one yielding any advantage to authority, and that’s a good thing.

        Moreover, I say it’s par for the course, and illustrates yet again that scientists do not have much grease in determining political outcomes.

        Who does? The opportunists and operatives, lobbyists and contributors and rent-seekers who float around the seats of power.. proximity and face time are what matter in who determines outcomes of Policy. That’d be more marketers and philosophers than either hard or soft scientists, in the case of Washington DC.

        As Lindzen is the hard scientist and Nordhaus the soft scientist in this case, scientists don’t even determine scientific outcomes very much.

        Which also is a good thing. Predetermined science is just showmanship and flim flam. Lindzen and Nordhaus draw back the curtain a little in this exchange; if both of them help inform the thinking of each of them, and of the readers, it’d be nice of that happened more through reasoning than iteration of hardened positions and illegitimate argument.

        And while I’m not saying your characterization of Economics is entirely wrong.. though it may be a bit dated and blinkered.

        Thirty years ago there was more deference to scientific authority perhaps. At that time what you say of Econ may have been true. Economics today, in my experience of it largely because of the work of the likes of John Nash and not deference to their authority, is closer to Mathematics than Physics is, which now even in its mainstream touches nearer and nearer to Theology (where once only iron sun crackpots and perpetual motion thermodynamicists dwelt) the farther from the scale of the directly observable and more into the constructions of philosophers it goes.

        Economics today uses the scientific method ( more than ever before. The religious debates about loop quantum gravity vs. strings could be nailed to a door by Martin Luther. Economists are getting their hands dirty with actual data and real observations these days coming closer and closer to real time. Discourses on the mysteries of Dark Energy could sit side by side with Ouija boards. Economists are able to provide workable solutions to human-made issues. Steven Hawking’s conclusions about the creation of the universe are as closely followed by the Physics faithful as are the dogma of the Pope.

        I’m relieved many more people are checking Hawking’s math, and the rarified opinionation about Physics that can never be proven or disproven are also more and more being recognized for the arguments from authority they have become, leading to sometimes better arguments. Certainly better than iron suns and skydragon slaying.

        It wasn’t Economics that built the greath Cathedral of CERN. ;) Though dollar for dollar, it’s pretty sure few physicists yet can be blamed for squandering a fraction as much tax money as the average economist. But they were making progress that way for a while.

      • Bart,

        A big difference between the hard sciences and economics, that I see, is that the practice of science seldom needs compulsion of people. All the practice of economics in our history has as some level needed guns and prisons.

        In this argument, the economist hasn’t explained how he, and we, would compel people to forego using cheap fire to make themselves comfortable. International carbon trading maybe?(joke)

        You, me and he may value icecaps, what if the rest of the people don’t?

        All that I can see at present are industrial titans pocketing money for boondoggles like solar farms and electric windmills.

      • Bart,

        Your criticisms of some of the recent trends in physics is fair: fundamental physics has been starved for new experimental data in recent decades, and, yes, the result has been strong theorists, etc. spinning off into the nether regions, rather like theologians, or, dare I say it, economists.

        Nor will I challenge your quip aimed at CERN: although I, as a physicist, find CERN’s work entertaining (e.g., the recent discovery of the Higgs boson, the so-called “God particle”), I’d be hard put to explain why some poor working guy should be forced to pay taxes to support it!

        However, I have indeed followed the recent micro-empirical turn in economics: I am not impressed. The “empirical data” seem more like four-colour illustrations designed to trick the reader into believing in the a priori theories than like real scientific empiricism.

        At any rate, the large-scale models of the economy are most assuredly no better (maybe even worse!) than the GCMs. On that I trust, there can be no honest dissent.

        By the way kudos for following enough of the physics to be able to zap us physicists: as I said above, your criticisms in that direction are largely correct.


      • jim | April 5, 2012 at 1:45 pm |

        You’ve confused Economics with Republican Policy.

        No one needs a gun to convince two people to exchange goods on fair terms in the Market.

        If anything, they need guns to instill fear of taking away their rights in governments, and prisons to frighten corrupt politicians.

      • Bart, no confusion. Prisons and guns are needed to prevent the stronger person from taking all the goods from the weaker person. The threat of them is need to compel you to make your payroll deduction contribution to my income. ;-)

      • Bart R. wrote:
        >No one needs a gun to convince two people to exchange goods on fair terms in the Market.

        Ummm, Bart, I detect no lack of enthusiasm for the free market among the commenters on this blog! (An enthusiasm I am, indeed, inclined to share.)

        Even most of the scientific illiterates hereabouts do seem to grasp that, usually, government is, at best, an imperfect solution to problems.


      • Bart, ‘Economics in the Trenches 101a – Trade or crime?’

        Some economists recognize this: ‘Your Need and The Cost to Satisfy Your Need.’

        1) You need something, you make it yourself. Opportunity Cost vs direct cost of trade.

        2) You need something, you trade for it. Direct Cost of Trade vs opportunity cost .

        3) You need something, you steal it. Intangibles now. Likelyhood of getting caught x consequent outcome vs imaginary direct cost; ie you the criminal wouldn’t have payed anything at all, at any point, ever, ever.

        Economists vs the real world; several Secretaries of Labor who have never, never, actually employed an employee. Never actually calculated paycheck with holdings. Economist professors and writers who have never, never, never earned money from an employee, eg Krugman.
        Painful truth; an employer sells an employee’s labor, for a profit. Painful, unavoidable truth, how can it be otherwise?

      • physicistdave | April 5, 2012 at 5:43 pm |



        You give me far too much credit, and are too kind.

        Erm, I have credentials in Physics, too; enough to realize I don’t exactly cover myself in glory. Imagine my chagrin, to realize I’d misspelled Hawking’s name.

        It’d be great if Economics were better at what it does, and the scoundrels were hounded out of the field. Far more difficult work to be done there than in Physics, likely.

        Though I’m surprised to hear the four-color mapping so disparaged. It’s one of my favorite solutions.

  23. Nordhaus’s argument reminds me of a Yogi Berra story. He was driving to the Hall of Fame induction when he got lost in upstate New York looking for Cooperstown. One of the representatives for the ceremony got him on the phone and asked how long it would be before he arrived. Yogi responded, “we’re lost but we’re making good time”. Perhaps another Berra quote might be more appropriate here, “when you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

  24. In the climate case would that be “we’re lost but we’re making good money.” Time is money, after all.

    • +10!!

      ‘We’re not actually lost. We are making very good money!”

      • ie, We know where we are. We are here, could be anywhere at all, where we can make very good money.!

    • I asked directions once and the person said ‘I don’t think you can get there from here’. I’m starting to appreciate the deep truths in that remark : ).

  25. Negative Cloud Feedback
    The greatest uncertainties are reportedly in cloud feedbacks. Hoskins can only weakly say:

    Modelling and observational studies do not rule out the possibility of a negative cloud feedback, though most models suggest a weak to moderate positive cloud feedback (there is not a strong positive feedback in models as RSL insinuates).

    Now it appears that:
    Spencer’s posited 1-2% cloud cover variation found

    As climatologist Dr. Roy Spencer has pointed out his book,
    “The most obvious way for warming to be caused naturally is for small, natural fluctuations in the circulation patterns of the atmosphere and ocean to result in a 1% or 2% decrease in global cloud cover. Clouds are the Earth’s sunshade, and if cloud cover changes for any reason, you have global warming — or global cooling.”

    See: Ann. Geophys., 30, 573-582, 2012 doi:10.5194/angeo-30-573-2012
    Significant decreasing cloud cover during 1954–2005 due to more clear-sky days and less overcast days in China and its relation to aerosol
    X. Xia LAGEO, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100029, China

    Significant decline in cloud cover with trend of −1.6%per decade during 1954–2005 was derived.

    While this needs to be confirmed, this negative cloud feedback would appear to very seriously upset the global warming applecart giving direct major evidence against Hoskins and for Lindzen & Spencer.

    Uncertainties ignored
    In Proxy Science and Proxy pseudo science Pat Frank address the very high systematic uncertainties that are ignored in most proxy temperature papers. i.e., systematic (bias) uncertainties may be of similar magnitude to statistical uncertainties giving ~ 50% increase or more in total uncertainty, especially as the quantity of data increases.

    Very low benefit/cost
    Christopher Monckton and others provide strong evidence that global warming mitigation exhibits much higher costs and benefits. Consequently the best policy is to not insure.
    Why mitigating CO2 emissions is cost ineffective
    Monckton’s Slide Presentation to the California Assembly

    While Hoskins and Nordhause give highly emotional alarmist arguments, I find they do not quantify why we should insure when the benefits/costs are so low and the uncertainties so great.

    Ethical priorities
    When we consider the ethically critical issues of caring for the poor, the widows and orphans, then of the 30 largest humanitarian projects, global warming mitigation comes in dead last. See Copenhagen Consensus 2008.

    Transport fuels to sustain economies
    We have very strong reasons to focus on fuels to try to keep our economies afloat in the impending economic roller coaster. See Sam Foucher
    Analysis of Decline Rates
    Other than continuing the global alarmists’ gravy train, I see no reasons to spend massive funds on climate mitigation, and very strong reasons to invest in much higher priorities.

    • David,

      I agree. The co2 combat has been a lurch sideways for the real environmental movement. Banning fire won’t save species, restore habitat, remediate pollution damage, improve the condition of the third world poor, or make us any more wise and less profligate in our use of resources.

  26. peterdavies252

    Thanks Judith for introducing this topic. The level of debate on some of the central issues facing climate science has been most gratifying to read.

    In the words of Freeman Dyson the debate on AGW has been “a dialogue of the deaf” and as a result, very little common ground has been discovered.

    Thanks to all who have contributed to this thread so far.

  27. Roddy Campbell

    Can I just say that ‘Judge Judy’ is worth the price of admission alone. Without humour we are all lost anyway, and it encourages open conversation.

  28. Lady in Red

    Thank you, Judith Curry.

    Your “denizens” are awesome, interesting, compelling, thoughtful folk.

    I be running as fast as I can: the world will be better. Science will return…
    This is a beginning, possibly an important beginning…
    …Lady in Red

  29. Dr. Curry..

    More conventionally, one may allude to “parry and riposte”?

  30. I’m not impressed with the “Roulette Wheel” analogy, as the “Climate Wheel” has unusually large slots for certain outcomes and tiny slots for events that are very unlikely to happen. The likelihood of a 1C rise or fall in global temperatures is far from equal, and linking CO2 amelioration measures to temperature variations is fraught with peril, not the least of which are large economic consequences measured against CO2 changes that are borderline equivalent to normal noise in the data stream. Even Agung could only knock off a few ppm from the winter CO2 levels!

    Last but not least is an almost doubling leap in CO2 over the peaks of the last 4 interglacials while temperatures still have about 2C left before they catch up to those maxima. Yet climate panic has virtually set into concrete. I applaud Messrs. Lindzen, et al for keeping the concrete from curing around the feet of humankind and keeping us away from the edge of River Styx.

  31. Scoring Lindzen et al. vs. Nordhaus, Rounds 1-6

    (omitting the preliminaries, for the sake of time)

    Round 1

    The first point contorts the obvious fact that there has been no statistically significant warming for about the past fifteen years into a claim that we did not make: that there has been no warming over the past two centuries.

    Point to Nordhaus.

    We examine what Dr. Nordhaus actually said, and compare it to this claim.

    There was no contortion. There was context. These are not the same.

    The 16 claimed “well over 10 years”, Nordhaus clearly spoke to not getting lost in the tiniest details. Out of 200+ years, 15 years does come across as a tiny detail, and Lindzen as lost, complaining words were put into his mouth that occur nowhere in Nordhaus’ remarks.

    Professor Nordhaus proceeds to confuse this with the issue of attribution, i.e., the determination of what caused the warming. Attribution is a distinctly different matter. While there is much to contest in the published temperature records, there is general acceptance that there has been a net increase in global mean temperature similar to that shown in Professor Nordhaus’s first graph.

    Look for signs of confusion in Nordhaus. Lindzen fails to connect.

    Look for signe Nordhaus mentions attribution in Point 1. Lindsen fails to connect.

    Again, it appears Nordhaus is on the mark, and Lindzen misses the point. Twice.

    The prior two- to three-hundred-year period was much cooler and is known as the Little Ice Age, and, of course, a longer record would have shown still-earlier periods as warm or warmer than the present.

    As Nordhaus went back centuries, some latitude in allowing Lindzen a few more centuries is granted, but Nordhaus wisely showed relevance, relating his point back to the original claims clearly and succinctly..

    The observation that the last few years include some of the warmest years on record no more implies future warming than record stock market highs imply a steadily rising future market.

    Here, Lindzen blunders badly, stumbling blindly into territory where Nordhaus is a master and Lindzen is entirely unfamiliar. On the scale of centuries — which Lindzen extended to his peril — ‘steadily rising future market’ is axiomatic in Economics. Lindzen has argued against a tautology of his own choosing, and forfeits this point.

    The fact that warming has greatly slowed does imply that, at the least, there are other processes that are currently competitive with the impact of steadily increasing greenhouse gases.

    A point for Lindzen, and a point for Nordhaus en passant.

    Lindzen here acknowledges ‘currently competitive’ with the impact of steadily increasing greenhouse gases. His definition of ‘current’ appears to be on the scale of 15 years or so.

    Failing to counter, despite plentiful scope, Nordhaus on the connection of warming to GHG concentration, and acknowledging steadily increasing GHGs, Lindzen has trapped himself in the corner of “other processes are too small except in the short term” and “GHG’s are long term and increasing.”

    Round 1 to Nordhaus, 5:1

    • Bart B wrote:
      >On the scale of centuries — which Lindzen extended to his peril — ‘steadily rising future market’ is axiomatic in Economics.

      Hoo, boy! You just lost all credibility. You don’t know much about ancient and medieval economic history, do you?

      I take it that “axiomatic” means “demonstrably false, but we’ll see if we can get away with it anyway.”

      • physicistdave | April 5, 2012 at 5:55 am |

        No one knows much about ancient or medieval economic history; it’s a fiction to believe anyone does.

        Systems of barter and exchange, standards of welfare in city states run as much by superstition and brutality as by exchange of goods? These even have an objective econometric correlative?

        Talking about economic history prior to the dawn of fiat currency is like talking about planetary motion in the first second after the Big Bang.

        The axiom of the Market is that it grows. There’s a little dispute around the fringes of Economics about this (of which I’m glad), but it’s a given in discussion of the topic.

        As conditions of exchange near the ideals of a Free and Fair Market, economic efficiency drives optimal allocation of scarce resources and innovation to increase the wealth of the market as a whole. Whether it’s an accurate model of physical reality or not (obviously not), in the long term the market steadily rises, absent a catastrophe.

        Which Lindzen argues isn’t going to happen.

      • Bart R wrote to me:
        >Talking about economic history prior to the dawn of fiat currency is like talking about planetary motion in the first second after the Big Bang.

        So, nothing important happened before the creation of the Fed in 1913?

        Talk about temporal parochialism!

        Bart also wrote:
        >The axiom of the Market is that it grows. There’s a little dispute around the fringes of Economics about this (of which I’m glad), but it’s a given in discussion of the topic.

        Y’know, I like free markets. But, to call that an “axiom”… well, look at Japan’s experience in the ’90s. You seem to use the word “axiom” for what is usually called “wishful thinking.”

        Now, if you want to maintain that *totally* free markets, properly policed to avoid fraud, would be impressive engines of growth, then I am inclined to agree, though I would not call that an axiom. But, that is not the world we live in, and it seems to me that it would be nice for economists to pay at least a tiny bit of attention to the world we really do live in.

        Bart also wrote:
        >Systems of barter and exchange, standards of welfare in city states run as much by superstition and brutality as by exchange of goods? These even have an objective econometric correlative?

        Hmmm…. I’d say that “barter and exchange,” etc. ought to be what economics is about! To define economics simply as econometrics is like the GCM guys who want to define the climate as whatever their models predict: If reality disagrees with the models, let’s chuck reality.

        Perhaps, both in economics and in climatology, reality should have priority.


      • physicistdave | April 5, 2012 at 5:53 pm |

        I think we can both agree fiat currency predates 1913, which perhaps is closer an analogy to the birth of our planet in the subject of planetary motion, than to the very exciting time before there were planets or stars at all.

        Not that barter and exchanges without currency aren’t informative, or exciting to economists; however, when not being econometrists for a paycheck, most end up concerning themselves with utility and factors of production and centers of decision influence these days, now that we’ve gotten beyond lances, pikes, exorcism and trading a cows for magic beans.

        Speaking of, calling Japan up to the 1990’s anything like a Market economy is a bit of a fairy tale, so the axiom more applies in the converse: where the Market is too interfered with by the state or strong trusts, growth is stunted. I call this a win for my argument.

        Some economic systems perform at some levels how some Economics predicts. Imagining ourselves or any government wise enough to outguess the genius of the Fair Market is as big a failing as imagining we can fine-tune or outguess the climate.

        The best we can do knowing how little we ever can understand in that comutual field that Economics and Climate Physics intersect over is to privatize the carbon cycle per capita, price CO2 emission to the point of maximum return to the per capita owners, and let the Fair Market sort it all out.

      • Bart wrote to me:
        >I think we can both agree fiat currency predates 1913, which perhaps is closer an analogy to the birth of our planet in the subject of planetary motion, than to the very exciting time before there were planets or stars at all.

        Indeed — last I heard it was invented in Song dynasty China. But, it really got going as the dominant monetary system in the twentieth century. Its record is less than perfect.

        Bart also wrote:
        >Speaking of, calling Japan up to the 1990′s anything like a Market economy is a bit of a fairy tale, so the axiom more applies in the converse: where the Market is too interfered with by the state or strong trusts, growth is stunted. I call this a win for my argument.

        Well… not a *totally* free market, for sure! But, neither is any other economy on earth.

        Bart also wrote:
        >Imagining ourselves or any government wise enough to outguess the genius of the Fair Market is as big a failing as imagining we can fine-tune or outguess the climate.

        Oh, I’m a Hayekian in that respect — the “uses of knowledge in society,” and all that.


      • physicistdave | April 5, 2012 at 10:54 pm |

        See, now it’s starting to sound like we’re in good accord on most issues, and even thing somewhat alike.

        The safest thing for both of us is to reassess where we went wrong. :D

      • Bart R | April 5, 2012 at 11:41 am | Reply
        “standards of welfare in city states”
        Yep, those standards were “You build this wall and we’ll give you a little bread and water, otherwise …”

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        physicistdave, there is a much bigger reason Bart R’s commentary on that point is idiotic. Pay attention to what Lindzen says rather than Bart R’s misrepresentation.

        The observation that the last few years include some of the warmest years on record no more implies future warming than record stock market highs imply a steadily rising future market.

        Bart R claims a “rising future market” is axiomatic. This is irrelevant. Whether or not such was axiomatic is irrelevant. Whether or not it was true is irrelevant. Whether or not it is valid says nothing about whether or not it is implied by “record stock market highs.” Bart R acts as though Lindzen is arguing a point he never made. In other words, Bart R misrepresented Lindzen and created a straw man.

        Nevermind the misrepresentation around what “steadily” means.

      • Brandon, very good!

        The random walk, as exampled the sequential sum of a million coin flips, can deviate very far from 50%, very much farther than intuition allows.

      • Brandon Shollenberger | April 6, 2012 at 12:48 pm |

        In strict predicate logic, all axioms are implied by all true statements within the system.

        Lindzen’s statement is automatically an own-goal, in this sense.

        I understand what he _meant_ to say.

        He simply said it using an invalid parallel construction.

        He could have said, with some internal validity, ‘The observation that the last few years include some of the warmest years on record no more implies future warming than record prices of real estate or tulips imply a steadily rising future real estate or tulip price.’

        That was the matter of my quibble, as a logician. It’s something of a shibboleth, as anyone who doesn’t immediately recognize the reference is pretty clearly a poor student of formal logic.

        However, Lindzen would still be somewhat overstating his case; there are a number of practices on record, and at least one signal:noise argument published, deprecating practices that use spans of time less than 30, or 25, or 17 years for discussing climate trends.

        Nordhaus simply acknowledges this in referring to the entire temperature record, changing from a basis of simple linear trendology to a frequentist analysis, which is a valid method often used for examining data.

        Lindzen’s too narrow to disparage this valid alternative paradigm.

        Can it really be that Lindzen knows so little, not just of formal logic, but also of analysis of data?

    • If you are to score like a boxing match, you need to use the standard 10 point must system. The winner of a round gets 10 points and the other 0-9 points, if the round is a draw, both get 10 points.

      • bob droege | April 6, 2012 at 12:00 pm |

        Do you really believe the exchange worthy of spoofing by _accurate_ comparison to the sweet science?

        I believe we may all agree I’ve already done enough disservice to boxing.

        Also, my original intention had been to use fencing terms, to fit with the “parry and riposte” theme, but I got distracted.

      • Bart – Are you being paid to do this? If not, do you do anything other than post here? You are so prolific, I am just curious why.

      • He’s retired or unemployed, as are all the rest of us here

      • Jim2

        It’s simple courtesy to our host.

        What I lack in quality, I’m endeavoring to make up in quantity. ;)

        Truthfully, I’m beginning to suspect there’s something wrong with anyone who would post one tenth so compulsively to any blog. :D

      • The ‘A’ alternative left unwritten…

      • It is the ‘A’ alternative…

      • jim | April 9, 2012 at 11:21 pm |

        He’s retired or unemployed, as are all the rest of us here

        Sorry; wrong on all counts.

        A full and healthy family and social life, never blog from (full time) job, maintain regular exercise routine, part-time studies, and do charity work besides, as well as regular reading for enjoyment and some television watching.

        Technology, typing like a demon, Evelyn Wood, and neglecting to proof-read will do wonders.

        When I was an undergraduate, there was some speculation by fellow physics students about the Schwarzschild radius of the object in my brain responsible for the spontaneous .. well, let’s just say, it’s not a new habit, and related to why I pursued seven minor degrees back then.

        However, I’m not paid to post here, no.

        You may accept either that I lost a bet, or :D

      • It’s good to know this isn’t all you do. For me, life has intervened in my on-line ramblings.

  32. Climate models suck at predicting the future. Econometric models suck at predicting the future. Just how much does a model attempting to predict the effect of climate and climate policies on the economy suck?

    We don’t understand the climate enough to make long term predictions on climate. We don’t understand how the economy works enough to make long term predictions on the economy. Computer based phrenology is no basis for making critical decisions on policy in either field, let alone combined.

    I understand Lindzen is arguing that, even if you accept there is value in Nordhaus’s model predictions, his own results do not justify the policy he urges. But I think even engaging in the debate is counterproductive.

    Rather than explaining that Nordhaus doesn’t have any more of a clue about the economic future than darts thrown at a dartboard, we get long dissertations on the proper interpretation of his results. He who frames the debate, usually wins. Which is why I think it is a mistake to get lost in the weeds of arguing what the models show, rather than whether they should be given any weight in the debate at all.

    • Gary M wrote:
      >Econometric models suck at predicting the future.
      > We don’t understand how the economy works enough to make long term predictions on the economy.

      And, anyone who knows *anything* about economics is painfully aware of that

      I think we have now proven that Bart B. is playing some kind of game, maybe to measure how dumb some people can be!

  33. Round 2

    The second point concerns our observation that current computer climate models appear to exaggerate warming due to CO2. This bears on the critical issue of the climate sensitivity, the temperature rise for a doubling of atmospheric CO2.

    No points awarded to either side, failure to engage.

    Professor Nordhaus presents two graphs from the IPCC 2007 report2 that purport to show that without anthropogenic emissions, models successfully simulate the global mean temperature until about 1970 but cannot do so thereafter. This is the basis for the IPCC’s claim that it is likely that most of the warming over the past fifty years is due to man’s emissions.

    No points awarded to either side, failure to engage.

    Such a procedure absolutely requires that the model include correctly all other sources of variability.

    Point to Lindzen. Point to Nordhaus. While Lindzen slightly overstates ‘absolutely requires’, the many limitations of the models is a valid point.

    Yet Nordhaus is not refuted on his assertion that Lindzen et al simply misrepresented the model failures.

    However, the failure of the models to predict the hiatus in warming over the past fifteen years is acknowledged to indicate that this condition has not been met.3

    Point to Lindzen. Point to Nordhaus.

    People who ought know better clearly made silly gaffes in presenting the models, and this does not bode well overall about the IPCC that they have such poor presentation.

    Nordhaus, however, did allude to the fact in Round 1 of plentiful variability in the natural record; presence of a like hiatus in the past 15 years would only show model failure if models failed to exhibit any similar 15 year pauses or slowings.. which happen some 17 times in the various models over their 8 decade runs.

    Furthermore there is the embarrassing fact that the models do not reproduce the 1910–1940 warming, which is nearly identical to the 1970–2000 warming but occurred before man’s emissions became large enough to be considered important.

    Point to Lindzen.

    With respect to climate sensitivity, it should be noted that the IPCC referred to all of man’s emissions rather than just CO2. The reason is that without the cooling effect of aerosols formed from certain emissions, the models significantly overpredict warming from greenhouse gases. However, each model needed a different value for the aerosol cancellation.4 This lack of consistency means that aerosols were merely an adjustment factor to bring the models into agreement with the historical record, while preserving a high climate sensitivity.

    Point to Nordhaus. Introducing new material without precedent is allowable, of course, but it ought be accompanied by relevance to Nordhaus’ arguments, which simply does not materialize.

    Therefore, the claim that the models cannot account for post-1970 warming without including human emissions means nothing scientifically.

    Point to Nordhaus. Lindzen’s argument here does not have sufficient foundation for such certainty as Lindzen expresses.

    Point to Lindzen. His rally through Round 2 is substantive and brings him back into the match.

    Round 2 Final: Draw 4:4

  34. My final note …

    Tallbloke’s comment on the ‘Slayers’ …

    This is what Roger has just written yesterday …

    In the rush to condemn all things associated with ‘the Dragonslayers‘ some babies may have been thrown out with the bathwater. A lot of non-scientific baggage comes along with some of their members, and this has coloured people’s perceptions. However, because this is a site which sticks to discussing the science, and ‘censors’ off topic and inflammatory comment, we can dispassionately examine the scientific content without having discussion degenerate into a ruckus of noisy invective and insult. Last year on Judith Curry’s site ‘Climate Etc‘, this fate befell Joseph Postma’s paper on the greenhouse effect. It was a technical paper, and argument over its more controversial aspects and ‘slayer politics’ submerged its central point, as I noted at the time. Ulric Lyons has drawn my attention to a less technical paper by Joseph reiterating this central point which I think merit’s discussion.

    • Tallbloke isn’t entirely wrong.

      He’s a bit late to the party, if he just saw Postma’s graphic so lately or only now recognized that it has some potential as an analytical tool if cleaned up and properly applied, but it’s hard to fault him there either.

      The Skydragons threads are so impenetrably awful I feel like I need a shower any time I go near them.

      I say this having engaged in thread with Postma on that graphic and paper extensively before and after he wrote and posted it. It’s his best work, and he shows some promise. He’s dead wrong in his conclusions and premises, but he has a bit of a grasp of methodology that may help him out in time.

    • “My final note …”

      promises? pretty please!

  35. Round 3

    “The third point concerns our statement that CO2 is not a pollutant, that we were perhaps using a commonsense, dictionary definition of pollutant.

    Standing 8 count against Lindzen. Claiming commonsense, at this late date, in a Climate Change match is simply preposterous.

    The Oxford English Dictionary defines pollutant as “a polluting agent; esp. a noxious or poisonous substance which pollutes the environment.”

    A second standing eight count against Lindzen. Citing OED under the banner of “16 Scientists?” And only partially citing OED, omitting entries against his own interest?

    Point for Lindzen. Nordhaus _is_ too dismissive of plain-language definition. It’s the WSJ, not a classroom at Yale.

    Professor Nordhaus says, “The contention that CO2 is not a pollutant is a rhetorical device.” Rather he takes a 5–4 Supreme Court decision to be definitive. In fact, the Supreme Court majority did not rule CO2 a pollutant; it merely found that the Clean Air Act’s definition is so broad that CO2 falls under the statute, regardless of the facts of the matter.

    Point to Nordhaus. A Supreme Court ruling, even 5-4, even with stipulation that the Act’s definition is broad, is a very solid foundation.

    The concurrence of an economist (Richard Tol) is then taken as confirmation of the existence of specific externalities associated with CO2.

    Point to Nordhaus. A classical definition in Economics withstands dismissive handwaving, and is substantive and relevant; given the clarity of Nordhaus’ description, ‘rhetorical device’ misses the mark for Lindzen.

    We consider such references to be the real “rhetorical devices” because they obscure the key scientific issue: whether this critical component of the earth’s biosphere will cause significant and destructive global warming.”

    Point to Nordhaus. Point to Lindzen.

    While Lindzen is correct that this is a key scientific issue, it hardly makes him immune to the mauling Nordhaus has delivered unanswered in this round.

    Round 3 score: Nordhaus over Lindzen 5:2.

    • Bart, thanks, I disagree, but good fun none the less!

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        jim, I’d agree if not for the outright inanity of some of the things Bart R said. Reasonable disagreements are one thing, but Bart R goes far beyond the reasonable.

      • Brandon Shollenberger | April 5, 2012 at 2:57 am |

        Technically, it’s the literary device known as ‘mock heroic’, a type of parody or satire.



        Taking the Mickey out?

        Popping the balloon?

        Bursting the bubble?

        Irony is wasted on the young.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        I have no idea what you are referring to when you say “it’s.” Nothing you said has any bearing on my comment, so this seems to be you using a pronoun without an antecedent.

      • Brandon, real fight scores are exactly as Bart scores it. That’s why there are three judges. No tie scores. You can be one of the other judges…

        My thoughts are just as inane as Bart’s are. So there!

      • Bart,

        ‘Youth is wasted on the young’

        You can’t be old, if you got that wrong!

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        jim, the difference in scores from judges in boxing are almost always fairly small. You don’t see judges saying someone won 22-6 while others say it was a tied match or 11-15. You also don’t see judges simply make things up about what happened in a boxing match.

        Now then, I could post an overview/judgment of the debate if there is some interest. However, it would be quite different than pointing out the fabrications and nonsensical statements made by Bart R. I’m not sure which approach would be more desirable by people, assuming anyone would care about what I have to say.

        Come to think of it, I discusse4 Nordhaus’s first response on this very blog a while back. I wish I could find that.

      • Brandon, I’m on your side.

        But boxing scores are usually wildly erratic. And you do see the judges making-things-up in their scores.

        Like Ukrainian ice skating judges!

        But as I posted some where above or below on this thread, nothing we are talking about here will bother the most of the people who fill the rest of the world. They don’t care, for good or bad.

        My anger at the IPCC CGW crap is that is is derailing all of the good, making-things-better environmental efforts in the world. Sanctimonious carbon de-intensification is simply industrial rent seekers and eastern European criminals are stealing our money, and making the world environmental condition worse.

      • Brandon Shollenberger


        But boxing scores are usually wildly erratic. And you do see the judges making-things-up in their scores.

        Really? I don’t watch much boxing, but of the couple dozen matches I’ve seen, the scores were never different by much. Is it maybe different because I’ve only seen the “big name” fights?

      • Brandon,

        Yes, the big name ones are scored close, when the judges think that it could be a difficult walk, or run, out of the arena. Especially when it could be, or might be, a win by decision. A split decision is worst, only one judge has to escape. Being fastest is no matter, when you’re the only one running!

        Brandon, as a favor, tell me how you guys do the quote, italic, etc code in posts here. Is it html or a bb code?

        Thank you!

      • Brandon Shollenberger


        Yes, the big name ones are scored close, when the judges think that it could be a difficult walk, or run, out of the arena.

        Ah. That could my confusion then.

        Brandon, as a favor, tell me how you guys do the quote, italic, etc code in posts here. Is it html or a bb code?

        It’s HTML (quotes are done with the blockquote tag).

      • Brandon, thank you!

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        jim, glad to help!

      • jim | April 5, 2012 at 4:07 am |

        While I’m not so old as Oscar Wilde, I did intentionally misword the quote, to avoid deletion, yes.

  36. Round 4

    In another rhetorical flourish, Professor Nordhaus’s fourth point misrepresents us as claiming that “skeptical climate sci-entists are living under a reign of terror about their professional and personal livelihoods.” This reductio ad absurdum is inappropriate, but we observe that individuals like climate scientist James Hansen, environmental activist Robert Kennedy Jr., and economist Paul Krugman have characterized critics of climate alarm as “traitors to the planet.”

    Point to Lindzen. Discourtesy overlooked or excused ought not be tolerated.

    Point to Nordhaus. It was funny.

    We noted the systematic dismissal of editors who publish peer-reviewed papers questioning climate alarm, as well as the legitimate fears of untenured faculty whose promotions depend on publications and grant support. We note here that editors like Donald Kennedy at the prestigious Science magazine have publically declared their opposition to the publication of papers finding results in opposition to climate dogma.5

    Point to Lindzen.

    The Climategate e-mails6 specifically describe these tactics, and numerous examples are given in Lindzen (2012.)7 While defense of existing paradigms is normal in science, the present situation is clearly pathological in its imposition of conformity.

    Point to Lindzen. Climategate exhibited excesses of attitudes not in the best traditions of Science, and revealed that backstabbing and sniping of extremely unprofessional types were routine.

    We cannot speak to the situation in economics, but the notion that dissident voices and new theories are encouraged in climate science is downright silly, though Professor Nordhaus is correct to view such encouragement as critical to a healthy science.

    Point to Nordhaus. Judith Curry’s activism in encouraging dissident voices and new theories alone disproves Lindzen’s contention, so bright a star it is in Climate Science.

    Point to Nordhaus, admitted by Lindzen.

    Point to Lindzen. Recognized his limitations and stayed out of Economics this time.

    Unfortunately, the current situation in climate science is far from healthy. Professor Nordhaus contributes to this when he succumbs to the introduction of the false analogy with tobacco, and his call for political leaders to “be extremely vigilant to prevent pollution [sic] of the scientific process by the merchants of doubt” is not atypical of the current situation.

    Point Lindzen. Nordhaus had opportunities to deliver his case more strongly, and without exposing the vulnerabilities of the parts of Climate Science Nordhaus has been too high-minded to descend into himself, where Lindzen clearly has superior familiarity.

    Score: Lindzen edges up on Nordhaus, 3:5

  37. Round 5

    Regarding Professor Nordhaus’s fifth point that there is no evidence that money is at issue, we simply note that funding for climate science has expanded by a factor of 15 since the early 1990s, and that most of this funding would disappear with the absence of alarm.

    Point Nordhaus. Lindzen barely lifts his gloves except to flail wide of the mark. Nordhaus is sharp, focused, in his element and scores directly an uncontested blow that staggers the opposition.

    Climate alarmism has expanded into a hundred-billion-dollar industry far broader than just research. Economists are usually sensitive to the incentive structure, so it is curious that the overwhelming incentives to promote climate alarm are not a consideration to Professor Nordhaus.

    It would be refreshing were Lindzen to score a point against Nordhaus’ strengths, but again, Lindzen falls short here. If Lindzen did more than imagine the facts, he might have scored at least one telling hit here, but he fails to deliver on the promise shown last round.

    There are no remotely comparable incentives to the contrary position provided by the industries that he claims would be harmed by the policies he advocates.

    Lindzen again trips up badly. This is not just Nordhaus’ strong suite, but the fans’ favorite of Nordhaus’ side; they can see Lindzen’s real vulnerability here and the powerful body blow Nordhaus delivers shakes Lindzen’s side.

    Point Nordhaus.

    Round 5 Score: Nordhaus over Lindzen 3:0

    • Sorry. Clearly the passage above is my commentary, not Dr. Lindzen’s:

      “t would be refreshing were Lindzen to score a point against Nordhaus’ strengths, but again, Lindzen falls short here. If Lindzen did more than imagine the facts, he might have scored at least one telling hit here, but he fails to deliver on the promise shown last round.”

  38. Something confuses me about the Arctic summer temperatures discussion. It seems to me that large stretches of the Arctic such as Northern Alaska are essentially ice free during the summer. Under those conditions, it does seem to me that Lindzen is right about radiative balance determining the temperature. What am I missing?

    • The temperature profile slides in Lindzen’s briefing refer to the area above 80ºN. Northern Alaska reaches about 70ºN.

  39. Round Six.

    Knockout Nordhaus, first exchange of the round.

    Seriously, disputing the man about the interpretation of his own book?

    Lindzen is on the matt, and though he gets back to his feet to beat the eight count, and ought retire, he gamely hobbles on.

    “However, the major problem with the conclusions of CHL is that they ignore the perils of the climate-change uncertainties.”

    This is a knockout blow that Lindzen et al do not recover from. While shakey on other analyses, they are completely missing from the engagement on policies for coping with Uncertainty. This is Nordhaus’ turf, and if they were going to win the match they’d have to engage here.

    They fail.

    Round 6 Score: Nordhaus over Lindzen, Knockout.

    • No, the other judges may have scored it differently…

    • Actually if we aren’t allowed to dispute his book then he loses here with an “own goal”. From the 2007 version:

      “We cannot rule out the potential for catastrophic impacts that might overwhelm the billions and trillions of dollars of impacts and abatement costs. But fears about low-probability outcomes in the distant future – which
      are unlikely to be verified or refuted in the near future – should not impede our taking constructive steps to deal with the high-probability dangers that are upon us today. We should start with the clear-and-present dangers, after which we can turn to the unclear-and-distant threats.”

      So in his book he directs us to put aside “Abrupt and Catastrophic Climate Change”, and by so doing Lindzen et al hoist him on his own petard. When you do that the cost benefit analysis suggest little to favour action over inaction.

      • HAS | April 5, 2012 at 12:58 am |

        I greatly disparage argument from authority. It has been used and abused to great harm, and reflects mental laziness.

        However, if there is one case where it might be conceded – as there is little recourse to better method – it must be in the interpretation of the author’s own works.

        If you can construct arguments critical of a book internal to its own logic, that’s well and good. Where the author of the book steps in, provides a fulsome and extended explanation of the authoritative intention, and answers the criticisms, that’s a debate of whether the author was right or wrong.

        Where its purely a question of who interpreted what the author meant correctly and how to apply the author’s methods, that’s simply no contest.

        Except for this one case: Greedo definitely did not shoot first.

    • Bart,

      You have said such absurdly silly things about economics, as we have pointed out above, that the only people who will take you seriously are those who are 100 percent ignorant of economics.

    • Disagree Bart, uncertainty cuts both ways, with the number of green-tech businesses going under there is considerably more uncertainty in the Economic estimates than there is in the climate estimates. Economic “forcings” have unintended consequences.

      • capt. dallas 0.8 +/-0.2 | April 5, 2012 at 8:20 am |

        Uncertainty is symmetric, now?

        Green tech business ought go under at the same rate and for the same causes as any other business in its class. Where torpedoed by big-shouldered giants that don’t want the competition, or where state interference creates supply while simultaneously suppressing demand, it’s not uncertainty.. we can be more certain most green tech will fail under prevailing circumstances.

        The intentions of people who don’t know what they’re doing or don’t think of consequences are hardly the ones to be taken into account.

        And again, the reason for this added negative certainty is inversion of incentives. It is simple Tragedy of the Commons.

        But back to symmetric Uncertainty. Fascinating topic.

        Suppose we have 100 agricultural weather basins. They can have killing frost, killing heat, drought, fair conditions, or flood.

        Case 1A: Suppose perfect knowledge of which condition will happen over 50 years, for 25 basins. Farmers will build exactly the right long-term irrigation/retention/etc. structures and invest in exactly the most profitable arrangement of slow-return plants (like trees that take years to mature, eg).
        1B: another 25 basins have wide uncertainty of all conditions. Farmers must invest wastefully in both drought- and flood-proofed fields, and cannot risk as much on slow-return plantings. If at the end of 50 years any hazard didn’t occur, that insurance is wasted. That’s 5 opportunities to lose an investment.
        1C: For 25 basins suppose perfect knowledge of the coming 50 years that there will be no droughts and no killing heat. Farmers have uncertainty about floods and frosts, but need only insure against those specific risks. At the end, if no floods or frost, that insurance went to waste. 2 opportunities to lose an investment.
        1D: For 25 basins, only floods are uncertain. This requires the lowest cost to insure against the risk, with heavy investment in dykes and diversion, and optimal selection of plants and crop rotation, etc. If at the end of 50 years no floods happened at all, that insurance is wasted.

        Now suppose each measure could be opted into or out of each of the 50 years.

        Which case is most like symmetric uncertainty? Not 1A, there’s no cost to uncertainty at all. It’s 1D, either there will be a flood or not; there’s no additive, cumulative, or multiplicative effect of uncertainty involved. Symmetric uncertainty is the lowest cost kind. And it isn’t what we have.

        We have unsymmetric uncertainty, and climage change increases its cost.

      • Bart, the only reason we have confidence that future climate will be warmer is because of the reduced likelihood of a major glacial period which is because of anthropogenic climate change. Sometimes ya got to take the bad with the good.

      • capt. dallas 0.8 +/-0.2 | April 5, 2012 at 3:37 pm |

        As we’re not due for an ice age in the next 10,000 years or so, or any time CO2 is above 240-260 ppmv, anything we do right now to avoid one is just as good as expending a fire extinguisher when there’s no fire.

        It leaves our reserves depleted for when we may need them.

        How is that ‘the good’?

      • I think it was Branson said that during his Antarctic tour. Anyway, the timing of the next glacial depends on the wobble in our orbit which has decreased. Unbalanced glacial mass is supposed to cause the wobble. The glacial mass is reduced because of mankind’s agricultural and industrial endeavors. Less glacial mass, less wobble, more climate stability.

        BTW, land use is pretty amazing. Did you know that plowed land or over grazed pasture typically has a maximum soil temperature of 3 to 5 degrees C higher than low impact pasture or no till land? It also retains more moisture along with reducing erosion by both wind and rain.

        There is an impromptu science experiment in progress right now. Over 200 million acres of land in the western hemisphere has been converted to conservation agriculture. I have been a proponent of wetland restoration for a long time, I just never knew how much impact no till agriculture could have.

      • capt. dallas 0.8 +/-0.2 | April 5, 2012 at 5:32 pm |

        Land use is indeed a too-neglected topic, and so nuanced, complex and wicked as to need perhaps a blog all its own for every word in every climate blog on the Internet to give it coverage proportionate to its importance.

        However, wobble decrease is a tricky thing. I hardly foresee a top-heavy world where the average elevation of glaciers increases while that of liquid water finds its natural level more quickly as one that will over the long term wobble less.

        The Antarctic is likely millions of years from reducing its average elevation, no?

      • The Antarctic more like the point of the top stabilizing the spin. The northern hemisphere with large land areas for glaciation, the imbalance. The magnetic poles may be a good proxy for the imbalance.

        Which leads to the competing theory of magnetic field reversal as the cause of the glacial periods. But did the field reversal cause the glacial or did the glacial cause the field reversal?

      • capt. dallas 0.8 +/-0.2 | April 5, 2012 at 6:44 pm |

        Dude, look at any map. The South Pole is totally on the bottom.


        (For those who can’t tell, yes, this is a joke.)

    • Bart, my score of this thread: Bart against the rest – 11 points. The rest against Bart – 27 points. No musts or tries, deduction for floutlance and flauntulance. ;-)

      • (Don;t take it wrong; I score negative on flauntulance)

      • I’ll score this even…

        (I think my one is better than your two. Synergy is nowhere evident in this Faber food fight thread.. YMMV).

      • drat, ruined it again… above next one; “floutlance > floutulance”

        drang it and drats

      • jim | April 7, 2012 at 3:01 am |

        Just to confirm, 27 divided six ways is 4.5 each, putting me well more than double the average score of each of my opponents.

        I claim ironic, or perhaps pyrrhic, victory.

      • Divide 11 six ways…

        Statistics, a two way street.

      • “ironic” > the opposite of what was intended…. sorry ;-)

      • jim | April 8, 2012 at 10:53 pm |

        It’s a 16 lane superhighway.

        Divide 27 6! ways to represent each opportunity for synergistic partnership. That’s 1/16 earned by each opponent.

        By all means, play number games. :D

      • “By all means, play number games.”

        Who started the scoring numbers? Nordhaus?

      • Who started the mildly cutting, scoring, numbers?

        Tu plus tu equals who?

      • (wrong spot above: Out,out… for a new thread)

        I’ll score this even…

        (I think my one is greatter than your two. Synergy is nowhere evident in this Faber food fight thread.. YMMV).

  40. The limitation in thinking of the Climate Casino and a roulette game as the appropriate metaphor, a long time ago, Riverboat Gambles figured out the odds. Riverboat Gamblers made their bets on known odds, not chaos. For the Climate Casino game, the odds are not known, guessed at, believed and defended, but ultimately not known. Any bet is…a waste of money.

    For me however, the most important cost is opportunity lost cost. Spending money on something that won’t make a difference. Did I read correctly that an optimal policy in keeping CO2 emissions at current levels would result in a 0.1 degree mitigation in 50 years? Hmmm. As I recall 0.1 degrees now or a hundred years from now does not amount to a hill of beans.

    The opportunity lost cost needs just as prominent position as catastrophic costs, only I believe catastrophe is really an incalculable long shot.

  41. This final comment by Hoskins et al is relevant to the previous thread. This is typical of the scientists’ view.

    “It is up to policy makers, not scientists, to decide whether governments should take concerted mitigating action to try to reduce this risk. On this we do not comment.”

  42. peterdavies252

    A good exposition Bart. It seems that Lindzen has only won one round so far and is heading for an overall point loss. The weaknesses shown by both fighters would make a knockout result highly unlikely.

    • peterdavies252 | April 4, 2012 at 11:56 pm |

      It shouldn’t have been a knockout, but Lindzen made repeated tactical errors.

      Nordhaus kept bringing the match back into his own domain; where he kept Lindzen out of Lindzen’s melieu, he was successful.

      Nordhaus made us forget he wasn’t dealing with Lindzen on Lindzen’s turf; moreover, he made Lindzen forget it.

      While others might score it differently, Nordhaus’ technique is very good, and Lindzen’s appears to have gotten flabby in the echo chamber.

      It’s not so surprising; we’re pretty sure Lindzen hasn’t faced four decades of Yale-level sparring partners. MIT’s many excellent — and not a few outstanding — things, but it isn’t the shark tank Yale is that way.

      And Nordhaus is in the superheavyweight class. Lindzen’s.. just not.

      • ” And Nordhaus is in the superheavyweight class. Lindzen’s.. just not.”

        Agreed. So who will you put Nordhaus up against next? Who will you have him spar against?

        WRT challengers: Who do you see for a defense against? Keep your cards too close to your vest, and you won’t attract an opponent!

        Sub rosa, who do want to see against Nordhaus? I won’t tell!

      • jim

        I prefer to remain impartial.

        I don’t want to be seen as biased. :)

      • Really, between you and me, who is the big challenger? What’s his punch, policy or radiative transfer? What’s his reach, radiation is a very very long one… Carbon capitation is ED dysfunctionally short!

      • jim | April 5, 2012 at 4:18 am |

        While I can’t say what outcomes I’d expect, it’d be nice to see Nordhaus and McKitrick or a first rate Economist square off, to illuminate the Economics where Lindzen just couldn’t and didn’t.

        It’d be interesting to see Nordhaus debate McIntyre, too; that would be a chance to see some real artistry.

        Remembering, there is no _serious_ in such exchanges of opinions. They can only be taken with a grain of salt, valuable though they are to read and understand and consider. They’re not the science themselves, and can only inform about metascience, in that sense.

        So I revere them in the ancient form of spoof, and leave it to the reader to decide if they have a sense of humor.

  43. I personally don’t share Lindzen’s belief that a reliable cost benefit analysis can be constructed that justifies a do nothing approach.

    It seems like no one is considering that just as there might be a range of outcomes due to the sensitivity of climate forcing, there may also be a range as to what the opportunity costs might be for taking no action at all.

    Both Curry and Lindzen have a good understanding of the strengths and shortcomings of climate science. But they seem to discount the expertise of Nordhaus whose specialty is how to evaluate the economic impacts.

    • John Vetterling

      Actually Nordhaus’s own analysis shows that his “backstop” scenario is the most cost effective. It isn’t do nothing, more like the “no regrets” approach that Judith, Pielke Jr and other have advocated.

      All of the extreme responses have negative playoffs when discounted for the time value of goods.

      • John Vetterling | April 5, 2012 at 2:15 am |

        While I don’t disagree entirely with you, I’m more of Pythagoras’ view.

        “No regrets” approaches are well and good in theory, so far as they go, but the approaches so far as I’ve seen proposed by Curry and Pielke Jr. don’t add up to more than twenty percent or so of the effectiveness of for example straightforward privatization, which in itself is a tried and true no regrets approach.

        Worked for bandwidth in mobile phones. For television. Cable. Farmland..

        What’s the downside of privatizing the carbon cycle? I see no regrets.

      • What is “…privatizing the carbon cycle” ??

        What is it??

      • jim | April 7, 2012 at 3:13 am |

        The same as privatizing apples or cell phone bandwidth, food service in restaurants, or HBO.

    • As a scientist, I must ask: where is the evidence — real evidence, please, not just plaudits from his own social circle! — that Nordhaus has any real “expertise” in “how to evaluate the economic impacts.”

      As a physicist, I can point to physical devices I have designed/built that work very nicely to show I have some actual knowledge. What on earth can Nordhaus point to?

      Yeah, yeah — Yale, Nobel, etc. The guys who ran the Inquisition were socially respected, too.

      Where’s the beef?

      • I work as an engineer and in my job I require to consult with a variety of experts outside my own discipline–materials and process engineers, quality engineers, test and instrumentation technicians, etc. I’ve learned a long time ago that my expertise is limited to my own speciality. And where I have picked up some knowledge in other areas in my career, I know that my knowledge in these other areas is not deep knowledge.

        It is human nature to look at someone else’s job and de-value their efforts and to simplify the work that they do. Consequently, I’m pretty skeptical when scientists practice “economics without a license”. I think it is fair to challenge the economic methodology and to question the assumptions of any study whether it is economic or scientific. But in this entire global warming debate, I see too much of climate scientists weighing into the discussion in areas that they really aren’t qualified to evaluate. (Curry, frankly, has much more credibility when she sticks to the commentary on the hard science.)

        If you are a practicing climate scientist (or physicist for that matter), you don’t have the time to be an expert in your own discipline let along be an expert in how to evaluate the economic consequences.

      • Pythagoras wrote:
        >Consequently, I’m pretty skeptical when scientists practice “economics without a license”. I think it is fair to challenge the economic methodology and to question the assumptions of any study whether it is economic or scientific.

        Hmmm…. if we take seriously your point, only practicing astrologers can judge the quality of astrology, only practicing phrenologists can judge the truth of phrenology, only practicing “Aryan race scientists” can judge the validity of “Aryan race science,” etc.

        Anyone willing to spend a full day in a decent university library in the economics sections can confirm that there is almost nothing upon which economists generally agree. That is conclusive proof that economics lacks results that have the validity of science.

        Isn’t it possible that a guy like Nordhaus has bucked the trend and actually knows what he is talking about? Possible, but statistically unlikely. Therefore, one needs evidence. Otherwise, he is just the most popular phrenologist or astrologer in town: not very impressive.


    • Pythagoras
      Re Nordhaus’ expertise on cost/benefit, see Monckton:
      Why mitigating CO2 emissions is cost ineffective,
      Monckton’s Slide Presentation to the California Assembly, and
      Copenhagen Consensus 2008
      Everything else has a very much better benefit/cost than mitigating global warming. Even unrealistically low discount rates cannot rescue the argument. Those advocating mitigating global warming have an extremely high hurdle to jump to even be credible, regardless of honors.

  44. Judith wrote: “In the end, it seems to me that Nordhaus is justifying his argument based upon the possibility of truly catastrophic change on the timescale of a century.”

    That seems odd. Nordhaus points out that CHL base their argument on one possible outcome out of many, and he argues that all possibilities should be taken into account.

    i.e. CHL are guilty of (the inverse of) what you accuse Nordhaus of, it seems to me.

    • I can see you now – unable to move – taking all possible outcomes into account.

      It’s all about which possibilities (and it seems if it wins the argument – near impossibilities) you take into account, and how much weight you give to them.

      If you see what I mean.

      • HAS,

        I agree that the probability attached to the different outcomes should be taken into account. But my understanding is that Judith Curry doesn’t believe that comparative probabilities can be attached to different outcomes.

      • The science does not yet make it possible to know the probabilities. But, as you concede, any legitimate analysis of the sort you praise has to take the probabilities into account.

        Therefore, a legitimate analysis of this sort is really, truly not (yet) possible.

        The world is just like that.


        Dave Miller in Sacramento

      • A system in which the inflow of energy exceeds the outflow will probably warm up. That’s the case for the kettle on your stove as well as for the earth.

        That the earth will warm up in response to a positive energy imbalance is more likely than that it will cool down.

        Uncertainty is not the same as knowing nothing.

        Plus, uncertainty goes both ways.

        Plus, if the uncertainty range includes very bad outcomes (and esp if the damage function is convex, ), doing nothing is risky. What to do in response is a personal evaluative judgment of course, but making that judgment based on the logical fallacy of confusing uncertainty with ignorance seems unwise to me.

      • Bart April 6, 2012 at 3:49 am

        The thing about complex systems is that it is always worthwhile thinking about, dare I say it, the more complex system. The jug boils, the tea is made, ends up in everyone, giving a warm and contented feeling and the water (temporally) ends up at body temperature.

        I trust I don’t need to explain anymore than that.

        And on very bad outcomes these cut both ways. While you are worrying about the potential downside on climate sensitivities how much attention are you paying to meteorites? When it comes for a competition for scarce resources to mitigate very uncertain risks, it pays to have all such risks on the table. Otherwise you end up making trade-offs between very uncertain, very high cost events, and those that are very much less so on both accounts.

        Apples and pears is never easy.

      • David Wojick

        These are the subjective probabilities of inductive logic so there are no “the” probabilities. Probability here merely measures opinion, which in the climate case has a huge range. The concept is useless here. Objective probability is based on the distribution of outcomes in an infinite series of identical events. Subjective probabilities are just opinions. They are useful when opinions converge, but not when they diverge, as with the climate case.

      • David Wojick | April 5, 2012 at 9:04 am |

        “Subjective probabilities are just opinions”?

        How very pre-Bayesian that sounds.

        Isn’t it nearer to fact to say subjective probabilities represent beliefs in unknown probability distributions, which may be bounded and can be tested to establish confidence levels?

        While everyone ought agree pretending to more knowledge than observation and reason can provide is an error, isn’t it worse to pretend to less knowledge, too?

      • That depends on whether you are talking about knowledge of the real world or knowledge of opinions about it (they may converge at the extremes but they are sufficiently different that find it useful to distinguish between them in our discourse)

      • Succinctly put,. David W.

      • Can Nordhaus or anyone, anyone, else propose a do-able means to ban fire and combustion world wide?

        Absent that, all else is word play and number play.

    • Marlowe Johnson

      yes I think Judith has it exactly backwards.

  45. Joe Sixpack

    Thirty years of ‘professional’ climatology. Over $100 billion of Joe Public’s money spent

    And still we seem to be no nearer getting an answer to the basic question of ‘what is the climate sensitivity?’ than we were in Arrhenius’ day.

    I’m hard pushed to be persuaded that it hasn’t all been a complete waste of time and money.

    Can somebody convince me that they have a way of ever getting there? And an estimate of the future costs to do so?

    If not, why should we continue any of this ‘work’ at all? Times is hard, climatology is a complete waste of time and costs a fortune. Why not just stop it now?

    • Joe Sixpack. +100 Everything you say is absolutely spot on. There is no evidence for a climate sensitivity that is distinguishable from zero.

      • Joe Sixpack

        On reflection, it is even worse than I thought.

        Is there *anything at all* that we know now that we didn’t know before we spent $100 billion?

        Lots of ‘in my opinion’ and ‘indications are consistent with’, but no actual hard knowledge that I can think of. Even the most basic idea…that increasing CO2 in the global atmosphere necessarily leads to increased global temperature has never been actually demonstrated to be true.

        We have an entire ‘scientific’ field with not even a firm grounding in basic experiment and observation. What a scandalous waste of effort. Close it down now and spend the money on something useful.

      • Joe, It is even worse than that. The modern data that we have acquired over the last 30 years or so since the satellite era, shows conclusively that there is no CO2 signal in the data. Despite the fact that CO2 levels are rising at an unprecedented rate, the observed data shows that this is having no discernable effect on global temperatures. We can easily detect a signal +0.06 C per decade from unknown causes, but we cannot find a signal of +0.2 C per decade from CO2. The only sensible conclusion that we can comne to is that the actual climate sensitivity of adding CO2 to the atmosphere from current levels is indistinguishable from zero.

      • Bob Ludwick

        @ Joe Sixpack. You said: “We have an entire ‘scientific’ field with not even a firm grounding in basic experiment and observation.”

        Of course not; the entire ‘scientific field’ is based on an axiom: The planet is warming rapidly, at an increasing rate, as a result of the injection of CO2 into the atmosphere as a byproduct of mankind’s use of combustion as its primary energy source. The consequences of this warming range from undesirable to catastrophic and can only be ameliorated by establishing a worldwide government with absolute control over all aspects of energy production and consumption.

        Climate data is collected, analyzed, and disseminated by ‘climate scientists’ in support of the prime axiom. Experiments, observations, or opinions that cast doubt on the prime axiom are instantly attacked by the ‘climate scientists’; any scientists who question it are attacked personally and professionally. There is widespread opinion at the pointy end of the ‘climate science pyramid’ that questioning the prime axiom should be criminalized.

        Climate science may be a lot of things; scientific isn’t one of them.

      • And it’s wishful thinking to think that someday Climate Science is going voluntarily move off the Big Lie Not a chance in hell.


      • Climate science can blame policy, and policy can blame science. The power of this ironic, unholy, alliance will win through to victory, or damn both parties to less relevance than they would have had otherwise.

      • A black-flagged pyrhhate victory. A blindered, eye-patched, victory, much less than they could have been contending.

      • “I coudda beena contenda!”

      • They coudda beena contenda’s

      • Yep. Think what they could have done had they followed science instead of yielding to the influence of politicians, the money men. Sit on the waterfront long enough, you’ll see the bodies of your enemies float & flutter by.

      • Example: Gleick blows-up his carer and AG Warmism to reveal the Heartland boogeymen are funded by the Power Strip Industry.

        So very much lost for such little gained. Churchillian heroism in reverse.

        That’s what Brando was, Churchill in reverse! First time I noticed that…

      • On the Climate Front.

      • Yea, it’s not “On the Weather Front”

        ‘Climate isn’t water’, or something sounds like that…

      • ‘Warming isn’t water (vapor)’

      • Formalizing Brando and heroes in a quantun theory: Brando is the anti-person (the anti-particle) of Churchill, Brando is an actor-particle hole in the Dirac sea of heroes.

        I’ve theoretically explained Hollywood! For every real hero that’s created in the world, a virtual person, empty quantum hole anti-hero is created in Hollywood.

        Orwell said of a not-even-a-stuffed-shirt politician, “…he’s a hole in the air.” Quantum Political Dynamics explains politicians as anti-persons, anti-hero holes in a Dirac-like sea of heroism.

      • I think you’ve got it.

  46. It is clear now that the expectation of AGW is a false illusion due to technical errors collectively committed by climate scientists. Two most fatal ones are comprehensively briefed below:

    1) False assumption of a black-body earth surface
    Thermal radiation energy per unit time and unit area the Earth emits into space is written as ε σT^4, where T is the mean temperature of the earth surface, and σ the Stefan-Boltzmann constant. The symbol ε denotes emissivity which has a value between 0 and 1; 0 is for white and transparent bodies, and 1 for black bodies. Most substances are grey bodies with 0 < ε < 1. In current climate research, ε is either missing or asserted to be a unit, implying a black-body earth surface. Truly this is illogically wrong.

    2) Omission of the thermal emission property of CO2
    We all know that CO2 absorbs significant amount of earth’s outgoing radiation. However, this is only half of the story for CO2. According to the Kirchhoff’s law of 19th century physics, an object that absorbs emits. As a result of emission of thermal radiation, CO2 is cooler than, gains heat by molecular collision from, and dissipates heat by radiation for nitrogen and oxygen. It is N2 and O2 that award the Earth a warm liveable atmosphere.

    • peterdavies252

      This is very interesting Jinan Cao. What you are saying is that the GCM’s are not parametized correctly for thermal radiation and for the cooling effect of CO2 emissions as opposed to the warming effects of N2 and O2 radiation?

      In the absence of codes yet to be provided by the GC modellers for effective verification and review by their scientific peers, we all must continue to guess what parameters have actually been used.

      • What’s with these people with SFB coming out of Australia?
        Are they given a list of robotic talking points from some ministry?

      • peterdavies252

        We of the antipodes have a lot of catching up to do before we may finally achieve the level of enlightenment attained by certain superior beings in the NH. ;)

      • Again this is a violation of blog rules. Judith I refuse to put up with this constant niggling rubbish. Contentless rubbish from a discredited climate extremist. Continuing in this vain is pointless – for different reasons than Chris expresses below. More to do with arrogance and a silly information deficit assumption. That it comes from from those with little knowledge, curiosity or wonder.

        BTW – including emissivity in SB for a grey body? Yes – what’s the problem. But emmissivity is also variable with albedo – clouds in the short term. That oxygen and nitrogen are a store of kinetic energy in the atmosphere. Yes.

        In most of the discussion here emissivity is assumed to be black body. It certainly isn’t in more accurate charcterisation. But if you make assumptions a
        constant albedo it is certainly wrong as well.

        Judith – please step up the moderation o I for ine will not be returning for much longer.

        Robert I Ellison

      • …or I for one…whatever

      • @ Captain Kangaroo | April 5, 2012 at 9:00 pm said: Judith – please step up the moderation o I for ine will not be returning for much longer.

        Attention PLEASE: most of Australians are not sissy like those two blokes. Them two are getting irritated by the American freedom of speech. They are used in Australia; agree with what they say, or be silenced. Thanks to the Australian national broadcaster ABC & SBS; the most politically corrupt /ideologically driven media, south of Pyongyang.

        They are stuck into: albedo, positive . negative forcing, radiation crap up to their eyebrows; but cannot see what is happening in OZ, because of bigots like them. 1] the green leader in the senate made himself a name, by preventing hydro-electric dam to be built (to blame CO2), because dams improve the climate. That hydro dam would have produced more electricity than all the stupid solar panels on the planet. Since then, no dam was built on the driest continent on the planet.

        Smallest continent, surrounded by the biggest water on the planet, 3 oceans, and is the driest; because clouds from the sea avoid dry lands as cars around traffic island. Those clouds, when get in – improve the climate. When finally get in; because of no permanent moisture inland, essential bacteria in the soil dead = soil doesn’t absorb / retain moisture = flash devastating floods. It’s illegal to save stormwater on the land + are repossessing farmer’s water to drain in the estuary. For billions of dollars in every capital city has being built desalination plant – to desalinate that same stormwater after it mixes with the seawater. If you visit Brisbane, capital of the tourist state – you will be drinking filtered sewage water. Instead of building another dam upstream, to save water for dry days – they had full dam of water the day Brisbane started getting flooded – when the flood finished, was less water in the dam. Instead of opening the floodgates before the flood, close them during the flood – they did the opposite, to prove that dams are useless. Billions of dollars damages, people drowned, because they don’t know what the name ‘’floodgates’’ means.

        Our two Primadonnas + the ‘’chief hydrologist’’ cannot see that inland Australia 2/3 of the continent is no tree to be seen; ON SAME LATITUDE in Brazil is beautiful rainforest. Those rivers are filling Amazon river; on same latitude in Australia; first floods, then dry river beads for 4-5 months every year – same ‘’albedo, negative / positive forcing, same sunspots and radiation’’. Billion of protected birds / animals die from dehydration, people scorched in bushfires. Not because is too much CO2 around Detroit and Stuttgart – but because the dry heat from inland is vacuuming all the moisture for the previous 10 months. Dams decrease evaporation, attract extra clouds from the sea in dry months.

        Because of the spinning of the planet eastwards, Australian dry heat goes west into the Indian ocean. The warmest ocean is constantly clear sky as map of Australia, just west, because Australian dry heat is destroying those clouds – that affects the Indonesian archipelago from Port Moresby to Sumatra. Part of that moisture belongs for replenishing the ice on Antarctic and the waters around. For 8-9 months from Antarctic blow cold winds north ‘’highs’’ – to avoid vacuum – air from Indian ocean goes to Antarctic – by freeze-drying is replenishing the ice that is constantly melted from below, by the geothermal heat; plus on the water around Antarctic. Not much, when Australian dry heat has destroyed that moisture when was created in Indian ocean. The ice on the water is insulating the warmwater that currents bring from the north, from the unlimited winter coldness in the air. Under that ice in the water krill / plankton is shielded; less ice = less shield. The morons threaten that the phony GLOBAL warming will melt the ice; on Antarctic average temp is minus -33C, that is twice as cold than in your deep freezer. B] there is permanent ice far north in New Zealand and Patagonia; but needs logic, to know that: amount of ice on the polar caps depend only on the amount of raw material in the air available to replenish it every season, not on bloody temperature. Polar caps have enough coldness, to make another 7-8km new ice on the top of the existing – if it was enough moisture. Australians are repossessing farmer’s water to drain in the estuary – more dry heat for bigger bushfires and to destroy the moisture above the surrounding waters. I don’t know what offended them, but if all Australians people know what is on my website, those 3 bigots would have being taken for treason.
        Happy Easter from Australia, to everybody on the whole non-warming globe!!!

      • Yes.
        From the input and output, we do have some clue about how the codes are organised in those GCMs. If one has studied Figure 2 in “Atmospheric CO2: Principal Control Knob Governing Earth’s Temperature” (by A. Lacis and G. A. Schmidt et al., Science, page 356-359, Oct. 2010), one may found that the first physical principle of CO2 has been incorrectly incorporated in the codes.

        If you are familiar with computer simulation, you would know how “Variables” are vital. In current GCMs, radiative gases, e.g. CO2, are thought to have the same temperature as N2 and O2 in air, so it is one variable (ref. Figure 1, R.Pierrhumbert “Infrared Radiation and Planetary Temperature” Physics Today, page33-38, 2011). But actually it should be two (or more) different variables due to different radiative nature.

      • Jinan Cao wrote:
        >In current GCMs, radiative gases, e.g. CO2, are thought to have the same temperature as N2 and O2 in air, so it is one variable

        Well, Jinan, I am a physicist. *I* certainly would expect CO2 to have the same temp as N2 and O2, simply because the average time between collisions is awfully short. It should all equilibrate very, very rapidly.

        My intuition might of course be wrong (wouldn’t be the first time!). Have you done any detailed calculations (or experiments) indicating that what we scientists would expect is in fact wrong?

        If not, you are going to have trouble getting us to take you seriously.

        Dave Miller in Sacramento

      • PhysicistDave;
        Sure, heat exchange between N2O2 and CO2 by molecular collision is rapid; but heat emission by CO2 to space is equally rapid. Calculations show it takes less than a micro second for CO2 to drop 1°C by radiation when it is at 15°C.

        We all know that air is a good insulator. Please do not confuse heat exchange rate with parameters such as the mean free path of air molecules, which is related but not equal. Also, the heat exchange rate by molecular collision decreases as air pressure decreases with altitude. But most importantly, one shall compare the CO2 temperatures as detected by outgoing radiation spectroscopy with the temperature-altitude profile.

      • Jinan Cao wrote:
        >Sure, heat exchange between N2O2 and CO2 by molecular collision is rapid; but heat emission by CO2 to space is equally rapid. Calculations show it takes less than a micro second for CO2 to drop 1°C by radiation when it is at 15°C.

        Well, Jinan, you seem to be saying that CO2 mixed in with other gases is *always* significantly cooler than the other gases. Is that your claim?

        If it is your claim, I suggest you try to take it up with atmospheric physicists. Perhaps, you could get Lindzen or Judith to engage you on this. I can only say that I will be surprised if they do not punch holes in your analysis. I’d be awfully surprised if the very basic stuff everyone is taught in intro p-chem is wrong.

        But, I’ll defer to the atmospheric guys on this.


      • PhysicistDave:
        CO2 absorbs radiation from the earth ground surface on one hand, it emits on the other. The energy absorbed is only enough for CO2 to emit at a very low temperature. CO2 gains further energy from N2 and O2 by molecular collision, which cools off N2 and O2 and warms up CO2. Note that N2 and O2 do not have any mechanism to dissipate heat if there is no help from radiative gases.

        Gases are well mixed in the atmosphere. Air flow and molecular collisions tend to homogenise the temperature of different gases; however, radiative absorption and emission tend to differentiate it. Depending on the source of radiation, the absorption and emission properties, pressure and temperature, gases in the atmosphere could have different temperatures from each other.

        If you change an angle to re-consider these things, you may not surprise any more.

    • Jinan, I agree 99%. CO2 enhances the “forth-radiation” and thereby cools the atmosphere. Don’t tell the warmists – they will become coolists.

      • In the paleo, CO2 rise always precedes temperature fall, but by nothing so tidy as an average of 800 years as does CO2’s rise follow a temperature rise.

    • If there is a serious scientific disagreement, the right thing to do is to have a “shootout” in a science (physics in this case) lab. Don’t physicists do experiments any more????

    • I don’t see the point anymore, since this entire blog has become dominated by “self-educated” people who think they have some sort of hidden knowledge without ever cracking a climatology textbook or reading scientific papers. To be blunt, half the people here are just idiots.

      The argument by Jinan is just plain wrong. There are many papers investigating surface property emissivities, but in any case, it’s precisely because the Earth has a greenhouse effect that its bulk planetary emissivity deviates so much from one (for a bare rock it would be extremely close to one). There’s also many databases where you can get information on the reflectance or emissivity spectra of different surfaces, and this plays a critical role in remote sensing analysis for example.

      • Do we need to go digging in the history of science to find “self-educated” people who challenged the “scientific wisdom”, who didn’t turn out to be “idiots”?

        Fortunately, science has a method for determining what is science and what isn’t.

      • blouis79 wrote:
        >Do we need to go digging in the history of science to find “self-educated” people who challenged the “scientific wisdom”, who didn’t turn out to be “idiots”?

        Yes, you do. It is very rare, almost unheard of, in fields such as physics in recent decades. We have pretty much picked the “low-hanging fruit” in the sense that we now understand very well the things that an uneducated amateur (say, a Ben Franklin) might have stumbled upon in previous generations.

        Yes, I can think of no case whatsoever in which an uneducated person (i.e., not at least a grad student) has made a serious contribution to fundamental physics or math in the last four decades. It really is not happening anymore.


      • physicistdave | April 8, 2012 at 2:41 am |

        While I’m not claiming it’s a ‘serious’ contribution, not a few names of phenomena and objects were volunteered by nonphysicists.

        James Joyce coined the word ‘quark’?

        Google, more a term of numerical curiousity, was suggested by a small child.

        And I recall one particularly nasty rumor about why Top and Bottom stopped being called Truth and Beauty.. But that’s no doubt a myth.

        More interesting, several crowdsourced projects have resulted in such minor curiousities as Hanny’s Voorwerp and the like.

      • Anyone who looks though blouis79’s link will see that it supports my point: lots of examples from before 1900 (including, not surprisingly, the example I gave above, Ben Franklin), but no examples in fundamental physics or math in the last four decades. If there are any at all, they are certainly few in number.

      • Four decades isn’t that long ago, certainly not pre-1900. Are you referring to ?

        The point actually was that properly educated and trained scientists do not have a monopoly on scientific knowledge. Others are not necessarily “idiots” just because they have no formal training.

      • blouis79 wrote to me:
        >The point actually was that properly educated and trained scientists do not have a monopoly on scientific knowledge. Others are not necessarily “idiots” just because they have no formal training.

        I’m afraid that science is now complicated enough that, yes, in the last half century or so when non-scientists claimed to have found a fundamental error in well-established scientific principles, they have pretty much always turned out to be wrong.

        This was not true a couple hundred years ago, as your wikipedia article shows. And, it does not mean scientists are unimpeachable by non-scientists when they fail to apply the scientific method to check new, recent results (cold fusion, the GCMs., etc.). And, of course, when scientists go beyond science to talk politics, philosophy, etc., they are as open to error as the next guy.

        But, if you or anyone else can point to a single case of a non-scientist since 1950 showing that a basic, well-established principle of science was wrong, well, I would certainly be interested to see the example.


      • So you didn’t comment on the Mpemba effect. But if anyone asked you which would freeze sooner, a warm or cool ice cream, and answer from physics would be rather obvious…the cool one obviously.

      • Chris there are quite a few people that have issues with the estimates of emissivity because it is fairly complex. Not that the albedo of objects is not fairly easy, but the rate of absorption versus the rate of emission varies. The ocean has an albedo very nearly one, however, 10 percent of the energy absorbed is below one meter, so the emission of that energy is delayed by the thermal properties of the ocean which vary with surface wind velocity. It is not a slam dunk, “there ya see dummy!” kind of explanation. If the change in TOA emissivity were larger, then it would be a slam dunk, but we are talking about 0.609 to 0.602 depending on the initial conditions you choose. So a tolerance of +/- 0.001 could be a +/- 14% error. When the accuracy of the direct measurement of TOA flux imbalance is greater than +/-1 Wm-2, that is a 25% error range for the 3.7Wm-2 change in forcing for the full doubling of CO2. Trenberth and Keihl estimated the imbalance at ~0.9Wm-2 where the more current estimate is 0.5Wm-2, nearly a 50% margin of error.

        I am thrilled that you have such great confidence while faced with the inability to prove your point, but there is significant uncertainty.

        BTW, the obvious errors in the K&T energy budgets did not serve to instill confidence in the majority of people that objectively read them. Missing 20Wm-2 is not exactly stellar science.

        Even people that are not self educated have issues,

      • capt. dallas wrote:
        >Chris there are quite a few people that have issues with the estimates of emissivity because it is fairly complex.

        Indeed. And, a lot of us who are scientifically educated (including, notably, our hostess) have pointed to many of those complexities.

        But, Chris is correct that a number of people here are using arguments that would (or should, if not for the mercy of the teacher!) cause a student to flunk a frosh physics (or even high-school physics) class.

        Personally, I find such posters of sociological and psychological interest, as data points for research in abnormal psychology.

        But, scientifically speaking, they are morons.


      • OTOH, anyone who claims to be able to predict the consequences of x degrees of warming is a moron of a different kind.

      • PhysicistDave said, “But, scientifically speaking, they are morons.”, Most likely, then the number of morons is directly proportional to the complexity of the problem.

        “It has been my experience that competency in mathematics, both in numerical manipulations and in understanding its conceptual foundations, enhances a person’s ability to handle the more ambiguous and qualitative relationships that dominate our day-to-day financial decision-making.” Alan Greenspan (pre mortgage finance collapse)

        “Looks like we missed that one.” post mortgage finance collapse

        One of the biggest issues is the communication of the GHG effect.. The “all things remaining equal” should indicate to the non-morons that the estimates are based on perfection, a Carnot GHE engine if you will. Since perfection cannot be obtained, the 1.5C for doubling of CO2 is unlikely to be obtained and the 2x water vapor multiplier also unlikely. So perfection is used as a base estimate and it is multiplied to show uncertainty with an nice fat tail. The true sensitivity appears to be less than estimated, imagine that?

      • And then there was the sad tale of Long Term Capital, a hedge fund peopled by Nobel Prize winners. Like so many other brainiacs, they too had to be bailed out with our tax payer money.

        When it comes to the economy and climate science, everyone is a moron, whether they realize it or not.

        Look at today’s unemployment numbers. After almost 4 years of deficit spending the economy is still sucking wind. Academics with impressive credentials support deficit spending, but there are equally impressive people that take the other side of that argument. Morons, every one.

      • Jim2 wrote to me:
        >And then there was the sad tale of Long Term Capital, a hedge fund peopled by Nobel Prize winners. Like so many other brainiacs, they too had to be bailed out with our tax payer money.

        Economists, not scientists. My opinion of Black (of “Black-Scholes” fame) is particularly low.

        Jim2 also wrote:
        >When it comes to the economy and climate science, everyone is a moron, whether they realize it or not.

        I think you have a valid point there.


      • Chris,
        Do you mean that because there is a greenhouse effect, the emissivity of earth surface is not 1; otherwise, it would?

      • philjourdan

        Why is it that alarmists always have to stoop to ad hominems when discussing AGW? Clearly they serve no scientific purpose, the sole purpose being to try to intimidate the opposition into silence.

        Before calling others idiots, it is best to look at your own fallacies and foibles.

      • Well Chris, could you give us a talk through of each of the numbers in the ‘Trenberth and Keihl’ style Energy Budgets that you are reliant on?

        Could you tell me where in the atmosphere we have a band of gas that emits 324 w/m2 downwards and 165 W/m2 upwards.

        Just give us a convincing talk through Chris, and we will bow like supplicants to your sagacity.

      • Coming soon is a new way of approaching this kind of analysis with error bars (Graeme Stephens, personal communication)

      • Chris

        Your grasp of historical climatology -which would enable you to put things into context- has always seemed rather shaky to me. So perhaps your education in climate science-a very broad discipline not confined to radiative physics-is not yet as complete as you seem to think?

        A little humility would go a long way or are you practising to be Sheldon?


        For recognition, as the most dedicated ‘’researcher’’ on the sandpit; Tony rightfully deserves ‘’the Wet Diapers Award, congratulation Tony! From monitoring the temperature in the bucket, he can get more GLOBAL warmings than any other toddler. He admits that: it’s not the most reliable; but he is proceeding, anyway. He suspects that: if he gets off the sandpit, his daddy may tell him that; Atlantic at that time probably had more than one bucketful of water, maybe even 2,5 bucketfuls – and if that half bucketful had different temperature, may not be a reliable data…? When is windy / ruff water for couple of hours, more water evaporates – evaporation is cooling process – surface water cools by 2-3C… but because only water from the surface evaporates – below the temperature doesn’t change; irrelevant for our best ‘’researcher’’ It’s important for him to muddy the water; people not to discover that is NO such a thing as GLOBAL warming. Last weekend I was here on the Barrier Reef, snorkeling. In 10 feet radius, there were at least 3 different temperatures.

        A drunken sailor filling the bucket with surface water for Tony, wasn’t able to know if below the surface is 5mm of water at 18C and 500m of water at 16C; or was it 500m of water at 16C and 6mm of 18C… If the next day that drunken sailor filed up the bucket from where the dolphin urinated – in that pool of water was 5C warmer = Tony will declare GLOBAL warming for that day by 5C, what a marvelous science. The dolphin didn’t urinate on the WHOLE globe; but the naughty, naughty dolphin did wet Tony’s diapers, Tony didn’t do it!!! So, everybody give a big applause to Tony, for the award!

        Billions off taxpayer’s dollars are squandered on similar ‘’researches’’ … that’s why more GLOBAL warmings are in the Fake Skeptic’s camp, than you can’t poke as stick in it; to discredit Warmist lie of GLOBAL warming in a 100y, with their bucketfuls of GLOBAL warmings in the past… Congratulation for the good job, Tony! Al Gore, Hansen love ‘’researchers’’ like you and Vukcevic… to keep the misleading propaganda alive.

        Because water vapor suppose to be a GLOBAL warming gas (declared by the propagandist from both camps) dams are built no more; dams produce extra water vapour. The 2 examples I gave before, to mention again: 1] in Australia 170 people burned in one bushfire; not because is too much CO2 around Kyoto city and too much water vapor in Brazil; but because for the previous 11months, the dry heat from inland was vacuuming the moisture from the vegetation in Victoria. 2] in Pakistan the flood did lots of damages; because is no dams upstream, to regulate the water. B] if that water was saved in dams – used for hydro-electricity and irrigation – would have being much more water vapor – would have gone west to the Horn of Africa and prevented drought and starvation. It’s hard to say: stefanthedenier has proven that warmings / coolings are NEVER GLOBAL. Less water on the land and in the atmosphere = hotter days / colder nights; that’s not GLOBAL warming. More H2O in the atmosphere, milder climate, replenishes the glaciers and ice on the polar caps in winter… but that’s not suitable for the propagandist…

        As long as ‘’the researchers’’ for the phony GLOBAL warmings blame CO2 + H2O = they are part of the ‘’premeditated mass murder’’. In Australia is no water vapor, as the driest continent, billion of protected birds and animals die from dehydration every year… Be proud of it Tony. Water vapor in the atmosphere is naughty, replenishes the glaciers, produces milder climate – we don’t want that – Warmist cannot scare the Urban Sheep with milder climate… Seat on the top of the sandpit and show them proudly your wet diapers, tell them; the dolphin did it. Happy Easter Tony!

      • Stefan

        I won’t pretend that i have the faintest idea what you’re talking about but it’s very entertaining.

      • To be blunt, half the people here are just idiots.

        I would have constructed this sentence in a manner such that I did not potentially include myself in that half.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Given my experience with Colose, I’d guess it was a Freudian slip.

        But then, I’ve accused him of dishonest editing practices used to misrepresent people at his blog when they know more about a subject than he does, so maybe I’m just biased.

  47. I thought Bart R’s impersonation of a Cold War-era East German Olympics figure skating judge to be a spot on parody.

    Everyone should get a good chuckle from his over-the-top, ludicrously biased scores for the participants which were totally disconnected from the actual performance that everyone else witnessed.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      CTL, how can you tell it is a parody? You say what he posted was “over-the-top,” but it is actually indistinguishable from what plenty of people would say. This is aptly demonstrated by the fact everyone posting about his comments (but you) has taken them seriously.

      I’ll admit I have no familiarity with Bart R, so maybe someone who knows him better would get something I’ve missed, but as far as I can see, there’s no way to tell it is anything but serious.

    • peterdavies252

      Brandon is correct. Bart was being serious about the debate itself but couched in sporting parlance.

      • Hall of comedic mirrors, reflecting tortuous ironies.

      • kim | April 5, 2012 at 10:01 am |

        Are they the sad days, or the happy ones, when you’re the only one who gets the joke?

      • peterdavies252 | April 5, 2012 at 8:07 am |

        If you _want_ to take the points seriously, there’s plenty of room in the thread to lay out sober, reasoned debate. I’m entirely pleased by the idea serious people can look in detail at a discourse and form their own opinions.

        Whether Bart R (to disambiguate from the other Barts) is serious or no, who really cares? What does Bart R’s authority amount to?

    • CTL | April 5, 2012 at 6:02 am |

      Thank you.

      Though the point of parody is for everyone to get a good chuckle at their own totally disconnected over-the-top, ludicrous biases when pointed up by the jest. ;)

  48. The instant anyone has recourse to “tipping points”, I know that they’ve lost the argument, and are in desperation trying to invoke the Precautionary Principle in its bloodiest, scariest guise. It is the last refuge of con artists.

  49. Have I cracked the GMT model?

    Here is my GMT model ( from the 30-years GMT trends ( ):

    Thanks in advance.

    • Girma | April 5, 2012 at 11:30 am |

      Mr. Orssengo.

      1. Your model has no skill prior to 1910 on any dataset.
      2. It has remarkably poor correlation on any span of 60 years or less within the century of actual data you do use, when compared to other proposed functions.
      On 1 & 2 it fails on verification.
      3. It is not based on your 30-year GMT trends plot. If it were, it would have fewer and shorter downward phases over time, and none after approximately 2045. Not only can’t we believe in your graphs, but clearly you don’t either, since the two graphs are mutually exclusive in what they appear to say.
      4. It is missing mechanism, and various other key elements necessary for validation.

      • Bart. You missed the major issue. Does the model predict the correct future temperatures? Surely, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

      • Jim Cripwell | April 5, 2012 at 4:55 pm |

        Sorry, not even close.

        While Mr. Orssengo’s graphs are mutually contradictory — neither can be right if the other is — it doesn’t mean they aren’t also both wrong.

        One needn’t seek any further issues, major or minor, besides.

        The IPCC argument, as Nordhaus delivers, is more nuanced.

        Without accounting for human activity, any forecast is simply inept. That’s a major issue, and there’s no getting around it, but there’s no need for it when dismissing Mr. Orssengo’s .. whatever they are.

        Doesn’t make the IPCC model projections right, even if they’re far more right for far more reasons than competing explanations.

        From the outset, anyone ought know the models can’t deliver prediction. IPCC must know it, else why go with so many model runs? A few IPCC spokespeople forget this, and make ridiculous claims from the models..

        But that still doesn’t make Mr. Orssengo’s claims less so.

      • Bart you write “From the outset, anyone ought know the models can’t deliver prediction.”

        Utter garbage. Those models which have been fully validated, nearly always deliver accurate predictions. Top of the list are wind loading models for structures which have never been built before; e.g the suspension bridge recently built in Hong Kong. The output of these models is certified by a Professioinal Engineer, and if the model answers turn out to be wrong, that PE can be sued.

        And the way to validate models, is to make predictions on a time scale that is short enough so that the prediction can be verified, and if this happens so frequently that the results cannot have happened by chance, then the model can be validated.

        That is what I hoped Girma would do.

      • Bart R (April 5, 2012 at 5:45 pm)
        “Without accounting for human activity, any forecast is simply inept.”
        Jumping sharks. All the warming, cooling, warming and flatlining over the last 100 years may be natural. It’s yet to be beyond reasonable doubt.

      • Jim Cripwell | April 5, 2012 at 8:34 pm |

        Models are great. Models are good. Almost everything in science one way or another that is part of an experiment is a model, from the computer simulations used in climatology to computer simulated wind loading models for structures, to the pair of objects of different weights dropped from the leaning tower of Pisa.

        The problem isn’t with ‘models’ per se.

        The problem is these particular models are built based on too little data and too little granularity, in a way that is mathematically provable to deliver outcomes that cannot be relied on for direct predictions of actual weather.

        This is known, was known beforehand, has been validated, and isn’t an issue, except for those people who still can’t absorb this fact, such as that unfortunate fellow who suggested the models meant there’d be a 0.2C rise in temperature every decade.

        Sorry to disappoint. People who think the climate models have power to directly predict real weather are simply wrong, and all logic that proceeds from their wrong premise is erroneous.

        Can the models still be used to determine whether human influences shape climate? Absolutely, within some bounds. That, too, can be illustrated mathematically, although Dr. Wojick’s opinion may differ.

        Seeing that Mr. Orssengo _is_ a professional engineer, one recommends you consult your counsel with regard to initiating proceedings, if you mean to stand by your words to sue where he is wrong. You’d have experts willing to confirm Mr. Orssengo’s error circling the block.

      • Bart R | April 5, 2012 at 9:36 pm |

        I read what you have written, and cannot understand what you are getting at. Let me be specific. Girma’s model,, has an equation in it, which I am not sure I understand. However, I am sure that it should allow anyone to calculate what his prediciton is for the global temperature anomaly for 2012, according to the HAD/CRU data that he used.. This value, and the values for other future years are fundamental to the drawing of the prediction graph.

        Assuming I am correct, are you claiming that if we were to calculate the predicted temperature for 2012, then when we get the actual figure in January 2013, this predicted figure would be wrong? And if every year in January we were to calculate the predicted value for the next year, the predicted values would always be wrong when we get the actual data? I am curious.

      • .. and yes, it’s unlikely any computer simulation, regardless of the amount of data and granularity, could directly predict weather, either.

        The problem of computability of chaotic systems would become the dominant issue, were such an effort pursued.

      • I dated a model once. She was alright, but I would never trust her :)

      • Jim Cripwell | April 6, 2012 at 7:01 am |

        More to the point, Mr. Orssengo’s approach is so off bubble as to not even be wrong.

        Merely unsupportable.

        He’s demanding his local hospital put his car in their MRI device, despite warning that such action would merely break the device and produce nothing but noise, on the argument, “But there’s a chance the noise might happen to match what’s really going on!”

        Have a look at this depiction of Girma’s graph:

        Which line most closely matches the data as a trend starting from the HadCRU3 temperature linear average, Series 4 (cooling phase), or Series 6(0.2C/decade)?

        We have 12 years of the 0.2C/decade trend actually being pretty much in the range of recorded temperatures, and 10 years of Mr. Orssengo’s claimed cooling phase going farther and farther away from any seeming correlation with the HadCRU3 observations.

        Will 2013, or 2023, or 2033 clear this all up for us?

        I’d hope not. For us to be able to completely dismiss or accept either prediction at a high level of confidence, we’re going to see some extremely unusual conditions of weather.

      • Bart, You write “More to the point, Mr. Orssengo’s approach is so off bubble as to not even be wrong.

        Merely unsupportable”

        What this has to do with our discussion, I have no idea.

        I wrote “Assuming I am correct, are you claiming that if we were to calculate the predicted temperature for 2012, then when we get the actual figure in January 2013, this predicted figure would be wrong? And if every year in January we were to calculate the predicted value for the next year, the predicted values would always be wrong when we get the actual data? I am curious.”

        You have not addressed this question. I wonder why not.

      • cui bono | April 6, 2012 at 7:36 am |

        “All the warming, cooling, warming and flatlining over the last 100 years may be natural. It’s yet to be beyond reasonable doubt.

        I once believed this state of doubt would last at least through my expected lifetime.

        However, BEST and better analyses in multiple fields have reduced the doubt from a reasonable about one-in-nine chance natural variability could account for observations to less than three in a thousand odds.

        If you think three in a thousand is reasonable doubt, that’s fine.

        I happen to think it’s fairly weak.

      • Roy Spencer’s analysis indicates that UHI accounts for much of the observed warming.

      • David Wojick

        These odds are your opinion Bartr. But I believe AGW has actually been falsified so the chance that it is not natural is effectively zero at this time. Thus there is a rather large spread.

      • David Wojick | April 6, 2012 at 6:22 pm |

        You show me yours, I’ll show you mine.

        It’s not very difficult to do a Bayesian analysis to establish how likely AGW is based on the given information and our beliefs about the quality of our observations.

        Before BEST, the data was extremely poor and proposed mechanisms somewhat cludged-together. With BEST and slightly refined descriptions of processes, there’s been a more than order of magnitude change in the confidence we can assign, on temperature alone. Toss in a few hundred other research papers published and reviewed between the time before BEST began and now, and the ‘reasonable doubt’ argument simply stops holding water.

        What’s your belief AGW has been falsified based on?

        Simply listing unqualified beliefs along qualified ones doesn’t make them equal, except in a popularity contest.

        Do I seem interested in being popular?

      • Our ‘interest is to understand – first the natural variability of climate – and then take it from there. So we were very excited when we realized a lot of changes in the past century from warmer to cooler and then back to warmer were all natural,’ Anastasios Tsonis.

        Here is BEST – – it doesn’t change anything in what was understood about the trend of 20th century temperature change.

        I note numbnut linking to Tamino blaming ENSO and solar decline for the decadal lack of warming.

        Here is the SORCE data – – the cycle is at or near peak and declines over this decade in the Schwabe cycle. Of course this is hardly noticeable at the surface. About half of the greenhouse gas forcing.

        Have a look as well at the TSI reconstruction from the authoritative (?) source. Can we drop a couple of Watts/m^2 in 40 years – Lockwood et al suggest an 8% chance – Of course that is barely noticeable at the surface. A fraction of the greenhouse gas forcing.

        Can we predict where ENSO is going?

        ‘This study uses proxy climate records derived from paleoclimate data to investigate the long-term behaviour of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). During the past 400 years, climate shifts associated with changes in the PDO are shown to have occurred with a similar frequency to those documented in the 20th Century. Importantly, phase changes in the PDO have a propensity to coincide with changes in the relative frequency of ENSO events, where the positive phase of the PDO is associated with an enhanced frequency of El Niño events, while the negative phase is shown to be more favourable for the development of La Niña events.’ Vernon and Franks (2006). This is understood to be the case in hydrological circles with overwhelming supporting evidence.

        So we are looking at increased intensity of La Niña over a decade or 3 more. Does this have a climate impact? Well it seems to – – sudden and quite startling changes in TOA flux coincident with – in the case of 1998/2001 – Pacific Ocean shift.

        It appears in ERBE as well –

        If you have a problem with this – take it up with NASA and not me. By all means read the Wong et al (2006) – Reexamination of the Observed Decadal Variability of the Earth Radiation Budget Using Altitude-Corrected ERBE/ERBS Nonscanner WFOV Data

        Hand waving about papers you have not read – Le Pétomane – doesn’t cut it. The planet is not warming for decade or 3 – get used to it.

      • Jim Cripwell | April 7, 2012 at 6:50 am |

        Asked, and answered. You just missed it.

        The assumption you are correct is false.

        You’re not correct.

        No logic based on a false premise has any meaning at all.

        Ergo, the answer cann’t “yes” or “no”.

        The only valid answer is, “your question is meaningless.”

      • I think that’s that’s Dr. Orssengo.

      • Robert I Ellison | April 7, 2012 at 5:18 am |

        If he started acting the part, perhaps.

      • Le Pétomane,

        If everyone were addressed according to their behaviour – we would know where we stand minutes before the demise of civilisation.

        Best regards
        Captain Kangaroo

      • Robert I Ellison | April 7, 2012 at 10:34 pm |

        One observes some projection on your part here with regard to name-calling, Mr. Ellison.

        Or is that Captain? Chief? Le? Sir? Major? Ambassador? Lord? Abbot? Pardner? Comrade?

        A man of your age, still doesn’t know who he is? Tch.

      • Le Pétomane,

        As my specialty in hydrology and Masters Degree in environmental science evidently qualifiess me to be a plumber – I find it amusing sometimes to respond in kind. I find it less amusing to be morally instructed by an ex economics tutor, Peace Corps volunteer and professional flatulist.

        I am but only a poor man who has foresworn the humble pursuits of a natural philosopher to take a commission in the climate war. I know who I am. I am and shall be a climate warrior on the side of freedom and justice. Captain Kangaroo rides by dire necessity.

        ‘O say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
        What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming?
        Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro’ the perilous fight,
        O’er the ramparts we watch’d, were so gallantly streaming?
        And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
        Gave proof thro’ the night that our flag was still there.
        O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
        O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?’

        Does it Le Pétomane? Or are you willing to betray our common enlightenment heritage for a tryranny of global government and the suspension of democracy? That is what is at stake and you are either a friend or an enemy – and it may yet come to real battles and real bullets. So the rhetoric hardens and the war continues. Such is life.

        Best regards
        Captain Kangaroo

      • Robert I Ellison | April 8, 2012 at 12:39 am |

        For all your disguises, you’re a hardened statist. You’ve sat on, and believe in, commissions of experts who decide for people what’s in their best interest, at the behest of Granny Government.

        I get that you can mouth the words to the greatest anthem ever set to the music of free hearts. Big deal. I can hum a few bars of Waltzing Matilda.

        I’m not a rabidly fanatical Fair Market individualist. I’m a reasonable and considerate Fair Market fanatic. But at least I don’t, like you, pretend to be everything except what I really am: a rent-seeker who glories in lording his vast vocabulary over those he supposes his inferiors.. which is to say everyone else.

        You’d be a pleasant person, but for this singular flaw. As it is, you’re at least an amusing person. You might even be worth the hefty salary for preventing flooded basements and blocked drains you demand as an independent contractor to people who have to hire you because the government forces them to.

        And I see you’ve made significant progress over the past year in your thinking about the climate. You’ve gotten through denial there’s even anything to acknowledge, and you’re making great headway on your anger issues.

        I expect you to get to negotiating any month now.

      • Le Pétomane,

        You keep telling me what I am – but it seems far from the case. I am merely a humble contractor. I help my clients use water wisely and well – and avoid the worst effects of inclement weather. And – to put on my greenie hat – protect downstream environments from the worst effects of urbanisation. To be immodest for a moment – I am very good at it. If I am not a workman worth my wages – then I am afraid I don’t get paid. That would be very unfortunate.

        I think you might have delusions of relevance and a manifesto – much like the unabomber. I have seen that you have voilent fantasies. How close to the edge are you? How close can you get?

        You are known by the company you keep and your allies are amongst the most disagreeable authoritarians ever seen. You may dissemble and lie – you may even be a deluded fool – but you remain the mouthpiece of a dangerous ideology.

        The negotiation is over. You have been offered terms of surrender. Accept them or not – it is all one.

        Best regards
        Captain Kangaroo

      • Robert I Ellison

        That’s it. Let it all out. Some say venting is good, and speeds the healing process.

        I call it a load of crap, but I’m willing to try anything for as extreme a case as yours.

        So, where was I?

        There, there. We hear your anger. We validate it. Your feelings are as real and .. pfft.

        Who’m I try to kid?

        Snap out of it, man.

        You’ve had your fun.

        Get on to the grieving part, and try to not make as much of a shambles of acceptance as you did with denial and anger.

      • Le Pétomane,

        There you go riffing on incompetence, irrationality and incoherence as per usual. Let’s just take a deep breath – count to 10 if you can – smoke if you got ’em and I suspect you have been – and really I don’t care what you say in the least. As I said – I think you are a liar or a deluded fool – a bully and a very noxious person. Appalling personal qualities – oh you can be even charming – but that last’s until someone disagrees with your obviouly superior views.

        ‘In short, we are already past the point that locks in 2C of warming, and will without question go well beyond it. Even a 3C rise is looking very hard to avoid.

        Very few people, even among environmentalists, have truly faced up to what the science is telling us.

        This is because the implications of 3C, let alone 4C or 5C, are so horrible that we look to any possible scenario to head it off, including the canvassing of “emergency” responses such as the suspension of democratic processes.’

        I won’t even say where that comes from – it is a generic example of something emerging from the fervid imagination of the socialist underground. I can’t really see that you can be a world removed from suspending democracy – or else let’s vote on your idiotic tax. Far from anger there is a cold determination that suspension of democracy would be grounds for a shooting war.

        Best regards
        Captin Kangaroo

    • The man made global warming king has no clothes =>

      Don’t you agree?

    • Steven Mosher

      No. Your curve fitting is not a physical model.
      1. Plug in numbers for years before 1880–like back to the holocene or before. No hind cast skill. Do the same for years centuries from now.
      2. A model has to have correct units. You are predicting temperature. The units on the RH side of your equation are not physical. In a climate model we put WATTS in and we get Temp out. The physical modelling in between transforms watts into temperature and other physical characteristics.
      That is how you tell a PHYSICAL model from a statistical model.
      3. Your model is incomplete. what’s it say for SST? for the arctic? for NH and SH? A physical model would give you the spatial distibution as well as the temporal evolution.

      • Steven

        I agree with all your points.

        However, man built bridges long before the discovery of the beam equations!

        We need empirical relationships for complex problems. What matters is whether they work in the short term. My empirical model worked for the last 100 years, and it is reasonable to assume it will also work for at least the next 20 years.

        Don’t you agree?

  50. – Am I allowed to say “I don’t know, it’s a complex issue” ?
    Often people’s CERTAINTY on an issue is often a sure sign that they don’t know what they are talking about. (to them the issue is so simple they think they can see right thru to the end) It’s part of what I call COMPLEXITY DENIAL.
    – When it came to Saddam’s WMD I would also say “I don’t know”, but is interesting to note that the same people who most strongly assert we must take action on CAGW said there was no need to take action on Saddam.
    So I conclude that for many people/experts the certainty about necessary actions is LINKED TO POLITICS rather than to true understanding of the issues & cost benefit analysis.

  51. 30+ Years into the Climate Wars I feel bad Dr. Lindzen has to go through this abuse. The technical war is largely over and the skeptics won long ago. Like an aging Babe Ruth I hope at least enjoys going on like this. The technical debate phase adds hope to the warming dream and I hope he passes the torch. The technical front can’t be surrendered but it isn’t the key area any longer.

    Political motivations of participants are the key broad driver, some of the technical people can’t seem to accept this. I think Dr. Lindzen understands but he shouldn’t be elevating the advocates by doing all of this ground work. He should be an icon leader not a soldier in the trench at Climate War Gallipoli.

  52. Beth Cooper

    Gulled by fear and albatross guilt
    Makes us rather tax technologies we have,
    And fly to renewables we know not of
    Their Golden Age effects. Such conscience
    Doth make cowards of us all.

    HT/ Kim and Hamlet.

  53. Willis Eschenbach

    Steven Mosher | April 5, 2012 at 2:44 am | Reply

    For something simpler start here

    I read that and found it to be cartoonish in its simplicity, and lacking in its understanding. It assumes that conditions at equilibrium are the same as conditions leading up to equilibrium. Why on earth would that be so?

    If that’s an example of your arguments (followed by an invocation of the entire IPCC report), I’m not impressed in the slightest.

    Folks who cite the entire IPCC report in support of their claims are not scientists.



    • I”m still waiting for Mr. Mosher’s defense of his recent statement that the worst that can be said about the AGW models is that “some” have erred on the “high side,” (That is, have been too extreme.)

      Some? I think most. And “on the high side” is entirely misleading especially with respect to binary predictions such as more of this, or less of that, or more extreme something else.

      • I’d like to know a bit more about their bias – particularly given they are modelling non-linear systems (or perhaps we can safely assume that at the margin they are sufficiently linear, or perhaps not?)

  54. Pooh, Dixie

    William Nordhaus (if it is the same person) is a co-author of Samuelson, Paul Anthony, and William D Nordhaus. Economics (12th Ed). 12th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1985

    In this they wrote: (p778, Economic and Political Freedom). “There is no doubt that totalitarian regimes can destroy both economic and political freedoms But a modern democracy, proceeding carefully and applying the best of accumulated wisdom, can have the best of both worlds. And at the same time it can preserve those best things that can never be measured in the GNP: freedom to speak, freedom to change, and freedom to live as we please.”

    As an aside:
    In the third edition (1955), they covered both the socialist and fascist economic systems. In the twelfth edition, the fascist economic system was gone, a disappointing omission. The latter economic system is essentially rule by “political-economic power elites”.

    IMO, this is remarkably similar to current “contemporary progressivism”: elected politicians and elite, professional administrators. Per Wikipedia, “The main current national progressive parties are the Democratic Party and the Green Party of the United States.” Wikipedia has briefs on Progressivism, Corporate Statism (a.k.a. Corporatism) and Corporate Nationalism. See also

    • While I.G. Farbin did have a lot of political power in WWII Germany, it is only because Hitler needed this behemoth of a company to prosecute the war. Even in this case, the government was superior to and controlled business.

      Same in Italy.

      Fascism is closer to socialism that classical liberalism. When compared to classical liberalism, the differences between socialism and fascism are barely noticeable. I agree that the current flavor of progressivism in the US is similar to fascism. The government buddies up with the likes of GE and other big companies while regulating them more than any time in US history.

    • Pooh, Dixie

      Jim2 and others. I think we agree that “fascism” as used here is an economic system, not the despicable, anti-Semitic National Socialist regime of Germany in the 1930-1940s. The authoritarian, economic and state control mechanisms, however, were not limited to Germany.
      It has, sad to say, been promoted here as well.

      • Dixie – I guess you can separate politics and economics on a conceptual level, but you can bet the Hitler’s super-sized jack boot helped enlist big businesses there.

  55. Beth Cooper

    Peter Davies @ 25/2 8.25 pm.

    LOL. And I thought my antipodean take on Hamlet was ok :-(

    Have to say WHT’s comment is posted in wrong thread , more relevant to ‘Republican Brain,’ Democrat Brain’ discussion. Seems we now have another dichotomy, ‘Northern Hemisphere Brain,’ Antipodes Brain.”

    Doesn’t sound like science to me , bur heck, what do I know, I’m just a …

    • Yeah – I am very tired of the faux chauvinism of these twits. Don’t they know that despite our differences we simply close ranks when an outsider tries it on?

      I have suggested – in fact I have demanded it in high dudgeon – that Judith pick up the moderation. It is all very tedious. He drops in with an Australian sh_it for brains comment and expects to have it go unremarked.

      This after he invoked Bose-Einstein boson particle statistics for climate. I did this as a joke – bazinga – but never expected that it could ever be serioulsly proposed. He seems to be one of those ‘ugly Americans’ we hear about but never meet. So trivilly wrong on so many counts to boot. Truly bizarre behaviour.

      • You have been surprisingly tactful lately for the alter ego. You know the only difference between the US and Aus is that they set the whackos here and the convicts there :)

      • capt. dallas 0.8 +/-0.2 | April 5, 2012 at 9:37 pm |

        Tch. The British began the long tradition of transporting convicts to an area near the Maryland coast in the 1600’s, which the USA to this day continues to mark by celebrations every two to four years.

        Even now, the preliminaries to that pageant are ongoing in America.

      • Children of convicts were taller and stronger than their parents and educated by Scottish enlightenment political prisoners.

        Getting out of England was the best thing ever.

      • This is odd. Explain the high percentage of fruit loops from Australia appearing here.
        Its kind of hard to miss the fact that Chief Kangaroo, Girma, Doug Cotton, StefTheDenier, Fitzhenry, Ian, now Jinan Cao and probably other Australians have crossed my path and directed pointed attacks at my comments (no problem, they are free to). Yet, IMO, each one of these cats has a problem with scientific reasoning at the most fundamental level. So that is statistically odd and if that same ratio was extended to the USA population, we would have almost 100 of these guys running open loop on this site spreading nonsense.

        It’s possible that this is just a statistical glitch but I have a feeling that the odd theories by scientists such as Plimer and Salby and bloggers such as Nova and Marchasy stir things up down there, and it bubbles up.
        Tim Lambert at Deltoid has a full time job blogging about Plimer, et al.

        Name some other Australians who have contributed some insane theories to this site.

      • Again this violates blog rules being contentless drivel. Add some content and I will address the issue and not the person. Just like I did here.

        And in many other instances.

      • WebHubTelescope

        Is the following data nonsense?

      • peterdavies252

        It was a try on but its best not to react because that’s what trolls feed on.
        I seem to have got up WHT’s nose lately and he has called me a concern troll and then having SFB. Perhaps I am touching a raw nerve someplace – sorry about this :)

      • I was referring to Jinan Cao who had an Australian address. I didn’t realize that you are Australian.

      • WHT

        There are more Australians here than any other nationality; and not only at Climate Etc., but also if you check the trends on Google for climate change topics, on the Internet as a whole.

        While perhaps one American in a million might be so interested in the issue as yourself, in Australia it’s taking on the dimensions of a national pastime.

        Which is part of why I’m always so deferential to the Australian experience of the world. I wouldn’t want to offend the most climate-conscious people on the planet.

      • This is typical – I quote Chris Colose to Webby to try to educate him on some simple radiative physics – and away from the serious nonsense of Bos-Einstein boson statisitics, the old delusion of these danged notches appearing in the IR record. And I am the denier.

        ‘Both of you plainly don’t understand a thing about photonics, and especially are clueless on how Bose-Einstein statistical mechanics describes how electromagnetic radiation gets dispersed across an energy spectrum.
        It’s a very straightforward concept that greenhouse gases have a scattering cross-section that can partially reflect specific bands of photon frequencies until they redistribute to maintain an energy balance.’

        Here are both comments – judge for yourself.

        Now I don’t mind so much mad theories – really the speculative can be discussed with a lack of emotion and even some fun but when it is code for an insane agenda then nothing can be discussed with any civility or amusement. I keep saying that CO2 is radiatively active in the atmosphere and chemically in the oceans. How much and to what effect is questionable. I would prefer to move away from carbon emitting technologies – and here is a roadmap. I am a trifle bored with saying that. Why do I need to? And it is never enough for them. Their underlying agenda involves government setting a price on carbon sufficient to make carbon emitting technology unviable. The underlying motivation is negative economic growth. Nothing I say is valid unless I agree with the agenda.

        Australians are certainly very aware of carbon taxes. 60% will vote next year to rescind them. I am very bored with the predictability of comment by the obsessive climate tragics. They lie and insult, bully and berate in the insane hope to convince us on a tax and reverse economic growth. It would come to real wars and real bullets well before then. Une merde dans leur chapeaux – the war continues.

        Robert I Ellison

      • David Young

        Peter, Webby is a little bit testy from time to time. His problem is that he doesn’t know that some of us actually have real credentials and experience and are much better trained than he is. Alas, we don’t know who Webby really is so we have no way to know if he is a poseur or not. He does like global conservation of energy however. It is indeed strange that climate science spends so much effort on GCM’s and then says “I know the errors are large, but the results agree with global conservation of energy arguments, ergo, the GCM’s must be telling something of value.”

      • I think you can tell by the content David. Bose-Einstein boson statistics keeps is amusing me lately. The comment I link to above uses a novel concept of statistical mechanics – instead of a far more obvious role for absorption and reemissions of IR photons. I don’t mind people being wrong – after all if being wrong were a hanging offence…well. It is being so emotionally committed to a position that it is defended with copious arm waving and gutter level brawling. They just keep coming back with it relentlessly. Back to the battle of meaningless drivel passing back and forth. I am more than a little bored with it.

      • Have you ever tried to derive Planck’s Law ?????
        It is straightforward from first principles, using partition functions and quantum wavelength arguments.

        Like PhysicistDave was, I was taught statistical mechanics via F.Reif’s classic text. If there is a better scientific textbook with the same level of accessibility, I have yet to see it.

        Note that this level of knowledge doesn’t come with some effort on our part — both Dave and I invested in our educations and stand with mouth agape when we take a look at what is happening on this site. It is just astoundingly amateurish to see what passes for scientific reasoning here.

        We evidently don’t talk on the same wavelength. And probably never will. Touch luck on your part.

      • ‘In physics, Planck’s law describes the amount of electromagnetic energy with a certain wavelength radiated by a black body in thermal equilibrium.’

        The distribution is constant with temperature but shifts in frequency. What this has to do with the real world is always your problem. I don’t know about Dave – we are not talking team sports here – I will let him speak for himself.

        Sorry I studied as you know physics, chemistry, hydrology, environmental science, macro and micro as well as environmental economics, etc etc. Physics is a bit of a hobby – and maths is a love. Wish I was better at it. I do quite a bit of modelling of rivers and coasts – that’s always fun. One day perhaps climate may be reduced to a unifying theory with exact data and neat little expressions. Until then I will continue my studies of ENSO, SAM, NAM, DMI, PNA, NAO, AMO and PDO.

        Reminds me – you said on your pathetic little website on your ridiculous list of ‘climate clowns’ that I was claiming prescience by looking at ocean and atmospheric indices and predicting weather. This is how it’s done for SAM – – I won’t go into the rest. Again -your problem is with the real world.

      • Ther is the other Webby idea in here. That IR bounces of greenhouse gases and is smeared across the frequency band. That’s why the earth doesn’t emit in IR. Oh…wait…

      • peterdavies252

        OT but may I pass onto ALL contributors the very best wishes for Easter and may it be safe and enjoyable for everyone.

    “Models should be evaluated by exhaustive comparison with observations” – Well yes, but first we need to take a step back and examine the physics behind them to see if they have a ghost of a chance of getting off Square 1. Consider the following …

    In my view we need to focus on the assumed problem, namely carbon dioxide and, to a lesser extent, methane perhaps. If I refer to trace gases take it to mean these, because I refuse to call them greenhouse gases.

    We have what we have in the Earth’s total system. Somehow, in some way we may never fully understand, a long-term near equilibrium situation has developed. We have some energy being generated in the core, mantle and crust, most likely by fission I think, but I won’t go into that. But it does set up a temperature gradient from the core to the surface which is very stable below the outer kilometre or so of the crust. However, it may vary in long-term natural cycles that have something to do with planetary orbits. Likewise, the intensity of solar radiation getting through the atmosphere to the surface may also vary in natural cycles which may have something to do with planetary influences on the Sun, and on the eccentricity of Earth’s orbit and on cosmic ray intensity and on cloud cover, ENSO cycles etc.

    There is much to be learned about such natural cycles, and we have seen papers by Nicola Scafetta for example which appear to provide compelling evidence of the natural cycles. I believe that in fact such natural cycles are quite sufficient to explain all observed climate change, including what has happened in the last half century or so, right up to the present. The world has just been alarmed because the 1000 year cycle and the 60 year cycle were both rising around 1970 to 1998, just as they did by about the same amount 60 years earlier, and 60 years before that and no doubt further back. We cannot escape the obvious fact that there is a ~1000 year cycle which is due for another maximum within 50 to 200 years. Then there will be 500 years of falling temperatures.

    But the central issue is whether or not trace gases are really having any effect at all on climate.

    In my paper I have explained the physics of heat transfer and demonstrated why trace gases cannot have any effect whatsoever on what we call climate.

    Climate may be thought of as the mean of temperature measurements, usually made in the air between 1.5 and 2 metres above the ground. Thermometers are affected by the thermal energy in that air near the surface. As you can read here thermal energy is distinct from heat. It is transferred by molecular collision processes (conduction and diffusion,) by physical movement (convection) and by radiation. . The energy in radiation is not thermal energy. Thermal energy is first converted to electromagnetic (radiated) energy and then that EM energy has to be converted back to thermal energy in a target. Hence, in a sense thermal energy only appears to be transferred by radiation.

    The Second Law of Thermodynamics (SLoT) tells us that in any (one way, independent) spontaneous process, entropy cannot decrease unless external energy is added. There are no two ways about it. If spontaneous radiation emanates from a cooler object (or atmosphere) its EM energy cannot be converted back to thermal energy in a warmer target, such as Earth’s surface. This point is not debatable. A violation of the SLoT cannot be excused on the grounds that there will be some subsequent independent process (maybe not even radiation) which will transfer more thermal energy back to the atmosphere. If you disagree, you are mistaken.

    However, the radiation from a cooler body can affect the radiative component of the cooling of a warmer body. Although such radiation undergoes what I call “resonant scattering” this does involve the “resonators” in the warmer body and uses up some of its radiating capacity. Because the incident radiation supplies the energy, the warmer body does not need to convert an equivalent amount of its own thermal energy. Hence it cools more slowly.

    But, the resonating process involves all the (potential) different frequencies in the incident radiation. There will be far less effect when there are limited frequencies as is the case for radiation from a trace gas in the atmosphere. Furthermore, the effect depends on the temperature of that gas and is less when it is cooler. It is far less from space (equivalent to about 2.7K) and so there is no slowing of cooling for that portion of radiation which gets through the atmospheric window.

    The remaining radiation (when we look at net figures, not all that backradiation) represents less than a third of all the cooling processes from the surface to the atmosphere. The other non-radiative processes can, and will, simply speed up in order to compensate, because they do so if the temperature gap increases. There are further reasons discussed in Q.3 in the Appendix of my paper.

    So there is no overall effect at all due to trace gases on the rate of cooling of the surface. Thus there can be no effect upon climate.

    Discussion on this continues on this thread.

    • “If spontaneous radiation emanates from a cooler object (or atmosphere) its EM energy cannot be converted back to thermal energy in a warmer target, such as Earth’s surface”

      Ever seen a furnace? Wonder why they line the inside with Firebricks?
      Ever seen a fire place and grate?

      wonder why this, black body, increases the temperature of the coals?

      • That was why I said “spontaneous” and reinforced this by also adding the words “unless energy is added.”

        Is there something you don’t accept in the standard definition of the Second Law of Thermodynamics?

        Lasers, radar, microwave ovens, furnaces etc etc all have external energy added and thus cannot violate the SLoT.

        Please read my peer-reviewed paper and some of well over 200 comments on the dedicated thread where tallbloke (along with 7 other climate sites) also published it.

      • Doug wrote:
        >Lasers, radar, microwave ovens, furnaces etc etc all have external energy added and thus cannot violate the SLoT.

        So, does the earth — solar energy.

        Yes, your analogies are valid and disprove your point.

        The CO2 slows the cooling, which means that the earth gets hotter than it otherwise would *because of the ongoing input of energy from the sun*.

        Just like, in your words, “Lasers, radar, microwave ovens, furnaces etc etc ”

        That is what we keep trying to tell you. That is why it does not violate the Second Law.

        But you won’t listen.


      • Dave, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the “ongoing input of energy from the sun” is discontinuous. Positive feedback requires 360 degrees (or nearly) of phase shift. Is the CO2 feedback delay in phase with the 24-hour cycle?

      • Maybe someone here can explain to me how a solar cooker doesn’t work at night. I can’t figure out where all the CO2 is sending the IR radiation.

      • Ken Coffman wrote:
        >Dave, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the “ongoing input of energy from the sun” is discontinuous. Positive feedback requires 360 degrees (or nearly) of phase shift. Is the CO2 feedback delay in phase with the 24-hour cycle?

        Oh, c’mon! That *is* a joke, isn’t it?

        I assume anyone else here as familiar with feedback theory as I am (e.g., competent electronics engineers) will treat it as such. (Hint to any such: we are not talking about the 24 hr. component in the frequency domain! We are talking about a long-term quasi-DC effect.)

      • Doug wrote:
        >Please read my peer-reviewed paper…

        Doug doesn’t it bother you that both you and the climate catastrophists keep repeating the phrase “peer-reviewed paper” as if it were a magic mantra that could substitute for actual *evidence*?????

        Look… “peer review,” in and of itself, is of absolutely *zero* value. It would be the easiest thing in the world to establish a “peer-reviewed” journal in astrology. That would change nothing: astrology would still be nonsense. To put is simply, the real issue is whether or not the “peers” doing the reviewing are morons and/or fellow con artists.

        More broadly, the issue is whether or not the “peers” are competent members of a discipline that has shown itself to be worthy of respect because it has been ruthlessly tested against external reality.

        As smart as Thomas Aquinas might have been, I do not need to take his views on transubstantiation seriously, because neither the doctrine of transubstantiation nor his broader philosophy has ever been ruthlessly challenged by empirical tests.

        Real science has been so tested. As I keep saying, I and other physicists have built very complex devices — from lasers to integrated circuits to nuclear bombs — that work very spectacularly. Does that prove we are right and you are wrong? Well… it strongly, very strongly, suggests that we know some things about the material world that you and most people do not. And, it certainly creates the presumption that you would be wise to thoroughly study what we know before you claim that we are wrong.

        Conversely, there is no such presumption that we should take your views seriously. Where are the truly novel, highly complex devices you have created using your novel theories?


        Neither I nor any honest scientist will argue that it is impossible that some amateur will work out something that we have missed. But, we will not and should not, take such amateurs seriously unless and until they recognize the enormous presumption, proven by our tangible, spectacularly useful successes, that we do know quite a lot, and unless such amateurs are willing to show that their theories have some value by actually showing similarly tangible results.

        In short, a mere barrage of words from you guys in some no-name “peer-reviewed” journal is just a joke.

        Dave Miller in Sacramento

      • blouis79 | April 6, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
        If you are standing on the ground wearing IR night vision goggles looking up into the sky at a balloon that is cooler than the ground – will you be able to see the balloon with the goggles?

      • Jim2 | April 6, 2012 at 6:11 pm |

        Never used night vision goggles, but have used night vision video recorder. I think the balloon would be visible, but don’t understand the point of the question.

        The radiative insulation theory (front runner of the greenhouse warming theories) says that the CO2 in the sky traps heat, so the CO2 IR haze should make the balloon invisible.

      • The point is that you seem to be arguing that a cooler body can’t shoot a photon towards a warmer one. Maybe I misunderstood what you were getting at.

    • There may be a need to clarify the above statement that less than a third of the cooling process of the Earth’s surface is by radiation that does not go straight to space. I was using this net energy budget and calculating the percentage that the 15% radiated to the atmosphere is of the 51% absorbed by the surface. In fact it is only 29.4% as shown below …

      Evaporation 45.1%
      Diffusion (conduction) 13.7%
      Radiation to space 11.8%
      Radiation to atmosphere 29.4%

      Total 100.0%

      I know it looks different on the diagrams showing backradiation. But, if the backradiation were really absorbed and converted to thermal energy (which is isn’t anyway) then the diagrams would have a further enormous error, because the new thermal energy supposedly from the cooler atmosphere would be no different from other thermal energy, so it also should be broken down as above, not 100% radiation as they assume.

      And remember, not all “backradiation” is actually radiation that is sending surface radiation back down again: some of it would have been generated as new radiation using energy that came up by convection or latent heat, or was absorbed from incident solar radiation.

      You see, there would really be an infinite number of up and down trips if they were right. It is only appropriate to consider net radiation upwards, because that is the only way the thermal energy travels. When the diagrams imply thermal energy is coming back down with the backradiation they are mistakenly misleading.

      • Doug Cotton wrote:
        >You see, there would really be an infinite number of up and down trips if they were right.

        There are. That’s how random walks, diffusion, etc. works.

        Some of it keeps getting out, but some of it (an increasingly small amount) goes back and forth an arbitrarily large number of times.

        One of the things we scientists here are trying to tell you guys is that you really, *really* need to learn (and understand) basic statistical physics, kinetic theory, random-walk/diffusion theory, etc. and that this is going to take you years of hard work that you are not, alas, willing to pursue.

        But, the math on all this is well-worked out, and no technically competent person doubts that math, only people who have never seriously studied itr.


      • David Wojick

        Indeed, my take on the enhanced greenhouse effect is that the GHG increase may increase the average time taken for entering energy to random walk it’s way through the earth system, before it exits. It is like the lines getting longer in the bank so there are more people inside, only it is more heat. But I have never seen anyone try the math, or collect the data, so who knows? It is all arm waving based on the SB equation.

      • Daves, it’s all cringe-worthy unscientific nonsense. Stand in a room with two walls as parallel mirrors. The light bounces back and forth forever. There are multiple images of you in the mirror. How long does it take for the image to appear in the distance? Turn on a torch. It must be completely blinding with all that light in there with nowhere to go.

      • Oh, the math is actually quite easy for a simple model (I mean easy for well-trained technical people, not for our lingering anti-scientists!), though it’s certainly not the most efficient way to get the solution. The real problem, of course, is that the real earth is *not* a simple model: you have vertical inhomogeneities, convection, clouds, and all the rest. Then, all you can do is computer models, which, as everyone knows, makes it all too easy to hide the assumptions built into your code.

        It should be an absolutely rigid rule, by the way, that no scientific journal would ever publish a paper that involved computer simulations *unless* the computer code were completely released to the public for inspection. Alas, this seems not to be the norm in the GCM community: many of the modelers seem to think they “own” their code, though, legally, the taxpayers should own it since they paid for it.


      • blouis79 wrote to me and Dave W:
        >How long does it take for the image to appear in the distance?

        Speed of light, louis — simple calculation. You’re supposed to lave learned that in grade-school math.

        Louis also wrote:
        >It must be completely blinding with all that light in there with nowhere to go.

        You haven’t ever been in a fully mirrored room, I take it?

        Yes, it does get “blinding.”

        Why doesn’t it get “completely blinding”? Because there are no perfect mirrors — you can actually see this in the more “distant” reflections, which tend to get a bluish, greenish tinge to them due to the fact that glass preferentially absorbs some colors more than others . So, the mirrors (and your own body, of course) do eventually absorb the light and turn it into heat energy. Therefore, not “completely blinding.”

        Those of us who are scientists actually *know* the answers to questions like this: I am a scientist because, when I was a kid, I used to wonder about problems like this, and started learning science precisely so I could understand what was happening.

        You guys keep throwing out these examples as if they prove we scientists are wrong. In fact, every single one of your examples proves that *you* are wrong and we are right. But, no matter how many of your examples we patiently respond to, it has no effect on you. You just throw out more examples. Eventually, we get tired of explaining grade-school science to you, and you think you have “won.”

        Can you see that this is very strange, not to mention childish?

        I fear that the expert that is needed here is not a scientist but a psychiatrist!


      • physicistdave, so if a CO2 molecule emits IR towards the ground which is warmer than itself, how long does it take to come back (2nd law). If a CO2 molecule emits IR to space, how long doe it take to come back? (hint: universe) What will be the net direction of radiation of CO2 in the atmosphere? How long will be the delay of heat send by IR in the atmosphere? (hint: c)

      • David Wojick

        Blouis, the energy packet need never return to that molecule as it random walks back into space. Most never do. For example, it might be absorbed by the surface, then help warm the air, then rise via convection, moving constantly around from molecule to molecule via collision as it goes, then warm a water molecule, which emits IR into space. Each quantum of energy probably goes through numerous state and location changes from the time it enters the atmosphere from the sun until it leaves.

        Energy comes in lumps, which have a life of their own. How GHGs affect these lives is the question. I do not think it has been answered.

      • How long does a random IR walk take at the speed of light? I’m sure one could apply a bit of statisicial physics to that problem.

        But when the answer is “not long”, where goes the “radiative gaseous insulation theory”?

      • BTW, when I say IR to “come back”, I am inferring to *any* CO2 molecule in the atmosphere, not necessarily the specific one. We are talking about a collective mass of CO2 molecules in the atmosphere which absorb/reemit IR with a net flow from warm to cool, according to the second law. Those who fantasise about radiative gaseous IR insulation have yet to pin down a mechanism or any experimental verification of whatever the postulated mechanism might be.

        I am waiting to be convinced by some proper science.

      • Actually David, that is spot on. Instead of ‘GHG’ I prefer ‘photon recycling’, as this is all that is happening to the IR.
        There are two distinct putative effects of CO2; one based on its actually absorbance of IR, which is generally agreed upon and the second due to water-CO2 potentiation. This second mechanism of ‘photon recycling’, where CO2 enhances the effect of CO2 and CO2 enhances the effect of water is where the majority of Termogeddonist vs. Denialists come from.
        The former camp suspect a doubling of CO2 from 280 ppm to 560 ppm with cause between a 3-8 degrees rise and the former think somewhere between 1-3.
        The simplest way to establish the CO2 doubling value, the so called climate sensitivity’, is to plot average temperature vs. the natural log of [CO2] ppm. From the slope one can calculate the climate sensitivity; about 2.2 degrees.

        I’m not bovered.

      • DocMartyn, and if you build in a ten-year lag it becomes 3 degrees per doubling, which is near the middle of the IPCC range. I don’t know what everyone is arguing about when these are the facts.

      • DocMartyn | April 7, 2012 at 1:03 pm |

        Ointment. Flies:
        a) R^2=0.7701393?

        Considering the not-well-explained mid-century bulge, if we’re seeing a millennial ‘anti-bulge’ of some equally unexplained sort, then your 2.2 becomes 4.4 or more, no? By the same token, 2.2 could be 0.4 just as easily, given how much we don’t know.

        b) Why is 2.2 so much better than 3.1, again?

        I could see if sensitivity were an order of magnitude different, but it’s only a marginal distinction at the level of your (albeit sensible, and probably not so bad as I suggest above) guestimate, isn’t it?

      • Jim D | April 7, 2012 at 1:17 pm |

        In the limit, I’d suggest an irreducible 12 year lag, based on the famous 17-year minimum signal:noise argument.

        Looking at BEST, it appears the earliest signal:noise limit is much larger than 17 years, and the ratio by the end indicates 13 or 14 years.

        It seems reasonable to conclude a mixing limit from the extrapolation to have an asymptote at 12.

      • Bart R, my rationale for the lag was based on the ocean thermal inertia, but there is some arbitrariness depending on what depth you consider is part of the surface climate system. By my reckoning, 10 years puts this depth at 400 m, which seems reasonable. But to your point, the lagged data I would use would be a ten-year average which also serves to reduce the noise level.

      • Why lags?
        You are aware that the Earth warms and cools every 24 hours, and that during the annual seasons, it also changes temperature? The Diurnal cycle dwarfs the century changes. Look at the MSU data, the oceans very in heat output by huge amounts in monthly periods.
        The whole ‘lag’, hidden heat argument is tosh.

      • DocMartyn, the lag is because of thermal inertia. An imbalance of 1 W/m2 would take 13 years to warm the top 100 m of the ocean by 1 degree, and longer if it is diffused to greater depths. With CO2 we are talking about imbalances of this order and increasing that are sustained for a century. It is subtle to see against a diurnal cycle, but it is changing the ocean temperature. Therefore the global temperature now is a response to the forcing some years ago, and if the CO2 stopped increasing warming would continue for a while just like the summer solstice is not the hottest part of the summer, or noon is not the hottest part of the day. If you want to measure the effect of solar forcing it would be a mistake to use the noontime temperature as a daily maximum, you have to look at a lagged temperature, similarly for the annual max where the lag is longer because deeper layers are affected for longer sustained forcings.

  57. It seems the focus should be on the effect of the change in CO2 concentration on water vapor. Water will tend to condense below 100 C, taking itself out of the short term temperature equation. And more thermal energy speeds up convection, helping dissipate the extra energy. This doesn’t even take into account the shading effect of clouds.

  58. It seems always to devolve into some superficial discussion about right or wrong interpretations of radiative physics. There is I suggest a universal misunderstanding of climate – it is much more complex than radiative physics in an important sense. The energies must balance at TOA having taken into consideration the ever changing state of the Earth. Our ways of defining the changing Earth is merely language and intuition after all – I call it natural philosophy – and can only be proximately consistent with data that itself is known only within broad uncertainties.

    The social, political and economic questionseems barely of any interest. Although I m sure it is bubbling along under the surface. We know where Nordhaus stands – – an immediate carbon tax that is just politically impossible even if it were desirable. We know where Lindzen stands – we want 50 years to try out some alternatives. We even have a road map. KO win for Lindzen.

    As far as I am concerned BAU is better than carbon taxes in any universe. I am prepared to vote on it in our very next election – but I am not prepared to argue it again (or still) with Le Petomane. I can see the argument – I don’t buy it at all never have and never will. Don’t have to nobody wants it and the world is cooling for a decade or three at least (hah hah). Times getting on guys – I suggest we stop talking and start filling details for Plan B.

    Robert I Ellison

  59. The DICE model? That’s ridiculous! Monkeys throwing darts would be a lot more scientific than Mann.

  60. David Young

    I agree with the comments of others here that to say that models merely solve the fundamental conservation laws of physics is very deceptive. It’s a gloss on the truth which is that you must transform these conservation laws into a finite dimensional system of equations that can actually be solved in finite time. This is where the problems begin. The scales of the motions of the atmosphere range from millimeters to thousands of kilometers. Unless you have an infinite computer, approximations must be made and then we get into subgrid models and all the problems hiding there. For those who are interested, we discussed this at length on the previous thread on Lindzen’s seminar at the House of Commons. You can see Lacis, Moolton, Chief, and myself go over the issues. By the way Fred, did you look into turbulence modeling?

    • David,

      Obviously this grid issue s a potential problem. Also obviously, any scientifically literate person (and I do include Hansen et al. in that group) knows this. The modelers must think they have some ways of handling that — some procedure to renormalize parameters or something.

      Do you know how they think they can handle this?

      And, do you know if there are any good reasons that show convincingly either that this problem is solvable or that it can never be solved?

      My own “gut feeling” is that it cannot be solved. However, I have, again and again, had that “gut feeling” in many similar situations, and some bright person ended up coming up with a clever solution that showed I was wrong.

      So, I don’t know.

      Dave Miller in Sacramento

      • physicistdave | April 6, 2012 at 4:41 am |

        I don’t entirely disagree with your gut, however an educated gut never hurts:

        If it’s possible to improve GCM performance much, it won’t be until we collect two orders of magnitude more data at least.

      • If you wish to educate us – Le Pétomane – you need a link that works.

      • Le Pétomane

        No sorry – it is working now. Here’s a couple of more recent studies –

        Woods Hole have at long last updated their abrupt climate change page. We should summarise and do a post for Judith. I am just a bit busy for a couple of weeks.

        We probably don’t have 10,000 years – I reckon next Tuesday it all comes crashing down.

        Best regards
        Captain Kangaroo

      • Actually, one of the hot subjects in physics the last few decades has been a multi-grid method known as the “real-space renormalization group,” originally developed for solid-state physics and then transferred to relativistic quantum field theory.

        I myself invented a technique to combine this technique with the “conjugate gradient method” to produce a really fast algorithm to calculate the potential with complicated boundary conditions. And a friend of my wife’s independently utilized the technique in a computer vision application.

        So, I have some real experience with solving problems involving multi-grid issues.

        Is any of this useful in GCMs? I don’t see how. On the other hand, I figured out my own application as a result of chuckling over a skit on a sitcom: I suddenly saw how a time-reversal joke on the tube could actually make my technique work.

        So, maybe the GCM guys just need to watch more sitcoms.


      • physicistdave | April 6, 2012 at 7:00 am |

        I myself invented a technique to combine this technique with the “conjugate gradient method” to produce a really fast algorithm to calculate the potential with complicated boundary conditions. And a friend of my wife’s independently utilized the technique in a computer vision application.

        Nice. Tell more?

        And yes, GCM guys do seem to need a bit of light comedy in their lives.

        They’re hardly alone. Some of us really could stand to loosen up.

      • Bart R wrote to me:
        >Nice. Tell more?

        Well, it was a standard relaxation approach to solving the Poisson/Laplace equation but applied at multiple grid sizes to enhance convergence. And, then I realized it could be mated to the conjugate-gradient method when I was idly thinking about the sitcom skit. More details than that would, I think, be way too far off topic.

      • The grid problem leads to ‘structural instability’. Certainly there are some researchers who understand the instability of the solutions within feasible limits for inputs. Most people don’t understand the math. Most scientists even don’t understand the math.

        ‘AOS models are therefore to be judged by their degree of plausibility, not whether they are correct or best. This perspective extends to the component discrete algorithms, parameterizations, and coupling breadth: There are better or worse choices (some seemingly satisfactory for their purpose or others needing repair) but not correct or best ones. The bases for judging are a priori formulation, representing the relevant natural processes and choosing the discrete algorithms, and a posteriori solution behavior.’

        I think that’s funny as hell.

      • A posteriori solution behavior? Yes folks – they pull it out of their arse.

    • Here for example is a description of the checks used by ModelE:

      Conservation of Energy fluxes
      0 = Global: HEAT RUNOFF

      Note that the dynamics by itself does not guarantee that the energy
      lost from total potential energy is gained by the kinetic
      energy. There is a fix to put in this energy term (calculated a
      posteriori) at the end of DYNAM. Similarly, dissipation of KE is added
      in locally after surface friction, dry convection, atmopsheric
      turbulence and moist convection. There is similar coding in the FILTER,
      SDRAG and GWDRAG. If all of these energy changes are in place, then
      the total energy (KE+TPE+ENRG WAT) should be conserved.

      Now where was that law of “conservation of energy fluxes”????

  61. maksimovich

    leaving aside for the moment the climate physics,the first non trivial problem is how robust is the intergration of economic classical theory into a coupled model.

    If the so called growth model is so robust,why have we seen the greatest destruction of wealth in history ie an economic tipping 2009 figures.

    Credit related losses $2 trillion
    Equity markets $30 trillion
    Housing market $4 trillion
    Lost productivity $3 trillion

    This is the fundamental debate,rather then the physics .The arguments by Nordhaus etc are limiting,and often counterproductive ie centrist focused.

    The debate needs to be broader so as to move from partisan ideological idioms.

    A number of contrasting POV abound of interest is Hallegate 2008

    From the paper

    The key parameter in NEDyM is investment flexibility. For certain values of this parameter, the model reproduces classical business cycles with realistic characteristics; in particular, NEDyM captures the cycles’ asymmetry, with a longer growth phase and more rapid contraction. The cyclical behavior is due to the investment{profit instability and is constrained by the increase in labor costs and the inertia of production capacity. For somewhat greater investment flexibility, the model exhibits chaotic behavior, because a new constraint intervenes, namely limited investment capacity. The preliminary results presented here show that complex behavior in the economic system may be due entirely, or at least largely, to deterministic, intrinsic factors, even if the economic long-term equilibrium is neo-classical in nature. In the chaotic regime, moreover, slight shocks { such as those due to natural or man-made catastrophes { may lead to significant changes in the economic system.

    This paper introduces a modeling framework for macroeconomic growth dynamics that is motivated by recent attempts to formulate and study \integrated models” of the coupling between natural and socio-economic phenomena. These attempts are driven, at least in part, by public debate about global issues, such as anthropogenic climate change. The challenge is to describe the interfaces between human activities and the functioning of the earth system over the very long term. In this context, economists have used primarily longterm growth models in the Solow tradition, relying on the idea that, over time scales of decades to centuries, the golden-age paradigm is an acceptable metaphor. This approach appears, however, to be increasingly at variance with the nature of the policy debates in the field. Advocates of stringent emission limits are concerned about the cost of damages caused by climate change, while their opponents worry about the cost of greenhouse gas abatement. But balanced growth models that incorporate many sources of flexibility tend to suggest that the damages caused by disruptions of the natural | i.e., physical and biological planetary systems, as well as the mitigation policies proposed to prevent these disruptions, will entail only a few percent” of losses in gross domestic product (GDP) over this century (IPCC, 2001). Both categories of activists tend thus to suspect that the figures suggested by current models underestimate either type of costs, since real economies rarely manifest a tendency to steady-state behavior

    Another with a different interpretation is energy security
    eg V. G. Gorshkov, A. M. Makarieva, B.-L. Li

    Comprehending environmental and economic sustainability: Comparative analysis of stability principles in the biosphere and free market economy

    Using the formalism of Lyapunov potential function it is shown that the stability principles for biomass in the ecosystem and for employment in economics are mathematically similar. The ecosystem is found to have a stable and an unstable stationary state with high (forest) and low (grasslands) biomass, respectively. In economics, there is a stable stationary state with high employment, which corresponds to mass production of conventional goods sold at low cost price, and an
    unstable stationary state with lower employment, which corresponds to production of novel goods appearing in the course of technological progress. An additional stable stationary state is described for economics, the one corresponding to very low employment in production of life essentials such as energy and raw materials. In this
    state the civilization currently pays 10% of global GDP for energy produced by a negligible minority of the working population (currently ~0.2%) and sold at prices greatly exceeding the cost price by 40 times. It is shown that economic ownership over energy sources is equivalent to equating measurable variables of different dimensions (stores and fluxes), which leads to effective violation of the laws of energy and matter conservation

    In other words if structual asymmetry and instability is already present in both global business and the energy markets,.does poorly thought out policy redress the imbalances and create stability,or further extend both problems.

    • maksimovich wrote:
      >If the so called growth model is so robust,why have we seen the greatest destruction of wealth in history ie an economic tipping 2009 figures.

      Because there are such things as politics, dishonesty, a willful ignorance of history, and just plain human stupidity.

      Anyone who is a serious student of history, and any serious political scientist, knows that. One of the problems with many contemporary economists (apparently the ones you cite!) is that they don’t.

      Why the housing bubble? Government-sponsored enterprises such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac faced a “moral hazard”: everyone believed (correctly, as it turned out) that the government would bail them out and so they and their investors felt no need to be responsible in evaluating risks (I remember trying to point that out four decades ago in an econ class — the professor could not see it). And, then there was the stupidity — the belief by supposed financial “professionals,” contrary to all historical experience, that housing prices could only go one way, ever and ever upward. Or the idiotic belief in valuation models for financial assets that made grossly over-simplified assumptions simply to make the models mathematically tractable.

      You are never going to successfully include such factors in the mathematical models used in economic forecasting. And, therefore, those models will never work.

      And, people with vested interests will keep denying that fact.

      Dave Miller in Sacramento

      • 20% down? Why? It’s just a hoary tradition with no real reasoning. Of course it might have been an emergent rule of an ecologically rational solution to various problems of credit, but the constructivist rationality at the Boston Fed (and frankly in certain banks as well) somehow forgot about that possibility.

        We tamper with old, widespread rules we do not understand at our own peril. You don’t need to be Edmund Burke to get this.

  62. ‘There is an interesting physics newsfeed/blog called, which Oliver kept on spamming with his nutso ideas. As of late last year, he disappeared because apparently he couldn’t take the relentless mocking by the physics crowd that wanted nothing to do with him. A team of guys kept on bringing up his troubles, and that’s that.

    Notice that this is not an authoritarian approach but rather a case of ordinary nerds using the mock and needle instruments of destruction. Some call it uncivilized, whereas I find it effective. Lots of people are fans of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert and think they do a pretty good job at marginalizing people that need to be marginalized. I heard that Ben Franklin used to do this as well with mocking letters to the editor.’ Webby

    You got a girlfriend yet Webby.

    • Cap’n Kangaroo wrote:
      >Notice that this is not an authoritarian approach but rather a case of ordinary nerds using the mock and needle instruments of destruction. Some call it uncivilized, whereas I find it effective.

      Well, I don’t favor being pointlessly mean to people who are ignorant of science and honestly want some answers. However, the strange thing about the anti-scientists who are so widespread on the Web is that they are absolutely sure they are right, despite their intransigent refusal to learn any science, *and* they think it is our duty to spend an infinite amount of time explaining their errors to them, and yet they are extremely abusive when we try to do so.

      I ran into one guy in another forum who had actually published a book “proving” Einstein’s general theory of relativity was wrong. I went to the trouble to tell him that one of his equations was mistaken. He was furious and abusive, accusing me of being incompetent, malicious, etc. Finally, I posted a link to the wikipedia and explained exactly which symbols in his equation were wrong. Rather than apologize and admit I’d been right, he then got even angrier at me: you see, it was my duty to have told him all those details *right away* so that he could immediately fix one of the countless errors in his book. How dare I merely point out that he was wrong without helping him fix all the errors in detail so he could make more money off poor suckers buying his book?

      And, of course, if you start pointing out the idiotic behavior of these guys (almost always guys, by the way, very rarely women), countless other posters chime in saying that we scientists are indeed slaves to the ignoramuses and *must* patiently explain their errors, no matter how incredibly abusive they are to us.

      It’s hopeless.

      This does help explain the behavior of Hansen, Mann, et al.: when they run into guys like the “Dragonslayer” group, it does make it easier for them to convince themselves that any critics or questioners, such as Judith, belong in the same bag. That, of course, is dishonest, but it can be convincing to people watching the whole debate who are not themselves scientifically literate.


      • I saw the Einstein website – it is very funny.

        You mean these people who are utterly convinced they are right and the world is wrong and then insult and belittle those who have the temerity to disagree? In Oliver’s case it was entirely something personal they used – not the technical issues. It is a blood sport with no purpose.

        Usually I find that arrogance and egotism are covers for a deep ignorance. You will find that there is very little of any substance with Webby.

        Robert I Ellison

  63. Bose-Einstein statistics determines the statistical distribution of identical indistinguishable bosons over the energy states in thermal equilibrium. These condense at low temperature to form a Bose-Einstein condensate. A volume of atmosphere in thermal equilibrium has similar energy distributions at room temperature but it is not a BEC. It is irrelevant at any rate as we are interested in the average of the macro state and not the statistics of the micro state.

    The other rookie error concerns IR spectral absorption. It means that greenhouse gases are resonant in those frequencies. They absorb photons and reemit by Steffan-Boltzmann (proportional to T^4) for a grey body in nearly the same frequency – Wein’s Displacement Law does apply but it is minor at these temperatures – to move toward equilibrium at TOA.

    • “Bose-Einstein statistics determines the statistical distribution of identical indistinguishable bosons over the energy states in thermal equilibrium. These condense at low temperature to form a Bose-Einstein condensate. A volume of atmosphere in thermal equilibrium has similar energy distributions at room temperature but it is not a BEC. “

      Captain Non-sequitor continues with his amazing run of copy&paste gibberish. This one took awhile to devise as it sets up a strawman. The first sentence is plagiarized from any one of several dictionary web sites, such as this Australian kids science site:
      The strawman comes in when he switches over to a B-E condensate and then tries to compare that to atmosphere at room temperature. Never mind the fact that B-E condensates occur at temperatures approaching absolute zero, so that a condensate really has no equivalence to room-temperature statistical mechanics. Moreover, and this is the astonishing part, he compares this to a volume of atmosphere. Photons are not like gas molecules, HydroMan. Amospheric gases are not bosons, as gas molecules are distinguishable particles.

      This argument is really so badly constructed that I should not even try to engage in trying to clarify what Captain Hydrologist is trying to say. One just gets sucked into a morass of nonsensical sentence fragments.

      That is probably his intent and like Bart is saying, it must be some Australian pasttime to take part in fabricating bizarre pseudoscientific worlds.

      Girma does this with his graph trendology.
      Doug Cotton does this with his radiative physics theory.
      StefTheDenier does this with his gas expansion theory.
      Fitzhenry does this with his barometric heating of the atmosphere theory.
      Newcomer Jinan Cao does this with some theory he just presented on this thread.
      Chief does this with his “excess atmospheric CO2 is natural” theory, and his non-sequitor riffing.

      Who is winning the crackpot sweepstakes?
      What the heck is going on down there?

      • ‘In statistical thermodynamics, Bose-Einstein statistics determines the statistical distribution of identical indistinguishable bosons over the energy states in thermal equilibrium[?]. Bose-Einstein (or B-E) statistics are closely related to Maxwell-Boltzmann statistics (M-B) and Fermi-Dirac statistics (F-D). While F-D statistics holds for fermions, M-B statistics holds for “classical particles, i.e. identical but distinguishable particules, and represents the classical or high-temperature limit of both F-D and B-E statistics.’ Here is the first paragraph from the Austrlian kids physics site.

        You called it Bose-Einstein rather than Maxwell-Boltzman which I correct you on and then you insist that I made the error and then embeelish it with insult to me – see if i give a rats arse – and my country. You are a very ugly American.

        Here is what I said – ‘These condense at low temperature to form a Bose-Einstein condensate. A volume of atmosphere in thermal equilibrium has similar energy distributions at room temperature but it is not a BEC. It is irrelevant at any rate as we are interested in the average of the macro state and not the statistics of the micro state.’

        I think we know who wins the crackpot award.

      • Captain #2,
        You can go on and try to wiggle your way out of the situation. The funniest part is where you conflate the statistics of gas molecules in the atmosphere with photon statistics.

      • The volume containing a large number of molecules which is in thermodynamic equilibrium is merely the neccessary condittion for Maxwell-Planck statistics to be true. Why don’t you work on your comprehension skils instead of a nasty little w@nker.

      • “The volume containing a large number of molecules which is in thermodynamic equilibrium is merely the neccessary condittion for Maxwell-Planck statistics to be true. Why don’t you work on your comprehension skils instead of a nasty little w@nker.”

        Photons are not molecules. They follow Bose-Einstein statistics strictly, while in the high temperature limit the trend merges with an exponential making it asymptotically approach Maxwell-Boltzmann statistics.

        BTW, I don’t know what “Maxwell-Planck” statistics are. Making screw-ups like that is very common for beginners who combine plausible terms that they have heard but not intellectualized.
        I commend you on your continued mastery in impersonating Professor Irwin Corey.

      • Hell – meant Maxwell-Boltzmann. I was thinking Planck in relation to another little correction of you above. ‘The Maxwell–Boltzmann distribution applies to ideal gases close to thermodynamic equilibrium with negligible quantum effects and at non-relativistic speeds.’ It is of little relevance – statistical mechanics is about explaining the microstate properties that lead to the macrosta