The weatherman is not a moron

by Judith Curry

Why are weather forecasters succeeding when other predictors fail? It’s because long ago they came to accept the imperfections in their knowledge. – Nate Silver

Nate Silver has a forthcoming book entitled: The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail But Some Don’t. Book description from Amazon.com:

Nate Silver built an innovative system for predicting baseball performance, predicted the 2008 election within a hair’s breadth, and became a national sensation as a blogger—all by the time he was thirty. The New York Times now publishes FiveThirtyEight.com, where Silver is one of the nation’s most influential political forecasters.

Drawing on his own groundbreaking work, Silver examines the world of prediction, investigating how we can distinguish a true signal from a universe of noisy data. Most predictions fail, often at great cost to society, because most of us have a poor understanding of probability and uncertainty. Both experts and laypeople mistake more confident predictions for more accurate ones. But overconfidence is often the reason for failure. If our appreciation of uncertainty improves, our predictions can get better too. This is the “prediction paradox”: The more humility we have about our ability to make predictions, the more successful we can be in planning for the future.

The book is slated to be published Sept 28; why am I discussing it now?

The Sunday New York Times Magazine has an article written by Nate Silver, entitled The weatherman is not a moron, which draws on material from his forthcoming book.  The entire article is superb, I strongly recommend reading the entire thing.  It provides a very informative perspective on weather forecasting.  I excerpt here some statements related to uncertainty:

But if prediction is the truest way to put our information to the test, we have not scored well. In November 2007, economists in the Survey of Professional Forecasters – examining some 45,000 economic-data series – foresaw less than a 1-in-500 chance of an economic meltdown as severe as the one that would begin one month later. Attempts to predict earthquakes have continued to envisage disasters that never happened and failed to prepare us for those, like the 2011 disaster in Japan, that did.

The one area in which our predictions are making extraordinary progress, however, is perhaps the most unlikely field. Jim Hoke, a director with 32 years experience at the National Weather Service, has heard all the jokes about weather forecasting, like Larry David’s jab on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” that weathermen merely forecast rain to keep everyone else off the golf course. And to be sure, these slick-haired and/or short-skirted local weather forecasters are sometimes wrong. A study of TV meteorologists in Kansas City found that when they said there was a 100 percent chance of rain, it failed to rain at all one-third of the time.

But watching the local news is not the best way to assess the growing accuracy of forecasting. It’s better to take the long view. In 1972, the service’s high-temperature forecast missed by an average of six degrees when made three days in advance. Now it’s down to three degrees.

Perhaps the most impressive gains have been in hurricane forecasting. Just 25 years ago, when the National Hurricane Center tried to predict where a hurricane would hit three days in advance of landfall, it missed by an average of 350 miles. Now the average miss is only about 100 miles.

Why are weather forecasters succeeding when other predictors fail? It’s because long ago they came to accept the imperfections in their knowledge.

Our views about predictability are inherently flawed.

Chaos theory does not imply that the behavior of the system is literally random. It just means that certain types of systems are very hard to predict. Perhaps because chaos theory has been a part of meteorological thinking for nearly four decades, professional weather forecasters have become comfortable treating uncertainty the way a stock trader or poker player might. When weather.gov says that there’s a 20 percent chance of rain in Central Park, it’s because the National Weather Service recognizes that our capacity to measure and predict the weather is accurate only up to a point.

In a time when forecasters of all types make overconfident proclamations about political, economic or natural events, uncertainty is a tough sell. It’s much easier to hawk overconfidence, no matter if it’s any good. A long-term study of political forecasts conducted by Philip Tetlock, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, found that when political experts described an event as being absolutely certain, it failed to transpire an astonishing 25 percent of the time.

The Weather Service has struggled over the years with how much to let the public in on what it doesn’t exactly know. In April 1997, Grand Forks, N.D., was threatened by the flooding Red River, which bisects the city. Snowfall had been especially heavy in the Great Plains that winter, and the service, anticipating runoff as the snow melted, predicted that the Red would crest to 49 feet, close to the record. Because the levees in Grand Forks were built to handle a flood of 52 feet, a small miss in the forecast could prove catastrophic. The margin of error on the Weather Service’s forecast – based on how well its flood forecasts had done in the past – implied about a 35 percent chance of the levees’ being topped.

The waters, in fact, crested to 54 feet. It was well within the forecast’s margin of error, but enough to overcome the levees and spill more than two miles into the city. Cleanup costs ran into the billions of dollars, and more than 75 percent of the city’s homes were damaged or destroyed. Unlike a hurricane or an earthquake, the Grand Forks flood may have been preventable. The city’s flood walls could have been reinforced using sandbags. It might also have been possible to divert the overflow into depopulated areas. But the Weather Service had explicitly avoided communicating the uncertainty in its forecast to the public, emphasizing only the 49-foot prediction. The forecasters later told researchers that they were afraid the public might lose confidence in the forecast if they had conveyed any uncertainty.

Since then, the National Weather Service has come to recognize the importance of communicating the uncertainty in its forecasts as completely as possible. “Uncertainty is the fundamental component of weather prediction,” said Max Mayfield, an Air Force veteran who ran the National Hurricane Center when Katrina hit. “No forecast is complete without some description of that uncertainty.” 

Unfortunately, this cautious message can be undercut by private-sector forecasters. Catering to the demands of viewers can mean intentionally running the risk of making forecasts less accurate. For years, when the Weather Channel said there was a 20 percent chance of rain, it actually rained only about 5 percent of the time.  People don’t mind when a forecaster predicts rain and it turns out to be a nice day. But if it rains when it isn’t supposed to, they curse the weatherman for ruining their picnic. “If the forecast was objective, if it has zero bias in precipitation,” Bruce Rose, a former vice president for the Weather Channel, said, “we’d probably be in trouble.”

JC comments:  The decades of weather forecasting experience provide a wealth of understanding for the process of increasing the accuracy of prediction.  The  day-to-day testing is invaluable for improving forecasts.  Effective forecasts use both a model and expert judgment.  And making a forecast is easy; characterizing the uncertainty and assessing confidence in the forecast is the hard part.

The article provides some interesting examples on how forecasts are framed in the context of perceived user biases and sensitivities.  The Weather Channel’s rainfall forecast example is an interesting one, where probabilities are deliberately biased high.  If you carry an umbrella and it doesn’t rain, no big deal. But if it rains and you get caught without an umbrella, then that hurts. So the rainfall forecasts have a precautionary bias, based upon user sensitivity.  The Red River flood is an interesting (and painful example).  The Weather Service made a terrific forecast, within 10% of the actual magnitude of this extreme event.   Their forecast was close to the disaster threshold.  The disaster happened in spite of a good forecast; the dam managers should have been concerned about any forecast that came close to the disaster threshold.  The forecasters were worried about the dam managers not paying sufficient attention to the forecast, and as a result were not explicit about the uncertainty.

Since climate models have their heritage in weather prediction models, all these lesson learned from weather forecasting should trickle up to those making climate projections for the 21st century, right?  Well, in the U.S. anyways, the weather forecasting and climate modeling communities are completely separate (this is not the case in the UK).  And until very recently, there have been no attempts to evaluate the climate models against decadal scale variability (which is where the weather forecasters would have started, if they had been assigned to work on this problem).  So, climate modelers and the IPCC provide  projections for the 21st century using models that are untested in prediction mode.

Ok, people want to know what might happen with the 21st century climate, so climate models can provide some scenarios of what might happen.  The problem arises in how these projections are communicated to the decision makers.  It seems like both the rainfall and the flood forecast examples are relevant here.   The user sensitivity/cost is much higher if the climate changes than if it doesn’t change, so the focus is on scenarios that will produce change (a precautionary bias).  The challenge to getting people to pay attention to the projections has arguably been met by downplaying uncertainty in the projections, analogous to the Red River flood forecast.

So, 40 years from now, will climate projections fall on the ‘failed’ or ‘successful’ side of the ledger?  Well, time will tell, but in 2050 there may be no simple way to evaluate this.  Some elements of the projection may turn out to be correct, even if many aspects are judged to have been not correct by some criteria.  The bigger societal issue is whether these projections motivated  better (or worse) decisions, in hindsight.  And what is ‘better’ depends on values and politics.  ‘No regrets’ policies would tilt this in the direction of ‘successful’ even if the climate projections do not verify well in the coming decades.

486 responses to “The weatherman is not a moron

  1. ’No regrets’ policies would tilt this in the direction of ‘successful’ even if the climate projections do not verify well in the coming decades.

    That’s what rational people have been arguing for CO2 policies since before the 1992 Rio Earth Summit

    • I have argued previously that emissions targets/reductions are not necessarily no regrets policies
      https://judithcurry.com/2010/10/31/decision-making-under-climate-uncertainty-part-i/

      • But does “not necessarily” mean they aren’t likely to be?

      • Judy,

        Thank you for referring to that 2010 post: https://judithcurry.com/2010/10/31/decision-making-under-climate-uncertainty-part-i/ . I hadn’t seen it previously. There is much valuable information in the post and in the links within the post.

        This quote sums up our dilemma and shows it is unchanged:

        The key issue is whether “betting big today” with a comprehensive global climate policy targeted at stabilization “will fundamentally reshape our common future on a global scale to our advantage or quickly produce losses that can throw mankind into economic, social, and environmental bankruptcy”.

        You make the point:

        Resilient and adaptive decision making strategies are used in the face of high uncertainty. Resilient strategies seek to identify approaches that will work reasonably well across the range of circumstances that might arise.

        I’d respond: we could implement a resilient strategy if we wanted to. Unfortunately, a key element of it has been blocked by the anti-nuke activists for 50 years and continues to be blocked. We could, if the impediments to low-cost nuclear are removed, cut global CO2 emissions by perhaps 50% by 2060 by replacing coal with <low-cost nuclear generated electricity. However, to achieve deep cuts in CO2 emissions it is essential that the nuclear is cheaper than coal generated electricity. If electricity is cheap it will replace some gas for heating and some oil for land transport (as in electric vehicles and synthetic fuels produced with cheap electricity). This replaces not only the emissions from the direct combustion but also he fugitive emissions associated with production and transportation of the fossil fuels.

        Robustness is a strategy that formally considers uncertainty, whereby decision makers seek to reduce the range of possible scenarios over which the strategy performs poorly. As an example, Info-gap decision theory sacrifices a small amount of optimal performance to reduce sensitivity to what may turn out to be incorrect assumptions.

        If we want to apply ‘Robustness’ strategy (or improve the robustness of our policies) I wonder why we are not putting more effort into reducing the uncertainty of the ‘Damage Function’ and the ‘Decarbonisation Rate’, instead of spending so much of our climate research resources on trying to reduce the uncertainty of climate sensitivity.

        If we assume that CO2 sensitivity dominates any conceivable combination of natural (forced and unforced) variability, what do the simulations actually say about 21st century climate? Well, the sensitivity range for the IPCC calculations are essentially in the same range (1.5-4.5C) that was estimated in the 1979 Charney report. And the calculations show that the warming proceeds until about 2060 in a manner that is independent of the emissions scenario.

        So exactly what have we learnt about possible 21st century climate from the AR4 relative to the TAR (and even relative to the 1979 Charney report) that refines our ability to set an optimal emissions target? I suspect that we are probably at the point of diminishing returns from learning much more in the next few years (e.g. AR5) from additional simulations by the large climate models of the current structural form.

        A great deal of uncertainty exists, and emissions target policies based on such uncertain model simulations are not robust policies.

        Good point.

        Interesting post. I’d commend it to others who are interested in policy.

        I haven’t read Parts II and III yet.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Peter Lang, your simplistic free-market reasoning was what motivated the 1992 privatization of America’s uranium enrichment industry (privatized as “The United States Energy Company”, USEC).

        As is well-known, the privatization of America’s nuclear industry has failed utterly, eh?   :shock:   :shock:   :shock:

        USEC stock price is down 96% from its 1997 offering, eh?

        The result has been an ongoing economic and strategic disaster for America, eh?

        Conclusion  Simplistic free-market economic ideologies fail utterly in globalized high-technology industries.

        Clinging to failed economy ideology is costly and dumb, eh?  :!:   :!:   :!:

        Learn from history, Peter Lang!   :)   :)   :)

      • “Fan”

        It is apparent that you simply do not understand what Peter Lang has written.

        Read it again, real slowly and carefully, to make sure you really understand, before you shoot off the next silly response.

        Max

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse
        “Peter Lang, your simplistic free-market reasoning was what motivated the 1992 privatization of America’s uranium enrichment industry (privatized as “The United States Energy Company”, USEC).”

        Look, dummy. Privatization does not equal “free-market”.
        Instead it’s a govt effort to turn something public into a private enterprise.
        Article you reference:
        “The U.S. government received about three billion dollars for USEC”
        So govt got 3 billion dollars from a public offering of an entity made by the govt.
        So analogy could be: say Kraft foods, it wants to spin off some part of it’s business. So Kraft makes some separate corporation which issues public stock, Kraft takes that money as way selling part of it’s company.
        Same thing with govt- it has assets, assigns them to some corporation, sells shares, govt pockets money for selling shares [3 billion dollars worth].
        Part of reason investors mostly likely paid 3 billion dollars to the government, was because the created company was in future going to get a govt backed loan [2 billion dollar- so company would have capital to do something.
        Next part of article:
        “However, in July 2009 the DOE did not grant a $2 billion loan guarantee for a planned uranium-enrichment facility in Piketon, Ohio, “causing the initiative to go into financial meltdown,” the company USEC spokesperson Elizabeth Stuckle said, adding “we are now forced to initiate steps to demobilize the project.”

        Back to analogy, Kraft spins off a corporation, part of spin off is Kraft say it’s going to loan the new corporation money. And when time comes, kraft says for some reason it wouldn’t lend money. As result new corporation fails.
        Most blame for the failure should be Kraft- because it spun off the corporation [and had control of who runs it and didn’t go thru with loan. Same applies with situation of USEC. Govt chose who was getting the assets and the plan of new corporation was to get a govt loan.
        So this is failure of govt, not free markets.
        Unfortunately share holders probably can’t sue the government to recovery their 3 billion in losses- suing federal govt not generally allowed.
        And of course this occurred when Obama was the chief executive of federal government, but if you want, you can blame Bill Clinton or George H. W. Bush who were chief executives involved in starting the process.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Gbaikie, please let me suggest you reflect upon the following passage in the (above-linked) Rothwell analysis Market Power in Uranium Enrichment that begins:

        Markets fail for at least four reasons:

        (1) in industries where there are strong increasing returns to scale (also known as positive scale economies), the largest firms can increase market share to monopoly or near monopoly levels, then raise prices, for example, in software, particularly in operating systems;

        (2) where unpriced inputs or outputs, known as externalities, influence another producer or consumer’s profits or well-being, for example, greenhouse gas production, which is now not priced;

        (3) where consumers cannot be excluded from consumption, for example, from national security; and

        (4) where there is systematic asymmetric information between the buyer and seller, for example in markets where buyers cannot know the riskiness of the seller’s financial instruments.

        Gbaikie, it is striking that markets fail in four areas

          • national security,
          • globalized economy,
          • health-care morality, and
          • planetary ecology;

        that are prominently at-issue in the present election.   :!:   :!:   :!:

        Perhaps the too-simple ideologies of the far-left and the far-right are both failing?   :?:   :?:   :?:

      • ‘No Regrets’ policy as applied to CO2 emissions

        No regrets measures are those for which benefits, such as reduced energy costs and reduced emissions of local/regional pollutants equal or exceed their cost to society, excluding the benefits of climate change mitigation. They are sometimes known as measures worth doing anyway

        http://www.globalcentres.org/cgcp/english/html_documents/climate/1-4.htm

        No insurance policy is worthwhile if the cost of the premiums exceeds the protection purchased. For greenhouse insurance to be worthwhile, it must either reduce the risks of anthropogenic climate change or reduce the costs of emission reductions designed to achieve the same goal, without imposing off-setting risks, such as those which would result from policies that slow economic growth and technological advance. …

        Rather than adopt costly regulatory measures that serve to suppress energy use and economic growth, policy makers should seek to eliminate government interventions in the marketplace that obstruct emission reductions and discourage the adoption of lower emission technologies. Such an approach is a “no regrets” strategy, as these policy recommendations will provide economic and environmental benefits by fostering innovation and economic efficiency whether or not climate change is a serious threat. While fear of global warming may prompt the enactment of these reforms, they merit implementation even if we have nothing to fear from climate change.

        A “no regrets” approach to climate change would incorporate the following policy measures, among others:

        1) Remove Regulatory Barriers to Innovation: Existing regulatory programs, and many environmental regulations in particular, create obstacles to the development and deployment of emission-reducing and energy-saving technologies. Such regulations retard market-driven enhancements in efficiency and environmental performance that reduce energy use and emissions per unit of output.

        2) Eliminate Energy Subsidies: Government energy subsidies distort energy markets and energy-related investment decisions without producing off-setting returns. The elimination of energy subsidies, in the United States and abroad, would result in a more efficient energy sector.

        3) Deregulate Electricity Markets: Local electricity monopolies and government utility regulation are significant barriers to innovation in the energy sector. Electricity deregulation and consumer choice will create market opportunities for alternative energy sources and create further pressure for greater efficiency and innovation in the energy sector.

        http://cei.org/studies-issue-analysis/greenhouse-policy-without-regrets-free-market-approach-uncertain-risks-climat

      • The policies suggested are good, but hardly sufficient.

        The core of the idea of a “no regrets” policy is this: “excluding the benefits of climate change mitigation.” Which is to say, it asks us to formulate policy as if climate change denial were fact. Which is to say, “no regrets” policy is a euphemism meaning “give us climate deniers exactly what we want” policy. That is an approach that will obviously cause many regrets when climate reality trumps denialist fantasy.

        I would suggest a “no regrets” policy which minimizes the costs of climate change based upon the best science available, with a healthy margin of safety in case the impacts of climate change are more severe than we think.

        If such a policy simultaneously makes the air cleaner to breath, helps close the budget gap, makes the streams and rivers less polluted, the country more energy independent and the landscape less scarred with mines and wells? I would have no regrets about that.

      • (In response to your list of four predictable market failures:)

        The problem with your suggestion is that the idiological “far right” understands entirely the predictable failures of market economics. Adam Smith detailed them over 200 years ago, and we on the idiological right read our classics. To the extent that what you term the political “right” has any trouble with this, it is because you’re not talking about the idiological right, but, rather, the Republican Party. As the nomination of Mitt Romney shows, that party is not, in fact, controlled by it’s idiological right, the way the Democratic Party is controlled by its most radical leftists.

        Your confusion seems quite similar to me to the common and erroneous conclusion that pro-business policies among Republicans mean that big buisnesses are pro-Republican. As the behaviors of ADM, Solyndra, etc. demonstrate, that which is in the interests of businesses generally are not in the interests of existing big businesses. These generally find far more advantage in using the power of government for anti-competitive purposes–which, unlike using market power for anti-competitive purposes, is entirely legal–than in having to continue to succeed in the marketplace.

  2. But what is the definition of “no regrets policies”?

    The rationale for reducing emissions of carbon dioxide is to reduce the risk of the possibility of catastrophic outcomes. Making the transition to cleaner fuels has the added benefit of reducing the impact on public health and ecosystems and improving energy security — providing benefits even if the risk is eventually reduced.

    If this rationale is accepted, with the outcome that CO2 emissions and other pollutants from the burning of fossil fuels are significantly reduced, why would there be any regrets?

    • Temp, reducing the impact of all anthropogenic negative influences on climate should be the goal. Fixation on one factor in a complex system is rarely successful.

      Land use, which supposedly has had nearly no impact on climate can be modified to reduce regional climate impacts by 0.5 to 1.5 C and increase soil carbon storage by 20% over five years. The land uses changes can increase soil carbon storage because land use change originally reduced soil carbon storage by 75 to 80%. So a “no regrets” land conservation and restoration policy would offset AGW, increase carbon storage reducing ACO2 levels, improve moisture retention in soils reducing drought risk, reduce ground water use for irrigation, improve farm output, extend the useful life of agricultural land and be aesthetically pleasing. Other than that, it would suck, so forcing energy austerity on the world is probably a better plan.

      BTW, have you ever wondered why land use change has no impact on global warming but changing land use habits reduces global warming?

    • John Carpenter

      TT, few would argue against your rationale of transitioning to cleaner fuels to reduce any potential CO2 impacts.

      • David Springer

        I firmly believe that more CO2 is better for the biosphere. Ostensibly and by observation the most warming occurs in nightly low temperatures, over land, in the higher latitudes. That plain and simply spells longer growing seasons. It’s a botanical fact that higher levels of CO2 reduce the fresh water requirements of green plants and at the same time increases their rate of growth. Any reduction of CO2 thus negatively impacts the primary producers in the food chain which negatively impacts everything above them. If atmospheric CO2 wasn’t rising we’d need to invent a way to make it rise because it’s a good thing.

      • Springer, more CO2 might have prevented the drought from having such an adverse effect on yields of everything from corn to apples. But it may not be too late for a remedy. You and other CO2 groupies should go to supermarkets and exhale on the fruit and veggies. If no one is looking blow on ’em, but be careful about the spittle.

      • Max, breathing on the stuff in the store will not help, but breathing on the green leaves while the stuff is still growing will help. When people talk to their plants, they do grow better.

      • Max,

        More poor science I see.

        The fruit and veggies in the supermarket? You can blow on them all you want. Ain’t nothing going to happen. Can you figure out why?

      • timg56 said on September 9, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
        “Max,

        More poor science I see.

        The fruit and veggies in the supermarket? You can blow on them all you want. Ain’t nothing going to happen.”
        _______

        Ain’t nothing going to happen if you aren’t patient. Go to your favorite supermarket and blow hard on the apples for about 4 hours. I’ll bet you something happens, and it may not even take that long.

    • No regrets policies? How about allowing the market to maximize the use of low cost, low pollution, low CO2 emission natural gas which can be burnt very efficiently to provide abundant energy?

      As opposed to blocking it to make it more expensive, allow the coal lobby to get subsidies to make marginally cleaner coal which is worse in every way than natural gas, give T. Boone Pickens lots more taxpayer money (he needs it) to build wind farms that don’t produce much energy and are expensive and give more subsidies to more cronies for failed solar projects.

      We will have regrets if our entire society and much of the world is energy poor and has wasted a bunch of money to make people with political connections even richer. And we still may have 600 ppm CO2 if India and China keep burning coal. If the effect of doubling CO2 turns out to be 1.5 C over 150 years (we have no idea of most of the lags in nature) we could have regrets if we don’t pursue sensible policies. Sensible policies may just mean not putting too many hurdles in the way of things that are “bad” because they are not wind, solar, bio-mass or other trendy energy.

      Whereas swapping CH4 for coal can cut our emissions a lot with other benefits thrown in.

      Excellent points Judith about how weather forecasts and the Red River forecasts exhibit the precautionary view as well as not reporting uncertainty. It makes sense to take some precautions but there also needs to be a cost-benefit analysis built in. And this needs to be done for all three cases: the average case, the lowest estimate, and the highest estimate. That is with the error bars included.

      • The last 1.5C degree of warming have been wonderful for the earth and its inhabitants and its society. So will be the next 1.5C degree of warming, if we get it.
        =================

      • David Springer

        :mrgreen:

      • That may well be true. My point is that even if it is not wonderful, it certainly won’t be catastrophic and should easily be manageable over 150 years.

    • Tempterrain,

      There are “regrets” because loss of economic productivity means potential loss of solutions to other problems. The argument from the “reduce CO2” side has always been that we can reduce CO2 without loss of economic productivity – but that argument is hardly widely accepted and certainly not demonstrable. Nor is the magnitude of the impact of CO2 demonstrable. It’s highly uncertain.

      There is no way to know whether or not, or to what degree, reducing CO2 emissions will positively impact AGW. There is no way to know whether or not, or to what degree, such reductions will have a negative impact on the economy.

      What is demonstrable and what is certain is that economic growth reduces environmental impacts and generally improves the human condition – via lower birthrates, more efficient use of resources and better health care, among other things. With the relative uncertainties, it seems obvious that economic growth should win this equation until our understanding of CO2 impacts improve substantially.

      • There is much to regret;
        Fantasies of unearned guilt,
        Shame for our success.
        ============

      • Obama at one point admitted it would slow economic growth and raise energy prices.

      • Hence, aggressive mitigation, as global warming will otherwise significantly impede economic growth.

      • Just as deforestation, mining and agriculture have impeded economic growth?

      • Still advocating policies that you don’t know will have any impact but cost alot of resources huh??

      • Here, Rob, you make two claims:

        — I don’t know that mitigation will have any impact.
        — You know that mitigation will “cost alot [sic] of resources.”

        I eagerly await your evidence in support of these claims.

      • Robert

        Now you are back to idiot Robert comments that are intentionally unresponsive.

        The general question regarding mitigation actions is that nobody knows if or when a mitigation action implemented today will positively imapct future conditions. Dodging the question with a quip does not change that situation. I all Americans suddenly started driving a Prius and our emissions dropped by 5% next year, what would be the change to the feared future conditions???? Answer- nobody knows!

    • If you spend trillions of dollars and only get some minor health benefits the regret is the waste of all that money and the loss of the real benefits it might have bought.

      • The money does not cease to exist because it is spent on things you don’t approve of. Even government funded scientists spend their income on the local plumber, groceries, hairdressers, etc.

      • Would Louise break everyone’s window, or take in each other’s laundry?
        ===================

      • The broken window theory is broken.

      • k scott denison

        Tell that to the USSR Louise… oh wait, the USSR doesn’t exist anymore. With all those governmenr employees, about 100% of all employees as I recall, I wonder why the USSR didn’t make it? After all, even government funded plumbers spend mone on government funded groceries, etc.

      • Maybe Louise wouldn’t break everyone’s window, but if her window were broken and several thousand dollars were stolen from her, the “money would not cease to exist” just because it would then be “spent by the thieves on things Louise might not approve of”.

        I see her logic.

        Or do I?

        Max

      • The USSR failed, therefore all tax revenue ceases to exist.

        Denier logic in action.

      • Early in the War to End All Wars, the Tsar of Rooosia attempted prohibition, in order to tune up his polis and his military for the emergent conflict; he rowed back as soon as he realized what a large chunk of his revenoooos were from taxes on vodka, a third or so if my soluble memory resists.
        =============

      • Louise, it is not the money that is lost, but what the money buys or doesn’t buy that is lost. Money is merely a useful reification, but a reification non the less. Ever wonder what happened to all that monetary wealth in the Great Depression?

      • When you spend ten dollars for a gallon of gas, like they do in Europe, instead of four dollars or less for a gallon of gas, you have more people richer, but you have made many more people poorer.

      • Louise, agw deniers have a child-like concept of money. A child thinks if he spends his allowance it’s gone forever. It’s hard for an immature mind to picture spent money circulating through the economy.

      • Louise,

        You need to go back to the thigh high boots and whip. Some of the stuff, like this, does not well become you.

    • “Making the transition to cleaner fuels has the added benefit of reducing the impact on public health and ecosystems and improving energy security — providing benefits even if the risk is eventually reduced.”

      And those ‘cleaner fuels'(accepting for the moment that CO2 is ‘dirty’), capable of powering civilization 24/7/365, with less environmental impact than hydrocarbons fuels, are??

    • @tt: But what is the definition of “no regrets policies”?

      An early (the first?) application of this concept to global warming is in a 1991 article in Foreign Policy (No. 83, pp.47-65), “A ‘No Regret’ Environmental Policy” by C. Boyden Gray and David B. Rivkin, Jr. At that time Gray was counsel to the president (G.H.W. Bush) and Rivkin was associate general counsel, DoE.

      You can take the article as definitive of the concept only for Bush 1. By Bush 2 its meaning had changed completely, as one might surmise from the second paragraph’s Canute-like nine-year climate forecast. From page 52:

      Further, a realistic approach to the problem must be a comprehensive one that, based on the best available scientific model of global climate change, reduces all greenhouse gases to the extent necessary by manipulating their differing sources and sinks (carbon-absorbing and -storing elements such as trees or oceans). All greenhouse gases should be addressed, including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, halocarbons (which include CFCs and related hydrochloroflourocarbons [sic]), and tropospheric ozone. The complex interplay of sources should be considered as they affect the “net emissions” of greenhouse gases, that in turn influence climate processes.

      “No regrets” is not tantamount to a “wait and see” approach. As a result of efforts already in place, in the year 2000 the United States will have an aggregate level of greenhouse gas emissions equal to or below the 1987 level. Furthermore, with the enactment of the administration’s NES proposals, aggregate levels of greenhouse emissions are projected to remain below the 1987 level through 2030, even accounting for new economic growth.

      Absolute scientific certainty then is not a prerequisite for taking action. Rather, research should be aggressively pursued and the action taken should make sense based upon the current state of knowledge in this area.

      (A footnote on that page cites the book “America’s Climate Change Strategy: An Action Agenda,” The White House, February, 1991, which however appears to have vanished off the face of the earth. I would dearly love a copy.)

      Apropos of the second paragraph, while the weatherman may not be a moron, what of those who play one on CSPAN?

      Not to say that Democrats don’t make upbeat predictions, though the most recent upbeat one I heard was from a Republican, namely Romney’s prophecy of 3 million new jobs a year during his first term in office.

      This would be more plausible without automation. Robots today are far more efficient at taking jobs away than they were even just a decade ago. It’s only going to get better or worse depending on which side of the executive desk you’re on. Robots are a tremendous money-saving device. I’m all for them—I’d better be given that autonomous vehicles, i.e. robot cabbies, is one of my research areas today.

    • In this example of “no regrets” we are caught doing the right thing for the wrong reason. A cleaner world is worth having even if reducing CO2 doesn’t stop climate change. For some reason a cleaner world is not a compelling argument for destroying the economies of the world and condemning our unborn to inherit a world less ready to provide contemporary comforts. For that you need a heart-felt fear of frying in hell on a planet with boiling seas with hissing waves crashing against our foothills, far from forgotten beaches.

      • For some reason a cleaner world is not a compelling argument for destroying the economies of the world

        Climate skeptics have no shortage of straw man arguments, but this one has to be their number one favorite. No proponent of appropriately mitigating likely future damage is proposing “destroying the economies of the world.”

        In any event the argument based on “economies” has become something of an anachronism. Trickle-down economics is the theory that a robust economy benefits the 99%, but automation is rapidly making this a lie.

        Whether or not Romney’s promise of 3 million jobs a year in his first term is something he seriously believes possible, it is not something any president is going to be able to achieve for the period 2013-2017. Conceivably 2 million a year perhaps, but even that is now unlikely given the march of robots.

        The “economies of the world” will thrive, in fact is already thriving as measured by the greatly increased fortunes of the 1%. There are now over 1200 billionnaires, and Credit Suisse estimates 24 million millionnaires (hence slightly less than a million dollars makes you one of the 1%).

        What won’t thrive is the 99%, who’ll be hung out to dry.

        Those condemned to a life of forever repeating the mantra of trickle-down economics are throwbacks to the 20th century.

      • (vrpratt was of course me. Occasionally WordPress resets my real name to my login username without warning.)

      • No proponent of appropriately mitigating likely future damage is proposing “destroying the economies of the world.”

        Oh, yes they are. That is exactly what the proponents of high cost, useless, mitigation strategies – such as renewable energy and carbon pricing policies – are proposing. The problem is they do not recognise it, or if they do, they wont acknowledge it.

      • Those condemned to a life of forever repeating the mantra of trickle-down economics are throwbacks to the 20th century.

        There has been no strawman offered but I am dying to know this: Is it your notion that trickle-up is the norm? But of course economies are under attack, and world wide. Cap And Trade. Kyoto. Copenhagen. Decarbonized economies. Are these just buzz words to you? These are the core response to the fear of global warming. Wouldn’t you like to at least see some acceleration in sea level before tramping down that one-way trail?

      • Those talking about “destroying the economies of the world” do so with vague numbers like $20 trillion while saying next to nothing about the period of time involved or the magnitude of the damage that numbers like that would cause relative to the damage more CO2 could cause. Instead they base their arguments on the claim that CO2 will do no damage at all.

        Even in that case it is unclear to me what level of “destruction” we’re talking about. In particular will it be more destructive than what the US policies between 2001 and 2009 wrought? Those proved to be incredibly destructive, wiping out 7.5 million jobs in the US alone, while Europe is now in a very fragile state. Only Brazil, Russia, India, and China seem to be relatively stable, along with some much smaller countries like South Africa and Australia, and even a couple of those look a little wobbly lately.

        Nordhaus’s book details several scenarios that to a rank amateur like me make sense. Those with a stronger professional background in economics would be much better qualified than me to find errors in Nordhaus’s analysis. In order to educate the public to Nordhaus’s errors one would need to explain the errors with the same clarity as Nordhaus explains his analysis. So far I’m unconvinced that this has been done.

      • @dp: Is it your notion that trickle-up is the norm?

        Of course not, but that’s not the opposite of trickle-down. The opposite of trickle-down is for the rich to keep all the money to themselves.

        Which is in fact what is happening today. Romney can only turn that around by putting the thumbscrews on the world’s CEO’s until they agree to hire people that automation has made redundant. It’s not going to happen.

        Wouldn’t you like to at least see some acceleration in sea level before tramping down that one-way trail?

        My understanding is that once such an acceleration can be seen, it is too late to stop it. So actually I would not like to see any such acceleration as it would be very bad news indeed.

      • Those talking about “destroying the economies of the world” do so with vague numbers like $20 trillion while saying next to nothing about the period of time involved or the magnitude of the damage that numbers like that would cause relative to the damage more CO2 could cause.

        Strawman. Misleading. Dishonest?

        See for example:
        What the carbon tax and ETS will really cost
        http://jennifermarohasy.com/2012/06/what-the-carbon-tax-and-ets-will-really-cost-peter-lang/

        http://www.skepticalscience.com/news.php?n=1325#80611

      • As I indicated in “Those with a stronger professional background in economics would be much better qualified than me,” I’m always happy to listen to the gamut of professional opinions on such subjects, with a preference for those where I find the explanation so clear that I can follow it easily. I’m a bit slow on these economics things, so people will have to bear with me when the mathematics gets tough.

        I should say however that calculations based on assumed discount rates are meaningless to me because rates vary widely enough to yield outcomes all over the place. I would prefer to see every dollar amount given as a pair (A,Y) where A is the amount and Y is the year. Sometimes data in that form can be simplified to a formula A(Y) giving the amount in the year Y. In either case one could then play around with various discount rates to see what the dependence on discount rate was.

      • Vaughan Pratt

        “Those with a stronger professional background in economics would be much better qualified than me”

        It’s really quite simple to do discounted cash flow internal rate of return calculations, and certainly does not require an advanced degree in economics.

        You can put a price tag on your assumptions, set up a matrix, and crank in different discount rates.

        The problem is that NONE of the very few specific proposals made to date to modify our planet’s climate by mitigating GHG emissions have been accompanied by a cost/benefit study incorporating this sort of analysis.

        The Australian carbon tax is a good example. Peter Lang has made a rough calculation of the costs involved on the Marohasy blog, but one thing is missing: the “payback” or “return on investment”.

        Face it folks. Australia is a beautiful place, with breathtaking scenery, wonderful cities and a very friendly population, but as far as world CO2 emissions is concerned, it is totally insignificant.

        Over the period 1980-2010 Australia’s annual CO2 emissions increased by 2.5% per year compounded, from 201 to 423 million tons.
        http://www.eia.doe.gov/iea/carbon.html

        This growth rate has slowed down. Over the period 2000-2010 it was 1.6% per year, from 360 million tons in 2000 to 423 million tons in 2010.

        Let’s assume there is no further slowdown in this exponential rate of increase (most likely an “upper limit” estimate)>

        On this basis Australia will have emitted a cumulative total of 84 GtCO2 from today until 2100.

        On average around 50% of the amount of CO2 emitted by humans “remains” in the atmosphere, with the balance apparently absorbed by the biosphere and oceans. This represents an atmospheric increase of 5.4 ppmv.

        IPCC’s model-based business-as-usual “scenario and storyline A1T” projects an increase of atmospheric CO2 to 608 ppmv by 2100 (from today’s 392 ppmv).
        http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/special-reports/spm/sres-en.pdf

        Using IPCC’s mean estimate of 2xCO2 climate sensitivity of 3°C and the logarithmic relation, we see that by eliminating 100% of Australia’s CO2 emissions entirely starting today we would reduce global warming by year 2100 by a theoretical 0.04°C!

        Fuddidabaoudit, Vaughan. It’s a no-brainer, even without an advanced degree in economics or climatology.

        Max

      • Vaughan

        I did some calculations on costs in this article carried here last year. Its also worth reading the comments and links.

        https://judithcurry.com/2011/05/26/the-futility-of-carbon-reduction/

        The costs of co2 reduction are huge in relation to the temperature reduction. In the Uk we wou;ld have to find some £40 billion a year for no discernible return

        As you can see from this and many other blogs the notion of say using renewables in order to reduce co2 puts many peoples backs up because of the basic remise behind it. However, looked at in the terms of energy security it starts to look different.
        tonyb

      • Tony, I’ve read several of your articles, and you are obviously willing to put in the time to understand a subject.

        The article you link to is a straw man argument in several respects. It looks at the UK in isolation, it supposes the UK will rapidly transition to carbon-free energy, and it makes a variety of pessimistic and unrealistic claims about renewable energy.

        I would suggest you examine more of a “best case” of a global agreement to cut GHG emissions, brought about in most localities by a gradually phased in carbon tax. You will have a stronger argument that mitigation is untenable if you look at costs from a best case, rather than a worst case.

      • Vaughan Pratt

        Looks like my post and that of tony b came in almost simultaneously.

        They both tell the same story.

        One cannot justify CO2 mitigation schemes in Australia (or the UK) by showing the amount of global warming (theoretically) averted by year 2100, i.e. there is no discernible “return” on the quite considerable “investment”.

        Of course, these numbers are never mentioned by politicians, green lobby groups or others trying to promote “CO2 mitigation schemes” in Australia or the UK, because they demonstrate the utter futility of such schemes.

        We humans cannot make perceptible changes to our planet’s climate.no matter how much taxpayer money we throw at it.

        Quite simple, actually, so let’s reduce the high level of uncertainty in the attribution of climate changes and, at the same time, set ourselves up to adapt to any climate changes nature (or anyone else) throws at us, if and when they occur.

        If I understand it correctly, this appears to be the point of view of our hostess here.

        Max

        Max

        .

      • The projected costs of carbon pricing exceed the projected benefits by an order of magnitude.

        However, its much worse than that. The projected costs are underestimated and projected benefits wont be achieved.

        The projected benefits cannot be achieved because the assumptions on which the benefits are calculated cannot be achieved. They are academic and totally impracticable in the real world.

        To make the benefits exceed the costs, we have to use very low discount rates and project the benefits of our actions now out 500 years. We have to accumulate projected costs and benefits out to year 2500.

      • Clarification:

        The opening sentence of my previous comment should have said:

        “The projected costs of carbon pricing exceed the projected benefits by an order of magnitude” to 2050.

      • Vaughan Pratt

        Tony b cited the link to a post by himself on this blog on “the futility of carbon reduction” as it applies to the UK today, asking for cost/benefit estimates to check on cited estimates made by Ed Hoskins.

        I responded with a quickie analysis, essentially confirming Hoskins’ conclusion that UK carbon reduction schemes are essentially an exercise in futility.
        https://judithcurry.com/2011/05/26/the-futility-of-carbon-reduction/#comment-70695

        The same holds for Australia, of course.

        China and India are the world’s future CO2 generators, as they bring the quality of life of their enormous populations up to a level similar to that we currently enjoy, largely by the availability of reliable, low-cost energy derived to a large extent from local fossil fuels.

        As these nations develop their economies and improve their standards of living, they will undoubtedly increase their economic carbon efficiency ($GDP generated per ton of CO2 emitted) from the current US$500-700/ton CO2 level to a much higher level, such as currently seen in the USA, EU or Japan (US$2,000-3,000/ton CO2), through increased energy efficiency, technology improvements, reduction of waste, etc.

        This will not require any global carbon tax (as it also did not in the USA, EU or Japan).

        Max

      • “We humans cannot make perceptible changes to our planet’s climate.no matter how much taxpayer money we throw at it.”

        Considering the amount money UK and Aus are spending, you all start space program- one would make NASA seem a small effort.

        And with space capability you could change the planet’s climate- if changing the Planet climate was a good thing to do.

        There are wild options available- things not seriously consider due to the costs. But you all spending more money than these wild ideas would cost.

        A more famous example is a space elevator- challenging no doubt, maybe beyond current technology. But not completely goofy.
        Something perhaps more practical could something like a launch assist using Mag Lev. Generally:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/StarTram
        This:
        “The MagLifter program estimates a cost of 2 billion for a large scale project. The vehicle that could deliver a payload of 22,680 kg is estimated to cost $3 to $5 million ($7 million present value) with 1% operational and maintenance of capital cost ($20 million)”
        http://nsstc.uah.edu/essa/docs/iac/Poleacovschi-Cristina-IAC-11.D2.5.6.x10466.pdf

        Let’s assume the 2 billion is underestimate. Say instead 20 to 50 billion over decade: 2-5 billion per year.
        What get is nothing available on planet.
        You are an cutting edge in terms of space technology.
        In terms technological challenge, it would similar to making the fastest
        Mag Lev passenger train- in terms demonstration type thing- 50-100 km track. So that could one major goal of space program. Related to this could program to develop sub-orbital craft. The Maglifter designed for orbital launch but would also work for sub-orbital [might more suited for sub-orbital].

        It sort of makes sense to let US spend a lot money developing space, because it can afford it better. My point is you spending more than NASA on rubbish, why not be the world leader in something important and will eventually give ability to change Earth’s climate.

      • Robert

        You suggest to tony b

        I would suggest you examine more of a “best case” of a global agreement to cut GHG emissions, brought about in most localities by a gradually phased in carbon tax. You will have a stronger argument that mitigation is untenable if you look at costs from a best case, rather than a worst case.

        Maybe YOU would like to crank out the numbers on that one, Robert, rather than just waving your arms.

        I would only caution you that it is extremely unlikely that either China or India is going to slow down its economic growth in order to satisfy a “rich white man’s” guilt-driven obsession with CO2.

        The first order of priority for either nation is to increase the quality of life of its citizens the same way we did, i.e. through the availability of reliable, low-cost energy, derived principally from inexpensive local fossil fuels.

        There will obviously also be nuclear power generation in this picture, and economic pressures will force these nations to improve their carbon efficiencies (GDP per ton CO2) to the level we see in the industrialized nations today but there is absolutely no need for (or benefit from) a “global carbon tax” for either China or India.

        So what you are suggesting is an impossible strawman, Robert, not a realistic “best case”:.

        Max

      • How much temperature increase would be avoided by 2100 by mitigation policies?

        According to Nordhaus (Table5-8) http://nordhaus.econ.yale.edu/Balance_2nd_proofs.pdf the ‘Optimal’ carbon price policy would avoid 0.45 C increase in temperature by 2100 compared with no mitigation policy. Of course this is based on the totally unrealistic assumptions on which the ‘Optimal’ carbon price policy is based (as summarised here: http://jennifermarohasy.com/2012/06/what-the-carbon-tax-and-ets-will-really-cost-peter-lang/)

        Compared with delaying implementation to 2050, the ‘Optimal’ policy avoids only 0.11 C by 2100.

        For comparison, the ‘Low-cost backstop’ policy (cost competitive alternative to fossil fuels), avoids 2.16 C by 2100.

        It is also by far the least cost, greatest benefits and it doesn’t require a carbon price (see Table 5-3).

        It’s clear which is the best policy by far. It’s the one hated by most of the CAGW Alarmists. Go figure!

      • Tony,

        Thank you for linking to your post here:
        https://judithcurry.com/2011/05/26/the-futility-of-carbon-reduction/

        Very interesting. I’ve downloaded Ed Hoskins’ paper and will read it tomorrow.

      • Peter Lang – Obviously you don’t know how to do math. We need Web Hubble Telescope to do the cost/benefit calculations of CO2 reduction. I’m sure HE knows how to do it right – and it will undoubtedly show that with a mere 5% reduction in CO2 in the US, global warming will no longer be a problem at all.

      • Peter Lang

        One can play around with the theoretical Nordhaus figures until one is blue in the face, Peter, but it does not change the practical conclusion that

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

        and

        b. A global carbon tax will have no impact on our planet’s climate (no tax ever did).

        There are many reasons for this, one of them involving the great uncertainty of AGW attribution estimates leading to the global warming projections for 2100.

        But another major problem these studies all have is that they assume that China and India (the primary contributors to added cumulative CO2 emissions and concentrations by 2100) are inclined to reduce their growth rates in order to satisfy our guilt-driven obsession with CO2.

        It ain’t gonna happen.

        If “something better (i.e. most cost effective) than fossil fuels” comes along, great. Let’s go for it. I’m sure China and India would do the same.

        But this does not require (and would not even benefit from) a global carbon tax.

        And that’s where all the studies I’ve seen to date are intrinsically flawed.

        Max

      • Manacker,
        @ September 10, 2012 at 5:56 am

        Thank you for referring to the post “What the Carbon Tax and ETS will Really Costhttp://jennifermarohasy.com/2012/06/what-the-carbon-tax-and-ets-will-really-cost-peter-lang/

        You said:

        The Australian carbon tax is a good example. Peter Lang has made a rough calculation of the costs involved on the Marohasy blog, but one thing is missing: the “payback” or “return on investment”.

        I am wondering if I have missed something? This is a genuine question.

        To clarify, the costs and benefits are discounted at the same rate. The discount rate used is 4.35%. This is the default average discount rate for USA for 2005 to 2055 in Nordhaus RICE 2012.

        I recognise there is an issue with comparing the results from two different studies Nordhaus for the world and Australian Treasury for Australia and that the assumptions are different. Correcting this would certainly change the results, but I believe only slightly.

        Apart from that, I am not sure what you mean by “one thing is missing: the “payback” or “return on investment”. I think it is included.

      • “Obviously you don’t know how to do math. We need Web Hubble Telescope to do the cost/benefit calculations of CO2 reduction. I’m sure HE knows how to do it right”

        If I in fact worked a cost/benefit calculation I would have piped in. As it is, I must be getting under your skin, ascribing things to me that I have not attempted. Obviously you fear my skill set. Perhaps when I grow old and senile, I will start talking about stuff that I haven’t researched adequately, but until that time, you get what you pay for.

      • manacker
        @ September 10, 2012 at 8:18 am

        One can play around with the theoretical Nordhaus figures until one is blue in the face, Peter, but it does not change thepractical conclusion that

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

        and

        b. A global carbon tax will have no impact on our planet’s climate (no tax ever did).

        I agree with you. Did you get a different impression? If so did you get it from reading this: http://jennifermarohasy.com/2012/06/what-the-carbon-tax-and-ets-will-really-cost-peter-lang/ ?

        The reason I use Nordhaus’s figures is to attempt to make the points to the CAGW Alarmists in a way that hopefully they will at least consider.

      • Peter Lang

        Yes.

        You and I are on the same wave length.

        We both know that the ONLY real alternate to a “business as usual” continuation of economic growth, with the developing nations, such as China and India, taking the lead while the growth rates of the already developed nations slow down, all based on conventional fossil-fuel based (plus nuclear) energy sources is a new, cost competitive, alternate source of energy.

        Added electrical power across the world could conceivably come to a large extent from new nuclear plants (where there are no “proliferation” concerns), but transportation (~10% of the total today and growing faster) would need a new solution to move away from fossil fuels..

        And that “new solution” is NOT provided by a carbon tax.

        My bet is that natural gas (from world-wide shale deposits) will become a replacement motor fuel until this “new solution” is found, but that’s just my guess.

        Max

      • “In any event the argument based on “economies” has become something of an anachronism. Trickle-down economics is the theory that a robust economy benefits the 99%, but automation is rapidly making this a lie.”

        Leftists have no shortage of fallacious arguments, but this one has to be their favorite. As a very wise man once observed, there is no limit to the ability of the market to provide jobs, because there is no limit to human ambition. No matter how much we have, we always want more–and make no mistake, the vast majority of “the poor” in America today live better than most of the Kings of England ever did. To the extent that the market has any difficulty in benefitting the “99%,” that difficulty has two principle origins: (1) the massive intrusion of government into the private sector, which has made even the simplest of businesses require massive start-up capital for, inter alia, compliance lawyers, and (2) the destruction of even modest survival instincts among the masses, who see more advantage in lobbying the government for handouts than actually scratching out an honest living.

      • @manacker: Using IPCC’s mean estimate of 2xCO2 climate sensitivity of 3°C and the logarithmic relation, we see that by eliminating 100% of Australia’s CO2 emissions entirely starting today we would reduce global warming by year 2100 by a theoretical 0.04°C!

        But Max, how can you calculate that when no one can agree on the residency time for CO2? You’ll need to show your work so we can see what assumptions you’re making.

      • qbeamus: As a very wise man once observed, there is no limit to the ability of the market to provide jobs, because there is no limit to human ambition.

        I take it “once” was before robots, qbeamus. There being no limit to the ambition of those in a position to replace humans with robots, the unlimited ambition of the 99% becomes irrelevant.

        If your “very wise man” were around today, the modern teenagers destined to join the 1% would make mincemeat of him.

      • Vaughan

        Along the same line of reasoning- how can mitigation actions make sense if you do not know when or what benefit will result from the proposed action?

      • @RS: Along the same line of reasoning- how can mitigation actions make sense if you do not know when or what benefit will result from the proposed action?

        Excellent question, Rob, but not one that I’m qualified to answer. My understanding is that there are a number of economists out there who address that sort of issue. William Nordhaus’s book on the subject gets mentioned here occasionally, that might be a good starting point. Check out the Wikipedia article on him.

        Although I’ve been questioning some of the logic in the arguments for and against mitigation (which sometimes requires reading up on the background in order to even know what to ask) that’s not the same thing as being knowledgeable about the subject itself. Hopefully enough straight answers to my questions will educate me. My forte is science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, economics is still a mystery to me.

      • Vaughan

        I have read Norhaus’s book and it assumes that GCM’s and the estimates of damages to areas based on the output of these models is accurate. His base assumptions seem invalid imo.

      • How can you measure the success or failure of mitigation?

        For instance the US began using compact flourescent light bulbs in 1995 when China started manufacturing them on the cheap. By the year 2000 they became very popular. Also around the year 2000 a recession began that eventually morphed into the financial meltdown of 2007 and a recessionary period deeper and longer than anything in the past 70 years is still ongoing. This resulted in, among other things, a reduction in CO2 emissions to pre-1990 level in much of the industrial world (China excepted). Also around the year 2000 global warming started to slow and reverse. Methane in the atmosphere also stopped growing. Nobody quite knows why. In the past 2.5 years the global average temperature has fallen 0.1C.

        How much of the slowing and reversal of global warming is natural and how much is due to global economic recession and other things (like CFL light bulbs and carbon trading)? Outwardly it appears to be “Mission Accomplished”. But is it? How can we know?

      • Vaughan Pratt | September 12, 2012 at 10:44 am |

        “My forte is science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, economics is still a mystery to me.”

        The humility it took to leave something out of your “forte” is truly awe inspiring. /sarc

      • @RS: it assumes that GCM’s and the estimates of damages to areas based on the output of these models is accurate. His base assumptions seem invalid imo.

        I don’t blame you. As I understand GCMs they model those phenomena that can be explained and quantified with the known physics. But what physics explains the ocean oscillations, which beside the global warming signal itself seem to be the only other significant phenomena with a periodicity greater than that of the magnetic or Hale solar cycles? There are theories, but how well can they forecast?

        GCMs seem to me to be a humanly incomprehensible account of a lot of stuff that seems to have no bearing on global temperature 50 years hence beyond what I listed above. Better just to fit the known CO2 emissions (CDIAC) to the known CO2 level (Keeling curve) then fit the temperature predicted by Arrhenius to a global dataset like HADCRUT. If the GCMs can hindcast to the same accuracy but forecast differently from the naive fit, that would give a place where one could ask which was more likely to be correct and why. If this has been done already I’d love to know more!

  3. Thanks for the great quote by Nate Silver on the importance of humility in the weatherman, where success depends on the ability ” to accept the imperfections in their knowledge.”

  4. When I was a kid, airlines’ predictions of arrival time were off a high percentage of the time. Now, it is rare for a plane to be late. The reason: They started adding a buffer and predicting a slightly later arrival time. And it’s not a cheap trick – that’s a big improvement from the point of view of someone who has to arrange a connecting flight.

    • Suggesting the utility of building in a degree of pessimism to forecasts — something scientists can’t do but policy makers should in considering the range of possibilities.

  5. Yes.

    By 2050 we should know more about whether “climate projections” of today were “correct” or “not.

    Today we already “know” whether or not the projections of global temperature increase due to AGW made in IPCC’s TAR and AR4 (i.e. “warming of 0.2°C per decade”) were “correct” or not. [They were not.]

    They were made based on a myopic fixation on human GHGs as the ultimate driver of global temperature.

    Atmospheric concentrations of these GHGs (primarily CO2) continued to rise unabated, yet global temperature did not (in fact, it cooled slightly), thereby falsifying the notion that human GHGs are the primary driver of global temperature.

    What we do NOT know is whether or not the IPCC “climate projections” will continue to be incorrect.

    But, in view of the observed fact that the past 12 (or 15) years have shown no warming despite unabated increase in GHG concentrations, we can very likely safely assume that they will NOT be correct as projected by IPCC.

    This raises serious doubt as to whether the even longer range IPCC temperature projections, upon which the entire alarm concerning AGW is based, are likely to be correct.

    We (or rather our descendents) will only know the definite answer to this question in 2100.

    But, as it looks today, we can probably safely bet that these projections are incorrect, and that any warming that might occur between today and 2100 is very likely to be significantly less that that projected by IPCC.

    So the “no regrets” policy is to wait a few more years to see if the current “lack of warming” continues despite unabated increase in human GHG concentrations, thereby conclusively falsifying the notion that AGW represents a serious potential threat to humanity.

    At the same time we should all prepare to adapt to any climate changes, which nature may throw at us, if and when this should occur, rather than implementing expensive mitigation actions, whose efficacy we cannot prognosticate and whose unintended consequences we cannot even estimate today.

    That’s what “no regrets” is all about.

    Max

  6. ‘No regrets’ should mean ‘no lost opportunity costs’. Someone please tell me what imaginary world these exist upon.
    =============

    • kim

      “NO REGRETS”

      What does this mean?

      To me, a “no regrets” policy means one whereby I am very unlikely to wake up some day in the future saying to myself, “oh, s–t, I screwed up! I should not have done what I did back then.”

      Spending trillions of taxpayer dollars trying in vain to change our planet’s climate at the same time wrecking our already strained economy falls into the probable “oh, s—t!” category for me.

      Max

      • What is a no regret policy?
        Imagine the economy as a pie.

        A denier says “If I don’t give you any of the pie until you’ve been proven right, I won’t regret it.”
        A skeptic says ” If you only take the minimum you need, we won’t regret it.”
        A lukewarmer says ” If I leave enough to go around, we won’t regret it.”
        A warmist says “If I take the whole pie, I won’t regret it.”

  7. What to do with uncertain predictions is a problem. If I am a hot dog vendor at the beach and a 50% chance of rain is predicted, should I open, not open, reduce hours or open every other time a 50% chance of rain is predicted? Assume that there is a cost of staying open and I have productive alternative activities if I close.

    If Grand Forks had released water upstream there would have been a cost even if the prediction of (possibly) overtopping the levees had been wrong.

  8. There is another point missed by Judy; Nate Silvers record.
    Today Nate has Obama on 317 Electoral votes and Romney on 221. We will be in a position to know how good Nate Silver is at predicting TWO Presidential elections, in two months, two months after his book comes out.
    I doubt that the two facts are not connected.

    • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

      Doc Martyn: Today Nate has Obama on 317 Electoral votes and Romney on 221.

      That’s what the polls look like “today”, at least as of his writing. I think that if the election were held tomorrow Romney would carry all of the “battleground” states, the grey states on the RealClearPolitics electoral map. But that’s a conjecture based on trends in the polling results over the last 4 months, as well as a conjecture about how the undecided voters will eventually break. But Nate’s assessment of current status might be correct.

      • We’ll give Nate a D+ for the internals in which he still dwells.
        ==============

      • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

        kim, here’s the current RealClearPolitics electoral college map:

        http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2012/president/2012_elections_electoral_college_map.html

        Gray states are too close to call. Today, Obama has a slight poling edge in most of them.

      • Yesterday, it seems so far away.
        ========

      • David Springer

        Check out Real Clear Politics “no toss ups” in the Senate.

        http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2012/senate/2012_elections_senate_map_no_toss_ups.html

        Then go check the latest polls in the 7 toss-up Senate races and find the margin of winning much larger for Republicans than for Democrats.

        http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2012/senate/2012_elections_senate_map.html

        Republicans are going to take control of the Senate. That’s a bigger deal than gaining the White House because Republicans will retain control of the House. It’s a bigger deal because congress controls the purse strings so by the golden rule (he who has the gold, rules) they call the shots. Obstructionism will likely halt only if Obama retains office because the Republicans no longer have the incentive of blocking re-election of Obama and the Dems don’t have Romney to go after. This is a repeat of Clinton’s second term and Clinton’s second term worked out pretty well. So as long as Republicans take control of congress I don’t really care much if Obama retains the White House. He already did all the damage he’s going to making Supreme Court nominations and without the Pelosi/Reid rubber-stamp congress of his first two years his borrow and spend tendencies will be kicked to the curb. The Tea Party minority within the Republican majority will ensure that fiscal conservatism is enforced.

      • David Springer

        MattStat

        Undecided voters this late in the election cycle always break for the challenger. Common wisdom is that Obama needs to be ahead by more than the margin of error in the polls because the challenger gets the marginal votes. His lead today is just barely even with the margin of error but that’s solely due the convention bump. Over the next week it should fall back to a statistical tie which for Obama means he’s losing. A lot will depend on economic reports over the next 60 days. Romney’s money machine is consistently outperforming Obama’s by a wide margin that does not bode well for Obama either. The campaign that can raise more money usually wins. I think it’s a horse race. A lot of Republicans don’t like Romney (like me) and might not hold their nose long enough to vote for him.

      • kim is right, When it comes to polling and predictions, it’s all about the internals.

        Pollsters are still over sampling Democrats in their presidential polls. And will continue doing so right up until the election. The polls showing Obama tied or with a couple point lead sample 8-10 percent more Dems than Republicans. Obama didn’t get that kind of turnout in 2008, and Republicans voted in much larger numbers than Democrats in 2010. Every indication is that the GOP vote will be even larger in 2012 than in 2010.

        Right before election day, they will take polls with more realistic sampling so they can later claim they accurately predicted the election.

        For those of you who have not been convinced to completely ignore history (you happy few), here is a blast from the past.

        In October 1980, polls showed Jimmy Carter up by 8 points. Rasmussen showed Carter up by 6 as late as October 27, 1980.

        Reagan won 44 states with 50.7% of the vote to Jimmy’s 41% And that was with John Anderson taking 6.6% of the vote as a third party candidate.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_1980

        http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2012/09/flashback-gallup-had-carter-up-4-points-over-ronald-reagan-in-september-1980

        It’s looking to be a political blood bath in November, with the federal government bleeding blue all over the place.

        All those folks who have been feeding at the CAGW trough would be well advised to start sending their resumes out now.

      • @kim: We’ll give Nate a D+ for the internals in which he still dwells

        And you an A+ if Romney wins. Any preference between a B and a D in the incredibly unlikely case that he doesn’t?

      • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

        David Springer: Undecided voters this late in the election cycle always break for the challenger.

        Especially when the incumbent has negative approval, but it’s only “usually”, not “always”. If the election were to be held tomorrow, and if I could bet someone, I would bet that Romney would win. However, right now, Obama does lead in the polls.

      • David Springer

        The difference between Romney and Obama poll numbers must be larger than the margin of error for one or the other to be leading. If the
        difference is inside the margin of error they are in a statistical tie.

        There may have been a few days recently when Obama was leading in the polls but it’s close because those polls typically have a margin of error of 3-4 points and the difference is currently Obama +3.5. I’d have to find the exact margin of error for each poll and weight it to determine if the average margin of error is less than or greater than 3.5 points.

      • I think it is interesting on many levels; but only one applies to this thread:-

        Are the people making predictions very good? How do we quantify them?

        In two months we should look back to TODAY and compare Nate Silvers predictions for each state with the actual outcome.

        My personal belief is that the pollsters all suck; and this election is going to be different from the last; just like all previous ones. Like Generals fighting the last, the pollsters get their model right for 4 years ago.

  9. A ‘no regrets’ policy is almost as inane as the Precautionary Principle. Many of these ‘no regrets’ policies are still based on the demonization of carbon dioxide.

    Hey, folks; a warmer world supports more total life and more diversity of life. A cooler world is more likely in the future than a warmer world. We’ll eventually regret, big time, the failure to objectively evaluate costs and benefits of present and future energy utilization. We’ll regret the failure to accurately assess the role of CO2 in climate which has resulted from the politico-financio-scientific hypnosis that the illusion of Catastrophic AGW has subjected us to.
    =========================

  10. Judith writes: “Ok, people want to know what might happen with the 21st century climate, so climate models can provide some scenarios of what might happen.”

    The grand assumption here is that Earth’s climate responds to increasing greenhouse gas concentrations as climate models have portrayed. Earth’s climate does not. This is plainly evident in modeled and observed sea surface data for the past 30 years. There is no evidence of an anthropogenic component in the warming of the global oceans over that period. How then does that play into the uncertainties? I’ve never seen it mentioned.

  11. MattStat/MatthewRMarler

    Here is an example of a component of “no regrets” policy: drought-resistant corn.

    http://www.technologyreview.com/news/429100/drought-puts-modified-corn-seed-to-the-test/

    With or without global warming, oscillations of droughts and floods will continue to occur, with occasional ideal growth conditions. Drought tolerant varieties of wheat, soybeans, and all other food crops are valuable enough to develop.

    One can not guarantee that any policy will be a “no regrets” policy, because the cost of pursuing a policy that looks like a “no regrets” policy may eventually exceed its payoff. Nevertheless, investment in new technology, including new agricultural technology, has always paid dividends, even though some innovations haven’t worked out. Ongoing R&D on solar, wind, biofuels and nuclear power repeatedly has increased productivity and reduced costs.

    Climate scientists are not morons either — they are mostly smart and knowledgeable people. What we see a lot of are some attitude problems: (a) unwillingness to acknowledge publicly the imperfections of the knowledge base (my favorite theme!); (b) unwillingness to learn from their mistakes; (c) repeated, one might also call it epidemic scale, confirmation bias.

    • What is the point of the gene-jockeys developing new varieties of food stuffs if they can’t be planted?
      You do know how difficult, and expensive, it is to get GM food stuffs grown don’t you?
      Essentially, unless you have a pesticide/herbicide resistance gene and sell are going to make your money selling the pesticide/herbicide, you can’t afford tho bring GM foods to market.

      • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

        Doc Martyn: What is the point of the gene-jockeys developing new varieties of food stuffs if they can’t be planted?

        You need to start over. That was about a variety of food stuffs that had been planted.

      • In that case, the “no regrets” policy could be simply having the modified crops available, just in case. Nobody said that you have to use them unless an extended drought materializes. It might be expensive, but at least it will grow in the worst case. What’s the alternative?

        The more interesting question is who pays for R&D of things that only get used in an emergency situation. The government could do it, but if you want the private sector to do some of this research, patent law needs to be modified, so that they can sit on their patents until somebody actually uses the invention. Otherwise, an emergency invention like this is a sure loser.

      • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

        P.E. but if you want the private sector to do some of this research, patent law needs to be modified, so that they can sit on their patents until somebody actually uses the invention.

        I don’t see that as a big problem, because there is a drought somewhere in the U.S. almost every year. Large areas that use irrigation would benefit every year from crops that need less water.

      • David Springer

        Genetic Modification does more than just confer resistance to pests and disease but that’s certainly one of the existential reasons. Longer shelf life is another big benefit. It if didn’t bring any net benefit why would anyone bother?

    • The corn-to-ethanol policy should now be seen as a “regret-it” policy.

      • David Springer

        I’m not so sure, Jim. I think its value as a learning experience is large. It ironed out kinks in ethanol infrastructure. It spurred the develpment, manufacture, and sale of automobiles with flexible fuel systems able to adjust to 85% ethanol. If push comes to shove and war in the middle east drastically curtails oil exports from the region we’ll be glad for every drop of ethanol we can produce. So between the learning experience, working some of the kinks out of biofuel infrastructure, and paving the way for ethanol produced by non-food crops on non-arable land (which is what the future holds) it’s a good thing for America even while it’s a lousy thing for poor countries who buy American-grown corn as a staple food.

      • Germany switched quickly from petroleum based gasoline to coal-based. And then we have the more viable, but ignored by the watermelons, alternative of natural gas. I’m not for the government doing this instead of private industry, but for the sake of argument let’s assume the ethanol subsidies had gone into nat gas infrastructure instead – we would now be looking at an improving picture for a cheap, plentiful fuel for automobiles.

      • This is the first time I have read something positive about using ethanol that I can agree with. That having been said, now I hope we stop using it.

      • David Springer

        Liquid fuels from coal and natural gas are bridge technologies that the US doesn’t really need. Germany doesn’t have the oil reserves of the US nor the ease of import due to being land-locked. We’ll have all the liquid fuel we want for less than $10/bbl equivalent inside the next 20 years or sooner once the rapidly progressing field of synthetic biology bears its first fruit. Imagine a bacteria (an engineered species using cyano bacteria a.k.a. green algae) which can flourish in brackish water in open ponds and which has a metabolism which produces fuel oil which floats to the surface for easy collection. There are two major modifications needed. One is precisely like what Monsanto does with Round-Up. Give the GM organism an effluent pump in the cell membrane which makes it reject an artificial poison that kills natural competitors. The second is to tune its metabolism, which already produces fuel-grade oil in limited quantities as a metabolic byproduct into making production of the oil its sole purpose in life. What we get then is the ability to turn large regions of land that isn’t being used for anything else into biofuel factories. Just 10% of the Texas panhandle which is used for nothing much other than windmills and cattle grazing, can produce all the biofuel the United States uses annually. It has all the sunlight needed, its flat, and available for use. The limiting factor is atmospheric CO2. Fuel production is carbon neutral but the same synthetic biology that begins with biofuel production can, with the next step in capability, be used to construct artificial organisms that construct durable goods out of carbon composites. Wood is a carbon composite for example. Imagine being able to grow a carbon composite home. On site. Ready to move in. With all the needed materials obtained on site and all the labor supplied by trillions of self-reproducing, self-reparing, programmable microbes. This is real. The technology already exists in nature we just have to reverse engineer what nature already produced so we can direct it to produce what we want instead of what makes it the most fit for survival in the natural world. The tools we have to reverse engineer and reassemble in diffferent ways the molecular machinery in living cells are growing faster and cheaper at a pace that is best described by comparison to Moore’s Law for Semi-Conductors.

      • David, I do not want to get sidetracked from my Climate Research and trying to make changes in Consensus Climate Science, but your postings are really interesting to me. Thanks!

      • Biotech is fine, David, but it does nothing for us right now. We have nat gas right now and it is still a dumb idea to use corn for fuel. There is simply no valid argument for ethanol. If there way, private industry would have done that already.

      • Jim2, prior to the Bush ethanol speech, there were a good number of farmer coops that built ethanol plants for surplus corn. The private initiative was over whelmed by the government mandate.

      • captaindallas and jim 2

        Mandated “corn for ethanol” was (and is) a disaster. The main reason is quite simple: the yield per acre is too low.

        Let’s assume that internal combustion engines could be redesigned to run on 100% ethanol.

        The USA consumes around 33 billion barrels of gasoline annually.

        Sugar cane ethanol yields around 2 tons of gasoline equivalent per acre. At one crop per year (assuming sugar cane could be grown everywhere in the USA) this would require 173 million acres or 700,000 square km, or roughly the surface area of all of Texas.

        The USA has around 1.7 million square km of agricultural crop land, so this would require 40% of all the agricultural crop land of the USA.

        Corn for ethanol only has around 40% of the gasoline equivalent yield per acre of sugar cane, so supplying the US gasoline need would require 100% of the US agricultural crop land.

        Obviously, this is not a realistic alternate.

        The idea of doing this in gigantic lagoons with genetically modified blue-green algae that crank out high octane fuel directly 365 days a year, as long as the sun shines, may sound weird at first glance, but probably makes a lot more sense than corn (and probably also sugar cane).

        Max

      • David Springer

        Farmers used to get paid to not grow too much corn. That’s not exactly brilliant policy either IMO. Ethanol from corn got infrastructure development moving along in the right direction and while it didn’t end the practice of farmers getting paid to leave fields fallow it reduced it and afforded them a higher price for what they do grow. We have a lot more E-85 automobiles than we do electric vehicles on the road. We have infrastructure to store and transport ethanol. We have consumer acceptance of it. Gasoline is now widely sold with 10% ethanol mix. We have a some additional fallback transportation fuel if foreign oil supplies are disrupted – it’s faster to divert more corn for ethanol than it is to drill more domestic oil wells. It’s just a stepping stone.

        Now windmills… those are much deserving of the boondoggle label along with solar thermal, photovoltaic, and advanced nuclear. And don’t even get me started on the gigantic waste of time and money in fusion power research. Ultimately the sun provides far more energy every single day like clockwork than we consume or will foreseeably need to consume. It just a matter of technology to bring about inexpensive harvest and storage. Nature already gave us the technology in the molecular machinery in every green plant. It’s just that nature has other goals which are more critical than the biological production of fuel ready to be used in human-designed combustion engines. We simply need to reverse engineer that natural machinery so we can reassemble it in ways that suit our needs rather than what suits nature’s needs. Humans have produced from scratch no technology that is remotely near as complex as the molecular machinery which resides inside every free-living cell in nature. It’s very far advanced. But we’re good at taking things apart and figuring out how they work and that’s why synthetic biology will leapfrog all efforts to produce anything more advanced in the way of energy production and storage.

      • David Springer

        manacker | September 9, 2012 at 7:37 pm |

        “The idea of doing this in gigantic lagoons with genetically modified blue-green algae that crank out high octane fuel directly 365 days a year, as long as the sun shines, may sound weird at first glance, but probably makes a lot more sense than corn (and probably also sugar cane).”

        Why does that sound weird? Fossil fuels were once green plants. We’re just tweaking the process to make it faster and more direct. Ethanol isn’t the fuel of choice for this, by the way, bio-diesel is. That just floats to the top and doesn’t evaporate and doesn’t mix with water which makes extraction as easy as falling off a log. Ethanol mixes with water and is a bitch to separate after it does. I’m not up on the optimum chemistry for volatile fuels like gasoline from biological sources but I believe there are easy to extract precursors from which suitable substitutes for gasoline can be inexpensively made. Ethanol probably won’t be with us for the long run except for the traditional use of fueling stupidity by drinking it.

      • How do you define “advanced nuclear,” David?

      • David Springer

        Advanced nuclear definition in the that context is generations still on the drawing board. If any are actually constructed for civilian power generation they’ll never pay off the capital investment because they’ll never be able to compete with electricity produced through traditional internal or external combustion once the combustable fuel cost falls. Nuclear fires are simply far more complicated and costly to light, control, and maintain than chemical fires. If the chemical fuels are cheap nuclear fires can’t compete. The chemicals will become very cheap, cheaper than coal or natural gas ever was anytime in the past, after synthetic biology moves from laboratory into production. And unlike nuclear there are no huge regulatory hurdles, no NIMBY resistance, and no daunting high tech (other than the engineering that went into the creation of the artificial organisms). Nuclear wil of course continue to be used where it was originally intended – in warships.

      • David – so you are excluding small nuclear reactors?

      • Also, it seems I recall that the levelized cost of nuclear shows it is the cheapest source of energy.

      • jim2: Here it is David – nuclear is cheaper.

        Actually it’s interesting to follow this decade by decade on that BREE report you cited. Pages 80-84 give the five decades 2010-2050 (with 2010 updated to 2012). In 2012 nuclear is about a third the cost of PV (solar photovoltaic, non-tracking). But as we advance decade by decade, nuclear gradually gets more expensive while PV not so gradually gets cheaper. By 2030 PV’s error bars (more uncertainty) have bracketed nuclear’s, while by 2040 PV heads the list as the cheapest of all 40 of the analyzed energy sources, further cementing that position in 2050.

        The LCOE does not take into account (as far as I know) the overhead of backup sources for dealing with PV downtime (clouds and nighttime)—Peter Lang claims this is so large as to make PV unaffordable, but I would like to see this analyzed by more than just those who are very vocally opposed to PV.

        The LCOE also does not take into account the cost of decommissioning plants (PV plants should have a useful life several times that of nuclear as well as being cheaper to decommission), nor of disposing of spent fuel rods, which is hard to estimate for a radioactive hazard that needs to be protected from terrorists etc. for a millennium. The latter may look like a small cost today when viewed through the discounting lens, but the citizens of any given century during that millennium aren’t going to congratulate their ancestors on their financial acumen centuries ago—they’re going to hate the ongoing burden of keeping those disposal sites safe century after century, especially if they continue to grow in size, number, and worldwide distribution. Furthermore discounting the maintenance costs for such burial sites makes no sense if those costs grow at the same rate as the discount rate: the ongoing cost of maintaining each site will remain a more or less fixed percentage of GDP for the site’s lifetime, which with increasing sites will be a growing percentage.

        Thirdly the LCOE does not take into account the cost of a Chernobyl or Fukushima scale disaster multiplied by its probability. This could easily push the LCOE for nuclear further to the right in those charts.

      • Until a few days ago, Vaughan Pratt had not even heard of LCOE. He Googled it to find out what it meant, took the first result that came up and then posted on Climate Etc. words to the effect: “Peter Lang thinks LCOE means “Levelised Cost of Electricity, whereas in fact it means Levelised Cost of energy”. Well, until recently and still in the vast majority of forums other than amongst renewable energy advocates, LCOE is still “Levelised Cost of Electricity” as in all the authoritative sites listed here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost_of_electricity_by_source . The difference is trivial and both are correct, but the point is it shows Pratt happily prattles on about things he knows nothing about.

        The point of all this is, take no notice of the rubbish Professor Pratt spews up. He is just an ideologue

        But as we advance decade by decade, nuclear gradually gets more expensive while PV not so gradually gets cheaper.

        That assumes the impediments to nuclear remain in place and there is little development in nuclear. On the other hand it assumes the installed capacity of renewables can continue to expand at an accelerating rate indefinitely. They do not take into account resource limitations; for example. solar power requires 13 times more steel and 8 times more concrete than a nuclear plant for the same energy output.

        The politics, and the weighting of renewable energy advocates on the steering committee should also be noted. We should take the projections of the cost of renewable energy and nuclear out to 2050 in this with a grain of salt.

        The LCOE does not take into account (as far as I know) the overhead of backup sources for dealing with PV downtime (clouds and nighttime)

        As the report clearly states (p24-25), the LCOE figures provided are for individual technologies: http://bree.gov.au/documents/publications/Australian-Energy-Technology-Assessment.pdf

        Projected LCOE does not necessarily provide a reliable indicator of the relative market value of generation technologies because of differences in the role of technologies in a wholesale electricity market. The value of variable (or intermittent) power plants (such as wind, and solar) will depend upon the extent to which such plants generate electricity during peak periods and the impact these plants have on the reliability of the electricity system. Unlike dispatchable power plants (such as coal, natural gas, biomass, and hydroelectric) – which are reliant on some form of stored energy (e.g. fuels, water storage) – wind and photovoltaic power plants do not, typically, include energy storage. To cater for sudden, unpredictable, changes in the output of variable power plants, it is necessary to operate responsive, dispatchable power plants (e.g. hydro, open-cycle gas turbines) in a back-up role to maintain the overall reliability of the electricity system. As a result, LCOE by technology is not the only factor considered when deciding what type of electricity generation plant to construct.

        Here is a simple analysis of the costs when solar PV, solar thermal, wind power, hydro and gas turbines for back up are combined in a system. You can also download and simple Excel spreadsheet and play with the numbers yourself.
        http://bravenewclimate.com/2012/02/09/100-renewable-electricity-for-australia-the-cost/

        using costs derived for the Federal Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism (DRET, 2011b), the costs are estimated to be: $568 billion capital cost, $336/MWh cost of electricity and $290/tonne CO2 abatement cost.

        That is, the wholesale cost of electricity for the simulated system would be seven times more than now, with an abatement cost that is 13 times the starting price of the Australian carbon tax and 30 times the European carbon price. (This cost of electricity does not include costs for the existing electricity network).

        That is the costs we could expect from the nonsense that people like Professor Pratt would like us to implement.

        The LCOE also does not take into account the cost of decommissioning plants (PV plants should have a useful life several times that of nuclear as well as being cheaper to decommission), nor of disposing of spent fuel rods, which is hard to estimate for a radioactive hazard that needs to be protected from terrorists etc. for a millennium.

        The cost of decommissioning and waste disposal is included in the cost of electricity from nuclear plants but is not from renewable energy plants. Here are some photos of the waste disposal of renewable energy plants http://webecoist.momtastic.com/2009/05/04/10-abandoned-renewable-energy-plants/ Impressive example of how the renewable energy advocates look after the environment, eh? Imagine what the planet would look like if we had enough renewable plants to power our civilisation.

        It is interesting to compare the decommissioning and waste disposal of the renewable energy plants (see photos in previous link) with that of nuclear plants. Here is an example of a decommissioned nuclear plant (Yankee Rowe):
        http://www.yankeerowe.com/

        Pratt’s comments on renewable energy, nuclear energy, LCOE demonstrate Pratt will prattle on about subjects he knows little to nothing about. Furthermore, all his comments are from those of far Left ideologue. Take no notice of this “professor”.

      • @Peter Lang: Well, until recently and still in the vast majority of forums other than amongst renewable energy advocates, LCOE is still “Levelised Cost of Electricity” as in all the authoritative sites listed here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost_of_electricity_by_source .

        Humbled by this truly dizzying intellect, I meekly went to this link that Peter himself provided in order to confirm that I’d be pwned by Peter Lang. The definition I found there read:

        Levelized Energy Cost (LEC, also known as Levelised Cost of Energy, abbreviated as LCOE) is the price at which electricity must be generated from a specific source to break even over the lifetime of the project.

        By some miracle that I still don’t fully understand, Peter Lang personally has made me feel less humble. Even if you didn’t intend it it, Peter, thank you.

        (Disclaimer: I’m not laboring under the delusion that CE is any sort of academic forum, whatever its original goal. It’s more like a cross between World Wrestling Entertainment and Word Judo. It needs its own belt buckle.)

      • As I said:

        Until a few days ago, Vaughan Pratt had not even heard of LCOE. He Googled it to find out what it meant, took the first result that came up and then posted on Climate Etc. words to the effect: “Peter Lang thinks LCOE means “Levelised Cost of Electricity, whereas in fact it means Levelised Cost of energy”. Well, until recently and still in the vast majority of forums other than amongst renewable energy advocates, LCOE is still “Levelised Cost of Electricity”

        The point is that for the past 30 years or more LCOE has generally been “levelised cost of electricity”.
        Professor Pratt didn’t even know what LCOE meant and he had to Google it to find out. It demonstrates he happily prattles on about matters he knows nothing about, but tries to pretend he does.

        Therefore, nothing he says can be trusted. All of it comes through the prism of his ideological beliefs. If he doesn’t lie the issue he avoids it (as demonstrated on previous threads.

        A complete waste of space, but loves to keep on flaming. He has nothing better to do, I guess.

      • Take no notice of this “professor”

        Hear, hear. I find Peter more entertaining that he finds me, if that’s any indication.

      • A complete waste of space, but loves to keep on flaming. He has nothing better to do, I guess.

        You must be the world’s fastest typist by miles. Since I can type at 70 wpm and you can type ten times as much about me as I can about you, that puts you in the 700 wpm league. Call Guinness Records.

      • @Peter Lang: solar power requires 13 times more steel and 8 times more concrete than a nuclear plant for the same energy output.

        I took a look at the 7.5 KW solar installation on my roof and was able to find no more than 5 grams of concrete in the whole thing. Scaled up to a gigawatt reactor and dividing by Peter’s factor-of-eight, we’re talking about 80 kg (180 lbs) of concrete.

        If Mr. Lang has a way of building a gigawatt nuclear reactor using 80 kg of concrete, less than a tenth of a ton, he should hie himself to the nearest patent attorney and take out a provisional patent application on it. It’s a bloody miracle!

      • Robert I Ellison

        Try looking at the foundations Vaughan – must be there somewhere.

      • Material requirements for wind solar and nuclear:
        http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/10/18/tcase4/

      • @RIE: Try looking at the foundations Vaughan – must be there somewhere.

        Good point, Chief. There’s some concrete two stories lower down that I neglected. But if that hadn’t been there I doubt it would have prevented the installation on the roof. I don’t remember anyone asking us about concrete in the pillars under the bottom floor.

      • @Peter Lang: Material requirements for wind solar and nuclear:
        http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/10/18/tcase4/

        Amount of concrete needed for solar PV in that link: zero. Even less than the 5 grams in my installation. Confirms my point.

        (Oops, divide by zero error. That was for 0 watts of PV. Sorry.)

    • David L. Hagen

      David Springer
      Appreciate your ray of hope is a dismal science.
      Charles Hall shows that society needs an Energy Return On Energy Invested (EROEI or EROI) of at least 3 to function sustainably. The reports I have seen for ethanol are only about 1. i.e. it delivers only a third of the net energy to be sustainable. Have you seen any quantitative projections for biofuels to exceed 3?

      The greatest difficulty of the ethanol mandate is that it forces farmers feed corn to fuel to famish families in extreme poverty.

      • David Springer

        Which cyanobacteria is it you mistakenly believe produces ethanol?

        After everything you’ve read of me over the years in molecular biology and genetics you really think I’m anywhere near as clueless as that?

      • Springer
        Re: “Ethanol from corn got infrastructure development moving along in the right direction” – As you discussed ethanol, I addressed ethanol. Relax and read what I said.
        Re: biofuels, we don’t have to wait for Vinter.
        Straight forward industrial chemical synthesis via gasification sets an immediate competitive standard:

        The capital cost for a standalone “nth” plant is $303 million (2007 basis). At a 10% return on investment (ROI), the minimum fuels (gasoline + diesel) selling price is $2.04/gal ($1.34/gal ethanol equivalent basis).

        See: Pacific National Lab 2009 Production of Gasoline and Diesel from Biomass via Fast Pyrolysis, Hydrotreating and Hydrocracking: A Design Case

        Re: “mastery of that machinery is forever beyond the reach of God’s children”
        Your presupposition, not mine. From realistic math, chemistry and the hard numbers of experimental biochemistry of mutations, I understand the Origin of Life and development of macro biological systems with correct protein folds to beyond stochastic processes within the bounds of the known universe. See publications by Michael Behe, Douglas Axe & Ann Gauger etc.
        Re: “I think our father in heaven gave us science so we can learn the hard way, on our own reconizance, how to restore the paradise that was once ours.”
        If you insist, He will sadly let you learn from that school of hard knocks. I prefer to take Him up on His offer: “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jer. 33:3 NIV

      • David Springer

        Start to get caught up here:

        http://www.exxonmobil.com/corporate/files/news_pub_algae_factsheet.pdf

        Exxon has committed $600 million to this and already provided the first $300 million. They expect to go commercial in less than ten years.

        Presumably Exxon worked through the ROIC and found it attractive but maybe you could give them a jingle and tell them you don’t agree and save them hundreds of millions of dollars in wasted effort.

        You amaze me sometimes and not in a good way.

      • David Springer

        Snippage from: http://www.exxonmobil.com/corporate/files/news_pub_algae_factsheet.pdf

        Advantages of Algae
        The potential benefits of biofuel from photosynthetic algae could be significant:
        • Algae can be grown using land and water unsuitable for crop plant or food production, unlike some other first and second generation biofuel feedstocks.
        • Select species of algae produce bio-oils through the natural process of photosynthesis – requiring sunlight, water and carbon dioxide, supplemented with nutrients.
        • Growing algae consume carbon dioxide; this provides greenhouse gas mitigation benefits
        • Bio-oil produced by photosynthetic algae and the resultant biofuel will have molecular structures that are similar to the petroleum and refined products we use today. This helps ensure the fuels are compatible with existing transportation technology and infrastructure.
        • If successful, bio-oils from photosynthetic algae could be used to manufacture a full range of fuels including gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel that meet the same specifications as today’s products.
        • Algae yield greater volumes of biofuel per acre of production than crop plant-based biofuel sources. Algae could yield more than 2000 gallons of fuel per acre of production per year. Approximate yields for other fuel sources are far lower:
        • Palm – 650 gallons per acre per year
        • Sugar cane – 450 gallons per acre per year
        • Corn – 250 gallons per acre per year
        • Soy – 50 gallons per acre per year
        • Algae used to produce biofuel are highly productive. As a result, large quantities of algae can be grown quickly, and the process of testing different strains of algae for their fuel-making potential can proceed faster than with other crops with longer life cycles.

      • I guess this says it all:

        • If successful, bio-oils from photosynthetic algae could be used to manufacture a full range of fuels including gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel that meet the same specifications as today’s products.

        Can anyone show me a chart for the past 20 years showing the price, delivered to the consumer and excluding all subsidies, of petrol and diesel from algae plants?

      • David Springer

        I sometimes forget you’re a creationist who believes that the machinery of life in every living cell is magic from God and mastery of that machinery is forever beyond the reach of God’s children even though they were created in His image. I have a a somewhat different view of course. I think our father in heaven gave us science so we can learn the hard way, on our own reconizance, how to restore the paradise that was once ours. That’s usually the way it works between a sage parent and a rebellious child, innit?

      • There are times you sound as if you are channeling WEB.

      • More like Springer channels from his rabid and fanatical devotion to Intelligent Design.

        And clouds too. Because they irritate him.

      • David Springer

        jim2 | September 9, 2012 at 4:38 pm |

        “Biotech is fine, David, but it does nothing for us right now. We have nat gas right now and it is still a dumb idea to use corn for fuel. There is simply no valid argument for ethanol. If there way, private industry would have done that already.”

        Ethanol from corn as a long term solution is dumber that a bag of hammers. As a transition technology it makes great sense. Hagen’s big complaint is it makes food more expensive for impoverished nations who import corn from the US. There’s a grain of truth in that (pun intended) but the real culprit behind world hunger is corrupt rulers not lack of affordable nutrition from the major grain producers.

      • I agree with you on the corrupt government. Until the tin pot dictators of the world are eliminated, an expensive and controversial endeavor, many in the third world are doomed and no amount of aid will help them.

      • And also, in many case, a rather large cultural change would have to occur also – difficult if not down-right impossible without a huge motivator of some sort.

  12. The weather forecasters base the forecasts on what has happened before. Climate forecasts should be based on what has happened before, because it will happen again. Climate forecasters look at what happened before and then they say that this next time will be different. Now there is an extra molecule of manmade CO2 for every ten thousand molecules of the rest and that will make this next time different than we have ever seen before. Other than this manmade fraction of a trace gas, nothing is different. All the other actual data is inside the bounds of the past ten thousand years. The year 1998 still stands as the warmest year. The oceans are warm and it will take some years and a lot of snow to cool them. The oceans are warm, the Arctic is open and it will stay open for a lot of years and it will provide enough moisture for snow in the cool season to more than replace the snow that melts in the warm season. Look at the actual data. Look at the snow accumulation and how it increases and decreases with temperature.
    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/pubs/alley2000/alley2000.html
    Climate forecasters should look at this one chart and understand why a cool period always follows a warm period and understand why a warm period always follows a cool period. This is actual data. It snows more when it is warm and it snows less when it is cool. Weather forecasters look at this and they do understand. I have talked to some of them and they do understand this. They shake their heads and roll their eyes when we discuss the warming that has not come to pass since 1998.
    This one chart explains why a cool period followed every warm period in the past ten thousand years.
    This one chart explains why the Little Ice Age followed the Medieval Warm period.
    This one chart explains why a cool period will follow the current warm period.
    Pay real close attention to the massive snowfalls that will fall in the Northern Hemisphere during the 2012-2013 cold period because of the Open Arctic.

    • When the Arctic is open, the snow monster is turned on.
      When the Arctic is closed, the snow monster is turned off.
      The sun always warms us and melts ice during the warm season.
      When the snow monster is on we get more snow than melt.
      When the snow monster is off we get less snow than melt.
      The ocean temperature that Arctic Sea Ice Melts and Freezes provides the set point for Earth’s Thermostat.

      • David Springer

        Climate boffins didn’t predict global cooling as Arctic sea ice decreases but there it is. Anyone paying attention to me knows why. It’s simple. Arctic sea ice is analogous to the thermostat in an automotive water cooling system. When the engine gets warmer the thermostat opens up farther. When the thermostat opens up farther the engine becomes cooler and the radiator becomes warmer. In this case the lower latitudes are the engine, the Arctic ocean is the radiator, and sea ice is the thermostat. It’s not rocket science. Some things about the climate are complicated but this isn’t one of them.

      • All plausible, but is it so?
        I guess we’ll soon know.
        =========

      • David Springer

        We already know. Since about 2000 when the 1998 El Nino pulse of warm water made its way to the Arctic circle sea ice has rapidly declined and since 2002 global average temperature has been in decline. The decline over the past 2.5 years has been alarming at negative 0.4C/decade. If that rate of decline keeps up for a decade all global warming in the past 100 years will be erased. If the rate of decline accelerates we’ll be in a world of hurt. Warmer is good. Colder is not.

      • Land temperature leads and ocean temperature follows. We will get cooler and there is nothing we can do to change this.

        The bad news is that we will have a cool period that will compare to the Little Ice Age that followed the Medieval Warm Period.

        The good news is that it will not get colder than the Little Ice Age, plus or minus a little bit, and then we will start toward the next warming, like we have now.

        We are in the best temperature cycle in the history of Earth. Enjoy!

        Leighton Steward called this “Paradise” in his book, “FIRE, ICE, and PARADISE” Leighton is right and we should all be thankful that we live in the best of times.

      • When the oceans are warm it snows more. When the oceans are cold it snows less. This causes the Antarctic snows to augment this process. Due to the size of the Earth and the Oceans, the process in the South does get out of phase but it does help. The Arctic is in control of the process but the Antarctic does help.

    • Mark B (number 2)

      Herman, I’ve had a look at your website.
      The Pope Theory is the best explanation that I have seen for the current warm period. And, having read it and looked at the ice core graphs, it is obvious that the current interglacial period is being controlled by a thermostat far more effectively than the previous ones were..
      Please correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that you are saying that Greenland was completely free of ice (for a while) during each of the previous inter glacials. And now that now we have a huge ice sheet covering most of Greenland, the climate is much more stable.
      This does explain why there doesn’t seem to be any ice core data from Greenland going back much more than 110,000 years, because Greenland would have been ice free before then.
      You have done excellent work and it is well presented.
      Perhaps the only thing that we have to worry about is that there has been a very gradual and small shift towards cooler temperatures over the last 10,000 years. Do you see this as a real trend? And if so, is it a cause for concern?

  13. “Why are weather forecasters succeeding when other predictors fail?”

    You mean like Joe Bastardi who thinks a graphic of sea surface temperature shows ice extent?

    • Well, that’s a pretty safe forecast. There’s 1-2 weeks left in the melt season (according to recent climatology), and then the fall freeze up commences and there is an increase in ice extent that accelerates by Oct 1. Bastardi is unlikely to be wrong by much on this one.

      • He’s a genius.

        I also predict a dramatic increase in Arctic ice in the next few months – AGW is a fraud!!!!!!!

      • Dr Curry – if you follow the link in Joe Bastardi’s tweet, you’ll see it goes to sea surface temperature that clearly Bastardi mistook for ice growth. Or do you really think that on 6th Sept any measures show “Ice rapidly growing back”?

    • David Springer

      Louise, don’t be such an ignorant dufus. Sea ice extent is generally given as the area where ice is greater than 15% of the surface. Once the surface water reaches freezing temperature it rapidly grows from 0% ice to 15%. When it reaches 15% it shows up on ice extent reports. Bastardi’s link shows vast areas of open water right at 0C. Ice is rapidly growing in those areas and in 10 days will go over the 15% mark. Moron.

      • David Springer

        Bastardi undoubtedly keeps an eye on this too.

        http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/meant80n.uk.php

        Mean temperature north of the 80th parallel is well below 0C. It fell below 0C about 10 days ago and is now right at freezing point. At this point latent heat of fusion is being shed as seawater at -2C becomes ice at -2C. I don’t know enough of the climatology of ice growth to know the typical delays in this process but I’d bet my bottom dollar Joe Bastardi does and I know for sure Curry does and she concurs with Bastardi. Ice is rapidly growing on open Arctic ocean as we speak and will begin crossing over the 15% threshold where it is considered sea ice instead of open water.

      • More open water, more clouds, slower heat loss, as we see; stat-o-therm right there.
        ======

      • David Springer (aka moron) – how’s the arctic ice looking now?

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Kim and David Springer, please be aware that today’s real-time mast-photos/climate-data from the USCG icebreaker Healy, presently steaming at 80 degrees North, is showing weather that would not freeze an Iowa farm-pond, much less form sea-ice.

        Ah well. At least the Healy isn’t seeing what the Russians see: gargantuan plumes of greenhouse-producing methane gas bubbling to the ocean surface.

        Yet.   :shock:   :shock:   :shock:

        It is an ongoing pleasure to inform and enlighten your understanding, Kim and Dave Springer!   :grin:   :lol:   :!:

      • David Springer

        Do you really live in a fantasy world, is Big Oil paying you to look like a flaming warmist imbecile, or do you do it voluntarily just to bring negative attention to yourself?

      • And yet there has been a mysterious decrease in
        the slope of the amount of methane found in the atmosphere over the last 20 years. Like all of this we need to follow for another 20 before we draw drastic conclusions.

      • @Bill: And yet there has been a mysterious decrease in the slope of the amount of methane found in the atmosphere over the last 20 years.

        Anthropogenic CH4 emissions have been largely brought under control in those two decades. CO2 emissions are proving much harder to control.

      • David Springer

        Vaughan Pratt | September 9, 2012 at 5:44 pm |

        “Anthropogenic CH4 emissions have been largely brought under control in those two decades. CO2 emissions are proving much harder to control.”

        What is it you imagine has been done to bring methane emissions “under control”?

        You have a bad habit of making things up as you go along, Vaughan. That may fly in classroom full of kids but it won’t amongst your peers.

      • David Springer

        Vaughan Pratt | September 9, 2012 at 5:44 pm |

        “Anthropogenic CH4 emissions have been largely brought under control in those two decades. CO2 emissions are proving much harder to control.”

        http://larvatusprodeo.net/archives/2009/07/10/more-methane/

        Anthropogenic methane emission continued increasing at least through 2005 and in fact the rate of emission growth increased above the 1970-2005 average between 2000 and 2005.

        This is not good Vaughan. How do you justify just making crap up like you just did? Are you so arrogant that you believe you have the ability to divine things without actually looking them up? Or do you believe that no one will call you on this kind of bullsh!t? What gives?

      • David Springer

        Vaughan Pratt | September 9, 2012 at 5:44 pm |

        “Anthropogenic CH4 emissions have been largely brought under control in those two decades. CO2 emissions are proving much harder to control.”

        Anthropogenic methane emission has not stopped growing through at least 2010.

        http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960148111005246

        Vaughan Pratt makes up things out of thin air and states them as facts.

        That is unforgiveable behavior.

      • Springer, you are making up stuff. Vaughan is referring to measurements, which show only an increase of 1% over the last 20 years, clearly shown in the link you gave.

        I would you suggest you stop yelling at the clouds.

      • @Bill: And yet there has been a mysterious decrease in
        the slope of the amount of methane found in the atmosphere over the last 20 years.

        @David Springer: Anthropogenic methane emission has not stopped growing through at least 2010. Vaughan Pratt makes up things out of thin air and states them as facts.

        I beg your pardon, David, but are you talking to me or Bill?

        Regarding the direction methane is headed, I’d be very interested in your comments on this article about the mysterious trend Bill was referring to. If you have reliable data contradicting this decrease in methane since 1980 I’m sure many of us would be very grateful for it.

      • At least she knows how to click on a link and read what the graph is showing. Drawing conclusions is probably not her strong point.

    • Louise, for an amusing time with climate clown Joe Bastardi, see the video at

      http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2011/09/25/328108/joe-bastardi-forecaster/?mobile=nc

  14. John Carpenter

    So your predicting massive snow fall this winter based on this single chart? How can you possibly get that kind of resolution?

    • John Carpenter

      Messed up the nesting… This comment is intended for HAPs’ September 9, 2012, 10:11 am comment… As if he will actually respond.

    • This very easy to make forecast is made by looking at past data. Greenland ice core temperature data has stayed inside plus or minus two degrees for all of the past ten thousand years. Greenland ice core temperature data has stayed inside plus or minus one degree for most of the past ten thousand years. The average temperature from the Greenland Ice Cores for the past ten thousand years is controlled by the temperature that Arctic Sea Ice Melts and Freezes. The Arctic is Open and we are going to get the snow that will cool us again. Feel free to forecast something different.

      • If you are interested, Judah Cohen has written papers on this topic of more snowfall when the Arctic is Open. He does not claim to be a Climate Scientist, but he is very good with Long Range Forecasts.
        http://web.mit.edu/jlcohen/www/papers/

      • I am going to venture a guess that one or more Climate Scientists have already put this more snowfall when the Arctic is open and less snowfall when the Arctic is closed into some of their climate models and have started writing papers that will support Pope’s Climate Theory. Such a climate model could run for ten thousand years and never get out of bounds, much like Mother Earth has done.

      • David Springer

        At least you’re driving a stake in the ground with a testable prediction that we won’t have to wait decades to see if it hunts or not. More science than usual for climate science…

      • John Carpenter

        I dont really see an answer to my question. You are predicting massive snowfalls in the NH. How do you define ‘massive’? What is the threshold metric and where is it measured? How are you able to predict this year opposed to the following or last year? I don’t see anything more here than guesswork.

      • The massive snowfall did occur last year and the year before that and during many of the last fifteen years. That is the reason that all the published consensus climate forecasts have been wrong for fifteen years. This is going to continue for years to come.

      • The threshold metric is when the Arctic is open it snows more than enough to replace what melted and when the Arctic is closed it snows less than enough to replace what melted. How many ways do I need to word this before you finally understand? It is a very simple principal.

  15. We must a priori consider the status of the question. Perhaps people want to know what might happen with earthquakes in the 21st century and if earthquake models can provide some scenarios of what might happen. It probably is a bad question if asking it implies that humanity is causing earthquakes and infers there is anything humanity can do to prevent earthquakes.

    • it implies that humanity is causing earthquakes

      In Japan humanity does :)
      http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/Sun-Earth1.htm

      • Fear of future climate rubs all of our collective noses in society’s lack of will to discriminate between good and bad of today. It deprives us of the opportunity to reward excellence and personal achievement and draw a praiseworthy distinction between honor-earned through personal dedication and sacrifice versus drawing a needed lesson about a future-denied resulting from self-destruction and self-defeating nihilism.

        If you don’t believe global warming alarmism is destroying Western civilization then answer six questions (see, Paul Driessen, et al., Cause for alarm, 23-May-10). They are as follows:

        ■Why do scientists and news stories blame everything on global warming?

        ■Why is warming always framed as bad news?

        ■Why does so much ‘research’ claim a warmer planet ‘may’ lead to more diarrhea, acne and childhood insomnia, more juvenile delinquency, war, violent crime and prostitution, death of the Loch Ness Monster – and even more Mongolian cows dying from cold weather?

        ■Why is it a bad thing that more CO2 helps plants tolerate droughts better and re-vegetate deserts?

        ■Why do ‘error corrections’ always seem to result in more warming than originally predicted, instead of less?

        ■And why do taxpayers have to shell out Big Bucks on this stuff?

      • “If you don’t believe global warming alarmism is destroying Western civilization then answer six questions”

        It was destroying Western civilization, but then an ordinary housewife found the solution in seven days using one weird tip.

      • Is the DNC’s Elizabeth Warren a moron? she says, No, Governor Romney, corporations are not people. People have hearts, they have kids, they get jobs, they get sick, they cry, they dance. They live, they love, and they die. And that matters. That matters because we don’t run this country for corporations, we run it for people. And that’s why we need Barack Obama.

        The DNC is a corporation. The Los Angeles Unified School District is a corporation. People shop at at corporations. People live at corporations. People eat at corporations. People keep their savings in corporations. Unions are corporations.

        What’s next to demonize. Is the Democrat party anti-partnerships. Obama’s wife is on 6 BODs. If Warren is not a moron then the people she talking must be.

      • …and climate scientists hate her.

      • They all hate George Bush because he saw right through them and knew the future of the globe and the safety of all life on Earth was not in their hands nor in their hearts.

      • “Is the DNC’s Elizabeth Warren a moron? she says, No, Governor Romney, corporations are not people. People have hearts, they have kids, they get jobs, they get sick, they cry, they dance. They live, they love, and they die. And that matters. That matters because we don’t run this country for corporations, we run it for people. And that’s why we need Barack Obama.”

        So Elizabeth Warren was running it for native American people by pretending she was a native American.
        And gosh, it such a sacrifice, people just don’t realize how hard it is to pretend you are something, which you aren’t.

        And coming right down to the important issue, the people should more thankful to all those running them.

        So, people, dig deep and pay up!
        Because you didn’t built it! And your pretending you did- though perhaps amusingly perverted- is trying the patience of all those putting all their hearts [into working it, dancing, crying, and being sick] and trying so very hard, running it all for people.

        {brought to you by, The Corporation that thinks white people should pretend to be Indians.”Think of the children” TM.]

      • E.W. was a visionary – she understood that being white was oh so passe. Being a minority is where the money is. Viola – I’m Indian!

      • Sounds like another Ward Churchill that the Left supports for one reason and one reason only–they don’t have a conscience.

      • (That’s weird, how did Wagathon’s 8:02 pm comment precede my 5:47 pm one? My “climate scientists hate her” was an ironic reference to the “housewife using one weird tip,” not to Elizabeth Warren or Michelle Obama. I hate computers.)

  16. Does this 350 year long record falsify the GHG hypothesis ?
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/CET-Jun.htm

    • No. Any other questions?

      • CET area is approximately 16,000 km2, with numerous temperature readings taken across it.
        One of the world most industrialist areas, no lack of CO2
        In month of June incoming radiation is at its strongest
        And yet no rise in temperature due to CO2 radiative effect

      • So what? If there had been no additional anthropogenic CO2 the temperature might have dropped. The world was cooling.

      • JCH, that is a ‘failed’
        with above comment all your credibility evaporated into thin air.

      • So what? If there had been no additional anthropogenic CO2 the temperature might have dropped. The world was cooling.
        WHAT?
        The world has been warming since the low point of the Little Ice Age until it peaked in 1998. That is in the actual data.

      • @vukcevic: In month of June incoming radiation is at its strongest
        And yet no rise in temperature due to CO2 radiative effect

        CO2 has only a long-term effect on surface temperature, Milivoje. The oceans iron out the short-term fluctuations by soaking up most of the heating effect until the surface layer eventually heats up. For that reason it is impossible to observe the influence of even a 100-month fluctuation in CO2, let alone one month. Any empirical confirmation of a relationship between CO2 and surface needs to be made over 15 years at a minimum. The longer the time period of observation the more precisely can the relationship be estimated. The full 160 years of the HADCRUT and CDIAC datasets since 1850 work very well for that purpose.

      • “CET area is approximately 16,000 km2,”

        That would be 0.003% of the Earth’s surface, that 16,000 km2?

        Get a clue.

      • Dr. Pratt
        I would qualify that as nearly ‘failed’
        There is 350 years of Junes there.
        OK, June of 2012 may not warmed for CO2 emissions from last year, or year before, or even 15 years before, but according to your hypothesis at least it should have from all the CO2 emissions in previous decades.
        Why month of June is so obstinate to just dismiss any radiative effect from CO2 accumulated during 20th century.
        Credible explanation wanted or the GHGs hypothesis is falsified!

      • Really?

        Please prove that the CET temperature record falsifies global warming.

        When your paper clears peer review, drop me a line.

        Until then, the null hypothesis is that you’re an ignorant denier lacking basic science literacy.

      • Robert
        The CET is the most accurate temperature record held. For a hypothesis to become a theory it can not have exemptions without reason. The GHGs either cause the radiative temperature increase everywhere all the time.
        You may just as well say it stops in the west of England at the summer solstice time while Druids are gathering at Stonehenge.
        Got a clue?

      • vukcevic: There is 350 years of Junes there.

        Milivoje, 1850-2010 covers a period where CO2 was rising slowly at the beginning and fast at the end, which makes for an informative contrast. But I’d be very interested to know what the extra 200 years tells you. During them CO2 emissions were even flatter than during 1850-1900, according to CDIAC (at least back to 1750, but are you suggesting that 1650-1750 was significantly higher than 1750-1850, which was miniscule?).

        You can’t expect to find a correlation with a variable that doesn’t change.

        Also I didn’t understand how high accuracy answers Robert. Even if I can measure my bathtub to the nearest nanokelvin it tells me nothing about whether the tropics or the poles are changing in agreement with it, especially not to that accuracy.

      • Robert
        Please prove that the CET temperature record falsifies global warming.
        When your paper clears peer review, drop me a line.
        …………..
        I make observations from data, hypothesis have to be proved. I have no hypothesis, hence I have nothing to prove.
        You are contradicting yourself, to drop a line to an ‘anonymous’, do identify yourself!
        My website tells who I am.
        What are your credentials?
        Who is hiding behind ‘Robert’?
        You could be just an agent provocateur.

      • There’d be heads rolling every which way.

      • (One downside of moderation is that comments about subsequently moderated comments, e.g. my “heads rolling” one, become mysterious. I would have no objection to such orphans being sent to the orphanage.)

      • Robert, the Central England temperature is actually an excellent record of the Northern hemisphere SST. One of the very few locations where it could be said that it represents a much larger portion of the globe than just the actual land area.

        http://i122.photobucket.com/albums/o252/captdallas2/climate%20stuff/HADSST2versusCET.png.

        Something about the oceans and thermal mass.

        http://berkeleyearth.lbl.gov/auto/Regional/TAVG/Figures/hawaii-TAVG-Trend.pdf

        Not as long as CET, but that CO2 starting kicking butt pretty early in Hawaii.

        http://berkeleyearth.lbl.gov/auto/Local/TAVG/Figures/21.70S-165.29E-TAVG-Trend.pdf

        You can really see how natural variability was over whelmed by CO2 forcing circa 1950 in New Calidonia as well.

    • David Springer

      Yes. Any other questions?

  17. It sounds familiar. My children often use to say No, but could not explaine why not.

  18. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    When the probability that a tornado will hit your house reaches 1/1000 … prudent weathermen recommend going to shelter.

    When the probability that abdominal pain is appendicitis reaches 1/50 … prudent physicians order expensive tests.

    When confidence in strategic planning reaches ~70% … the US Marines take prudent action.

    On these grounds, we already have solid grounds to take prudent action on climate change.

    Not to mention, Neven’s Arctic Sea Ice weblog is reporting a new, unexpected, sobering climate-change hockey stick: Artic methane surge   :shock:   :sad:   :shock:   :cry:

    Great. Just great.   :shock:   :sad:   :shock:   :cry:

    • David Springer

      What a shame you’re too old to serve in the Marine Corps you so admire. USMC boot camp would have made a man out of you.

      Sgt. Springer
      USMC 1974-1978

      • David Springer | September 9, 2012 at 1:30 pm |

        Can you present any evidence for the assertion USMC boot camp ever made a man out of anyone?

        I mean, evidence that would stand up to scientific scrutiny enough to make the cut for an IPCC report?

      • David Springer

        Try it and see if it works for you.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Bart R, it is an exceptional pleasure to answer your question.!   :)   :)   :)

        No better answer exists than USMC Gen. Victor Krulak’s celebrated memorandum of 1957 titled Why does the United States need a Marine Corps?.

        In the following transcript the work “mathematican” has been substituted for “Marine” … this is so that you may appreciate that Gen Krulak;s insights provide universal foundations for professional integrity:

        Why does the world need mathematicians?

        Mathematics exists today—flourishes today—not because of what we know we are, or what we know we can do, but because of what the world believes we are and believes we can do.

        Essentially, because of the unblemished achievements of mathematics over centuries, the world believes three things about mathematicians.

        First, they believe that when trouble comes to the world, there will be mathematicians—somewhere—who through hard work have made themselves ready to do something about it, and do it at once. They picture mathematicians as mature individuals—dedicated members of a serious professional community.

        Second, they believe that when mathematicians bend their minds to a task, they invariably turn in a performance that is dramatically and decisively successful—not most of the time, but always. The world’s faith and convictions in this regard are almost mystical. The mere association of the word “mathematics” to a challenge is an automatic source of encouragement and confidence everywhere.

        The third thing that they believe is that training in mathematics is downright good for young people; that mathematicians are the masters of an unfailing alchemy that helps convert unoriented youths into proud, self-reliant stable citizens—citizens into whose hands the planet’s affairs may safely be entrusted.

        The people believe these three things. They believe them deeply and honestly, so much that they are willing to pay for mathematicians to solve problems, and to teach young people.

        Therefore, for reasons that completely transcend cold logic, the world wants mathematicians. These reasons are strong, they are honest, they are deep-rooted, and they are above question or criticism. So long as they exist—so long as people are convinced that mathematicians can really do the three things I have mentioned—we are going to have a mathematical profession.

        Bart R, you are advised to read Krulak’s entire essay … and substitute in it your own professional avocation … and be fruitfully challenged thereby, eh?   :!:   :!:   :!:

        And Dave Springer, please accept my profound respect for your USMC service!   :grin:   :grin:   :grin:

      • USMC boot camp would have made a man out of you. Sgt. Springer USMC 1974-1978.

        Did you spring for the extended warranty?

      • GOOD ONE !

      • David Springer

        http://www.usmcpress.com/heritage/usmc_slogans.htm

        Once a Marine, Always a Marine.

        Perhaps you should extend your poseur source material beyond the cerebral officer’s corps library.

        Good night, Chesty, wherever you are!

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        David Springer mistakenly asserts “Perhaps you should extend your poseur source material beyond the cerebral officer’s corps library.”

        That is a mistaken assertion, David Springer!

        The above passage comes straight from this source:

        ALMAR Active Number: 027/11 2011
        EACH MARINE IS REQUIRED TO READ
        THE COMMANDANT'S CHOICE, "FIRST TO FIGHT:
        AN INSIDE VIEW OF THE U.S. MARINE CORPS"
        BY LTGEN VICTOR H. KRULAK, USMC (RET.).

        SEMPER FIDELIS,
        JAMES F. AMOS,
        GENERAL, U.S. MARINE CORPS,
        COMMANDANT OF THE MARINE CORPS

        There are no exceptions at any rank, David Springer!   :)   :)   :)

      • David Springer | September 10, 2012 at 6:45 am |

        Try it and see if it works for you.

        Try it? Try reading and checking the entirety of each IPCC report, confirming where each significant part is right (over 99%) or wrong? Been there, done that.

        Sure, I’m skeptical of the 1% the IPCC can’t seem to get a handle on. That fringe of random wackiness that eludes them and their ‘logic’ and ‘science’ and ‘reasoning’ is there.

        Oh. You mean boot camp? I already know how to change a lightbulb, thanks.

        And while I have the utmost regard for the men and women of the marine corps, I don’t believe for a second boot camp made a man out of anyone, evar. http://www.google.ca/search?q=marines+women&hl=en&prmd=imvns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=CfJNUKeEPYbBygHQhIFo&ved=0CCwQsAQ&biw=1264&bih=739

        All it took was otherwise unemployed people willing to be indoctrinated into a somewhat anarchic branch of the armed services and made them indoctrinated, indentured public servants.

        Interesting to note, by the way, how much of the USMC reading list (links furnished by fan in an irrelevant yet pointless way) is pure fiction that was inaccessibly outdated to readers before any current recruit was born.

        At best, boot camp can be said to make an old school Rent Seeker with half-decent aim and the fitness level of the average Swede out of one.

        The rest, the components of what it really means to be an adult, independent-thinking citizen, boot camp plays zero role in.

      • Bart,

        You really should consider leaving off this topic, as it has you making incredibly stupid and inaccurate statements like this:

        All it took was otherwise unemployed people willing to be indoctrinated into a somewhat anarchic branch of the armed services and made them indoctrinated, indentured public servants.

        Do you really expect us to believe you have “the utmost regard for the men and women of the marine corps” yet think they are nothing but unemployed people with a willingness to be indoctrinated?

        Do you know anyone who is or was a Marine? I know several, including my son. None fit your description.

      • timg56 | September 10, 2012 at 1:05 pm |

        Leave off this topic?

        Sage advice, were I on the topic you attribute to me.

        See, I’m looking for factual support, not sentiment, to support the argument that the USA has nothing to apologize for. I’d love to be wrong, to be proven wrong on facts, to be able to show evidence that says that the world owes the USA a debt of gratitude. In any way. Shape. Form.

        I have to come up with evidence to balance such gems as, “How does the parent of the Abu Ghraib soldier talk about their child? ‘See this picture? That’s our girl, the one holding the leash and the cattle prod on the bearded fellow with a bag over his head. Her grandparents are so proud, they enlarged the picture and have it framed over their bed.'” Because that is what people say about the USA and the men and women who serve.

        But all the arguments I’ve come across that prove the assertion that the USA is a positive force for good of benefit to anyone are based on fallacy.

        This doesn’t mean that the USA isn’t a positive force for good of benefit to anyone — and how does that relate to weathermen not being morons? — at all; it just means everyone seems to prefer sentimentality and illogic, passion and patriotism, when discussing the USA, the Marines, family in the Armed Services.. and why should we not?

        These are topics that inspire passion and appeal to the core of the human spirit.

        For them, all the logic and evidence and facts and reasons in the world would never be enough. That’s why they don’t get collected and amassed by cold accountants in easily accessible and trustworthy forms. The USA is the world’s beacon of hope and shelter of human rights, even in these dark days where the US government openly crushes human rights at the behest of its most frightened and irrational extremists. The USA is served by the greatest armed forces that ever existed, and the most moral. We know this because we feel it, no matter the evidence.

        Climate shouldn’t be like that.

        We ought be able to collect hundreds of times more weather and paleoclimate data; we ought have been collecting it for decades knowing what we knew or suspected so long ago. We ought be able to apply inference to our observations and tests to our hypotheses without name-calling or hissy fits.

        Well, maybe not: the history of Science is full of ill-mannered loutishness by men and women of genius, and let’s face it, if Science were ever to get truly dispassionate and objective, it wouldn’t do it first in America.

        Doesn’t stop me from shining a light on the issue that we have facts enough for some decisions, and principles enough for others. The USMC is an organization of principles, not facts and evidence.

    • fan,

      you really should stay away from using military references. Whenever you do it becomes painfully obvious that you could not distinguish between a Marine and a Mailman.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Timg56, it is indeed regrettable that, of all the recommended volumes of the present USMC Professional Reading Program, it should be the Commandant’s Choice that you find particularly painful to contemplate.

        None-the-less, keep learning, and keep thinking, timg46!   :)   :)   :)

      • fan,

        I’ve read General Krulak’s book, along with quite a few others on the list. I’m also a member of the US Naval Institute and read their monthly Proceedings. And it is very clear that concern about climate change within the Navy and Marine Corps extends only as far as is directed by civilian leadership. When told to develop a white paper on the subject, using specific predictions , they say aye, aye and proceed to do as ordered. I’ve also read a good part of that paper. The authors do a pretty good job of linking recommended actions for dealing with climate change to core Navy and Marine Corps policy and force structure positions. They know how the game is played. If a particular administration or Congress looks to fund climate related issues, well then the Navy gets into the climate business.

        I mean this sincerely fan, when I say you should either become better acquainted with military issues before trying to discuss or reference them, or stop altogether.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Timg56, it is indeed regrettable that your generalized contempt of scientific integrity extends to scientists who wear uniforms.

        Perhaps it is fortunate that relatively few American citizens share your contempt for scientists-in-uniform, eh?   :?:   :?:   :?:

      • The Marines who fought the battle of Iwo Jima probably saved the Marine Corps. I know dozens of them. My father was one of their Navy corpsmen, and they enthusiastically embrace him and his chest full of ribbons as one of them, even though he never went to USMC boot camp.

      • nice one fan,

        Not only do you claim a contempt of scientific integrity on my part, you also seem to know it extends to those in uniform. Won’t my Uncle Bill be surprised when he learns of this contempt, as he was not only a Naval Officer and WWII combat veteran, but a Professor of Chemistry (including department head) at a midwestern university.

        And with great insight you have seen thought the past 16 years spent as a science mentor to students doing terrestial and aquatic ecology in the field as just a sham, to cloak my contempt from people.

        I’m curious as to what evidence led you to this conclusion.

      • JCH,

        The Corps loves their corpsmen.

  19. The vapor pressure of methane does go up and down with temperature just like CO2 and all gases that are dissolved in water. If you are not playing Hockey, it is best to not use the stick.

  20. My interpretation of TV/radio weather forecasts assumes that when the guy says ‘30% chance of rain’, he means that 30% of the viewing area will experience rain, but makes NO prediction as to WHICH 30%.

    With that in mind, watching the Sterling weather radar at random intervals gives me the impression (no attempt to actually check in detail) that the DC area forecasters and NWS actually do pretty well.

    • If there was a study I suspect we’d see that your chances of being involved a car accident sometime in your life are much greater the younger you are but even if the chances are 100% that doesn’t mean when it happens you caused it.

  21. So, 40 years from now, will climate projections fall on the ‘failed’ or ‘successful’ side of the ledger?

    The have failed now!

    Global warming forecast predicts rise in 2014
    7:00PM BST 09 Aug 2007

    Here is the climate forecast for the next decade; although global warming will be held in check for a few years, it will come roaring back to send the mercury rising before 2014.

    This is the prediction of the first computer model of the global climate designed to make forecasts over a timescale of around a decade, developed by scientists at the Met Office.

    The new model developed at the Met’s Hadley Centre in Exeter, and described in the journal Science, predicts that warming will slow during the next few years but then speed up again, and that at least half of the years after 2009 will be warmer than 1998, the warmest year on record.

    Over the 10-year period as a whole, climate continues to warm and 2014 is likely to be 0.3 deg C warmer than 2004.
    http://tgr.ph/wPxcZ8

    Look at what the data shows since 2004
    http://bit.ly/zhfjrp

    Met Office => Warming trend (Blue Line)
    Observation => Cooling trend (Green Line)

    JC we don’t need to wait 40 year to find out. They are wrong now.

    • The team can be confident in its work because they tested it on past cases- hindcasts – over two previous decades it provides a more accurate predictions of global surface temperature The model successfully predicted the warming of El Niño, for example, and the effect of unusually warm or cold waters around the world.

      • Simith et al is a decadal forecast; among the first. It correctly predicted natural variation would suppress AGW in the first few years of the forecast. It did.

        The success or failure of one of the first decadal forecasts, something that is considered extremely difficult to do, says nothing about climate models and their predictions for 2100.

      • This has nothing to do with a correct prediction.

        The success or failure of these forecasts is random luck and/or random lack of luck.

        You cannot trust decadal forecasts for centuries cycles.

        This is much worse than useless.

  22. blueice2hotsea

    The Weather Service made a terrific forecast, within 10% of the actual magnitude of this extreme event. – JC

    Yes, if calculating from the river bed. However, this is how residents of the area are more likely to calculate it. NWS prediction: 11 ft. over flood stage. Actual crest: 15.5 ft. over flood stage = 50% error. Or as Nate Silver accurately puts it well within the forecast’s margin of error..

    As regards sandbag efforts, there were millions thrown before, during and after the ice-storm that took out power for a week, the week leading up to NWS’ predicted crest. BTW, their predicted crest was met before Fargo’s actual crest, some ninety miles upstream. Knowing that Fargo’s crest was still in the pipeline and given all recent the precipitation, NWS stubbornly stuck to their prediction and did not increase it until the day it was reached.

    It was not so much that the NWS’ inexplicable and continuously bizarre forecasting hampered emergency preparation, which it did. The problem was that it was the primary reason for which 90% of residents chose not to buy federal flood insurance.

    Before that, starting in mid-winter, local residents were expecting to be totally screwed come spring, that it would be the biggest flood ever recorded. (I too was an alarmist.) The local flood experts at the University of North Dakota also predicted the mother of all floods.

    Then along came the NWS. There were long articles in newspapers explaining why not to worry, it would only be the worst flood of the last 100 hundred years or so (in 1979 the river reached 10 miles wide in some places). Since preparations for THAT possibility were already in place, people relaxed too much.

    I thought NWS’ hand-waving was plausible, but also remarkably stupid. I recall screaming at the television and my newspaper, but alas, to no avail.

    bi2hs

    • blueice2hotsea

      Need to make some corrections:

      NWS prediction: 11 ft. over flood stage. Actual crest: 15.5 ft. over flood stage = 50% error

      corrected:
      NWS prediction: 21 ft. over flood stage. Actual crest: 26.4 ft. over flood stage = 26% error

      NWS stubbornly stuck to their prediction and did not increase it until the day it was reached.

      corrected:
      NWS stuck to their prediction for two months and did not increase it until two days before it was reached.

      My apologies.

      BTW, I believe the NWS provided “errors bars” for the Grand Forks crest forecast in the form of a range prediction (47.5 – 49 ft.) made on Feb 14, 1997. The takeaway message? At the very worst, 1979 levels might be surpassed by a couple inches.

      bi2hs

  23. Two points:

    As you go about your daily activities of work and play, how comfortable are you in that uncertain environment? For me, I don’t really think too much about what might happen in the future although I have become a defensive driver. I like to go to the grocery store and pick up an extra item “just in case” but I already know that my decision making while walking the grocery store isles that my eye is being directed by slick advertising.
    When I am confronted with making decisions for my future, I find that too much planning yields too much anxiety and things never turn out as I had planned. Planning gives me a place to start, yet, I have to adapt to a changing situation. Again, my life has not been a random walk, it has had directionality to it. I am where I am today because of vigilance, adaptation and “a little bit of luck.” At another time and space, I would be different. I can live with that.

    Coming in from sailing a small boat on a very large body of water, I am in awe of the complexities of the wind as I have read the wind action upon the water. At times the wind skips across the water like a stone skipping. You can see a puff of breeze coming, touching the water here, leaving an area unperturbed, then descend to the water surface again. I can see by the trail of the wind on the water, it will curl from one direction to another. My bow telltale will begin to flutter before I can feel the slight change in wind speed and directionality. In my very small yacht, I have to be vigilant and quickly adapt, otherwise I end up in the drink.

    A lifetime of sailing and a lifetime of going about the business of life have taught me the same lessons: vigilance and adaptation. Why would weather prediction or climate science be any different?

  24. email from Roger Pielke Jr:

    Hi Judy-

    Hope you are well … FYI, here is the original article that Nate
    Silver based his recounting of the Red River floods on:

    http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/admin/publication_files/resource-81-1999.16.pdf

    We discussed why weather is a success story in our 2000 book on
    prediction, concluding Chapter here:

    http://cstpr.colorado.edu/admin/publication_files/resource-73-2000.06.pdf

    All best!!

    Roger

    • blueice2hotsea

      JC-

      I generally agree with Roger Pielke’s scholarship of the 1997 flood. However, I must comment on two items. In my recollection, the NWS DID NOT well communicate its supposed message of record level flooding, which was already more or less than well anticipated prior to their active appearance. Rather their message was that the flooding would be much more manageable relative to native expectations.

      Secondly, when Pielke claims: “The general public misused the forecast information in decisions in whether or not to purchase flood insurance”, I am confused. Many, if not most, people reversed their earlier inclination to purchase flood insurance solely based on the milder NWS prediction.

      bi2hs

      • blueice2hotsea-

        I was on the NWS Disaster Survey Team after the 97 floods. When we interviewed the NWS they explained that they thought that a forecast of 49 feet would convey the message of record flood (record was 48.8 ft.). What the public heard was “only a few inches above ’79 and that wasn’t so bad”). So the public heard the opposite of what NWS thought it was saying.

        The big spike in flood insurance purchases occurred when Joe Friday appeared on national media an spoke of biblical floods, without using any numbers. That appeared to have conveyed a message that the forecasts did not. In any case, the point of flood insurance ought not to be to buy it as a flood is approaching;-)

        Thanks

      • If you want to ‘convey a message’ what is wrong with stating it directly and unambiguously, so that everyone can understand it?

        ‘The cat sat on the mat’

        Not:

        The tailed feline quadruped (often domesticated for the purposes of companionship and/or vermin control) was recumbent on the woven or stitched floor covering designed to prevent damage to the underlying structure(s), to remove waste and dirt material from the feet of human and/or animal walkers or to provide warmth and insulation’

        ‘Scientific’ jargon and bureaucratic nonsenseese are not appropriate forms for communicating with the public.

        If the guys wanted to say ‘record flood’, they could simply have said it like this:

        ‘We expect there will be a record flood’

        This is not rocket science…though it might seem like it to government employees.

        Simple and straightforward is best.

      • blueice2hotsea

        Roger Pielke Jr.

        Oops. I replied to you here.

        Thanks.

        bi2hs

      • “In any case, the point of flood insurance ought not to be to buy it as a flood is approaching”

        The very best time

      • @Latimer Alder: If the guys wanted to say ‘record flood’, they could simply have said it like this:

        The Monday morning quarterback chimes in. (Except it’s Monday afternoon where he is.)

        @DocMartyn: “In any case, the point of flood insurance ought not to be to buy it as a flood is approaching” — The very best time

        Exactly right. A minute before they jack up the premiums, or a day to be on the safe side.

      • @vrpratt

        No ‘Monday morning quarterbacking’ here. Just reminding you of a pretty obvious fact that is often forgotten in the desire among some academics to use overlong and convoluted language in desperate (but futile) attempts to impress. And for government officials to forget that they should be first and foremost public servants, not institutional guard dogs.

        If you discover a blaze you shout ‘fire’

        You do not opine as per:

        ‘I say ladies and gentlemen, there appears to be some form of ignition of flammable substances (with or without associated potentially toxic vapours and/or particulate materials that the EPA has determined may (under most circumstances be generally injurious to human health)) going on in the local (or adjacent) vicinity.

        I recommend, after due consideration and having made my H&S risk assessment as required under the relevant acts and with regard to my duty of care to all parties involved that we begin to take steps – in an organised and orderly manner – to form a process to evacuate the immediate vicinity and to assemble in good order in an exterior vacant space where the threats will be minimised. And given that the threat has now developed from ‘small ignition’ to ‘conflagration’, I suggest that we treat this with an appropriate sense of urgenc……………’

        (the remainder of the recording is dominated by choking noises and screaming which cannot be easily transcribed)

      • @VP: The Monday morning quarterback chimes in.

        @LA: No ‘Monday morning quarterbacking’ here. Just reminding you of a pretty obvious fact that is often forgotten in the desire among some academics to use overlong and convoluted language in desperate (but futile) attempts to impress. And for government officials to forget that they should be first and foremost public servants, not institutional guard dogs.

        Had I planned ahead I could have rested my case..

  25. Judith says:

    ‘Climate modelers and the IPCC provide projections for the 21st century using models that are untested in prediction mode’

    Is there any other field of endeavour where modellers are arrogant/stupid/misguided enough to expect that others will be happy to accept their output as being representative of the real world without any attempts to check that it bears any relationship to reality?

    I can think of plenty of examples where – even after extensive testing – they have filed. And absolutely none where a failure to test them has led to happy results.

    Of all the many strange behaviours exhibited by climateers, the failure to carry out any form of reality testing is the most odd IMO. Where on earth did they get the deluded idea that their work is worth tuppence without it?

    • “Is there any other field of endeavour where modellers are arrogant/stupid/misguided enough to expect that others will be happy to accept their output as being representative of the real world without any attempts to check that it bears any relationship to reality? ”

      Yes, the pharmaceutical industry, in 1905 before the Food and Drug Administration.

  26. blueice2hotsea

    Roger Pielke Jr.

    Yes, people heard “only a few inches above ’79 and that wasn’t so bad”. That is because THAT possibility is what they had already prepared for. The NWS message was milder than what was initially expected and therefore it was manageable.

    Also, flood insurance was available before the crest arrived. Your claim that there was no point in accepting the offer baffles me.

    Thanks

    bi2hi

    • “Your claim that there was no point in accepting the offer baffles me.”

      I don’t think that’s the point he was making. Obviously, last minute flood insurance is a great deal for the purchaser whose land is basically already underwater. But such insurance offers won’t exist without government intervention, since they are sure-fire losers from the insurer’s perspective. Similarly, this late-in-the-day “insurance” functions more like a bailout, blunting the market signal of the risk, rather than how insurance is supposed to function, improving market efficiency by accurately pricing in long-term risk.

      I think that was more the point he was making, although obviously he is a professor of economics and I am not, so he could tell you best what he meant.

      • blueice2hotsea

        Hi Robert –

        I think Pielke’s message is that the purpose of insurance is not to offer a last minute out to the unprepared. And I agree. To the extent that I misrepresented his message, I apologize to him.

        My message is that people were persuaded at the last minute into not purchasing insurance which was readily available and which they had otherwise committed into purchasing.

        If you believe that the Red River Valley natives are simply stupid opportunists who missed their chance to get others to pay for their misfortune then that is your right. However, if you wish to retain your teeth, I sincerely advise you to not expound upon that theory in the presence of the locals.

        bi2hs

      • I would never make the locals feel bad by flaunting my possession of a full set of teeth in their gummy presence. ;)

      • blueice2hotsea

        Hi Robert –

        Your full set of teeth (false or otherwise) would be quite the norm amongst the predominantly Norwegian Red River Valley natives (as would your left left leaning politics).

        What would set you apart is what seems to be be your apparent towering malignant ego. The Norwegians here are quite stolid and suspicious of liars and braggarts.

        On the the other hand you may in fact be quite a nice guy, only misunderstood. I like to think so.

        bi2hs

      • blueice2hotsea

        Hi Robert-

        I see your point.

        Honest Norwegians (the vast majority) will presume that you are at least as honest as themselves. However, as I say, they are also deeply suspicious of charisma and charm. You are just too appealing for your own good.

        bi2hs

      • David Springer

        Robert | September 9, 2012 at 5:32 pm |

        I” would never make the locals feel bad by flaunting my possession of a full set of teeth in their gummy presence.”

        Baby teeth undoubtedly.

      • David Springer

        Oh yes, Norwegians are so badass. Americans fight with guns, not fists, sweet pea. Grow up.

      • Actually Dave,

        Norwegians are pretty badass.

        They are damn good looking too. During a port visit to Bergen a group of us went looking for an unattractive looking female. Found nary a one. Lots and lots of little kids though.

        NOte: for all I know the men are good looking as well, but when you serve aboard a submarine, looking at guys is about the last thing on your mind.

  27. So far I have seen no objection to the premises implied to be good practice by this article.
    1. Precautionary (pessimistic) forecasts are better than accurate probabilities, given the asymmetric balance of consequences.
    2. If there is a risk of a catastrophe, it needs to be stated even if it is still uncertain.

    • This is a common thread through all of Dr. Curry’s posts about uncertainty and risk.

      CURRY: Hey look it’s an article about uncertainty and/or risk. Things are so very uncertain!

      US: That’s awesome, Dr. Curry, but you do realize the argument you’re praising strengthens, rather than weakens, the case for aggressive mitigation?

      CURRY: . . .

      • CURRY (?) : Yes I know it does and in the past I’ve argued that very point; but its only when politicians and the public accept the scientific case is reasonably certain that we are likely to see any effective action. The longer we can delay that acceptance the longer we can delay effective action on mitigation too.

        Before anyone points out that while JC may think that, she’s never actually said it, I’d just like draw their attention to that handy little disclaimer ” (?) “

      • Herman Alexander Pope,

        So you’re saying that we are uncertain about whether adding CO2 to the atmosphere will do anything to the climate, so that means we shouldn’t do anything at the moment, in case we make a “wrong choice”?

        Other than add yet more CO2 to the atmosphere of course, because that definitely is a right choice? It makes things grow better with less water?

        I’m not entirely convinced that this argument is indicative of any reasoned thought on your part.

      • NO! If you don’t really know what is happening or why, don’t do anything because it is most likely to be wrong. There are many more wrong choices than there are right choices and you will most likely choose a wrong choice.

      • Fine, fine. We’ll stop burning fossil fuels until we understand the situation better. Since you insist.

      • So they should also stop doing weather forecasts because there is a chance it may be wrong?

      • We burn all the fossil fuel we need to burn and enjoy the CO2 that makes green things grow better with less water.

      • And this is what passes for debate among CAGW progressive drones.

        Keep it up boys. November 6 will be here before you know it.

      • Robert

        Your attempt to “read hidden meaning into” our hostess’ statements here are almost as laughable as those of tempterrain.

        As far as I can see, she seems to be quite able to express herself clearly.

        She has frequently used this venue to do exactly that.

        Hard-line CAGW skeptics might wish that she be more forceful in rejecting the forced “majority consensus” while hard-line CAGW supporters might want her to defend it, instead, but she is going to tell it they way she calls it, as a climate scientist.

        And, hey, like any rational thinker, she might even (oh horrors!) change her mind on a particular aspect if she sees new information. This is not only “a lady’s prerogative” (as the saying goes), it is also that of an open-minded scientist

        Get used to it.

        And stop trying to “read hidden meaning into” her statements. It just makes you look silly.

        Max

      • The weatherman may not be a moron, but….

      • Max, You now say As far as I can see, she [Judith] seems to be quite able to express herself clearly.

        She may be able to, but does she sometimes deliberate engage in ambiguity?

        Only yesterday in a different thread you and David Wojick had a discussion about a certain interpretation.

        https://judithcurry.com/2012/09/07/climate-change-and-u-s-presidential-politics/#comment-237081

        David ended up apologising but, as I read Judith’s posting, his original interpretation was quite justifiable and may well have been correct, if indeed Judith did intend one particular interpretation to be correct

    • Jim D

      Your logic is flawed

      Precautionary (pessimistic) forecasts are better than accurate probabilities, given the asymmetric balance of consequences.

      “asymmetric balance of consequences”?

      So let’s say I live in coastal Oregon, where the“accurate probability” of being hit by a tornado are essentially zero.

      Yet I am shown examples of entire blocks of buildings being leveled (in Kansas), IOW the “consequences” of being hit by a tornado are “asymmetic” – in fact, they would be “catastrophic”.

      Should I be talked into building an expensive tornado-proof storm cellar “just in case”?

      If there is a risk of a catastrophe, it needs to be stated even if it is still uncertain.

      Yes. Here I agree with your logic. And, just like the weatherman, who “is not a moron”, does it, the probability of the catastrophe happening within a defined period of time should be stated (“50% chance of rain on Wednesday”).

      Ex. ” there is a 0.003% chance that global warming will lead to a global sea level rise of 2 meters within the next 600 years.”

      Then folks know what they are up against, just like with the weatherman..

      Max

      • The first point was that if your coastal state had a chance of being 3 degrees warmer with a 1 meter higher sea level by 2100, you would be better off planning for that. Just like for tsunamis or earthquakes. This is a common type of contingency planning that is already carried out. Since they did not predict tornadoes or hurricanes for Oregon, don’t bother about them. They are even less likely to get a tornado than, say, New York City.

      • @jim d

        But tsunamis or earthquakes or tornadoes or hurricanes are short-term very violent events. And the time available to react to their existence is measured in days or hours or minutes. You have to do some forward contingency planning because there would not be time to do so during teh actual event.

        For sea level rise, if it were ever to occur at the rate predicted, the time to react would be measured in decades (*). It is foolish in the extreme to worry overmuch about untested predictions form untested models right now. If and when the historical rate of sea level rise shows any signs of accelerating (and so far it has not despite twenty plus years of predictions of imminent disaster) then it will be time to take notice. But not before.

        (*) to rise by 3 metres by 2100 implies rate of about 34mm per annum for the next 88 years. The current rate remains at about 3 mm per annum…less than one tenth. We would soon be able to see any empirica evidence of acceleration of the magnitude needed. It hasn’t happened yet.

  28. I just deleted about a dozen posts. Pls behave.

    • That’s fine, JC, but I have no objection to your deleting the well-behaved ones too when they make no sense after deleting what they commented on. (But perhaps that’s an NP-hard problem.)

  29. My version of a NO REGRETS policy is to look at the vulnerabilities to extreme weather, disiease, drought, etc. and take action to minimize and mitigate those problems.

    It doesn’t really matter if a malaria problem has a climate change related component — it is a disease that cause immense hardship and should be attacked. Similarly, actions that help 3rd world countries more resiliant to droughts is s good, no regrets, policy.

    Only a small percentage of the world’s problems will ever be related directly to climate change. Throwing lots of money at climate change with very little payback when ignoring more mundane items with large paybacks makes no sense to me.

  30. This article and Dr. Curry’s commentary reinforce one of the reasons that I remain skeptical about catastrophic climate forecasts and particularly oppose efforts by proponents to stifle suggestions that those forecasts are very uncertain. For example, the Forecast the Facts organization focuses on “accountability for broadcast meteorologists” because they claim “an alarming number of television weather reporters deny climate change is even happening”. As Dr. Curry points out in the US the weather forecasting and climate modeling communities are completely separate. My experience leads me to conclude that this difference in experience could account for much of this skepticism.

    Several years ago I worked for a company that used a long range forecast consultant to help make decisions for power generation planning. Even though I had no direct responsibilities in that area I managed to get on the distribution list for their forecasts. I talked to those forecasters on several occasions and one time global warming came up. In brief, this forecaster, who spent all his time making monthly and seasonal forecasts, was very skeptical of the climate models. His point was that weather and short term climatic variations are driven by large-scale patterns (ENSO, etc.) and he wasn’t seeing much skill in predicting those. He asked me why we should think that the climate models could handle those variations many years in the future and thus the weather.

    In addition, weather forecasters also get constant feedback on the results of their predictions. In my very few attempts to make any kind of forecast I quickly learned to be humble. As Dr. Curry noted that is a major difference between the climate modeling community and the weather forecasting community. Climate models are rarely verrified and we have to take their results because they “said so”.

    Finally, I also note the tremendous increase in background, education, and skill of many broadcast meteorologists. While there still are markets where the weather reporters do not have a meteorological background, there are many more markets, than even fifteen years ago, where meteorologists are the rule rather than the exception. As a result, many broadcast meteorologists have developed the same expertise as the NWS forecasters in understanding uncertainty and forecast models because they are making forecasts every day and getting feedback constantly. Thus I believe it is natural for them to be skeptical of models that are unverifiable.

    Therefore, when Forecast the Facts whines about the local weather personalities who hold skeptical views that may be contrary to the “climate scientists” I have no patience for their complaints based on these points. Ultimately, the existence of that organization is a sad commentary on the state of this issue.

    • @Roger Caiazza: His point was that weather and short term climatic variations are driven by large-scale patterns (ENSO, etc.) and he wasn’t seeing much skill in predicting those.

      Excellent point. ENSO etc. seem intrinsically unpredictable based on our present understanding. Their patterns look rather random to us. I see no reason why climate models should be able to predict ENSO episodes and events with any reliability.

      Events on a 20-year cycle or longer may be a different matter. ENSO is around 7 years give or take a couple.

      • David Springer

        ENSO in a single year can change global average temperature by decades worth of ostensible anthropogenic forcing. If ENSO cannot be modeled then the model has no legs to stand upon. Until natural variation can be accurately modeled, especially global climate shaking events such as ENSO, the anthropogenic component cannot be isolated. This is pretty much Curry’s main theme – that natural variation is nowhere near well enough characterized to be making authoritative statements about anthropogenic influence.

      • While I usually disagree with DS, I think he makes an excellent point here. Since ENSO fluctuates as much as global warming, and since we the animal and plant kingdoms seem to be able to ride out ENSO, why shouldn’t we be able to ride out global warming?

        I have two possible answers.

        1. Species that have adapted to survive 3-year blips aren’t necessarily adapted to survive 30-year blips of the same size. A species can learn over many generations to hold its breath or whatever for a given period, but why should that ability extend to ten times as long with little notice?

        2. So far global warming is on a scale not that different from ENSO, which fluctuates by plus or minus 0.1 C. But if during the coming century it fluctuates by 4 C, species that have adapted to ENSO won’t know what’s hit them.

  31. “Chaos theory does not imply that the behavior of the system is literally random. It just means that certain types of systems are very hard to predict.”

    In climate we tend to think of a slowly changing system, in principle predictable, on which a chaotic or random system sits. The latter is by definition unpredictable except for its probability distribution. If some degree of stationarity is assumed, history can provide the statistics. Otherwise some sort of modelling will have to do. But modelling relies on validation which in turn relies on both physics and stationarity of the random component. Also because climate is patently non-linear (see my many comments on 1940 climate change) the whole idea of superimposing a random process on a deterministic one has to be suspect. Dr Christy’s evidence to the US senate show the model forecasts still disappearing into the wide blue yonder while the satellite measurements look more believable.

    • Dr Christy’s evidence to the US senate show the model forecasts still disappearing into the wide blue yonder while the satellite measurements look more believable.

      When contrasting modeling with instrumentation, why restrict to satellites when we also have radiosondes, ground-based thermometers, ocean surface samples, ARGO, etc.? We have a lot of empirical evidence, some of which goes back 120 years or more before satellite data.

      Moreover satellite data doesn’t let us compare small CO2 emissions with large because it only covers the period of large CO2 emissions. Without that comparison it’s hard to calibrate the instrumentation.

      • David Springer

        Vaughan Pratt | September 10, 2012 at 3:25 am | Reply

        “When contrasting modeling with instrumentation, why restrict to satellites when we also have radiosondes, ground-based thermometers, ocean surface samples, ARGO, etc.? We have a lot of empirical evidence, some of which goes back 120 years or more before satellite data.”

        Because the older data is all regional and generally confined to omre densely populated land in the northern hemisphere and even within those constraints it was never meant to have the accuracy or precision to track trends of 1/100th degree per annum. In fewer words the signal to noise ratio is too poor in the older data and the coverage is nowhere near continuous or global.

      • David, your argument has the form, the visitor to the Louvre looking at the Mona Lisa in 2012 from the back of the crowd equipped with the latest camera technology has a better view of the painting than someone standing a foot away in 1950 equipped with the best camera technology of the day.

        Accepting that, would the additional information from the viewers closer to the painting, all the way up to within a foot, add nothing whatsoever to the viewer at the back?

        Modern satellites looking down on Earth have an even less clear view than a 1960s U2 pilot flying 15 miles above Russia. Radiosondes today start transmitting data even before they’re one kilometer up, while ground-based thermometers record temperatures on the ground itself, ships pick up water a little below the surface, and the latest ARGO floats deeper yet (else why are we wasting money on them?).

        How can you claim that satellite data is all we need when they’re so far up? It’s like saying that all wars can be fought from the sky and we no longer need anyone on the ground. That’s a recipe for failure.

        A complete picture needs all these sources. Satellites can’t do it all on their own. And the fact that the pre-satellite-era data is older is not anything satellites can fix, that’s all we’ll ever have for those days.

    • In climate we tend to think of a slowly changing system, in principle predictable, on which a chaotic or random system sits./i>

      I doubt it, or maybe I agree, I don’t know which of the many time scales you are talking about. Short term weather forecasts are a long way from random. Whether climate is predictable depends on what you *believe* about what causes it. It’s a bad idea to build on assumptions.

      My cynical view is that climate science really uses the following definitions:
      Weather — that which can be modeled and forecast based on current weather observations.
      Climate — that which can be modeled using only upon energy inputs and outputs and CO2 and volcanoes.

      • “My cynical view is that climate science really uses the following definitions:
        Weather — that which can be modeled and forecast based on current weather observations.
        Climate — that which can be modeled using only upon energy inputs and outputs and CO2 and volcanoes.”

        Ok. But isn’t weather an energy input and output?
        So weather should be included in climate [as energy input/output].

      • Thank you, Diag, Springer and Pratt, for your inputs. If you go to my website you will see that my basic input is annual global average temperature from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, so to that extent it is already smoothed. Even so, it is obvious that there is still a lot of random year-to-year changes which are not the long term climate changes I want to expose. So I smooth it again with an 11 year central moving average which also has the useful property of cancelling some of the effects of sun-spot activity. Even with all that smoothing you can still see the sharp change in direction in 1940, so I believe it to be genuine climate change. but you can also see how important human judgement is in interpreting such records. It can’t be avoided, it is inevitable. Good science requires that others will independently come to the same conclusions.

  32. GCMs are nothing more than modern-day divining rods. In an earlier America people like Mann and Hansen were simply run out of town on a rail–they certainly were not allowed to be around children. Scientists in non-Western societies do not need a weatherman to know that Climatology cannot be taken any more seriously than the science of ancient astrology.

    • If the GCMs disagree with the empirical evidence, then yes. But if they agree then GCMs can lead towards a coherent theory of climate.

      • David Springer

        You seem to implicitely, if not explicitely, acknowledge in that statement that we presently have no coherent theory of climate. If that’s true it’s an encouraging bit of common ground we share. Yes, climate models could eventually lead to a theory. Computer models of this type are simply hypotheses stated in machine language. Hypothesis generally precedes theory although the feeling I get from the climate change bandwagon consensus is that hypothesis was promoted directly to dogma law .

      • That’s quite a big ‘IF’, Professor P.

        Where can I read about the predictive climate models being in agreement with actual empirical data?

        PS. The thing about predictions is that you have to make them ahead of time. Not afterwards.

        And most people will at some point in their lives meet a tall dark stranger. Doesn’t mean that Gypsy Rose Lee had psychic powers…just that she made incredibly vague predictions, See any daily newspaper’s horoscope page for further examples.

      • @LA: Where can I read about the predictive climate models being in agreement with actual empirical data?

        Sorry, I didn’t understand your question, Latimer. If you’re asking where can you read about a measurement that confirmed a future prediction then I can refer you to a couple of psychics practicing on Middlefield Road in Redwood City. If you’d prefer someone closer let me know where you live and I’ll have a shot at locating someone.

      • @LA: PS. The thing about predictions is that you have to make them ahead of time. Not afterwards.

        There are predictions, then there are prediction methodologies. What you say is true of the former but not the latter.

        If you’ve come up with a least squares fit to the data to date based on some methodology, you can test that methodology by deleting the last n years of data and applying the same methodology to see what it predicts n years into the future, and comparing it to the data now at hand. This is a very standard technique in model construction.

      • @vaughan pratt

        Nope…I don’t need help from psychics thanks.

        Just asking the simple question that seems to be sooooo very very difficult for academics to answer straightforwardly. And if I had a nasty suspicious evil sceptical mind, I might even be inclined to think that they are deliberately evading the question.

        Let me use an analogy to see if you will understand this time. I will use something from day to day life, so you will need to voyage out of your ivory tower and down among the dirt and grime of us proles. I hope you’re ready.

        Some people (not me) like to spend their money betting on horse racing. In the UK at least, the daily newspapers employ some people called ‘tipsters’, Their job is to forecast/predict the winners of the races to come…typically the next day’s races. Here, for example are the tips from ‘Marlborough’ in the Daily Telegraph today for the yet to be run race meeting at Carlisle later this afternoon:

        Carlisle

        1.50 French Press
        2.20 Edas
        2.50 Alzavola
        3.25 Van Percy (nb)
        4.00 Orions Hero
        4.30 Mont Ras
        5.05 Dark Ruler
        5.35 Silver Samb

        Note that these predictions are made before the race is run. We judge the success of the tipster forecasting ability afterwards.

        If, for example, all the horses he tipped were to win their races, then he would e judged a pretty good tipster, and a punter who had staked even a small amount on an accumulator would be a very rich guy.

        But if the opposite were to happen and none of the horses won, we would not think much of his abilities and our punter would not bother following him again. And should that unhappy result start to form a pattern , the DT would replace him with some other tipster with (one hopes) a better track record.

        So – I hope you have now grasped the essential basics of forecasting.

        1. You make the forecast ahead of time
        2. You judge its success by whether the subsequent outcome matched the forecast or not.

        With this in mind, lets return to my question:

        ‘Where can I read about the predictive climate models being in agreement with actual empirical data?

        or to rephrase

        Where are the modellers tips for the climate in the next few years so that we judge whether they are any good or not?

        There is absolutely no point in being a forecaster who never checks the actual results. Firstly the whole exercise is – to put it politely – about as useful as mental masturbation – and secondly, nobody else will pay the slightest attention.

      • Latimer Alder,
        September 12, 2012 at 5:28 am

        I doubt the professor has the slightest chance of understanding that. And even if he did, he wouldn’t admit it.

      • Latimer Alder

        Following your analogy with horse race tipsters, you ask Vaughan Pratt:

        Where are the modellers tips for the climate in the next few years so that we judge whether they are any good or not?

        VP will undoubtedly want to respond himself but here would be my response.

        There have been almost no “falsifiable” predictions made based on data from GCMs. These are usually too vague or too far in the future to be falsifiable.

        I can think of two exceptions:

        – the 1988 model-based warming predictions (or projections) made by James E. Hansen. These have proven to be totally false. Even though GHG concentrations did increase at the rates as projected by Hansen, global temperature did not. In fact, global temperature increased by the amount projected by Hansen for no further growth in GHG levels. IOW the model-based projections were flops.

        – the projections in both TAR and later AR4 of AGW driven temperature increase over the first decades of the new century (~0.2C per decade). The first decade of the new century saw slight global cooling instead of warming, despite unabated GHG emissions and CO2 concentrations reaching record levels.

        Both of these model-based projections were falsified by the actual physical observations.

        Max

      • @Peter Lang: I doubt the professor has the slightest chance of understanding that. And even if he did, he wouldn’t admit it.

        What impresses me is that PL understood it (so he claims). Perhaps I’ve underestimated him.

        @manacker: There have been almost no “falsifiable” predictions made based on data from GCMs. These are usually too vague or too far in the future to be falsifiable.

        Max on the other hand is his usual clueless self. Somehow he seems to think I’m a fan of GCMs even after all the mean things I’ve said about them. Max, either you live in a vacuum or you need to take your hearing aid back to the shop. See if reading Sylvia Plath helps.

      • …when pigs can fly?

      • @LA: That’s quite a big ‘IF’

        Fine, LA, but so is the contrary. Conditionals are at their most useful when both outcomes are reasonably possible. Climate skepticism amounts to 100% certainty that climate science is wrong about CO2 presenting a hazard, which is inconsistent with the climate skeptics’ insistence that no one has a right to claim 100% certainty about the future.

        Climate skeptics are even more certain about the future they envisage than climate scientists.

      • @vaughan pratt

        You say

        ‘Climate skepticism amounts to 100% certainty that climate science is wrong about CO2 presenting a hazard, which is inconsistent with the climate skeptics’ insistence that no one has a right to claim 100%
        certainty about the future.’

        It may be that there are some climate sceptics who hold both those views. But I am not one of them, so your comment is, at best, avoiding the issue and at worst evading it.

        And even some hold such views it really is a most unscientific stance to refuse to answer a perfectly reasonable criticism on the basis that some other unspecified people hold other views that you strongly disagree with.

        I’d expect very much better from somebody with a distinguished academic career at a prestigious university behind them.

      • @LA: It may be that there are some climate sceptics who hold both those views. But I am not one of them.

        I admire those who hold both those views A and B, Latimer, because they have staked out their position: both A and B. In your case your “I am not one of them” has only narrowed your position down to three possibilities: A and not-B, not-A and B, and not-A and not-B.

        Rather like Romney, wouldn’t you say, who is reluctant to disclose not only his tax plan but his tax returns.

    • David Springer

      Climatology can and should be taken very seriously. Climatology is simply studying the weather in the past and when similar conditions present in the present making a probalistic prediction based on what happened in the past. This is how weather forecasts are made. The key is in getting a reliable and detailed database of conditions leading up to weather events in the past. As time moves along we get better and more detailed climatology to work with.

      Climate science is not climatology. Climate science is about building hypothetical models and making de novo forecasts. The former is actuarial and reliable within statistical error bounds The latter is too complex to model with current tools and knowledge and not reliable. Climate science and climatology are usually wrongly conflated among laypersons and alarmingly often among boffins who should know better.

      • GW has become just another faith based belief, immune to all conflicting reason and evidence. Although it maintains a claim to being based on science, its relation to genuine, evidence based, logically consistent, refutable science is not unlike that of Scientology, with which it shares a number of commonalities. Walter Starck

      • Well done, Wag. A quote from a climate skeptic so harmless no one has found anything bad to say about him yet. Must be a record on this blog.

      • Have you seen the ultralight he built by hand? Which is sort of cool because I think he spent most of his life underwater.

      • @Wag: Have you seen the ultralight he built by hand? Which is sort of cool

        No. Have you seen Burt Rutan’s Space Ship One? I sat next to Burt Rutan at a dinner at Google on 6/9/05, I thought his Space Ship One was sort of cool. Craig Venter, my former student Andy Bechtolsheim, my former boss Vinod Khosla, my former Gates Building Committee member Sergey Brin, Tesla’s Elon Musk, Laura Arrillaga, and others were there. Larry Page was on Burt Rutan’s left.

        Back then I knew exactly zilch about global warming or I would have taken the opportunity to chat up Rutan about it. I should drop in on him some day to see what he thinks now.

      • Three days ago Rutan said, “my good friend James Lovelock who once said that within the next 50 years or so the few remaining humans will be huddled up in high latitudes to escape the heat of the lower latitudes… has recently said the alarmists were wrong, and has moved to a new coastal home, unafraid of rising seas.”

      • @DS: Climate science is not climatology. Climate science is about building hypothetical models and making de novo forecasts. The former is actuarial and reliable within statistical error bounds The latter is too complex to model with current tools and knowledge and not reliable. Climate science and climatology are usually wrongly conflated among laypersons and alarmingly often among boffins who should know better.

        Spoken by someone who complains about other people making things up.

  33. Robert I Ellison

    Let me quote extensively from Gerald Meehl and colleagues, from James McWilliams and others. The former in my view encapsulate fundamental properties of weather, climate and of the models used to describe them. Both climate and models are deterministically chaotic systems. Chaos is not mere randomness – but an intrinsic, self-organising property of complex and dynamic systems. Climate accumulates change as system variables – atmosphere, ice, snow, dust, sunlight, clouds – slowly change. At what are equivalently known as tipping points, phase transitions, chaotic bifurcation or catastrophes – the system changes abruptly and with extreme fluctuations. Tremendous energies cascade turbulently through powerful mechanisms of positive and negative feedback and dissipate through the oceans and atmosphere. Ultimately the system settles into a new pattern. Conceptually – the system has undergone a phase transition in a complex phase space topology to one of multiple – and perhaps infinite – climate states determined by some emergent, stable equilibrium of processes. Visually – it is the equivalent of a shift in the solution space of the Lorenz attractor from one butterfly wing to another. Chaos theory is sometimes described as the third great idea in 20th century physics after relativity and quantum mechanics.

    ’The global coupled atmosphere–ocean–land–cryosphere system exhibits a wide range of physical and dynamical phenomena with associated physical, biological, and chemical feedbacks that collectively result in a continuum of temporal and spatial variability. The traditional boundaries between weather and climate are, therefore, somewhat artificial. The large-scale climate, for instance, determines the environment for microscale (1 km or less) and mesoscale (from several kilometers to several hundred kilometers) processes that govern weather and local climate, and these small-scale processes likely have significant impacts on the evolution of the large-scale circulation (Fig. 1; derived from Meehl et al. 2001). The accurate representation of this continuum of variability in numerical models is, consequently, a challenging but essential goal. Fundamental barriers to advancing weather and climate prediction on time scales from days to years, as well as longstanding systematic errors in weather and climate models, are partly attributable to our limited understanding of and capability for simulating the complex, multiscale interactions intrinsic to atmospheric, oceanic, and cryospheric fluid motions. A UNIFIED MODELING APPROACH TO CLIMATE SYSTEM PREDICTION by James Hurrell, Gerald A. Meehl, David Bader, Thomas L. Delworth ,
    Ben Kirtman, and Bruce Wielicki -BAMS December 2009

    The Meehl et al article outlines an ambitious plan to expand climate computing power by 2000 times at a cost of about $5 billion such that a sufficient number of mechanisms and interactions can be modelled. This is to more accurately represent both the coupling breadth – the interactions of processes – and the values of initial and bounding parameters. The more accurate the representation – the less the divergence of the solution from reality and the longer the model remains accurate. Thus enabling extension of models to weeks, months, years and perhaps decades – as well as improved regional forecasting.

    At the present time – for seasonal to decadal forecasts – we are left with simple rules. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology issues a seasonal forecast for instance. A drier than median forecast for SH spring over most of the country. This is based on correlations of sea surface temperature and rainfall. In this case the strengthening El Niño in the central Pacific and the warm pool off Western Australia. Which can be seen in this thermally enhanced image – http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/data/sst/anomaly/2012/anomnight.9.6.2012.gif

    In the same way initialised decadal models use simple rules and initial sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic (e.g. Latiff and Keenleyside) or the Pacific (e.g. Takashi Mochizuki and colleagues). Both by the way predict subdued warming over the next decade. As both these patterns of sea surface temperature are decadal the suggestion is that the cooling influence may last for another decade or three. And both the Atlantic and Pacific sea surface temperature modes seem associated with chaotic shifts in climate. ‘Using a new measure of coupling strength, this update shows that these climate modes have recently synchronized, with synchronization peaking in the year 2001/02. This synchronization has been followed by an increase in coupling. This suggests that the climate system may well have shifted again, with a consequent break in the global mean temperature trend from the post 1976/77 warming to a new period (indeterminate length) of roughly constant global mean temperature. Swanson and Tsonis (2009) Has the climate recently Shifted, GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 36, L06711, doi:10.1029/2008GL037022,

    These are smaller climate shifts persisting over decades that have a family similarity to large and abrupt changes in the paleoclimatic record. Beyond that there are dragon-kings – extreme fluctuation at points of bifurcation – and new climate states that are to all intents and purposes unpredictable with current knowledge and technologies. As we are currently in a warm state – and based purely on ‘reversion to the mean’ – perhaps a cooler state at the next climate shift is on the cards.

    Weather forecasts have both demonstrable skill and appreciable error (1). Climate predictions for anthropogenic global warming are both broadly credible yet mutually inconsistent at a level of tens of percent in such primary quantities as the expected centennial change in large-scale, surface air temperature or precipitation (2, 3). Slow, steady progress in model formulations continues to expand the range of plausibly simulated behaviors and thus provides an extremely important means for scientific understanding and discovery. Nevertheless, there is a persistent degree of irreproducibility in results among plausibly formulated AOS models. I believe this is best understood as an intrinsic, irreducible level of imprecision in their ability to simulate nature.’ James McWilliams, 2007, Irreducible imprecision in atmospheric and oceanic simulations, PNAS.

    Irreducible imprecision is an inescapable property of models arising from sensitivity to initial conditions and structural instability. Small differences – within the range of plausibility – in the value of input parameters give solutions that diverge exponentially with time. Nor can the divergence be predicted. It arises from the nature of the equations of fluid motion and the interactions of the modeled processes. It is suggested that the only way to evaluate irreducible imprecision is across systematically designed model families. Many runs of models using different combinations of inputs – and this is beyond current capabilities. We have as well the problem that climate and models are different chaotic systems – one involving spatial and temporal aspects and the other only temporal dimensions. Climate may shift unpredictably in one direction chaotically and the model several other ways.

    Tim Palmer of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts suggests a different approach. ‘Prediction of weather and climate are necessarily uncertain: our observations of weather and climate are uncertain, the models into which we assimilate this data and predict the future are uncertain, and external effects such as volcanoes and anthropogenic greenhouse emissions are also uncertain. Fundamentally, therefore, therefore we should think of weather and climate predictions in terms of equations whose basic prognostic variables are probability densities ρ(X,t) where X denotes some climatic variable and t denoted time. In this way, ρ(X,t)dV represents the probability that, at time t, the true value of X lies in some small volume dV of state space.’ (Predicting Weather and Climate – Palmer and Hagedorn eds – 2006)

    It is not clear that we have progressed sufficiently to enable realistic probabilities to be assigned to a realistic range of possibilities.

    • Robert Ellison,

      I may have missed it. Which Meehl et al paper are you referring. Curious minds and all that.

    • “At what are equivalently known as tipping points, phase transitions, chaotic bifurcation or catastrophes – the system changes abruptly and with extreme fluctuations. Tremendous energies cascade turbulently through powerful mechanisms of positive and negative feedback and dissipate through the oceans and atmosphere. Ultimately the system settles into a new pattern.”

      That may be true, but how do you know? Randomness can take on any form, including looking like deterministic. And what happened in 1940? Temperature was building at an almost linear rate of 0.15C/decade, but in 1940 dramatically reversed. If ever there was a ‘tipping point’ that was it. But no one noticed it at the time or since, except my paper “An alternative theory of climate change” on my web site above.

      • Robert I Ellison

        If you read this paper – Tsonis et al (2007 – A new dynamical mechanism for major climate shifts – you will find that indeed the early 1940’s is identified as a ‘tipping point’ in the modern climate record. I am sure that many people have noticed it.

        https://pantherfile.uwm.edu/aatsonis/www/2007GL030288.pdf

        Chaos theory has nothing to do with randomness. How I know it behaves this way is because the climate system is one of a large number of complex and dynamic systems – what I have described is the property of the class of complex dynamical systems as a whole. It applies to biology, economic systems, electrical systems, types of computer models, etc.

        The words have a meaning in a particular theoretical framework – and have to be interpreted in that framework to make any sense at all.

    • Chief, the debate topic was “the weatherman is not a moron.” Would you mind just clarifying for us whether you’re speaking for the government or the opposition?

  34. Robert I Ellison

    To move from science to policy. The problem is not one of ‘aggressive mitigation’ or no mitigation. Very few people argue that emissions should continue unabated. Those that do are arguing from ignorance – as the range of unintended consequences cannot be predicted beforehand. They do not and cannot know and to think that they do is simply unbounded arrogance in a peanut brain.

    The point is to take pragmatic and effective action rather than the ineffective and poorly designed solutions coming from a few governments and a noisy few on the progressive left. The noise and confusion dominates the public sphere and prevents – the noisy actively resist – progress towards reasonable objectives. One of these objectives is to increase the organic content of agricultural soils by at least 1%. A 1% increase in soil organic content – on 5 billion hectares of agricultural land – is 500 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide sequestered. This compares with 30 billion tonnes of global carbon dioxide emissions. The restoration of carbon in soils builds productivity in the amount needed to increase food production by 70% by 2050 – the real moral challenge of our age. It mitigates the effects of flood and drought.

    There are other pragmatic actions that build the resilience of human societies. Health and education, economic growth and safe water and sanitation all help to restrain population increase. Health and climate impacts of emissions of black carbon and tropospheric ozone can be reduced considerably. Conservation and rehabilitation of ecosystems has wide ranging benefits – another great moral challenge of reversing biodiversity decline – and sequesters carbon. As well – there is the promise of technological innovation bringing abundant and cheap energy.

    Opposed to this are taxes, caps and subsidies on energy that bring little real hope of substantial progress on the global scale needed.

    • “Very few people argue that emissions should continue unabated.”

      Very true as regards scientists, mostly true as regards the public, not at all true, sadly, as regards the locals here at CE.

      Now, soil sequestration is a fine idea. I would love to support practical programs to test that on a large scale. 500 billion tons of CO2 is quite a bit higher than the estimates I have seen, but I’d be happy to be wrong. Regardless, such measures only buy time. As the saying goes, when you are in a hole, quit digging. Certainly as we embark on extensive, and expensive, measures to sequester carbon, we should also have a plan to stop putting vast amounts of it back into the atmosphere. Otherwise we’d find ourselves on a hamster wheel of our own devising, eh?

      • http://www.epa.gov/sequestration/faq.html

        “Pine plantations in the Southeast can accumulate almost 100 metric tons of carbon per acre after 90 years, or roughly one metric ton of carbon per acre per year (Birdsey 1996). Changes in forest management (e.g., lengthening the harvest-regeneration cycle) generally result in less carbon sequestration on a per acre basis. Changes in cropping practices, such as from conventional to conservation tillage, have been shown to sequester about 0.1 – 0.3 metric tons of carbon per acre per year (Lal et al. 1999; West and Post 2002). However, a more comprehensive picture of the climate effects of these practices needs to also consider possible nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4) emissions.”

        times 2.5 for hectares and times 3.7 for tons CO2.

      • Robert I Ellison

        Your prejudices betray you. I am not sure that anyone would object to those measures I suggest. Very few here object to approaches that do not increase energy costs across the globe – a futile endeavour in itself.

        Very few would object to –

        http://thebreakthrough.org/archive/climate_pragmatism_innovation

        Or – http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/27939/

        Unless you are Joe Romm.

        According to Dr Christine Jones, one of Australia’s leading experts on carbon sequestration: ‘Every tonne of carbon lost from soil adds 3.67 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) gas to the atmosphere. Conversely, every 1 t/ha increase in soil organic carbon represents 3.67 tonnes of CO2 sequestered from the atmosphere and removed from the greenhouse gas equation.’

        ‘For example, a 1% increase in organic carbon in the top 20 cm of soil with a bulk density of 1.2 g/cm3 represents a 24 t/ha increase in soil OC which equates to 88 t/ha of CO2 sequestered.’ (Jones 2006) There are about 5 billion hectares of agricultural land worldwide. I would use a slightly higher bulk density – as Dr. Jones has on occassion – and round it out to 100 tonne/ha. 100 tonne/ha x 5 billion ha = 500 billion tonne. A 1% increase from very depleted soils – say from 2% to 3% of organic content is easily done.

        Energy solutions are ultimately technological – are there are many ways to go with this.

      • Chief,
        Atmospheric CO2 makes a pretty good land use impact proxy.

      • Robert I Ellison

        Capt.

        It seems like a pretty big elephant to miss.

        Cheers

      • General Malaise

        How did Tarzan know there was an elephant in the refrigerator?

        Footsteps in the butter.

      • How do you know climate science made a mistake? Webster agrees

        http://redneckphysics.blogspot.com/2012/08/more-land-use-stuff.html

        Virgin Lands Campaign, The Green Revolution, The Great Leap Forward, changed 6% of the surface of the Earth and had a radiant cooling impact?

      • Robert I Ellison

        When my wife has a map and she says turn right – I turn left. It is not entirely satisfactory. Same with Webby – he may accidentally get it right one day.

      • According to Dr Christine Jones, one of Australia’s leading experts on carbon sequestration: ‘Every tonne of carbon lost from soil adds 3.67 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) gas to the atmosphere.

        It would be equally correct to say “Every tonne of carbon lost from soil adds a tonne of carbon to the atmosphere.” One would have hoped leading experts had something more substantive to say about global warming.

      • Hydro chief has got the sequestration model wrong. He will have to figure it out for himself.

      • Robert I Ellison

        Well it would be equally true to say that there is one tonne of carbon is 3.67 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Not really sure what your point is Vaughan. Webby as usual is an idiot and doesn’t have one.

      • @RIE: Well it would be equally true to say that there is one tonne of carbon is 3.67 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Not really sure what your point is Vaughan.

        What you said is exactly right. What she said is “Every tonne of carbon lost from soil adds 3.67 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) gas to the atmosphere,” which is clearly false given that nature removes at least 55% of our emissions.

        A more accurate statement would be that every tonne of carbon added to the atmosphere (whether from soil or any other source) adds .45*44/12 = 1.65 tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere. The other 2.02 tonnes is taken back up by the ground and oceans.

  35. No Regrets Policy …jest a 1% increase in soil organic content …

    O sweet spontaneous
    earth how often have
    the
    doting
    fingers of
    prurient philosophers pinched
    and
    poked

    thee
    , has the naughty thumb
    of
    science prodded
    thy

    beauty . how
    often have religions taken
    thee upon their scraggy knees.
    squeezing and

    buffetting thee that thou mightest conceive
    gods
    . (but
    true

    to the incomparable
    couch of death thy
    rhythmic
    lover

    .. thou answerest

    them only with

    , spring)

    (e e cummings)

  36. Oh RiHo08.
    so do you.. I always read yer comments.

  37. MET OFFICE predictions VS Observation:

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:2004/compress:12/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:2004/trend/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:2004/trend/detrend:-0.3

    Met Office=>2004 is likely to be 0.3 deg C warmer than 2004

    Unfortunately MetOffice had removed its 2007 predictions

    Fortunately, someone has saved that press release => http://bit.ly/UDsYC3

  38. While reading these comments it occurred to me to ask, when was the last time mainstream science was wrong and the public was right?

    Certainly mainstream science has been wrong when a voice crying in the wilderness was advocating heliocentricity, or evolution, or plate tectonics, or quasicrystals. There are many more examples like that.

    But in every example I can think of, the public was on the side of science instead of on the side of what ultimately turned out to be correct.

    When was the last time the public was correct and science was wrong?

    If never, and if climate scientists are wrong about AGW, then we may have an unprecedented scientific event. This would be of enormous historic importance, not just once in a human lifetime but once in the world’s lifetime.

    • “While reading these comments it occurred to me to ask, when was the last time mainstream science was wrong and the public was right?”

      It is sort of an interesting question.
      But science is never wrong, it may have measured something wrong- error
      is possible. But the basis of science depends on objective evidence- the star appears to move if a gravitational body like sun is in the path of the star light. Such a thing can not be wrong- it was measured and anyone at any time have and can measure it.
      That CO2 gas prevents certain wavelength of electromagnetic radiation from passing thru it, also can not be wrong.
      But if measurement of ice cores are correct, we know CO2 does not cause warming and cooling period known as interglacial and glacier period in the time period of last few hundreds of thousand years- rising or falling CO2 level follow changes in temperature rather than could possible cause change in temperatures. So we can say CO2 levels were not main driver in causing ice ages. Nor is there any clear evidence that CO2 has been sole element which caused any warmer periods in Earth known history.

      mainstream climate science should agree with what I have said regarding CO2, and I would be fascinated if what said was wrong or in doubt. Some may wish I said differently- they may quibble on the emphasis or something- they may argue about the degree of certainty or that I am saying things as they think should worded more precisely. Etc.

      What isn’t part of science is the degree or nature of “runaway effects”- and if can quantified it isn’t science- it can’t said to be wrong or right.

      What is mainstream climate science? Does include the idea that we should consider that earth is similar to blackbody? Or is this merely something regarded as some how a useful metaphor.
      Are computer models a perhaps useful tool of science, or are the “scientifically” indicating the future. We can predict if a space rock will hit earth within 50 years- that prediction is based science [or correct math]. Or it’s not projection, it’s a prediction- which has some error [and the error will be part of answer, it almost solely about the precision of the measurement].
      But if measured enough, and the prediction is 99% chance [and if there that accuracy will the continent it will most likely hit], then such a hit will occur. And everyone doing the calculations [correctly] will get the same answer.

      There no agreement generally speaking about mainstream climate science. An obvious example: If one get 6 different models. That must mean at least 5 are wrong- which means if the 6 models are what you would to call mainstream climate science, then it’s at least 5/6th is wrong.

      But point is what is the mainstream climate science- that which is definable, and so that since it is defined it then has possibility for it to be wrong.
      Next. What is public saying? If public has no thing in which it is saying, how could the public be correct.

      So your question needs clarity.

      But suppose what you regard as mainstream climate science is idea that doubling global CO2 [currently near 400 ppm- so increase to 800 ppm]
      will cause 1 C increase in global temperature.
      What is as equally important is what won’t cause. So doubling CO2 will not result in less than .5 C and will not cause more than say 3 C increase.

      So above isn’t very accurate or useful, but that is something that mainstream climate science could be right or wrong about.
      Next what is public saying in regards to this specific issue. We have to know this in order to know if the public may be correct and mainstream climate science is wrong.
      I have no clue what answer the public is mostly saying in this regard, so without knowledge is no possible to know if the public could be correct.

      • But suppose what you regard as mainstream climate science is idea that doubling global CO2 [currently near 400 ppm- so increase to 800 ppm] will cause 1 C increase in global temperature.

        Excellent point, gbaikie. “Mainstream climate science” seems to be all over the shop regarding climate sensitivity. (Your 1 C figure is for no feedback, incidentally.)

        I grew frustrated with this variability, as well as with the complexity (and hence unreliability) of models supposedly predicting sensitivity, and decided to look just at HADCRUT3 (global land-sea temperature since 1850) to see if it was possible to determine climate sensitivity from that data alone. (This would necessarily include all feedbacks since there is no obvious way to observe no-feedback sensitivity empirically.)

        What I found was that it depended critically on whether CO2 acted instantaneously on the surface temperature, or if there were some delay. Varying the delay by 10 years resulted in a half-degree change in climate sensitivity as estimated from observation of temperature.

        It also depended on what the preindustrial CO2 level was assumed to be. Varying this by 5 ppmv also made a half-degree change in climate sensitivity.

        As far as I know, no one who has attempted to determine climate sensitivity empirically, that is, based on temperature and CO2 datasets as opposed to modeling, has taken either of these factors into account. Instead they just use one or another method and come up with some value in the vicinity of 2 degrees per doubling.

        During 2012 I worked on the problem of estimating preindustrial CO2 and delay more accurately. The upshot was a value for sensitivity of 2.83 C/doubling. This was for HADCRUT3.

        Then along came HADCRUT4. This made some quite substantial changes to HADCRUT3, both mid-century and end-century (20th, that is).

        The upshot with this new data was to push sensitivity up slightly, from 2.83 to 2.91.

        In one respect either figure is bad news for those hoping for a cool 2100. The good news however is that the thermal impact of CO2 felt in 2100 will be that of the level back in 2085, not 2100, since the delay appears to be around 15 years. So temperature won’t be quite as hot as it would be with instantaneous heating assuming the same sensitivity.

      • “What I found was that it depended critically on whether CO2 acted instantaneously on the surface temperature, or if there were some delay. Varying the delay by 10 years resulted in a half-degree change in climate sensitivity as estimated from observation of temperature.”

        Curious if one included general idea of step changes.
        It seems plausible to me that step changes may “reset” any delay
        in warming.
        So with natural variability, causing increase in temperature and creating bump in temperatures and greenhouse effect keeps it at higher temperature- it makes a step. And such step reset the delay clock, in which other additional greenhouse effect have something like your 10 year delay, unless again the temperature get kick up by other factors [El Nino, etc].

      • Dr. Pratt
        You say : The good news however is that the thermal impact of CO2 felt in 2100 will be that of the level back in 2085, not 2100, since the delay appears to be around 15 years.

        At one or two previous threads we discussed possibility that the Earth’s core oscillations may be source of the multidecadal (and I’ve demonstrated of the decadal too) temperature oscillations.
        Your 15 year delay, I found some time ago is also delay between ‘oceanic floor- to- surface oscillations’ and the natural temperature oscillations.
        This would suggest to me that variability of atmospheric CO2 is from the oceanic emissions and stimulated by oceanic oscillation.
        Here is a screen shot of an article I wrote some time ago and it appeared as a pre-print last week.

      • David Springer

        Did you subtract from the recent temperature record the warming trend going on since Little Ice Age? How did you isolate CO2 as a variable since natural variation even within the most recent couple thousand years of the Holocene spans Roman and Medieval Warm periods to Little Ice Age? What margin of error did you assign to the temperature record from 1850 onward? How many tea leaves did you use?

      • @DS: Did you subtract from the recent temperature record the warming trend going on since Little Ice Age?

        No, why should I subtract it if it’s there?

        How did you isolate CO2 as a variable since natural variation even within the most recent couple thousand years of the Holocene spans Roman and Medieval Warm periods to Little Ice Age?

        By using the CDIAC data for fossil fuel emissions. Are you familiar with it? It only goes back to 1750, so in order for CO2 in earlier times to make any difference there would have had to have been an extraordinary drop between then and 1750. If you have any relevant data on anthropogenic CO2 emissions before 1750 a lot of people would be extremely interested!

        What margin of error did you assign to the temperature record from 1850 onward?

        I used the difference between HADCRUT3 and HADCRUT4 as an indication of the margin of error. If you have a better indication I would be extremely grateful!

        How many tea leaves did you use?

        I worked so late each night on it that I had to fall back on coffee. How do you cope?

      • Vaughan Pratt

        You bring up some interesting points regarding the estimation of 2xCO2 climate sensitivity as determined based on observations from1850 to today.

        – First, a 5 ppmv error in the estimated CO2 concentration in 1850 would result in an error of 0.5C in the climate sensitivity.

        – Second, the delay in the CO2/temperature response is critical, “varying the delay by 10 years resulted in a half-degree change in climate sensitivity as estimated from observation of temperature”.

        I’d say there is a very big third area of “uncertainty”: the impact of forcing factors other than CO2, i.e. other (non CO2 related) anthropogenic forcing factors and natural (primarily solar) forcing factors.

        Being “rational skeptical”, let me look at all three to check out your premise.

        Assuming the CO2/temperature relation is logarithmic, we have

        1. Estimated CO2 level in 1850: 285 to 290 ppmv
        Today’s CO2 level: 392 ppmv

        Relative forcing: ln(392/285)/ln(392/290) = 1.058 times
        Observed warming: 0.7°C (assume ALL from CO2)
        Error due to false assumption on start concentration: =.058 * 0.7 = 0.048°C

        Adjusting this to 2xCO2:

        0.048*ln(2)/ln(392/285) = 0.09°C
        (Appears to me to be around one-sixth of your estimate).

        2. Impact of delay of 10 years is not quite so easy to calculate, but one can roughly say that the concentration impact of the latest 10 years of human emissions should be eliminated for one case.

        CDIAC data tell us that cumulative CO2 emissions were:
        1,391 GtCO2 from 1850 to today
        308 GtCO2 over last 10 years.

        Over this period, roughly 60% of the CO2 emitted “remained” in the atmosphere on average (this ratio has come down to around 50% more recently, with the oceans, biosphere, etc. taking up a greater %-age than over the long-term past).

        Using the same logarithmic relation, the difference in forcing, with or without the last 10 years’ of CO2 emissions is a calculated 24.3%. The difference in resulting warming (assuming all warming caused by CO2):

        0.243*0.7 = 0.17°C

        Adjusting this to 2xCO2:

        0.17*ln(2)/ln(392/285) = 0.37°C
        (This is pretty close to your 0.5°C)

        3. Now to the third factor (forcing from causes other than CO2).

        IPCC tells us that all anthropogenic forcing factors other than CO2 (other GHGs, aerosols, etc.) cancelled one another out so that forcing from CO2 can be considered the same as all anthropogenic forcing. Let’s accept this estimate at face value, as IPCC models have done a lot of work on anthropogenic forcing factors.

        IPCC also estimates that natural forcing (solar) represented 7% of the total, conceding however that its ”level of scientific understanding of solar (natural) forcing is low”.

        So we have 7% of the observed 0.7°C warming, or around 0.05°C that was caused by something other than CO2 and 0.65°C attributed to CO2.

        But several solar studies estimate that roughly half (not 7%) of the warming can be attributed to the very high level of 20th century solar activity (highest in several thousand years). [Incidentally, solar activity has slowed down considerably most recently, as has global warming.]

        So we can say that CO2 has caused between 0.35° and 0.65°C of the past warming, with a net difference of 0.3°C between the two assumptions on natural forcing.

        Again, adjusting this to a 2xCO2 basis we have:

        0.3*(ln(2)/ln(392/285) = 0.65°C
        [This uncertainty actually impacts the 2xCO2 temperature response by more than the others.]

        – But now, let’s assume that the 285 ppmv estimate is correct for CO2 concentration in 1850.
        – And let’s assume there is the 10-year lag in impact of CO2
        – And let’s use the two estimates of “natural” forcing (IPCC and other studies) to determine the range.

        We then have an observed past warming attributed to CO2 of 0.35°C to 0.65°C

        And a 2xCO2 temperature response of 0.76°C to 1.41°C, without taking into consideration the “10-year lag” in CO2/temperature response.

        Adding in this impact (0.37°C), we end up with a 2xCO2 climate sensitivity of:

        Low end: 0.76+0.37 = 1.13°C
        High end: 1.41+0.37 = 1.79°C

        Or let’s say 1.46° ± 0.33°C (rather than roughly twice this amount, as estimated by the IPCC models)

        Would you agree?

        If not, where are my assumptions or rough arithmetic wrong?

        Thanks for giving this some thought.

        Max

      • @manacker: If not, where are my assumptions or rough arithmetic wrong? Thanks for giving this some thought.

        My apologies, Max, I totally underestimated you. I will indeed give this some thought. More precisely my subconscious will, overnight, I just do its bidding in the morning. I myself am a complete moron, as PL has astutely observed on a number of occasions.

      • Sorry about the slow response, just getting around to your analysis.

        Parts 1 and 2 of your analysis look useful for my 2011 work, which is when I ran up against this difficulty of getting a good estimate for climate sensitivity in the absence of any way of estimating preindustrial CO2 (the base) and the delay from increased radiative forcing to increase in HADCRUT3.

        However it overlooks this sentence a bit further down in that same comment of mine.

        During 2012 I worked on the problem of estimating preindustrial CO2 and delay more accurately.

        I found that 287 ppmv for the base and 15 years for the delay gave a much better fit between the Arrhenius law and HADCRUT3 than other values. I no longer consider the base and the delay anywhere near as uncertain as I did last year. There is always room for some uncertainty in these and other parameters, just not as much as back then.

        This should greatly reduce the uncertainties in your parts 1 and 2, though I confess I can’t say precisely by how much.

        (Incidentally your technique of subtracting off the last few years of CDIAC data is one way of incorporating delay. The way I did it was simply to use old Keeling curve values, which is a more reliable way of estimating radiative heating than CDIAC data. For example I estimate today’s heating based on 1997 CO2, namely 364 ppmv.)

        Part 3 of your error analysis seems to depend on the following.

        But several solar studies estimate that roughly half (not 7%) of the warming can be attributed to the very high level of 20th century solar activity (highest in several thousand years).

        If the warming was between 1910 and now, then in order for it to be attributable to an increase in TSI (total solar insolation), the TSI would have to increase over that period. By how much did TSI increase during the 20th century? Armed with that figure, we can then determine what to expect in the way of increased surface temperature.

      • @gbaikie: But science is never wrong, it may have measured something wrong- error is possible. But the basis of science depends on objective evidence- the star appears to move if a gravitational body like sun is in the path of the star light. Such a thing can not be wrong- it was measured and anyone at any time have and can measure it.

        But the same measurements predict apparently contradictory theories of light: that it is a wave, or that it is a particle. Scientists believed for a long time that it was impossible to be both, and that therefore one of the two theories, that light was a wave or that light was a particle, was wrong.

        They were wrong about that, but nothing in the data changed their mind, only in the theory. They had that data all along.

        Today we have HADCRUT4. This data can be used to predict that temperature will only climb at .06 C/decade (by fitting a trend line to all 160 years), or that it will decline by fitting a trendline to the last 32 months, or that it will rise by fitting a trendline to the last 48 months.

        The problem is that all sorts of forecasts can be based on the same data. Data by itself is not science, data has to be interpreted to make it science. Some interpretations extract more useful information from the data than others.

    • Vaughan,

      This is a good point. But I’m not sure that the examples you give are all indicative of science once being wrong. Science is only a recent development in human history, so if it didn’t exist, when the general opinion was for geocentricity, or divine creationism, can it really be said to have been wrong?

      Plate tectonics is one example of mainstream science being wrong. The causes of stomach ulcers, and indeed AGW are others where the consensus now is not what it was forty years ago. However, the list of examples of where science is and has always been essentially correct is just too long to even start with. Anyone would be a fool to bet on it being wrong, next time, with its proven success ratio of at least 99.99%

      Also I think we need to recognise that what may be public opinion in the USA is different from European opinion. Not just on climate change but many other issues too.

      • Fair enough, tt. But you still haven’t given an example where the public was right and the scientists were wrong, which was my main question.

      • Robert I Ellison

        In such a complex and rapidly evolving endeavour – I would entertain the idea that everyone is wrong. That approximation is the rule. That fundamentally ‘barriers to advancing weather and climate prediction on time scales from days to years, as well as longstanding systematic errors in weather and climate models, are partly attributable to our limited understanding of and capability for simulating the complex, multiscale interactions intrinsic to atmospheric, oceanic, and cryospheric fluid motions.’

        The reality of science is that it evolves in fits and starts as anomalies are explained, new and more complete ideas emerge, gain momentum in the ideas marketplace and replace the old concepts for the most part. This is the way science most commonly works and it is an entirely false idea to think that scientific verities spring forth fully formed like Diana from the head of Zeus. As Newton said – we stand on the shoulders of giants. A far more comfortable propostion.

        The problem is not science. The problem is with climate warriors who claim the objective voice and cultural authority of science to fight culture wars for the future of humanity. The problem is that they have little appreciation for the beauty and reality of science practiced at the boundary of the known universe – grand uncertainty. Instead – any narrative that enters their pointy little heads immediately achieves the status of God’s word inscribed on tablets of stone. After all – it’s science.

      • Vaughan,

        No, I don’t believe there is such an example.

        I’m not disagreeing with you except in questioning your assumption that there is such a large disparity between public and scientific opinion on AGW. There is some disparity but I would say that it is largely caused by many members of the public being unaware, and misinformed, on what the true state of scientific opinion actually is.

      • @tt: There is some disparity but I would say that it is largely caused by many members of the public being unaware, and misinformed, on what the true state of scientific opinion actually is.

        Interesting. I don’t have any opinion there, other than that whenever I’ve given public lectures on global warming (which I’ve done so far only in the US, India, and Australia), for some reason there never seems to be any climate skeptics in the audience. I almost feel like I’m preaching to the choir. Is it possible that the world’s climate skeptics are all at their terminals frantically typing away on skeptic blogs?

    • David Springer

      A majority of the public agrees with a majority of scientists. If both are wrong it’s not unprecedented. But I don’t think a majority of the public agree with Paul Ehrlich in 1970 and a majority of scientists did. In that case the public was right and science was wrong so while rare, there’s precedent.

      • Dave Springer,

        I don’t know about that. The vast majority of the public both now and in 1970 would never have heard of Paul Ehrlich.
        There is no evidence the majority of scientists, even the ones who’d heard of him, would have agreed with what his apocalyptic tone either. That’s not to say that there wasn’t an increasing public and scientific awareness starting in the 1970’s that environmental issues couldn’t be ignored as they previously and routinely were.

        If you are looking for a precedent you need to look a bit harder.

      • tempterrain

        Face it.

        The “vast public” may not be vitally interested but usually believes what it is told (unless this is goofy).

        When (scientist) Ehrlich made his doomsday predictions in the 1970s.most of the “vast public” probably never heard of Ehrlich or read his book. And of those who did, a majority probably did not accept his goofy predictions of global disaster by 2000. At any rate, his doomsday scare never “got legs” (as they say) at the time and (more importantly) turned out to be totally false in actual fact, as the average standard of living, quality of life and life expectancy today versus 1970 demonstrates. Did “scientists’ believe his goofy predictions? Some did (including President Obama’s science “czar”, John Holdren). Whether or not Holdren is the “exception that proves the rule” or not is pure conjecture, but there certainly were other scientists that shared Ehrlich’s views at the time. Was this a majority? Who knows?

        Today there has been so much bally-hoo from the press, from scientists turned activists, television doomsday scares, Oscar winning scare documentaries, enviro lobby groups, anti-CAGW lobby groups, etc. that a fairly substantial %-age of the “vast public” have at least heard of the “consensus” CAGW premise and of counterarguments; some may actually have formed an opinion on its validity. Polls are scarce, but it appears that a majority of the “vast public” in the USA do not accept the CAGW premise as valid, while the percentage who accept it appears slightly higher in some European countries (don’t know about Australia). “Scientists” are obviously divided on the validity of the CAGW premise, although the supporters of the premise claim that there is a scientific majority who support it. Again, it is very difficult to ascertain what %-age of “scientists” accept the CAGW premise in its entirety and what %-age reject one or another aspect of the CAGW premise. I have seen no conclusive data (surveys by advocates, such as Oreskes, etc., are too “loosy-goosey” for me, as they really have not asked the right questions.

        But back to the premise that the “vast public” has been “right” on a science-based issue where “scientists” have been “wrong”, I cannot think of any time that this was the case. Can you?

        Max.

      • @manacker: But back to the premise that the “vast public” has been “right” on a science-based issue where “scientists” have been “wrong”, I cannot think of any time that this was the case. Can you?

        This is certainly one point on which Max and I agree.

  39. David Springer

    Generally the majority of the public agrees with the majority of scientists but the following two instances come to mind where public majority was right and scientist majority wrong. The target rich environment for finding such examples is environment and ecology.

    Global cooling circa 1970.

    Ability of earth to sustain 7 billion people circa 1970.

    • Dave Springer,

      You’re first point is the the well known “they said it was cooling in the 70’s”. fallacy. This was a minority view at the time. http://www.atmos.ucla.edu/~brianpm/download/charney_report.pdf

      Your second point on the ability of the Earth to sustain 7 billion is not something that has a single scientific yes or no answer. Population isn’t the only variable that needs to be considered. There would have been no scientific consensus in the 1970s and there is no scientific consensus now, either about this figure of 7 billion or whatever the Earth’s population might be in another 40 years time. 10 billion?

      Keep looking for your precedent
      .

      • tempterrain

        And there is no “scientific consensus” that AGW, caused principally by human CO2 emissions, has been the primary cause of global warming since the 1950s, and thus represents a serious potential threat to humanity and our environment unless actions are undertaken to drastically reduce human GHG emissions, primarily CO2..

        I can name you several climate scientists who do not agree with this premise.

        It’s just that the other “doomsday” premises you mention were not hyped by an organization such as IPCC. That’s the key difference here, TT.

        Max

      • PS Of course, the other GIGANTIC difference is that CAGW has become a multi-billion dollar big business (the other “doomsday” scares never really became that lucrative for so many different groups and people).

        Max

      • Max,

        A consensus isn’t the same thing as unanimity.

        However it’s not far off that.

        “…the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely nonexistent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes”.

        http://tigger.uic.edu/~pdoran/012009_Doran_final.pdf

    • @DS (an example where scientists were wrong and the public right): Global cooling circa 1970.

      My understanding was that global cooling articles were in a distinct minority during the 1970s, and that as such the public took more notice of them than the more boring mainstream view at the time that warming was ahead. So this would be an example where the public was wrong on the basis of a misguided minority of science articles.

      @DS: Ability of earth to sustain 7 billion people circa 1970.

      The public was contradicting science on this? Can you point to evidence for this?

  40. David Springer

    Bottom line: No warming for past 15 years even while CO2 increased 8%. Sensitivity ZERO. Take that and stick it in your pipeline.

    • No warming for the past 15 years is not the scientific consensus.

      • Bringing this to a new part.
        The way this started was as follows
        @@@@@
        David Springer September 10, 2012 at 5:09 am | Reply
        Bottom line: No warming for past 15 years even while CO2 increased 8%. Sensitivity ZERO. Take that and stick it in your pipeline.
        tempterrain | September 10, 2012 at 8:34 am | Reply
        No warming for the past 15 years is not the scientific consensus.
        with a reference to a graph showing ADJUSTED temperatures
        @@@@@

        The firat part of David’s statement is clearly correct; global temperatures have not risen for the past 15 years. What tempterrain claims is that when the temperatures are ADJUSTED, the effect of CO2 can be seen. So, the empirical data shows that temperatures have indeed not risen.

        When the IPCC first presented the case for CAGW, the claim was made that the CO2 effect was so strong that it overwhelmed all other effects. When global temperatures failed to follow the IPCC prediction, we got papers like Smith et al Science August 2007 to explain why. When this explanation turned out to be almost certainly wrong, then there is a need for the proponents of CAGW to find reasons why Smith et al is irrelevant, and now we have Rahmsdorf.

        What Rahmsdorf is claiming is that the CO2 signal is so weak, that it is easily hidden by other forcings. This is quite contrary to the original IPCC claim. What I predict is that in due course, Rahmsdorf will be seen to be wrong, as Smith et al appears to be. Then someone else will try and explain why CAGW is not apparent in the actual temperature data.

        The second part of David’s statement is also basically correct, but not for the reason David implies. The total climate sensitivity of CO2 is indistinguishable from zero, not because there has been no rise in temperature for the last 15 years, but because the temperature trend for the last 15 years is no different for what it has been for the last 150 or more years. Despite the claims of the proponents of CAGW there is no sign of any CO2 signal in any temperature/tiem graph.

        in the end, I predict that all the attempts by the proponents of CAGW to show that CO2 has any effect on global temperatures will be in vain. Mother Nature cannot be fooled

      • So you can’t imagine a situation where the CO2 signal is not easily seen at the decadal scale, but can be easily seen at the century scale? Do you know about signal-noise ratios?

      • Jim Cripwell,

        Despite the claims of the proponents of CAGW there is no sign of any CO2 signal in any temperature/tiem graph.

        I know you’ve admitted to a relative lack of knowledge in Physics recently but surely its good enough to see a signal in this?

        http://oceanworld.tamu.edu/resources/oceanography-book/evidenceforwarming.htm

        Furthermore figure 2 in this paper:

        http://www.aussmc.org/documents/waiting-for-global-cooling.pdf

        shows a warming over the period in question.

        But, even if it didn’t, you need to look over a bigger range than 15 years. It a bit like trying to know if it gets warmer in the NH spring by measuring the temperatures over the first 15 days in April. Yes, on average the 15th April will be warmer than the Ist April , but sometimes it won’t be.

        If it isn’t, only an April fool would claim that meant anything.

      • tempterrain, you write “but surely its good enough to see a signal in this?” There is no proof that ANY change in temperature or heat content that has been observed, has been caused by additional CO2 in the atmosphere. Zero, nada, zilch.

    • Bottom line: No warming for past 15 years even while CO2 increased 8%. Sensitivity ZERO.

      David, what sensitivity do you get using the past 150 years instead of the past 15 years? Is it the same?

  41. David Springer

    Herman Alexander Pope | September 9, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Reply

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/larrybell/2012/09/09/a-cool-headed-climate-conversation-with-aerospace-legend-burt-rutan/

    This should be the subject of an article here. Rutan precisely echoes what God only knows how many engineers have concluded after performing our due diligence with the underlying data.

    • David

      An Engineer’s Critique of Global Warming Science” report. The bottom line: there is no consensus on the claims of planet catastrophe.

      Thanks for the link. An excellent read,

      • I’d agree that Earth is not “planet catastrophe’. I’m confident that humanity will have enough collective intelligence to avoid fouling its own nest, and avert this eventuality.

    • I was particularly struck by Butan’s remark

      ‘Then, what really drew me into the subject, was when I found that I couldn’t obtain the raw data that I was looking for’

      I have had the same experience. I have been trying to find any empirical data at all that shows that the ocean pH has actually been changing over the last fifty years and so that ‘ocean acidification’ (as it is wrongly and misleadingly termed) is taking place in reality as well as theory.

      Apart from about a hundred data points taken over a ten year period in one location in Hawaii – which show almost no trend at all – there don’t seem to be any others . The graph of these same hundred points is endlessly regurgitated in every article on the subject. But there doesn’t seem to be any other data. None for the North Atlantic, or Indian Ocean or the North Sea or the Arctic or the Southern Ocean or the Mediterrranean or anywhere bar off this one short dataset taken at one small volcanic island in the Pacific.

      For what is said by many alarmists to be an urgent and global problem there is remarkably little supporting data that it exists at all…let alone that is a big deal.

      By contrast I estimate that somewhere between 10 million and 100 million data points were analysed before it was possible to speak about ‘global warming’ with any certainty that overall temperatures were changing at all.

      • @LA: Apart from about a hundred data points taken over a ten year period in one location in Hawaii – which show almost no trend at all – there don’t seem to be any others.

        Proof of no ocean acidification: Latimer Alder was unable to find the data supporting it.

        Proof that there’s no gold in Fort Knox: I’ve been unable to find the data supporting it.

    • peterdavies252

      Agree 100% David S. It would be interesting to see how our AGW friends treat this information. It seems likely that they will impute motivated reasoning to what Rutan has assembled.

  42. I think this fits in with the underlying theme of the discussion here – government intervention. For those who breathlessly speak of the “clean/green” electric car, read this article. It shows, for the umpteenth time, the waste caused by government intervention in free markets.

    “Nearly two years after the introduction of the path-breaking plug-in hybrid, GM is still losing as much as $49,000 on each Volt it builds, according to estimates provided to Reuters by industry analysts and manufacturing experts.

    Cheap Volt lease offers meant to drive more customers to Chevy showrooms this summer may have pushed that loss even higher. There are some Americans paying just $5,050 to drive around for two years in a vehicle that cost as much as $89,000 to produce.

    And while the loss per vehicle will shrink as more are built and sold, GM is still years away from making money on the Volt, which will soon face new competitors from Ford, Honda and others.

    GM’s basic problem is that “the Volt is over-engineered and over-priced,” said Dennis Virag, president of the Michigan-based Automotive Consulting Group.”

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/09/10/us-generalmotors-autos-volt-idUSBRE88904J20120910

    • @jim2: And while the loss per vehicle will shrink as more are built and sold, GM is still years away from making money on the Volt, which will soon face new competitors from Ford, Honda and others.

      And your point?

  43. GM’s basic problem is that “the Volt is over-engineered and over-priced,” said Dennis Virag, president of the Michigan-based Automotive Consulting Group.”

    So let’s “subsidize” it with taxpayer dollars to “force” it into economic competitiveness.

    • EVs are just about one particular model. I’m sure you can find plenty of predictions, in the early 20th century, that the internal combustion engine would never catch on.

      Neither are EV’s just about cars. I’m not sure if you’ve been to Germany and Holland recently but there are bikes everywhere. Many of them with electric motors fitted. The experience there has shown that if the roads are safe and cycling friendly, with designated bike lanes and paths, then people are happy to get on their bikes. They actually enjoy it.

      • Correction: Should be “EVs aren’t about one ……….”

      • tempterrain

        You side-step the key issue here of the economic competitiveness (or lack thereof) of electrically driven motor cars today.

        These will have to become more competitive to be economically and commercially successful.

        And this cannot be brought about by a “carbon tax” or by massive taxpayer-funded government subsidies to EV manufacturers.

        That was the point (not whether or not bicycles with tiny electric booster motors are fun to ride).

        Max

        PS The “internal combustion engine” became VERY competitive with horse carriages, largely as a result of assembly line production developments of Henry Ford and others, and it very quickly replaced them entirely. No government subsidies or “tax on horse manure” were involved.

      • Max,

        Without government intervention, Henry Ford’s customers would have had no roads on which to drive their cars.

        So my point was that, although I’m not against some subsidies to encourage EV cars, the main role of government should be to give cyclists somewhere to safely ride their bikes as happens in Holland and Germany. Having said that, things are improving rapidly here in Australia but we’ve still some way to go to catch up with the Europeans and I think its the same story in the USA and UK too.

        Bikes are often seen as just a ‘fun thing’ but they are a serious mode of transport too, and are the ideal travel-to-work vehicle for journeys of 10 kms or so.

      • tempterrain

        If the citizens of a community want community streets paved, they will get the city administrators (who work for the voting citizens) to pave them (with their taxpayer money).

        The same goes for a state, canton or nation.

        This has nothing to do with subsidizing one particular means of transportation to be more competitive than another.

        Again, so you understand it:

        The “internal combustion engine” became VERY competitive with horse carriages, largely as a result of assembly line production developments of Henry Ford and others, and it very quickly replaced them entirely. No government subsidies or “tax on horse manure” were involved.

        Got it?

        Max

      • Max,

        There’s always a huge amount Government money involved in the transport “market”. If “market” is indeed the right word. If something like the British NHS is socialist just because everyone there gets to use it for free with the funding coming largely from the taxpayer, then roads everywhere are ‘socialist’ too. And because they are ‘socialist’, inevitably there are queues (traffic jams) when supply and demand are not equalised using economic pricing methods.

        So, given all that, it seems that any quibble about the very small amount of Govt spending on EVs is purely ideologically, rather than practically, based.

        Maybe it would help if you thought of EVs more as a means of becoming less dependent on Middle Eastern Oil, rather than a ‘Green’ form of transport?

  44. Require an engineering task as rigid as the certification of an
    airliner. Apply that task to the „theory of climate modification
    by man‟. Mandate that „engineering certification‟ be done
    before governments can impose taxes, fees or regulations to
    constrain our use of any product to fuel our energy needs.,

    Burt Rutan

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      Girma advocates: “Require an engineering task as rigid as the certification of an airliner. Apply that task to the ‘ theory of climate modification by man  externalities and long-term risks of a global carbon energy economy’ Mandate that ‘engineering certification’ be done before governments can impose taxes, fees or regulations to  constrain our use of any product  irretrievably commit our planet to a high-CO2 atmosphere.”
         — Burt Rutan

      Girma, it was a pleasure to rationally complete your post!   :!:   :!:   :!:

      What other too-simple ideologies would you like to have rationally amended, Girma?   :?:   :?:   :?:

      • This one=>

        The Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) sand castle was built by smoothing all the oscillations in Global Mean Surface Temperature (GMST) before 1970s, leaving the warming phase of this oscillation since then untouched and calling it man-made, as shown in the chart below:

        IPCC Chart => http://bit.ly/OaemsT

        As shown in the IPCC chart above, the climate models don’t represent the observed global cooling from 1880s to 1910s and the global warming from 1910s to 1940s. As IPCC models fail to properly represent the known climate of the past, they have zero chance of predicting the unknown climate of the future.

  45. The weatherman is not a moron (well, some of them aren’t, but http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_njFASIY69s); neither is a meteorologist a climatologist.

    As the article points out, weathermen skew their predictions purposely as much as 15% to please their audiences. That known bias is not science, but media relations. Any meteorologist wears this, and should be ashamed of it for the sake of their profession when talking to any climatologist who does not share such a bias.

    The equipment of meteorology has been improvised to the service of climatology, sure, because the scientific establishment was spending its money on shakey pie-in-the-sky crap for the better part of the past century and we just don’t have decent global climate data collection to use.

    For the marginal benefit obtained by the world of having wildly imprecise weathermen over the past century, we’d be far better served to have had the money spent on meteorology go to climatology.

    Because the climatologist is not just an entertainer.

    • But how far do climatologists skew their estimates? The estimate of land use forcing commonly used is ~-0.25Wm-2. Based on the arbitrary choice of baseline, 48 million kilometers squared of centuries of agriculture is a negative forcing. Of that 48million kilometers squared, 40% are considered seriously degraded. That is approximately 20million kilometers squared of near desert. nearly 4 percent of the surface of the Earth has been anthropologically modified into wasteland.

      That 4% of the Earth has a lighter color, so it is more reflective. So based on the radiant theory of the Greenhouse effect, those 20million kilometers squared not only do not add to warming, they reduce warming according to climate science.

      Purely by accident. the average temperature of the northern hemisphere where most of that 20 million kilometers squared of land was exploited, is nearly 2 degrees warmer than the rest of the world. Purely by accident, the rate of warming since the invention of the steel plow and the tractor closely matches the rate of agricultural increase. Purely by accident the rate of atmospheric CO2 increase closely matches the rate of soil degradation increase caused by the increase in arable land.

      So step one in the climatologists mitigation play book is to radically rethink our choice of energy options and tax the use of fossil fuels. And you BartR, have climbed on the bandwagon.

      • BTW, 80Tons of carbon per kilometer squared per year. John Deere invented a steel plow in 1837.

        The red line is land use estimated impact based on the CDIAC. http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/landuse/houghton/houghton.html

        http://redneckphysics.blogspot.com/2012/08/more-land-use-stuff.html

      • Robert I Ellison

        ‘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.’ A posteriori solution behaviour in this context means solutions which meet expectations as what the solution should be. Any number of solutions are feasible within the range of feasible inputs and the range of the solution space is not known. I am far from suggesting that climatologists are morons – but perhaps relying on this is moronic for hundred year projections is. The confusion of meteorology with weather girls may be another example.

      • captdallas2 0.8 +0.2 or -0.4 | September 10, 2012 at 11:53 am |

        Calling me a bandwagon-jumper on issues is like calling Thoreau a conformist or Mitt Romney consistent.

        I agree, indeed I’ve been making the point for decades, that we collect far too little climate data and use what we do have far too poorly. We’re in actual agreement, you and me, on that point.

        But if you think I base my Economics on climatology, rather than on the fundamental principles of Capitalism, the ideas I promote about the benefits of privatizing the Carbon Cycle so as to remove the obstacles to participation and encourage more trade and inspire innovation by the price mechanism, you’ve read too little.

        See, the point is, in Economics too we collect far too little data yet to establish sound climate policy. The only two ways to get that data would be to intensively study the issue by expert committees and give them command and control power over much of the nations’ wealth, or to privatize the Carbon Cycle.

        We know which many collectivists (to appeal to Ayn Rand and Paul Ryan followers) like Robert Ellison prefer.

        As a Market Capitalist, guess which of those options I endorse?

      • BartR, the carbon cycle is the bandwagon I was referring to. A sound climate policy would involve much more than carbon privatization or nationalization. General air quality, water and land conservation are more important, though CO2 does make a good tracer gas to measure progress.

        This whole climate change based on fossil fuel CO2 situation will likely disintegrate in a decade. So policy based on responsible stewardship in general is more likely to be lasting and easier to swallow.

      • Bart R

        Calling me a bandwagon-jumper on issues is like calling Thoreau a conformist or Mitt Romney consistent.

        Or President Obama a competent leader?

        Max

      • captdallas2 0.8 +0.2 or -0.4 | September 11, 2012 at 12:05 am |

        .. A sound climate policy would involve much more than carbon privatization or nationalization. General air quality, water and land conservation are more important, though CO2 does make a good tracer gas to measure progress.

        Again, you’re not following.

        For one thing, what exists now is in effect the nationalized carbon cycle. The carbon cycle is treated as Commons. That’s what nationalization does, in its most extreme form. It’s the opposite of privatization.

        While I acknowledge that the effects of privatizing the Carbon Cycle — not fake privatization like Cap & Trade or fuel taxes or regulatory schema dependent on committee prognostication, but actual real total complete private ownership through fee and dividends of CO2E with price levels set by maximum return to owners — will address CO2 levels and Global Warming and Climate Change and affect general air quality, water and land conservation, and all those important things, those issues that now affect conservation of land and water and air are exactly and only symptoms of a failure of governments to perform their due and proper role of fixing a standard whereby the Market can efficiently allocate the scarce, excludable, rivalrous carbon cycle resource.

        You’re advocating treating symptoms. It’s an admirable instinct. It merely won’t work.

      • Would you recommend the same process for wind or are you just planning on stealing my breeze without my permission?

      • BartR, you are recommending using an unproven treatment when the best course of action is treating the symptoms. Governments can only anticipate so much, they have to be more reactive than proactive because often action just creates a new symptom. So yes, I am advocating dealing with the symptoms as they arise instead of fixing what is not certain to be the cause of the problem.

        http://redneckphysics.blogspot.com/2012/09/all-else-remaining-equal.html

        If you don your skeptics hat you may notice that there are a few irregularities in the theory offered by the experts. Probably the most valuable thing about the BEST project was that it noted and published the odd change in the diurnal temperature range. I would definitely not hitch my wagon to a failing consensus.

      • captdallas2 0.8 +0.2 or -0.4 | September 11, 2012 at 11:36 am |

        Unproven?

        Capitalism is unproven to you?

        However, you misunderstand what a skeptic’s hat is for; perhaps the ultimate skeptic was Isaac Newton. Certainly Descartes had nothing on Newton.

        Yet Newton set out the rule that we must treat as accurate or very nearly true a proven hypothesis until the weight of new evidence overwhelms it, not just until some yahoo feigns a new hypothesis. (Newton’s terms.)

      • BartR, the unproven is that CO2 has contributed to more than 50% of the of the warming since 1950.

        That is BEST southern hemisphere Tmax and Tmin, The green, Tmin with 11 year smoothing, has a nearly constant slope since 1900.

        That is UAH land and oceans. the majority of the warming is in the northern hemisphere led by the oceans not the other way around. the p.b.l. by the way is plaeo base line 1961 to 1990 since I was going to show that the natural range of ocean temperatures is ~ 2 C, but a real scientist has already done that recently.

        So one more time, http://redneckphysics.blogspot.com/2012/08/more-land-use-stuff.html

        overly ambitious land use expansion mainly by communist governments is responsible for a large portion of the warming. If you want to tax something, tax idiot communists that are clueless when it comes to stewardship. The US at least has reversed land use impact though there is plenty of room for improvement.

      • manacker | September 11, 2012 at 11:23 am |

        More likely like saying that in time of war calling into question the competency of the current leader of one’s armed forces isn’t mutinous succor to the enemy indistinguishable from treason.

        Sure, I’ve called into question Barack Obama’s protectionism, Economics, campaign rhetoric, and more. But there’s a line I won’t cross.

        Looks like you and Mitt Romney happily dance across that line, though.

      • steven | September 11, 2012 at 10:39 am |

        Would you recommend the same process for wind or are you just planning on stealing my breeze without my permission?

        Absolutely I recommend the identical process. Scarce? Rivalrous? Excludable? Administratively pragmatic?

        The second wind rises to that measure, it ought be privatized too.

        The Carbon Cycle reached that level around the time Ronald Reagan was in office.

        At the fastest rate of build-out, wind won’t conceivably reach that level until Chelsea Clinton’s grandchildren are eligible to run for President.

        captdallas2 0.8 +0.2 or -0.4 | September 12, 2012 at 11:12 pm |

        .. the unproven is that CO2 has contributed to more than 50% of the of the warming since 1950..

        You need to look up the differences between unproven, incoherent, irrelevant and untrue.

        It’s UNTRUE that privatizing the carbon cycle is a tax. You wouldn’t call it a tax if you demanded someone pay you a salary, or if you sold or rented out something you own.

        Incoherent is your communist land use hypothesis; while land use is a significant and substantial issue, your evidence is sadly insufficient to your ambitions, demonstrates vast ignorance of the fine points of plant biology, and superfluous in that land use that truly can be shown to build up the carbon cycle would be encouraged under a privatized carbon cycle, and thus your hobby horse would be subsumed, making it irrelevant.

        And you still haven’t touched the proofs of AGW. Merely you’ve feigned new hypotheses. We know what Newton says about that.

      • Bart R, I assumed you would come to the conclusion my breeze has no value. Waiting for the grandchildren of Chelsea before it matters? Perhaps globally but I don’t live globally, I live regionally.

        http://earthsky.org/earth/nasa-study-texas-wind-farms-cause-local-warming

      • steven | September 13, 2012 at 7:12 am |

        Sounds like you’re making a case for Texas to adopt a fee and dividend auction system for air issues.

        http://www.citizensclimatelobby.org/meeting-locations should give you the Texas location nearest you. I’m sure they’d love your support.

    • Bart R

      In describing the difference between “weathermen” (meteorologists) and “climatologists”, you write:

      weathermen skew their predictions purposely as much as 15% to please their audiences.

      Well now, do you REALLY suppose that “climatologists” do not do exactly the same to“please their audience” (the IPCC) and its “consensus”?

      If so, you have not been reading what is going on in this world.

      Max

      • manacker | September 11, 2012 at 11:17 am |

        That’s my problem. I read too little.

        I believe many “climatologists” do skew their results to please their audience. I’ve said so. Christy appears to have done so, prompted by an evangelical expedient. Spencer. Seitz. Gray.

        They’re hardly alone. Scholarly dishonesty, be it confirmation bias or pious fraud or invincible ignorance or actual falsification (as in this non-climate case: http://www.therecord.com/news/local/article/798418–university-of-waterloo-researchers-apologize-issue-retraction-after-using-u-s-research-as-their-own) is nothing new. It’s part of why scientists are so very prone to be skeptical and careful and count nothing on faith.

        Meteorologists skew their results happily and openly and for profit.

        Scientists fight that tendency. Even the activists include among them some of the most highly regarded scientists.

        Or do people not think Feynman wasn’t a radical activist in his own right?

      • Bart R

        I’m not too interested in whether or not someone might consider Feynman to have been “a radical activist in his own right”.

        I’m really just interested in his incisive statements on scientific honesty, which have been well documented.

        On the second point, you apparently agree that “climatologists” also “skew” their numbers to “please” their audiences (just like “weathermen”).

        Good.

        That was simply my point.

        To what extent this has resulted in a “skewed” viewpoint in the IPCC reports would appear to be an open point of discussion.

        Some analyses, such as this one of AR4 (principally WG1), which was collected on a now-defunct ClimateAudit thread, appear to think the distortions are significant.
        http://sites.google.com/site/globalwarmingquestions/ipcc

        Max

      • manacker | September 13, 2012 at 7:31 am |

        On the second point, you apparently agree that “climatologists” also “skew” their numbers to “please” their audiences (just like “weathermen”).

        Good.

        That was simply my point.

        I don’t think anyone ever argued that scientists in any field are never askew; or if they did it would have been a very skewed argument.

        So your point is broadly irrelevant, a fallacy, a poisoning-the-well bit of empty rhetoric that asserts implications and imputations of greater-than-actual error for the sake of mere FUD.

        The beauty of open scientific debate is that it takes all those skewed people with all their opposing biases and churns out results that on the whole we hope are less skewed. But there’s an endpoint in Science on that churning. There’s a point when discussions ought become defunct because they’re SETTLED.

        Newton and Halley produced the logic on the limit of this churning; when a hypothesis is proven it is considered true or very nearly accurate until new evidence and inference provide a better-proven hypothesis, to avoid exactly the sort of FUD your approach engenders by feigning new hypotheses. So kindly reread Newton’s Principia, think about it, and move on to areas were the skewness of results are actual issues.

        Like whether and why citizens of coastal states and their emergency workers must tolerate third-rate hurricane prediction, skewing potential millions or billions of dollares every time there’s a major storm in needless preparations or evacuations and shut-down of business — or worse not preparing or evacuating in time — simply because some government agencies can’t achieve the same standard of performance of private forecasters, and the governments won’t employ the private forecasters. Shameful if true.

  46. The spell is then broken and the faith collapses, when Mann is finally forced to admit that, ‘Yes, Virginia there really was a MWP and a LIA.” Just, as Jones admitted that recent warming was insignificant and Trenberth admitted that he couldn’t find the heat, the global warming ‘social mania’ has come face to face with reality.

    Walter Starck famously observed so poignantly that being taken over by a mania leads to a disconnect from the real world and it is that disconnect that, often leads to a zenith of zealotry… just before increasingly obvious reality finally forces them to make some small admission of error.. While there is good scientific evidence that atmospheric carbon dioxide is increasing from the burning of fossil fuels, and that carbon dioxide does indeed absorb infared heat radiation of certain frequencies, it is purely speculation that this will cause a climate catastrophe. As Mark Twain wrote over a century ago: ‘There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.’

      • … even assuming UHI is insignificant, as any AGW dissembler like Jones does, we also know Jones will never share with us what data he uses or what method he employs to obtain any results that would back up self-serving statements that he makes about AGW.

        From Jones, at this point only a statement against interest has any credibility. Why? Two reasons: (1) CRUgate dispells any notion that Jones is a man of scientific integrity and (2), scientists that do have credibility and honor – and, in fact anyone to this very day – can find no statistical significance in the trend since 1995 using easily-obtainable HadCrut data and accounting for serial autocorrelation.

    • I’m sure that Phil Jones has learnt an important lesson over this. His original remark, made a couple of years ago was concerning statistical significance which he assessed, at the time, at less than the usual benchmark of 90%. He is now saying that the extra data obtained since has taken it over the threshold.

      Of course, the word ‘insignificant’ , in common parlance doesn’t convey the message that it may initially have only been 85% , it conveys the message that the warming was too small to be considered important. Climate skeptic/deniers made the most of this.

      Any climate contrarian with any real level of intelligence, which I admit is probably only a small percentage of the overall number, will have known this. Their representation, or misrepresentation, of Phil Jones’ original remarks is now shown to be totally dishonest.

      • The hypothesis that increases in atmospheric CO2 levels would inexorably lead to an increase in global warming has been rejected. The Leftists zealots of AGW cannot admit that because statistics do not serve their purposes. And then they launch ad hominem attacks against statisticians who see through their charlatanism—e.g., M&M, Wegman, M&W. The AGW hypothesis fails statistical significance for many reasons not the least of which is that the observed differences being dealt with are no larger than would be due to random variation if the underlying differences of the sample population were zero. But we know that is the case because we know the globe has been warming since the Little Ice Age for reasons having nothing to do with human influence. And, when the supposed effect of increased CO2 is less than the error of the estimate we know we are not dealing with real scientists when we hear them defend MBH98,99,08 (aka, the the ’hockey stick’ graph) and CRUgate conspirators like Jones.

      • “The hypothesis that increases in atmospheric CO2 levels would inexorably lead to an increase in global warming has been rejected. ”

        By whom? Not by the scientific community. Its also a mistake to assume that every scientist who happens to agree with the consensus on AGW is some kind of “left wing zealot”.

        Scientists, like the population as a whole, individually have a range of political, and religious opinions. That’s normal and a good thing. It shows they are people like anyone else, each with their own interpretation on the kind of society they wish to live in. It doesn’t mean they can interpret science using those opinions though.

      • 6.One of the more serious effects of misguided environmentalism has also been the corruption of science. This is resulting in a marked dulling of our most effective tool for informed decision making at a time when it is needed more than ever to deal with an increasingly complex world. In the environmental sciences repeated exposures of junk science and concerted scientific misconduct along with exaggerated predictions which fail their reality test have damaged public trust in all science. Lavish funding for agenda driven junk science has also resulted in a virtual abandonment of sound basic research in favour of research aimed at promoting the existence of purported threats.
        ~Walter Starck

      • tempterrain

        “The hypothesis that increases in atmospheric CO2 levels would inexorably lead to an increase in global warming has been rejected.”

        By whom? Not by the scientific community.

        No. But by all those thermometers out there, even the ones next to AC exhausts and asphalt parking lots, showing no warming since 1998, despite CO2 emissions continuing unabated and atmospheric concentrations reaching record levels.

        http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1998/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1998/trend/plot/uah/from:1998/plot/uah/from:1998/trend/plot/rss/from:1998/plot/rss/from:1998/trend/plot/gistemp/from:1998/plot/gistemp/from:1998/trend/plot/wti/from:1998/plot/wti/from:1998/trend

        Max

      • True, true, the manipulation of the data is so bad, a discovery that the raw data from a weather station in the Antarctic where the temperature readings were changed from minus to plus signs to show global warming pretty much came as no surprise. There is no land-based temperature record in New Zealand after it was learned that raw had been adjusted without recording any reasoning or justification whatsoever for the changes that were made and then the raw data was lost. And then we have the ‘tarmac effect.’ For example it was learned that all of the land-based data in France — where the ‘official’ thermometers are only at airports–the only warming over the last 50 years was due only to warming in the winter. That warming, however, was only due to the continuous snow removal during the winter that takes place at airports. Thermometers are located in the surrounding countryside that naturally was blanketed by snow during the winter showed no increase in winter temperature. Since then we have learned that the tarmac-effect has been shown to extend far beyond the example in France—e.g., Russia and Alaska.

  47. Robert I Ellison

    ‘Thinking is centered around slow changes to our climate and how they will affect humans and the habitability of our planet. Yet this thinking is flawed: It ignores the well-established fact that Earth’s climate has changed rapidly in the past and could change rapidly in the future. The issue centers around the paradox that global warming could instigate a new Little Ice Age in the northern hemisphere.

    Evidence for abrupt climate change is readily apparent in ice cores taken from Greenland and Antarctica. One sees clear indications of long-term changes discussed above, with CO² and proxy temperature changes associated with the last ice age and its transition into our present interglacial period of warmth. But, in addition, there is a strong chaotic variation of properties with a quasi-period of around 1500 years. We say chaotic because these millennial shifts look like anything but regular oscillations. Rather, they look like rapid, decade-long transitions between cold and warm climates followed by long interludes in one of the two states.

    The best known example of these events is the Younger Dryas cooling of about 12,000 years ago, named for arctic wildflower remains identified in northern European sediments. This event began and ended within a decade and for its 1000 year duration the North Atlantic region was about 5°C colder.

    The lack of periodicity and the present failure to isolate a stable forcing mechanism À la Milankovitch, has prompted much scientific debate about the cause of the Younger Dryas and other millennial scale events. Indeed, the Younger Dryas occurred at a time when orbital forcing should have continued to drive climate to the present warm state.

    A whole volume that reviews the evidence for abrupt climate change and speculates on its mechanisms was published recently by an expert group commissioned by the National Academy of Sciences in the US. This very readable compilation contains a breadth and depth of discussion that we cannot hope to match here. [ “Abrupt Climage Change,” National Academy Press, 2002]. ‘

    There are a number instances here.

    https://judithcurry.com/2012/09/09/the-weatherman-is-not-a-moron/#comment-237787

    The story is a little bit more complex as the world continues not to warm for another decade or three.

  48. David Springer

    tempterrain | September 10, 2012 at 7:17 pm |

    “Without government intervention, Henry Ford’s customers would have had no roads on which to drive their cars.”

    BZZZZZZZZZZZZT!!!!!!!!!!

    Wrong.

    Roads predate automobiles, dummy. The first cars did just fine on the same roads used by wagons. They simply couldn’t go very fast on some of those roads because they were too bumpy.

    • David Springer | September 11, 2012 at 7:15 am |

      One suggests you speak to matters on which you have facts or evidence.

      While roads long predated horseless carriages, denying the government intervenes to build infrastructure specifically suited to and explicitly for the sake of fossil-powered vehicles is so absurd as to merit comment.

      Or howls of derisive laughter.

      When’s the last time you looked at the budget for road building in your locale? State? Federal interstates? Where do you think the money for that comes from, if not taxpayers? Who do you think benefits most disproportionately?

      Sure, there’s good reasons for this government subsidy, some claim. But it’s a subsidy.

      • Robert I Ellison

        Again absurdly off point and a manic over reaction if one is to take this at face value,

      • While roads long predated horseless carriages, denying the government intervenes to build infrastructure specifically suited to and explicitly for the sake of fossil-powered vehicles is so absurd as to merit comment.

        I don’t see why the power source is relevant to the question of who builds roads. Two millennia ago there was no demand for roads suitable for a Model T Ford, yet the Romans were famous for their roads. (And supposedly they all led to Rome, though I never understood how that worked in Britain.)

        But private enterprise did not build those roads, it was the Roman government. (Ok, ok, it was their Carthaginian prisoners, picky point.)

        Only toll roads are built by private enterprise. Without tolls where is their incentive?

      • Vaughan Pratt

        No one denies that roads are (usually) paid for with taxpayer funds, either locally, by state or district or federally. In many countries this is partially covered by a fuel tax, paid (in principle) by those using the roads.

        But that was not the original topic of discussion.

        It was government subsidizing (with taxpayer funds) one method of private transportation (not public transportation, mind you) over another for example GM’s electrical automobile, with the point being that this was not necessary (nor was a tax on “horse manure”) in order for internal combustion engines to become more competitive than (and eventually replace) horse carriages.

        All the talk about roads is simply a sidetrack.

        Max

      • @manacker: But that was not the original topic of discussion.

        Thanks for that line, Max, I’ve made a note of it. Beats “that’s what you say” hands down.

        The original topic of discussion was whether to take the apple offered by the serpent.

      • Thanks back to you, Vaughan.

        Yep. That was pretty “original”, I agree.

        Max

      • @vaughan pratt

        There was a ginormous triumphal arch at Richborough

        http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/professional/research/archaeology/other-projects/richborough/?utm_source=Property%2BPage&utm_medium=Professional%2BProperty%2BLink&utm_content=Richborough%2BRoman%2BFort&utm_campaign=Richborough%2BArcharology

        which marked the first serious port that they used. And ‘the site of formal entry to Roman Britain’. From here they began their British road network. and from there you could embark for a ship to Gaul and hence to Rome. So, in the vernacular, all roads eventually led to Rome.

      • Vaughan Pratt | September 11, 2012 at 7:24 pm |

        Why is the power source relevant to who builds the roads?

        An excellent question.

        Let’s leave aside the question of who provides the raw materials for the roads. (That’d be asphalt, a waste byproduct of oil refining.) And the fact that were it to be subject to modern regulations as a new product, there’s no way the 16-90+ volatile, teratogenic, carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic constituents of asphalt would be approved. Perhaps an indictment of the modern regulatory structure of the government.

        Why are asphalt roads necessary? Horses don’t benefit from them. Pedestrians don’t. Bicyclists marginally benefit, but then paved roads are many times wider than bicyclists need. Electric vehicles prefer trolley tracks, so they don’t need batteries, but battery-powered vehicles that run at such speeds as asphalt paving furnishes are in the extreme minority and will be until at least 2020.

        It’s the petroleum-powered vehicles that are benefitted by asphalt pavement, almost exclusively, to the point exceptions amount to a rounding error. In Economics, that benefit that excludes all others makes the petroleum and automobile and heavy truck industries Rent Seekers.

        There are sound reasons why governments don’t require fuel companies and car companies to pay for paving directly. “Dedicated taxes” on fuel and automobilies and drivers’ licenses in many places were supposed to pay for paving; this turns out not to have worked out terribly well. Toll roads are also problematic. Letting these industries expropriate land and pave their own roads exclusively for their own customers, also problematic. Administratively, the state is obligated to pave, making these industries obligate Rent Seekers.

        But it’s still a subsidy. It still has all the effects of subsidy: quashes competition, dulls innovation, creates excess profits, and makes the economy less efficient and more costly, while making alternatives to automobiles more expensive. It’s a situation that any thoughtful government always questions, for the sake of looking for ways to restore true Capitalism to the market.

      • @Bart R: Why are asphalt roads necessary? Horses don’t benefit from them. Pedestrians don’t. Bicyclists marginally benefit, but then paved roads are many times wider than bicyclists need. Electric vehicles prefer trolley tracks, so they don’t need batteries, but battery-powered vehicles that run at such speeds as asphalt paving furnishes are in the extreme minority and will be until at least 2020. It’s the petroleum-powered vehicles that are benefitted by asphalt pavement, almost exclusively, to the point exceptions amount to a rounding error.

        Bart, I think your history’s a bit off here. Asphalt roads predate the internal combustion engine by millennia. Here are some extracts from a short history of asphalt pavement.

        The first recorded use of asphalt as a road building material was in Babylon around 625 B.C., in the reign of King Naboppolassar. In A Century of Progress: The History of Hot Mix Asphalt, published by National Asphalt Pavement Association in 1992, author Hugh Gillespie notes that “an inscription on a brick records the paving of Procession Street in Babylon, which led from his palace to the north wall of the city, ‘with asphalt and burned brick.’”

        [Fast forward to the early 19th C]

        To construct his roads, McAdam used broken stone “which shall unite by its own angles so as to form a hard surface.” Later, to reduce dust and maintenance, builders used hot tar to bond the broken stones together, producing “tarmacadam” pavements.

        The first bituminous mixtures produced in the United States mixes were used for sidewalks, crosswalks, and even roads starting in the late 1860s.

        The use of asphalt for US roads In the late 1860s was nevertheless uncommon, though the economic importance of good roads was becoming increasingly appreciated then. The annual report of the secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Agriculture for 1869-1870 featured as the third of its three prize essays “Maintenance and Repairs of Common Roads” by Henry Onion, Civil Engineer, which can be read here. This essay inspired a long report next year on pages 20-80 of the 1870-1871 report tiled “Roads and Road Making” by the secretary himself, Charles L. Flint. It includes a comprehensive city-by-city survey of the state of Massachusetts roads. Both Onion’s essay and that report put great emphasis on the economic importance of well-maintained roads, the complete absence of motorcars notwithstanding.

      • Sorry, my italics didn’t take — the four paragraphs from “The first recorded use” to “the late 1860s” were taken from the History of Alphabet source cited immediately before.

      • David Springer

        Roads are paved for fossil-fueled vehicles?

        What an amazingly stupid thing to say.

        Why are sidewalks and driveways also paved, dummy?

  49. David Springer

    Vaughan Pratt | September 12, 2012 at 3:55 am |

    @DS: Did you subtract from the recent temperature record the warming trend going on since Little Ice Age?

    “No, why should I subtract it if it’s there?”

    I thought you were interested in empirically determining climate sensitivity to CO2 doubling. This requires that you isolate warming (if any) caused by CO2 increase from other causes. The globe has been warming since the end of the Little Ice Age. Presumably that warming had nothing to do with CO2 so you must at least estimate and subtract in order to isolate CO2-caused warming.

    DS: How did you isolate CO2 as a variable since natural variation even within the most recent couple thousand years of the Holocene spans Roman and Medieval Warm periods to Little Ice Age?

    “By using the CDIAC data for fossil fuel emissions. Are you familiar with it? It only goes back to 1750, so in order for CO2 in earlier times to make any difference there would have had to have been an extraordinary drop between then and 1750. If you have any relevant data on anthropogenic CO2 emissions before 1750 a lot of people would be extremely interested!”

    That’s not the question I asked. I asked how you isolated CO2 as a variable. I didn’t ask how you determined anthropogenic emission.

    DS: What margin of error did you assign to the temperature record from 1850 onward?

    “I used the difference between HADCRUT3 and HADCRUT4 as an indication of the margin of error. If you have a better indication I would be extremely grateful!”

    Interesting. Tough to think of a more arbitrary method. Please avoid projects where people might get hurt if your assumptions are wrong.

    DS: How many tea leaves did you use?

    “I worked so late each night on it that I had to fall back on coffee. How do you cope?”

    Planning my time better so I don’t have work when I’m fatigued.

    • David Springer, recovery from the Little Ice Age? You know that was only a regional event. Warming miraculously started circa 1950 once the man made aerosols cleared. There would not be any evidence of warming prior to 1950 unless of course it was caused by solar increases of the lack of volcanic activity. :)

      And the trend in record high minimum temperatures is a sure signature of CO2 caused global warming.

      /sarc.

    • ” Please avoid projects where people might get hurt if your assumptions are wrong.”

      Springer, Did you help sort out the Pentium bug from the last century? You know the one where it caused a floating point error and that may have killed people if it ever got used for some critical computing application? Guess who helped figure that one out?

  50. David Springer

    Bart R | September 12, 2012 at 10:03 pm |

    There are many advantages to paved roads. The Romans were building paved roads thousands of years ago. Perhaps the biggest advantage is they decrease the rolling resistance of any wheeled vehicle so you can pull a much larger load with the same horse or person or ox or whatever. Secondarily (perhaps primarily) is resistance to wear and tear. Roman roads built a thousand years ago are still being used with the original surface today.

    Perhaps you could put more thought into what you write. On the other hand perhaps you don’t possess the quality of thought to do any better. The evidence at hand points to the latter.

    • David Springer | September 13, 2012 at 8:53 pm |

      I’m surprised at you. I expected better; it’s not like we’d expect Vaughan Pratt | September 13, 2012 at 6:47 pm | to get this right, ivory-towered as he is, and preoccupied with thoughts and knowledge and burdened with literacy and historical perspective. But you don’t have those disadvantages, and should be able to see more clearly without getting bogged down in outdated references to the days before synthetic asphalt became the building material the automobile industry demanded.

      I’m not talking about merely paved roads. I’m talking about that subset of roads made to the standard of the modern freeway; not Roman military brickwork paths laid by manual labor every cobble of the way and only useful for Italian sportscars driven by suicidal oxcart-dodging playboys; not Jeffersonian boulevards created to appeal to the aesthetics of plantation owners in the seventeenth century hoping to recreate an ideal of French aristocracy; not the outliers and exceptions of the nineteenth century.

      What, you seriously can’t tell the difference, with all your experience with tar and feathers?

  51. Vaughan Pratt | September 13, 2012 at 8:05 pm |

    “If the warming was between 1910 and now, then in order for it to be attributable to an increase in TSI (total solar insolation), the TSI would have to increase over that period. By how much did TSI increase during the 20th century? Armed with that figure, we can then determine what to expect in the way of increased surface temperature.”

    Someone mentions record high solar activity in the twentieth century and you think they’re talking about TSI? Really? Wow.

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

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_variation#Effects_on_clouds

    • Someone mentions record high solar activity in the twentieth century and you think they’re talking about TSI? Really? Wow.

      The first link you provided said nothing about any warming effect of increased solar activity. The second is based on Svensmark’s cosmic ray theory of global warming, which is still highly controversial.

      The only known way for increased solar impact to influence Earth’s temperature is for it to raise TSI. If you know how much the TSI has increased it becomes easy to compute the heating effect. If you don’t, and all you have is a plot of number of sunspots over time, as with your first link, then there’s nothing that can be done with that information to predict whether the Earth will warm, cool, or remain unchanged.

  52. Judy,

    I have to confess I have not waded through the 480 comments; so this may well have been covered.

    I am a little surprised at your overall endorsement of the NT Times article. It makes some valid key points about the importance of chaos and probability forecasting. It is also pleasing to see a major article describing the amazing advances that have occurred in weather forecasting, which to me is one of the triumphs of modern science.

    Yet, in my view, the article itself is scientifically misleading.
    The fundamental premise is incorrect. The massive improvements over the past 60 yeasr in weather forecasting have not been fundamentally due to our taking into account chaos and probability. Rather they have been due to the development of numerical weather prediction, to advances in satellite –based observations, to advances in computers and to advances in data assimilation.

    The article is quite bad in its treatment of the history of NWP.
    A major issue is its treatment of Richardson’s forecast. After an extensive description of the fact his forecast failed, it goes immediately into a paragraph starting with the sentence: “Our views about predictability are inherently flawed.” And then strongly implies that Richardson’s forecast was wrong because he did not take into account or know about chaos.

    This is incorrect.

    The basic reason for the failure of Richardson’s forecast was that the initial field (or the atmospheric analysis) included no filtering to remove atmospheric gravity wave solutions. Hence his solution was dominated by these high frequency waves.

    What the article does not point out is that the large Numerical Weather Prediction systems of today, including the US Weather Bureau model and the ECMWF model use Richardson’s set of primitive equations, first solved on a grid and for a time-step by him in the 1920’s.

    Sure chaos is important, and ensemble prediction is one of the great advances in the science. However, of at least equal importance have been the advances in numerical analysis and specification of the initial state, referred to as data assimilation and model initialization. It is misleading, if not incorrect, to omit this from the history of the subject.

    It is also incorrect to say that that the Von Neumann et al ENIAC forecast was “not much better than a random guess”

    Hmmm……. Despite all this: Your own basic premise on the lessons that Climate Modelers could obtain from NWP modelers is an interesting one, and worthy of 480 comments.

    Having now ventured into the blogosphere. I’ll withdraw.
    Regards

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