Planetary boundaries, tipping points and prophets of doom

by Robert Ellison

There is a new paper that appeared last week in Science: Planetary boundaries: Guiding human development on a changing planet.

They presume that human development should be guided on a limited set of criteria that they say are approaching tipping points, points of extreme change that threaten human survival and the ecological viability of the planet. The authors are invoking a real mechanism known from gleams of knowledge in the relatively new field of complexity science — but unnecessarily conflating it with disaster scenarios in the way we have come to expect.

Tipping points in biophysical systems are apparent everywhere. When pushed by inputs of nitrogen and phosphorus a lake will transition from clear to murky overnight in a process caused by oxygen dynamics at the water/sediment interface. Populations will precipitously decline to zero after some point dependent on the ratio of recruitment to mortality. Global hydrology shifts abruptly with shifts in ocean and atmospheric circulation every few decades.

Complexity emerges from interactions of simple components. In the words of Michael Ghil (2013) – Distinguished Research Professor of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) – the

“global climate system is composed of a number of subsystems — atmosphere, biosphere, cryosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere – each of which has distinct characteristic times, from days and weeks to centuries and millennia. Each subsystem, moreover, has its own internal variability, all other things being constant, over a fairly broad range of time scales. These ranges overlap between one subsystem and another. The interactions between the subsystems thus give rise to climate variability on all time scales.”

Complexity science suggests that the system is pushed by small changes — such as solar intensity and Earth orbital eccentricities — past a threshold at which stage the components start to interact chaotically in multiple and changing negative and positive feedbacks — as tremendous energies cascade through powerful subsystems. Some of these changes have a regularity within broad limits and the planet responds with a broad regularity in changes of ice, cloud, Atlantic thermohaline circulation and ocean and atmospheric circulation. This is, by the way, a whole new way of thinking about climate that is still not anywhere near widely enough appreciated.

Four exceedances of so called planetary boundaries were identified. Greenhouse gas emissions, nutrients from agriculture, biosphere integrity and land use. Although the paper waves an arm toward “slowing down” as an early indicator of change, there is no possibility that this is as yet a practical methodology in the real world for identifying and anticipating a tipping point. Slowing down suggests that the system settles into a new steady state before being pushed out of balance into a new, emergent state.

Slide1

Figure 1: Nine ‘planetary boundaries’. The green zone is presumed to be below the change threshold, yellow is the zone of increasing risk, and red is the high-risk zone. There are four boundaries shown in the yellow zone and two in the red. E/MSY is a measure of species extinction and Bll of ecosystem intactness. Novel entities are new chemicals. ­­­

­­­­Anastasios Tsonis, of the Atmospheric Sciences Group at University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and colleagues used a mathematical network approach to analyse abrupt climate change on decadal timescales. Ocean and atmospheric indices — in this case the El Niño Southern Oscillation, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the North Atlantic Oscillation and the North Pacific Oscillation — can be thought of as chaotic oscillators that capture the major modes of climate variability. Tsonis and colleagues calculated the “distance” between the indices. It was found that they would synchronise at certain times — around 1912, 1944/1945, 1976/1977 and 1998/2001 — and then shift into a new state.

It is no coincidence that shifts in ocean and atmospheric indices occur at the same time as changes in the trajectory of global surface temperature. Our “interest is to understand — first the natural variability of climate — and then take it from there. So we were very excited when we realized a lot of changes in the past century from warmer to cooler and then back to warmer were all natural,” Tsonis said.  The warming between 1944 and 1998 was 0.4 degrees Centigrade.   At least half of that was quite natural leaving not much to show for anthropogenic warming in the last half of the last century. The presumption is — however — that small change adds to the pressure of change in the system creating the potential for instability.  The solutions for carbon dioxide emissions involve energy innovation in the development of new sources of cheap and abundant energy. This remains less than half the problem of climate forcing. The solutions for black carbon, sulphur, nitrous oxide, CFC’s and methane are multi-faceted and must be based on accelerated global social and economic development.

The World Wildlife Fund recently released its 2014 Living Planet Index (LPI), which purports to measure more than 10,000 representative populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish. These are said — based on reputable databases — to show declines in populations by 52 per cent since 1970. In other words, population sizes of vertebrate species have dropped by half. There is indeed a risk of accelerated extinctions this century. As an environmental scientist, and having read widely in the population literature, I see no reason to doubt that this represents a real trend of species decline. The problem as defined is that these declines owe much more to poverty and lack of development than climate change.

Nutrients likewise drive abrupt and more or less extreme changes in freshwater and marine systems. Throughout the world there are many coastal dead zones where oxygen levels have dropped to levels that will not sustain vertebrate life. The solutions here is urban runoff control only affordable in rich economies, building organic content in agricultural soils, water and soil conservation, precision agriculture and conserving and restoring ecosystems. Climate change is of no direct relevance.

Climate change has come to dominate the public space for environmental discourse, with attendant and unfortunate demands on social and economic policy. Complexity science adds unexpected dimensions to the problem, but we would still be much better off — and much more environmentally friendly — pursuing a broad social and economic development agenda than one focussed narrowly on climate change.

JC Note:  Robert Ellison’s previous guest posts:

This is a guest post; please keep your comments civil and on topic.

 

 

 

414 responses to “Planetary boundaries, tipping points and prophets of doom

  1. It is ultimately an ethical issue. As long as monetary self-interest is the only thing that really matters, people turn around and walk away with fingers in their ears when confronted by the I=PAT argument or any other kind of modeling or data, either “proving” or “disproving” the “reality” of climate change. A more sensible approach for scientists is to report findings in the most objective way possible, and perhaps invoke something like the “precautionary principle.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Precautionary_principle

    Luis

    • If we followed the precautionary principle, we would never have got as far as banging two rocks together to make sparks, and hence fire.

      • I’ve long thought we should apply the Precautionary Principle to the Precautionary Principle.
        ================

      • Curious George

        Precautionary principle is a recipe for a survival in the fear of shadows.

        Aztecs lived in the fear of the sun refusing to rise the next day. A human sacrifice was necessary to entice the sun to rise. Precautionary principle at work.

      • If the authors of the article in Science were seriously interested in the welfare of humanity, they would ask why:

        1. The internal composition of the Sun was changed from iron (Fe) in 1945 to hydrogen (H) in 1946?

        2. Aston’s valid concept of nuclear packing fraction was replaced by Weizsacker’s flawed concept of nuclear binding energy after WWII?

        You can’t save humanity with popular but flawed concepts of reality.

      • Kim, if we applied the Precautionary Principle to the Precautionary Principle, we would end up being remarkably and recursively redundant in responding to reckless ranting and raving regarding endlessly regurgitated claims of climate change irresponsibility. Would It really make any sense to do that?

      • Walt Allensworth

        IMHO, the precautionary principle is just another wall to put in front of ones political opponents when you’d rather fund your own Panzi scheme instead of theirs.

    • There are many ways to skin a cat that do not preclude social and economic progress. .

      • Cat skinning. Now you’re talking.

      • I agree Rob. We should not throw out a functional energy system based on what so far is marginal climate change. For sure, we should not use current energy alternatives that have not proven to be either affordable or reliable. The proper role would be to put investment into energy research until something functional is proven to work. Then we can switch over. Commercializing what now have is poor policy.

        The “pause” has provided an opportunity to move ahead on a number of promising fronts because it has taken the edge off the catastrophy predictions. I fully agree that many real environmental issues should be addressed, and that most of them have little or nothing to do with climate.

    • After being forced to sit and listen to communists lecture me in Cuba, for years, talk about the wonders of communism and why money was irrelevant, I have developed a keen nose for arguments which lack sufficient logic or clarity to justify my support.

      Those who can only argue for a precautionary principle while urging us to ignore the costs seem to be unaware that people like me like to take precautions to make sure their ideas don’t cause a disaster. In other words, thus far I see your proposals as a much bigger risk than the problem you are trying to solve.

      • Seeing as the ultimate goal, at least mine and Elon Musk’s, it to attain technology to unleash us from this planet, and that by definition would require closed-loop recycling of water and most other things, technology will ultimately diminish man’s environmental footprint as well as produce affluence. I = PA/T

    • I=PAT is not always a meaningful relationship. Anyone can make up an equation. That does not make it true. Technology can reduce impacts as well as exacerbate them. If you just naively believe I=PAT, then you would have to believe that all technology is bad. Same thing with Population. There may be times and places where a larger (human) population now had the resources to be more environmentally friendly. I forget what A is supposed to represent so I will leave it to someone else to address that. I think that I=PAT can sometimes be relevant but often is not.

      • Impact = Population times Affluence times Technology. Yet, Paul Erlich did not recognizes that all four variables are mutually interdependent, which makes the equation useless except to recognize the obvious potentials.

      • Actually, impact = population/(affluence + technological advance)

    • The Precautionary Principle has a command “First do no harm”

      I wish users of it would remember that.

  2. Nice post! I’m partial to this view of the earth and its semi-stable regimes with abrupt transitions.
    I’m not sure I buy the concept of certain regimes being more conducive to transition or not (and hence more dangerous)…. as I recall playing with various fractals, one of the cool ways to draw a fractal is to plot the inverse map. The reason why this works is because the pre-image of particular regimes are usually dense within the set itself (or at least the boundary). So saying some regimes are more dangerous than others is not something I can necessarily buy into, although if the semi-stable regimes have an interior it may make sense….

    • Inverse map for Julia sets:
      http://www.nahee.com/spanky/www/fractint/inv_julia_type.html

      basically no matter where you start (on the boundary) you are arbitrarily close to an orbit that will doom you (in the CAGW speak).

    • Umm, did they circularize the nine planetary wedges to create this pictorial display? How are they different?

      Where is the primer for understanding ‘biogeochemical flow’? Do they transmute from one to the other?

    • “I think that the keys here are “within limits” and the allegorical nature of “breakneck” speeds.”

      If climate models were to move into the modern age of finite elements and adjoint solutions very likely the abrupt transitions would be detectable by the ‘stability factors’ going wonky around the transition (at which time a modern solver would get very serious, adapt and step through this treacherous territory very carefully –and still maybe get it wrong–).

      But wishes are horses and fortran is spaghetti.

  3. Fantastic! Too often we forget that the unintended consequences of suggested “remedies” for climate change may wreak greater havoc with our ecosystems that that claimed for climate change.

    • ==> “Too often we forget that the unintended consequences of suggested “remedies” for climate change may wreak greater havoc with our ecosystems that that claimed for climate change.”

      Sure. And too often we forget that the “unintended consequences” of suggested non-remediation of climate change may weak greater havoc with our ecosystems (and economies) than that claimed for mitigation.

      • Do you have any reliable evidence to support this claim???

      • Reincarnation. Past lives.

      • What “claim” did I make? That the outcomes of our actions, like the outcomes of a lack of action, are both uncertain?

        It’s interesting, to me, how much trouble people have with the concept of uncertainty.

      • @J
        Fair enough, you did say ‘may’…

      • …climate change may weak greater havoc with our ecosystems (and economies)…

        It would help to be specific.

        The greatest human effects on ecosystems are clearly from direct causes – deforestation, habitat destruction and division, and predation. Indirect impact from ‘climate change’ remains fanciful at best.

        And the increases in global GDP, longevity, literacy, productivity, and education certainly all correlate well with the warming we’ve observed.

      • And too often we forget that the “unintended consequences” of suggested non-remediation of climate change may weak greater havoc with our ecosystems (and economies) than that claimed for mitigation.

        What “claim” did I make? That the outcomes of our actions, like the outcomes of a lack of action, are both uncertain?

        It’s interesting, to me, how much trouble people have with the concept of uncertainty.

        What I find interesting is the way actions short of the preferred drastic ones that will massively raise energy prices are equated with ” non-remediation of climate change”, “lack of action”. Looks like m0tivated thinking to me: “If our actions can’t pursue our socialist agenda, they aren’t actions.”

      • I am going to have to help you again, joshie. Your crowd are telling us the sky is falling. We say that we would like to see your proof. There is a lot of uncertainty about your claim. You say back, in your smarmy manner, that uncertainty cuts both ways. You say we are not sure the sky isn’t falling, so we better deliberately degrade our standard of living, just in case. We laugh. We have lives to live and we can’t be worrying about things that are not sufficiently proven to be a danger to us. Almost nobody in the world is losing any sleep over climate change. More worried about the stuff that we know is real.

        Joshie, is the climate worse for us now than it was a hundred years ago, when according to adjusted temperature records it was a lot colder? How about the warmer 60s-70s, when some scientists were warning of a new ice age? Look at the charts and you will see that from the early 1900s to the 60s, it had gotten significantly warmer but folks were being told they needed to worry about freezing in their little boots. Now we are going to burn up.

        You don’t have any credibility here, joshie. Why don’t you spend your time over on ATTP, where you jokers can sit around undisturbed congratulating each other on how morally and intellectually superior you are to the deniers.

      • ==> “You say we are not sure the sky isn’t falling, so we better deliberately degrade our standard of living, just in case”

        Quite amazing how many times, in how many way, I can make an argument and still have it completely distorted.

        I’m saying that the uncertainty cuts both ways.

        Now put on your thinking cap. Look at that sentence again.

        I’m saying that uncertainty cuts both ways.

        And then look again at what you wrote. Note what I put in bold.

        We’ll talk. Let’s see if you can get it right this time, eh?

      • Your arguments start out distorted, joshie. That’s why you have no credibility. Your little bag of tricks does not impress us. Somebody says uncertainty and you pull out, uncertainty cuts both ways. Somebody says they are not impressed with that argument and you say, motivated reasoning. Somebody says they are tired of your crap and you say, big boy pants. But mostly you say Oh! the unintended irony!

        You should move on.

      • Don –

        in case you hadn’t noticed, I’m not looking to you for advice.

      • You are not wise.

      • Joshua wrote- “the “unintended consequences” of suggested non-remediation of climate change may weak greater havoc with our ecosystems (and economies) than that claimed for mitigation.”

        My question–What is the reliable evidence to support these analysis? Are they based upon the outputs of models that have been shown to perform within consistently small margins of error as to be deemed reliable for some time period in the future?

        My conclusion is that there is very little reliable data to support the claims of climate change causing much greater havoc in the future.

      • Josh,

        The claim Rob refers to is the claim that “non-remediation of climate change wreck greater havoc with our ecosystems (and economies) than that claimed for mitigation.”

        I see we are back to the problem you have with honesty.

      • 14 out of warmest 15 years have occurred in the 15 years of this century. What are the consequences?

        https://thelukewarmersway.wordpress.com/2015/01/22/state-of-the-climate-2014-part-2/

        Would you believe reduced mortality, reduced spread of malaria, record harvests, continued recovery of polar bears and a tripling of global GDP at purchasing power parity?

        Joshua, in a perverse way you remind me of the pundit who sighed in relief when George Bush replaced Bill Clinton (well, it was satire…) “At last, our long national nightmare of peace and prosperity has ended.”

        At the risk of being Matt-Ridley-ish, the 0.8C of global warming we have experienced has not been demonstrably catastrophic…. Some might even clamor for more of the same…

      • Joshua wrote–“That’s funny – because “denizens,” all the time tell me what my position on policy is…and now you tell me that I don’t actually have one. “

        Joshua
        Imo it is easy to misinterpret what you write, but you do not really seem to get specific about science or policy. Steve’s analysis of your comments here seem accurate…again imo.

      • Rob –

        ==> “Imo it is easy to misinterpret what you write, but you do not really seem to get specific about science or policy. ”

        W/r/t the science – no, I have no “positions” on the science because I’m not able to evaluate the science. The best that I can do is try to evaluate probabilities w/r/t the science, and to get a sense of the logical coherence of the arguments presented by those who are in a position to understand the science (something very difficult to do, obviously, since I don’t understand the science).

        As for policy.

        We have been down this road before. I choose not to respond to your comments with the specifics that you request. That does not mean that I don’t have positions.

        I choose not to respond by elaborating on specific positions because your requests, IMO, don’t address the basic argument that I’m presenting.

        Let me give you another example (as I have done previously)

        My question–What is the reliable evidence to support these analysis? Are they based upon the outputs of models that have been shown to perform within consistently small margins of error as to be deemed reliable for some time period in the future?

        My conclusion is that there is very little reliable data to support the claims of climate change causing much greater havoc in the future.

        Reliable? What is your definition of reliable? What I see is evidence that is presented with error bars. Evidence that is presented in the context of uncertainty. As such, I see your requests for “reliable” as being unattainable. You are setting me up for a task which can’t be achieved given a realistic assessment of the context.

        I am saying that there is no “reliable” here. There is only a range of probabilities and subjective determinations of what makes sense given those probabilities. As such, IMO, the discussion should be around synergistcally building policies around shared interests. I’m not interested in useless bickering about positions. I mean this is all useless in the sense of affecting real outcomes, but I see no benefit in meeting your requests for my elaboration of my positions when you don’t take into account what I feel are fundamental requirements for contextualizing positions.

        ==> “Are they based upon the outputs of models that have been shown to perform within consistently small margins of error as to be deemed reliable for some time period in the future?”

        No. They are based (partially) on the outputs of models that have error ranges and deliver probabilities that need to be considered in the context of uncertainty. Those models would are models of climate, and models of economics. What I find amusing is that you would make a request of me based on climate modeling that you won’t apply yourself w/r/t economic outcomes. Seems to me that you won’t apply those requirements to yourself in terms of economic outcomes because in that application, you realize how unrealistic the requirements are.

        ==> “My conclusion is that there is very little reliable data to support the claims of climate change causing much greater havoc in the future.”

        Again. This boils down to a subjective requirement (reliable) presented as an objective criterion. And again, you place that unrealistic requirement as condition of hearing my positions while not placing that same requirement on yourself because of the unrealistic nature of the criterion.

      • Joshua | January 23, 2015 at 11:39 am |
        “And too often we forget that the “unintended consequences” of suggested non-remediation…”

        According to Wikipedia:
        “…unintended consequences are outcomes that are not the ones intended by a purposeful action. … it is commonly used as a wry or humorous warning against the hubristic belief that humans can fully control the world around them.”
        Unless “non-remediation” is being redefined as “purposeful action,” it is a logical fallacy to say you can have “unintended consequences” from “non-remediation.” I did not understand that statement to mean “that the outcomes of our actions, like the outcomes of a lack of action, are both uncertain?” “Unintended consequences” and “uncertain” are not the same thing.
        Some of the more prolific contributors would not have to spend so much time explaining themselves if they would think more and write less.

      • IMO, the discussion should be around synergistcally building policies around shared interests.

        So whom do you share interests with? Based on the evidence of your comments?

        And too often we forget that the “unintended consequences” of suggested non-remediation of climate change may weak greater havoc with our ecosystems (and economies) than that claimed for mitigation.

        Given that the author of the main post made at least one positive suggestion, your identification of his “solutions for carbon dioxide emissions involve[ing] energy innovation in the development of new sources of cheap and abundant energy” with “suggested non-remediation of climate change” strongly suggests (to me at least) that you “share interests with” fellow travelers whose agenda includes raising energy prices in pursuit of a shared socialist agenda.

      • AK –

        Not sure why you keep asking me questions given that I’m so offensive that I shouldn’t even be allowed near children….

        But…since you do keep asking me questions…

        ==>”So whom do you share interests with? Based on the evidence of your comments?”

        I think that I share interests with pretty much everyone here, including you (with the possible exception of Don)…

        ==> “Given that the author of the main post made at least one positive suggestion, your identification of his “solutions for carbon dioxide emissions involve[ing] energy innovation in the development of new sources of cheap and abundant energy” with “suggested non-remediation of climate change”..”

        My comment wasn’t directed to equate those two. I don’t consider that suggestion as non-remediation. The comment you quoted was directed at someone else.

        ==> “strongly suggests (to me at least) that you “share interests with” fellow travelers whose agenda includes raising energy prices in pursuit of a shared socialist agenda.”

        What’s up with that “fellow travelers” thing anyhow? Didn’t red-baiting go out of style in, like, the 60s?

      • Didn’t red-baiting go out of style in, like, the 60s?

        I grew up in, like, the ’60’s. It never went out of style for me, when deserved.

        And I suffered under teachers like you, during my (luckily few) years in the Public Education system. Even then. And the worst offender (IMO, of course) was a fundamentalist Christian. So please don’t think it’s your politics, although they’re obvious and I obviously don’t agree.

      • Joshua wrote- “Reliable? What is your definition of reliable? What I see is evidence that is presented with error bars. Evidence that is presented in the context of uncertainty. As such, I see your requests for “reliable” as being unattainable.”

        Reliable data is certainly NOT unattainable. It does not need to be perfect by any means, but it does mean that you have a good understanding of the probability of error.

        Joshua wrote- “There is only a range of probabilities and subjective determinations of what makes sense given those probabilities.”

        This comes down to an assessment of the believability of the outputs of the models that have been used and the “peer reviewed” papers that were written based on the outputs of those models that predicted a dire future if CO2 emissions were not immediately lessened.

        Joshua writes-“They are based (partially) on the outputs of models that have error ranges and deliver probabilities that need to be considered in the context of uncertainty.”

        The “error ranges” of the climate models you reference have no basis for belief from what I can tell. The processes by which “error ranges” are established were not followed for GCMs before they were accepted for use.

        I do not see any data that leads me to believe the models used by climate scientists have demonstrated the accuracy needed to believe that papers that were based on their outputs. What you do not seem to accept is that if the models were accurate I would have a completely different position.

        Joshua writes-“I’m not interested in useless bickering about positions.”

        Change comes about based on defining and implementing a position. A position should be defendable in order to be implemented. You do not offer a position and therefore offer nothing to impact change other than to try to get others to consider their thought processes.

        I wrote- “My conclusion is that there is very little reliable data to support the claims of climate change causing much greater havoc in the future.” Show the specific data that you think will demonstrate me to be incorrect. Let’s evaluate that data.

      • Joshua wrote-”I have no “positions” on the science because I’m not able to evaluate the science. “

        That must be a factually incorrect statement. You have evaluated the science and concluded that that there are potential outcomes that you believe are sufficiently likely to occur to justify as yet unspecified actions.

      • ‘The birds they sing
        at the break of day.
        Start again
        I heard them say.
        Don’t dwell on what
        has passed away
        Or what is yet to be.
        Leonard Cohen.

      • Tattletale. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings, joshie. Are your big boy pants at the cleaners?

    • Rob –

      => “…so we better deliberately degrade our standard of living, just in case.”

      Let’s look at that statement, shall we?

      And let me reverse the order of your paragraphs…

      My conclusion is that there is very little reliable data to support the claims of climate change –MITIGATION causing much greater havoc in the future.

      My question–What is the reliable evidence to support these analysis [of “economic suicide” from climate change mitigation]? Are they based upon the outputs of [economic] models that have been shown to perform within consistently small margins of error as to be deemed reliable for some time period in the future?

      • Rob –

        Sorry, in my phone…put that other content in the wing place…plus, should have made it clear that i was using don’s comment mixed with yours to point out the shared lack of consistency with respect to uncertainty in both of your arguments

      • He’s rattled, Rob. Pathetic.

      • Joshua’s ill considered opinion is that we don’t know that increasing energy costs through taxation doesn’t increase input costs and decrease productivity.

        The solution for carbon dioxide is alternative source of cheap and abundant energy.

        This for instance solves every issue with conventional nuclear plants and promises to deliver cheap energy to the US for hundreds of years from existing nuclear waste.

        http://www.ga.com/energy-multi

        But it is still less than half the forcing problem.

      • Curious George

        The evidence is as reliable as the evidence Aztecs had for a necessity to sacrifice a human at the sunrise. There was a room for doubt, but imagine the horrible consequences should the sun refuse to rise. Would you risk a noncompliance?

      • ==> “Joshua’s ill considered opinion is that we don’t know that increasing energy costs through taxation doesn’t increase input costs and decrease productivity.”

        Quite amazing how many times “skeptics” can state what my opinion “is,” with Nina of them getting it right. That’s why i use the quotation marks, folks. Skeptics check their assumptions, “skeptics” see whatever they want to see.

      • Joshua

        “My conclusion is that there is very little reliable data to support the claims of climate change -MITIGATION causing much greater havoc in the future.”

        I have never written that CO2 mitigation actions will cause havoc. I have written that implementing CO2 mitigation actions cost money and at a time when we are borrowing money, in a time of limited financial resources we need to seek to balance our budget.

        Implementing a CO2 mitigation involves incurring a cost today, in order to emit less CO2 in the future; under the premise that there is a sufficient risk that the climate will change negatively to such an extent if the CO2 mitigation is not implemented to warrant incurring the cost of the action today.

        Those who wish the public to incur a cost today need to demonstrate that there is a reasonable reliable justification (imo). I see no reliable evidence that the climate is worse today than it was at 300ppm or that it will be worse at 500ppm vs. today. Beyond that there is enough time to adjust later. There are CO2 mitigation that have low cost or other benefits that seem to make sense. It comes down to a cost benefit analysis for each action. Imo, advocates of CO2 mitigation actions frequently try to stay away from this analysis.

      • Rob –

        ==> “I have never written that CO2 mitigation actions will cause havoc.”

        Yes. Well, I see the argument often made by “skeptics.” But I know well the problem of someone taking someone else’s argument and assigning it to me – so there would be no excuse for me to do the same to you.

        ==> “I have written that implementing CO2 mitigation actions cost money and at a time when we are borrowing money, in a time of limited financial resources we need to seek to balance our budget.”

        My belief, contrary to how it is often described, is that we don’t know the long-term cost/benefit ratio of thoughtfully scaled and calibrated (in terms of who it impacts to what degree) mitigation actions – not only because of the uncertainty w/r/t the effects of emissions on climate change, but also because of the comparative cost//benfit ratio of positive and negative externalities of different energy supply pathways. Thus, IMO, this becomes a problem of decision-making in the face of uncertainty, and instead, what I see is folks on both sides of the climate wars disquieting the dissonance of facing uncertainty by falsely conceptualizing overly-certain perspectives (in service of identity-related “motivations”).

        Of course, there’s a lot of missing input in what I just said, relative to “thoughtfully scaled and calibrated.” Indeed, there is a devil that lives in those details – but you can’t even approach that discussion from a mutually antagonistic platform for discussion. All you get is name-calling and finger-pointing and guilty-by-association, and sociopath-labeling from within a win/lose, scotched-Earth paradigm.

        ==>”Implementing a CO2 mitigation involves incurring a cost today,…”

        I am questioning your determination of “cost,” because I think it is determined within an artificially constrained contextualization. There are different kinds of “costs.” Some are more easily quantified than others, but that doesn’t make them more real. I’m not suggesting that we ignore those more easily quantified costs – and I recognize that some in this debate can arguably be described as doing so.

        ==> “…under the premise that there is a sufficient risk that the climate will change negatively to such an extent if the CO2 mitigation is not implemented to warrant incurring the cost of the action today.”

        I seem making that argument, and I see others arguing that there is the potential for sufficient risk. IMO, that is the nut that needs to be cracked. I see some arguing that there is sufficient risk and others arguing that there isn’t sufficient risk, and what gets lost is that what we should be trying to do is develop policies to address the potential for risk. That is very complicated, and it isn’t something that is particularly easy to do within the policy-making paradigm (IOW, our democracy) we use. I’m not suggesting that there is a better paradigm, but that we won’t get anywhere if we don’t recognize the complexity of the issues as well as the weaknesses of our policy-development paradigm for addressing these kinds of issues – particularly when they are roiled with identity-oriented polarization

      • We know why you use your little inappropriate quotation marks, joshie. It’s called an affectation. Look it up…now that you know what it is, try to compile a list of your many other affectations. I am willing to help you…then lose them all and your affectationless behavior might be half-way tolerable.

      • ==> “Joshua’s ill considered opinion is that we don’t know that increasing energy costs through taxation doesn’t increase input costs and decrease productivity.”

        Quite amazing how many times “skeptics” can state what my opinion “is,” with Nina of them getting it right. That’s why i use the quotation marks, folks. Skeptics check their assumptions, “skeptics” see whatever they want to see.

        Joshua thinks that not increasing energy costs is the way to go? Something we can agree on at long last.

      • ==> “Joshua thinks that not increasing energy costs is the way to go? Something we can agree on at long last.”

        If you and Don keep trying, you might eventually be able to state my opinion correctly. But you have failed thus far despite your repeated attempts.

        Oh, and thanks for reading, Chief. :-)

      • BTW, Rob –

        I should clarify something here:

        ==> “My belief, contrary to how it is often described, is that we don’t know the long-term cost/benefit ratio of thoughtfully scaled and calibrated (in terms of who it impacts to what degree) mitigation actions”

        When I say “mitigation actions” I am speaking of actions that will result in: (1) reduced dependency on foreign oil that necessitates enormous resources to keep it flowing and that comes at a huge opportunity cost in human capital by virtue of empowering despots in oil-producing countries and, (2) lower particulate matter emissions, (3) potentially lower environmental impact in other ways as well (obviously, the environmental impact of renewable sources needs to be factored in there….

        I am not isolating “mitigation actions” in the sense of considering their benefits merely w/r/t reduced emissions. If, somehow, those different outcomes were somehow able to be disaggregated, my viewpoint might well be different.

      • Another problem you have joshie, is that you think loquaciousness is a sign of intelligence. Wrong. Maybe we don’t know what your opinion is because our eyes tend to glaze over after six or seven paragraphs. We rarely make it to the punch line. Do you know what economy means, joshie?

      • There are 2 alternatives Joshua – either increase energy costs via taxation or not. I have covered both of them. You have covered yourself with your usual slime of prevarication, trivialisation and bad faith.

        I repeat – the solution for carbon dioxide emissions is alternative cheap and abundant energy sources. But this is less than half the problem of climate forcing.

      • Steven Mosher

        guys you wont pin a tail on that donkey.

        Don just shoots the donkey. that works.

      • ==> “Maybe we don’t know what your opinion is because our eyes tend to glaze over after six or seven paragraphs. ”

        That’s fine, Don. But the problem is that you and your buds keep saying that you know what my opinion is. And you keep getting it wrong.

      • Joshua
        “I am questioning your determination of “cost,” because I think it is determined within an artificially constrained contextualization.”

        My response- lol at what you wrote. Beautifully written, meaningless in fact–

        You should make a specific CO2 mitigation suggestion and show what it would take (cost) to implement, how much it will reduce CO2 emissions over what period, and how and when that will impact the climate.

        Imo, there is a risk that the rate of change in climate conditions could greatly accelerate, there is a risk that more CO2 may impact this, but there is no reliable information for it to be tied to any specific

        Joshua writes–“I see some arguing that there is sufficient risk and others arguing that there isn’t sufficient risk, and what gets lost is that what we should be trying to do is develop policies to address the potential for risk.

        My response- again, you write beautifully but imo without substance. In a world of limited resources choices must be made in response to specific suggestions- make some.

      • I don’t enjoy demeaning little joshie, Steven. It’s just that his behavior leaves no other serviceable option. If he would listen to me and leave, he would be better off.

      • I don’t particularly care what the speculative costs and benefits of fossil fuels might be. Energy fuels the engine of economic growth – and optimum growth is the basis of social progress this century. This entails using the dollar value cheapest energy resources. We have shown that we can cost effectively reduce environmental impacts from fossil fuels.

        In the long run run the fossil fuel resource is limited and economic costs will rise. It is rational to plan for energy transitions.

      • I see some arguing that there is sufficient risk and others arguing that there isn’t sufficient risk, and what gets lost is that what we should be trying to do is develop policies to address the potential for risk.

        Sufficient risk for what?

      • =>> “Don just shoots the donkey. that works.”

        Works for what? Unless mommy listens to your plaintive cries for “censorship” (for those drama queens among us), his efforts produce no results.

      • Steven, I am making my famous Korean chicken wings. My son is a wing nut. Reward for a good week at school. Twice fried, but the first time is a confit. Four hours in oil in my turkey fryer hooked to my PID temp controller. Keeps a steady 152F. Wings cook without losing moisture, the collagen, protein matrix breaks down. Juicy. Put the Korean stuff on, few minutes at 400F, in different oil, and you got mouthwatering crispiness, tenderness, spiciness. All you would want from a wing or a woman.

      • Joshua, maybe the answer is to study what is happening in Germany. That’s a very wealthy nation. Why are they building coal plants to generate electricity?

      • Mosher get my vote for best comment on the thread.

      • Josh,

        I for one don’t care what your opinion is. If fact that’s usually my default position for people who are not honest. You repeatedly prove that you cannot enter in an honest discussion. I suggest you stick with your regular attempts at pulling Dr Curry’s pony tail.

      • Joshua

        You wrote- “When I say “mitigation actions” I am speaking of actions that will result in: (1) reduced dependency on foreign oil that necessitates enormous resources to keep it flowing and that comes at a huge opportunity cost in human capital by virtue of empowering despots in oil-producing countries and, (2) lower particulate matter emissions, (3) potentially lower environmental impact in other ways as well (obviously, the environmental impact of renewable sources needs to be factored in there….”

        Please be specific. In general your ideas may make sense. When evaluating the specifics–we do not know because you will not be specific. Prove Mosher wrong–offer specific suggestions and show why they make sense.

        I can offer many

      • Fernando –

        ==> “Joshua, maybe the answer is to study what is happening in Germany. That’s a very wealthy nation. Why are they building coal plants to generate electricity?”

        Yeah – Germany should certainly be a part of the discussion. I recently watched a video where Francis Fukuyama and David Runciman discussed, among other things, what might distinguish Germany w/r/t adapting to a changing world (essentially, they agreed that as a young democracy that was built on the remnants of a highly functional state in a population that was used to such functionality) there is a kind of lack of complacency in Germany that enables it to be more flexible and perhaps, stay ahead of the curve):

        So along with building new, and efficient coal plants, they have also moved rather aggressively towards renewables:energiewende.

        What I think is that eventually, progress will occur among those who manage, somehow, to work past the disfunctionality of identity-politics, and adapt, as perhaps exists in Germany and is outlined here in the conservation movement:

        http://ensia.com/features/is-conservation-extinct/

        The question for me is the time frame for change. I tend to be a bit pessimistic, so my guess is that in a country like the U.S. which is stuck in a mode where a significant chunk of the population is more interested in hatin’ on government than in fostering an effective one, what we’ll get is Jell-O slinging until such time as there is virtually no uncertainty w/r/t the magnitude of the impact of ACO2 on the climate – meaning the point where people either clearly see the impact in their daily lives or where the scientific community moves on from talking about the potential risk from ACO2 emissions. Perhaps other, more nimble countries like Germany will continue to move quickly. Even if their movement isn’t enough to significantly forestall anthropogenic impact on the climate, they will at least be in a position to take advantage, relatively, of the altered climate context.

      • Fernando, what joshie is trying to say with all that crap is that he doesn’t know why they are building coal fired power plants in Germany. I am not going to help him this time. You break it to him.

      • Yeah, Fernando –

        Explain to me that those plants were being planned years ago, to act as a bridge alongside the contemporaneous implementation of the plan to change the entire energy structure to prioritize renewables.

        Explain that to me, Fernando,

        Because Don’s tired of helping me (with his advice that I couldn’t possibly care less about).

      • That’s very clearly a cry for help, joshie. Google germany fukushima

        This is just another thread where you have made a complete fool of yourself and sunk your credibility further down the toilet.

        attp, joshie. That’s your home.

      • “Works for what? Unless mommy listens to your plaintive cries for “censorship” (for those drama queens among us), his efforts produce no results.”

        1. It works for Don, he enjoys it.
        2. It works for those who like to hear Donkey’s Bray

        I don’t want Judith to censor you. I’ll repeat my suggestion for how you should be handled but it’s more fun to watch Don and his Donkey show

      • Don

        Korean Wings?

        crap, next time invite me, I’ll bring the 반찬

      • Rob.

        In predictable fashion Joshua doesnt tell you what he thinks. He tells you what someone else thinks… about germany..

        I’ll keep it brief

        Climate change is a global problem. What we do in the US matters very little. What matters going forward is what China does and what India does.

      • Nowhere on earth did Fukushima cause more damage than here in Germany. The press, always hysterical about something, went into a frenzy. The public was overwhelmed with Angst. The Chancellor panicked.

        Now just hush up about those coal plants and maybe nobody ‘ll notice.

      • Joshua was correct in his statement of uncertainty and that both parties in the sense that “we forget” are speaking of a generic person. Most of the commenters did not address the two points. Some made erroneous claims as to the content of Joshua’s statement that had little or no merit.

        Point one, uncertainty DOES cut both ways, and Point two, as a group humans believe that humans do tend to “forget” relative importance of matters. Though I am unsure that this is not a construct for the fact that humans have such differing opinions on so many items and their evaluation.

        But the intent of point two is easily understood.

      • No Josh.

        How economies and societies function without consistent and cheap energy is observable in the modern world today. The few countries that use inconsistent and expensive energy generation methods (say Italy) hook themselves up to other countries cheap and consistent energy to mitigate the risk.

        Poor Asian and African nations, the mortality rates and living standards, are directly attributed at least in part to a lack of energy. That’s observable and real, no need to model it.

        That’s a hell of a sight more concrete then CAGW is at this point.

      • steven –

        ==> “1. It works for Don, he enjoys it.

        Ok. Right.

        Don’s many promises to not read my comments and not respond to my comments “work,” as evidenced by how he continues to read my comments and respond to them. And his many comments telling me to go away and stop posting and post differently and follow his advice “work,” as evidenced that I continue to ignore his “advice” and post whatever I want to post as I did before. And his many requests to Judith to ban me, and his many comments advising Judith to ban me “work” because she hasn’t done it.

        ==> “2. It works for those who like to hear Donkey’s Bray”

        Ok. So it “works” because folks come here to hear “donkey’s bray[ing]”

        ==> “I don’t want Judith to censor you. ”

        Which explains why so often you have called for me to be banned, and/or to have my comments moderated. Thanks for the explanation..

        This all reminds me of when GaryM used to write comment after comment pleading other commenters not to respond to my comments because my comments were off-topic and distracting.

        I always, and I mean always, loves me some unintentional irony.

      • Al –

        I’m a bit confused by your comment. First, you seem to think that the price of energy, as a single and observable entity, explains how “economies and societies function.”

        ==> “How economies and societies function without consistent and cheap energy is observable in the modern world today.

        But then you properly recognize that the impact of energy prices cannot clearly be disaggregated from myriad other influences on how economies and societies function.

        ==> “Poor Asian and African nations, the mortality rates and living standards, are directly attributed at least in part to a lack of energy. ”

        As for this comment:

        “That’s observable and real, no need to model it.”

        The problem is that if you’re going to draw conclusions about the discrete impact of the price of energy on economies and societies then you need to have a model that disaggregates the impact of the price of energy on economies and societies. (Not to mention the complications behind describing the myriad causative factors behind the price of energy in different countries, and the relationship between the “price of energy” and the “cost of energy,” and the details of the “cost” of energy in the sense of the relationship between the cost of production and the cost to consumers who do things increase the efficiency of their usage and take steps towards energy conservation).

        That is, rather neatly, what I am describing when I talk about the tendency that people have towards avoiding the complications of uncertainty so as to pursue an identity-related agenda (i.e., confirm biases).

      • Joshua you made a logic error about what Al stated “”I’m a bit confused by your comment. First, you seem to think that the price of energy, as a single and observable entity, explains how “economies and societies function.”

        ==> “How economies and societies function without consistent and cheap energy is observable in the modern world today. “”

        Perhaps that is why you are confused. He did not claim the price of energy, as a single…. explained function. He claimed that one could observe how economies without these conditions function. These are not the same claim. His claim was about an observation, it was not an explanation.

        Your comment: “”The problem is that if you’re going to draw conclusions about the discrete impact of the price of energy on economies and societies then you need to have a model that disaggregates the impact of the price of energy on economies and societies.”” The lack does not need to be disaggregated, it is the condition that is being discussed.

      • JFP –

        ==> “He did not claim the price of energy, as a single…. explained function.”

        Yeah. You’re right. I thought of that when I re-read what I wrote after I had written it.

        But still, I would question this:

        ==> “He claimed that one could observe how economies without these conditions function. These are not the same claim. His claim was about an observation, it was not an explanation.”

        How does one observe that effect, even while not claiming that it is the only causal factor?

        I don’t follow you here:

        ==> “The lack does not need to be disaggregated, it is the condition that is being discussed.”

        Not sure what “lack” you’re referring to.

        To simplify my point – I see a lot o’ folks in the “skept-o-sphere” that seem to draw some simplistic causation between supporting renewables and children starving in Africa. I think that the causality is much more complicated. I mentioned just a couple of factors in my previous comment. I agree that energy access is important, very important, and that the prospect of increasing the cost of energy to end-users (or preventing a decrease in cost of energy to end-users), particularly those in the developing world necessarily needs to be balanced against the question of energy access. But I think that the issue is important enough that it shouldn’t be used to leverage identity-oriented Jell-O flinging (in either direction).

      • He stated “”Poor Asian and African nations, the mortality rates and living standards, are directly attributed at least in part to a lack of energy. That’s observable and real, no need to model it.””

        Joshua, I would disagree with his statement about modeled. It has been modeled. In fact, it is a simple model that supports lack of cheap, consistent energy is a problem.

        The reason it is more an observation than many of the economic factors discussed is because one of the simplest causality models is that all actions and interaction of biological organisms can be expressed as a function of capability and opportunity. In this simple case, lack is both an observation and a cause. The economic part also goes back to the way it is defined. “Cheap” presents more opportunity for purchase by the poor than expensive.

        These statements and conditions are mutually supporting and consistent within the context given. But you and I agree, once you get past the simple, more is required.

        But your claim to justify your comment with””To simplify my point – I see a lot o’ folks in the “skept-o-sphere” that seem to draw some simplistic causation between supporting renewables and children starving in Africa. I think that the causality is much more complicated.””

        He did not do this:

        Point 1:How economies and societies function without consistent and cheap energy is observable in the modern world today.
        Point 2: The few countries that use inconsistent and expensive energy generation methods (say Italy) hook themselves up to other countries cheap and consistent energy to mitigate the risk.
        Point 3: Poor Asian and African nations, the mortality rates and living standards, are directly attributed at least in part to a lack of energy. That’s observable and real, no need to model it.

        HIs point was that inconsistent and expensive energy does not function as well as cheap consistent energy. That is consistent with his statement about the effects of functionality. Whether or not Italy has a generation system of a certain nature is extraneous to a large degree, except that it shows potential problems for using such a system in an energy poor area.

      • JFP –

        I’d suggest that we move away from the frame of what he did or didn’t say, and into the frame of discussing the issues themselves.

        ==> “The economic part also goes back to the way it is defined. “Cheap” presents more opportunity for purchase by the poor than expensive.”

        The definition of “cheap” is complex. To be meaningful in the real world, I would argue, requires the consideration of “cost.” Energy at a “cheaper” per unit price may come at a greater or lesser cost.

        ==> “Point 1:How economies and societies function without consistent and cheap energy is observable in the modern world today.”

        Again, I disagree – because that factor cannot be disaggregated from factors such as political corruption or historical legacies. For example, how would you compare the impact on economies and societies (and specifically the poorer members of those societies) if you’re contrasting the price of energy in Germany versus the price of energy in Saudi Arabia?

        ==> “Point 2: The few countries that use inconsistent and expensive energy generation methods (say Italy) hook themselves up to other countries cheap and consistent energy to mitigate the risk.”

        In Germany, in contrast to Italy, the impact of ;price to unit on end-users is different than in Italy, because of an effort to increase efficiency and conservation. In other words, while the price in Germany might be high, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we can make assumptions about the amount people spend on energy on a per capita basis.

        ==> “Point 3: Poor Asian and African nations, the mortality rates and living standards, are directly attributed at least in part to a lack of energy.”

        There are underlying causes behind the lack of energy. If people lack access to civil society infrastructure of the sort that would enable them to gain access to energy, is it the lack of access to energy that causes their mortality of the lack of civil society infrastructure.

        Don’t think that the question is really answerable. So my point is that people shouldn’t state that they have the answer. It’s like picking a number to measure something because you like numbers, without seeing if the measure is a valid one (really measures what you’re intending to measure). My opinion is that people simplify the calculus to reach a desired outcome. Development and Freedom are inextricably linked:

        http://www.amazon.com/Development-as-Freedom-Amartya-Sen/dp/0385720270

        ==> “…inconsistent and expensive energy does not function as well as cheap consistent energy.”

        Sure, all else being equal. My point is that in the real world that is a huge assumption.

      • Do you understand why green Germany is building coal power plants now, little joshie? You coulda thanked me for disabusing you of your ignorance. But you just shine it on, as if you weren’t just shown to be a clown. That’s why we lurve you so much, josh-u-a.

        I will be busy for a while. Carry on without me.

      • Heh, try arguing the opposite. Joshua argues against the tritely true, if it suits him. Is that the logical fallacy of ideology or of unintentional irony?

        Whip that racehorse. Don’t anyone tell him he’s galloping backwards around the track.
        =================

      • Morning Don –

        ==> “Do you understand why green Germany is building coal power plants now, little joshie?”

        I am by no means particularly knowledgeable about Germany’s energy policies, but I have long been aware that their decision to close their nuclear plants is an important factor.

        I guess you think that only someone with more than passing knowledge of the subject would realize that? I can’t agree.

        So let me give you some advice for a change. Perhaps instead of actually trying to discuss issues where you add no value whatsoever, you should just go back to your run-of-the-mill insults, pleading with mamma to “censor” my comments, and laughable claims that you’re going to stop reading/responding to my comments.

        I don’t think that “works” either, but it couldn’t possibly be any less useful than your lame attempts to educate me.

      • The Black Joshua writhes defiantly on the ground. King Don trots on toward Camelot.
        ==========

      • Joshua

        Imo you consistently make vague and meaningless comments.

        An example- “Energy at a “cheaper” per unit price may come at a greater or lesser cost.”

        Unless/until the additional factors/costs are agreed upon and applied they are fictional to the consumer of the energy.

        Mosher- “Climate change is a global problem. What we do in the US matters very little. What matters going forward is what China does and what India does.”

        We probably agree more than we disagree, but I would summarize differently. “Climate change is a global issue. (I am not convinced that the climate will change in a net negative manner or that the change that does occur can’t be easily adapted to). What we do in the US matters very little. What matters going forward is what countries like China, India and other high population developing countries does.”

      • Joshua I honestly don’t want Judith to censor you.
        I see now that you serve a vital purpose.

        So please do keep coming. Don enjoys
        The target practice.

        Here is a hint. A promise to never read you
        Again is a figurative speech act.
        It functions like a promise to love you forever.

        Only crazy people take these types of promises seriously.

        I realize now that you don’t have a position on the science. And you don’t have a position on policy.
        Except for the position that other people’s positions are invalid.

        Big clue for you. You can’t avoid being wrong.
        You don’t need to justify your beliefs.

      • Joshua:””The definition of “cheap” is complex. To be meaningful in the real world, I would argue, requires the consideration of “cost.” Energy at a “cheaper” per unit price may come at a greater or lesser cost.””

        Then, you need to define cheap, cost, and units of price or cost. Otherwise, it is not necessary for someone to oppose you to come to state different posits, since the definitions are not agreed upon.

        Joshua: “”==> “Point 1:How economies and societies function without consistent and cheap energy is observable in the modern world today.” Again, I disagree – because that factor cannot be disaggregated from factors such as political corruption or historical legacies. For example, how would you compare the impact on economies and societies (and specifically the poorer members of those societies) if you’re contrasting the price of energy in Germany versus the price of energy in Saudi Arabia? “”

        I don’t think historical and corruption are correct to be included, and I do think they can be disaggregated from what something costs. You can determine an economic cost such as $0.07/kWh for electricity and correctly state what makes up this cost. That corruption and legacy effect the cost is true, but that is a discussion about a perceived problem, not what something costs. If you are extrapolating or making a counter factual argument, it is up to you to make this, not state some one is wrong when they do not include this cost. An example is assumptions. My $0.07/kWh is a cost based on fuel, depreciation, and other factors that EIA uses for electricity average cost in my region. That my provider and government is more or less corrupt than others is not relevant. I pay this $0.07 regardless. How do you compare? Economists have ways of comparing. Yes, they fit a defined model. In the defined simple model above that was used, the statement of function without consistent and cheap energy is correct and understandable. A different argument could be made, but then definitions and basis need to be clearly stated.

        Joshua:””==> “Point 2: The few countries that use inconsistent and expensive energy generation methods (say Italy) hook themselves up to other countries cheap and consistent energy to mitigate the risk.”
        In Germany, in contrast to Italy, the impact of ;price to unit on end-users is different than in Italy, because of an effort to increase efficiency and conservation. In other words, while the price in Germany might be high, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we can make assumptions about the amount people spend on energy on a per capita basis. “”

        You are arguing a point not made. Present inconsistent and expensive energy generation methods/systems DO require hook-ups to other power grids that predominantly use cheap and consistent (also controllable with large downturn) energy production. This is a physical fact in the way that the electric grid works. That there are different approaches to energy and energy efficiency does not change this. No claim was made about the amount spent on a per capita basis. However, one can claim that in general if price is high and you define and are consistent with your assumptions, yes, persons will spend more on energy on a per capita basis. That is because they may be or “richer” or “poorer”, but pay more or less based on the cost of energy. To talk about the effect of price, that is different and is different for different persons. Perception of quality of living is an example of differences that can be considered.

        Joshua:””==> “Point 3: Poor Asian and African nations, the mortality rates and living standards, are directly attributed at least in part to a lack of energy.” There are underlying causes behind the lack of energy. If people lack access to civil society infrastructure of the sort that would enable them to gain access to energy, is it the lack of access to energy that causes their mortality of the lack of civil society infrastructure.””

        That there are underlying causes behind a lack of energy, does not contradict what a lack of energy typically results in or means to the energy poor. Identifying this as a problem does not contradict, but rather supports the notion of a problem.

        Joshua:”” ……..So my point is that people shouldn’t state that they have the answer. It’s like picking a number to measure something because you like numbers, without seeing if the measure is a valid one (really measures what you’re intending to measure). My opinion is that people simplify the calculus to reach a desired outcome. Development and Freedom are inextricably linked:…..””

        There are economic theories that are generally accepted that support this reasoning that you are in disagreement. There are critics to this reasoning who agree with you. What the critics point out is that these economic theories don’t necessarily account all costs, nor do they measure important factors that may have economic impact such as what constitutes quality of life for different persons or cultures. To me that is a different question. It is not that these persons should not state that this is an answer, but you want to consider other things as important. You will need to define acceptable criteria for “valid”, measurements, and the framework for these to be considered wrt each other and issues such as energy comparisons.

        Joshua:””==> “…inconsistent and expensive energy does not function as well as cheap consistent energy.” Sure, all else being equal. My point is that in the real world that is a huge assumption.””

        Joshua you are wrong on this. It is an economic fact, using accepted practices, that inconsistent and expensive energy does not function as well as cheap consistent energy, and has real costs due to being expensive and inconsistent. This is real world; poorly behaved electric systems destroy electronics, and cause premature failure. What can be stated correctly is that current energy sources MAY have costs that are uncounted, and are therefore, may be consistent, but their cost has not yet been paid by the economy.

      • steven –

        ==> “Joshua I honestly don’t want Judith to censor you.
        I see now that you serve a vital purpose.”

        So then will you stop advising/pleading with her to ban me or moderate my comments?

        ==> “So please do keep coming.”

        Your request has no influence on whether I will or won’t. That should be obvious by now, so why would you make that request.

        ==> ” Don enjoys
        The target practice.”

        And I enjoy his lame insults and his amusing “advice.”

        ==-> “Here is a hint. A promise to never read you
        Again is a figurative speech act.
        It functions like a promise to love you forever.

        Only crazy people take these types of promises seriously.”

        There have been a number of “denizens” who have promised to not read and/or not respond to my comments.

        Some of them have lived up to their promise, such as Marler and GaryM (of course, only after the requisite multiple comments along the lines of “I don’t usually waste my time responding to scum like you, but I just had to make an exception this time..”).

        So in your godlike abilities to understand which person’s comments to take seriously and which not to take seriously, could you tell me how I should know to ignore it when someone like Don or Chief claims over and over and over that they aren’t going to read my comments/respond to them, and yet know that someone like Matt or GaryM really means it?

        Or would that just be impossible anyway, since I am crazy enough to think that when Don says he’s going to do something, he actually means it?

        ==> I realize now that you don’t have a position on the science. And you don’t have a position on policy.”

        That’s funny – because “denizens,” all the time tell me what my position on policy is…and now you tell me that I don’t actually have one. I just don’t know what to think now. I mean it couldn’t be that either you or the “denizens” don’t know what they’re talking about. So I guess the best that I can do is realize that I have many opinions that I don’t actually have and that I don’t have opinions even though I do. Thanks, once again, steven, for your deep insight. I never know what to think until the one who knows all has spoken.

        ==> “Big clue for you. You can’t avoid being wrong.
        You don’t need to justify your beliefs.”

        Thanks for the advice, steven.. I’ll put it in the same file as where I store Don’s advice.

      • Matthew R Marler

        Steven Mosher: Here is a hint. A promise to never read you
        Again is a figurative speech act.
        It functions like a promise to love you forever.

        Only crazy people take these types of promises seriously.

        I realize now that you don’t have a position on the science. And you don’t have a position on policy.
        Except for the position that other people’s positions are invalid.

        I read most of your comments, which means that I sometimes read a comment from you to Joshua, though I skip all of his.

      • ==> “I read most of your comments, which means that I sometimes read a comment from you to Joshua, though I skip all of his.”

        See. Matt said he wasn’t going to read (except by “accident”) or respond to my comments any more, and after a few amusing fits and starts, has stayed consistent (as far as anyone can tell).

        And he’s not the only one.

        What makes Don different? Is there some way that I should be able to tell ahead of time that Don is just a blowhard whereas Matt is a man of his word?

      • Steven Mosher

        So then will you stop advising/pleading with her to ban me or moderate my comments?

        ==> no I will continue my daily practice of pleading with her to ban you even though I don’t want her to.
        Is that hard for you to figure out?

        “Your request has no influence on whether I will or won’t. That should be obvious by now, so why would you make that request.”

        == don’t be so certain it has zero influence. Do
        You have any data that shows this. First you have to
        Know what I mean trying to achieve with that utterance. Do you?

        And I enjoy his lame insults and his amusing “advice.”

        == I doubt you enjoy It

        There have been a number of “denizens” who have promised to not read and/or not respond to my comments.

        == taking them literally is a mistake. Why do you think
        They are speaking literally? I don’t and I read the same words. Don’t be so certain that you understand them.

        Some of them have lived up to their promise.

        == you have no way of knowing this.

        So in your godlike abilities to understand which person’s comments to take seriously and which not to take seriously, could you tell me how I should know to ignore it when someone like Don or Chief claims over and over and over that they aren’t going to read my comments/respond to them, and yet know that someone like Matt or GaryM really means it?

        ==you misunderstand what they mean. You should take them all seriously. But they don’t mean what you think they mean

        That’s funny – because “denizens,” all the time tell me what my position on policy is…and now you tell me that I don’t actually have one. I just don’t know what to think now. I mean it couldn’t be that either you or the “denizens” don’t know what they’re talking about. So I guess the best that I can do is realize that I have many opinions that I don’t actually have and that I don’t have opinions even though I do. Thanks, once again, steven, for your deep insight. I never know what to think until the one who knows all has spoken.

        Again you misunderstand. You have no position.
        Let me put it differently. Any one who tries to pin a tail on the donkey will fail. You may think you have a position but you don’t. Hint thoughts in your head
        Don’t count

        Thanks for the advice, steven.. I’ll put it in the same file as where I store Don’s advice.

        Actually you won’t.

      • steven –

        Not a bad attempt, exactly, except while you got some of the form correct, you failed miserably on the content:

        ==> “no I will continue my daily practice of pleading with her to ban you even though I don’t want her to.
        Is that hard for you to figure out?”

        I never suggest that it was daily. It has happened quite a number of times, although the desperate pleading for outright ban has lessened to a large degree.

        ==> ” don’t be so certain it has zero influence. Do
        You have any data that shows this. First you have to
        Know what I mean trying to achieve with that utterance. Do you?”

        I don’t need to know your intent to know that it has no influence on my posting behavior. Even when I’m responding to you, your requests or admonishments or “advice” has no influence. I decide what to do on my terms.

        ==” “I doubt you enjoy It”

        You’re certainly entitled to your doubt. No way that I could convince you otherwise. But I get a kick out of how much of a blowhard Don is.

        ==” “taking them literally is a mistake. ”

        Right. That’s why Don told me so many times that he was going to stop reading my comments and responding. Because he didn’t really mean it.

        Too funny.

        ==> “Why do you think
        They are speaking literally? I don’t and I read the same words. Don’t be so certain that you understand them.”

        You’re certainly entitled to your interpretation. Don said he was going to do something, repeatedly. Over time it was obvious that he didn’t carry out what he said he was going to do. (Sometimes he did stop responding for a while – indicating an intent to carry out his word, but a lack of discipline).

        ==” “you have no way of knowing this.”

        I know, at least, that they lived up to their promise of not responding. I will admit that the likelihood of the lame claim that they’ve only subsequently read my comments by “accident” (credit for that particularly hilarious description goes to Chief, I do believe) is probably low. But I don’t doubt that they reduced the number of my comments they read.

        ==” “you misunderstand what they mean. You should take them all seriously. But they don’t mean what you think they mean”

        Right. So when Don promises, over and over, to stop reading my comments and responding, and sometimes does stop responding for a while, he doesn’t really “mean” that’s what he’s going to do. Gotcha. He is repeatedly saying that he’s going to do something because that isn’t really what he means. Hilarious. And no doubt, your godlike powers enables you to see through a window into his soul and see what he really “means.”

        ==> “Again you misunderstand. You have no position.”

        There go those godlike powers again. Amazing how you know my opinions, positions, and beliefs better than I do. Just astounding. Now I perhaps you hink that with as big a donkey as I am, it isn’t a difficult task – but I still say I am very impressed with your abilities. If not godlike, certainly demi-godlike.

        ==> “Let me put it differently. Any one who tries to pin a tail on the donkey will fail. You may think you have a position but you don’t. Hint thoughts in your head
        Don’t count”

        Ok. Got it now. So you have no positions on anything that you haven’t expressed in these blogospheric threads. Thanks for the explanation.

        ==> “Actually you won’t.”

        Your demi-godlike powers notwithstanding, actually I will.

      • I took a break from supervising the installation of new sod on the lawns. I have to keep telling them, green side up. Progressives.

        I see that josh-u-a doesn’t care what Steven and I think of him and his goofy antics. He makes that very clear in about 7,000 words. Usually, pinatas know when they have been beaten into confetti.

      • Steven Mosher

        Joshua

        “I never suggest that it was daily. It has happened quite a number of times, although the desperate pleading for outright ban has lessened to a large degree.’

        I didnt say that you suggested it was daily. More to the point, I’ll repeat what you didnt address. I don’t want Judith to ban you. I’ve never wanted her to ban you. yet, I have on one or two occassions made the argument that you ought to be banned,

        you still dont get it.

      • Steven Mosher

        Right. So when Don promises, over and over, to stop reading my comments and responding, and sometimes does stop responding for a while, he doesn’t really “mean” that’s what he’s going to do. Gotcha. He is repeatedly saying that he’s going to do something because that isn’t really what he means. Hilarious. And no doubt, your godlike powers enables you to see through a window into his soul and see what he really “means.”
        #####################

        It doesnt take god like powers. It just takes common sense.
        when someone promises to love me forever for example I don’t take that as a literal sentence.And I certainly would not hold them to account when they informed me that their mind had changed.

        the conversation might go something like this

        M: but you promised to love me forever
        G: ya, but you changed. I never imagined you do X

        In other words these types of promises are typically not literal commitments to future action. They serve as intensifiers. How much
        do I love you? I love you foreever. I cant imagine that changing.
        Of course then it does change. And no rational person expects otherwise.

        So, if Don told me that he would never read me or respond to me again
        I would understand him to mean that at long as I continued to act the way I was acting he would not read me and not respond to me. or I might thnk that he is merely expressing his frustration with me and that after cooling off he would come back to his senses. I most certainly would not conclude that he was making a promise that I could hold him to.
        If I wanted certainty about what he meant I would ask him

        Don, do you really mean it? if you do then put some money on that crap,
        otherwise miss me with the drama. Otherwise if Don says “i promise never to respond ” I would not take that as literal statement. I would not be surprised if he responded to me. When he did I wouldnt see it as him breaking his word, cause I never took it that way to begin with. I would take as a dramatic way of expressing his displeasure with our interaction.

        You of course are free to interprete this as don breaking his word.
        You have an interest in doing it. That interest bears examination.

      • I don’t recall making you any promises, joshie. Do you have the quote where I “promised” anything? I suspect you are just making that up, joshie. I don’t issue promises to people I don’t like and don’t give squat about. That would include you, little annoying anonymous blog character.

        What are the legal ramifications of making an alleged “promise” to an obscure clown, with only one name, on a freaking blog? Do you expect anyone to care about this crap? Oh Matt kept his “promise” to avoid your lame comments. That’s really something for you to brag about. And somehow that makes me dishonorable. Matt doesn’t enjoy batting around silly little self-important, disingenuous pinatas.

        You have really outdone yourself on this thread, joshie. I was beginning to think you couldn’t get any sillier. If not for your total lack of self-awareness, you wouldn’t have any self-esteem at all.

        I don’t read your comments, joshie. I scan them looking for keywords and phrases that I can use to make you the butt of a joke, or the hapless target of some well-deserved scorn. Now let me have it with 7,000 words of irrelevant childishness.

        Bottom line, in the very unlikely event I promised you anything, you were a fool to take it seriously. And a bigger fool to keep yammering about it.

      • steven –

        I’ve been involved in some really stupid-a$$ed handbag fights on this site, but I think this one is probably the topper.

        OK – one last go and then it’s time to give up the ghost.

        ==> “It doesnt take god like powers. It just takes common sense.
        when someone promises to love me forever for example I don’t take that as a literal sentence.And I certainly would not hold them to account when they informed me that their mind had changed.”

        Your analogy doesn’t hold. This isn’t about someone telling promising to love me forever. This is Don saying that he’s going to stop reading my comments and stop responding to them, repeatedly, and then maybe following through for a while and then failing to hold to his claim about what he was going to do. Try sticking to the topic at hand in our next convo.

        ==> “In other words these types of promises are typically not literal commitments to future action…”

        Right. So what we have established is that by grasping at different kinds of promises that are actally completely unlike each other, and then grouping them together and calling them “these types of promises” you can arbitrarily make up some kind of like characteristic and assign it to both.

        That may work for you, steven, but sorry, I’m unimpressed.

        Don said numerous times that he was going to stop reading my comments and/or stop responding to them. Sometimes he followed through for a while, but each and every time he failed to live out what he said he was going to do. Make of that what you will. I know that you have an active imagination, and I would never want to stifle it in any way.

        ==> “And no rational person expects otherwise.”

        Again – I expected Matt and GaryM to follow through with what they said they were going to do, and they did so. I expected Don to do so, and he didn’t. If he said tomorrow that he was going to stop reading my comments and/or stop responding, I would expect him to follow through with that statement. My mind wouldn’t be blown if he didn’t follow through as he hasn’t in the past, of course.

        ==> “So, if Don told me that he would never read me or respond to me again
        I would understand him to mean that at long as I continued to act the way I was acting he would not read me and not respond to me. or I might thnk that he is merely expressing his frustration with me and that after cooling off he would come back to his senses.”

        Well, you’re entitled to interpret Don as not saying what he really means as much as you want. I don’t have your gifts of intellect and insight, so I have to rely on expecting people to do as they say they’re going to do.

        ==> ” I most certainly would not conclude that he was making a promise that I could hold him to.”

        Could hold him to? I can’t hold him to anything. I don’t know the guy. I’ve never met him. I have absolutely no influence over his behavior (and btw, I know I used “promise” before, but his statements that he wasn’t going to read my comments and/or respond to them is not really what I consider someone making a “promise” to me. My sense is that Don feels no obligations towards me in any way, in the sense that one might feel toward someone they make a promise to.

        ==> “If I wanted certainty about what he meant I would ask him”

        I didn’t care one way or the other, particularly, although I always did welcome him back with open arms when he did come back because I enjoy his comments.

        ==> “Otherwise if Don says “i promise never to respond ”

        Don never said that. He didn’t mention anything about a “promise.”

        ==> ” I would not be surprised if he responded to me.”

        Although I expected him to follow through with what he said he was going to do, I wasn’t “surprised” when he didn’t.

        ==> ” When he did I wouldnt see it as him breaking his word,”

        Yeah. Good point. I don’t really see it as him “breaking his word.” Even if I did state it that way before. I saw it as him not being able to, or not wanting to, follow through with what he said he was going to do.

        ==> ” I would take as a dramatic way of expressing his displeasure with our interaction.”

        Of course that’s what it was. But there might be any number of ways he might express displeasure with our interaction. He might say “I found our interaction unpleasant.” Expressing displeasure about our interaction and saying that he wasn’t going to read and/or respond to my comments in the future don’t have to go together.

        ==> “You of course are free to interprete this as don breaking his word.”

        And you are free to twist yourself into a pretzel to avoid the obvious, that Don said he was going to do things and then didn’t follow through.

        ==> “That interest bears examination.”

        You’re certainly welcome to “examine” what I do or don’t do, what I’m interested in or not interested in. You seem to enjoy it a lot because you spend a lot of time doing it. I have no objection whatsoever.

        I know that sometimes I joke that it’s creepy. But it’s harmless, really (although when you carried your obsession far enough to investigate what my last name is and post it online – that did cross over a bit into stalkerdom. Fortunately, it didn’t negatively impact my life in any way. It did, however, suggest that there is a touch of creepiness in your online engagement).

      • Steven Mosher

        Your analogy doesn’t hold. This isn’t about someone telling promising to love me forever. This is Don saying that he’s going to stop reading my comments and stop responding to them, repeatedly, and then maybe following through for a while and then failing to hold to his claim about what he was going to do. Try sticking to the topic at hand in our next convo.

        ########################

        the analogy does hold. I am telling you that you have an option in how you interpret Dons promise. I am telling you that is is more like a promise to love you forever. You have the choice to interpret it that way. you choose not to. That’s your problem not Don’s

        ###############################

        Right. So what we have established is that by grasping at different kinds of promises that are actally completely unlike each other, and then grouping them together and calling them “these types of promises” you can arbitrarily make up some kind of like characteristic and assign it to both.

        No. What I am telling you is very simple. You can choose to see them for what they are. extreme expressions of disfavor. Anyone who has ever
        had a child knows that they often promise to never speak to you again.
        or perhaps your SO has said.. I’ll never speak to you again, or any other such comment. Of course you dont take them seriously.

        ###################

        Don said numerous times that he was going to stop reading my comments and/or stop responding to them. Sometimes he followed through for a while, but each and every time he failed to live out what he said he was going to do. Make of that what you will. I know that you have an active imagination, and I would never want to stifle it in any way.

        you have these choices.

        1. he meant exactly what he meant, and broke his word
        2. He was being hyperbolic.

        You choose one interpretation because it suits you. That’s your motivated reasoning at work Joshua. You could just as easily read those words and as I do “Don’s really pissed off” or Don’s tryng to piss me off.

        Again – I expected Matt and GaryM to follow through with what they said they were going to do, and they did so. I expected Don to do so, and he didn’t. If he said tomorrow that he was going to stop reading my comments and/or stop responding, I would expect him to follow through with that statement. My mind wouldn’t be blown if he didn’t follow through as he hasn’t in the past, of course.

        All you know is that they report they havent read them. Moreover, how they act has nothing to do with how you choose to interpret Don.
        The two are utterly disconnected.

        “Well, you’re entitled to interpret Don as not saying what he really means as much as you want. I don’t have your gifts of intellect and insight, so I have to rely on expecting people to do as they say they’re going to do.”

        no you have a choice. his words do not force you to have beliefs. You have a choice. you choose to interpret his words. I’m pointing out an alternative interpretation. In fact it’s the best one.

        “Could hold him to? I can’t hold him to anything. I don’t know the guy. I’ve never met him. I have absolutely no influence over his behavior (and btw, I know I used “promise” before, but his statements that he wasn’t going to read my comments and/or respond to them is not really what I consider someone making a “promise” to me. My sense is that Don feels no obligations towards me in any way, in the sense that one might feel toward someone they make a promise to.”

        Then why do you try to hold him to it? Second you most certainly do influence his behavior. But for your comments many of his wouldnt exist.
        If you feel Don has no obligation toward you then that is MORE reason to discount his promise commitment pledge to not read or comment on you. Given that you think he has no obligation toward you why would you read his words literally?

        “Yeah. Good point. I don’t really see it as him “breaking his word.” Even if I did state it that way before. I saw it as him not being able to, or not wanting to, follow through with what he said he was going to do.

        so you read it as a promise

        last name? I dont recall posting that. link please.

      • It would make this blog a better place if you guys wouldn’t respond to Joshua’s posts about ‘behavior’. And if Joshua were to keep his comments more substantive.

      • Ah, so. I stopped scanning joshie’s 7000 word assemblage of claptrap when I noticed that he had changed my alleged “promise” to a “claim”. I am pretty sure he never mentioned that he just made up that BS about me promising him anything. Hysterical little clown. He wonders why no takes him seriously.

      • ==> “It would make this blog a better place if you guys wouldn’t respond to Joshua’s posts about ‘behavior’. And if Joshua were to keep his comments more substantive.”

        That’s hilarious, Judith. Look at this subthread.

        If you decided to follow the trajectory of the convo, you would see a very different picture than the one you just painted.

        I was having a convo with Rob, and here’s where it started to go off the rails:

        Don Monfort | January 23, 2015 at 3:14 pm |
        He’s rattled, Rob. Pathetic..

        I ignored it…here’s where it continued:

        Don Monfort | January 23, 2015 at 4:28 pm |
        We know why you use your little inappropriate quotation marks, joshie. It’s called an affectation. Look it up…now that you know what it is, try to compile a list of your many other affectations. I am willing to help you…then lose them all and your affectationless behavior might be half-way tolerable.

        I pretty much ignored it…here’s where it continued:

        Don Monfort | January 23, 2015 at 4:49 pm |
        Another problem you have joshie, is that you think loquaciousness is a sign of intelligence. Wrong. Maybe we don’t know what your opinion is because our eyes tend to glaze over after six or seven paragraphs. We rarely make it to the punch line. Do you know what economy means, joshie?

        But yeah – they should just not respond to my posts about behavior, and if I were to keep the comments more substantive.

      • I agree with JC. Joshua’s claptrap doesn’t even make sense much of the time. I’m not replying to him anymore. This is a good thing.

      • jim2 –

        ==> … I’m not replying to him anymore. …”

        And when did that start? When you said something or other about how I didn’t understand Muslims, and when I asked you to be specific, you had nothing to say.

        There is a pattern, Judith – but it’s not the one that you described.

      • No skin in this game, but sometimes it’s best to just let the small stuff go!

        Joshua, I have no reason not to respect you. Please, out of respect for the blog, visit this another day. Like you and I discussed, build a bridge even if you percevie others are not. It’s gotta start somewhere. You owe me nothing, just a simple request. Looking forward to future positive interactions.

      • Joshua, your comments seem to be a magnet for useless discussion. You have written 8% of the last 1000 comments (next commenter is at 5%). Please slow down your comments.

      • There ain’t any bridges being built here, Danny…

        But I’m out anyway.

      • Is that a promise, joshie? If so we will be happy to forward your mail to the recently outed proprietor of ATTP.

      • What matters going forward is what China does and what India does.

        Steven, I think, like China, India will hit a pollution threshold that will cause the people to demand change and will eventually lead to lower emissions. Despite what the government says about growth, I think they will pass the threshold sooner rather later.

    • Well, the socialist green “mediators” have as a side goal reducing the population or standard of living. They don’t care or actively want to destroy the economy.

      The group proposing drastic mitigation is actively hostile to the good of society. They are perfectly happy with harming people in the course of measures that they think will help the environment.

      Then there is the integrity issue. As Hans von Storch said, “The alarmists think that climate change is something extremely dangerous, extremely bad and that overselling a little bit, if it serves a good purpose, is not that bad.”:

      http://www.c3headlines.com/global-warming-quotes-climate-change-quotes.html
      There are many green quotes to the effect it is ok to lie about the environment, that only socialism can save the environment etc.

      There are several problems:
      1. The greens can’t be trusted not to propose bad solutions.
      2. They can’t be trusted on their estimates of the degree of harm.
      3. They can’t be trusted on claims of the urgency of the harm.
      4. They can’t be trusted on the cost of solutions.

      The US has gradually gotten better since 1970 by any standard you care to apply. We are slowly improving things. So the default if we don’t take any of their advice or give in to their threats of doom, is things will get slowly better.

      The greens like to contend that there is an emergency and we have start right now and do things their way and any measure that doesn’t destroy the economy isn’t good enough. So far they have been wrong so far and their deadlines have come and gone. When they propose disaster they should be judged by their track record.

      Mitigation makes sense for proven harm. Wasting money on “speculative mitigation” for “speculative harm” doesn’t make a lot of sense, particularly when the “harm speculators” have track record, agenda, and integrity issues.

      • PA, do you really believe this? Socialist green mediators want to reduce standards of living or reduce the population?

        I ask because I am a socialist, I consider myself very green and as a lukewarmer I do attempt to mediate the extremes of climate opinion. I don’t want either of those things. And I must say that none of the socialists I know do either. I have read statements in the media from some greens to that effect. I have read some statements from commentators and commenters (mediators?) to that effect.

        But leave us socialists out of it.

      • can’t always conflate green and red.

        our Sozis haven’t forgotten their Kumpels.

      • These are Greens.

      • Greg Cavanagh

        thomaswfuller2;

        Individuals within a group will remain individual in their thinking, standards and ideology. The group is identifiable by being generally cohesive, not being specifically cohesive.

        And personally, I agree with PA. That is their (the political group) agenda. Even though they don’t make a public display of it. They do sometimes put it in print.

    • ==> “Unless “non-remediation” is being redefined as “purposeful action,” ”

      You child comes and tells you that she isn’t going to buy auto insurance because she’ll save money by not doing so, and sees no downside for not doing so. See! No unintended consequence, right? She’ll save money.

      You don’t describe to her the potential for unintended consequences of her lack of purposeful action?

      Or would you say to her, “Fine, honey, since you are taking a non-action, there can’t be any intended consequences.”?

      Or is your argument that if she gets in an accident and winds up getting sued, that was an intended consequence of her non-action?

    • ==> “Tattletale. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings, joshie. Are your big boy pants at the cleaners?”

      Here’s a suggestion, Don – as per your bud, steven.

      Why don’t you know show your “frustration” with the discussion, and storm off in a huff, saying that you aren’t going to read my comments and/or respond to them any more, and then come back a little while later and act as if you never said that.

      Mosher won’t believe that you meant it anyway, and he would simply expect that you would be stating that you were going to do something that you actually didn’t intend to do – you know, because you’re “frustrated” and because he expects that you won’t follow through on what you claim you’re going to do.

      I lurve you boyz.

      Absolutely hilfreakinlarious.

      • That was brilliant, joshie. I have never felt so humiliated by a little insignificant smarmy blog character, in my life. I don’t know how much more of this I can take. Please stop. For Jusdith’s sake. Wait a minute, this is precisely what you are here for.

    • Steven Mosher

      It would make this blog a better place if you guys wouldn’t respond to Joshua’s posts about ‘behavior’. And if Joshua were to keep his comments more substantive.”

      There are many ways to handle trollish behavior.
      some folks say.. dont feed the troll.
      other folks do just the opposite with the same effect.
      This works where there are subthreads. so you basically pull
      a troll into a subthread and troll his trolling. most folks see that
      and skip the sub thread. or they jump in an troll the troll.

      the sillier one can make the sub thread the better. every second the troll
      spends in his sub thread is a second that others are spared. You can think of it as wasting his time.

      if there arent sub threads then this is less effective as it clutters up the comments.

  4. Fertilizer use in the US has been stable or even declining for decades. Gimme the next catastrophe! (As always, it pays to look at data behind these claims!)

    http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/chart-gallery/detail.aspx?chartId=21417

    • if you don’t have to pay to look at the data behind the claims.

    • This fertilizer use is amazing given the continual increase in crop production. We can probably thank increased CO2, GM crops, and herbicides for some of this.

    • From the article.

      ‘The Gulf of Mexico dead zone is an area of hypoxic (link to USGS definition) (less than 2 ppm dissolved oxygen) waters at the mouth of the Mississippi River. Its area varies in size, but can cover up to 6,000-7,000 square miles. The zone occurs between the inner and mid-continental shelf in the northern Gulf of Mexico, beginning at the Mississippi River delta and extending westward to the upper Texas coast.’ http://serc.carleton.edu/microbelife/topics/deadzone/index.html

      US agriculture is said to be a net carbon sink rather than a source – but there are always improvements to be made.

      https://www.ispag.org/

      • The Mississippi river basin drains 1,24 million sq miles. It ranks 4th after the Amazon, the Congo and the Nile.

        It takes 230 square miles of land to over fertilize 1 square mile of ocean. And those square miles of ocean are pretty shallow.

        The dead zone was only 5400 sq. miles last year and things are gradually getting better.

        Further – it isn’t affecting the deep ocean but is a coastal phenomenon.

      • ‘“America’s oceans and coasts are priceless assets. Indispensable to life itself, they also contribute significantly to our prosperity and overall quality of life. Too often, however, we take these gifts for granted, underestimating their value and ignoring our impact on them.”
        An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century: Final Report of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy,
        Recognizing Ocean Assets and Challenges, page 1.

        The coastal zones provide nurseries and food resources for pelagic ecologies. Dead zones are a global phenomenon – and one would hope it gets better over time. My point is that ‘climate change’ is a distraction from the core problems – and that ‘climate change’ is an issue that can be addressed more effectively through a broader based approach focussed on social and economic development. .

      • There is something else going on here. If you check the fertilizer use chart above, it is somewhat constant since ’85. But the dead zone chart is all over the place. There isn’t any apparent correlation, judging by eye. In fact, in a few years, there is almost no dead zone.

        WUWT?

      • Nutrients are exported in runoff.

      • Jim2, these dead zones are hypoxic. The “deadness” typical occurs from a rapid growth depleting the limiting biological factor in a system. These systems lose oxygen. It is fueled by the Mississippi. Changing conditions including changing biota can impact the size of the area. Because of the nutrients, these areas are semi-closed selector basins. In environmental engineering a selector basin is a basin of certain conditions that will select the correct biota to consume nutrients. The problem is not that these areas are actually dead, but that the species best adapted to the condition will take a limiting factor, oxygen in this case, and produce an environment that does not support other species. In essence, these dead zones become our semi-closed wastewater treatment systems. It would be better for the treatment to occur in man made selector basins so that we could enjoy the natural beauty and fecundity of a delta ecosystem.

      • Matthew R Marler

        John Pittman: The “deadness” typical occurs from a rapid growth depleting the limiting biological factor in a system.

        A question for you and the others: Why is it that oxygen-producing phytoplankton and such thrive there and make up some of the deficit? This must be something that is known, but I have never come across an explanation.

      • Matthew R Marler

        Oops. The question is: Why do the oxygen-producing phytoplankton NOT thrive there?

      • Thanks, John. I have had an environmental chemistry course, so I do understand most of what’s happening here. I suspect if you looked at precipitation, you might find a pattern there that correlates with the dead zone extent. I haven’t done that and don’t plan to at this point.

  5. The problem with the idea that climate is chaotic, and it very well may be, is that you don’t have a solid model that has useful predictive capability. It’s one thing to say climate is chaotic, but quite another to use that as an excuse to make burdensome, life-style-killing regulations.

      • He said “may be”.

      • No “burdensome, life-style-killing regulations” were proposed.

      • AK on January 23, 2015 at 1:15 pm
        “No ‘burdensome, life-style-killing regulations’ were proposed.”
        Or identified. See EPA for examples. See employment statistics for impacts, particularly the number of people who have stopped looking. See also the estimates of “excess deaths” in the UK attributed to cold (energy cost: eat or freeze).

      • The price of electricity in the US is moving up, in spite a move to cheap natural gas. The number of people who have given up is very high. Wages are stagnant. The economy is moribund. I say all of this is due to life-style-killing, burdensome regulations.

      • What he proposed above is “energy innovation in the development of new sources of cheap and abundant energy.” He didn’t say anything about making current energy expensive, and AFAIK he isn’t proposing it.

      • Oh, I thought energy innovation was already occurring. Why does it need to be proposed?

      • Why does it need to be proposed?

        We need more! More innovation. Solar does take up space, we need more streamlined ways to let it be built, without projects being killed by green opposition. Of course, we also need ways to reduce its footprint on the ecology. Those aren’t mutually exclusive, we need more focus on solutions to the “dilemma”.

        We need more R&D focused on storage. Storing and transporting hydrogen. Converting it (and ambient CO2) to gas or liquid fuel. Innovative ways to use the already mature pumped hydro at lower costs. Even batteries, although IMO that’s a low-probability option.

        Policy-wise, we need a much larger awareness of the potential in exponential growth. We need policies that focus subsidies on planting and nurturing the seeds of new technology, while reducing burdensome regulations for maturing technology (rather than subsidizing them). We need subsidies that offer other inducements than tax money, especially giving away money already collected. We need ways to get incentives for innovation out from under the thumb of bureaucrats, both government and corporate.

        And we need to control, or even eliminate, efforts by mature technologies, and the governments and corporations that depend on them, to stunt the growth of new technology.

  6. ” The warming between 1944 and 1998 was 0.4 degrees Centigrade.”
    I get grumpy when people choose to ignore the COOLING between 1945 and 1976.

    • The point of starting with 1944 is the cooling to 1976.

      • Ok, taken as high point to high point. Fair enough. But bear in mind that unlike the current halt, that “natural” cooling not only cancelled but negated the massive CO2 input of WW2 by .1 degrees. I very seriously doubt that Oak Ridge or anyone else has a handle on wartime human CO2. There should certainly be a spike as Dresden burned etc., but the Oak Ridge data shows only a smooth curve through the war period.

    • John Smith (it's my real name)

      cool link and slight of hand comment
      steroids
      another public lie
      we must all pretend that “advanced” weight training techniques produce those massive lats
      and occasionally sacrifice a lamb to drug testing
      Lance was as pure as driven snow as long as he could still pull the plow
      post normal status quo
      I shall remain hopeful for “complexity science”
      thanks Rob Ellison for interesting post

      • ‘Emergence, order, self-organisation, turbulence, induction, evolution, criticality, adaptive, non-linear, non-equilibrium are some of the words that characterise
        the conceptual underpinnings of the ‘new’ sciences of complexity that seem to pervade some of the frontiers in the natural, social and even the human sciences. Not since the heyday of Cybernetics and the more recent brief-lived ebullience of chaos applied to a theory of everything and by all and sundry, has a concept become so prevalent and pervasive in almost all fields, from Physics to Economics, from Biology to Sociology, from Computer Science to Philosophy as Complexity seems to have become.’ http://web.unitn.it/files/7_03_vela.pdf

        It’s a theory that explains certain features seen in climate data – slowing down and noisy bifurcation – where the reductionist approach doesn’t.

        Complexity emerges from interactions of simple components.

        ‘Climate is ultimately complex. Complexity begs for reductionism. With reductionism, a puzzle is studied by way of its pieces. While this approach illuminates the climate system’s components, climate’s full picture remains elusive. Understanding the pieces does not ensure understanding the collection of pieces.’ Marcia Wyatt

  7. Robert – Thank you for this informative post. As further support for your view, these papers might be useful

    Peters, D.P.C., R.A. Pielke Sr., B.T. Bestelmeyer, C.D. Allen, S. Munson-McGee, and K.M. Havstad, 2004: Cross-scale interactions, nonlinearities, and forecasting catastrophic events. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 101, No. 42, 15130-15135.

    The abstract starts with

    “Catastrophic events share characteristic nonlinear behaviors that
    are often generated by cross-scale interactions and feedbacks
    among system elements. These events result in surprises that
    cannot easily be predicted based on information obtained at a
    single scale…”

    and

    Rial, J., R.A. Pielke Sr., M. Beniston, M. Claussen, J. Canadell, P. Cox, H. Held, N. de Noblet-Ducoudre, R. Prinn, J. Reynolds, and J.D. Salas, 2004: Nonlinearities, feedbacks and critical thresholds within the Earth’s climate system. Climatic Change, 65, 11-38. http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/files/2009/10/r-260.pdf

    which starts with the abstract

    “The Earth’s climate system is highly nonlinear: inputs and outputs are not proportional, change is often episodic and abrupt, rather than slow and gradual, and multiple equilibria are the norm….”

    Your conclusion that

    ” we would still be much better off — and much more environmentally friendly — pursuing a broad social and economic development agenda than one focussed narrowly on climate change.”

    fits exactly with our recommendations in

    Pielke Sr., R.A., R. Wilby, D. Niyogi, F. Hossain, K. Dairaku, J. Adegoke, G. Kallos, T. Seastedt, and K. Suding, 2012: Dealing with complexity and extreme events using a bottom-up, resource-based vulnerability perspective. Extreme Events and Natural Hazards: The Complexity Perspective Geophysical Monograph Series 196 © 2012. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved. 10.1029/2011GM001086. http://pielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/r-3651.pdf

    where our abstract reads

    “We discuss the adoption of a bottom-up, resource-based vulnerability approach in evaluating the effect of climate and other environmental and societal threats to societally critical resources. This vulnerability concept requires the determination of the major threats to local and regional water, food, energy, human health, and ecosystem function resources from extreme events including those from climate but also from other social and environmental issues. After these threats are identified for each resource, then the relative risks can be compared with other risks in order to
    adopt optimal preferred mitigation/adaptation strategies. This is a more inclusive way of assessing risks, including from climate variability and climate change, than using the outcome vulnerability approach adopted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). A contextual vulnerability assessment using the bottom-up, resource-based framework is a more inclusive approach for policy makers to adopt effective mitigation and adaptation methodologies to deal with the complexity of the spectrum of social and environmental extreme events that will occur in the coming decades as the range of threats are assessed, beyond just the focus
    on CO2 and a few other greenhouse gases as emphasized in the IPCC assessments.”

    Best Regards

    Roger Sr.

    • Thanks Roger – I have read 2 out of 3 of these papers and will have a look at the first you mention. The Hartwell group papers – co authored by Roger Jn. – as well provide useful ways forward on a broad front of social and economic progress.

      I have found Elinor Ostrom’s ideas on polycentric governance to be particularly inspiring on ways to move beyond the tragedy of the commons.

      http://www.economist.com/node/21557717

      Cheers

    • Matthew R Marler

      rpielke: “Catastrophic events share characteristic nonlinear behaviors that
      are often generated by cross-scale interactions and feedbacks
      among system elements. These events result in surprises that
      cannot easily be predicted based on information obtained at a
      single scale…”

      You too might like the paper discussed at this link (lin k to full pdf is provided):

      http://scienceofdoom.com/2015/01/04/natural-variability-and-chaos-eight-abrupt-change/

  8. Gimme that ol’ style resilience …

  9. Hubris of Western academia is but a mask to hide fascist desires.

  10. Negative comment.
    The WWF LPI for 2014 has been thoroughly discredited elsewhere by folks like Jim Steele. Anthropogenic extinctions have been rising, and will continue to so. None for climate reasons. The AR4 extinctions scare was deceptively based on a single multiply flawed paper. Essay No Bodies in ebook Blowing Smoke.

    Positive comment.
    All nonlinear dynamic systems are mathematically chaotic, so have semistable attractor states with ‘tipping points’ between. So climate must, also. But the only ‘catastrophic’ climate attractor evident in the paleoclimate record would seem to be the ice age major lobe.
    For real examples of how the ‘newish’ chaos ideas Rob Ellison highlights in this guest post play out in manufacturing, see A New Productivity Paradigm in Strategic Management Journal 13: 525-537 (1992). The rework ‘tipping point’ was 42% special orders, confirmed by a NLD model of truck manufacturing and by an actual experiment. In manufacturing, you can redesign the process to reduce ‘chaos’ and improve productivity. Not possible with climate.

    • But the only ‘catastrophic’ climate attractor evident in the paleoclimate record would seem to be the ice age major lobe.

      But if (Contra Salby, etc.) we’re pushing the pCO2 past where it’s been for millions of years, we’re entering territory never before explored. That long ago, the continents were in a different configuration, AFAIK the isthmus of Panama was still a straits, the Himalaya/Tibetan plateau complex was less highly developed, and C4 grasses and associated ecosystems were far less evolved than they are today.

      • Greenland’s NEEM core shows Eemian was 8+/-4C warmer there for two periods lasting 6 and 4 millennia, about 130-120kya. Rule of thumb Polar amplification divide by two. So maybe global +4C. AFAIK nothing much catastrophic happened. Sea level highstand was about two meters higher, reached over about 6 millennia, no tipping point and arguing adaptation. Polar bears survived. See essay Polar Bears in ebook Blowing Smoke.
        Experimentally, C3 plants do better (grow faster, need less water) up to 800-1000 ppm CO2, at which point fossil fuels would be mostly exhausted presenting a bigger problem than climate change. Not much impact on C4 plants. See essay Carbon Pollution.
        No evidence for mass extinctions. See essay No Bodies.
        CO2 GHG effect is logarithmic. Past change of ~ 120 ppm is same as future change of ~240. So to an extent already ran the experiment, and not much has happened.

        OTH, according to US census bureau the world population was 2.5 billion in 1950. It is now 7.1 billion, on its way to 9.1-9.3 by 2050. That has huge consequences that we are very unlikely to be able to innovate our way put of. See ebook Gaia’s Limits. You want to worry about the future, worry about that.

      • Experimentally, C3 plants do better (grow faster, need less water) up to 800-1000 ppm CO2, at which point fossil fuels would be mostly exhausted presenting a bigger problem than climate change.

        Red herring. Two ways: first, if C3 plants do better, they can (and probably will) out-compete C4 plants, making for massive ecosystem replacements. Direct effects on agriculture may well be minimal, indirect could be large.

        Second, and more importantly, pollen and other spores are aerosols, as is dust from wind-eroding dessicated soil. As the global ecosystem jumps around in response to changing pCO2, there’s the risk of massive seasonal dust-bowls in areas currently held down during the dry season by climax grassland. Look up how much of the globe is “tropical wet and dry”, and how much of that area is dominated by savannas comprised of C4 grasses and scattered acacia or other leguminous trees. Invasions of opportunistic C3 weeds, especially fast-growing annuals that die off and leave the soil open to erosion during the winter (dry season) could well produce major changes to precipitation patterns, with downstream changes to climate.

        No evidence for mass extinctions.

        Mass extinctions are something of a red herring too. “Species” with small populations and narrow niches are short-lived anyway, if a lot of them die out at the same time, it’s not different than if they die out one-by-one.

        “Species” with large populations and distributions are a different matter, of course, but there’s really nothing in the paleo record to show that they actually went extinct, just disappeared from a fairly scattered fossil record. But those disappearances do signal substantial eco-system reorganizations.

        OTH, according to US census bureau the world population was 2.5 billion in 1950. It is now 7.1 billion, on its way to 9.1-9.3 by 2050. That has huge consequences that we are very unlikely to be able to innovate our way put of.

        The very fact that you can make this claim tells me that your book isn’t worth wasting time or money on. Of course we can innovate our way through population increases. What’s more, we could do it while at the same time reducing the human eco-footprint by an order of magnitude or more.

      • “But if (Contra Salby, etc.) we’re pushing the pCO2 past where it’s been for millions of years, we’re entering territory never before explored.”
        _____
        Well, these relatives of ours likely explored the kind of climate that we seem to be headed for:

      • Well, these relatives of ours likely explored the kind of climate that we seem to be headed for:

        Maybe. Or maybe not. No way of knowing, because things were different then.

      • AK – “… Continents…configuration …”

        You have something there. I understand some think the closing of the Isthmus of Panama triggered the Pleistocene ice ages by changing ocean currents. I would like to see more info on this. What is the effect of the configuration of continents on ocean currents and climate?

      • AK, you contradict yourself, or you have an unstated challengeable assumption in your “Red herring. Two ways: first, if C3 plants do better, they can (and probably will) out-compete C4 plants, making for massive ecosystem replacements. Direct effects on agriculture may well be minimal, indirect could be large.

        Second, and more importantly, pollen and other spores are aerosols, as is dust from wind-eroding dessicated soil. As the global ecosystem jumps around in response to changing pCO2, there’s the risk of massive seasonal dust-bowls in areas currently held down during the dry season by climax grassland.””

        The ecosystem jumps and risk of massive seasonal dust bowls do not necessarily the match the conditions that result from an increase in CO2. A possible result is that ecosystems will be more dynamic, responsive, and adaptable.

        In particular ecosystem replacements, succession, occur in many areas, and some ecosystems depend on this. Weeds have evolutionary advantages in some situations, but so do all other species. Which is why viewing an environment as static is not typical, nor typically correct. Even high plains deserts on the correct timescale show succession and evolution.

        There is not agreement that rapidly (evolution timescale) changes conditions result just in catastrophes. Rather, there are blooms and die-offs. Typically what is known is that increased energy and nutrients means in general increased biomass. This is a fundamental problem with many scenario’s about harm from CO2. They do not look at the other nutrients, nor that energy, like nutrients are typically limiting factors. What generally is not a limiting factor is the reproductive capability of biota. The easiest assumption to support is that increased energy and nutrients will increase biomass and average productivity.

        As far as risk goes, most species fail. The most common extant of a species is to be extinct. Man may be increasing the frequency, but the geologic record records die-offs and blooms have occurred long before man was on the scene. It would be a poor assumption to think this evolutionary/geophysical interaction to have changed.

      • I would like to see more info on this. What is the effect of the configuration of continents on ocean currents and climate?

        Did you try Google Scholar?

        My point is that things are different now, so if the pCO2 is raised to a point it hasn’t been since before then, we’ll be in unexplored territory WRT its effect on climate. Does that make a difference? Dunno. Maybe.

      • @John Pittman…

        AK, you contradict yourself, or you have an unstated challengeable assumption […]

        Nope. I’m talking about risk. Not certainty either way. And my best guess (in ignorance) is that the risk is small and the downside effects are, at worst, medium: could impact our civilization but not existential for our species.

        The ecosystem jumps and risk of massive seasonal dust bowls do not necessarily the match the conditions that result from an increase in CO2.

        Not necessarily: we don’t know. They could.

        There is not agreement that rapidly (evolution timescale) changes conditions result just in catastrophes. Rather, there are blooms and die-offs.

        “[D]ie-offs” could well be associated with massive “dust-bowl” effects in locations that currently don’t experience them.

        Typically what is known is that increased energy and nutrients means in general increased biomass.

        Perhaps, in the long run. AFAIK the short-term replacements of ecosystems tend to posses less biomass.

        But more importantly, I’m not talking about long-term ecological effects of more CO2, I’m talking about the interaction with the climate. Seasonal dust bowls in areas that currently don’t experience them could well have enormous effects on the climate through changing the nature of precipitation over large areas of the ocean. As well as down-stream ecological effects through fertilizing areas that currently don’t get much.

        Which in turn could produce further down-stream effects that could put the system on a different attractor. Or branch of the attractor, depending on how you define the total system.

      • I understand and agree AK that possible scenarios have not been ruled out. But I also know that increased energy and nutrients do tend to increase biomass in short timelines not long ones. The reproductive phenomena that causes this is best expressed as living organisms tend to reproduce past the point of an ecosystem’s ability to support. Weeds in particular use this reproductive approach. Other species succeed and replace weeds using their evolutionary advantages.

        So, yes, there is a risk of dustbowls. The uncertainty or lack knowledge indicates one should also recognize that there is a risk of a fertile cornucopia. Without evidence otherwise, increased energy and nutrients should lean to cornucopia. The uncertainty is both ways.

        You state: “”But more importantly, I’m not talking about long-term ecological effects of more CO2, I’m talking about the interaction with the climate. Seasonal dust bowls in areas that currently don’t experience them could well have enormous effects on the climate through changing the nature of precipitation over large areas of the ocean. As well as down-stream ecological effects through fertilizing areas that currently don’t get much.”” I understand this, but would point out that underlying assumptions that would support this scenario of catastrophe are highly contested.

        The general effects of nutrient addition are known on the small scale such that an extrapolation to larger scale stays within the limits of the assumptions and methodology. Climate being chaotic does not extrapolate well, if at all. This is where the risk part generates a lot of concern among those I have read. With large uncertainty, risk factors are generally poorly constrained. But it applies to cornucopia, catastrophe, or status quo being the outcome, not just one or the other.

      • With large uncertainty, risk factors are generally poorly constrained. But it applies to cornucopia, catastrophe, or status quo being the outcome, not just one or the other.

        Perhaps. I’m pretty skeptical that “cornucopia” won’t turn out to be for insect pests rather than human herd animals. Most of which are well adapted to masticating and digesting the silica-filled leaves of C4 grasses. Sure they could eat the easier-to-digest C3 herbs that might replace them, but so could many insects that can’t eat the current grasses. And so on.

        Overall, I’d say the potential risks from pushing the pCO2 past where it’s been for many millions of years outweigh the potential benefits. Especially when you factor in the potential for widespread cheap greenhouses for crops, which could protect them from insect pests and airborne weed seeds as well as allowing very high CO2 levels and better temperature control. Thus eliminating most of the proposed benefit (to humans) from higher pCO2.

        The question is: what level of action does that potential risk justify? My answer is any reasonably low-cost probably low-risk actions to encourage transition to non-fossil energy. But nothing more drastic.

        More importantly, I think “we” should focus on such low-cost low-risk actions even while arguing over the possible need for more drastic action.

      • AK, humans have a long history of dealing with insect and other species that would consume what humans want. Also, I am not anthro-centric about what species the cornucopia would benefit. I do know, based on past human experience, humans adapt crops and food supply to what is available and what they can grow and harvest. I have not seen anything credible that this capability of humans will cease to exist due to increased CO2 or its effects on climate, except in posited extreme scenarios. That does not mean there won’t be problems. I think it is a great stretch to think the problems are necessarily so great that adaptation cannot occur.

        For policy, I agree with the no regrets approach. This does not eliminate risk. Rather it acknowledges the uncertainty and puts us in the best position for what comes. Done correctly it is adaptable and resilient. Yes low cost and low risk fit within this.

        In the meantime, climate and CO2 need to be studied, along with other items such as heavy metal and nitrogen/phosphate emissions. The largest problem humans face that needs immediate attention is our water use, and misuse, according to the environmental studies my daughter is engaged in. Our use of megacities and these cities impact on environment and water use is becoming critical world wide. Our use of fossil water is just as unsupportable as us continuing with increased population and increased material goods, without continued cheap and abundant energy. Tom Fuller has some excellent articles on this.

      • We are more adaptable than ever due to technological advances. But due to those same advances, we have for all practical purposes lost our ability to control government.

      • Jim2:”” We are more adaptable than ever due to technological advances. But due to those same advances, we have for all practical purposes lost our ability to control government.””

        I don’t see this. Our loss of ability to control government may be worsened by technology advances, but these advances do not control the action of individuals. Our society and government is made of individuals. Technology may give some an advantage, but their error or corruption or whatever state is not because of advances. IMO.

      • John – technology allows the government to see into our houses via radar, snoop on all our communications, monitor us via cameras and drones, and needless to say the government has a huge armament advantage.

        I may not be understanding what you are getting at, but our ability to change the government, as the founders intended, appears to be nonexistent.

      • @John Pittman…

        AK, humans have a long history of dealing with insect and other species that would consume what humans want. […] I think it is a great stretch to think the problems are necessarily so great that adaptation cannot occur.

        But at what price? I do agree, which is why I consider the risk pretty low, at least of serious outcomes. Still, worth addressing, especially with incentives for R&D, which usually has spin-off benefits.

        The largest problem humans face that needs immediate attention is our water use, and misuse, according to the environmental studies my daughter is engaged in. Our use of megacities and these cities impact on environment and water use is becoming critical world wide.

        Innovation is the answer here, too, IMO. I can offer a few pointers:

        •     Undersea pipelines could probably be made very large and very cheap, with appropriate choice of materials. Pressures wouldn’t have to be very high if the flow velocity is kept low. Or they could float right below the surface. Fill them at river mouths, use them at coastal cities.

        •     Solar power is getting cheaper every year, and with proper design, solar-powered pumping could be on-supply, using the native DC current from the PV. Build the intermediate reservoirs with turkey-nest dams, cover them with inflated plastic film.

        •     Similar logic applies to solar-powered desalination. Especially offshore: build a pipeline down 800 meters, put your reverse osmosis membrane(s) at the bottom, and pump the water up with solar-powered pumps.

        Our use of fossil water is just as unsupportable as us continuing with increased population and increased material goods, without continued cheap and abundant energy.

        Agreed, but AFAIK this is mostly done in areas with plentiful solar power for pumping.

      • Jim2, change may be slow, but it will occur. It may be worse or better. But static is not typical.

        AK, I do not state there are not potential solutions. My point is that our use of water is more of a priority in terms of human development and life at this point than CO2 per what is being taught in some institutions of higher learning. There are assumptions in this that many may disagree on. It also impacts our ability to mitigate potential climate problems.

        About potential effects of our potential responses, you asked “”But at what price? “” This is something we are always discovering and always will have to discover; because until it happens it is an estimate, an assumption, an unknown, or even unknowable.

    • The WWF LPI relies on data on populations rather than models of what might happen using island biogeography ideas. But even so they do present some causes.

      Even at 7% of the problem – a problem that is undoubtedly real – climate change as cause is over estimated.

      Chaos flourished as theory of everything for a while – but it is a term that is ultimately very imprecise. I prefer to think of chaos as applying to the world of maths and computing and complexity science to the emergent behaviour of the interaction of simple parts of complex systems – such as in climate. If you Google chaos you get chaos – if you Google complexity science it may lead somewhere.

      The large shifts going into and out of glacials are one isuue – and not one I think we have an answer to. But there are smaller and less persistent changes that can have impacts on society.

      Moy et al (2002) present the record of sedimentation shown above which is strongly influenced by ENSO variability. It is based on the presence of greater and less red sediment in a lake core. More sedimentation is associated with El Niño. It has continuous high resolution coverage over 12,000 years. It shows periods of high and low ENSO activity alternating with a period of about 2,000 years. There was a shift from La Niña dominance to El Niño dominance that was identified by Tsonis 2009 as a chaotic bifurcation – and is associated with the drying of the Sahel. There is a period around 3,500 years ago of high ENSO activity associated with the demise of the Minoan civilisation (Tsonis et al, 2010). It shows ENSO variability considerably in excess of that seen in the modern period. For comparison the red intensity in 1997/98 was 99.

      • wrong graph – here’s the right one

      • This graph is probably far more useful for seeing of of this IPO related variability and its effect on tropospheric temperatures:

        Amazing that temperatures didn’t actually drop during the recent “hiatus”, such as it was considering how negative the IPO was. What happens when it turns positive?

      • Rob Ellison,

        Thank you for your work.

        I’m a bit surprised that invasive species is not more of an issue as is indicated in this chart unless there is cross over w/r/t the habitat loss and habitat change category. For example, in the deep south the red/Brazillian fire ants affect habitat physically, affect small insects physically as well as their habitat, and affect ground nesting animals physically directly and their associated food webs. Now, as I understand it, crazy ants (tawny) are invading similar areas and competing with the RIFA. And that’s just one example. Can you offer suggested reading on the chart offered and how it’s breakdown is delineated?

      • The IPO is only marginally negative for most of this century.

        http://climexp.knmi.nl/getindices.cgi?WMO=UKMOData/eof_pac_hadsst3_4_01&STATION=IPO_HadSST3_4&TYPE=i&id=someone@somewhere

        The question is why such high wind speed anomalies show up in the reanalysis product in the England et al (2014) paper? But – regarless – it is not the IPO being negative.

  11. If global warming is not a hoax and if Leftists really want to limit the use of fossil fuel in the U.S. — e.g., a 40% cut in consumer gasoline use, for the sake of the world — why aren’t clean diesel automobiles instead of Teslas being encouraged by giving access to HOV lanes?

    • Wag, clean diesels aren’t so clean. PM2.5.
      They get better mileage cause diesel has 11% more energy than standard gas (and about 13% more than E10) and use a higher compression ratio (so enginge costs more). Same mileage on equivalent cars can be achieved with turbo, DCT, and mild hybridization (start/stop and regen braking pick up about 5% each).

      • If the gubmint goes after diesel, it won’t be long until they come after us for using our fire place.

        http://www.burningissues.org/comp-emmis-part-sources.htm

      • I saw on one web site that there are 53,000 premature deaths due to vehicle emissions.

        How premature??? How many years are lost on average?

        And, do you personally believe that any premature deaths are not acceptable?

        I think some premature deaths are acceptable in return for a better quality of life otherwise. It really depends on how premature and what I have to give up to reduce the years premature. I have asthma, so I certainly don’t consider myself one who wouldn’t be affected.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exhaust_gas

      • The passive regen DPF (diesel particulate filter) systems of 50-state ‘clean diesel’ technology vehicles effectively address the particle mass issue.

      • Looking at –e.g., a 2015 Volkswagen Jetta 4 cyl, 2.0 L, gasoline versus diesel at 24-City, 27-Combined, 32-Highway compared to 31-City, 36-Combined, 46-Highway, respectively looks like a real-world difference of over 40%.

      • jim2

        I looked at that number about premature deaths (in the UK) some years ago.

        it was a highly theoretical modelled figure that ranged from a few minutes to, in the most extreme cases, a year or so.

        They didn’t take into account the benefits of say, cars, getting people to work or to hospital etc, but only looked at the consequences

        tonyb

      • Rud Istvan,

        A buddy and I tossed out a question the other day. Newer Light duty trucks use Def as an emission reduction device. But are you (or anyone) aware of how the manufacture, packaging, distribution, and wasted related to Def are factored in to the “emissions reduction” equation?

  12. Good post, thanks.

    Looks like they’ve had enough of global warming, it’s time to get alarmed about something else.

  13. Willis Eschenbach

    My goodness, another person who doesn’t actually look to see if the claims are true … as one of many examples, the underlying “Planetary Boundaries” paper makes the totally fanciful and unsupported claim that we are entering a “Sixth Wave of Extinction”. Anyone who believes that hasn’t been following the bouncing ball. See the journal articles inDiversity and Distributions and Nature magazine for details. Short version? Claims of the “Sixth Wave of Extinction” are alarmist hype based on the failed “species-area” method of ESTIMATING, not measuring but estimating, possible extinctions. There is no evidence of any big uptick in extinctions anywhere.

    And when I see a paper such as the guest author is discussing which accepts such claims as real, I toss it in the trash.

    But wait, there’s less! The paper also repeats the often-discredited claims that we’re in huge trouble because of a claimed increase in extreme weather events … but even the IPCC doesn’t buy that nonsense. See here for details on how ascientific their claims of extreme weather events are.

    Finally, the description made in the paper that we are “transgressing” those boundaries is such an emotion laden and religious term that it should have no place in a scientific document. But given the alarmist fervor of the document, it’s not very scientific at all, so I guess that using “transgressions” in a paper like “Planetary Boundaries” that appeals to emotions rather than reason makes no difference at all …

    In short, while I agree that there may indeed be “planetary boundaries” which require serious consideration, this paper has nothing to do with those possible boundaries. Instead, it’s just another alarmist screed without scientific underpinnings that unfortunately seems to have lulled the guest author into not checking the claims, but just swallowing it whole.

    w.

  14. John Smith (it's my real name)

    “complexity science”
    something new to get a better handle on
    the more I learn about the crazy world of climate study
    the more I miss the idea of basic traditional science
    some of these new tangents are suspect to me as the appear to arrive when the basics don’t add up
    academia has become another self serving industrial complex
    In my own real world
    returning to to fundamentals has so far been my best tool
    damn, I wish Richard Feynman was still around

    • Curious George

      As usual in Climatology, a “complexity science” is a new label – this time for a complex systems study. It is a self-labeled science now. We have Professors of Climate Change running Antarctic cruises.

    • JS, mathematical chaos theory is well established. Best (now quite dated) laymens overview of the origins is Gleick’s Chaos. To my knowledge, the first paper applying some of the generalizations to manufacturing was mine, reference upthread. An eye opener at the time.
      ‘Complexity science’, Dunno. There are lots of complex sciency problems that do not need a new name. Only those systems that are highly nonlinear (big feedbacks) where the feedbacks are significantly time lagged are going to show true ‘ chaos’ tipping points. I read the paper Rob took the post image from, and was rather unimpressed with the substance. Whole bunches of stuff like pollution caused algae blooms and summer anoxia at the mouth of the Mississippi are not at all chaotic. Results may be exponential with respect to time, and bad, but still within a linear system. Compound interest is not chaotic.
      The posted diagram with green, yellow, and red danger zones confounds the two. Fancified muddled thinking to express opinions about the ‘dimensions’ plotted.

      • I mentioned in passing oxygen dynamics at the sediment/water interface. In the 1980’s and 90’s = some 1000 odd kilometres of Australia’s Murray River turned toxic blue green algae soup. An ecological disaster.

        The problem arose through a slow build up of nutrients in the water – and a drought concentrating those nutrients. At some stage the organic fallout and decomposition overwhelms oxygenation in the top centimetre or so of sediment. In anoxic sediment insoluble orthophosphate is reduced to soluble phosphate – and is released to the water column when the sediment surface is no longer oxic. Blue green algae can fix atmospheric nitrogen and populations are preferentially advantaged by the increase in water column of phosphorus.

        This is an abrupt change to the system governed by the simple fact of increased organic decomposition pushing the system past an oxygen threshold at the sediment/water interface. Complexity science encourages us to think about simple mechanisms rather than the ill defined mechanisms of mathematical chaos.

  15. Some will get this, some won’t. Quite relevant to this discussion, and the little Dragon King is kind of cute:

    • The dragon is quite a fanciful work of art. So is the plot. A nonlinear dynamic system with two strange attractors in N-1 Poincare space (your diagram, x-y) does not transition between the two except as mapped in that space. You have a dragon significantly in the z dimension. Not how attractors work. Reminds me of how early cartographers labeled unexplored parts of the world –there be dragons.
      Now, if you had shown a tangled ball of N dimensional spaghetti, you would more likely be mapping climate attractor boundaries like the GCM models try to produce. And would have illustrated the wickedness of the problem, and the uncertainty of the now quite pause unsettled science.

      I went looking for attractor transition ‘ tipping’ points for Blowing Smoke. Did not find them in ocean pH, in SLR, in crop yields (all previous guest posts here). Did find a lot of really bad peer reviered papers, some probably constituting warmunist academic misconduct. Wrote about some of those, also.

      • ‘We develop the concept of “dragon-kings” corresponding to meaningful outliers, which are found to coexist with power laws in the distributions of event sizes under a broad range of conditions in a large variety of systems. These dragon-kings reveal the existence of mechanisms of self-organization that are not apparent otherwise from the distribution of their smaller siblings. We present a generic phase diagram to explain the generation of dragon-kings and document their presence in six different examples (distribution of city sizes, distribution of acoustic emissions associated with material failure, distribution of velocity increments in hydrodynamic turbulence, distribution of financial drawdowns, distribution of the energies of epileptic seizures in humans and in model animals, distribution of the earthquake energies). We emphasize the importance of understanding dragon-kings as being often associated with a neighborhood of what can be called equivalently a phase transition, a bifurcation, a catastrophe (in the sense of Rene Thom), or a tipping point.’ http://arxiv.org/abs/0907.4290

        Shifts in ocean and atmospheric circulation are evident in the modern record. ENSO transitions at the 1976/1977 and 1998/2001 climate shifts may indeed be dragon kings – and the shifts are real.

        http://watertechbyrie.com/2014/06/23/the-unstable-math-of-michael-ghils-climate-sensitivity/

        But it is also the theory of just about everything.

        http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/maths/research/events/2013-2014/statmech/ght/programme/sornette_2.pdf

      • Rob, you may or may not be right. But those shifts you note in response were not dragons. Maybe little lizzards. Adaptation, not mitigation.
        CAGW policies require big flaming Godzilla dragons. And quick, this century. I could not find any possibilities among the usual mooted candidates. Perhaps you could offer other candidates rather than a general theory, which I have been reasonably well acquainted with for (my goodness) over 25 years, having published an early seminal paper on it.

      • Rud,

        You are certainly incorrect. Dragon-kings are mathematically outliers that occur at tipping points. They merely need to be bigger than their siblings to an extent not accommodated within power laws.

        Such as the 2008-2009 economic recession.

        Larger changes are indeed possible – and seem to involve AMOC.

        ‘The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) is an important component of the Earth’s climate system, characterized by a northward flow of warm, salty water in the
        upper layers of the Atlantic, and a southward flow of colder water in the deep Atlantic. This ocean circulation system transports a substantial amount of heat from the Tropics
        and Southern Hemisphere toward the North Atlantic, where the heat is transferred to the atmosphere. Changes in this circulation have a profound impact on the global climate
        system, as indicated by paleoclimate records. These include, for example, changes in African and Indian monsoon rainfall, atmospheric circulation of relevance to hurricanes, and climate over North America and Western Europe. In this chapter, we have assessed what we know about the AMOC and the likelihood of future changes in the AMOC in response to increasing greenhouse gases, including the possibility of abrupt change. We have five primary findings:

        • It is very likely that the strength of the AMOC will decrease over the course of the 21st century in response to increasing greenhouse gases, with a best estimate decrease of 25-30%.

        • Even with the projected moderate AMOC weakening, it is still very likely that on multidecadal to century time scales a warming trend will occur over most of the European region downstream of the North Atlantic Current in response to
        increasing greenhouse gases, as well as over North America.

        • No current comprehensive climate model projects that the AMOC will abruptly weaken or collapse in the 21st century. We therefore conclude that such an event is very unlikely. Further, an abrupt collapse of the AMOC would require either a sensitivity of the AMOC to forcing that is far greater than current models suggest or a forcing that greatly exceeds even the most aggressive of current projections (such as extremely rapid melting of the Greenland ice sheet). However, we cannot completely exclude either possibility.

        • We further conclude it is unlikely that the AMOC will collapse beyond the end of the 21st century because of global warming, although the possibility cannot be entirely excluded.

        • Although our current understanding suggests it is very unlikely that the AMOC will collapse in the 21st century, the potential consequences of such an event could be severe. These would likely include sea level rise around the North Atlantic of up to 80 centimeters (in addition to what would be expected from broad-scale warming of the global ocean and changes in land-based ice sheets due to rising CO2, changes in atmospheric circulation conditions that influence hurricane
        activity, a southward shift of tropical rainfall belts with resulting agricultural impacts, and disruptions to marine ecosystems.

        The above conclusions depend upon our understanding of the climate system, and on the ability of current models to simulate the climate system. However, these models are not
        perfect, and the uncertainties associated with these models form important caveats to our conclusions. These uncertainties argue for a strong research effort to develop the observations, understanding, and models required to predict more confidently the future evolution of the AMOC.’ http://gfdl.noaa.gov/bibliography/related_files/td0802.pdf

        What I find difficult to believe in is the plausibility of current models.

        Data is much to be preferred – as always.

        The seminal paper for a dynamical mechanism in climate came out in 2007.

        http://heartland.org/policy-documents/new-dynamical-mechanism-major-climate-shifts

        It explained the shifts in ocean and atmospheric circulation that were all to evident.

  16. It is a good post and Robert reaches a sane conclusion.

    The complexity science thing does touch a nerve though. I’ve spent my whole life trying to make complicated things simpler. Sure, computers can dazzle, but if you can never be sure what they are telling you is really correct, the results are useless. Complexity for the sake of complexity is a waste of time. We can only fix the things that we understand.

    But i guess this gameboy generation will have to learn that themselves.

    • Actually chaos and complexity are all about simplicity.
      Very simple rules, very simple systems generate the chaos and complexity.

      • Computers are still dumb machines. Give them a couple of free variables and you will never know if the answer is correct, no matter how dazzling the graphics. I just don’t have the impression that that is always clear.

      • @kenw
        I agree. Although there are ways to propogate uncertainty and stability measures as you comput so you at least have some notion if your computation is meaningful. Often not done tho.

  17. This paper would be far more impressive if the so-called complexity science was anything more than fitting of data into preconceptions rather than fitting ideas onto data.
    For one thing, every one of the 4 so-called exceedances are affected primarily by human expansion. If there is in fact some limit by which “exceedance” causes a tipping point, then there would by definition have to be some historical example of this – and there are none. There is no historical data which can be used to validate the fact of such tipping points in greenhouse gas emissions, in agricultural nutrients, in land use, or in biosphere integrity.
    The next plank relied upon is then some hand waving which says that a sign of such a tipping point is a “slowing down”. What is slowing down, and what is “normal”?
    Looks like more NGO lobbying disguised as pseudo science to me.

  18. To understand how a complex system might behave as we approach tipping points, it is quite useful to look at the closest recent analogues of what the system did near those tipping points:

    http://phys.org/news/2015-01-tropical-island-fossils-reveal-pastand.html#nRlv

    As noted, the collapse of part of the Antarctic ice shelf happened when the temperature was just a few degrees warmer than today.

    • And some rather good real science, reveals the long-term warming of the oceans around Antarctica:

      http://phys.org/news/2014-12-antarctic-seawater-temperatures.html#inlRlv

      And the resultant acceleration in the melting of the West Antarctic ice:

      http://phys.org/news/2014-12-west-antarctic-tripled.html

      If temperatures continue to rise, its collapse becomes more likely.

      • Curious George

        That’s how Antarctic sea ice is reaching a maximum, as the Climate Change Professor Chris Turner of an Academic Shokalskiy fame and Sir Douglas Mawson can attest.

      • Curious George

        Oops .. Professor Chris Turney.

      • “That’s how Antarctic sea ice is reaching a maximum…”
        _____
        Quite counter-intuitive on the surface, until you realize that sea ice and glacial ice can move in opposite directions regarding net amounts in Antarctica, and more energy in the actual ocean (heat content) can be related to both sea ice increase and glacial mass decrease. Isn’t real science fun? But perhaps not as fun as this guy:

      • “The research has shown that the warm water in the deep ocean is getting shallower in many places around Antarctica.”

        This scintillating sentence form your “rather good real science” betrays a very shallow understanding. The Reynolds data show flat and cooling in the Southern Ocean, generally consistent with “the warm water getting shallower”.

        Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-12-antarctic-seawater-temperatures.html#jCp

      • Gymnosperm,

        Assistance please, and I do have a very shallow understanding. Is the impression that the shallowing but spreading of the warmer waters is an indication of a “cooling” (healing?) effect (warmth rises/spreading increases surface area leading to dissipation of heat to atmosphere—and is there more snow?) or simply a displacement warmer lower waters, or other? Any other references greatly appreciated.

    • Choosing a tiny part of a continent as a system is a great example of exactly what I noted above: fitting data to preconception.
      Besides the fact that the West Antarctic is an archipelago/peninsula vs. the primary being a huge continent, and that the overall Antarctic is gaining in ice mass, and that temperatures in the Antarctic continent are so far from the melting point of ice as to be laughable, your explanation is otherwise satisfactory. /sarc

  19. josephdavis99

    “Guiding human development on a changing planet” is not really new….see below for guidance from a really really old geophysical textbook:

    Wise and Foolish Builders
    Therefore whosoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock:
    And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
    And every one that hears these sayings of mine, and does them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand:
    And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

  20. Rob Ellison,”Thank you. Interesting post. Seem s very reasonable and balanced to me, and policy relevant.

  21. ““slowing down” as an early indicator of change…”

    Seems to be true. Nice post Ellison.

  22. To say something is ‘complex’ means it is beyond understanding whereas chaos is just another way of saying an outcome is unintended. So yeah, climate is complex because ‘climate’ is 100 years of weather which will include a lot of chaos along the way, far beyond anything we can ever imagine until it actually happens.

    • Climate is complex and dynamic. And yes – that implies that it will shift at decadal scales this century and is utterly unpredictable.

      My point with the 0.4K warming since 1994 was that the warming last century was dominated by natural variability on a millennial scale. Surprises are indeed likely.

      Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere itself seems far more variable – responsive to changes in temperature rather than the other way around – than the ice cores suggest.

      Cooling is possible – dramatic cooling on the cards.

      • “Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere itself seems far more variable”
        _____
        Odd that measuring it under non-proxy, non-stomatal proxy model conditions have not displayed the kind of wide variability seen in the stomatal proxies:

        Very smooth line, except for the anthropogenic rise and the annual cycle. Why do proxies have such wide variability? Oh yeah, they don’t even come close to measuring CO2 concentrations of a well mixed atmosphere, which is the critical feature for accurate forcing from CO2 on a global basis.

        Sorry Chief, no sale on your stomatal proxies.

      • … the graph from 1958 to 2012 at the rate of about 61 ppm per 100 years also looks like this:

      • You have a very short record – Randy the video guy – on which to pontificate much.

      • It really gets complex if China temperatures are outside global norms and/or if Chinese researchers — for whatever the reasons — see the world through different eyes than Western researchers.

        Yan, et al., believe the IPCC was wrong –i.e.,

        The MCA [I.e., the Medieval Warm Period] is the most recent natural warm period and therefore the magnitude and mechanism of the warming in MCA is important for us to understand the current global warming.

        Many studies focus on the climate during the MCA, but the results remain debatable and one of the controversies is centered on whether temperature during the recent half century is higher than that during the MCA.

        Our well-calibrated high-resolution tropical SST records, which suggested a warmer MCA than recent decades, did not agree with the results of the IPCC fourth report, which suggested that the recent decades was the warmest in at least the past 1,300 years. It is worthwhile to note that our T. gigas record was not the only evidence in eastern Asia for a warmer MCA than recent decades. For example, The winter temperature reconstruction of eastern China from phonological records using phenomena and crop distribution data in Chinese historical documents [7] also showed a distinct warm period (AD 930-1310) in MCA and the temperatures in the warmest 30–year were 0.9 C higher than those of 1951–1980 [7]. In addition, the tree ring research from the mid-eastern Tibetan Plateau suggested that the temperature during the AD 864–882 and AD 965–994 were comparable or warmer than that during the AD 1970–2000 [29]. Recent study in Qaidam Basin of northwest China also indicated a warmer MCA; the quantitative reconstructions from Sugan Lake and Gahai Lake both suggested a much higher temperature in MCA than in recent warm period [9].

        These records, together with the well-calibrated high resolution T. gigas record, imply that the recent climate warming, at least in eastern Asia from northwest China to the South China Sea, does not overstep the natural changes in MCA. (Yan, et al., ‘Higher sea surface temperature in the northern South China Sea during the natural warm periods of late Holocene than recent decades’)

  23. FTA:

    “Tsonis and colleagues calculated the “distance” between the indices. It was found that they would synchronise at certain times — around 1912, 1944/1945, 1976/1977 and 1998/2001 — and then shift into a new state.”

    Producing the turning points in global temperature anomaly readily seen here, resulting in a natural, sawtooth pattern, the instigation of which predates any putative significant human forcing.

  24. The problem is that “being green” (or worshipping Blob) is easy and phenomenally expensive while conservation is hard and phenomenally expensive. So the tendency is to do the easy and phenomenally expensive thing.

    The difference is that with conservation there’s a return. When you have a typhoon on Leyte you can improve the watershed and other Leyte things so the next typhoon doesn’t kill and wreck nearly as much. That’s conservation, and it’s a reason fewer were killed by more powerful Haiyan than by Thelma a couple of decades before. That’s conservation. Lake Parramatta is now swimmable again, and will actually have ALS lifeguards patrolling today, miles from the coast! That’s conservation. It’s where you do stuff connected with the problems you are having, and where you don’t waste stuff.

    Being green involves sending money to scoundrels somewhere, who promise to propitiate Blob. The money is pronounced to be green, though it looks to be just money. Nothing happens…but you get to be green, and all the work of gobbling the money is done for you.

    In the last few days Australia has been treated to something called a Doomsday Clock which has been set at “3 minutes to midnight” by people referred to as “scientists”; we’ve been told that yesterday might be “the day Australia will melt” because NW Australia might break some heat record set over a hundred years ago (didn’t); and there’s this asteroid thingy too – just while we’re in the self-loathing mood and because the Mayan Calendar thing is old.

    Much of this millennarian tripe was served by parts of the Murdoch Press, which is supposed to be under the control of nasty Mr Burns from the Simpsons but can be just as respectful and worshipful of Green Blob as the Guardian and NYT.

    So, chief, you seem to be pleading for actual conservation? Guess I’m with you – but be careful of angering Blob.

    • Curious George

      Are you sure these “scientists” are people? Can a dog join their ranks?

      • Apparently the clock can run backward, because it was once this close to midnight thirty years ago. Or maybe the clock goes past midnight and just goes round again, being a clock and all. Better ask a Doomsday calculator how it works. Sorry, I mean “scientist”.

        Cuckoo.

  25. “Complexity Science” is not a science. Of course complex dynamic systems can have attractors and transitions, but we can only determine them analytically for the simplest cases. It is useful to be aware of such things, but the leap to tipping points is completely fanciful.
    One useful real tipping point that helps nature is when a society becomes advanced enough for mechanization to hit agriculture–then the society tips inexorably toward urban life, which is the best thing that could happen to most endangered species. China “tipped” this way a few decades ago, though of course they have had big cities for 3000 years.
    FWIW I published on fractals and catastrophe theory in the early 1980s…so I’m not talking from ignorance here.

    • ‘Issues of complexity are at the heart of some of the world’s major social, technological, environmental and economic challenges.’ http://www.complexity.ecs.soton.ac.uk/

      About transition is at the core of the climate system. Chaos is at the heart of climate models.

      ‘Technically, an abrupt climate change occurs when the climate system is forced to cross some threshold, triggering a transition to a new state at a rate determined by the climate system itself and faster than the cause. Chaotic processes in the climate system may allow the cause of such an abrupt climate change to be undetectably small…

      Modern climate records include abrupt changes that are smaller and briefer than in paleoclimate records but show that abrupt climate change is not restricted to the distant past.’ (Nation Academies of Science (NAS), 2002)

      Multi-decadal climate shifts correspond precisely to changes in Pacific Ocean circulation, and in global hydrological patterns. The multi-decadal Pacific Ocean pattern can be seen in ENSO proxies for up to 1000 years (Vance et al, 2012). Abrupt changes between multi-decadal rainfall regimes were observed in river morphology in Australian rivers in the 1980’s (Erskine and Warner, 1988) and have been a cornerstone of Australian hydrology since – (e.g. Micevski et al, 2006, Power et al, 1999, Verdon et al, 2004).

      In theory we then have a mechanism – albeit a complex one – that better explains abrupt shifts in paleoclimatic and modern records than a paradigm of slow responses to changes in forcing.

      The US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) defined abrupt climate change as a new climate paradigm as long ago as 2002. A paradigm in the scientific sense is a theory that explains observations. A new science paradigm is one that better explains data – in this case climate data – than the old theory. The new theory says that climate change occurs as discrete jumps in the system. Climate is more like a kaleidoscope – shake it up and a new pattern emerges – than a control knob with a linear gain.

      This idea is the most modern – and powerful – in climate science and has profound implications for the evolution of climate this century and beyond.

      Complexity is indeed a science – and currently the way forward for understanding non-linearities in many systems.

      • Our approach to dealing with complexity in climate science has been to bring on more parameters and faster computers; and all we learned is the time for a paradigm shift is past due. If global warming is not alarming, futures generations will thank society for having the courage to do nothing today.

      • The modelling approach to prediction is intrinsically ill-founded.

        What does work is free trade – and foreign aid that you have committed to anyway spent in the most effective ways. But also building on soils and ecological conservation locally.

        ‘The world will spend $2.5 trillion in development aid from 2015-2030, and these goals will influence a large part of that spending. Making just one target better can do hundreds of billions of dollars worth of good.’

        http://www.copenhagenconsensus.com/post-2015-consensus

        It is not really enough to respond – conservatives must create the policy agenda for the 21st century.

        ‘We must make the building of a free society once more an intellectual adventure, a deed of courage. What we lack is a liberal Utopia, a programme which seems neither a mere defence of things as they are nor a diluted kind of socialism, but a truly liberal radicalism which does not spare the susceptibilities of the mighty (including the trade unions), which is not too severely practical and which does not confine itself to what appears today as politically possible…Those who have concerned themselves exclusively with what seemed practicable in the existing state of opinion have constantly found that even this has rapidly become politically impossible as the result of changes in a public opinion which they have done nothing to guide. Unless we can make the philosophic foundations of a free society once more a living intellectual issue, and its implementation a task which challenges the ingenuity and imagination of our liveliest minds, the prospects of freedom are indeed dark. But if we can regain that belief in power of ideas which was the mark of liberalism at its best, the battle is not lost.’ F. A. Hayek

        The practical hot button issues for moderates everywhere are social, economic and environmental.

      • The problem with the complexity theory is that climate has been very stable – with specific transitions between ice ages and not – for millenia.
        Within the context of the historical record – the inability to predict medium and long term (in human scale, pathetically short term in geologic scale) behavior does show the modeling approach is a failure, but equally the assumption that complexity must exist in climate has to reconcile with the otherwise amazingly stable states of climate in geological time scales.
        Or put another way: I don’t actually care about the particulars in whatever theory anyone cares to espouse – but the inability for any theory to function in backcasting towards past behavior coupled with inability to predict the future in any measurable time frame equates to an utterly worthless theory.
        How then does complexity theory fit within the above noted framework? Other than being a fancy sounding way to espouse the precautionary principle?

      • Climate is characterised by abrupt and more or less extreme change that happens at breakneck speed. It happens every 30 to 30 years.

        OMG – it’s much worse than we thought.

      • A short list of things we do not understand:

        Whether human CO2 has any effect on climate
        What causes glacial interglacial oscillations
        What causes “major lobe” glacial periods
        Why the continents are moving
        What’s the dark energy and matter that constitute most of the universe

        Are they related? Now THAT’S complexity.

    • “Complexity Science” is not a science. Of course complex dynamic systems can have attractors and transitions, but we can only determine them analytically for the simplest cases.

      Dynamical systems theory is complexity science and as an analogue for non linear responsive behavior eg Kratsov .

      http://www.nonlin-processes-geophys-discuss.net/1/1905/2014/npgd-1-1905-2014.html

      Reduced to the simplest model (the logistic equation) eg May 1976 it can be used to show abruptness,and persistence for dynamical dissipative structures such as the PDO under perturbation.

      http://www.nonlin-processes-geophys-discuss.net/2/43/2015/npgd-2-43-2015.pdf

    • I hope I am not going off topic on Ellison’s article. Conceptualizing chaos can be difficult. Is there any way to see an attractor in nature? The recent record temperature discussion started me thinking about what we are seeing? And it had to do with what a temperature record is. An excursion into new territory. From the excursion can we guess at what the assumed attractor is doing?

      The orbs are meant to represent the orbits around the global attractor as with a Lorenz butterfly. In A the global attractor is drifting warmer as seen by the excursions of the orbits into new territory. We can perhaps say something about the global attractor from what we see above the line. Thinking of what else might be happening, we have B. Maybe the orbital diameter is increasing while the attractor does not move. In C the attractor also does not move but changes its elliptical shape. C would explain steady low temperature records with increasing high temperature records.

  26. One useful real tipping point that helps nature is when a society becomes advanced enough for mechanization to hit agriculture–then the society tips inexorably toward urban life, which is the best thing that could happen for would-be aristocrats/oligarchs/senators.

  27. “Tipping points in biophysical systems are apparent everywhere. When pushed by inputs of nitrogen and phosphorus a lake will transition from clear to murky overnight in a process caused by oxygen dynamics at the water/sediment interface.” Chaos is everywhere and we can see it. I was wondering how plant life in my shallow lake could go from making oxygen to the opposite of depleting it?

    Things that promote lake plant life such as nitrogen and phosphorus are at high levels. Plant life grows like crazy in the Spring and Summer and we’d expect oxygen levels in the water to rise. At some point plant growth slows and we might describe the plants as thick and changing the color of the water to green depending on the wind direction. Plant life starts to die and decay which consumes oxygen possibly having a greater effect on shallower lakes. At the same time plant growth inputs maybe decreasing for instance the necessary phosphorus is tied up by existing plants that have yet to decay and return it to the lake. It looks like the system naturally set itself up for a crash and then did that. On occasion we’ve seen Carp gulping air which indicates the oxygen levels have crashed. What is perhaps simpler to follow is the lake’s surface. Generally it would work to normalize oxygen levels between the atmosphere and the lake same as the TOA tries to normalize atmospheric temperatures. The lake’s surface when not frozen is a negative feedback to abnormal oxygen levels, that are abnormal intrinsically. So we have chaos inside what can be thought of as the mostly unchaotic bubble of the whole atmosphere.

  28. Three posts before I went out briefly, 133 now. Is this what’s meant by “going postal”?

    Rob, good post, thanks.

    Luis, ” As long as monetary self-interest is the only thing that really matters …” I don’t know anyone to whom that applies.

    • Thanks Michael,

      It seems to have been generally well received. Optimum economic growth is – however – the bottom line this century. Whenever I hear ‘limits to growth’ I think – not here and not now. Making development more environmentally friendly is – on the other hand – something I have worked on for decades.

      Cheers

      • Rob, wish you right, and certainly cannot prove you wrong. But spent three years on an energy policy paper that morphed into something much bigger and more general, Gaia’s Limits. Now you don’t have to read it. Your choice. But that choice says much about beliefs rather than factual scientific rebuttal. Plus conclusions are not anything like stupid Ehrlich or Club of Rome. It is possible to engineer soft limits.
        But riddle this: trees do not grow to the sky. Ever. Carrying capacity just is. Way back when, remodeled the classic partial differential predator/prey equations into stochastic Markov chains. Proved the same oscillatory damped equilibrium using pure probability math. So some stuff is knowable in general, approached from different ways.

  29. Thanks for your post Chief. You have already said much of this in your comments over the years, but this post brings it all together for me.

    While I tend to agree with Willis that extinction rates are problematic concepts to measure and even more so when endeavouring to draw conclusions which directly link extinctions to human activity alone, I still believe that humanity’s footprint should be reduced as much as possible in an economic cost/benefit sense. This belief is certainly not based on climate change alarmism.

    I fully support any move to improve land and water management policies, especially in the less developed areas of the world. The dead zones in the oceans bordering the deltas of the 3rd world seem more related to effluent run-off and the corresponding lack of marine life seems not due to overfishing alone.

    • Willis Eschenbach

      Peter, I agree that there are real problems in the world. However, this kind of alarmist “planetary boundaries” nonsense is counterproductive and actually damaging to the efforts to work on the actual problems. All they are doing is crying “Wolf! Wolf!” about imaginary problems like extinction … and as a result when people like yourself talk about real problems, they are ignored …

      w.

    • Hi Perter,

      What they did was compare population estimates over time drawing from databases that have developed over time for that purpose. It is not likely to be extremely precise – but the trend is very large.

      I once modelled lungfish population in the Burnett River as they got washed over a stepped spillway in flood and ended up mashed at the bottom. For this long lived and low recruitment species the population soon crashed to zero. Likewise Passenger Pigeons were not all shot out. At a specific population the balance between recruitment and mortality inexorably tipped and the population died out.

      The more the trend in declines continues – the more extinctions there will be. Extinctions are continuing at an historically high rate for many reasons. .

      • Rob, you really ought to read essay No Bodies. Burnett River lungfish extirpation is a classic example of why land use related to human population growth is a big deal environmentally– and not climate change.
        As for passenger pigeons, there is always some very low threshold below which a species cannot probabalistically recover. But hunting, not climate change, did them in.

      • Somewhere above I posted the breakdown of causes of declines given by the WWF. Climate change at 7% is over estimated. It is mostly exploitation and habitat change. But the bodies are still poling up.

        The viable population size depends on the species. Mortality from all causes and recruitment. Here’s an example for Bighorn Sheep.

        The change in mortality in lungfish was the spillway. The fish is pretty resilient to reduced oxygen in the upstream reaches it breeds in.

  30. Peter and Willis, agree with you both here. Now, we just need to agree on what the most pressing real problems are, and then we can get busy solving them. My own 2 cents on that was offered in (admittedly a data slog) ebook Gaia’s Limits published now just about three years ago.

  31. So – there is a urban myth that species abundance is not by and large declining?

    Summary of Listed Species Listed Populations1 and Recovery Plans2 as of Sat, 24 Jan 2015 01:50:52 GMT?

    https://ecos.fws.gov/tess_public/pub/Boxscore.do

    • Rob, the number of species is unknown, since many have not yet been identified, and what a species is not clear. But over 2 million species supposedly have been. Of those, about 800 have gone extinct in the last four centuries. Dodos, passenger pigeons… Gone. At an increasing rate caused by mankind’s popularion explosion and the consequences for land use, habitat degradation, and predation. African rhinos for horn ‘aphrodesiac’ and bluefin tuna for Migura sushi, as we sit here debating climate change tipping points. None extinct yet from climate change.
      Essay No Bodies has many fun details, including how bad the AR4 assessment was and how AR5 could have but did not climb down.

      Your notion that species abundance is declining is the urban myth. Please read the Blowing Smoke essay before getting back with any counters. You bring a rubber knife to a gunfight on this specific subject. Linking to unsupportable warmunist propaganda does you no credit. For example, the ‘Official’ EPA website still featuresthe American Pika as climate endangered. FWS said no way. FWS was right, legally and scientifically.

      • ‘There are 8.7 million eukaryotic species on our planet — give or take 1.3 million. The latest biodiversity estimate, based on a new method of prediction, dramatically narrows the range of ‘best guesses’, which was previously between 3 million and 100 million. It means that a staggering 86% of land species and 91% of marine species remain undiscovered.’

        http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110823/full/news.2011.498.html

        The estimated of extinction is 8,700 species per year.

        Of the few thousand that are somewhat monitored – many are in decline and quite a few extinct.

        Not even the WWF says that pressures are even remotely dominated by climate change. Continuing to miss the point that species decline is happening independent of climate change – and the solutions are far more broad based than a carbon tax – doesn’t engender confidence.

      • Rob, odd response since I expressly did not miss the point. I gave the species count and it’s uncertainty, you responded with the models of how many more might remain uncounted.
        I gave the known extinction body count, you reply with a model for extinctions in the unknown and therefore uncounted possible additional species. I point out that the accerating rate of human caused extinctions has nothing to do with climate (yet), but all habitat loss and exploitation. How did you conclude I had missed that point?

      • No I started with declines in a few thousand somewhat monitored populations because of factors that have little to do with climate change – and you insist that there were no extinctions due to climate change. Utterly pointless.

  32. It’s posts like this along with many of the comments that make this blog exceptional. Great job!

  33. Talking about tipping points, let’s look at the stability of continental glaciers versus CO2 over history.

    This indicates that if we return to CO2 levels near 500 ppm, the northern glaciers will be melting, but Antarctica should survive until about 600 ppm. By 2100 we could get to 700 ppm, so we quickly are reversing a CO2 and glaciation trend that took tens of millions of years. Glaciers have large feedbacks associated with their albedo too, as seen with the Ice Age temperature fluctuations. This has happened many times in the last million years. What we have now is a semi-stable state with a couple of stubborn continental glaciers left, accounting for one third of the maximum volume of the Ice Age glaciers, but the rapid onset of CO2 induced warming is going to be pushing their limits as never before. It is like having an experiment for confirming paleoclimatological tipping points. Let’s watch the Greenland melt rate vary with CO2 within a human lifetime.

    • Jim D,

      Maybe you can assist with a question re: Greenland.

      As I understand per GRACE, in the most recent 12 year time there has been an average +/- 370 Gt annual ice loss. Temps warming. In 2012/13 there was a 474 Gt loss, but in 2013/14 there was “only” a loss of 6 Gt.

      Could there be a “reverse” tipping point where temps reach a point leading to substantial snow increasing ice then cooling and so on?

      Side data is that in 50 years (All while warming “globally”?), 268 feet (no idea how to convert to Gt) evidenced by covering a plane which landed back then. (Glacier girl)

      Ice data source: http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/reportcard/greenland_ice_sheet.html

      • People can be fooled by individual years. Remember after 2007 an extreme low, they thought the sea ice was recovering, then we had 2012 which was even worse. That’s the way it progresses, sea ice, El Nino warmest years, etc. It is not a uniform line, but the trend is obvious.

      • Jim D,

        Thank you. But in that regard, the 50 year 268 feet (again, can’t convert to Gt) showing building ice. Then, a 12 year decline. Then a one year change to that decline. All while warming and CO2 levels increasing? So then, what triggered the increase, the 12 year decline, the one year “lack of decline”? Trying to grasp this (and failing miserably).

      • Mr. Thomas, the Greenland ice loss is statistically equivalent to about nothing. I think it’s about 0.0007% of the total ice there. This year, ice actually outpaced melt on the Greenland ice cap, but calving took the increase away and left it a few Gt shy of the previous year.

        But it’s an asterisk.

      • Thomaswfuller2,

        Thank you. If you don’t mind sharing, over what time frame (the .0007% loss)? And calving due to warmer waters or typical?
        As a relative newbie to in depth “research” in to this CC topic at times I feel like a pinball. Beginning with cow “expressions” about 1998 and following the progression, it’s seems like the discussion ends up focused on scratches on the surface of a fine timepiece gear. And the narrative is if a screw falls out the watch comes apart.

      • I think the Greenland loss is equivalent to about 0.5 mm per year of sea level, which is a large fraction of the rise. The loss rate in the last 5 years is double that in the previous 5. This trend of the trend is something to keep an eye on, at least.

      • Jim D,

        Using you once again for my textbook. “The rise” :http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/sltrends.html
        is another thing I find bothersome. Falling in Arctic, not monitored in Antarctic, yet it’s “global”? Coastals could be subsidence, and so on. The “pin the tail” continues?

      • I think this is instructive. It comes from ice mass measurements via satellite.

      • Mr. Thomas, one year. And calving is a normal and more or less continuous occurrence. The river of ice flows to the sea, breaks off in large chunks and sails away.

    • Jim D,

      Then further, “similar events” as are happening today occurred 125k years ago, but no connection in the article to what caused the warming of the oceans at that time. Ideas? http://phys.org/news/2015-01-tropical-island-fossils-reveal-pastand.html#nRlv

      • Each interglacial is slightly different. The Eemian followed a rapid deglaciation that might have melted more areas. As they point out, Antarctic ice sheets are not very stable. Some of the smaller ones have collapsed in the last decade or so already, and others are poised.

  34. So we don’t have to worry about ELE extraterrestrial impasts or VEI 8 eruptions, like Toba that killed sixty percent of humanity 73000 years ago?

  35. I know it’s been discussed but what exactly is considered climate change? I would think the Milankovitch cycles are dramatic change going from glacial to interglacial. Looking at this 8000 yr old interglacial there has been warm periods and mini ice ages, but was there really enough change to qualify? Michael Mann’s stick handle obviously thought not,

    • Climate change is a political term, into which global warming, another political term, has morphed because of doubts about global warming being sustained over the longer term.

      Climate is the manifestation of current weather trends being experienced in the world today but the historical record of past weather should not be used for prediction of future climate, because like other natural systems, previous states have no relationship to future states.

      Weather have many cyclical trends stretching from the seasonal right through to millennial time scales. There seems no such thing as climate change because climate is not in an equilibrium state as its trajectory is chaotic and driven constantly in all directions but at irregular intervals by internal variability and by external forcings, all of which seem mainly to be naturally derived.

      Climate is said to be like a wild beast and there seems nothing that we mere mortals can do about it. It remains moot as to whether human emissions of CO2 has any discernable effect on global temperatures let alone global climate trends.

      • Climate change follows the direction of the forcing, and is predictable in that sense, because the forcing is rising at historically rapid rates at the moment and the climate can’t keep up.

      • Climate change is both scientific and political. We’re here arguing because, as John Matuszak said in the film North Dallas Forty, “Every time I want to talk about the game you say it’s a business and every time I want to talk about the business you say it’s a game.”

      • Climate is a wild beast – as Wally said. Energy dynamics at TOA is not remotely predictable next week let alone after the next climate shift.

    • ordvic, a lot of the chaos is self inflicted. People start believing those 2nd and 3rd digits right of the dot mean something then everything can vary wildly.

      Plus they use goofy indexes. Nino 1, 2, 3 and 4 are tiny areas of the Pacific and they have to keep mixing, matching and adjusting for it to work.

      If they put their big boy indexes on there is an expected standard deviation and longer term trends than their two or three significant digits and ultra smooth hockey stick handles allow for. OMG! They have a 2 sigma event to deal with, Doom is upon us!

      They are fun to watch though :)

  36. So, about 1 million years ago was the middle of the Pleistocene.

    http://www.scotese.com/climate.htm

    Looks like from the chart there was very roughly a 3 C change in temperature. ASSUMING this chart is correct, then …

    Over that same time, the delta of insolation was 100 watts.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/01/23/into-and-out-of-the-icebox/

    So 3 C / 100 w/m2 is 0.03. So, the worse-case limit for climate sensitivity is 0.03??

    • Global averaged insolation didn’t change at all, just its distribution, which changed the albedo, and that changes the climate according to Milankovitch.

      • ‘ Since irradiance variations are apparently minimal, changes in the Earth’s climate that seem to be associated with changes in the level of solar activity—the Maunder Minimum and the Little Ice age for example—would then seem to be due to terrestrial responses to more subtle changes in the Sun’s spectrum of radiative output. This
        leads naturally to a linkage with terrestrial reflectance, the second component of the net sunlight, as the carrier of the
        terrestrial amplification of the Sun’s varying output. Much progress has also been made in determining this difficult to
        measure, and not-so-well-known quantity. We review our understanding of these two closely linked, fundamental drivers of climate.’ http://bbso.njit.edu/Research/EarthShine/literature/Goode_Palle_2007_JASTP.pdf

        Insolation changes somewhat and it is presumed that these small changes are amplified through the Earth system.

        Glacials result from survival of snow and ice through summer in low NH summer insolation periods that become runaway ice sheet feedbacks. AMOC is involved. What can I say? It’s complex.

      • Didn’t Willis Eschenbach just look at how insolation compares with temperatures? i.e. – it doesn’t?

      • I appreciate the correction, Jim D.

      • But, Rob. The Sun is the source of energy. I mean, take an extreme case – the Sun goes out. CO2 won’t keep us warm for very long if that happens.

      • That should have been “But c1ue …”

      • JimD, “Global averaged insolation didn’t change at all,”

        My average speed driving to Miami didn’t vary much at all but I did get a couple of speeding tickets.

        That is variations in peak equatorial insolation for the past 100 kyears per a NASA/NOAA data set that includes all the Milankovitch parameters.

        That is a plot of maximum insolation and ocean surface area being shone upon. Ocean absorb solar energy.

        That is a reconstruction of tropical SST without Marcott’s “novel” methods.

      • captd, when I say insolation didn’t change, I mean the sun didn’t change to cause the Ice Ages. I am not sure what you are saying. Are you disputing the Milankovitch mechanism, or are you changing the subject?

      • JimD “Global averaged insolation didn’t change at all,…”

        It that better? I forgot the dot things.

    • It is changes in equator-to-pole temperature differences (especially during the summer) that have real meaning, to us, as for example occurs due to changes in Arctic insolation (which can trigger glacial initiation. That is what should interest us as such changes can result in the end of global warming and when it happens — as it has before and will again — there won’ be a damned thing we can do about it except prepare for global cooling.

  37. OK, right. So, the change in global insolation is about 2.5 w/m2 in the last 500,000 years.

    http://www.climatedata.info/Forcing/Forcing/milankovitchcycles.html

    So, 3 C/ 2.5 W/m2 is 1.2. I guess that agrees with Curry and Lewis.

  38. Steven Mosher,

    Climate change is a global problem. What we do in the US matters very little. What matters going forward is what China does and what India does.

    I understand what you mean and I partly agree. And partly don’t agree.

    I think what the US does matters one hell of a lot. Not so much how much it cut’s its own emissions (it’s been doing better than just about anyone else), but very much about how it allows competition, innovates and develops technologies to solve the global problem – by providing lower cost energy for everyone!.

    The US has the capability to do this, but not the will. Nor the confidence to take on the progress blockers. You can see the types that are the progress blockers. They are mostly the highly educated, inner city elites. Although they are highly educated, they are blocking progress because they’re ignorant about what makes the real world tick. They think they can get the 99% of the world who couldn’t give a damn about CAGW to change their priorities. It is not going to happen. I expect you know this.

  39. Vaughan Pratt

    @PL: They think they can get the 99% of the world who couldn’t give a damn about CAGW to change their priorities. It is not going to happen.

    I fully agree with Peter.

    One of two things will have become apparent by December 2021.

    1. The global temperature will have trended down since 2011. In this case it would appear highly unlikely that by 2100 there will be a serious global temperature problem. In short, “What, me worry?”

    2. The global temperature will have trended up since 2011. In this case the pessimists who’ve been forecasting a high temperature in 2100 will IMO have been borne out. In this case that forecast will have come to pass because it will have become very clear that human nature has insufficient free will to steer itself away from any such outcome.

    While it would take a medical miracle for me to observe the global mean surface temperature in 2100, speaking as one who was born exactly 365 days before Franklin Roosevelt’s demise I hope at least to be able to observe it in December 2021.

    Until then I will have no occasion to quarrel with anyone’s forecasts on the matter other than those who cordially invite me to quarrel with them. No cordiality, no quarrel, capiche?

    • Vaughan old buddy,

      I know it’s all complex like and unpredictable – but are not the dice loaded against temps rising by 2021 with the current solar cycle peak?

      Cheers

      • Vaughan Pratt

        @Peter Davies: I will be 81 in 2021 and look forward to having a glass of top quality red wine purchased by someone who currently is betting on global temperatures trending upwards.

        Can’t pass up a win-win bet like that, Peter. Let me toss a coin to see which side I want to take. Oh wait, you’ve already picked your side. Ok, in that case I bet you that in February of 2021, clicking on

        http://www.woodfortrees.org/data/hadcrut4gl/last:120/trend

        will show a least squares trend line with slope greater than .01 per year.

        The intent here is that in February 2021 “last 120 months” should denote the range January 2011 inclusive to January 2021 exclusive. .01 per year is an upward slope of 1 °C/century.

        The loser to fill the winner’s glass in person in the latter’s home town.

        If Paul Clarke has since stopped updating his website, then the trend line to be determined directly from the annual HadCRUT4 data for the 10 years 2011 inclusive to 2021 exclusive, as calculated to the mutual satisfaction of the parties.

        I’m open to adjusting the terms of the bet before you commit.

    • VP again you demonstrate how people who disagree can do so without becoming disagreeable. I will be 81 in 2021 and look forward to having a glass of top quality red wine purchased by someone who currently is betting on global temperatures trending upwards.

    • I think temps in 2021 will become apparent in 2021. However, temps in 2100 will only become apparent in 2100. 2021 temps cannot make 2100 temps become apparent.

      Stay with me here! If you can’t know what temps will do between now and 2021, doesn’t seem fair to expect those poor 2021 guys to know about stuff 90 years into their future. Or do you actually know what the next six years will bring?

      On the other hand, we are in a position to know a little about past climate…but that is a most unfashionable topic. People in 2021 and 2100 will be in a position to know about OUR climate. But they’ll have to be interested in actual climate change, unlike our climate change experts now, who greatly dislike the subject and only give it a disdainful prod and wish it away.

      The people forecasting “melting Australia” yesterday were happy to pre-announce a new record max for Marble Bar. But it didn’t happen. The same people are far less eager to talk about the years (1905 and 1922) when the record was set. Why is that?

      Marble Bar is a hot place, still holding the record for the world’s longest heatwave. If it was happening now – localised or not – it would be charged with significance. The Guardian and NYT would be in no doubt as to that significance. They would be in raptures quoting some scientist about how “while we cannot attribute any single event etc, nonetheless conditions in Marble Bar are consistent with models etc”.

      But the Marble Bar heatwave – 160 sequential days above 100F – happened 1923-24.

      So it doesn’t have any more significance than the record temps of 1906 and 1922.

      Now why is that?

      • ‘temps in 2021 will become apparent in 2021, likewise temps
        in 2100 will become apparent in 2100, Oh so droll moso but
        true Lol..Humans jest ain’t good at predictin’.

      • Belinda, quite so, but in the CAGW case we are asked to have faith in long-range projections, a faith I fail to share.

      • Faustino, I am always wary of the words, ‘Trust me.’
        ‘Show me yr workings,’ comes to mind.’ Seems I have
        a problem with dealers in faith.And great leaps forward
        … well :-/

      • “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist…”

        Major-General Sedgwick, estimating.

  40. Excellent post by Rob Ellison. Climate change fanatics have hijacked the very real concerns of conservationists and environmentalists for far too long now, swallowing up absolutely vast sums of money and political and intellectual resources in the process, for little or no gain; even, it could be argued, to considerable detriment.
    There should be no doubt whatsoever that certain key species in our ecosystems are facing extreme pressure from habitat destruction and exploitation. African rhino, elephant and big cat populations have been decimated in recent years by poachers and hunters. Asian tiger populations are dwindling alarmingly for the same reasons. Wolves and bears in the US and elsewhere continue to be persecuted. Polar bears, which according to the erstwhile claims of global warming fanatics, should now be extinct, or virtually so, due to no summer Arctic ice, are nevertheless still under pressure from hunting by North Americans and Russians intent on securing a ‘trophy’. These are just a few of the large key species facing the potential threat of extinction. Many smaller species are also in decline due mainly to habitat loss, but partly from the ‘cascade effect’ upon ecosystems following the removal or significant reduction in key species.
    There is a lot that can be done to practically address these issues (none of them involving the politically motivated redistribution of wealth posited by AGW fanatics), but they have been sidelined by the Green Bandwagon which has attracted all manner of politically motivated, immoral, egocentric, opportunistic, vain, acquisitive, condescending, doom-mongering individuals over the years who have completely hogged the limelight.

    • There are some, more minor species of bears that are threatened, but brown, black, and grizzlies are OK.

      For me, the thing that stands out is Africa. People hunt the animals there because they are poor and will do almost anything to survive. It’s the same reason they burn dung, they are poor. And the really sad thing is, is that it’s their government in many cases that keeps them poor. It’s an almost insoluble problem unless the rest of the world, including China, India, and Russia; all got together and wiped out the governments and put in place a new one. Even then, witness the Middle East, it probably wouldn’t work.

      From the article:

      At this point populations were classified as “threatened”, the status of the grizzly in the lower 48 states, or “endangered”, such as the black bears in Texas since 1987 (Wallace 1987). There is nothing inevitable about a downward trend in bear numbers to a threatened or endangered status. For black bears, at least, populations currently are stable in much of the United States and Canada. Also, in some regions, with formerly depleted populations of all 3 species, bears have recovered to a secure status.

      http://www.bearbiology.com/fileadmin/tpl/Downloads/URSUS/Vol_8/Miller_BearMgtNA_8.pdf

    • Polar bears are OK.

      From the article:

      According to the survey results , “Polar Bear population assessment in North America has historically relied on physical mark-recapture. These studies are logistically and financially intensive, and while widely accepted in the scientific community, local Inuit have voiced opposition to wildlife handling. To better reflect Inuit values and provide a rapid tool for monitoring Polar Bear population size, we developed and implemented an aerial survey in the Foxe Basin subpopulation (FB) during late summer, 2009 and 2010.”

      The study shows that “the bear population is not in crisis as people believed,” said Drikus Gissing, Nunavut’s director of wildlife management. “There is no doom and gloom.”

      Since the survey was sponsored by the Nunavut government, it only covered the coastal areas in that territory, and did not cover the coastal areas in NW Quebec. So the numbers could be even higher.

      http://www.newsnet5.com/weather/weather-news/three-cheers-for-polar-bears-new-study-shows-population-higher-than-thought

  41. Thanks for this post, Rob. It’s been a good conversation.

  42. If you liberals care to put your money where your mouth is, here is a wind tower manufacturer.

    Broadwind Energy, Inc. (BWEN)

    http://seekingalpha.com/article/2843886-broadwind-energy-strong-idea-for-2015-with-extremely-compelling-risk-reward

    I won’t be investing in it.

    • Jim2,

      Can I alternatively interest you in a long term (say 100 year) mutual fund of renewables including wind/solar/hydro/bio? My cloudy crystal ball indicates Exxon will be acquiring some of these firms in the future adding a premium in to the equation?

      • I should live so long. I’m not convinced wind and solar, and maybe bio, are viable sources of energy for an energy-hungry planet.

      • Jim2,

        I certainly hope you (and I) do. If not, we can leave a legacy for those for whom we care. I’m more comfortable with the localized use of wind/solar (rooftops) with today’s tech. The huge farms are an eyesore and I’m not so sure they save us much. I can’t help but think of those old T.I. calculators and how an entire (almost) supercomputer would fit in the space of one today. Leaves me with expectations for improvements. Bio? Not so sure.

    • Right now liberals are thinking it is too risky to invest in wind or solar without clarity of the future of carbon tax and in light of policy of restricting oil exploration on public lands backfiring somehow to result in $2/gal gas.

  43. Why not just let the chips fall to save time and money. Their plans for “Improving the State of the World”, is going just the way they want.

    http://apnews.myway.com//article/20150124/eu-davos-watch-e675c6b053.html

    The smartest people in the end always knew they were right. No point to endlessly go in circles.

    • This race to devalue currencies will culminate in a currency war.

      • We are now part of this war. If only the central bankers had been more transparent. Shared information. Been in constant communication…when will we ever learn?

      • If only our government hadn’t required banks to make loans to people who couldn’t afford it, keep interest rates too low for too long, encourage people to buy houses via mortgage deductions, and encourage banks to make loans for housing in general to stimulate the economy; we wouldn’t have had this problem in the first place.

        It’s the gubmint what’s the problem here.

      • Also, the US fired the first shot in currency devaluation in multiple rounds of QE. The US can’t object to other countries doing the same.

      • Helicopter Ben, did not tell us he was going to dump all the cash into Hanover Square.

  44. “Climate change has come to dominate the public space for environmental discourse.”
    Certainly true of the discourse in environmental economics, the field I am most familiar with. If climate change is only half the environmental problem, and CO2 is only half the climate change problem, I guess we’d better start paying attention to the three-quarters of the problem.

    • This is a global greenhouse gas emissions chart from the US EPA. It shows carbon dioxide as 57% of emissions.

      But we also have black carbon.

      ‘The best estimate of industrial-era climate forcing of black carbon through all forcing mechanisms, including clouds and cryosphere forcing, is +1.1 W/m 2 with 90% uncertainty bounds of +0.17 to +2.1 W/m 2. Thus, there is a very high probability that black carbon emissions, independent of co-emitted species, have a positive forcing and warm the climate. We estimate that black carbon, with a total climate forcing of +1.1 W/m 2, is the second most important human emission in terms of its climate forcing in the present-day atmosphere; only carbon dioxide is estimated to have a greater forcing…’ Bond, T. C. et al, 2013, Bounding the role of black carbon in the climate system: A scientific assessment, JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH: ATMOSPHERES, VOL. 118, 5380–5552, doi:10.1002/jgrd.50171

      The solutions must be based on economic and social progress.

      e.g. http://watertechbyrie.com/2014/06/30/black-carbon-a-health-and-environment-issue/

  45. “Climate change has come to dominate the public space for environmental discourse, with attendant and unfortunate demands on social and economic policy. Complexity science adds unexpected dimensions to the problem, but we would still be much better off — and much more environmentally friendly — pursuing a broad social and economic development agenda than one focused narrowly on climate change.”

    I agree 100% with that but how do you get Progressives (I consider myself one) to focus more on the big picture and less on climate change.

    I wrote this myself a little over two years ago when I tried to gather my own thoughts on climate change:

    “What clearly comes out from all of this is not that our big global crisis is climate change. Our problem is an irrational consumption of resources of all sorts – fossil fuels, , water, and land – combined with vast inequality in the distribution of wealth that leaves poorer countries with fewer resources to adapt to changes whether caused by global warming or other things. Global warming caused by greenhouse gases, assuming it exists as we have in this exercise, is but a part of the bigger problem of global mismanagement of the planet. Reducing greenhouse gases while we still pillage the Amazon, pollute the oceans, and leave millions impoverished and malnourished in the Third World will do far less to make a world a better place than would be addressing the real problems directly. Even if we reduce or eliminate human caused climate change, the climate and the world will still change. Nothing will stand still. The future will be better if we reduce our impact on the Earth in all ways, not just reduction of greenhouse gases. This will in part require that developing countries obtain greater access to the economic and technological resources they need.”

    http://broadspeculations.com/2012/08/26/climate-of-change/

    • This excursion into climate change folly is an ‘Extraordinary Popular Delusion and Madness of the Crowd’. This pathology, with its monomaniacal fervor, has caused vast damage; the lost opportunity costs therein compound. We have already damaged our grandchildren’s lives with this nonsensical narrative and perverted policy.
      ==================

    • Talk to Al Gore and he will tell you about what a personal environmental footprint is right for you, if you are one of the masses.

  46. “Climate change has come to dominate the public space for environmental discourse, with attendant and unfortunate demands on social and economic policy.”

    Yabbut in the U.S. environmental concerns are almost dead last in laundry list of common concerns. It nearly never comes up in real-life conversation in my experience.

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Twenty-eight U.S. senators held an all-night “talkathon” Monday to call attention to climate change, an issue that only 24% of Americans say they worry about a great deal. This puts climate change, along with the quality of the environment, near the bottom of a list of 15 issues Americans rated in Gallup’s March 6-9 survey. The economy, federal spending, and healthcare dominate Americans’ worries.

  47. Cartoon by Josh …

  48. E.M. Smith has a good post on the Sun’s influence on weather

    https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2015/01/24/an-interesting-resource-for-weather-history-vs-sunspots/

    That seems to agree with the main conclusions of my research career (see first comment).

  49. The discussion so far reflects two of the features of chaos theory that classical science has had trouble coming to terms with. The first is intrinsic unpredictability. The second is the fact that a chaotic system may react in a direction opposite to the imposed forcing. When I see a climate model have unpredictable instances where increasing CO2 causes cooling, then I might take that model seriously. Until then, not.

    • Interesting that Earth’s orbital oscillation patterns, that occur on the tens of thousands of years scale, have been the prime suspects for causing the huge epochal temperature swings. Yet the patterns, although fit the same scale, do not match up always in phase. Good case for chaos?

      • Indeed, the ice ages and inter-glacials do look like chaotic regime changes. The Milankovitch hypothesis has two problems. First, no one can find a mechanism that transfers the slow orbital changes into fast climate regime changes. Second, while these orbital M-cycles have always existed the ice age cycles are very recent geologically.

      • Well, chaos theory is fine and good. But the current climate is due to geology (where the land masses are).

        The Himalayas, the isthmus of Panama, the encircled Arctic ocean and the isolated continent at the south pole are the reason for the ice age.

        Chaos theory isn’t going to change that. High levels of insolation produce an interglacial but the stable state is very cold.

        Any state change is more likely to be colder than warmer.

        Today’s insolation is inadequate to produce an interglacial. If ice on either end of the world starts growing we could have a serious problem. The growth of Antarctic sea ice is a cause for concern and Greenland is adding an unusual amount to the ice sheet this year and will have a positive mass balance if the trend continues.

      • First, no one can find a mechanism that transfers the slow orbital changes into fast climate regime changes.

        That doesn’t mean no such mechanism exists. It could well be of the sort where a gradual change pushes things over a sudden “tipping point”.

        Second, while these orbital M-cycles have always existed the ice age cycles are very recent geologically.

        This could also, in principle, be explained, by continental movements. (Especially, IMO, the increasing extent of the Himalayas/Tibetan Plateau complex.) Gradual motion in this realm pushed things over a(nother) “tipping point” into a regime where glaciation was highly sensitive to the Milankovitch variations.

        OTOH, Carl Wunsch (2004) has proposed that the “record of myriadic climate variability in deep-sea and ice cores is dominated by processes indistinguishable from stochastic, apart from a very small amount (less than 20% and sometimes less than 1%) of the variance attributable to insolation forcing.”

        A number of records commonly described as showing control of climate change by Milankovitch insolation forcing are reexamined. The fraction of the record variance attributable to orbital changes never exceeds 20%. In no case, including a tuned core, do these forcing bands explain the overall behavior of the records. At zero order, all records are consistent with stochastic models of varying complexity with a small superimposed Milankovitch response, mainly in the obliquity band. Evidence cited to support the hypothesis that the 100 Ka glacial/interglacial cycles are controlled by the quasi-periodic insolation forcing is likely indistinguishable from chance, given the small sample size and near-integer ratios of 100 Ka to the precessional periods. At the least, the stochastic background ‘‘noise’’ is likely to be of importance.

      • @PA…

        Well, chaos theory is fine and good. But the current climate is due to geology (where the land masses are).

        IMO that’s a highly deceptive description. A better one might be that geology defines the basin of attraction within which the climate weather wanders. There are one or more attractors in that basin, with the climate weather being occasionally perturbed off whichever branch its on, onto a path bringing it back onto some branch of some attractor. History, “forcings”, and the shape of the attractors (basin of attraction) all go into defining its actual path.

        Within that description, “climate” could be defined as the “average behavior of weather”, or the “average area covered by the basin of attraction”, or both. Note that choosing both includes the tacit assumption that they’re the same thing, which AFAIK isn’t warranted.

      • AK: What Wunsch calls stochastic may well be chaotic. There is a huge difference. Stochastic is a concept classical scientists use to avoid chaotic.

      • AK:
        “A better one might be that geology defines the basin of attraction within which the climate weather wanders.” Thinking about what you wrote. It had seemed important to me that ice sheets involve taking sea water and raising its elevation, setting up a potential of that reversal aided by gravity. Greenland is a basin of attraction. It is currently filled with ice (the round thing that switches between basins) which is said to be leaving it. The Greenland basin is also effectively changing its shape because of weight changes in the ice at least slowly, and in some ways its effective slope is changing if you believe basal sliding rates change. In Antarctica the weight of the its ice sheets would seem to depress the earth’s surface over time, shaping that basin of attraction as well either increasing or decreasing stability. At some point the ice may just pour out. Ice is less cold at lower elevations and at some point the sea must leak in and undermine the whole thing if the land gets low enough from the increasing weight.

      • A diagram of what I wrote above:

        Hopefully it looks familiar.

      • That’s not quite what “basin of attraction” means.

      • I can be too literal, I thought it is good match though. I was trying to do something like this:

        It seems a good description of the ‘creativity deficit in science’ article in week in review with the green orb being innovative research that is lacking due to the low risk research being done.

  50. Back to chaos, what if there was a national “science czar” whoever that is declared climate science’s top immediate goal to be finding out first what causes the mega-glaciations and sporadic pauses, in which we enjoy now.

    Hint – it’s Milankovtich cycles are credited the macro-climate by those needed to dispense with the problem. But there is no causality or correlation when the data is focused in on. Berkeley’s Richard Muller hoped he could solve it but gave up and decided the present is the only thing that matters and it must be CO2 because he is fresh out of ideas.

  51. Perhaps 100 ka scale paleoclimate acts like and hourglass on a swivel and becomes increasingly unstable with time. When eccentricity of orbit increases the likelihood of a warm-switch getting thrown is favored. After a warm house is established near it stabilization peak temperature then it is simply at a vulnerability to an event like meteor or super-volano to throw a cooling switch.

    • I see now the 1970s scientists alarm for impending ice-age.

    • Any ideas from the RC or Skepicalscience people why such a limp change in eccentricity was supposed to take us out of the Younger Dryas to the Holocene, a 10 C shift in a couple of thousand years? Or with the minimal CO2 present?

      • R Graf, the most recent 4 glacial 100k year cycles are most likely triggered by M cycles. Most recent melt onset started several millennia before the YD event. YD was most likely an abrupt interuption in the north Atlantic thermohaline circulation when the Laurentide sheet had retreated enough to allow the ‘Lake Aggasis’ meltwater to suddenly drain via what is now the St. Laurence. YD was a millennial interuption in a much slower M timed process.
        Whether the periodic OD events are M related is disputed. Probably not. Much unknown. Why the RWP and the MWP? Why the LIA? So real hard to sort out attribution for data from just a few decades.

      • “..Our simulations suggest that a substantial fraction (60% to 80%) of the ice sheet was frozen to the bed for the first 75 kyr of the glacial cycle, thus strongly limiting basal flow. Subsequent doubling of the area of warm-based ice in response to ice sheet thickening and expansion and to the reduction in downward advection of cold ice may have enabled broad increases in geologically- and hydrologically-mediated fast ice flow during the last deglaciation.” http://scienceofdoom.com/2014/04/14/ghosts-of-climates-past-nineteen-ice-sheet-models-i/ Ice stacking until the weight of it all collapses. At the link they mention the insulating property of the ice sheets that aid in their movement. A slowed hydrological cycle is a glacial period followed by its collapse. Ellison mentioned the speed of hydrological cycle quite awhile back. It’s interesting that under all this ice, a new regime forms given enough time, of slightly warmer with more liquid water.

      • Is there also the same effect, as happens under an ice skater’s blade, that the greater the pressure the more liquid water is favored since it is more dense?

      • R Graf:
        That’s an excellent analogy. With ice skates it’s weight equals water on the ice. A vertical mile of an ice sheet 1 inch square is about a 2000 pounds I think. Assuming a skate has a square inch of effective contact area (most are slightly bowed, they rock) we seem to have sufficient force to melt water. “stress – Subglacial forces on rock are sufficient to fracture it, and are considered to exceed 60,000 pounds per square inch in some places.” – ebeltz What is called cold-pinned ice would create more heat over time. Exactly why ice skates work appears not to be settled science: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/21/science/21ice.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    • Keep in mind that if the glacial cycles are due to chaos then they may simply be due to constant solar input plus nonlinear feedbacks. Chaotic systems oscillate internally, because of “struggling” with feedbacks, not because of oscillating forcing.

      An important corollary to sensitivity to initial conditions is that there is no detectable reason for the oscillations. This is certainly a possible interpretation of the climate data, which is oscillatory on all scales of interest. But chaos theory implies that classical explanatory science is not possible when the phenomenon in question is chaotic. This is not a result that science willingly accepts, that we should figure out what cannot be explained.

    • If climate science alarmists have no explanation for the major driving forces behind the change in surface temperature over the thousand-year scale how can they begin to make predictions in a micro-scale of an admittedly chaotic system, especially when last 10,000 years plots a signal that looks like red noise?

      • If you strike out any claims by climate scientists that use weasel words like may, might, could, etc – then you wouldn’t be left with much at all.

      • R Graf, the climate alarmists do not admit that climate is an admittedly chaotic system on the scale of climate change. The models are only chaotic on the annual to decadal scale, if that. The alarmists thus claim that chaos is irrelevant on the decade to century scale, which is the scale of climate change. They dismiss chaos as short term noise. Much has been written on this.

      • Thus the need to create a hockey stick. I get it now.

      • I know of no “alarmist” climate scientist who does fully agree the climate is chaotic. Can you name one who does not?

  52. So my top suspect for dominant force creating ice ages is ocean currents. Meteor strikes are a good random potential cooling triggers. But the staying power must be established by a major dynamical change that has multi-thousand-year staying power. Insolation is the weakest suspect since it does not match phase with reconstructed temps on long-term or short-term scale studies. Muller did both.

  53. BTW, CO2 is not on my list since it has had plenty of past variance in paleo record and shown no ability to stabilize or trigger events. It’s creation lags warming, which is consistent with the expected increase in the life-cycle CO2 in the atmosphere with the increase warm habitable zone. CO2 otherwise slowly diminishes over cooling periods at it sinks into the ocean as carbonate.

  54. “YD was most likely an abrupt interruption in the north Atlantic thermohaline circulation when the Laurentide sheet had retreated enough to allow the ‘Lake Aggasis’ meltwater to suddenly drain via what is now the St. Laurence. YD was a millennial interruption in a much slower M timed process.”

    So I agree hypothetically that thermohaline conveyor interruption caused the Younger Dryas minimum.
    What caused the 90,000 years of glaciers before the interruption?
    What caused the resumption?
    What caused the resumption and warming reversal that melted 110,000 year-old glaciers with 10 C temperature increase and then stabilize near current temperatures?

  55. Deternining the duture by the position to ‘heavenly’ bodies used to be ca[[ed astrology and has been throughly debunked. Tipping points are a different matter, they do exist, sometimes called by a different name – singularity. For example, the rapid fall in average global temperature in 1940, completely unexpected, but largely ignored by the IPCC, a mistake that has cost the world climate research ever since.

    • Exactly, Alexander. I read a book on astrology in sixth grade and then amazed my classmates (and myself) by guessing their signs. If I got it wrong I quickly had an explanation and guessed again. I knew looking back at some point later that it was all luck. Climate predictors have the flavor of rain-makers and oracles in my opinion. Fortunately for us they have been much less lucky than I was in sixth grade. Until they can show the mechanisms science is not settled, let alone barely begun.

  56. There was a lot of excitement in 2011 when CERN’s Jasper Kirkby showed that cosmic rays could cause cloud seeding. As we know, our atmosphere is shielded from cosmic rays by both the Sun’s and Earth’s magnetic fields deflecting them. After the discover of Earth’s geomagnetic reversals, which apparently happen every 100k – million years, it has been postulated that reversals could cause ice ages since the multi-year interruptions in the magnetic shield potentially trigger lots more clouds. There are also known interruption events in the geomagnetic field apart from reversals. The problem is there is no periodicity evidence, that I know of, let alone a phase signal that matches the glaciation cycle.

    But what if we are barking up the wrong tree? What if it’s the Sun’s magnetic field that is oscillating on the ice-age periodicity? What would happen if the Sun’s poles flipped or it had a multi-decade pause? After all, looking at the Sun spot charts look very much like the glaciation charts, albeit on a different scale.

  57. Okay, here goes a wild swing. Let’s say Ragnaar’s Science of Doom article is spot on; when it comes to glaciers the bigger they are the harder they fall. Let’s say the cycle is controlled by reaching the tipping point of extreme instability of the ice-age temperature minimum which seems to take about 100 k years or a drunken walk down a staircase. Approaching the cycle bottom the glaciers are at their thickest and sea ice line furthest from the poles. This situation puts the thermohaline conveyor vulnerable to a random event that finally stops its flow. For some period the polar caps get even colder but without the conveyor’s warm water/air. They also become dryer. No more clouds = no more snow. The ice get’s dirtier without fresh coverage, reducing albedo. At the same time the cloudless skies allow the oceans to warm. (They are near black bodies in emissivity.) The glaciers are particularly unstable due to their weight to the slightest temperature increase and start sliding like fat men on ice skates into the sea. This triggers the resumption of the thermohaline conveyor. But the Gulf stream comes now with years of banked warm water from poor circulation and beaming sun. Pow! The glaciers now have to deal with overwhelming warmth and quickly and significantly retreat. As they retreat Earth’s albedo weaken and warm cycle continues into the inter-glacial period. The warm period will last until a random event causes global cataclysmic winter for time enough to reestablished fresh ice caps, which, of course, increase albedo and cooling. The conveyor continues to pump moist air and snow cover into the cold poles. Voila! a full cycle.

    OK, hit me on the chin.

  58. Since everybody else seems to weighing in on the cause of the glacial cycles, I might as well toss my idea out there.

    I think the main driver is the M cycle; however, there are probably one or more secondary drivers or amplifiers. My nomination is dust. I think somebody did a guest post here at one point suggesting cosmic dust had something to do with the cycles. I do not think that cosmic dust, however, is the explanation. I think it is sub-Saharan, South American, and Asian dust. As part of the Earth orbital and rotational dynamics, periodically these regions get dry or wet. When they get dry in conjunction with low insolation in the M cycle, the dust blows into the atmosphere, blocks sunlight, fails into the ocean, and fertilizes algae that removes CO2 from the atmosphere. This triggers cooling. When they get wet in conjunction with high insolation, the dust settles out of the atmosphere, algae die off and release CO2. This triggers warming.

    • Main driver? The main confusion is “conventional” wisdom. Milankovitch had is right, but could have cleaned things up a touch.

      http://redneckphysics.blogspot.com/2015/01/solar-cycles-and-ice-ages-lets-move-on.html

      When you start there, there aren’t as many exceptions to explain. So Milankovitch cycles are the driver most everything else is driven.

      • What makes chaos is when there is more than one driver. For example, when plotting natural forest fires what is the main driver, forests, drought, or lighting? M-cycles could be the slight force, ready to make the difference in lowering a reaction threshold to flip a powerful, but unstable, oscillating system. I think it is well established now that M-cycle obliquity can be weakly associated with paleo-temps, which matches physical expectation. But obliquity is a 41kyr cycle, not a 100kyr one. This is why some still believe that eccentricity, which is a 100kyr cycle is the driver. But there is many inconsistencies when matching eccentricity phase to paleo-temperature reconstructions. Also, eccentricity is the weakest theoretical contributor to insolation of the M-cycles.

        Richard Muller et al attempted to solve it to m-cycles for years. He even recognized a fourth M-cycle, precession through the ecliptic plane. It was exciting since is was a 100kyr cycle. Although it matched better than eccentricity he eventually gave up on it, admitting defeat. Muller then studied recent insolation records against directly recorded temps and saw little effect.

        Two years ago Muller, sadly, interpreted his exoneration of his suspect, insolation, as a conviction of the popularly maligned CO2 by reason of being fresh out of alternative ideas.

      • R Graf, Externally, the only consistent driver is solar. Internally, you have a host of responses, many biological that make it interesting. For ice accumulation though, you need warm oceans which need the solar, so equatorial solar forcing gives you a better correlation than 65N.

        De-glaciation would be more unpredictable. Sheets aren’t all that stable. Too much accumulation can trigger collapse. Dust/dirt reduces albedo, earthquakes and volcanoes can trigger collapse. So on and so on.

        Orbital forcing would impact tides and have a tendency to increase the probability of a number of those other factors triggering collapse, but stability is a big issue.

        If you can live with some imprecision, the Milankovitch Cyles with equatorial reference “explain” about as much as the data can explain. If not, the more precision you want the more chaotic things become. Then you are pretty much stuck with probability distributions without definite “causes” which can be less that helpful in many cases. Even with those, you don’t know how many decades, centuries or millennia of data you need to make them really useful. You just know there are wiggles every so often which you need to think about.

        Since most of paleo is obsessed with smoothing out wiggles, you get a false sense of normality being a flat line.

        Solar cycles do provide a handy baseline though since despite of all their limitations, they correlate with a good number of the wiggles :)

      • I agree that the Sun is the ultimate driver. And, it is logical to look at it first as Muller and others did. But if the changes in insolation are small and gradual and flips between massive cooling or warming are short and extreme, thus my interest shifts away from the Sun. Call me greedy, but I want to know what is behind the wiggles, large and small. I don’t think it’s CO2 and according to my president I am 97% chance wrong. That is what brought me here.

      • Capt,
        It is interesting that CO2 matches insolation in period and phase but not magnitude while temp vs. insulation matches only in period. Perhaps CO2 is more closely matching insolation because life more closely matches it since insolation provides two life-limiting resources, warmth and photosynthesis. This would be evidence that CO2 is more closely related to life than temperature.

      • R. Graf, ” Perhaps CO2 is more closely matching insolation because life more closely matches it since insolation provides two life-limiting resources, warmth and photosynthesis. This would be evidence that CO2 is more closely related to life than temperature.”

        That is what I think, there is a biological surge due to rapid de-glaciation along with ocean outgassing which seems to be a longer term process. I generally stay focused on the tropical oceans and a rough “global” tropical ocean reconstruction I have pieced together using Herbert 2010 data is really interesting.

        On the whole I think the 41ka to 100ka shift is due to lower average SST meaning it would take longer to build glacial mass. In the 800ka to 1000ka range you can see that the ~41ka doesn’t want to die out, things just didn’t work out for it. With warmer oceans it could make a comeback.

      • R. Graf, “Call me greedy, but I want to know what is behind the wiggles, large and small.”

        Then this post is for you :)

        http://redneckphysics.blogspot.com/2015/01/tropical-convective-triggering-potential.html

      • So if I am understanding correctly you are saying the M-cycle obliquity’s 41ka effect is paramount in the cycle but its signal fades as the Earth is cooling on the million-year scale so that it now only can trigger inter-glaciation every second or third time around. I have read this thought elsewhere. I agree it’s reasonable. But to me it only reinforces my curiosity as to what are the main forces in the glacial cycle dynamic that a lucky M-cycle get’s to trigger. Counting, we have thermohaline current, glacial growing instability due to gravity, albedo changes due to reflective ice transitioning to poorly reflecting water or poorly reflecting dirty ice, and dense cloud variability due to changes in wind current SST interface. I like your piece of the puzzle noting a natural SST limit at about 28C due to ability to trigger clouds. I have read other posts about rising atmospheric temps raising cloud formation height, shading more atmosphere as well as water. At the same time the cloud has less air density above its ceiling to trap its reflected light.

      • Clouds are the vernier tuning.
        ====================

    • James,
      I like dust as a player. It can act theoretically as a reflector in the atmosphere or as an absorber when settled on snow. And it has the means to travel globally.

      My thought is that atmospheric CO2 levels are favored by any increase in biological activity. After all even CO2 absorbing plants quickly get eaten or otherwise oxidized, putting the CO2 back into the atmosphere. While CO2 absorption is a slow, centuries-long process at 200-300ppm into at PH 8.2 oceans. I would say that the more life activity the more that life wins that battle for the CO2 being at their disposal in the atmosphere. And, of course, it is a self-reinforcing process until CO2 is no longer a significant life-limiting resource.

      • Nice. Does this explain the diminishing percentage of AnthroCO2 emissions which stays in the atmosphere?
        =========================

      • Kim,
        Looking at it through simple inorganic chemistry, the further out of equilibrium the system is forced the faster the process allowing it to return to equilibrium. However, in this case, the biosphere’s total life, or metabolic activity is a competing equilibrium with that of the solubility of CO2 in the oceans. So, to the extent plants can take advantage of the CO2 it helps keep it from the oceans, I figure.

  59. THE CHIEF IS GONE INTO ASTROLOGY.

    Chief, what the horoscope says about Australian deserts? Are they going to expand because is too much CO2 in Sydney and Melbourne, OR: they will keep expanding, because the Marxist are having a ”water embargo” on the Australian environment?! Because they demand all Australian stormwater to be drained into the sea – because Pacific doesn’t have enough water for the phony sea rising…?! Did Santa bring you a bigger shovel? Lucky you!…

  60. Ragnaar,

    Excellent observation that the glacial height increasing as the sea level decreases causes exactly the type of instability candidates one should look for. On top of this, as you pointed out, the increasing pressure on the ice-ground interface lowers threshold for lubricating water formation. Glaciers can gouge their own water slide into the oceans. In short, energy is banked over in glacial height waiting until a tipping point is reached. All we need to supply to the cycle is a trigger to release it and a dynamic to continue a run-away warming. What do you think of the idea that when Earth’s surface get’s cold enough the convection current (thermohaline) get’s prone to ceasing. When warm surface water is prevented from traveling north it’s humidity and cloud forming potential is also lost, along with precipitation of fresh snow. Earth with less clouds and dirty snow loses albedo and warms to a point where the convection current thermohaline resumes, bringing with it millennia of banked warm water just when the glacier are already straining from new warmth. Could this double-whammy kick overwhelm the 100-kyr glaciers, hitting them with more rain than snow, etc…, reversing albedo with great areas going from glaciers to glacier lakes?

    • R Graf:
      I think the thermohaline circulation would change. I think we’d see less equator to pole transport of heat. That there is a high transport state of that and a low transport state of that. I am not sure how much significance glacial lakes have, but some factors need to stop the glacial advance. The Red River drains North while the headwaters of the not far away Mississippi drain South. And they roughly divide the drainage where the last glacier stopped advancing South in Minnesota. So at the South edge of the glacier, melt water wanting to drain back under the glacier to the North may have stopped it. Not all glacial lakes drained North. Lake Missoula drained West while I’d guess the Lake Superior area drained East while some others drained South.

  61. Walt Allensworth

    Wow. Almost 400 comments and not a single one complaining that ocean acidification is an easy breezy low-risk green?

    Where have all the alarmists gone?

    • Walt,

      I would agree that ocean surface acidification could be a problem along with twenty other non-sustainable impacts. Does anyone have a figure on how long it takes on average for the ocean’s warm surface water to turn over with fresh deep water? I know CO2 dissolves very slowly. I do not know how slow. I am a green when it comes to engineering solutions. But I am not a green if you want me to protest against technology. Mankind now has one foot on the dock and one foot on the boat. That boat is fusion energy in my opinion. Solar and wind can give us some more time but in my opinion it cannot power the mega-engineering we will need to fix global problems while perfecting closed-loop recycling of resources. The later would also allow us to move off the planet inoculating mankind from extinction.

      Ocean surface acidification can be mitigated along with pollution from dumping by cutting back emissions and allowing the currents and vastness of water do the rest. If mankind put 1/00 the resources into developing fusion as are put into protests of technology we would be there already.

      • I know CO2 dissolves very slowly. I do not know how slow.

        Equilibrates in around a year. Figure it maybe cutting the tops/bottoms off the El Nino waves. In general, figure the ocean surface to be in rough equilibrium with the atmosphere.

      • AK,

        I am sure you are more knowledgeable on this but I read that most of the deep ocean is at near polar temperatures. Is that right? I thought it was due to the high density cold water not wanting to mix with low density warm surface water, and that we got any significant current at all is heavily influenced by summer melts alternating at each pole, like a push-pull pump. Are you sure that CO2 is that quickly distributed from shallow to deep ocean?

  62. The bottom line is all weather and climate variation is driven by the Second Law trying to smooth out the temperature gradient between the Earth’s poles and equator. Conduits of equalization include wind, ocean currents, and water heat of vaporization/condensation/fusion. All three have their unique mechanism advantages. Oceans are the only one with the ability to bank energy for one year, let alone thousands. Oscillation pattern bouncing somewhat chaotically between set temperature boundary limits, as seen on the Ice-age length scale, is a strong indicator of energy banking and release. Although glaciers height buildup is banking gravitational potential energy, there clearly is not enough to trigger thousands of years of warming, but it could be enough to trigger a release of energy banked elsewhere (like in the ocean).

    Oceans have most all the heat capacity of the globe’s surface but have a relatively weak convection current since the heat is coming in from above. (Try boiling hotdogs with a heat gun.) The glaciation cycle’s frequent and abrupt oscillations of the past million years does not match the gradual change in insolation from M-cycles. In fact, we have empirical evidence that an interruption in the Thermohaline Conveyor is associated with the YD minimum of the last ice age. It seem logical to see the chaotic pattern of climate as a reflection of ocean current dynamics. And there is no reason why this is limited to 1-year, 10-year or 100-year fluctuations.

    Earth’s temperature history shows that there is feedbacks dampening global temperatures from going too much above where we are now. This, especially when being 10ka plus into a waning of the most dominant M-cycle, obliquity. Therefore humanity’s greatest concern should be figuring out how to prevent the once in ten-thousand-year event likely triggering the next cascade of glaciation. If CO2 does have significance it could be civilization’s savior in mitigating such an event.

    • CO2 saves the day through an accidental bit of geoengineering.

      It is more likely to tip the balance through the Arctic/Snow – and subsequent big spring melt – mechanism.

      https://curryja.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/pnas.pdf

      • Tipping the balance between glacials and interglacials involves ice sheets and changes in planetary albedo. This seems implied in the terms used to describe the states. There are not 2 states – but many interim states and abrupt changes between. The question is what tips ice sheet growth. An open Arctic, warmth and increased snow is one part of the equation. The albedo feedback is another. Low NH summer insolation yet another.

        Oceans warm from the top 100m – sun warmed water is mixed downward on eddies. Buoyancy dominates as warm water rises – keeping the top 100m or so warmer. This surface readily equiibriates with the atmosphere – and not over 1000 years.

      • “This surface readily equiibriates with the atmosphere – and not over 1000 years.”

        I agree. And I think that one can do the math of heat capacity of each and see how much energy is stored in each. Without ocean currents the polar and deep oceans become cooler and sea surface temperatures are more effected by insolation and atmospheric convection. But when a global ocean current like the TH conveyor redistributes the heat that changes the ballgame. When a current changes it has the ability to bank/unbank a lot of energy initially. And, it will be a continual new local energy source until the current changes.

        “Tipping the balance between glacials and interglacials involves ice sheets and changes in planetary albedo.”

        I agree. Ice sheet’s change in albedo in a self-reinforced cooling cycle. That’s the easy part. What breaks the cycle? Why doesn’t glacial advance stabilize at a maximum threshold line, gradually migrating north and south in tune with M-cycle obliquity? The only answers that come to my list are chaotic variations in: a) insolation, b) atmospheric convection and/or cloud formation dynamics, c) ocean dynamics, e) atmospheric GHG concentrations. f) dust g) meteor strikes/volcanoes/Earthquakes h) combinations of two or more of a-g.

        Also remember that ice sheet albedo is effected by how fresh/dirty the snow is.

        What is your detailed theory for cause/effect for glacial cycles?

    • R Graf,

      Very interesting. Thank you.