Week in review – science edition

by Judith Curry

A few things that caught my eye this past week.

In the news

This is the best, clearest explanation I’ve seen of neutrinos and this year’s Nobel physics prize  [link]

Physics Nobel Winners Also Solved Solar Mystery [link]

This year’s #NobelPrize for medicine goes to drugs that improved the lives of 3.4 billion people worldwide [link]

Amazing story about possibly the greatest mathematical discovery of the past century, but no one understands it. [link] …

Andy Revkin: “Korean Economist is Elected to Lead UN IPCC” [link] …

“The geological storage of carbon dioxide for Carbon Capture and Storage is secure and safe” [link] …

A Shifting Approach to Saving Endangered Species: [link]

“Bacteria in the world’s oceans produce millions of tons of hydrocarbons [crude oil] each year” [link]  …

What’s an “atmospheric river” and why is it relevant to #Joaquin? @DrShepherd2013 explains: [link]

NOAA scientists declare 3rd #GlobalCoralBleaching event on record: [link]  …

New papers

Special Royal Society issue on Climate Feedbacks [link]

Good overview article by Eric Wolff:  Understanding Climate Feedbacks [link]

The change in simulated temperature in response to a second doubling of CO2 is 40% larger than the first doubling [link] …

The inconstancy of the transient climate response parameter under increasing CO2 [link]

Central England temperature & global temperature [link]…

“Scientists solve deep ocean carbon riddle” why dissolved organic carbon isn’t increasing in deep ocean.  [link]

New paper finds CO2 fertilization has greened warm, arid environments by 11% [link] …

Must click:  Visualized OCO2 satellite data showing global carbon dioxide concentrations [link] …

Looks interesting – Coincidence vs. Causality: Connections in the climate system [link]

Svensmark’s Solar Amplifier Theory Solidifies [link]

“Most models unrealistically form Antarctic Bottom Water by open ocean deep convection in the Weddell & Ross seas.” [link]

New paper finds prior “reconstructions of time series in climatology” are “mathematically incorrect” [link]

Ozone destroyer drops mysteriously [link]

New paper explains how phases of natural oscillations ENSO and PDO interact to influence number of typhoons  [link]

A Short Summary of Soon, Connolly and Connolly, 2015; “Re-evaluating the role of solar variability on Northern Hem… [link]

Sea ice is not a stable habitat for polar bears – summarized today in The Arctic Journal [link] …

Ancient islands stranded in the Arctic [link]

New paper: jet “contrails impact hydrological cycle in the atmosphere by reducing the total water column and clouds” [link]

Paradigm shift: energy optimized imprecise supercomputers [link] …

GMOs, food & nutrition

An important and brilliant effort to completely reframe the debate over GMOs [link]

Best piece yet: “These Emails Show Monsanto Leaning on Professors to Fight the GMO PR War” in Mother Jones [link].  Looks positively RICO worthy

#Monsanto academic scandal spreads to Canada. [link]

Here’s @MonsantoCo perspective: Why does Monsanto work with academics? [link]

GMO propaganda and the sociology of science [link]

Whole milk vs skim milk: How hypothesis became dogma …the case, though thinly supported, was presented as if it were a sure thing [link]

USDA chief: US dietary guidelines just ‘hunches’ & ‘opinion.’ Wishes for ‘scientific facts.’ [link]

About science

“Political Scientists”. Scott Findlay explains what it means to be a scientist-advocate. [link]

Interesting paper by @AmeliaSharman on impact of climate controversy on the production of knowledge – addresses the impact of skeptics [link]  Discussed at BishopHill [link]

.@PTetlock & @DGardner’s Superforecasting is a fantastic—and important—read. Who knew? @TheEconomist’s review: [link] …

An interview with social psychologist @PTetlock, author of “Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction” [link]   …

Very interesting read: Simon Schaffer and Sujit Sivasundaram on taking a global view of the history of science: [link]…

Science for the people! A brief history of radical science [link]…

Is withholding your data simply bad science, or should it fall under scientific misconduct? [link]

 

314 responses to “Week in review – science edition

  1. Pingback: Week in review – science edition | Enjeux énergies et environnement

  2. This headline:
    Amazing story about possibly the greatest mathematical discovery of the past century, but no one understands it.
    Leads to the coral bleaching article.

  3. Roger “Tallbloke” plans to attending the International Conference on Geo-ethics on Prague. Scientists who experience life near the boarder between East and West during the Cold War are sensitive to the political that influence science.

  4. Possibly of some interest to a wider audience:

    There is a direct connection between the synodic period of Venus and the Earth and the rates of precession of the lunar line-of-nodes and the lunar line-of-apse – factors that are known to influence the levels of tidal stress upon the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans

    http://astroclimateconnection.blogspot.com.au/2015/10/there-is-direct-connection-between.html

    • To the narrow audience I ask, ‘If Christ had come yesterday would it make a difference to you today?

    • I do not believe that people here realize the full implications of this study. Combined with the work of Nikolay Sidorenkov, Paul Pukite (WHT) and others [including myself] it shows that lunar tides are an important forcing term for the Chandler wobble, the QBO and the ENSO phenomenon.

      Many people spend a lot of time talking about the ENSO on this blog site but just yawn and move on when actually shown a very plausible mechanism for the triggering of El Nino events.

      There is now every strong evidence that the lunar tidal stresses upon the Earth’s oceans and atmospheres plays a crucial role in instigating ENSO climate events.

      What this study is showing is that there may be an additional link [at least in timing] to the planetary orbital periods. Of, course this is far more speculative but I would have thought that it might just have sparked some interest with a climate savy group like the one here.

  5. re coral bleaching I note “The first global bleaching event was in 1998, during a strong El Niño that was followed by an equally very strong La Niña. A second one occurred in 2010.” I suspect could be changed to “The first observed and reported….” since that is unclear. When did we first start looking at bleaching events and how does the data look over time? Also, since the event coincided with a strong El Niño and an equally very strong La Niña, that it is far more likely to be due to said extremes than to increased carbon dioxide. So is this all just a natural part of the overall coral lifecycle? Now the other comments about reducing stress on the coral from pollutants and overfishing and even poaching by dumping acid on reefs to catch fish (which they did not mention), is far more important, and far more deserving of our funds and efforts, than chasing carbon dioxide. But that’s just me.

    • I live on the ocean next to South Florida’s reef system. Can see it from the balcony. It is fine. Bleaching is a natural response to changing conditions, so long as new symbionts re-establish. The major cause of bleaching both here and on Australia’s Great Barrier reef ( and maybe Hawaii) is runoff pollution. Decomposing organic matter gives off trace hydrogen sulfide, to which many marine organisms are exquisitely sensitive. LD50 of 30ppb for corals! Wrote it up in the ebook version of Shell Games, with references.
      I snorkeled a bleaching event in the Caribbean off St Croix in the 1990’s caused by runoff from a major hurricane. Buck Island Reef National Monument. The US NPS only underwater ‘hiking’ trail. Fantastic despite the suffering staghorn corals.

      • rud, no sources to hand, but my impression re the GBR is that Greens cry “Wolf!” on runoff pollution but that it is not a major factor, certainly not a threat, that (a) the threats are natural and (b) the Reef is very resilient. Does the run-off even reach the Reef? Much of the Reef is 50-60 kms offshore from run-off areas.

      • Back in the 1960s, long before tossers started using the word “iconic”, we had a lot of quiet news days in Oz, especially Sundays. The GBR was regularly trotted out for a scare story in the Sun Herald and Sunday Telegraph, usually over Crown Of Thorns. The problem would go away for the rest of the week, unless things went especially yawnful between cricket and footy seasons.

        The reef is so big you can always find some bleaching, pollution or COTS damage somewhere, though it’s often easier for activists to use photos of cyclone damage etc from elsewhere rather look for a needle of damage in the vast haystack of healthy reef.

        Beat-up.

      • I hate how the global warming alarmist crowd turn everything innocuous, normal cycle or even just maybe catastrophic into a proof of more impending doom. I think it desensitizes people and leaves them not caring about issues we can actually do something about.

      • Obviously the reef needs continued conservation measures and controls. Ben Cropp is the guy who has had his eye on the reef for as long as I can remember. He’s concerned about pollution on the inner reef, and reef pollution world-wide, but he still dives every week and reckons most of the alarmism over the GBR is beat-up.
        https://www.qtportdouglas.com.au/qt-life/ben-cropp-on-the-great-barrier-reef/

        Now we’re so green, it’s hard to find the will for actual conservation. As long as people are being bombarded with scares over boiling oceans and vinegar seas there’ll be less energy for what’s do-able, like controlling N Qld coastal run-off and monitoring of COTS. When the main “solution” is solar panels around Berlin or wind turbines in Thames Estuary, it’s harder to negotiate a local fix. Conservation has been de-sexed, I’m afraid, by Big Green.

      • How many ways ter say ‘be afraid, be vary afraid
        of AGW C-oh -two-climate-change.

        There’s ‘ iconic,’ – ‘ hockey stick rules!’

        There’s ‘ ironic,’ – ‘ well of course yer’ve published in
        our main-stream cli-sci journals.’

        There’s ‘megaphonic,’ – ‘ listen up, 95% of climate
        scientists know that…’

        And there’s sometimes fear ‘n guilt, ‘catatonic,’
        ‘tipping point, O M G ! ‘

      • tumbleweed wrote:

        I hate how the global warming alarmist crowd turn everything innocuous, normal cycle or even just maybe catastrophic into a proof of more impending doom. I think it desensitizes people and leaves them not caring about issues we can actually do something about.

        Yeah it’s the wolf wolf story but we must try to approach everything we see, even on this most trustworthy of oracles the internet, with the same skepticism and willingness to learn, whether or not we agree with the source. After all the hype, I find I have to make a conscious decision to give a warmist story a fair read.

      • “Back in the 1960s, long before tossers started using the word “iconic”, we had a lot of quiet news days…”

        I heard myself saying something was “iconic” the other day and immediately apologized. Words like that are always appearing, seemingly out of nowhere, like virulent strains of the flu.

        “Meme’s” a good example. Man, I detest that word.

        Meme this, pal.

        (aka pokerguy)

    • It’s obviously too late to do anything about coral reef bleaching. (ahoy! sarcasm ahead). The Huffington Post reported last year that:

      In fact, as much as 80 percent of Caribbean coral reefs are dead. And, in Australia almost three quarters of the largest reef on the globe, the Great Barrier Reef, has died.

      http://tinyurl.com/oy2d2sk

      Dr. Reese Halter (quoted above) is a confirmed member of the “it’s worse than we thought” club. Only one year later, he is declaring that yet another 38 percent of the Great Barrier Reef will die off. http://tinyurl.com/p8l2f5t (starting around 1:50 in video)

      As the late Yogi Berra might have said, 100 percent of coral reef bleaching is 50 percent mental.

      • “In fact, as much as 80 percent of Caribbean coral reefs are dead….”

        In fact, as much as 80 percent of the cruise liner visitors to the Caribbean coral reefs are almost dead.

    • It’s the same with the whole polar bear thing. One of these alarmist propagandists needs a good story for their late fund raiser so they jump in a plane and fly to the arctic and circle around looking for a polar bear in trouble. They take some great pictures, like the starving female polar bear who has an injured front leg (which was why she was starving) and they scream about how global warming in killing all the polar bears, take shocking pictures, release them to the media who publish the propaganda totally uncritically without talking to anyone else who is actually working in the field and then they immediately fly south. Meanwhile, the real polar biologists are reporting the populations are doing very well and increasing, and the people who live up north have to take even more protective measures because polar bears will eat people given a chance. The press never want to report that those cute cuddly white teddy are actually ferocious, clever, highly adaptable, and deadly predators.

      • Tumbleweed,

        “The press never want to report that those cute cuddly white teddy are actually ferocious, clever, highly adaptable, and deadly predators.”

        The arctic is one of the last places on earth where humans are still on the menu!

        You gotta hand it to the press – they really get the availability heuristic. Two words for skeptical activist scientists: pictures, stories. Note: for the average knucklehead, a graph is not a picture.

  6. The first GMO article to me reads like a “Merchant of Doubt”, only the doubt that it attempts to create is the scientific establishment. Fascinating that she tries to equate her opposition with Big Tobacco. Just reading a few of the comments makes it seem that she is saying a lot of misleading stuff; see the comments about her claim about whether GMO foods are safe.

    • Miker613:
      I absolutely agree. Montenegro’s approach is essentially to argue the precautionary principle. Moreover, as I think you allude to, her interpretation of the 2011 meta study is decidedly odd. This is an area that I know very little about, but the tone of her article made me skeptical. I looked at some of her earlier work and indeed she has amplified negative results. Her suggestion that seed R&D and availability should somehow be hostage to the profit margins of small farmers bespeaks a world view very different from mine and the one that has built our current level of food production.
      Finally, her closing recommendation to somehow centralize agricultural research under the Government was simply too much. The assumption that that would lead to less biased research is extremely odd.

      • I responded below to the last ofmthe GMO articles. This one is far worse-displays even more ignorance of underlying lab tested molecular biology.

      • ristvan: Did your comment get lost?

      • For some unknown reason, in moderation. Molecular biology?

      • Has happened before on long complex technical posts. Have no clue why. JC usually wanders by eventually and rescues me from whatever unknown sins. Be patient.
        It will appear, and reveal indirectly that I spent almost 3 years as the senior most exec in charge of Motorola’s gene chip business. Stuff I had to learn, in order to manage all those Ph.D’s we hired that I was responsible for. Worst was a three hour grilling in front of a panel of Mayo docs, headed at that time by Dr. Frank Prendergast, MD PhD, head of Mayo Cancer Centers ( and later using Mot gene chips for research, individualized medicine). I survived, and we got the business. Just a war story from the molecular biology front of that time.

      • Have been rescued.

      • David Springer

        the word underly.ing contains the forbidden word ly.ing

        it’s a famiLI.AR story to those of us who know that banned words still trigger moderation when contained inside another word

      • When she wrote that the Union of Concerned Scientists provides good scientific work I stopped reading.

  7. The Eric Svenson whole world CO2 map placed next to the manmade carbon dioxide appears to show that the signature by man is swamped by the signature from everything else except in Asia. I was fascinated to not that the region of the highest C02 in North American appears to coincide precisely with the boreal forest. Now that is not a new observation but here http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/boreal-forest-breathes-deep-and-climate-change-pause/ they attribute it to the the boreal forest “breathing” more due to more carbon dioxide provided by man, whatever “breathing more” may mean. The obvious conclusion then is we must get rid of that breathing boreal forest by cutting it all down as rapidly as possibly because it is putting out far more carbon dioxide that all of urban Canada and we must stop it! We turn the entire forest into giant windmill field! (That was sarcastic by the way.) Well the lumber industry should be happy with that idea.

    • The annual vegetation cycle is 6 ppm, larger locally. It is hard to see a mean 2-3 ppm/yr trend against that unless you average over something like 5-10 years, but in that time the manmade source gets distributed equally around the globe, so you won’t see source regions easily. Another way would be to have enough years to subtract the vegetation cycle and see what is left because the manmade sources are quite persistent. After a few years of this satellite, we should probably see a study like this.

      • Okay, why would the man made source of carbon dioxide gets distributed around the world but the forest source would not? Why is a manmade source of C02 persistent while a forest made source is not? I don’t understand this explanation.

      • Tumbleweed, forests are not actually sources of carbon. They sequester a whole lot of carbon to one spot and then release it when trees die, etc. Therefor they look as though they are huge sources of carbon, but actually are not…

      • The Eric Svenson figure is an annual one. i.e. the carbon dioxide released over the course of an entire year. (“Eric Swenson provides this map in comments showing CO2 over the entire year from From September 2014 to October 2015 – Anthony”) Unless I misunderstood the content of the figure, that would be an average release over a year and that would be the release of a lot of carbon dioxide, over and above anything what is sequestered. So the forest is a route of carbon dioxide, unless I am misunderstanding the figure. I don’t see any map or figure on carbon dioxide being sequestered in that figure.

      • Okay I went back and rechecked and no, Australia and South America are net carbon sequestering parts of the world but the boreal forest is not. The boreal forest is a carbon dioxide producer and easily the single greatest source of total carbon dioxide in all of North America and probably ranking second or third for the world overall. We Canadians better start chopping wood, quick marche.

      • Jim D still waiting on why manmade 0C0 is different from tree made 0C0 in terms of persistence and spread.

      • Tumbleweed, before you grab your axe, tell me how the boreal forest is a source of co2… Trees cannot produce carbon, they can only redistribute carbon. How does the boreal forest differ from australia, south america (or the congo)? Unless the boreal forest is dying, diminishing (or y’all are chopping it down with axes) it should be a net sequesterer of carbon and not a source… thanx for your input, fonzie

      • They are both distributed around the globe, but the vegetation effects are more intense sources and sinks if you look at data over one month as they do with the satellites more often. What you see is the intensity of the source or sink because then it shows up before it gets distributed.

      • But I am referring to the data where the average over a whole year was used and that shows the output of the boreal forest is higher than anything else in North America while South America and Australia are net carbon sinks. The data for a year total is not output BEFORE sequestration is taken into account, it’s output total AFTER sequestration. So I still don’t get it. I mean it makes sense since I know that the boreal forest is loaded with peat bogs and much of it is under water and so it would be producing the same way a dammed river would, anaerobic decay. Maybe you can explain it better.

      • Yeah, the analogy i like to use is a back yard pond… I built one in a courtyard here in the french quarter once and i couldn’t help but notice how much debris would collect in the pond. This was a large open courtyard in what used to be a carmelite convent, so there was a lot of wind to move the debris around. But when the debris hit the water, it would move no more. Forests are the same way. Freely moving air passes through the forest and the trees snatch the co2 out of the air. That air would move on only to be replaced by more air and so the sequestration continues. When it comes time for the trees to die, all that carbon that’s been snatched from the atmosphere reveals itselt right then and there. All that carbon that has gradually been sequestered out of the atmosphere at large, then, ends up being concentrated at that one spot where the forest is. And we come along, measure it and think that the forest has become a source of carbon. It’s kind of like me thinking that the back yard pond produces debris, but it does not…

      • afonzarelli, I lie not far from the boreal forest and I have been in it many times and let me tell you, it is chock full of standing and slow moving water. Yes it has trees, It also has peat bogs, lakes and literally hectares and hectares of land drown by the activity to beavers.

  8. Curious George

    Amazing story about possibly the greatest mathematical discovery of the past century, but no one understands it. [link] … Wrong link.

  9. “This is the best, clearest explanation I’ve seen of neutrinos and this year’s Nobel physics prize”

    Nothing to it…well, almost. :OP

  10. Curious George

    The last paragraph from ‘Paradigm shift: energy optimized imprecise supercomputers.’ “High-performance computation is rapidly overtaking traditional experimentation in many scientific disciplines. In designing the next generation of supercomputers, we must embrace inexactness if that allows a more efficient use of energy and thereby increases the accuracy and reliability of our simulations.”

    It is a beautiful summary of a modeler’s thinking: By embracing inaccuracy we increase the accuracy. Did I actually use the word “thinking”?

  11. “Wolfgang Pauli first proposed the existence of an unseen particle in a 1930 letter to colleagues, trying to explain conservation of energy in a type of radioactive decay (beta decay) in atomic nuclei. (Energy appeared to be missing in some early experimental results, and he contended this was simply not possible. He was correct.) Addressing them as “Dear Radioactive Ladies and Gentlemen,” he suggested the culprit was a very light particle that carried away some of the energy. Enrico Fermi later dubbed it a “neutrino.”

    Pauli thought such a particle might never be detected; he claimed he only proposed it in desperation to find a good theoretical explanation for the beta decay problem. It took 25 years to do so. ”

    Let’s see

    1. Law and theory said there shall be No missing energy.
    2. Experiment said: There is missing energy.

    A) Bohr, obviously using popperian and feynman like logic said. reject the law of conservation of energy

    B) Pauli, said… we can keep the law IF there are unicorns. . getting rid of that big old theory is HARD work. lets posit a unicorn..

    Lesson: When an experiment conflicts with theory…sometimes you keep the theory around hoping for a unicorn. Sometimes you find a unicorn.Some times is takes decades.

    • Curious George

      Sometimes it never happens. It depends on how good the theory is.

    • Lesson: When an experiment conflicts with theory…sometimes you keep the theory around hoping for a unicorn. Sometimes you find a unicorn.Some times is takes decades.

      Ha! Very similar to a quote of Nanopoulos in Discover Magazine back in the 80’s. Then one also thinks of Woit’s, Smolin’s, and Baggot’s points of view on theoretical physics.

      • Steven Mosher, isnt theory that got thrown out the one that said neutrinos have no mass?

        Sometimes you toss theories out.

    • Mosher says, but offers no proof: “A) Bohr, obviously using popperian and feynman like logic said. reject the law of conservation of energy”

      I’m thinking Bohr was hypothesizing and that it had zero to do with “Popperian” philosophy.

      • the theory said there should be no energy loss.
        energy loss was observed.

        What would Dicky feynman say?

        Dump the theory

        Bohr’s suggestion was just that perhaps the law didnt hold at the nuclear level.

        To save the theory, Pauli posited a new particle.. at the time undetectable.

        Here is what you see: Popper and feynman were wrong.

        you dont just toss theories out

      • Curious George

        Steven – someone measured an energy loss, seemingly contradicting a law of conservation of energy. Who measured a climate sensitivity? Are there any measurements supporting … supporting … what theory?

      • It was a good choice to toss the Bohr model of that atom, the theory of ether, and the theory that there exists an absolute frame of reference.

        Bohr and Einstein were regularly arguing in those tempestuous days when classical physics theories had to be tossed out. I think that was partly his motivation. What with the bastions of physics falling left and right, it was probably easy to think that the conservation of energy was also wrong and thereby the more classical concept of the universe could be left mostly intact.

        I think that’s what it was.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BKS_theory

      • maksimovich1

        The take home point for the solar neutrino problem,was that there was a problem.with the inexactitude of both theory and experiments.,

        The third solution to the problem ie the physics was wrong and incomplete was shown by V.N. Gribov and B.M. Pontecorvo 1969.

        Just one year after the problem was recognized, this visionary paper proposed the basic idea underlying the correct solution of the solar neutrino problem. More than three decades were needed in order to prove that indeed new particle physics was required to explain what happened to the uncounted neutrinos.

        http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/themes/physics/bahcall/

        Solar neutrinos still invoke legitimate questions on solar luminosity, and the concomitant Quaternary glaciations of both Mars and earth.

        http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v243/n5408/abs/243459a0.html

        https://www.fas.org/sgp/othergov/doe/lanl/pubs/00416654.pdf

      • Steven Mosher, isnt theory that got thrown out the one that said neutrinos have no mass?

        Sometimes you toss theories out.

      • Mosher’s main error is to formulate a rule for when theory and observations and conflict. Consider that part of what motivated Einstein to develope his theory of Relativity was the precession of the orbit of Mercury which is contrary to Newton’s laws of motion. No one threw out Newton’s laws when the observation was noted because the laws work so well. In fact they are relativity in the limit of low velocity and can be used for engineering.

        As has been the practice for a long time, sometime you toss the theory, sometime you don’t. It depends.

        Now climate models don’t work well — so poorly that it is reasonable to question underlying theory — so poorly that they are not suitable for engineering.

    • davideisenstadt

      Mosh:
      I rthink fey man would say
      “my name is Richard”
      really….
      “What would Dicky feynman say?”
      way to be a whiff of gaseous excreta.

    • Sometimes, but the odds are not with you. More often the data sings and the unicorns don’t show up. More interestingly, what reason do we have to believe we have already learned all the laws of thermodynamics?

      • The Wright brothers did not wait until they understood all the laws of aerodynamics before inventing the airplane.

        You wage the war on scientific ignorance with the laws you have, not the laws you might want or wish to have at a later time.

      • “…the Wright Brothers…”

        Yeah, but the Wright Brothers flew their own plane. That’s the difference between the right brothers and the left brothers – the left brothers want to strap some other brother, kicking and screaming, into the plane.

    • Steven,

      You’re forgetting one thing – the neutrino also carried away spin. Pauli was immortalized with his exclusion principle, that no two particles of the type that were eventually called fermions could have the same quantum state, one aspect of which is described by spin.

      If it was just energy that was missing, it would be “easy” to chalk it up to measurement error. But since both energy and spin were missing…

      • David Springer

        Descent with modification is an observation not a theory. Natural selection is an observation not a theory. Darwin’s “theory” is that descent with modification and natural selection combine to explain how different species emerge from common ancestors. The mechanisms are now well known but the fossil evidence Darwin’s theory predicted (gradual change) never emerged. The fossil record is one of very long periods of stasis marked by abrupt transformation to new species.

        Arguably the 20th century’s greatest paleontologist Stephen Gould wrote

        The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology…Paleontologists have paid an exorbitant price for Darwin’s argument. We fancy ourselves as the only true students of life’s history, yet to preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we never see the very process we profess to study.

        Darwin’s hypothesis is long refuted. The current “theory” (using the term loosely) is call “the modern synthesis”. Write that down, Vaughn. It’s not a theory so much as a narrative. The difficult problem called chemical evolution still remains. The mechanisms underlying descent with modification and natural selection are well enough understood with today’s sciences of genetics and molecular biology. Common ancestry isn’t disputed except by biblical literalists which is not a group to which I belong. The origin of the molecular machinery which enable descent with modification and natural selection is still a mystery.

    • David Springer

      Conservation of energy isn’t a theory, Mosher. It’s a law. The difference between law and theory is generally taught in 9th grade physical science in the US. You should perhaps take a refresher course. Just sayin’.

      • @DS: The difference between law and theory is generally taught in 9th grade

        For the benefit of those of us who skipped 9th grade, David, mind filling us in?

        I am so looking forward to this explanation. ;)

      • David Springer

        Happy to oblige. A law states what happens under certain conditions. A theory explains why something happens under certain conditions. Typically laws are axiomatic and have no underlying explanation. For instance there is no theory of why energy and momentum are conserved quantities. They’re axioms. A classic example is Newton’s universal law of gravitation. It has been around for centuries. No theory predicts or explains it.

        https://www.ck12.org/physical-science/Scientific-Law-in-Physical-Science/lesson/Scientific-Law/?referrer=concept_details

      • Actually, a “law” is just a fossilized theory. Or ossified. Or both.

      • David Springer

        No. Theories don’t become laws. A common misconception. Laws are statements of what happens under certain conditions. Theories are explanations of why things happen under certain conditions.

        http://web.missouri.edu/~hanuscind/8710/NSTA_Science101theorylaw.pdf

        Theories can never become laws, because laws form the body of evidence upon which we base theories. Laws can help with formulating theories, but theories do not develop into laws. Finally, hypotheses, while a natural part of the scientific process, do not generally evolve into theories.

      • So when people say that evolution is “just a theory”, they’re saying that evolution just explains something?

        I don’t think they’re saying that at all.

      • David Springer

        When they say “theory of evolution” they’re using the term loosely. There is no theory of evolution.

      • @DS: When they say “theory of evolution” they’re using the term loosely. There is no theory of evolution.

        If you’re right you should have no difficulty fixing the Wikipedia article on evolution by editing out the word “theory” in the sentence,

        In the mid-19th century, Charles Darwin formulated the scientific theory of evolution by natural selection, published in his book On the Origin of Species (1859).

        using “there is no theory of evolution” in the Edit Summary.

        I ran into pedants like you who had narrow definitions of words like “theory” and “proof” when I wrote the Wikipedia article on proof starting on July 6, 2010. Previously Wikipedia had taken the narrower view that a proof was something used in mathematics and formalized by logic. As someone who’d published over 50 papers on logic since the mid-1970s (maybe over 70, I haven’t counted) I felt this was far too narrow and started the article with,

        A proof is sufficient evidence for the truth of a proposition. In oral and written communication such as conversation, dialog, rhetoric, etc., a proof is a perlocutionary speech act intended to persuade a hearer or reader of the truth of a proposition. In any area of mathematics defined by its assumptions or axioms, a proof is an argument establishing a theorem of that area via accepted rules of inference starting from those axioms and other previously established theorems. Logic, in particular proof theory, formalizes and studies the notion of formal proof. In epistemology and theology the notion of justification plays approximately the role of proof, while in jurisprudence the corresponding term is evidence.

        I also pointed out that proofs need not be verbal, and that a verbal entity could be a proof without asserting a proposition.

        All this got me into hot water with those who preferred the status quo, and there was a month of unpleasantness before common sense prevailed and things settled down.

      • David L. Hagen

        Springer
        Feynman appears to disagree. He describes “guessing” a new “law” – testing its predictions against evidence. Later he addresses disproving a “theory”. That appears to suggest hypothesis to theory to law.

      • Holy moly! The conversation has turned to the theory of evolution! What’s next, a woman’s right to abrogation?

      • @DS: Conservation of energy isn’t a theory, Mosher. It’s a law.

        Well, it was until Einstein abrogated it with his new law E = mc².

      • David Springer

        E=mc2 is an equivalence law not a conservation law.

        It’s not a theory – it doesn’t explain why E=mc2.

        Read harder.

      • David Springer

        That short quip from Feynman is out of context. New laws aren’t guessed at then confirmed with observations. Observations suggest new laws. Inability to find observations contrary to the tentative law establish trust. Newton didn’t guess at the universal law of gravitation. He deduced it from observation then hundreds of years of no contrary observations made it a trusted law.

        This is contrasted with theory which explains why a law is a law. We have no theory of gravity even today. It isn’t predicted by the standard model.

      • David Springer

        @Pratt

        The wikepedia article on proof doesn’t speak to the differences between hypothesis, theory, and law.

        If you never counted how many papers on logic you’ve written how do you know it’s at least 50 and as many as 70? How much of your work would you say is based on such sloppy guesswork as that? I’d guess at least 50% and as much as 70%.

        Be that as it may the assertion itself is a logical fallacy called “appeal to accomplishment”. You’d think someone with as many papers on logic wouldn’t be so careless in its application. Maybe another 50 – 70 papers will make you better at it?

      • E=mc² is an equivalence law not a conservation law.

        You missed the (well-known) point. E=mc² required conservation of energy to be restated as conservation of energy plus mass, with the factor of c² giving the scaling needed to convert from kilograms.

      • @DS: The wikepedia article on proof doesn’t speak to the differences between hypothesis, theory, and law.

        David, if you believe the article needs to speak to them, speak to Wikipedia and fix it. Don’t speak to me, the fact that I wrote most of that article doesn’t mean I own it.

        @DS: If you never counted how many papers on logic you’ve written how do you know it’s at least 50 and as many as 70? How much of your work would you say is based on such sloppy guesswork as that? I’d guess at least 50% and as much as 70%.

        One doesn’t expect a biochemist to be competent at logic, any more than one would expect a logician to be competent at biochemistry

        In this case the “sloppy reasoning” is entirely yours: there are a great many ways to rigorously demonstrate a lower bound on the cardinality of a subset A of a set X with say 100 elements without counting the elements of A.

        Some are so complicated it would take you weeks if ever to convince yourself they work. Here’s one whose correctness I’m sure you’ll be able to figure out in less than 10 minutes. (Feel free to claim it only took you 10 seconds, we know you all too well.)

        PROBLEM: Give a method of proving a lower bound of 50 on the cardinality of a subset A of a set X with 100 elements without counting the elements of A. In the case that A has fewer than 50 elements the only condition imposed on the method is that it not claim that A has at least 50 elements.

        METHOD 0: Enumerate elements of X counting those that are in A until you reach a count of 50.

        Here’s the claim you should be able to convince yourself of. Don’t forget to prove both directions.

        CLAIM 1. There are at least 50 elements of A if and only if METHOD 0 reaches a count of 50 without previously having exhausted X.

        CLAIM 2. If A has more than 50 elements then METHOD 0 fails to count the number of elements of A and proves nothing more than a lower bound of 50.

        CLAIM 3: If A has 70 elements then METHOD 0 enumerates at most 80 elements of X, a savings of at least 20 over enumeration of all of X.

        I’ve heard it rumored in certain circles that some biochemists can speak algebra. For them, the ultimate challenge:

        CLAIM 4: If A has x ≥ 50 elements then METHOD 0 enumerates at most 150 − x elements of A, a savings of at least x − 50 over enumeration of all of X.

        You may pick up your pen now.

      • Talking of algebra, and of owning encyclopedia articles, there is one article I do own, that no one else is allowed to edit. It is on algebra, and it can be seen here. (Obviously the encyclopedia can’t be Wikipedia, which doesn’t allow that sort of thing.)

        A bibliography for it with activated links can be seen here.

        (And yes, philosophy has been one of my many interests since 1962. I attended a very nice talk on descriptive set theory this afternoon by one of our fourth year philosophy Ph.D. students, and I’m a frequent participant in conferences held at the Stanford Center for the Study of Language and Information (CSLI).)

      • VP: CLAIM 4: If A has x ≥ 50 elements then METHOD 0 enumerates at most 150 − x elements of A

        Correction: “of A” –> “of X”

    • Steven Mosher: lets posit a unicorn… . Sometimes you find a unicorn.Some times is takes decades.

      That’s the most respect for unicorns that you have ever expressed.

      Up next: unicorn that causes the ~950 year natural cycle in mean temperatures.

  12. bad link

    Amazing story about possibly the greatest mathematical discovery of the past century, but no one understands it. [link] …

  13. NOAA scientists declare 3rd #GlobalCoralBleaching event on record: [link] …

    Just in time for Paris…

    • it seemed from the text that they are actually announcing the prediction of a possible global bleach event in early 2016, probably, maybe.

  14. Pingback: Warming Hypothesis …Evidence Of Svensmark’s Solar Amplifier Theory Solidifies — by Pierre L. Gosselin | NoTricksZone | Taking Sides

  15. Back in July Econtalk had an interesting interview with the author of Cuisine and Empire, Rachel Laudan.

    http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2015/08/rachel_laudan_o.html

    Interesting point was that cooking mostly makes excessive chewing unnecessary and what we think of as traditional and ethnic foods are relatively recent inventions. All food products are a product breeding and only fish probably tastes similar to what it did a few hundred years ago.

    Well, basically, fat is very expensive for most people. So French fries, until the 1960s, 1970s, well they weren’t invented until the middle of the 19th century, late 19th century. But until the invention of frozen French fries in the 1960s and 1970s, French fries were for the elite. Only the richest people could afford the potatoes that were cooked in that much fat. And double-cooked in that fat–which is what you have to do for French fries. What you find in the 19th century, as fats become more available for a large bulk of the population is that potatoes become more acceptable. Because you can put butter on your boiled potatoes; you can layer potatoes with milk and cheese and make a gratin; you can bake them and add butter. And that fat makes them much, much more palatable. Russ: But the point you make in the book is that the potato that was first introduced–I think in the early 18th century– Guest: Right. Russ: was bitter, and nothing like the Idaho baked potato that we might envision at a potato bar. Guest: No. I’ve been concentrating in talking to you on the cooking and processing side, but there was also this agricultural trick they had to pull off to turn a plant that lived 8,000, 10,000 feet in the Andes, where seasons are reversed from Northern Europe, into a plant that would grow successfully and be palatable in Europe and the United States. And that took 100 plus years. Russ: And that’s true of a lot of the things that we eat, I assume. I assume that if we went back to the 15, 16, 1700s and looked at what they called a ‘blank’–whatever blank is, we would find it almost unrecognizable and very unattractive. Is that fair? Or am I being too harsh? Guest: Yes. Very few fruits–there are a few: dates, grapes–are palatable [?] without breeding. But most fruits have been systematically bred over the centuries. Animals have been bred. Probably the only things that we regularly eat but taste as they would have done hundreds of years ago are fish of various kinds. But everything else is the result of human breeding. Russ: Yeah, the goal of fruit has been to make fruit more like an M&M, and it’s working evidently. Guest: Exactly.

  16. New papers : Central England temperature & global temperature [link]…

    There is a lot more that we can learn from the CET
    In this graph I compare three variables: CET, sunspot cycles and N. Atlantic tectonic count

    It can be seen that there is a partial correlation between all three.
    It is also said that solar activity doesn’t change enough to explain rise in the temperature, but graph suggests opposite, despite correlation being ‘transitory’.
    It is almost certain that the CET cannot drive the North Atlantic tectonics, and yet there is partial correlation there too. However, the opposite is not only possible but could be likely.
    There is also partial correlation between solar activity and the tectonics, as yet an unknown. Further search shows

    so what is going here? Hard to untangle, but one path in the more elaborate flow-chart states:
    Solar periodic activity and tectonics are related through common cause (whatever that may be), tectonics drives changes in the Arctic atmospheric pressure which in turn controls the polar jet stream’s meandering; the jet stream governs the temperature variability in the N. Hemisphere.

  17. From the article:

    Five parts per billion sounds infinitesimally small, but the agency’s new 70 ppb standard will have a profound effect on local governments, businesses, and individuals across the country.

    Non-compliance is a huge deal for cities and counties. When they can’t comply with the EPA’s limit, they’re forced to submit an action plan to the agency explaining how they’ll reduce their ozone levels. That means imposing new rules and regulations on businesses, making it harder for industries from manufacturers to bakeries to operate in a “non-compliant” city. And in non-compliant localities, infrastructure projects like building new schools and roads require even more permits and red tape before they can move forward.

    Even when local governments take action to slash ozone levels, many are still unable to meet the current 75 ppb standard, largely because naturally occurring background ozone contributes up to two-thirds of all ozone. Pollutants don’t just stop at city limits, or even country borders. New research shows ozone emissions from China and other countries are blowing across the Pacific and keeping the U.S. West Coast from meeting ozone targets.

    Not only is the EPA’s new ozone rule unachievable in many parts of the country, but the scientific basis for lowering the limit has been widely criticized for cherry-picking data and vastly overstating the public health benefits. As Drs. Julie Goodman and Sonja Sax pointed out in a piece for the Wall Street Journal, “the overwhelming body of scientific evidence indicates lowering the current ozone standard will not provide added health benefits beyond those achieved with the current standard.”

    http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/10/09/epa-ozone-rule-hits-job-creators/

    • Per my understanding, the Regs are 60 ppb in the E.U., and 62 ppb in Canada.

      Of course its OK for Jim2 (and others) to present his information and opinion. But people and Legislators (like in the E.U. and Canada) can have different scientifically sound opinions.

      One doesn’t have to know anything about ppb arguments to realize the Obama EPA’s 70 ppb is much closer to 75 than 60 or 62.

      • You, as usual, are simply parroting the Dimowit talking points. Obumbles continues his legacy of non-transparent government. The man is an anathema to Western values.

        1. What other countries do does not have an bearing on science.
        2. From the article:

        The agency estimates the public health benefits of its updated standards at $2.9 billion to $5.9 billion (£1.9 billion to £3.9 billion) annually in 2025, which it says outweighs the $1.4 billion in anticipated costs.

        However, industry groups are not enthused. The president and chief executive of the National Association of Manufacturers, Jay Timmons, called the EPA’s new rule ‘overly burdensome, costly and misguided.’ He warned that the stricter ozone standard will ‘inflict pain on companies that build things in America’, and urged Congress to intervene.

        The American Chemistry Council (ACC) said the agency’s action puts $10 billion in chemical industry investment at risk. ‘We are very concerned that some projects—new facilities, plant expansions and factory restarts—will remain in limbo until EPA explains how to obtain a permit under the new standards,’ the trade group stated.

        When ozone standards are lowered, the ACC said they take effect immediately and so manufacturers who want to build or expand must apply for permits showing that their project will comply. However, the organisation said it often takes the EPA years to provide the needed rules and guidance. ‘We are also troubled by EPA’s lack of transparency with the underlying scientific data, and that the methodology the Agency used to assess impacts ignored indirect societal and economic costs,’ the ACC added.

        http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/new-u-s-ozone-standards-come-under-fire/

      • Jim2 — and you continue to parrot Industry catastrophic positions (and anything anti-Obama) which so many times over the decades has been shown to be so wrong on air/water health Regs.

        When “Warmists” do this they are labeled CAGW. But when Industry does this catastrophic messaging it’s the absolute truth.

        And you are just wrong yet again — the EPA is correct in considering health science research from all over the world.

      • stephen, I believe the background O3 level in the US is higher than Canada due to lower latitude. It also varies with elevation and time of year with it looks like a May peak.

        http://www.researchgate.net/publication/222581917_A_Review_of_Surface_Ozone_Background_Levels_and_Trends

      • I of course don’t have the expertise or knowledge whether the Regs should stay at 75 ppb, be 70, or be at levels that the E.U. and Canada have implemented. The only point of my comments is that the EPA isn’t just pulling this out of thin air.

        Before EPA announced 70, most media coverage on this expected an EPA Reg of at least 65 ppm.

        The Obama EPA appears to upset both Industry (as too restrictive) and Environmental Organizations (as too lax).

      • As captdallas points out, ground-level ozone formation is related to local weather conditions. High ozone levels are typically a summer phenomenon.

        In addition, the regimes in the US and Europe are different in terms of enforcement. In the EU, ozone is a “target value” and is to be attained “as far as possible by the attainment date” and thus is less strict than a “limit value”. Basically, the US ozone standard is more stringently enforced.

        As I understand it (and welcome any corrections), compliance is determined over 3 year periods by the 26th highest ozone level measured in Europe while in the US it is based on the 4th highest ozone level (both utilizing 8 hour averages).

      • Stephen Segrest: “But people and Legislators (like in the E.U. and Canada) can have different scientifically sound opinions.” you are assuming they are basing their regulations on science or that their opinions are sound. The same EU countries have in many cases banned GMO foods. The relationship between science and any particular law is always iffy.

    • Lets turn back the clock to 1984 and preparations for the Los Angeles Olympics. Everyone knows that LA has an atmospheric ozone problem and there were going to be a lot of athletes competing, breathing that air. So the question: At what level of atmospheric ozone would elite athletes begin to feel the effects of ozone and subsequently impact their athletic performance?

      Several UCLA Pulmonologists tested elite athletes, exercising to their maximum in an environmental chamber, to answer the question.

      Answer: 130 Parts Per Billion (ppb) give or take a part here and there.

      Fast forward to 2015 and the question: What evidence is there that 75 ppb ozone impacts the health of Los Angeles, or San Franciscans or Washington DC ites? Now, no fair cheating and using models that back extrapolates from some known data and project a number that is comparable with one’s political agenda to ratchet down fossil fuel use.

      See, I told ya. Can’t do it.

  18. The GMO articles are like global warming inverted. They also display real ignorance of molecular biology and metabolism.
    Two real time examples. 1. Metabolism. A PA recently told my significant other that wheat glutin is neurotoxic. Gluten is a protein. The digestive tract decomposes all proteins into the constituent amino acids which are then absorbed and transported in the blood stream. In total, there are exactly 20 in all living things, and they are exactly the same in all.
    In celiac disease (allergy to gluten) the gut can get so irritated that gluten subfragments (usually glutinnen in the duodenum) can leak into the blood steam where neutralizing antibodies will develop. Physical discomfort and glutinnen antibodies are diagnostic of cileac disease. Btw, SO does NOT have ciliac disease. Antibody test negative. I fired the PA.
    By extension, GMO is safe because of how digestion works. It is food tested for things like allergenic potential in animals before release, just in case.
    2. Multiroles of genes. True, but not relevant. How many proteins a gene codes for depends on its exons. Suppose 2, A and B. Then the gene can code four proteins (A,B, AB, and BA). Suppose you want A. Then the splicing is done only with exon A. Suppose you want BA. Then you need to
    find the BA transcription factor and add that gene in ‘on’ mode to the splice. Bt corn is a single gene from a bacterium that makes corn roots (or cotton bolls) indigestible to insect larvae (Only. Does not affect the adult insects). Animals have no problem digesting that protein. Was tested.(actually there are now two different Bt genes/proteins being used both with the same mechanism, found in the same soil bacterium).
    Round Up ready corn, soy, aand now alfalfa is two genes. The first produces a precursor to the protective enzyme. The second converts that to the enzyme itself, mEPSPS. One comes from a soil bacterium, the other from a petunia. mEPSPS differs from the wild type natural maize EPSPS by exactly two amino acids! And since enzymes are proteins, when you eat them they are digested back to amino acids. So not harmful. Again, animal tested.
    GMO fears are as irrational as CAGW.

    • @Rud: In total, there are exactly 20 [amino acids] in all living things, and they are exactly the same in all.

      Your count seems to be a little low there, Rud. Even if you limit yourself to proteinogenic amino acids in prokaryotes there are 22 (you may have omitted selenocysteine and pyrrolysine). And when you consider the nonproteinogenic amino acids, over 140 have been observed to date in living things, and there is no reason why continued observation could not turn up thousands more.

      • David Springer

        I looked up the word “pedant” and found a picture of Vaughn Pratt standing by a tin cup holding a sign “Will Argue for Food”.

        This time however it was profitable to take a trip down the pedantic rathole. These 21st and 22nd amino acids are, unlike the basic 20 represented by single codons we all learned about in biology class, use the moral equivalent of an ASCII escape-sequence to designate the following codon as something different from the usual translation.

        Amazing how the basic information processing machinery in all living cells parallels independently conceived human-engineered information processing machines. The so-called illusion of design grows stronger. Thanks Pratt you did good for once.

      • The only thing worse than being a pedant, is being an anti-pedant.

        (I didn’t make that up, David, google it.)

      • David Springer

        ?

    • bedeverethewise

      Great comment Rud, it is so simple to those who understand basic biochemistry (what a protein is) and have an even more basic understanding of physiology (how digestion works). The level of understanding that I am talking about is high school level.

      Unfortunately, those who shout the loudest about GMOs have no idea what you are talking about.

    • David Springer

      “By extension, GMO is safe because of how digestion works.”

      An unknown but probably very large number of proteins are poisons when orally ingested.

      Ricin is a good example of a poisonous protein: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ricin#Toxicity

      Given that eating 20 castor beans can kill an adult it’s probably not a good idea to mess around mixing the genetics a castor oil plant with corn in order to kill insects that might eat the corn.

      So the statement that digestion protects against toxic proteins was made by an someone grossly incompetent in biology and slothful in basic fact checking that should be done by those incompetent in a field wherein they are expounding.

      A prime example in this context is bt-Toxin. A crystal protein produced by a bacterium

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacillus_thuringiensis#Mechanism_of_insecticidal_action

      a close cousin of the bacterium which causes anthrax. bt-Toxin when ingested by a great many insect pests splits the insect gut open. It doesn’t have the same effect in humans and so we now find bt-Toxin genes in GMO foods from corn to soybeans to cottonseed oil, beets, squash, and potatoes.

      http://www.askdrmaxwell.com/2013/03/the-gut-destroying-toxin-you-eat-everyday/

      • Also, different people react differently to various proteins. As a celiac with cross reactivity to casein, soy and other proteins, I am acutely aware of how digestion can react to proteins, and I personally do my best to avoid any unusual proteins (even tho they may be perfectly safe in the general population). My daughter and grand daughter have inherited this.

      • Not to mention that many (most?) gut bacteria secrete digestive enzymes of their own, and there’s no predicting when one of those might modify an ingested protein in a way that produces a toxic or allergic reaction. And human gut cultures vary widely, so it can never be predicted whether, or when, some specific person might start reacting to ingested proteins.

        Of course, the same can be said of natural proteins.

      • David Springer

        Excellent point, Judith. As a student of molecular biology for many years with a somewhat unique engineering perspective I can comfortably say that the machinery of life is mind boggling in its complexity even at the level of the simplest free-living bacterial genome. We don’t understand much of it yet but as our research tools become faster and cheaper the reverse engineering process, and our knowledge, is advancing at a rapidly accelerating rate. I’ve been convinced for decades that the next great technological revolution is synthetic biology. When we can design and program custom microorganisms to accomplish virtually any task at any scale of manufacture the world will change in a manner and degree unlike anything that has preceded it. The amount of information that needs to be collected and correlated is so immense that only a global computing network is adequate for the task. The need and evolution of that network was predicted decades ago in the seminal work “Engines of Creation” by K. Eric Drexler working in an MIT think tank. The road to synthetic biology and mastery of self-reproducing machinery capable of precision nano-scale manufacturing of anything from micro to macro scale laid out in that tome has been almost eerie in how well it was predicted.

        This leads to an ironic prediction I made years ago which I still hold today. Carbon is the basic building block of things that can be precision manufactured by synthetic organisms at exceedingly low cost. The most ubiquitous source of carbon is atmospheric CO2. Once the coming era of synthetic biology is in full gear we’ll need laws that limit how much carbon may be removed from the atmosphere in the manufacture of durable goods rather than laws limiting how much carbon may be added by the extant industrial technologies.

      • Even if GMO foods were perfectly safe I think people should be able to learn what is in products marketed to the public. Informed choices can still be “wrong” from a different perspective.

        For example, I looked for years for any proof that pesticide residues on our food supply caused any negative health consequences.** Couldn’t find any without resort to EPA’s absurd linear no-threshold theory.

        Yet that doesn’t mean that excessive use of pesticides (which is basically a given in the US) isn’t impacting the environment. And that, IMO, is a legitimate and sufficient reason to oppose pesticides.***

        ** Consider the positive health consequences of lower cost and more plentiful fruits and vegetables due to widespread use of pesticides.

        *** Though that should include “natural” or “organic” pesticides such as arsenic.

      • bedeverethewise

        David Springer said, “An unknown but probably very large number of proteins are poisons when orally ingested.”

        Incorrect David, you should have written, an unknown but probably very, very small number of proteins are poisons when orally ingested.

        If you want to follow the advice of Ask Dr. Maxwell, go ahead, but I can tell he’s selling something and I’m not buying it. He’s praying on the fears of the unknown and it’s a very lucrative business.

      • David Springer

        @bevederethe”wise”

        Unwise in this case.

        People can have poor to fatal reactions to all kinds of proteins from those found in peanuts, strawberries and milk to shellfish.

        Every protein is composed of a folded string of typically hundreds of amino acids where the sequence and how it folds is critical to its biological activity. The number of possible different proteins is more than the number of atoms in the observable universe. Even if only a tiny fraction of those have adverse effects when ingested by people… a tiny fraction of an almost infinite number is still a very large number.

  19. The link to the possible mathematical discovery goes somewhere else, both literally and as it turn out, in reality too. The erstwhile proof is out of this world because it depends upon an understanding that requires a new way of thinking that so far only one person in the world actually knows about.

    • I looked but did not find. Link, please.

      • Yup. Found it after 1.5 hours of googlefu. Just finished reading the fascinating Nature article. Mochizuki’s possible proof of the number theory ABC conjecture. Which almost nobody can understand. Frontiers of science stuff.

      • Reading Mosher comments is not always waste of time after all, I posted link there few minutes (at 4:27 pm ) before you asked for the link.

      • Good for you, Vuk. I was otherwise preoccupied for parts of this afternoon, and tend to fast forward Mosher most of the time. Like this time.
        Regards from a fellow genetic Slav (grandparents from Slovakia and Sudetenland). Long backstory having to do with Tsarist Russia pograms and Ellis Island. Just another ‘normal’ American melting pot story, of which there are many, in many flavors.

      • This mathematical curiosity shares a few things in common with the AGW conjecture –i.e., introduce enough numbers, factors, parameters, permutations, partitions, matrices, sets, functions, and relations that no one else ever heard of and you can prove something to yourself that no one else can prove to anyone else.

      • David Springer

        ristvan | October 9, 2015 at 5:52 pm |

        “Found it after 1.5 hours of googlefu.”

        You’re kidding. It took me ten seconds.

        https://www.google.com/search?q=greatest+mathematical+discovery&oq=greatest+mathematical+discovery&tbm=nws

        First hit. The key is searching “news” articles (&tbm=nws) which limits the search to recent announcements in news oriented publications. It immediately occured to me to search news articles because Curry grouped it under “In the News”.

      • Springer and Mochizuki have in common that their brilliance is so off the scale no one has a clue what they’re on about.

      • Mr. Istvan, hi again
        About 50% of my long gone male relatives ( with four versions of c/ch in the name) can be found in the Ellis Iceland archives.
        http://libertyellisfoundation.org/passenger

        David Springer
        It is likely the google’s searching algorithm, more recent and more people search for it, further up the escalator it goes.
        I came across it on the nature website http://www.nature.com/news/index.html
        Under ‘Feature’, but I read it only after I posted the link following the Mosher’s comment.

      • David Springer

        vukcevik

        No. The article appeared in Nature. Nature has a very high ranking among news sources for math and science. It would have hit the top even I’d been the first person to look for it.

      • David Springer

        Vaughan Pratt | October 10, 2015 at 4:20 am |

        “Springer and Mochizuki have in common that their brilliance is so off the scale no one has a clue what they’re on about.”

        Not. My peers might be aptly characterized as rare in the general population but in a high tech metropolis like Austin I come across one from time to time. A recent example is Dr. Hank Bose, recently retired Chair of Microbiology at UT Austin. I met him three years ago through a mutual friend, a real estate agent, at his home on Lake Austin where he has an exotic bird sanctuary spread over a few acres. We chatted for at least an hour in technical depth when he discovered I was conversant at his level in microbiology. My friend the real estate agent has known Hank for over 30 years… before he was a real estate agent he mowed lawns and did landscaping for some of Austin’s rich and famous. I’ve been back several times and have an open invitation to drop in.

        So it’s not really off the scale, Pratt. Just off *your* scale.

      • Mr Springer, that sounds very familiar, I am also a minnow in a small pond, with the advantage that there are no large predators around.

      • When you can read them out loud while silently counting backward from 100 it will be time for you to understand the being and nothingness of climate change..

      • Not for me, I’m still learning to read aloud and count to 100 rising, but only one at the time, and my writing is just as bad.

  20. Danny Thomas

    Re: Lee (the new IPCC head) and this quote: “Now, I think if you ask me to choose the most important work in climate change issues, then I’ll choose carbon price”.

    Is it just me, or might this be the cart before the horse?

    Andy Revkin: “Korean Economist is Elected to Lead UN IPCC” [link] …

  21. Danny Thomas

    Wow! It would be interesting to hear others impressions of this statement: “Tu published her work in 1977 but remained anonymous, as was customary in China at the time. Now 84, she has waited almost four decades for recognition. Profiled by New Scientist in 2011, she played down her achievements, saying: “What I have done was what I should have done as a return for the education provided by my country.”

    This year’s #NobelPrize for medicine goes to drugs that improved the lives of 3.4 billion people worldwide [link]

  22. Danny Thomas

    From within the Monsanto links was a link to this: http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/01/29/public-and-scientists-views-on-science-and-society/

    Interesting that scientists surveyed are predominately a-okay with GM foods (some 88%)

    And from within the link I found this to be VERY telling: “And, while a majority of scientists think it is a good time for science, they are less upbeat than they were five years ago. Most scientists believe that policy regulations on land use and clean air and water are not often guided by the best science.”

  23. The special Royal Society issue on climate feedbacks makes amply clear that “climate scientists” have no rigorous concept of true feedback mechanisms, but employ the term to seem erudite in talking about the responses of complex adaptive systems.

    • There are a dozen articles in that issue, john321s. Which one lacked a rigorous concept of feedback mechanisms? Or were you making a blanket statement about them all?

      Take the Planck feedback for example. Are you saying that “climate scientists” don’t know what it means?

      Simply stating that scientists have no rigorous concept of what they’re talking about without explaining why is like saying that lawyers have no rigorous concept of what they can get away with in a courtroom without explaining why.

      Members of the public who claim that scientists don’t know what they’re talking about are projecting their own ignorance of science onto the scientists.

      • Vaughan
        I believe scientists know what they are talking about but too often they believe they know more than they are capable of knowing. Lack of humility pervades some circles. I have noticed
        over the decades how the top notch, world class scientists freely admit their limitations and how much more they need to learn. If a scientist says there is so much more to
        be learned, I know I have found a keeper.

      • I believe scientists know what they are talking about but too often they believe they know more than they are capable of knowing.

        Wouldn’t that apply to you? No one is capable of knowing what some other party believes other than when that party truthfully states a belief, from which it follows that you believe you know more than you are capable of knowing.

        I’d expect few of those who believe they know more than they are capable of knowing to say so, though I believe the above is an example—if not then it applies to me.

        Lack of humility pervades some circles.

        By coincidence I was thinking the same thing earlier this morning on this very blog. (” We chatted for at least an hour in technical depth when [the retired Chair of Microbiology at UT Austin] discovered I was conversant at his level in microbiology.”)

        I have noticed over the decades how the top notch, world class scientists freely admit their limitations and how much more they need to learn. If a scientist says there is so much more to
        be learned, I know I have found a keeper.

        While I don’t know how well that metric is correlated with the metrics used by appointments and promotions committees, it’s never used in our department, I don’t know about other departments.

        A&P committees do however like to see claims about the merits of a candidate backed up, which was the point of my questions about your wholesale condemnation of climate scientists, which you sidestepped by answering a different question about your own criteria for judging scientists in general.

        From the tone of your generalization about “climate scientists” I get the impression that you don’t apply your own criterion consistently between disciplines.

        Science is ignorance-driven. In every scientific discipline, research directions are set by identifying an interesting question no one knows the answer to and going to work on it, all the better if the answer turns out to be useful.

        But not all ignorance is initially acknowledged. A wrong consensus can block indefinitely what could have been a great research direction. This phenomenon creates inertia and viscosity in every scientific discipline..

        Climate science is no different in either of these two regards.

      • @Vaughan Pratt..

        From the tone of your generalization about “climate scientists” I get the impression that you don’t apply your own criterion consistently between disciplines.

        […]

        A wrong consensus can block indefinitely what could have been a great research direction. This phenomenon creates inertia and viscosity in every scientific discipline.

        Climate science is no different in either of these two regards.

        I can’t agree here. I’ve studied a number of sciences where potentially revolutionary paradigms are currently rejected by the mainstream “consensus”. I’ve also dug into several where the implications of recent work in “Chaos Theory”/”Complexity”/”Non-linear Dynamics” have mandated revolutionary changes.

        But AFAIK the only field where those two categories seem to overlap is in the IPCC-centric “consensus” within “climate science”.

        The original paradigm was based on treating the Earth as a single radiating body, at a time when the implications of non-linearity were unknown, and it was considered a safe assumption that differences would “cancel out”, and/or that averages from one step of a calculation could be used as inputs to the next.

        The weather, of which “climate” is claimed as some sort of “average”, doesn’t work that way. But I’ve seen many “climate scientists” who dismiss the implications of the atmospheric systems’ non-linearity with handwaves, or references to unworkable analogies of fish and fishbowls, refusing to admit that their expectations are invalid unwarranted.

        These are “scientists” who cleanly fit the description of “hav[ing] no rigorous concept of what they’re talking about

      • Vaughan Pratt: No one is capable of knowing what some other party believes other than when that party truthfully states a belief, from which it follows that you believe you know more than you are capable of knowing.

        That presents an interesting dilemma. I do not know more than climate scientists (e.g. David Randall), but I am aware of some scientific knowledge and areas of ignorance that they choose to ignore (non-radiative transfer of energy from the earth surface is treated inconsistently in Randall’s book “Atmosphere, Clouds, and Climate”.) I do not know more than Romps et al, but I calculated a result from one of their intermediate results that has an implication contrary to their main (and widely reported) claim about lightning flash frequency. I do not know more than David Hansen, but I can see that his predictions clearly overshot their remark and there is no basis for his dire warnings. This may apply to some other more famous people: possibly Willis Eschenbach and Christopher Monckton do not know more than the academic climate scientists, but they regularly reveal errors, inconsistencies, inaccuracies, and such in published (even peer-reviewed) writing.

        What can one say about a field whose most knowledgeable scholars regularly make such clearly documentable errors in their scientific and public policy writing?

      • Vaughn:

        The rigorous analysis of physical systems under excitation by external forcing is a highly developed field with an extensive literature that has grown exponentially since WWII (vide “system analysis”). In that context, the technical term “feedback” has a very precise meaning, specifying an internal loop that feeds the output signal (with or without filtering) back to the input (excitation) signal for algebraic addition; the stability of output of feedback has been determined in the general case mathematically By no means do all systems, linear or nonlinear, simple or complex, manifest any true feedback.

        Alas, none of the authors featured in the Royal Society’s special issue manifests any awareness of the foregoing, Instead, they refer to “feedback” in a vague, highly variegated sense to mean some “knock-on effect” beyond the widely shared conception a static gain in a linear system. This is painfully clear in the simplistic formulation of the so-called “Planck feedback,” which is little more than an failed attempt to cure the patent inedequacy of radiation-only formulations of the complex relationship between surface temperature and planetary long wave emissions, wherein non-radiative mechanisms play a decisive role.

        Nothing betrays scientific incompetence more quickly than lack of comprehension of what well-established technical terms mean. The very fact that the effect of changes in CO2 concentrations is often called a “forcing,” instead of being recognized a change in internal system capacitance/inductance, speaks volumes about the dismal state of “climate science.”

      • @AK: These are “scientists” who cleanly fit the description of “hav[ing] no rigorous concept of what they’re talking about”

        Certainly, AK, but that doesn’t constitute evidence that climate scientists are different from other scientists. If you’re claiming physicists have no sin in that regard you haven’t had much exposure to physics.

      • What can one say about a field whose most knowledgeable scholars regularly make such clearly documentable errors in their scientific and public policy writing?

        That it’s science as usual?

      • @ck: This is painfully clear in the simplistic formulation of the so-called “Planck feedback,” which is little more than an failed attempt to cure the patent inedequacy of radiation-only formulations of the complex relationship between surface temperature and planetary long wave emissions, wherein non-radiative mechanisms play a decisive role.

        ck, I’m unable to see how those “non-radiative mechanisms” you speak of could possibly make a difference of more than 0.01% to the surface temperature. I wouldn’t call that a “decisive role”. You’re going to have make a more convincing argument, hopefully based on actual physics, which so far you’ve completely neglected in favor of simply insulting climate scientists.

      • Vaughan Pratt: That it’s science as usual?

        Are the scientists trustworthy?

        Are the scientists trustworthy if they deny for decades (or even merely for half-decades?) the documentable limitations that are pointed out?

      • Where to begin? I feel like the mythical dike-plugging Dutch boy confronted with more holes in the dike than he has fingers.

        Ok, I’ll start with:

        AK: The weather, of which “climate” is claimed as some sort of “average”, doesn’t work that way. But I’ve seen many “climate scientists” who dismiss the implications of the atmospheric systems’ non-linearity with handwaves, or references to unworkable analogies of fish and fishbowls, refusing to admit that their expectations are invalid unwarranted. These are “scientists” who cleanly fit the description of “hav[ing] no rigorous concept of what they’re talking about”

        AK, could you please stick to the science instead of inferring properties of climate from properties of climate scientists?

        No one (except perhaps Bob Tisdale with his ratchet mechanism explaining that El Nino has been ratcheting up temperature since 1970) has found any mechanism by which decadal climate influences centennial climate, let alone annual or monthly fluctuations. Numerical weather prediction, which Mark Jacobson has taught forever at Stanford, has very little to say about forecasting global mean surface temperature in 2100. Estimation of 2100 climate based on prior data since say 1850 needs to smooth that data accordingly, which will eliminate absolutely everything relevant to weather prediction, numerical or otherwise.

        @mathewrmarler: I do not know more than Romps et al, but I calculated a result from one of their intermediate results that has an implication contrary to their main (and widely reported) claim about lightning flash frequency.

        Matthew, I pointed out the fallacies in your calculations to you months ago when you asked me privately if I thought they were ok, but you’ve chosen to ignore my points and proceed as if your calculations made sense. They make no sense whatsoever.

        john321s: This is painfully clear in the simplistic formulation of the so-called “Planck feedback,” which is little more than an failed attempt to cure the patent inedequacy of radiation-only formulations of the complex relationship between surface temperature and planetary long wave emissions, wherein non-radiative mechanisms play a decisive role.

        John, move to Scotland. Lagavullin’s marketing department urgently needs writers like you, the current marketing on their bottles is way below your standards.

        The only feedback in all of physics that is simpler than the Planck feedback is Newton’s third law of motion. In radiative thermodynamics the Planck feedback is far and away the simplest feedback.

        If creative writing schools realized they’re churning out graduates capable of writing compelling scientific nonsense like this, they could do worse than to donate half their profits to a suitable charity.

      • Vaughan Pratt: I pointed out the fallacies in your calculations to you months ago when you asked me privately if I thought they were ok, but you’ve chosen to ignore my points and proceed as if your calculations made sense.

        Actually, you did not point out any “fallacies”.

        You pointed out that the first version did not account for any feedback to the Earth surface from the non-radiative transfer to the atmosphere, a liability that I addressed in the second draft, which I have posted here, at WUWT, and at Real Climate — postings that you recommended I do. It might be worthwhile to put up your comments so we can debate them in the open, now that you have mentioned them.

        Pat Cassen also pointed out “fallacies”, but the one he objected to most was the assumed constant proportionality between the lightning strike rate and power in the atmospheric process that Romps et al modeled — that assumption of a constant proportionality was made by Romps et al, and I merely calculated a different consequence of it.

        The Romps et al paper has been widely cited. The September issue of National Geographic Magazine featured it in an attractive 2-page color photo of some lightning. If their calculations are accurate, a doubling of CO2 concentration will not provide enough extra power to the Earth surface to raise the average surface temperature by 1C.

        The anniversary of the paper is coming in a couple months. I am planning another short note about it.

      • Vaughan:

        You express the classic AGW myopia in saying: “I’m unable to see how those “non-radiative mechanisms” you speak of could possibly make a difference of more than 0.01% to the surface temperature.” That inability to see is the result of looking only at the postulated academic theory and model results, instead of empirically examining real-world behavior. If you google “Bowen ratio” you’ll find many references to careful experiments conducted around the globe that show the flow of latent heat into the atmosphere through evaporation as being the principal heat transfer mechanism in all but the driest environments. And the “Planck feedback” that you consider bedrock science is nothing more, in customary definition, than ordinary radiative cooling, lacking any semblance of a return loop as “back-radiation”–which is often mislabeled as a “forcing,” akin to a “second sun.”

        The bane of “climate science” is the profusion of rank speculation by persons from every quarter merely conversant with the literature, but wholly lacking in truly relevant scientific training and experience. The ultimate defense of their uninformed positions almost inevitably lies, as in your present bluster about Lagavullin’s marketing department , in pathetic ad hominem attacks.

      • (This thread broke into two pieces, the other just below here. To keep things from getting too scattered I’ll continue to comment at the first piece.)

        @mrm: You pointed out that the first version did not account for any feedback to the Earth surface from the non-radiative transfer to the atmosphere, a liability that I addressed in the second draft, which I have posted here, at WUWT, and at Real Climate — postings that you recommended I do.

        Your first version was in November, my only comment on that was an email to you dated Nov 25, 2014 at 10:47 PM, which you seemed to be ok with. I received your second draft on March 15. Between then and May we exchanged 37 emails in which I pointed out a number of problems, some very significant such as your assumption that both latent heat and sensible heat rose to the upper troposphere, and that the only heat returned to the surface was via radiation.

        It might be worthwhile to put up your comments so we can debate them in the open, now that you have mentioned them.

        By all means. I put the March-May emails up here just now, with all links suitably activated.

      • Vaughan Pratt

        @RS: Sadly, you demonstrate intellectual dishonesty.

        Rob, would you mind explaining what is “dishonest” about asking you to produce evidence for your claim.

        If you have no evidence then the one who is being dishonest is far more likely to be you.

      • @RS: The thing that bugs me about Vaughan in this exchange is my belief that he is an individual who has studied the science and knows what I have written is correct,

        For that to make sense you would also have to believe that the 23,000 or so likely attendees at December’s annual Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union have studied the science and know the same thing as I do about the correctness of your claims.

        Don’t be a piker and let just one person bug you when you have the opportunity to let 23,000 bug you.

    • Vaughan

      The Royal Society issue on climate feedbacks makes amply clear that “climate scientists” have insufficient knowledge of feedbacks to provide government policy makers with reliable assessments of when, where or even whether human released CO2 will impact the climate negatively.

      • That’s easy for you to say, Rob. I could have said the same thing by reading your comment out loud. It would be just as meaningless.

      • Vaughan

        The comment is key to what policies should be implemented by individual governments, but as is usual; Vaughan misses the big picture.

        Since science can not currently determine if more human released CO2 will negatively impact the climate overall, or for an individual nation; how can rational people justify allocating any significant portion of their limited financial resources to reduce CO2 emissions?

      • @Rob Starkey: Since science can not currently determine if more human released CO2 will negatively impact the climate overall

        “Science” here meaning Rob Starkey.

        One of the favorite practices in climate skepticism is to project the ignorance of the skeptics onto the climate scientists.

        After seeing a great many Rob Starkey comments in this vein, I’d have to say that it’s become unclear to me what Rob Starkey can currently determine in any department

      • Vaughan

        I have been able to determine that Vaughan acts like a buffoon when there is no reliable science to support your beliefs.

        Please Vaughan, show the science that reliably demonstrates when the overall climate will be worse as a result of more human released CO2. You can’t do this, much less show that the climate will be worse for an individual nation. (which is necessary to justify a nation’s actions)

        You have your belief and insult others when your beliefs are not accepted as truth.

      • Vaughan Pratt: That’s easy for you to say, Rob. I could have said the same thing by reading your comment out loud. It would be just as meaningless.

        What does that mean? Are you disputing Rob Starkey’s characterization of The Royal Society issue on climate feedbacks ?

      • Vaughan Pratt: One of the favorite practices in climate skepticism is to project the ignorance of the skeptics onto the climate scientists.

        Are you going to cite the evidence of which you claim Rob Starkey is ignorant? Lots of people have begun to notice that there is no evidence that increased CO2 concentration has produced any bad outcomes. Storm intensity and frequency have not increased, drought frequency has remained within what can be documented as a natural range, net vegetative primary productivity has increased, annual rainfall has increased a little bit, the anthropogenic increase in crop yields has not been interrupted, and so on.

      • Are you disputing Rob Starkey’s characterization of The Royal Society issue on climate feedbacks ?

        Yes. He said nothing to support it, he merely characterized it without any evidence.

      • Rob Starkey: The Royal Society issue on climate feedbacks makes amply clear that “climate scientists” have insufficient knowledge of feedbacks to provide government policy makers with reliable assessments of when, where or even whether human released CO2 will impact the climate negatively.

        MRM: Are you disputing Rob Starkey’s characterization of The Royal Society issue on climate feedbacks ?

        Vaughan Pratt: Yes. He said nothing to support it, he merely characterized it without any evidence.

        Here it is. I guess we can have at it some time:

        http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/373/2054

        I suspect the discussion will hinge on the definition, of “amply clear” and “reliable assessments”.

      • mrm: Are you going to cite the evidence of which you claim Rob Starkey is ignorant? Lots of people have begun to notice that there is no evidence that increased CO2 concentration has produced any bad outcomes.

        The way to “notice” this is to read climate blogs instead of scientific papers. The evidence that RS is ignoring is the IPCC report, which consists of two parts:

        (I) evidence documented in WGI that CO2 has warmed and will continue to warm the planet as it continues to rise, and

        (II) evidence documented in WGII of impacts, adaptation, and vulnerabilities at global, sectoral, and regional levels attributable to the rising temperature and rising CO2 whatever their cause.

        As there’s a considerable body of evidence there I can quite understand and sympathize with Rob’s reluctance to evaluate it in any depth. But that doesn’t mean he can therefore deny there’s any such evidence.

      • (There’s of course a third part, WGIII, Mitigation, but that doesn’t provide any evidence linking CO2 to impacts, adaptations, and vulnerabilities.)

      • Vaughan

        Continuing to write inaccurate comments does not change the facts of the situation. You asked where you should begin. My answer to you would be to begin by being honest, which you are not in evaluating the evidence that AGW will result in net negative conditions for the US or the world.

        Vaughan writes:
        “(I) evidence documented in WGI that CO2 has warmed and will continue to warm the planet as it continues to rise, and
        (II) evidence documented in WGII of impacts, adaptation, and vulnerabilities at global, sectoral, and regional levels attributable to the rising temperature and rising CO2 whatever their cause.”

        A swing and a miss by Vaughan! Care to point out where WG1 evaluates that warming will result in net negative conditions for humanity or the world overall?

        WG2 potential impacts are based on a belief that the model’s used to access future warming reasonably accurately predicted future warming as a function of atmospheric CO2. The belief in the accuracy of those models was faulty as the models have been shown to be highly inaccurate. Assessment forecasts based on inaccurate models have very low value don’t they Vaughan???

        The issue are:
        1. the projected rate of future warming as a function of CO2 (which is not yet known with sufficient fidelity)
        2. What other conditions will change when and where as a result of #1

        Many like you claim to know far more than is warranted.

      • @RS: Care to point out where WG1 evaluates that warming will result in net negative conditions for humanity or the world overall?

        Care to point out where I claimed it did? It doesn’t.

        WG2 potential impacts are based on a belief that the model’s used to access future warming reasonably accurately predicted future warming as a function of atmospheric CO2.

        I didn’t say that either, and neither does WG2. To quote from the top of page 3 (Summary for Policymakers), “The assessment of impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability in the Working Group II contribution to the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (WGII AR5) evaluates how patterns of risks and potential benefits are shifting due to climate change.” Note that it does not say “shifting due to rising CO2”, though it does point to WG1 as the place to go for linking CO2 to climate change. The impacts are based on various warming scenarios, and are just valid if any given scenario is due to something other than radiative forcing.

        You are reading things into my comment that simply aren’t there.

      • “just valid” –> “just as valid”

        Also I included CO2 in (II) only because Chapter 6 on ocean systems addresses direct impacts of rising CO2 on oceans especially ocean acidification. But those impacts are independent of whether rising CO2 is of human or natural origin.

        So neither WGI nor WGII say that humans are having a negative impact on the planet. If either working group is wrong then perhaps humans are not having a negative impact, though even both being wrong does not prove they are having no negative impact.

        If however both are right then it follows that humans are having a negative impact.

      • Vaughan

        As has happened previously, you have made inflammatory comments and then had to walk back from them when they were demonstrated to be WRONG. Please try to be honest and stay on track and fairly address the actual issues related to AGW.

        My original comment that you objected to was:

        “The Royal Society issue on climate feedbacks makes amply clear that “climate scientists” have insufficient knowledge of feedbacks to provide government policy makers with reliable assessments of when, where or even whether human released CO2 will impact the climate negatively.”

        That comment is factually accurate. Be honest and admit the truth. It does not mean that steps should not be taken to reduce CO2 emissions. It does mean that government policy should make sense based on what is actually known.

      • @RS: That comment is factually accurate.

        You keep saying that with no evidence whatsoever. Why should I admit to the alleged truth of something you claim without evidence?

      • Vaughan

        Sadly, you demonstrate intellectual dishonesty. You are bright enough to know that what I have written is correct.

        It is the responsibility of those who wish to incur costs (or use limited financial resources) to reduce CO2 emissions to demonstrate that there is a valid reason to prioritize the expense.

        There is valid science to show that additional CO2 will result in slight warming. There is not valid science to demonstrate that additional CO2 will result in net negative changes (from human’s perspective) in the climate.

        Please Vaughan, present or link to the evidence that you believe to be reliable to show that human released CO2 will result in net negative changes in the climate for the USA or the world.

        Try not writing comments that the IPCC has provided this justification. You know that the models upon which the conclusions of the scientists who wrote those assessments have been found to be highly unreliable. I again ask you.
        1. the projected rate of future warming as a function of CO2 (which is not yet known with sufficient fidelity)
        2. What other conditions will change when and where as a result of #1

        Many like you claim to know far more than is warranted.

      • @RS: As has happened previously, you have made inflammatory comments and then had to walk back from them when they were demonstrated to be WRONG.

        Yet another claim not backed up with even a shred of evidence.

        While it’s true that I’m sometimes wrong and admit it, I seriously doubt that you would have a clue when or where.

      • The “Rumble in the Jungle” had nothing on the “Slog in the Blog”. Unfortunately, I don’t know who’s roping the dope. That’s the climate policy delemma in a nutshell!

      • Vaughan

        You and others who wish to get society to drastically reduce CO2 emissions have a responsibility to demonstrate that there is a valid reason to prioritize the expense. The Royal Society failed and when asked so have you in spite of many requests.

        Try as you might to justify “the cause” until their is valid evidence that human released CO2 is actually resulting in net damage to the climate for humans, there is little reason to accept your beliefs. You lack evidence on the only issue that actually matters and what is dishonest about your approach is that you know this.

      • RS: You and others who wish to get society to drastically reduce CO2 emissions have a responsibility to demonstrate that there is a valid reason to prioritize the expense.

        Sorry, Rob, but my background and experience does not qualify me to contribute to WG2, nor to review it for accuracy. In particular I would be unable to serve as one of its 2000 authors and expert reviewers. Those are the ones you must look to for an understanding of the impacts of recent and expected climate. The only reason I even mentioned WG2 was in response to your question where to find information of that kind. You need to go there, not to me.

        My background is physics, mathematics, and computing, sufficient to work on some (but certainly not all) aspects of WG1. I can speak to the relationship between CO2 and temperature as well as ocean acidification, but I can’t tell you with any authority what rising temperature and declining pH will do to the biosphere.

        If you consider that “dishonesty” then you have a very strange notion of dishonesty.

      • stevenreincarnated

        Rob, I have never had the impression that VP was saying anything other than what he believed to be true.

      • Thanks, Steven.

        The thing that bugs me most about people who call me dishonest is that they never say which of my statements was false. They just call me a liar as though I was some sort of leper that should carry a bell warning people of my dishonesty.

        The honest among us do not go around calling people liars. That sort of bad behavior is reserved for the real liars.

      • Vaughan

        I do appreciate you hanging round here and contributing. We might not always agree but at all times I feel you try to give an honest perspective. Liar? Certainly not.

        tonyb

      • May I add a second to that comment?

      • > The Royal Society issue on climate feedbacks makes amply clear that “climate scientists” have insufficient knowledge of feedbacks to provide government policy makers with reliable assessments of when, where or even whether human released CO2 will impact the climate negatively.

        This begs two questions about two questions that should distinguished:

        First, that we know which amount of knowledge would be necessary to provide &c. As it stands, Rob’s requirement amounts to specify that only reliable assessments are reliable enough, which looks uninformative.

        Second, that insufficient knowledge and unreliable assessments carries less risks or imply less investments. We want more information to dedicate less resources to the problem, not more. In doubt, ask your insurer about that one.

        The two questions that ought to be distinguished are the if and when. The if part follows from basic science. It’s the when part ought to get Mr. T all worked out. Denizens should mind their Dutch book:

        (a) insist that we need to know when;
        (b) bash teh stoopid modulz.

        ***

        Also, Vaughan’s the main reason I still read Judy’s. He’s in my ClimateBall dream team, and I compare him to Maurice Richard:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maurice_Richard

        They even share the same looks.

      • “The thing that bugs me most about people who call me dishonest is that they never say which of my statements was false.”

        The thing that bugs me about Vaughan in this exchange is my belief that he is an individual who has studied the science and knows what I have written is correct, but fails to acknowledge the accuracy of the comment.

        There is not even reasonably reliable data to determine what areas of the planet will have a net worse climate as a result of AGW.

        If someone believes this data exists, then link to it, otherwise admit the point. Vaughan dismissed the comment and initially pointed to WG1 &WG2 as supposed evidence to support the claim even though he knows better.

      • > There is not even reasonably reliable data to determine what areas of the planet will have a net worse climate as a result of AGW.

        This claim is independent from “evaluating the evidence that AGW will result in net negative conditions for the US or the world.”

        Since evidence comes from the past, “evaluating the evidence that AGW will result” does not parse very well.

        In any case, here’s Munich Re’s captions for the hard-of-hearing:

        One of the key statements in the Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC is the expectation that what is known as hydroclimatic intensity will be exacerbated by continuing climate change. This means that regions that are already humid today, for example the humid tropics, will become even more humid, and areas that are dry today, such as subtropical regions, will become even drier (and in some cases warmer too). The latter development towards more dryness will most probably affect Mediterranean countries, the Southwest and Southeast of the USA, Mexico, Central America and parts of South America, Southern Africa and parts of Australia. This trend will have a significant impact on agriculture and forestry in the form of increasing yield variability and a growing pressure to adapt. In regions that become more and more arid, there will be an increasing need to water agricultural crops, and the range of species of crop plants will need to be adapted to the changing conditions. Individual extreme events, such as long heatwaves and periods of drought, could occur in these areas more frequently in the future.

        http://www.munichre.com/en/group/focus/climate-change/strategic-approach/risk-assessment/physical-impacts-climate-change/long-term-changes/index.html

        To claim that we don’t have credible evidence that climate change is likely to have a negative impact is simply preposterous. We most probably already locked in 2C, and 4C is not a possibility we should take lightly:

    • Judith:

      Pray tell, why, once again, is my commentary being placed “in moderation?”

    • Matthew R Marler

      Vaughan Pratt: both latent heat and sensible heat rose to the upper troposphere,

      That is not a fallacy. Which of those do you think does not rise to the upper troposphere. You can check the derivations of CAPE and descriptions of the hydrologic cycle in plenty of places: start with Randall:Atmosphere, Clouds and Climate:

      CAPE: p 86, 89-91

      Hydrologic Cycle: Chapter 3

      And you might reread Romps et al, who make the same assumption

      and that the only heat returned to the surface was via radiation.
      Is there another mechanism in the Stephens et al and Trenberth et all flow diagrams from which the return of heat from the upper troposphere might be calculated?

      • @mrm: That is not a fallacy. Which of those [latent heat LH or sensible heat SH] do you think does not rise to the upper troposphere.

        Well, first of all, Matthew, they move together, at least over short distances. In any parcel of air LH is just the enthalpy (internal energy + PV where P is partial pressure) of the water vapor and SH is the enthalpy of the rest of the parcel (same formula). (Because water vapor is at most 3% by mass of any parcel of air we can afford some sloppiness in calculating these.) Diffusion acts far too slowly compared to convection to separate LH from SH.

        Second, the “rest of the parcel” may include fog, i.e. water vapor that has lost its LH through condensation. Air moving upwards is simultaneously subject to the following four (!) effects.

        1. Conversion of its internal energy to potential energy as it gains altitude (like a rising baseball slowing down), causing it to cool linearly with altitude. This is the basic mechanism behind lapse rate and is governed by PE = mgh.

        2. As it cools the water vapor condenses, gradually turning into fog. This is governed by Clausius-Clapeyron.

        3. Condensation converts LH into SH, warming the parcel back up. This is governed by the specific heat of vaporization of water.

        4. Independently of 1-3, changing environmental conditions may increase or decrease the parcel’s overall enthalpy. This is governed by acts of God, thermal inversions, or whatever.

        And third, all of the above only prepares us for the case when LH and SH aren’t even ready to head for the middle troposphere, let alone the upper troposphere.

        [Side remark: I’m trying to make this simple while the back of my mind keeps insisting, “it’s not simple, it’s not simple, why even bother trying to explain the inexplicable?”. I’m thinking, teachers have to ignore the backs of their minds.]

        I’m not going to be able to give a complete story right now as I’m getting tired. Hopefully I’ll be able to pick this back up soon. For now let me just wrap this up temporarily as follows.

        Now parcels of air come with only very primitive analog computers for calculating these interactions. So imagine one entering a big temperature inversion at say 850 mb (1.5 km) from below. The warmer environment increases both the internal energy and volume V of the parcel (the pressure P remains the same). The higher internal energy evaporates the fog which cools it back down. But only partially because some of the acquired warmth went into expanding the parcel’s volume.

        This sort of temperature inversion is a major bottleneck for parcels of air aiming to get from the LC

        Got all that? (The parcel’s analog computer scratches its head.)

        If you did then you’re ready for this picture from the Wikipedia article on CAPE showing positive CAPE ending at an EL (equilibrium level) of 600 mb (~4 km).

        That’s far below the boundary between middle and upper troposphere as shown here:

        (This was taken from these notes showing the upper troposphere starting at 200 mb (~12 km), far higher than the EL in the above example.)

        It’s late and I really really have to stop now. More on this later if there’s any interest. Good questions will help focus the discussion on what people really care about.

      • Vaughan Pratt: Well, first of all, Matthew, they move together, at least over short distances. … Got all that?

        Short distances? I think we agree that the distances here are at least from the surface to the cloud condensation layer, higher for convection and occasionally higher for the latent heat (that is to say, at their most energetic, clouds rise above the “cloud condensation layer”.).

        Sure. Now apply all that same thinking to the Romps et al calculations: Can their conclusion still be true? After all that, can the lightning ground strike rate be proportional to CAPEtimesPR in all seasons, and from Denver-Minneapolis to Cleveland-Buffalo and down to New Orleans-Tallahassee? How much extra power hitting the Earth surface as DWLWIR is required to raise the CAPEtimesPR by 12%?

        I think you may have forgotten in your critique of my comment that I assume the results of Romps et all to be accurate. They calculated a result of a 1C rise in mean surface temperature (the 12% increase in CAPEtimesPR), and I calculated different consequences concordant with theirs.

        Is it your assertion that after reaching the middle troposphere, the heat does not diffuse or convect into the upper troposphere? One of the commenters here a few years ago directed me to some studies of convection apparently into the lower stratosphere.

      • Short distances? I think we agree that the distances here are at least from the surface to the cloud condensation layer,

        I added “at least over short distances” to cover the case of a vertically moving parcel for which LH is steadily becoming SH or vice versa.

        Is it your assertion that after reaching the middle troposphere, the heat does not diffuse or convect into the upper troposphere?

        No. Is it your assertion that it does?

        One of the things you’re forgetting is that what goes up must come down. Your calculations only cover the case of rising air. If that were all there was to it then the atmosphere would rise to the stratosphere and we’d have a vacuum at the surface.

        As much air must come down as goes up. The down-flowing air brings the considerable SH of the clouds with it. If it comes with precipitation then gravity acts on the precipitation to dramatically increase the velocity of the downflow. The precipitation that evaporates or sublimes on the way down converts its SH back to LH, but we all know from first hand experience since we were very young that not all of the precipitation does so before reaching the ground.

        Your analysis of upflow has completely neglected the SH carried by the equal downflow.

        Which of [LH or SH] do you think does not rise to the upper troposphere.

        On average, both. LH because less than 5-6% of the water is above 5 km. SH because (a) a rising parcel of air cools (effect 1 of my previous comment), (b) as much atmosphere is falling as rising at any given time, (c) much of the atmosphere neither rises nor falls, and (d) the upper troposphere is well known to be very cold on average, −40 to −55 (the outside temperature on plane flights) depending on distance from the tropopause.

      • Vaughan Pratt: One of the things you’re forgetting is that what goes up must come down. Your calculations only cover the case of rising air. If that were all there was to it then the atmosphere would rise to the stratosphere and we’d have a vacuum at the surface.

        That is the stupidest comment you have ever written. I have not “forgotten” that the masses cycle, and I even referred explicitly to the “hydrololgic cycle”. Advection/convection, evapotranspiration, and LWIR radiation are net surface cooling processes (cf Stephens et al and Trenberth et al), and (some of) the heat that goes up does not come down. My calculations cover the same “case” as Romps et al, the net non-radiative transfer of energy from the surface to the troposphere. The only thing I added was a comparison of the calculated net cooling rate to the estimated 4 W/m^2 to result from doubling the concentration of CO2.

        Warm air rises, warms the troposphere, then falls after cooling: it falls in a large set of large slow moving cool toroids surrounding the faster rising columns of warm air. The net heat transfer result is to transfer heat from the surface to the troposphere.

        I have not contradicted anything that is in the standard texts or the peer-reviewed literature. The question I addressed is “How much do the rates of the non-radiative surface cooling processes increase, given what is known or has been estimated in the scientific literature?”

      • @MM: That is the stupidest comment you have ever written

        That is very kind of you, Matthew. I can recall many embarrassing counterexamples.

        @MM: Warm air rises, warms the troposphere, then falls after cooling: it falls in a large set of large slow moving cool toroids surrounding the faster rising columns of warm air. The net heat transfer result is to transfer heat from the surface to the troposphere.

        Oh boy. You really need to look at this classification of low and high pressure systems. Identify which of cold core low, warm core low (two types, thermal low and tropical cyclone), cold core high and warm core high best fits your scenario. Then repeat your calculations for the other scenarios.

        One extreme situation that you have not taken into account at all is a tropical downpour in which the core is falling and the rising air surrounds the core. This is easily the most violent case, with vertical winds on the order of 100 mph and massive volumes of water. In New Guinea, a few hundred miles from the equator, where I got married in my parents’ house in 1969, I experienced tropical downpours that far exceeded anything I could have imagined possible based on my experience in temperate zones in both hemispheres. (My New Guinea roots go back to the 1930s; my grandfather Victor Pratt, who was a plantation owner and Member of Parliament there, was beheaded by the Japanese in August 1942 near Rabaul.)

      • David Springer

        Your ancestry is a penal colony. Makes sense. I guessed it was a penile colony. But they’re not mutually exclusive so I’m probably still right.

      • Vaughan Pratt: In New Guinea, a few hundred miles from the equator, where I got married in my parents’ house in 1969, I experienced tropical downpours that far exceeded anything I could have imagined possible based on my experience in temperate zones in both hemispheres.

        OK, so we have both been to the tropics and and witnessed the return of water to the Earth surface at high flow rates. Are you telling the denizens and me that the energy flow diagrams of Stephens et al and Trenberth et al are wrong, and that all of the energy carried upward via advection/convention and evapotranspiration is actually returned to the Earth surface?

      • Vaughan Pratt: You really need to look at this classification of low and high pressure systems. Identify which of cold core low, warm core low (two types, thermal low and tropical cyclone), cold core high and warm core high best fits your scenario. Then repeat your calculations for the other scenarios.

        That’s a good idea. For now I am assuming that the calculations of Romps et al, Stephens et al and others whom I cited are reasonably accurate, and I have derived a result from them.

      • @MM: Are you telling the denizens and me that the energy flow diagrams of Stephens et al and Trenberth et al are wrong,

        Well, now that you mention it, Matthew, I don’t see any term in those energy balance diagrams for convective downdrafts of the kind studied by Dave Randall at Colorado State, see e.g. the theses of his students Daniel Lindsey (2002) and Katherine Thayer-Calder (2013).

        @MM: and that all of the energy carried upward via advection/convention and evapotranspiration is actually returned to the Earth surface?

        Obviously not all, but even a significant amount would be enough to show that the energy balance diagrams are incorrect, even if only by a few W/m2.

        To show that the amount can be significant it suffices to consider convective downdrafts driven by precipitation. When a falling raindrop, snowflake, or hailstone reaches terminal velocity, the air around it is then taking the full weight of the precipitation and is drawn down or entrained by it. Terminal velocity is always with respect to the air, and so as the air accelerates downwards so does the precipitation. The net effect is for the downdraft to accelerate as some small percentage of g, not enough to reach the 200 m/s (450 mph) that it would in a 2 km fall if the acceleration were g, but if the acceleration were say g/50 then it would in principle reach 200/sqrt(50) m/s or over 60 mph. That sort of thing can and allegedly has crashed planes [Lindsey’s thesis p.2].

        Now the mass of the air in the downdraft can be a factor many times that of the precipitation (whence the much slower acceleration than g). Air and water have essentially the same heat capacity, and so using only the mass of precipitation in estimating the heat carried down by precipitation will underestimate it by that factor. Bear in mind that this is air that, without the precipitation, would have been carrying heat upwards, which is now being driven downwards by this precipitation-driven convective downdraft.

        Absent good information about the relative temperatures of surface and clouds, we can at least use the annual average rainfall of 1 m (so 1000 kg/m2/yr) to estimate the total potential energy converted to kinetic energy and hence heat in a 2 km downdraft of this kind. If the above factor is say 50 (i.e. mass of precipitation as 2% of mass of entrained air), then PE = 50*m*g*h = 50*1000*10*2000 = 1 GJ/m2/yr = 32 W/m2.

        That’s more than the 24 W/m2 SH term! And that’s even before taking temperatures into account, which might either increase or decrease it.

        This potential (in two senses) discrepancy may be worth looking into. Tighter estimates would be a good start. Conversations with the authors of these papers would also be good.

        It might also be worthwhile trying to simplify the energy balance diagrams by treating the whole hydrological cycle as a leaky closed system, essentially as a sealed heatpipe with some heat being tapped off the cold end in the clouds, and estimating only the leakage. This would have the benefit of no bookkeeping for the complicated details of the hydrological cycle.

        Many thanks to Matthew, without whose question it would not have occurred to me to challenge the classical energy balance diagrams.

      • VP – perhaps it’s netted.

      • Perhaps its netted.

        Very unlikely, since some version of the factor of 50 I used would have to show up in the accounting. Furthermore the LH figure of 88 W/m2 is based solely on the latent heat of vaporization of annual precipitation, which Stephens et al revised upwards based on new information since Kiehl and Trenberth 1997.

      • Vaughan Pratt: Many thanks to Matthew, without whose question it would not have occurred to me to challenge the classical energy balance diagrams.

        That was a pretty good comment. I hope that you can get it published in a peer-reviewed journal. That’s where I get nearly all of my information.

      • richardswarthout

        Vaughn Pratt

        Upthread you mentioned that you lean heavily on the expertise of the IPCC authors. I recommend that you narrow the your view to WG1 AR5 Chapter 10, Detection and Attribution. To help in that, Science of Doom has an excellent series that digs into the chapter, reviewing resources and resources of resources.

        Richard

      • @MM: That was a pretty good comment. I hope that you can get it published in a peer-reviewed journal.

        Thanks, Matthew. My hope is slightly different: that something along those lines recognizing the potentially huge contribution of convective downdrafts eventually results in a substantial rebalancing of the classical energy balance diagrams.

        The authors should include at least one person with established credibility in hydrology, which certainly isn’t me. I would have no objection to being included as a coauthor if it turns out I’m the first to have noticed this, or to writing as much of it as I’m competent to. But even though most of my hundred plus papers are singly authored I don’t see that as appropriate for this one since my singly authored papers are in areas I have very well established credibility in, which is not the case here.

      • @RS: Science of Doom has an excellent series that digs into [Chapter 10], reviewing resources and resources of resources.

        Fabulous. Link, please.

      • richardswarthout

        Vaughn Pratt

        The Science of Doom author (Steve Carson) includes a review of AR5 WG1 Chapter 10 in his section called Attribution and Fingerprints in the series he calls Natural Variability and Chaos.. Here is the link to Attribution and Fingerprints:

        http://scienceofdoom.com/2014/11/01/natural-variability-and-chaos-three-attribution-fingerprints/

      • I ran my theory past Jeff Kiehl and David Romps last night, by email. Both replied. Jeff gave several reasons why my theory wouldn’t work. By an amazing coincidence David was giving a talk on climate change this afternoon at a Rotary club 3 miles from my house, so I dropped by to hear the talk and ask him about my theory.

        After mulling over what Jeff and David had said it occurred to me that my theory was assuming that a majority of convective downdrafts were strong. If most were weak then my factor of 50 could well be far too large, in which case the downward transport of SH would not be anywhere near as large as I’d been thinking.

        So much for that theory.

      • David Springer

        Theory? Hardly. A brain fart produced by monumental ignorance of the earth’s heat budget. If they didn’t laugh at you they were being too polite.

      • My answer would have been what goes down, must have gone up in the past. There is no way you can manufacture potential energy in the atmosphere. Somewhere previously it was upward moving water molecules, even if in the gaseous form.

      • Jim, you’re quite right about PE itself. However the role of PE in my argument was only to get a handle on the order of magnitude of sensible heat being transported down by convective downdrafts. A more representative calculation of downward SH would use the potential temperatures of the clouds and the surface. Potential temperature at a given elevation differs from actual temperature by essentially the potential energy at that elevation, converted appropriately to temperature.

        I would prefer to see the entire hydrological cycle treated as a leaky closed system and removed from Earth’s energy budget except for the leakage upwards from the clouds. This would be an extension of your point, which I think could be better stated as conservation of PE + KE, with the extension taking evaporation and condensation into account as well. Some of the heat from condensation in the clouds is carried down by precipitation, and I’m not sure where this is accounted for in the energy balance diagrams, which simply give the total LH resulting from evaporation at the surface. Making that a closed system except for the leakage would be a nice way to handle the accounting.

        This is clearer when the hydrological cycle is viewed as a heat pipe with the hot or evaporating end at the surface and the cold or condensing end in the clouds. A heat pump works by conveying LH from the hot end to the cold end where it condense out, thereby liberating heat. The cold end is kept cold by extracting heat from the heat pipe and sending it elsewhere. This is not 100% efficient however and the rest of the heat resulting from condensation is wicked (wict, not wick’ed) back to the hot end in the form of SH.

        The energy balance diagram has no explicit counterpart of this aspect of how heat pipes work. That aspect may be correctly accounted for somehow by declaring SH to be the total convective heat flux, with a large part of it being directed downwards, but in that case I would say that this sweeps a lot under the rug. Radiation by contrast is not netted out in this way but is separated into upward and downward radiation. I would feel a lot more comfortable if SH were similarly separated into upward and downward fluxes, at least where the distinction could be identified.

      • David Springer

        Lovely. Pratt doesn’t know the difference between a heat engine and a heat pipe.

        Convective cells are heat engines which work through evaporation and condensation of a working fluid. Water is a very efficient working fluid hence steam engines. Write that down.

        A heat pipe on the other hand works by conduction not phase change of a working of a working fluid. Write that down too dummy.

      • A heat pipe on the other hand works by conduction not phase change of a working of a working fluid. Write that down too dummy.

        No it doesn’t. A heat pipe works by phase change just as a heat engine does. It’s a good idea to double check such claims when spouting off on a subject you don’t understand. Especially when you make a habit of making such nasty comment about people.

        Write that down too dummy.

      • “A heat pump works” –> “A heat pipe works”

      • VP, convection is driven by vertical temperature gradients, and weather systems are driven by horizontal ones. These derive their energy by differential heating of parts of the earth system and redistributing the heat which involves kinetic energy being created from potential energy. However, the total of both remains constant over time, and I think it only manifests itself in the way incoming energy and outgoing energy are not from the same places in the earth system. The 1-d energy model doesn’t need to consider this redistribution within the atmospheric part of the budget, so maybe that is why these energies don’t show up.

      • Vaughan Pratt wrote: “Potential temperature at a given elevation differs from actual temperature by essentially the potential energy at that elevation, converted appropriately to temperature.”

        Are you taking about the gravitational potential energy of air parcels? This, and their kinetic energies, aren’t relevant to variations in temperature and internal energy. The latter variations are mainly caused by adiabatic expansion or compression of moving air parcels, and thus result from work done by (on) the parcel on (by) the surrounding. There is, of course, vertical transport of heat just in case convection (driven by the difference between buoyant and gravitational forces on parcels) occurs while the environmental lapse rate differs from the adiabatic lapse rate. The only reason why the g constant occurs in the adiabatic lapse rate formula is because the work done on (by) the parcel depends on the vertical pressure profile, and this is in turn governed by the barometric formula in which g does occur. So, it has nothing to do with the potential or (macroscopic) kinetic energy of the parcels; whatever the speed of height variations of the moving parcels, the total work done on them only is a function of the total pressure change.

      • So, it has nothing to do with the potential or (macroscopic) kinetic energy of the parcels;

        So are you saying that it is just an astonishing coincidence that the gain in kinetic energy of a parcel of air of mass m falling a distance h is exactly the loss mgh of its potential energy? (See the Wikipedia article on lapse rate for the relevant formula.)

        Do you have a source for your claim, or is it just your intuition?

      • It’s odd that Springer would somehow deduce that a heat pipe must work by conduction. Is he picturing it made of some very conductive material like copper? Hardly—it’s one or two hundred times the thermal conductivity of copper. Or does he think that the vapor in a heat pipe must be a terrific thermal conductor. Hardly—all gases are terrible thermal conductors, that’s why they’re used in thermal insulation.

        More evidence for my thesis that biochemists (well, DS anyway) are no better at logic than logicians (me anyway) are at biochemistry.

        AK explained it exactly right. But if you understand how a refrigerator or an air conditioner works, a heat pipe is the same thing with no compressors or expansion valve, it’s purely passive just like a conductor but vastly more effective.

        The key difference from a heat pipe is that an A/C or fridge is trying to make the house or fridge interior colder than outside and therefore has to do work in order to avoid violating the 2nd law of thermodynamics. That’s why it needs pumps to compress the vapor traveling to the condenser outside and compress the liquid returning to the evaporator in the inside airflow. If you watch technicians working on your A/C you’ll see them measuring impressively large pressures.

        A typical heat pipe used in a computer merely has to reduce the CPU temperature to something closer to the outside temperature. By choosing a refrigerant for the heat pipe that evaporates at the desired CPU temperature and condenses at the likely closet temperature (which can be quite warm without adequate ventilation), no pumps or any other source of energy besides the heat of the CPU itself is needed. The vapor instantly expands to fill the whole pipe, and the condensed liquid at the exterior end is wicked back to the CPU end by capillary action induced typically by copper powder sintered to the inside surface of the pipe to create a huge surface area.

        I learnt all this about heat pipes in 2000 when contracting with a local manufacturer of heat pipes for use in a brick-style computer my company Tiqit Computers, Inc was contemplating building at the time. We made the mistake of being too far ahead of the available technology: 15 years later here I am typing this in Pacific Grove on a Gigabyte BRIX Pro with an i7 CPU, 16 GB of DDR3 memory, and 1 TB of storage running Windows 10 all packed into 16 cubic inches. I can put the damned thing in my pocket! (In fact I did so just yesterday while on a mind-bending tour of Greenwaste’s recycling facility in San Jose, but only so it wouldn’t be stolen out of the car – it does need a monitor and keyboard-mouse to be usable but I don’t need to carry those around since they’re ubiquitous. Tiqit = TIny ubIQuITous Technology.)

      • Oops, delete Pro, the 16 cubic inch model I’m using is just the Gigabye BRIX. The Pro is back home in Palo Alto, twice that volume with 3 TB of storage serving as my home theater PC.

      • Vaughan Pratt wrote: “So are you saying that it is just an astonishing coincidence that the gain in kinetic energy of a parcel of air of mass m falling a distance h is exactly the loss mgh of its potential energy? (See the Wikipedia article on lapse rate for the relevant formula.)”

        You may be misinterpreting the formula. As I have explained, the g constant occurs in the lapse rate formula because of the independently established barometric pressure formula (derived from the assumption of hydrostatic equilibrium) which in turn determines the work performed by adiabatically expanding or contracting parcels of air as they rise or descend some distance. This (together with the heat capacity of air) is what determines the vertical temperature profile that an overturning atmosphere tends to acquire (the dry or wet adiabats). This has nothing to do whatsoever with the vertical speed at which parcels of air move, and hence their macroscopic (‘coherent’) kinetic energies. Air parcels don’t free fall, anyway. Their weights are (roughly) balanced by buoyant forces. So, most of the work done by the weight of a descending air parcel (F*dz), which is lost to their gravitational potential energies, is gained by displaced parcels that rise at the same time. Since this lost gravitational potential energy is (almost) entirely transferred to *other* parcels, it can’t also be gained by the first parcel as internal energy. This would violate conservation of energy, and there is no mechanism for this anyway.

        The rising and falling air parcels relate to one another rather like two masses in an Atwood machine. There is no gain or loss to internal energy associated with this process.

        “Do you have a source for your claim, or is it just your intuition?”

        It’s just basic physics. You just need to keep in mind that there are two conceptually distinct dynamic processes at play simultaneously when air parcels move vertically in a column under gravity. One involves weight and buoyant forces, and the other one involves adiabatic compression and hence also depends on the surrounding vertical pressure profile. There just isn’t any physical basis, nor any need, for the wrong claim that gravitational potential energy is exchanged with internal energy of rising or descending air parcels in a gas column under gravity. It’s the buoyant force that works against weight (by Newton’s third law), not the compression force (P*dV). And it’s the later that’s entirely responsible for the variations in internal energy, and hence for the lapse rates (dry or wet).

      • Let me also note that it’s just plain false that in a atmosphere in hydrostatic equilibrium and with a vertical temperature profile matching the adiabat, the vertical variations in internal energy (for one kg or air, say) coincides with the variation in gravitational potential energy of the parcel. It doesn’t coincide at all. If it did, then you could straightforwardly calculate the maximum height of such an atmosphere from the internal energy U_0 of one kg or air at ground level, since you would have U(h)+m*g*h = constant. Such an atmosphere would be bounded above at the height h where m*g*h = U_0. (And hence h_max = U+0/m+g). But this is clearly not physically plausible.

      • Sorry, I meant to type: (And hence h_max = U_0/m+g)

      • Obviously: (And hence h_max = U_0/m*g)

  24. The Mother Jones piece hardly seems “the best piece yet” – title doesn’t match article (where’s the leaning on academics?) and there is hardly a smoking gun. A lot less here than the East Anglia emails…

    • Does anyone really know whether the net benefit of genetically modified crops will be seen to have been positive or negative during the next several decades?

      Conceivably, but in that case the present ideologically charged atmosphere is going to make it hard for those with the correct answer to be heard.

      If no one knows then only ideologues will be taking sides until this is all sorted out.

  25. <About Science
    There are two news items this week in Nature about bias (in the social sciences) and how to reduce it (an example from particle physics).
    How scientists fool themselves: and how they can stop
    Blind analysis: Hide results to seek the truth

    • planning a full post on this for next week

    • Are scientists the only ones at risk of fooling themselves? Are the science critics immune?

      • Of course not. That’s why a wise scientist always has lots of contact with and listens carefully to honest detractors.

      • Don Monfort once asked me, with some incredulity, why a Stanford professor would hang out on this blog.

        I suppose I could say, in your words, that it’s to have lots of contact with detractors and to listen carefully to them.

        But I’m not a “wise scientist” in your sense because I don’t prejudge detractors as to whether they’re honest or dishonest, I just listen regardless, and question them when I can’t understand their reasoning.

        I also learn a lot from the give and take. It’s sort of where the rubber meets the road.

      • Vaughan Pratt:

        Are the science critics immune?

        Perhaps not completely immune but well inoculated against the most common forms of embarrassment.

      • “Are scientists the only ones at risk of fooling themselves?”

        No, we all are at risk of fooling ourselves.

      • @VP: Are the science critics immune?

        @opluso: Perhaps not completely immune but well inoculated against the most common forms of embarrassment.

        But of course. You go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.

      • “Don Monfort once asked me, with some incredulity, why a Stanford professor would hang out on this blog.”

        I think my exact words were: “Why would a distinguished Stanford professor emeritus make a monkey out of himself on this blog.”

        (Just sort of kidding, doc:)

      • That goes with the territory, Don. :)

        Monkeys are in the eye of the beholder.

      • Some of the science critics ARE scientists. The more of those, the better.

      • David Springer

        “Why would a distinguished Stanford professor emeritus make a monkey out of himself on this blog.”

        Far past his sell-by date in a narrow area of expertise which leads to exclusion and ridicule among younger employable technophiles so he lands in an unmoderated soft science blog where he has a modest chance of holding his own in a conversation due to most of the participants being equally ignorant prats.

      • Pot:Kettle:black

      • I have to agree, AK. Springer sure is weird.

        On the one hand he speaks, if not with God himself, at least at the same level, by his own account, as retired chairmen of biochemistry departments. (One assumes they have not succumbed to Alzheimer’s.)

        On the other he appears to believe he has a significant audience of those incapable of thinking to fact-check his abuse against the home pages of those to whom he directs it.

        Which may well be true, but then we have the unicorn feeding the pigs.

        Google away.

      • This is what I am talking about, doc. What made a distinguished, learned and decent chap like yourself get involved in climate science mud wrestling?

  26. Danny Thomas

    Dr. Curry,
    This runs counter to your advocacy position so would appreciate any insight.

    https://evidencefordemocracy.ca/sites/default/files/situating_science_talk_halifax_march_5_post-hoc_revised_version.pdf

    Enjoyed these two sections:
    “Third and perhaps most importantly, stop treating the public like a bunch of potato heads.”

    “Contemporary society is riven by the malaise of mistrust: mistrust of politicians, mistrust of scientists, mistrust of one another. In legal parlance, the societal presumption has shifted dangerously close to “untrustworthy unless demonstrated otherwise”. If as politicians or scientists, we wish to regain the public trust, we must overcome this presumption by providing,
    of our own volition, the required evidence. Here at least the evidence is clear: no science, no evidence; no evidence, no trust; no trust, no true democracy.”

    • There is a whole other side to this argument that government is somehow turning on science in Canada. It goes like this. After many years of science policy and advocacy from specific groups of government paid scientists based entirely on principals consistent with both liberal/leftist and union based assumptions and years of incredible waste and mismanagement of resources, Canadians elected a Conservative government that decided to do what we wanted, namely get rid of the science as advocacy, and the wastefulness. A lot of the mistrust of scientists in Canada by the general public is due to things like Environment Canada scientists defunding prairie snow pack assessments but keeping lots of money for funds for travel to attend global warming conferences and then, oh my, they missed warning the prairies of some ravaging flood but that is not their fault. They weren’t given enough funding for both so it’s the government’s fault they missed the floods! Or government scientists have eight libraries that each have at least a dozen, and often hundreds, of archived paper copies of ancient reports maybe six people in a year ask to look at, if they can even find them, and the government decides to centralize this mess and put it all online but that means laying off a whole lot of science librarians, clearly an anti science move, yes? My comments are not true of all the government scientists. Some good stuff got shut down and I don’t agree with all the cuts. But, when you are on the taxpayer’s payroll and the taxpayers elect a political ideology you don’t happen to agree with, and then they call you to task for the bias in your science due to your own ideology, and the waste due to your complacency and mismanagement of your resources, you have no right to get all noble and start claiming you, and only you, represent true science. If the Republicans get in I expect a few heads to roll in NOAA and the EPA and I’m sure they will walk away lamenting how badly noble pure and wonderful science is treated by government too.

      • “If the Republicans get in I expect a few heads to roll in NOAA and the EPA and I’m sure they will walk away lamenting how badly noble pure and wonderful science is treated by government too.”

        I so hope that happens. The dem candidates for POTUS look terrible, but the Repubs can still make a mess of it.

      • Well I don’t think it can get worse than it is now.

      • @justinwonder: I so hope [the Republicans get in].

        Without meaning to prejudge any of the parties running in 2016, how will the EPA you have in mind improve on the current model?

        You come across like Donald Trump. “Electing me will solve all your problems.”

        There’s a tried and true strategy for picking up a majority of votes. A message directed to those of above-average intelligence is less easily understood in general than one directed to those of less average intelligence.

        Speaking to the least common denominator is how the government’s IQ drifts slowly but inexorably downwards with passing centuries.

      • Interesting comment Vaughan. I don’t know enough about the American system to really comment except that it seems to me to hopelessly corrupt. In Canada science groups and institutes are frequently started for specific and narrowly defined purposes. There are no purely curiosity driven pure science groups. Once the issue is resolved the science group is supposed to be disbanded and if you’re good you get assigned a new job in a new group. Now when the mandate was ending, these groups invariably will claim they can remain as a working group and continue on some other new problem of great import so it is critical they not be shut down. The really good ones tend to get out and move elsewhere before the mandate is up, leaving a lot of people no one else wants. These “past their prime” groups tend to fill with scientists who are, shall we politely say, less productive, putting in their time to pension while being supplied with huge staffs and budgets that are the drooling envy of university scientists. The good scientists tend to gravitate out to start their own businesses or move into industry. (There is really no purely curiosity driven research in our government. It’s all mandated and purpose driven.) Many of the science groups shut down by the Conservatives were this type of group, decades beyond what was supposed to be their expiration date, their mandate long forgotten. Under the socialists such people are never shut down, like all those unionized science librarians tending archives no one uses. One of the scientists the most vocal and the angriest about the library shut downs in the press was furious about the idea of putting all the archives in one central location with content accessible 24/7 on line. He was endlessly vocal about how the Conservatives were destroying science because he liked being able to go talk to a librarian and have a librarian physically pull out a file he could walk away with instead of just doing a government google from his office. While there were some very good scientists who got shut down in the housecleaning and I feel very bad for them, including some I regard as friends, I think of visiting the various science groups I had contact with over the years and seeing all the funding they had, all the staff, the fully equipped labs that often sat idle, the salaries 2 and 3 times higher than anyone else in the field and I was just sick about it. The older the group, the most unproductive and wasteful they were. So I think all government agencies should be disbanded and rebuilt from scratch every 25-30 years or so. Otherwise the rot sets in. If I were president, and I have no illusions about how utterly unqualified I am, I would completely disband the EPA and the IRS and maybe a few others and rebuild new agencies from scratch under a CEO who had a track record for getting companies out of bankruptcy.

      • RE: “I don’t think it can get worse than it is now.”

        My first thought is to agree with you. But then I wonder which could be worse? An idealogue who is incompetent or an idealogue who is competent?

        I think I’ll stick with my first choice, as being incompetent brings with it so many other risks besides those arising out of differing idealogies.

      • See, thing is I don’t think Obama is incompetent. I think he is out to fundamentally change America and destroy its world power and influence re Dinesh D’Souza’s (speaking of selective prosecution) vision. And Obama’s been very successful and has done a smashing good job of it. So incompetence would be far better.

      • I don’t know enough about the American system to really comment except that it seems to me to hopelessly corrupt.

        I’d love to see people’s corruptness ranking of the 196 or so countries of the world. While I don’t see any reason to disqualify submissions putting the US at the very bottom of that ranking, I’d still be inclined to put such submissions in a separate pile for assessment of egregious bias. ;)

        A line drawn above the hopelessly corrupt countries in that ranking would be very helfpul.

        Why do I get the sense that I’m in a Tea Party blog?

      • Probably the fact that the tea party was unfairly targeted and attacked by the IRS. I am not a face of the formal tea party but I was in Arizona when the grass movement tea party started and out of curiosity I attended some meetings. At that time the president of the local chapter was Hispanic and the guest speaker at one event was black and it was all about securing the border against the constant and ongoing depredations on local ranchers and farmers by Mexican drug lords using the undefended border of National Forests to enter the USA, murder people, steal their vehicles and depart. There were areas of south eastern Arizona that had become no go zones for Americans due to criminals. The early tea party movement has little to do with the current conception of tea party.

      • I’d love to see people’s corruptness ranking of the 196 or so countries of the world.

        http://www.worldaudit.org/corruption.htm

        https://www.transparency.org/cpi2014/results

      • Vaughan Pratt: Why do I get the sense that I’m in a Tea Party blog?

        Good question. I think that the answer lies within you.

      • point of clarification: You said “how will the EPA you have in mind improve on the current model” and I answered with “hopeless corrupt” in regards to the EPA and a few other government organization in which I would include the IRA. I do not regard America as a whole as hopelessly corrupt. So your bringing forward the world corruption map is irrelevant to my comment though I can see why you might think I was commenting on all of the USA. I was not.

      • “how will the EPA you have in mind improve on the current model” and I answered with “hopeless corrupt” in regards to the EPA and a few other government organization in which I would include the IRA.

        An election in which one side did not claim to be holier than the other would be a remarkable sight.

  27. what am I missing?
    aren’t Tol and Lomborg economists?
    and constantly criticized by the warm side for that reason
    now the IPCC is to be led by an … economist?

    • RR, there are economists and then there are economists. I was trained as one. Plus as a lawyer. So fathom the following. Two economists are arguing. (substitute lawyers). One says, one the one hand,then on the other hand. The other does the same. Average popular esult is, three hands! (Or four, if you want to do the joke mathematically correct–1-1, 1-2, 2,1, 2,2). Regards.

      • I’m an economist, have never used “on the one hand,” perhaps heredity from my Grandfather who had only one. (He lost the other in the Flanders trenches.)

      • The good thing about economists is that they are aware that the world holds many, many distinct goods and are not prone to prioritizing one over all others. So losses of time, effort, convenience, useful output, etc. get considered in making policy. The bad thing about economists is that they often neglect the institutional and epistemological gaps between blackboard models and reality when policy is being made. As a member of the tribe, though, it is hard for me to see any mitigation policy that would work better without some form of carbon tax. As an optimistic fatalist, however, rather than an urgent mitigationist, the point is somewhat moot for me.

      • @stevepostrel: As a member of the tribe, though, it is hard for me to see any mitigation policy that would work better without some form of carbon tax. As an optimistic fatalist, however, rather than an urgent mitigationist, the point is somewhat moot for me.

        Wow. That expresses my position more succinctly than I’ve been able to do thus far. May I plagiarize you?

    • There is a lot of economics in the IPCC working groups 2 & 3. The physical science of WG1 is really secondary.

      BTW my understanding is that Tol’s model is one of the three used in calculating the absurd “social cost of carbon” which if true makes him a very warm warmer, a hotter if you like.

    • And an economist from a country with such a great record of tackling carbon dioxide emissions from their own home too!

  28. Re: Atmospheric rivers. I wonder how many people become oceanographers or weather or atmosphere scientists partly because they found fascinating the idea of stable fluid structures within the seemingly infinite flux of the oceans and atmosphere? It’s an everyday phenomenon with a “magical” aspect.

  29. Judith Curry,

    I am deeply disappointed that you have seen it necessary to delete some of my comment’s on this site.

    I have a paper submitted to a peer reviewed journal that supports some of the claims that I have made in my post. When and if this paper comes out I will reminding you of your attempts to censor the emerging evidence of this phenomenon.

    • I checked the last 100 comments that I’ve deleted, going back several weeks, and I don’t find any of yours there. I will delete very long messages if they are off topic for that particular thread, but week in review is open game.

    • Judith Curry,

      My unreserved and humble apologies. The comment that I made on October 10, 2015 at 1:38 am did actually disappear some time in the following day, however, it has subsequently re-appeared for some reason that is only known to the computer gods. I am sorry that I put you to so much trouble. I will try my best to be as patient and respectful as possible in the future.
      As a scientist, I know that any hypothesis that I put forward is just that until their is a sufficient evidence to merit further consideration. I believe that the hypothesis that the Candler wobble, QBO and ENSO are driven by luni-solar tidal forcing has reached the stage that there is enough evidence to give it serious consideration.

  30. I’m just a humble gardener, but my horticultural studies have always told me that more CO2 means more trees and trees cellulose matter is composed of among others, carbon. So does this mean that the planet tends to be in equilibrium. Problem solved.

    • richardswarthout

      John Wood

      Perhaps your interest in horticulture found its beginnings with the family name “Wood” :)

      Reminds me of a family I knew in the 1950s. There were five sons and their rather eccentric father gave them all names related to trees; I remember Forest, Willow (nicknamed Bill), and Birch. The family lived in Mears on the Michigan east coast; the shores of Lake Michigan. The family eventually became wealthy, due the father’s eccentricity; he became obsessed with building a miniature village in the middle of the sand dunes and in the process became owner of a large swath of the dunes (he paid nothing for the dune property); many years later the property was sold for millions.

      Richard

  31. richardswarthout

    The intrigue, to me, regarding “the greatest mathematical discovery” is that mathematics experts are unable to understand the discovery. Perhaps because they must first understand a new field created by Mochizuki which he calls Inter-Universal Geometry. Here are some excerpts from a Nature article:

    “But almost everyone who tackled Mochizuki’s proof found themselves floored. Some were bemused by the sweeping — almost messianic — language with which Mochizuki described some of his new theoretical instructions: he even called the field that he had created ‘inter-universal geometry’.”

    “The overarching theme of inter-universal geometry, as Fesenko describes it, is that one must look at whole numbers in a different light — leaving addition aside and seeing the multiplication structure as something malleable and deformable. Standard multiplication would then be just one particular case of a family of structures, just as a circle is a special case of an ellipse.”

    Here is the link to the Nature article:

    http://www.nature.com/news/the-biggest-mystery-in-mathematics-shinichi-mochizuki-and-the-impenetrable-proof-1.18509

    Richard

  32. Bill Brockman

    The article about bacteria in the oceans producing vast quantities of hydrocarbons astounded me, but I don’t see any comments on it. Wouldn’t it be possible to isolate these producing bacteria from the consuming bacteria and thus create a “new” source of fuel? Am I missing something?

    • Well, Joule Unlimited has been experimenting with GMO versions of the same process for several years. Their patents appear to name at least one of the geni (“Synechococcus”) mentioned in the original report.

    • This is one reason dispersents were used in the BP oil spill. They break up the oil into microscopic globs that present a much larger surface area to the bacteria. This speeds up the degradation process a lot and makes less likely the deposition of a large blob of oil on the beach or in the ocean somewhere.

  33. Central England temperature & global temperature [link]…
    Quote:
    “Global temperatures explain large fractions of the local variance in temperature in most locations.”

    That is essentially because the latter is driving the former. CET temperature deviations from normals are largely solar forced at the scale of weather type variability and not internal or chaotic.

    Quote:
    “For summer precipitation in the same central England region, the signal of a changing climate is far less clear – there is a small decline in rainfall with increasing global temperatures”

    Summer rainfall has increased since 1995 with the warm AMO. The gross variability from summer to summer is simply a product of the daily solar effects on the NAO/AO.

  34. Judy:
    David Springer and Rud Istvan have what appear to be diametrically opposing views on GMO. Is there a forum where these issues get treated objectively that is accessible to lay folks?

    • GMO’s is a very tough issue, and the consensus and politics aspects of it are interesting parallel/contrast to climate change debate. This is why I follow it closely, frequently post items in week in review.

  35. Amazing story about possibly the greatest mathematical discovery of the past century, but no one understands it. [link] …

    coral bleaching?

    • If you look around, you’ll find that some denizens have found the correct link. I’ve had abstract algebra and looked at the first paper. I recognized a few mathematical terms, but don’t look to me to verify or extend the work :)

  36. According to this report, China has asked the UN to regulate the internet:

    http://nworeport.me/2015/10/11/china-asks-world-to-impose-code-of-conduct-on-internet/

  37. *** Albedo regulation of Ice Ages, with no CO2 feedbacks ***

    My analysis of Ice Age initiation and propagation is now up on the Warwick Hughes site. It speculates that the primary feedback for Ice Ages was actually albedo, not CO2. The overwhelming power of albedo was only overcome when CO2 dropped to dangerously low levels, resulting in widespread plant dieback and several millenia of dust storms. These dust storms reduced the albedo of the ice sheets, and allowed the Interglacial warming periods.

    But Interglacial warming only happened when the precessional Great Year’s summer season increased insolation in the northern hemisphere. So several components are necessary for an Interglacial — very low Co2, plant dieback, dust storms, low ice albedo, and a Great Year summer season. So CO2 does falicitate Interglacial warming, but only by getting so low that all the plants die !!

    http://www.warwickhughes.com/blog/?p=4019
    http://www.warwickhughes.com/agri15/ralph_ellis_oct15.html

    Ralph

    • Interesting. Wouldn’t dust covered ice sheets and smaller ice sheets have a similar effect? In either case, the albedo would be lower and thus lead to warming.

      • You mean for the Younger Dryas? Yes, there is good evidence that the Younger Dryas was terminated by an unusually high volume of dust settling on it in just a few years.

        Quote:
        “Ice core evidence also shows that wind-blown materials were more abundant in the atmosphere over Greenland by a factor of 3, in the Younger Dryas atmosphere than after the event.”

        http://www.sott.net/article/279874-The-End-Holocene

    • This article typifies many that cover SLR. First, The headline and picture convey a more urgent message than the details buried in the following paragraphs. To wit, the time frame? Perhaps 2000 years. But how many readers take the time to read the entire article or even do a thought experiment of a cost benefit analysis of mitigation.
      Secondly, reference is made to the threat of grave SLR from West Antarctica without any reference to the 3 recent studies finding extensive geothermal activity in the region. A science and a journalist dedicated to integrity would ensure full disclosure of all factors impacting the glaciers. But those expectations seem to be unreasonable.

    • WG1 of AR5 has 14 chapters and 6 annexes totaling some 1500 pages. WG2 has 30 chapters. Every chapter cites several hundred articles. The IPCC report contains no new science but merely organizes the cited research into a form suitable for reference. It also summarizes this organization for policymakers.

      Even if it hadn’t been getting harder to read as judged by traditional linguistic metrics, its sheer volume makes it essentially inaccessible, whence the need for the policymaker summaries.

      With that level of complexity is it any wonder that not everyone accepts it as gospel? The four gospels are much more accessible.

      Recently I’ve been looking into whether the subject can be made more accessible. In particular are there simpler models of climate that are both easily understood and demonstrably trustworthy?

      Given the intensity of the debate it seems to me that this is a worthwhile goal.

      • Dr. Pratt,
        “The four gospels are much more accessible.

        Recently I’ve been looking into whether the subject can be made more accessible.”

        Accessibility (IMO) is not the issue. Inclusivity is.

        In my (relatively) short time I’ve discovered a range of environmentally concerned ‘deniers’ who are left out of the conversation. Should inclusivity become the order of the day who knows what can be agreed upon.

        The title, ‘Summary for policy makers’, alone, brings on angst. This climate/environmental issue is not for policy makers. It’s for mankind. So many (deniers/skeptics) are willing to work to address the environment which will (likely) benefit the climate and so many who profess to want to benefit the climate (those more climate concerned) won’t even sacrifice for their own personal climate. And folks wonder why there’s an issue.

        I agree the goal is admirable. The approach stinks.

      • Matthew R Marler

        Vaughan Pratt: Recently I’ve been looking into whether the subject can be made more accessible. In particular are there simpler models of climate that are both easily understood and demonstrably trustworthy?

        I don’t think so, but I welcome good reports if you find any.

      • @Danny Thomas: The title, ‘Summary for policy makers’, alone, brings on angst. This climate/environmental issue is not for policy makers. It’s for mankind. So many (deniers/skeptics) are willing to work to address the environment which will (likely) benefit the climate and so many who profess to want to benefit the climate (those more climate concerned) won’t even sacrifice for their own personal climate. And folks wonder why there’s an issue.

        This is a really profound point. Those who accept that the climate is going to hell in a Louis Vuitton handbasket will naturally ask, “how can I help?”

        I mentioned a little earlier that I’d attended a climate talk by David Romps on Thursday. At question time someone asked exactly that question. David’s answer was in terms of what one could do individually, such as driving a higher-mpg car.

        My answer would have been, talk to the policy-makers. Tell them you’re concerned.

        Representative government of the people for the people is best done by the people at election time. Those who feel that God will not allow things to get too far out of hand don’t need government and should vote for those prepared to throw themselves on the wheels of government in order to bring that unnecessary waste of money to a halt. Those who feel that God helps those who help themselves should vote for those prepared to work together to prioritize and focus on what needs fixing.

        California has a short-term goal of bringing its carbon emissions down to 1990 levels by 2020, which it hopes can be achieved by moving to renewables for a third of its energy needs. The longer term goal is 20% of 1990 emissions by 2050. This ambitious program is neatly summarized in this graph:

        By all means do everything you can to reduce your own carbon footprint.

        But the bigger problem I see is how to persuade the corporate, government, and military producers and consumers of carbon-based fuels to do likewise. Corporations in particular have a fiduciary duty to their investors that is in apparent conflict with that program.

        Reducing that conflict to the extent possible is a good first step.

      • But the bigger problem I see is how to persuade the corporate, government, and military producers and consumers of carbon-based fuels to do likewise. Corporations in particular have a fiduciary duty to their investors that is in apparent conflict with that program.

        “[C]arbon-based fuels” don’t have to involve dumping extra (fossil-sourced) carbon into the system.

        Although actual drillers, frackers, and diggers will ultimately lose out, the production, distribution, sale, and use of “carbon-based fuels” could all be switched to fossil-neutral sources. This could include gas/liquid fuel produced from electrolytic H2 and ambient CO2 both produced from solar energy, as well as sea-floor methane hydrate extracted through replacement of equal amounts (by carbon content) of CO2 extracted from ambient sources.

        Policies that incent investment in the necessary technology and production without impacting the cost of energy might be much more effective, and acceptable to everybody’s bottom line.

      • AK,
        This:”Policies that incent investment in the necessary technology and production without impacting the cost of energy might be much more effective, and acceptable to everybody’s bottom line.” is the kind of thinking which doesn’t seem to be around much and it’s what (IMO) is needed. Those who rail against policy might well embrace approaches which do not remove the decisions from the individuals (entities).

        When I read about the millions (billions) spent on research and oriented towards ‘getting the right policy makers elected’ I wonder how well a pool of money might lead to technologies which could satisfy the needs of many more.

        Reading recently about Al Gore’s sustainability fund (https://www.genfound.org/) and finding little in the way of seed money for incentivising new ideas I wonder why he, Steyer, et al want to ‘force’ (via policy) change instead of attempting to ‘create’. And we all are aware of the skeptical issues with their jet setting lifestyles and it comes across as hypocritical.

      • @MM: I don’t think [there are adequate models], but I welcome good reports if you find any.

        Whether predicting next week’s weather, next month’s flu season, or next century’s climate, three ingredients are needed for any reasonable degree of predictive skill.

        1. A qualitative model of the relevant processes.

        2. Historical data quantifying those processes.

        3. Statistical reconciliation of the qualitative and the quantitative.

        We can all quarrel about the incompleteness and imprecision of the data, and the lies and damned lies of the statisticians. But these pale into insignificance compared to today’s climate models.

        If wading through the 50-odd chapters of WG1 and WG2, each summarizing the research of several hundred peer-reviewed publications, seems like a tall order, try reading the millions of lines of code of the thirty or more CMIP5 climate models that have grown like Topsy over several decades starting from very successful numerical weather prediction models.

        In the division of labor needed to accomplish so much, is there even one person who has a clear picture of how these models bear on expected climate in 2100?

        Ask yourself. Do you care whether your first great-great-great-granddaughter’s fifth birthday party in the nearest park to her house will be rained out? Or would you be satisfied with knowing the global mean surface temperature of the planet as averaged over the period 2070-2130?

        Surely the former question would require a more complex model than the latter.

        Which raises the question, how does the complexity of a climate model depend on the question it was designed to answer with an acceptable degree of predictive skill?

        On the afternoon of December 17 I’ll be addressing that question at the annual Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union. The bottom line will be that the questions most often raised about climate in 2100 can be answered with a very high degree of predictive skill based on mind-bogglingly simpler models than those of the massive CMIP5 suite. Check in that time.

      • @AK: the production, distribution, sale, and use of “carbon-based fuels” could all be switched to fossil-neutral sources.

        Agreed. One might call this rechargeables, as an alternative to renewables. Burning carbon-based fuels is like using a battery, with the spent “battery” being dumped into the atmosphere. Refueling with fuel extracted somehow (not necessarily directly) from atmospheric CO2 is like recharging the battery.

        Two benefits of “rechargeables” are high energy density of carbon-based fuels, and continued use of the existing carbon-based infrastructure such as gas stations, internal combustion engines, etc. Two drawbacks are the relatively high cost of producing fuel from non-fossil sources, and the difficulty of even deciding whether the production is drawing down as much CO2 as is being emitted, let alone actually achieving it.

        What’s your impression of which have been getting more traction lately, biofuels or other renewables?

        Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) is different again, being prevention of emissions rather than recycling them. CCS is also expensive, though as a way of keeping atmospheric CO2 constant I don’t know whether it would be as expensive as “rechargeable carbon” in the above sense. If I had to say, I’d guess CCS would be cheaper for stationary power stations and maybe ships. But for planes and cars CCS seems impractical–a US gallon of fuel weighing 6 lbs produces some 20 lbs of CO2 and anyway where would you put it?

      • @Vaughan Pratt…

        Two benefits of “rechargeables” are high energy density of carbon-based fuels, and continued use of the existing carbon-based infrastructure such as gas stations, internal combustion engines, etc.

        Yes! A drum I’ve been beating for a while. A substantial reduction in “sunk costs”.

        Two drawbacks are the relatively high cost of producing fuel from non-fossil sources, and the difficulty of even deciding whether the production is drawing down as much CO2 as is being emitted, let alone actually achieving it.

        As I’ve mentioned in earlier comments, there is good working suggesting that production costs can be reduced by increased production. There seems to be a general log/log (exp/exp) relationship. See Nagy et al. (2013) ref here.

        My preferred approach to the draw-down issue is to focus on the amount of CO2 being extracted from ambient conditions (atmosphere/ocean surface), without trying to relate that to carbon being emitted overall. My preferred approach (at this time) is a system where the amount of fuel being burned for energy must include a certain percentage of fuel based on carbon extracted from ambient. There’s a very long discussion, including quite a few links, here.

        What’s your impression of which have been getting more traction lately, biofuels or other renewables?

        I don’t really know, or care. My primary focus is on bringing attention to what I regard as the most likely solutions to the overall problem(s).

        “Biofuels” are, IMO, a red herring. Even with current technology, AFAIK, it’s possible to produce more fuel per unit area based on ambient CO2 using solar PV powered hydrolysis and CO2 extraction than with any biological process.

        Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) is different again, being prevention of emissions rather than recycling them. CCS is also expensive, though as a way of keeping atmospheric CO2 constant I don’t know whether it would be as expensive as “rechargeable carbon” in the above sense.

        As I see it, the most important advantage of incenting (via policy) ambient CO2 extraction is that it will result in a large, mature, industry capable of extracting more than is being burned if, several decades from now, science tells us we need to pull back the fossil carbon we’ve dumped into the system.

        Even today, there’s prototype technology that can do this, supplying it to various processes to create fuels, or extract them in the case of sea-floor methane hydrate clathrate, without changing the overall balance of carbon in the system. (Indeed, it may well be that processes for extracting sea-floor methane hydrate could be made to sequester much more carbon than is extracted without adding to the cost. Or at least without adding much.)

        I’ve supplied a couple links to a recent discussion where I went into more detail, and IIRC there are links there to previous comments where I linked to other details. Repeating all my links every time is sub-optimal, especially as it tends to end my comments up in m0deration.

  38. David Springer

    Vaughan Pratt | October 11, 2015 at 3:33 am |

    “ck, I’m unable to see how those “non-radiative mechanisms” you speak of could possibly make a difference of more than 0.01% to the surface temperature.”

    Wow. Have you ever heard of something called a heat budget?

    Pratt, you’re a conceited prick speaking far outside your narrow area of expertise. This ignorant statement about non-radiatives mechanisms is proof of it.

    Start here, stupid:

    5.6 Geographic Distribution of Terms in the Heat Budget

    Pay particular attention to this illustration:

    Even antique eyeballs connected to a pump-head brain should be able to quickly discern the vast difference in area enclosed by QLW (longwave emission) and QL (latent heat transfer). But I could be wrong. You may no longer be capable of such observations.

    • David Springer

      Meteorology 101: In general the surface is cooled by evaporation and the atmosphere is heated by condensation.

      Write that down.

    • David Springer’s little rant there puts me in mind of the man who observed 1100 VAC on his home’s power and ran down the street screaming for everyone to shut off their power without first checking whether his meter was on the correct range.

      When I read something that sounds like it was written by a Neanderthal, I don’t point this out before checking whether there might be some other interpretation that makes more sense. If I didn’t take that precaution I’d be the one who had no sense.

      I’ll concede that the error in question, namely whatever error in current climate calculations could result from cerescokid’s alleged misinterpretation of “ordinary radiative cooling” as a feedback, could be as large as 0.03%, namely 0.1 °C—I just picked 0.01% as a rough upper bound for this error. But I seriously doubt it could even be that large.

      However concern over the exact numerical value fails to see the wood for the trees. Cerescokid complained “And the ‘Planck feedback’ that you consider bedrock science is nothing more, in customary definition, than ordinary radiative cooling,”

      That’s ridiculous.

      The phenomenon referred to as “Planck feedback” is the one in which adding insulation to a constant-heat-input radiator obliges the surface of the radiator to rise in temperature, converging to equilibrium as customary in any negative feedback situation, in order that the system as a whole eventually radiates the same heat as without the insulation. It’s called that because it’s governed by Planck’s law of radiation.

      I have no idea what distinction cerescokid is trying to draw with his “ordinary radiative cooling”, but there is no question that the Planck feedback is a negative feedback in the standard sense of the word, namely one that can be precisely quantified as such via a feedback equation of the form

      S = I + RF

      where S is the surface radiation, I the insolation, RF the radiative forcing, and the equation is satisfied when in the limit it has been driven back into equilibrium, as usual for negative feedbacks.

      In this particular system the amplifier gain happens to be unity, but that doesn’t make it any less of a feedback.

      That cerescokid and Springer can’t see this speaks to the irrelevance of their interpretation of WG1 of the IPCC report.

      In physics we say “not even wrong”. In less technical areas the expression is “wrong at the top of his voice”.

      • Vaughan Pratt,

        Maybe you are overlooking the fact that the Earth has cooled over the past four and a half billion years or so. CO2 levels have been higher in the past. The Earth cooled anyway. Maybe the Universe has changed in the last couple of hundred years, but physics still seems to apply as in the past.

        With respect, you misunderstand the radiative physics involved. The surface temperature rises in response to insolation. As the world turns, the surface temperature drops. No equilibrium, no steady state. The Earth is inclined to the plane of the ecliptic, and travels in a slightly wobbly elliptical orbit. So, night and day, seasons, differences between Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Net result is that the Earth gradually cools, crust gets thicker . . .

        CO2 is wonderful stuff. So is H2O. Climatism has achieved precisely nothing to date. CO2 warming is unadulterated nonsense. As is H2O warming. You may have noticed that the hottest and coldest places on Earth both exhibit a severe lack of that powerful greenhouse gas (according to foolish Warmists), H2O.

        Oh wondrous gas! Both heats and cools, according to your desire!

        How silly would anybody have to be to believe such obvious nonsense? A rhetorical question of course – any Warmist will provide the answer.

        Cheers.

      • Mike, long time no see. How have you been?

        CO2 levels have been higher in the past. The Earth cooled anyway.

        Agreed.

        physics still seems to apply as in the past

        Agreed.

        Wow, we agree on two things in a row.

        Great to see you again.

      • Michael Flynn

        Vaughan Pratt,
        I remain well. Thanks for asking. And you?

        Not much seems to have changed, it appears. I’ve obviously got too much time on my hands, but I suppose thinking keeps me from falling asleep. Ain’t life grand?

        Cheers.

      • Mike,

        Maybe you are overlooking the fact that the Earth has cooled over the past four and a half billion years or so.

        And how has solar insolation changed over that same time interval?

        The surface temperature rises in response to insolation. As the world turns, the surface temperature drops. No equilibrium, no steady state.

        No one credible is claiming a true steady state, or a fixed equilibrium. However, given the energy we receive, there is a state of quasi-equilibrium to which the system will tend.

        Net result is that the Earth gradually cools, crust gets thicker . . .

        Hmm, this seems to be referring to our internal energy, which is largely irrelevant in this context. I think we may have discussed this before, so am not sure I want to repeat that experience.

      • ATTP,

        I have precisely the same knowledge as you as to how solar insolation has changed since the creation of the Earth. What’s your completely uninformed opinion? Does it make any difference to the fact that the Earth has obviously cooled?

        “A state of quasi-equilibrium to which the system will tend.” What precisely is “quasi-equilibrium”? Is this the same as no equilibrium? Or is it just another piece of pseudosciencespeak, so beloved of Warmists?

        The Earth has cooled for four and a half billion years. Are you insinuating it will miraculously cease to cool, and start to warm for no reason other than you desire it? Or maybe that evil CO2 has mutated into a new a virulent form, overcoming the limits of physical laws as we know them. What do you think?

        The fact that the Earth is more than 99% molten, or nearly so, is of course considered irrelevant by Warmists. An inconvenient fact, and I can understand you not wanting to have to face reality yet again.

        You’ve been had, as they say. Maybe you could apply your obvious passion to curing cancer (or even the common cold, if you want to start slowly). It’s probably easier than trying to warm the Earth with the power of your mind.

        Cheers.

      • @MF: The fact that the Earth is more than 99% molten, or nearly so, is of course considered irrelevant by Warmists

        Mike, I’m afraid you’ve been had, as they say, though it would be interesting to know by whom. The outer core is molten, as are portions of the lithosphere understood as lava. The remaining 95% of the planet is as solid as the glass in the windows of your house.

      • Vaughan Pratt,

        Maybe you didn’t have your spectacles to hand, and couldn’t read the part which read “. . or nearly so, . . . ”

        I consider rock hot enough to deform under its own weight, to be molten. “Nearly molten” I use to refer to rock which exhibits less resistance to deformation than crustal rock, as a result of its higher temperature. You might care to tell me your definition, and why it’s better or more precise. I’m always open to suggestion.

        Wikipedia is not terribly reliable at times, but this is what it says –

        “Temperature within the Earth increases with depth. Highly viscous or partially molten rock at temperatures between 650 to 1,200 °C (1,200 to 2,200 °F) is postulated to exist everywhere beneath the Earth’s surface at depths of 80 to 100 kilometres . . . ”

        In any case, as a rough aid to visualisation, the solid crust is to the rest of the Earth, as the thickness of an apple skin is to a fist sized apple. A wee bit less than 1% by volume. I’ll let you verify the calculation.

        The fact of continental plate movement would seem to support the theory that whatever lies below is less than solid, and very hot. The fact that the deepest hole ever drilled into the Earth’s crust is less than 13 km deep might give you cause for thought, when you examine why no individual, company, or government has managed to get any deeper, even after 20 years of Government effort on one project.

        So I’ve obviously been had by Governments, universities, researchers, geologists, geophysicists, power utilities, deep mining and oil drilling companies and a few others.

        Maybe you could straighten them all out, and chastise them severely for leading an innocent like me astray.

        Thanks for the help.

        Cheers.

  39. On the question of moderation on Climate Etc, one benefit is less rubbish to wade through. Against this are (i) the burden it places on our very busy host, and (ii) the opportunity for the real pricks to stand up (no pun intended).