A War Against Fire

by Judith Curry

The most savage controversies are those as to which there is no good evidence either way. -Bertrand Russell

Bishop Hill points to a 1990 essay by Russell Seitz that was a response to Jim Hansen’s Congressional Testimony:  A War Against Fire.  Excerpts:

As Science magazine observed in a March 30, 1990, editorial:
“Virtually everyone, children included, is concerned about global climate change and especially about the greenhouse effect. They have learned of increases in carbon dioxide. They have been told repeatedly that temperatures will increase 9’F. Political pressure is mounting to take action regardless of cost, and to take action now.”

This much is familiar to any observer within reach of the popular media. But what follows is not : “But how good is the evidence, and how likely is substantial global warming? When might it happen”? Applying the customary standards of scientific inquiry, one must conclude that there has been more hype than solid facts. Modeling of global climate is largely concentrated on examining effects of doubling the atmospheric content of greenhouse gases. As might he expected, the answers they get are functions of the models they employ. The spread is from 1. 5′ to 5’C; that is, there is great uncertainty. If one examines the subject, one finds virtually unanimous agreement that the models are deficient.

Where Science speaks of conflicting studies and ambiguous results, the popularizers of the greenhouse effect deliver dire warnings with the utmost certitude. In the name of the greenhouse effect, some environmentalists are demanding a 30 percent rollback in C02 emissions by the year 2000. They seem oblivious to the enormity of what they are demanding: a war on that most elemental of human discoveries-fire itself.

Why this enormous gap between what is known and what is urged? 

Why It’s Not So Simple

THE ATMOSPHERE is among the earth’s most complex dynamic systems: subtle in its chemistry, chaotic in its flow. It interacts with everything from the solar wind to the deep oceans. It is subject to insults great and small, brief and enduring, from men and meteorites, volcanoes and termites, wildfires and algal blooms–a list without end.

The atmospheric sciences presently lie in limbo between the Newtonian rigor of classical physics and the realm of the undecidible. It is an uncomfortable time. The range of sincere expert opinion broadens with the complexity of the subject at issue. And at the interdisciplinary extreme–global climate expertise itself dissolves in that most universal of solvents, the theory of complexity.

If there were world enough and time, individual atmospheric scientists might achieve a combination of physical and geometric intuition approaching certain knowledge of how the earth will respond in the long run to human intervention. But in practice such polymathy scarcely exists- scientists are reeling in shock at the information explosion they’ve touched off.

We have as well another major problem. While we have indeed driven carbon dioxide above the historical (hundred-thousand-year) range of its recorded natural fluctuation by about 20 percent (70 parts per million), we have a rather feeble understanding of the paramount greenhouse gas: water vapor. Its clouds fill a tenth of the sky. ts atmospheric concentration is so vastly greater than that of C02 as to obscure its effect.

Tracking the Invisible Man

As a window for laymen to peer through, Global Change and Our Common Future, published in 1989 by National Academy Press, affords a startling contrast. At one end of the spectrum lies the rhetoric of uncertainty that dominates the hard sciences in the study of global change.

It is exemplified by the admission that it will take decades for a clear greenhouse signal to emerge from the noise of climatic variation-witness the dust-bowl drought of the 1930s and the abnormally high Great Lakes water levels of the 1980s-and by the confession that it will take 500 times more computer power to realistically model the course of the quarter-century to come. As one participant in the forum, which produced Global Change, J.D. Mahlman, noted, “Until such decadal-scale fluctuations are understood or are predictable, it will remain difficult to diagnose the specific signals of permanent climate change as they evolve. “

At the other end of the spectrum lies the rhetoric of extinction- life scientists confidently predicting the climate-driven disappearance of species over the next fifty years.

By the volume’s end, it is clear on which side Senator Albert Gore has enlisted: “My purpose is to sound an alarm, loudly and clearly, of imminent and grave danger, and to describe a strategy for confronting this crisis … the horrendous prospect of an ecological collapse. ”

So too, scientific perceptions of both where the world is, and the timing of its rendezvous with climatic change, are still in part very much a matter of taste. As is the question of whether scientists from disciplines unrelated to the atmosphere should lend their authority to the promotion of policies that might not prevail on the objective strength–or empirical weakness–of the available evidence. It is a prerogative of the manifesto-writing classes to dragoon as many members as they can of the National Academy of Sciences into signing them (a task too often easier than getting them read).

But the resulting embarras de richesses can he a problem when the signatories outnumber the real experts in the field. The Union of Concerned Scientists got a majority of the membership to sign a declaration calling for a substantial reduction in global C02 emissions by the year 2000. Some members (notably MIT atmospheric physicist Richard Lindzen) were appalled and said so, but they failed to make it onto prime-time television.

A DISTURBING reality confronts us: A the deliberate creation of a double standard, with one set of facts for internal scientific discourse and another for public consumption. On C02, some have cast objectivity aside and openly made common cause with the eco-politicians. But this pathology of the sociology of science is not without a remedy. For the power of television to project unchallengeable images of environmental quality, real or imagined, is utterly undone when the public achieves even a minimal level of quantitative understanding; numeracy and skepticism go hand in hand.

In the absence of numbers candidly conveyed, it is all too easy to transmute supposedly quantitative scientific “facts” about the present into a qualitative legal fiction about the future.

Clearly, a sharp-toothed carnivore is on the prowl. But we’ve yet to see a full-grown specimen. Are we dealing with Snoopy or Cerberus? It’s hard to tell- it’s only just a foundling pup, and the question of its diet remains to he wrestled with–it might grow into either. But grow it will–slowly, and for a long while undetectably. One of these centuries, we’re going to have a real dog in our front yard. But what kind? And when? An interdisciplinary consensus on the magnitude of the “greenhouse effect” and its impact on sea levels in the next century won’t come cheap-or soon.

Nobody knows if the synergy of all the ill-defined feedbacks will coincide with high-side outcomes of the many inputs that global systems models require. So some will invoke the presumed prudence of assuming the worst. For others, there is Murphy’s Second Law: if everything must go wrong, don’t bet on it.

Turning Up the Heat

Politically, I counsel constant vigilance. The salvation of the world affords an enchanting pretext for those predisposed to societal intervention. They have already raised the abolitionist banner, pointing to the prospect of Bangladesh awash and water skiing down the Mall to the Capitol–a prospect no more likely in my lifetime than nothing happening.

My personal expectation–and I reserve the right to change my mind if the evidence does–runs more to centimeter-per-year rises in sea level and a lot more climatic variability than actual temperature rise in that lifetime.

So there may indeed be a solution to the profound uncertainty that engenders reluctance when we are offered insurance against C02 bracket creep-at a trillion-dollar premium. Consider a double Scots Verdict: even if the verdict on global warming is not proven, we could still save a bundle of hard cash if a canny enough energy policy can be found.

And better too that cooler heads than those that dominate the hot media prevail in informing the Congress and the electorate. For this much is certain: science needs to see the illumination of today’s hot-tempered environmental policy debates. If light is to prevail over heat, many will have to simmer down and reflect they have lately been doing or counseling.

If candor prevails, climate professionals will realize once again that laymen too can recognize cant when they hear it and cartoons when they see them. Scientists would do well to recall that insight’s inevitable corollary-the neutrality of scientific institutions must first exist if it is to he respected.

Whether the trial of Galileo or the tyranny of Lysenko, at all times and in all polities, science politicized is science betrayed.

JC reflections

Think back to 1990 – as for moi, a recent Ph.D. graduate, I was aware of the issue but not paying much attention. I didn’t start paying much attention to politics and the broader scientific issues until 2005 (courtesy of the hurricanes and global warming wars).

I suspect that Seitz’s 1990 perspective was shared by a substantial majority of atmospheric scientists at the time.  At that time, there was a relatively small number of scientists who were publicly sounding the alarm – Jim Hansen, Steve Schneider and John Houghton come to mind.

I excerpted about 20% of Seitz’s essay – points that generally remain valid today, IMO.  Ironically, making such statements today would immediately classify you as a ‘denier’.

But we know so much more now than we did in 1990, right?  Well, the range for climate sensitivity remains pretty much the same.  The complexity of our understanding of the climate system has increased, with more complex climate models.  But the science has become far more politicized, raising a host of questions about implicit and explicit biases in the science.  And we still don’t have a good way to separate unforced (internal)  from forced climate variability.  The overall lack of policy relevant progress has been caused by the politicization of the science, and the focus on human caused climate change (neglecting natural causes of climate variability).

And finally, some reflections on Seitz’s current role in the climate debate.  Seitz continues to publish some interesting essays, notably Knowing the Unknowns.  He also blogs on climate issues vvatsupwiththat, which as far as I can tell belongs to the Sou Boudanga school of climate blogging (although I find Seitz’s blog articles pretty incoherent).  I’ll ping Seitz on twitter to see if he will stop by to discuss.

 

 

395 responses to “A War Against Fire

  1. Pingback: A War Against Fire | Enjeux énergies et environnement

  2. I’ve seen several recent papers that suggest ECS values of ~1.3-2.

    Are there any recent (past ~year) papers suggesting ECS values >2.75 ?

  3. “If candor prevails, climate professionals will realize once again that laymen too can recognize cant when they hear it and cartoons when they see them.”

    If nothing else, I did learn the word cant which I can’t say was part of my lexicon before:

    canthypocritical and sanctimonious talk, typically of a moral, religious, or political nature.

    Quite apt.

    Unfortunately, the public does seem swayed by the cartoons of calamity.

    • How’s this cartoon prepared by ORNL and published in our local paper before the Paris event? All happening with 3degC. Should insult any scientist with an understanding of graphing, but of course, was made to appeal to the general public. A world “on fire” in 2099.

  4. Thank you, Professor Curry, for the reminder that the current AGW scare is a call to war against fire.

  5. Geoff Sherrington

    The big question remains – is sensitivity to GHG zero?
    In normal science, such a central question is answered before consequences are actioned.
    Here, the action is a huge economic change, while nobody has yet shown quantitatively that GHG cause temperature changes in the atmosphere – or for that matter, that temperature causes GHG changes.

    • Is there any peer-reviewed paper arguing for ECS=0?

      There is a range of ECS ~ 1.5 –> ~ 4.5 that seems to be agreeable to virtually all climate scientists.

      I have not seen any recent papers with ECS=0. Do you have a link?

      • AK wrote to me:

        You’re wrong. When it comes to climate change, “feedbacks” are a myth: i.e. a loose metaphor intended to incent some action or thought.

        IIRC Richard Lindzen once told Congress that “global average temperature” doesn’t actually do anything or have any effect.

        Oh, well…………

        Look, AK, you quote Lindzen, but he and his colleagues have tried to analyze the feedback effects from various sources. (I myself respect Lindzen, though of course I do not necessarily agree with him on everything.)

        If feedback is a myth, why do you cite a guy who takes it seriously?

        Of course, everyone on all sides of the debate agrees that different things happen at different places. But, still, it really does seem to make sense to talk about global climate and what affects it, and that requires us to at least try to think about things like feedbacks.

        Dave

      • @physicistdave…

        If feedback is a myth, why do you cite a guy who takes it seriously?

        Because his statement makes the point I wanted. When people speak of “feedback” in terms of global heat budgets, they could be using the term as a loose metaphor (a myth), or they could actually be using a mental model where “averages” and global “temperatures” are somehow real inputs to what’s going on.

        Based on what I’ve heard and read of him, Lindzen is the former, although he’s said some things that IMO are wrong. (Especially in his 1997(?) PNAS discussion.)

        But, still, it really does seem to make sense to talk about global climate and what affects it, and that requires us to at least try to think about things like feedbacks.

        That’s fine, as long as you don’t start thinking your descriptive metaphors are valid models of reality.

        To be precise, “global average temperature” doesn’t have any influence on total planetary radiative heat loss. Thus “control theory” doesn’t apply, and claims that the overall effect of “greenhouse warmingcan’t be zero or negative can’t be justified on the basis of it.

        I could go into greater detail, but usually when I do people just skip it with tl:dr.

      • AK,

        Well, I guess my point is that everyone agrees that climate is complicated, and that you are wasting your time making that point again.

        I think the more valid point would be to say that it is conceivable that the effects of anthropogenic CO2 are sufficiently small and sufficiently varied in different geographic regions that the effects of anthropogenic CO2 are swamped by regional variations, natural climate variability, etc.

        Pointing out that the effects of anthropogenic CO2 might be small enough so as to be swamped by other effects is more likely to be taken seriously than simply pointing out the (obvious) fact that the effects of anthropogenic CO2 are indeed not uniform across the planet.

        Then, of course, the issue becomes does the fact that the effects of anthropogenic CO2 might be small mean the effects really are small?

        That is the 64 trillion dollar question. Neither you nor I nor anyone else has a definitive answer. Come up with a definitive proof, and you will be deservedly famous.

        Dave

      • Steven Mosher,

        You wrote –

        “ECS cant be zero.” You are probably correct. As AK pointed out so eloquently, it might fall into the range between a negative figure and a positive figure. AK has Bugs Bunny cartoons to support him.

        What do you have?

        Cheers.

      • If he means the climate must change… yeah. But, the lower tropospheric temp… that could very well be zero. And it’s not impossible for it to be negative; think convection, clouds, evaporation, precipitation. Most likely it is somewhere near 1.

      • Geoff Sherrington

        Steven, “ECS can’t be zero”
        Why not?
        Even if GHG cause some ‘anomalous’ atmospheric heating, the atmosphere should be quite capable of sending the anomaly to space without it doing anything significant.
        There is little doubt that mechanisms to send to space are present (otherwise there would have been runaway fiery Earth a long time ago). Ergo, there has to be an overall negative feedback. Its target does not exclude a return to zero change. Indeed, zero might be the most logical target.
        If it is not zero, then what value does it have? Why?
        The main thrust of the public ‘education’ is repetitive “CO2 is a greenhouse gas.” That is only the first chapter and it is not enough for policy purposes.
        Have you seen much mature material about atmospheric changes subsequent to this start of the greenhouse effect? I have seen a lot of arm waving.

      • It could but it probably isn’t.

      • Geoff wrote:
        >Ergo, there has to be an overall negative feedback. Its target does not exclude a return to zero change. Indeed, zero might be the most logical target.

        Geoff, a negative feedback does not give zero change: it just reduces the effect from what it otherwise would be — i.e., the multiplier is positive but less than 1.0.

        The reason is simple to explain to anyone who understands control theory: indeed, anyone who understands control theory already knows the answer.

        To try to explain it non-mathematically, well… if the total effect ended up being exactly zero, then there would be nothing there to continue driving the negative feedback. You need some non-zero residual effect to keep the negative feedback occurring and thereby continue to cancel out much of the initial effect.

        This is obvious in the math, but I realize it takes some thought for those who do not know the math.

        My “gut feeling” as a physicist turned engineer is that you are correct that the feedback effect is probably negative.

        On the other hand, I have learned over the decades not to trust my “gut feeling”!

        Incidentally, your argument could actually be made mathematically rigorous except, as my fellow physicist John Baez has pointed out, for a basic non-linearity in the Stefan-Boltzmann law which needs to be taken into account.

        Which leaves us, alas, with “gut feelings.”

        Dave Miller in Sacramento

      • @physicistdave…

        Geoff, a negative feedback does not give zero change: it just reduces the effect from what it otherwise would be — i.e., the multiplier is positive but less than 1.0.

        The reason is simple to explain to anyone who understands control theory: indeed, anyone who understands control theory already knows the answer.

        To try to explain it non-mathematically, well… if the total effect ended up being exactly zero, then there would be nothing there to continue driving the negative feedback. You need some non-zero residual effect to keep the negative feedback occurring and thereby continue to cancel out much of the initial effect.

        You’re wrong. When it comes to climate change, “feedbacks” are a myth: i.e. a loose metaphor intended to incent some action or thought.

        IIRC Richard Lindzen once told Congress that “global average temperature” doesn’t actually do anything or have any effect. (OTOH I couldn’t find it with a quick Google search, so perhaps my recollection is wrong.) But this makes the point. What matters is what the temperature at each point does, after whatever effect increased GHG’s have at that point.

        As a result, the effect of more CO2 could be represented in a change to the temperature field at each point, with a set of follow-on changes including increased evaporation, that could easily drive increased cloudiness and albedo at other points.*

        What this means is that the “driving effect” of increased CO2 excluding any contribution from changes to evaporation and precipitation (as cloud droplets) of water could be summed/averaged to one number, say 1.2°C, while the “resulting effect” including those contributions could be a smaller number, such as 0.8°C, 0°C, or even some negative number such as -0.4°C.

        This in turn means that any attempt to apply “control theory” is invalid. When you say “if the total effect ended up being exactly zero,” the total effect on the entire temperature field would be present, and continue to have follow-on effects, but the average isn’t something that can be used in any good mathematical analogy using “control theory”.

        It could easily end up “being exactly zero”, although as I said above it would be very unlikely. To the extent that “ECS” (or “TCR”) actually exist as invariant numbers, a PFD for the value should have a tail that extends past zero. IMO a small tail, but real.

        This is why things like “feedbacks” (and “forcings”) are myths, a point that must always be kept in mind when considering subjects like climate change. If the overall effect can be proven by observations to work in a way that could be described by “control theory”, then it can be used as an explanatory analogy for those who don’t understand how the actual evolution of the system works, as integrated by the effects of various interacting factors at various every point.

        But it doesn’t really apply.

        * Actually, the effect of more CO2 should be represented as a change to the derivative WRT time of the temperature field at any one point, or even more precisely as one term of a sum representing that derivative, with other terms from other sources (such as evaporation and conduction to surrounding air) also changing.

      • To the extent that “ECS” (or “TCR”) actually exist as invariant numbers, a PFD for the value should have a tail that extends past zero.

        S/B “PDF” of course. Fat finger.

      • Steven Mosher

        Geoff. Don’t be stupid.

      • Cant be negative either.

        You skeptics already screwed up the chances of getting decent climate policy by playing the skydragon nonsense. When will you wise up and put all your brain power on the issues Nic Lewis and Judith have raised.

        A) refine sensitivity calculations.
        B) understand natural variation… Dont just point and go “nature changes” you actually have to understand natural varition.

        Or you could play the “rock is cooling” therefore there is no global warming… Maybe Cruz will call Flynn to testify? NOT.

        Skeptics have one last chance to consolidate their position and focus a discussion.

      • Steven Mosher,
        Skeptics don’t have to do anything. They can just sit and wait. 2018-2019 will probably see the after El Niño cooling period, restoring the pause. Then a negative AMO and a low activity Sun will likely set the stage for no warming until 2030. After 30 years of no to little warming (a third of the century), the alarmists will be discredited. At least those that are still alive and don’t change sides quick enough.

      • Steven Mosher: ECS cant be zero

        This is the religious approach: testifying to your personal belief and limited understanding.

        Starting from where we are now: Increased CO2 could produce warming which produces increased cloud cover which produces reduced surface insolation which reduces temperature which reduces cloud cover which produces warming, etc. The net effect of increased CO2 could be an increase in the oscillation between relatively high and relatively low values without any change in global mean temperature.

        The mechanisms exist and have been partially studied and partially quantified. What is lacking is a complete and quantitatively accurate understanding.

        One thing we can be sure of is that an “equilibrium” is extremely unlikely. The conditions that produce equilibria and steady-states are not present in the climate system. Instead there are multiple non-linearities in the transfers and spatial and temporal variation in the solar energy input.

        You have been schooled on these topics for years now. I and others have provided references to dynamic systems, from introductory levels to fairly advanced, and you have not learned anything about nonlinear dynamics in general or the nonlinear dynamics documented in thermodynamics or climate science during that time. You ought to skip Mike Flynn and read Kondepudi and Prigogine, and Dijkstra, and Ambaum instead.

      • This is interesting:”Starting from where we are now: Increased CO2 could produce warming which produces increased cloud cover which produces reduced surface insolation which reduces temperature which reduces cloud cover which produces warming, etc. The net effect of increased CO2 could be an increase in the oscillation between relatively high and relatively low values without any change in global mean temperature.’

        Could we be in the vicinity of the climate sweet spot, beyond which an increase in any kind of forcing will result in the scenario described above? Seems rather far fetched.

      • Strip away the extraneous BS and there is some good advice in Mosher’s comment:

        “…put all your brain power on the issues Nic Lewis and Judith have raised.

        A) refine sensitivity calculations.
        B) understand natural variation…”

      • “ECS cant be zero”
        “Cant be negative either.”

        Read harder.
        The overall effect on GMST (including changes to precipitation cycle, albedo, biogeochemical etc) MAY turn out to be EFFECTIVELY zero. This does NOT MEAN no changes take place, just that they MAY average to zero or negative. The changes MAY be disasterous for mankind (or they may be benign), while still averaging GLOBALLY to zero, or being negative.

        It’s unlikely to be zero or negative, but it’s also unlikely to be 10C. Both are possible.

        If you declare these to be impossible, you are almost certainly wrong. Extremely unlikely, yes – maybe even 20 sigma unlikely, but not impossible.

      • Mosher says:”“ECS cant be zero”
        “Cant be negative either.”

        kneel says: “If you declare these to be impossible, you are almost certainly wrong.”

        On the chances that ECS is negative or zero:

        kneel says: “Extremely unlikely, yes – maybe even 20 sigma unlikely, but not impossible.”

        So Mosher ain’t that far off, in practical terms. So why should anybody waste time talking about zero or negative ECS?

      • Don Monfort: Could we be in the vicinity of the climate sweet spot, beyond which an increase in any kind of forcing will result in the scenario described above? Seems rather far fetched.

        I don’t know how likely it is. Most computations depend on the counter-factual equilibrium assumption. The temperature estimates of the last 9,500 years or so look like a trajectory within a strange attractor, sometimes closer to a high limit, sometimes closer to a low limit (with a near periodic oscillation between those subregions). However, there is nothing like a global coverage of accurate temperature estimates, so claims about the trajectory of global mean temperature are highly speculative, even when related to actual data.

        A paper published last year and discussed here showed that an increase in the CO2 concentration above Antarctica increased the rate of Antarctic cooling, in part because of the extremely dry atmosphere above Antarctica. The “heat-retention” property of CO2 is region, temperature, and altitude dependent

        There is no substantive argument (that I know of) that ECS is independent of starting temperature, or that equilibrium even exists. Starting as the Earth climate system is now, there is no guarantee that the global mean temperature will increase. That is the full thrust of my two posts: given the climate as it is now, and the knowledge available now, a 0 sensitivity is possible.

      • I would guess that Mosher recognizes the scant possibility that ECS could be zero. He likes to jerk chains.

        My lukewarm lukewarmer understanding of the physics causes me to believe that an increase in some forcing of 4-5 W/sqm will very likely cause the temperature to increase, rather than stay the same or go down. I still retain some denier sentiments, so I would be happy to see evidence or plausible theory that could disabuse me of that unwelcome belief.

      • David Springer

        @physicistdave

        ECS can be zero. TCS can’t be zero.

        @Mosher

        Buy a clue.

      • David Springer

        @MatthewMarler

        Perfect. +1

      • AK, I replied above: accidentally misplaced it in this nested loop.

        Dave

      • @physicistdave…

        I replied above, for the moment it’s in moderation.

      • David Springer wrote to me:

        ECS can be zero. TCS can’t be zero.

        Well, it depends on the time scale you insist upon for ECS: over a long enough time scale, the oceans absorb the CO2, eventually it all precipitates out, and life returns to normal.

        But, I suspect that time scale is much longer than the scale most people are interested in.

        As long as a lot of extra CO2 remains in the atmosphere, it will have a warming effect: it is simple frosh physics.

        Perhaps negative feedbacks will reduce that warming effect (though it will still be positive) and quite possibly it will be swamped by natural variations — natural variations in the climate system, changes in the solar constant, etc. Judith knows much more about this than I, and she seems to think those are real possibilities. But, the anthropogenic CO2 will have a net warming effect while it remains in the atmosphere.

        Again, frosh physics.

        Dave

      • matthewrmarler wrote:

        Starting from where we are now: Increased CO2 could produce warming which produces increased cloud cover which produces reduced surface insolation which reduces temperature which reduces cloud cover which produces warming, etc. The net effect of increased CO2 could be an increase in the oscillation between relatively high and relatively low values without any change in global mean temperature.

        Matt, anyone who knows any systems theory, and certainly anyone who knows anything about the physics of the weather, knows that that sort of thing will indeed happen: indeed, that is weather!

        But, can you come up with a plausible quantitative model in which the effect of this is to give no warming at all? In all seriousness, if you can, I think you will add something important to the climate debate.

        Dave

      • physicist dave, “But, can you come up with a plausible quantitative model in which the effect of this is to give no warming at all? In all seriousness, if you can, I think you will add something important to the climate debate.”

        At the point where climate shifts into a new ice age you could make a case for negative sensitivity, but the real driving force would be albedo. In reality, sensitivity to CO2 would just be overwhelmed by other forcings and not technically feedbacks to CO2. I guess the important thing added to the debate is that sensitivity to CO2 is not linear and using a linear definition isn’t very useful :)

      • David Springer

        Short timescales, physicist Dave. See my analogy examples to Mosher of positive longitudinal stability in aircraft with a moving center of gravity and constant current sources with a varying load in electronics. You need a feedback of course and that’s TCS. The constant pitch or current is ECS. As you said there’s a lag but it can be pretty quick via clouds reflecting more sunlight. Higher CO2 results in greater longwave back-radiation which immediately evaporates more water on the ocean surface which almost immediately creates more clouds which reduces solar power reaching the water’s surface.

        I’ll offer the following in evidence of a ceiling temperature where TCS effects a cloud feedback which negates further heating:

        Note at the end of each glacial epic temperature shoots up like a rocket then bounces off a hard ceiling of approximately the same temperature on each cycle. I submit to you the ceiling temperature is created by percentage of cloud cover. Once the ocean surface warms up to near its terminal temperature in the tropics and sub-tropics (~30C) strong convection dominates which limits any further increase. Where goes SST land follows like a dog on a leash.

        ECS, by the way, isn’t a constant IMO. It can’t be if there’s a ceiling imposed by cloud cover. The cooler the planet the greater the value of ECS. At some point ECS reaches zero as the planet warms.

      • David Springer

        @physicistdave

        Assuming that GAT can be explained by the frosh physics you offer is precisely the problem.

        Please comment on whether you believe that ECS is the constant value that frosh physics implies.

      • David Springer

        BINGO!! Give the man a cigar. [my emphasis]

        captdallas2 0.8 +/- 0.3 | January 3, 2016 at 7:26 am |

        At the point where climate shifts into a new ice age you could make a case for negative sensitivity, but the real driving force would be albedo. In reality, sensitivity to CO2 would just be overwhelmed by other forcings and not technically feedbacks to CO2. I guess the important thing added to the debate is that sensitivity to CO2 is not linear and using a linear definition isn’t very useful :)

      • David Springer

        p.s. @physicistDave

        You may address me as polymathDave in the future. Climate is a complex subject that requires deep practical knowledge and understanding of everything from cosmology to biology. Write that down.

      • Looks good, Springer. When the temperature bounces off the hard cloud ceiling it plummets into another ice age. Metaphorically perfect. Your Nobel Prize is in the mail.

      • physicistdave: But, can you come up with a plausible quantitative model in which the effect of this is to give no warming at all?

        Not yet. Cloud effects depend on time of day, altitude of the cloud formation, presence of nucleation particles such as those that mark cosmic ray trails, latitude, etc. Cloud effects are among the most widely addressed “known unknowns”. It might be a good project for Isaac Held’s group — they do lots of cloud simulations and other simulations.

      • Don: “So Mosher ain’t that far off, in practical terms. So why should anybody waste time talking about zero or negative ECS?”

        I didn’t say that these were unlikely – at least, that was not my intent.
        My intent was to say that it’s more accurate to say “extremely unlikely” rather than “impossible” – if that is what you believe. This matters – it’s a detail, but details matter, especially in science! “Impossible” = “cannot be so under any circumstances”, which can never be shown to be true empirically. It’s a bridge too far for anyone claiming to be a scientist without using some sort of qualifier. As in “faster than light travel is impossible based on our current understanding of physics” – which leaves open the possibility that unknown unknowns may change things. Climate science at this point in time is very immature and there are plenty of known unknowns, let alone unknown unknowns. To use terms such as “impossible” – even if you would suggest an implied disclaimer (not unreasonable on this blog, IMO) – is reckless at best.
        Of course, Mosher might, as he sometimes does, be playing semantic games – perhaps he would say “ECS is by definition global”, ignoring the published paper using the term “local ECS”, for instance. Never-the-less the point stands – declaring anything in climate science in 2016 to be impossible is as laughable as saying “the science is settled” – actually it is saying exactly that, and saying that is clearly wrong.

      • “To try to explain it non-mathematically, well… if the total effect ended up being exactly zero, then there would be nothing there to continue driving the negative feedback.”

        This assumes that the “system” remains constant – this is a valid assumption for most controlled systems, as they are specifically designed that way. In this case, it is extremely unlikely that ECS will be zero or negative.
        However, for climate, biological systems may change in ways that have a significant effect.
        For example, the greening of the sahel may be due to improved water use efficiency from increased CO2 levels. Greening of deserts may change precipitation patterns. Changing precipitation patterns may change surface sensible heat numbers. The result may be no change (or even negative change) in GMST, even while more heat is churning through the system.
        So in the real world – the messy, biological one we actually live in – a zero or negative ECS does not seem impossible after all, regardless of what your “simple physics” or models based on same might suggest.

      • Didn’t answer my question, kneel.

        We don’t necessarily take everything Mosher says seriously. I don’t care if he says it’s impossible. We can go with your extremely unlikely.

        So why should anybody waste time talking about extremely unlikely zero or negative ECS? The alarmists will then want to talk about extremely unlikely 14.6C ECS.

      • physicistdave, “However, the frosh physics analysis does show, definitively, that the “sky dragon” analysis is simply wrong when it says that anthropogenic CO2 cannot in principle warm the planet.”

        Just playing devil’s advocate, but the skydragon’s start with a questionable position, constant volume, then find a small effect and embellish with vigor. Assuming that T is a reliable proxy for E in a planetary scale open system can have a few pitfalls.

      • David Springer

        @physicistDave

        “But, the anthropogenic CO2 will have a net warming effect while it remains in the atmosphere.”

        Really? Somehow our globe spanning satellites carrying microwave sounding units measuring the temperature of various levels in the troposphere missed that net warming for the past 17 years or so.

        The data don’t support your assertion, physicistDave.

        In what academy of science were you taught that theory trumps observation?

        Cheerios,
        polymathDave

      • Don: “So why should anybody waste time talking about extremely unlikely zero or negative ECS?”

        Clearly then, you think zero or negative ECS is extremely unlikely – although I am unsure why. I gave a “tipping point” style reason (ie system change) for it to be zero or negative. Someone else (AK?) proposed a reasonable theory of a variable ECS based on ocean surface temps, evaporation and albedo. Pope has proposed (repeatedly) his ice caps, snow albedo theory which says essentially that the source of the forcing is irrelevant and only ocean temps matter.
        For myself, I find all of these to be reasonable and possible – for all I know, these may all be true as it appears to me that they are respectively medium, short and long timescale “feedbacks”, and “turn on” at different “set points” too (that is, they are not linear feedbacks wrt their “forcing”). I am not aware that any of these break the laws of physics. I am not aware that there is sufficient data available to disprove any of these. None appear to be mainstream climate science, but that has no bearing on their likelyhood of correctness, only their likelyhood of being researched and published on.
        To answer your question, I would not waste time talking about things I consider extremely unlikely – except when drunk with friends, where it appears to be common ;-) . Zero or negative ECS to 2xCO2 is not something I believe to be “extremely unlikely” however, so I am prepared to discuss it even when sober. Others may have a different opinion of likelyhoods – that is their affair, as there appears to be little available evidence to constrain the value, and several ways to interpret what is available, all of which rely on unproven (although arguably reasonable) assumptions. IOW, at this point, what I see is a consensus based on the most eloquent speech and “herd” (some might say “lemming”) behaviour – hardly confidence inspiring, but it is what it is.

      • OK, kneel. Misread your previous comment. I see your point. Seems at least halfway semi-plausible. Let’s find some supporting evidence and then discuss it.

      • If Mosher had any interest in being wise, he’d embrace humility and recognize his ignorance. But he does not appear to have any interest in wisdom and we see the result. He thinks he knows quite a bit about the glass of water he’s examined, but ignores the oceans of climate reality of which he and the world of science is utterly ignorant.

        As he plays his role of one of the blind men making pronouncements about the elephant, we should keep in mind that his certainty that he is touching a snake comes with fairly wide error bars.

      • David Springer wrote to me:

        Really? Somehow our globe spanning satellites carrying microwave sounding units measuring the temperature of various levels in the troposphere missed that net warming for the past 17 years or so.
        The data don’t support your assertion, physicistDave.

        And, when I ate dinner this evening, I failed to confirm the laws of thermodynamics. Really. It’s not that I disconfirmed the laws of thermodynamics, it’s just that the data I had at dinner was so complex that I could not carefully measure the increase in entropy.

        Same thing.

        You misunderstand how science works. Not every single observation is expected to test every single law of science. Everyone knows that climate is messy: to expect to confirm or disconfirm basic laws involving radiation physics, thermodynamics, etc. by observations on climate is silly.

        Those laws have been abundantly confirmed by a huge number of careful experiments in which we can control the various variables and see what happens. We cannot isolate single variables in the case of climate, for obvious reasons — we cannot directly control the climate to suit our experimental needs, and there are so many conflicting causes in climate that we cannot observationally isolate the different causes in any easy way.

        So, in analyzing climate, we are quite right to make use of extremely well-confirmed laws of physics, taking them for granted, without trying to test those laws via the climate data.

        Saying, as you do, “The data don’t support your assertion, physicistDave” is just silly. The extremely messy, multi-causal climate data really could not either support or disprove my assertion, and we do not need it too. We already know the relevant laws of physics beyond reasonable doubt: no responsible scientist thinks that we need climatological data to test those laws.

        The problem is applying those knows laws of physics to understanding climate, and that has proven to be fiendishly difficult, for reasons that are now fairly well understood: the mathematically chaotic nature of climate, the interaction of radically different distance and time scales (a computational nightmare), the potential impact of exogenous variables (e.g., variation in the solar constant)… and a host of others that people like Judith, Lindzen, et al. have discussed in detail.

        But the enormous difficulty of the field (I think you agree with me on how difficult it is to model climate) does not change the fact that people who deny simple laws of physics — e.g., people who claim CO2 cannot have any warming effect at all — are simply mistaken.

        Dave

      • PhysicistDave: But, the anthropogenic CO2 will have a net warming effect while it remains in the atmosphere.

        Not disputing, but (a) why is that necessarily true and (b) where will the warming occur?

        About (a) I am not disputing that extra CO2 in the atmosphere will absorb more ULWIR; however, at higher altitudes the emission to space is greater than the absorption from ground, so why would not the increase in CO2 have a cooling effect balancing the warming effect? Cooling of the stratosphere in response to increased CO2 has been predicted and observed; but warming of the troposphere over the past decades has not been observed.

        and (b) which I anticipated, where is the warming predicted to be, if not first in the troposphere? (that might be more than 1 question).

        I read your short bio down below. Very good. I have done pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic modeling and other diffeqn modeling of biological systems with multivariate measurements (some examples are posted at my ResearchGate page). I am sure that I could create a model with a 0 sensitivity to CO2 increase and either an oscillation or no net temperature change. I just could not claim, even to myself, that it was a model of the climate.

      • Don Monfort | January 2, 2016 at 6:38 pm |

        So Mosher ain’t that far off, in practical terms. So why should anybody waste time talking about zero or negative ECS?

        Well, the February forcing study was 22 PPM = 0.2 W/m2.

        So the atmosphere has become a slightly better blanket from an insulation standpoint.

        Hard to paint any combination of forcings that could reverse that.

        But that is a really low forcing. The bottom of the IPCC ECS range (1.5³C) looks more like maximum than a minimum for the true ECS confidence interval.

        I don’t any confidence in the IPCC ECS confidence interval…

    • Of course the very phrase “equilibrium climate sensitivity” is an oxymoron.

      But I am still waiting to see an experiment to determine if the radiative equilbrium temperature of any passively heated sphere is space is determined only by the solar “constant” and is independent of *any* surface property.

      Some argue that absoprtivity and emissivity of a selective surface at thermal equilibrium can be unequal. This notion contradicts KIrchoff.

      One could argue that my proposition is just a restatement of Kirchoff’s Law. Simple conceptually and mathematically but hard for people to get their head around, like the acceleration of a hammer and an feather under gravity in a vacuum.

      Anyone with access to a physics lab please help…… there is only one right answer.

      And BTW I have not seen any results of any thermodynamic experiment demonstrating thermalisation of IR by *any* GHG. Radiative transfer data all comes from an experimental setup within an IR reflective chamber with IR pumped in and no prospect of free emission of IR to zeroK.

      • Steven Mosher

        Not an oxymoron.

      • Curious George

        Not an oxymoron? First, it assumes an equilibrium – an unheard-of state for climate. But let’s assume an equilibrium exists; them adding CO2 would increase the temperature WITHOUT CHANGING WATER VAPOR OR CLOUDS. I envy Steven’s imagination.

      • Curious George

        An “equilibrium climate sensitivity” is a modeler’s tool. Good for simple-minded models. Not a physicist’s tool. Not a measurable quantity – or has anybody measured it?

      • “Not an oxymoron.” It’s oxygen.

      • “Not an oxymaroon.” It’s oxygen.

      • Curious George | January 2, 2016 at 2:04 pm |
        An “equilibrium climate sensitivity” is a modeler’s tool. Good for simple-minded models. Not a physicist’s tool. Not a measurable quantity – or has anybody measured it?

        Well, it is measurable. You wait until the climate hits equilibrium take measurement, add 100 PPM or so, wait until it reaches equilibrium again and measure again. The difference is the sensitivity.

    • Geoff asks: “is sensitivity to GHG zero?”

      The earth is made up of materials that emit thermal radiation approximately like a blackbody. That radiation is modified as it passes through the atmosphere until the total emission is appropriate for a blackbody at 255 K. It is easy to show that a blackbody near 255 K emits about more 3.8 W/m2/K as it warms. If we want to know how much its temperature changes in response to a forcing or radiative imbalance – its ECS – we take the reciprocal: 0.26 K/(W/m2).

      Traditionally, we multiply 0.26 K/(W/m2) by the conversion factor 3.7 (W/m2)/2XCO2 to get 1.0 K/2XCO2. This conversion factor comes from applying spectroscopic measurements on CO2 to the atmosphere. However, the ECS of a blackbody near 255 K is 0.26 K/(W/m2) no matter how imbalance between incoming and outgoing energy is created. The concept of ECS is usually applied to GHG-mediated climate change, but it can be applied to the temperature change after equilibration produced by any change in energy flux.

      You ask for evidence that ECS is not zero. I think the appropriate starting spot is to expect the whole planet to behave like its constituents and have an ECS around 1 K. Then ask for evidence of mechanisms that can reduce this to 0 K or raise it to the IPCCs former best estimate of 3 K/doubling. I’m sure you are aware changes produced by warming (feedbacks) that amplify or reduce the emission of thermal radiation to space. These are measured in W/m2/K.

      The only way anything can have an ECS of zero for it to emit 1,000,000 W/m2/K more thermal radiation as it warms. Now replace 1,000,000 with infinity.

      The other extreme is a runaway greenhouse effect where the emission to space from a planet doesn’t change with temperature: 0 W/m2/K. ECS = infinity. Neither of these extremely makes physical sense starting point for thinking about the planet.

      • franktoo: The only way anything can have an ECS of zero for it to emit 1,000,000 W/m2/K more thermal radiation as it warms.

        That is not true. As I outlined, an ECS (of global temporally averaged mean temperature) can be 0 if increased temperature produces increased cloud cover which subsequently reduces insolation at the surface. The actual response of cloud cover to increased temperature is temperature, daytime, and regionally dependent, and not simple. Effects have not, to my knowledge, been worked out.

      • David Springer

        @MatthewMarlor

        Mosher won’t get it.

      • matthewrmarler wrote:

        That is not true. As I outlined, an ECS (of global temporally averaged mean temperature) can be 0 if increased temperature produces increased cloud cover which subsequently reduces insolation at the surface.

        Matt, the problem is that if the increased clouds completely eliminate the warming effect, you will no longer have an increased temperature to produce the clouds! And, then you no longer have the clouds to mitigate the warming at all.

        Partial reduction of warming from clouds? Maybe. Complete elimination of warming by clouds? No, that is self-contradictory.

        Dave

      • Matthewrmarler: I appreciate any corrections, even though I dealt with this over simplification in a second comment.

        An instantaneous doubling of CO2 produces a 3.7 W/m2 imbalance at the TOA. We could imagine an instantaneous change in albedo/clouds that would negate that 3.7 W/m2 imbalance*. However, if the change in clouds is a feedback driven by a change in planetary temperature, climate sensitivity will not be zero: If it takes 0.1 K of warming for clouds to block 3.7 W/m2 of incoming SWR, then ECS will be about 0.1 K/doubling. That would be a -37 W/m2/K cloud feedback** that would dominate all of the other feedbacks (about +2 W/m2 for WV, -1 W/m2 for LR, +0.3 W/m2 for surface albedo).

        *An instantaneous change in clouds that reduces incoming SWR by 3.7 W/m2 without a change in temperature probably should be thought of as internal/unforced variability.

        ** It is hard to imagine ice ages, if cloud feedback can be anywhere near this large. The existence of ice-ages – assuming we understand their cause – is one of the better reasons for believing that negative cloud feedback can’t dominate the other feedbacks. A -5 K change in GMST and a -37 W/m2/K cloud feedback is a +185 W/m2 increase in incoming SWR. Clouds only reflect about 100 W/m2 of incoming SWR.

        Simple physics makes it easy to prove that ECS can’t be near zero.

      • Matt: Manabe (2013) provides an exceptionally clear view of how our planet as a whole responds to a large change (3.5 K) in GMST with easily measured changes (about 10 W/m2) in TOA OLR and reflected SWR. Unfortunately, this is NOT global warming – it is the response to a large warming in the NH and and large cooling in the SH, producing a 3.5 W/m2 increase in GMST.

        For example, you can see the effect of combined VW+LR feedback by monitoring LWR through clear skies. Climate models get this right (about +1 W/m2). You can see the effect of winter snow cover (surface albedo) in the NH in the SWR channel. Relatively little surface in the SH changes surface albedo with seasonal snow cover. Unfortunately, cloud feedback is always presented as the difference between clear and all skies, so they aren’t emission of OLR and reflection of SWR from cloudy skies. To a first approximation the difference is negligible; so colder cloudy skies reflect more SWR, just like colder clear skies with snow covered land beneath. So cloud feedback appears to be positive in this system. (The NH and SH have different average amounts of cloud cover, so the situation is complicated.) WV, LR, cloud, and seasonal snow surface albedo feedback all develop within about a month or so. The only feedback that is missing is the very slow loss of permanent ice with the increase in GMST.

      • physicistdave: Matt, the problem is that if the increased clouds completely eliminate the warming effect, you will no longer have an increased temperature to produce the clouds!

        Hence the oscillation.

      • franktoo: Simple physics makes it easy to prove that ECS can’t be near zero.

        Simple physics does not describe the climate accurately. Simple physics does not give you the change in the rate of the hydrological cycle that results from a 1C increase in global surface temperature; or local surface temperature of ocean, savanah or forested surface.

      • Dave, you’re assuming spatially uniform responses to IR. Cloud response doesn’t need to happen at the same location as evaporation. With evaporation, temperature rise isn’t even necessarily fixed with altitude.

      • David Springer

        @physicistDave

        “Matt, the problem is that if the increased clouds completely eliminate the warming effect, you will no longer have an increased temperature to produce the clouds!”

        The term you want to use here is hysteresis. It can easily overshoot in the cool direction. Many feedback loops, natural and artificial, do exactly that and average out to zero.

        Evaporation doesn’t necessarily mean warmer. I’m quite unsure that a body of water can be heated from above with longwave IR. The 100% absorption depth is barely a few microns. In fact the top millimeter of the ocean surface is up to 1C cooler than the water below it. Called “the cool skin layer”. Well known. One might ask how the DWLIR resulting from increased CO2 illuminating the sea surface can make it warmer when in fact the skin layer is cooler which, by the way, makes conduction of the energy downward not possible without violating 2LoT.

        As you almost certainly know evaporation does not require an increase in temperature. It’s a different process than boiling. Hence the ocean sheds heat prodominantly by evaporation as there’s typically no or very little difference between the SST and the air temperature immediately above it. A delta T is required for conduction. Some heat is shed by radiation. In effect the ocean cools not by warming the air but by constantly having the top few microns peeled off (up to a centimeter or so daily in the tropics IIRC) by evaporation with no increase in either SST or air temperature immediately above it. Almost all carried away insensibly either by latent heat of vaporization or radiation.

        Let me know if you can find an experiment where a vessel of water was warmed from above by 15um EMR. I can’t find one. I think it actually cools it instead by the radiation cherry picking molecules of water in the Boltzman distribution that have close to enough energy to change phase and in the process they rob adjacent molecules of a bit of energy. So the process of evaporation then has the well known effect of leaving a colder surface behind.

        Wouldn’t it be a hoot if CO2 actually cools the ocean surface and the greenhouse warming is done by the extra water vapor it creates. We’d probably want to look for the fingerprint of that in a tropical mid-troposphere “hotspot” where warming at altitude is greater than surface warming. Come to think of it don’t the frosh physics models actually predict that fingerprint hotspot? [wink wink nudge nudge]

        Cherios,
        polymathDave

      • franktoo asserted: Simple physics makes it easy to prove that ECS can’t be near zero.

        Matt replied: Simple physics does not describe the climate accurately. Simple physics does not give you the change in the rate of the hydrological cycle that results from a 1C increase in global surface temperature; or local surface temperature of ocean, savanah or forested surface.

        Franktoo continues: You didn’t not show that any of the calculations supporting this conclusion were incorrect. You did raise interesting issues with the hydrological cycle and surface energy balance. If surface temperature rises 1 K, upward LWR from the surface rises 5.4 W/m2. Average DLR is 333 W/m2, appropriate for a blackbody model at 277 K, which would rise 4.8 W/m2 upon warming 1 K. So the increase in surface OLR is nearly cancelled by the increase in DLR reaching the surface. If evaporation increases at 6-7%/K like saturation water vapor pressure, the 80 W/m2 of latent heat increases about 4.8-5.6 W/m2. That would make increase the total power flux from the surface by about 6 W/m2/K. However, a no-feedbacks climate sensitivity of 1 K/doubling results in a change in the TOA flux of only 3.8 W/m2/K. An ECS of 2 K reduces this to 1.9 W/m2/K and 3 K to 1.3 W/m2/K. It is obviously impossible for the surface upward flux to indefinitely increase at 6 W/m2/K and the TOA upward flux to increase by much less than this.

        If OLR (+reflected SWR) increased at 6 W/m2/K, ECS would be about 0.6 K/doubling – which is not zero.

        One solution to this dilemma for albedo to decrease with warming and let an additional 4-5 W/m2/K of SWR reach the surface, thereby reducing the surface energy change of only 1-2 W/m2/K. A change this big might have been detected from space by now.

        A second solution to this dilemma is to suppress the increase in the amount of evaporation with temperature to less than 6-7%/K. The rate of evaporation depends on the saturation vapor pressure (which does rise 6-7%/K), the “undersaturation” of the air above the ocean, and the wind speed. Climate models project that the saturation of air above the ocean will increase about 1%/K, reducing undersaturation about 5%/K.

        http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/blog/isaac-held/2014/06/26/47-relative-humidity-over-the-oceans/

        However, precipitation appears to be increasing at a rate of 6-7%/K in recent decades, suggesting that neither rising relative humidity above the oceans nor falling wind speed are suppressing evaporation.

        http://images.remss.com/papers/wentz_science_2007.pdf

      • (corrected for my error in HTML tag)

        David Springer wrote to me:

        The term you want to use here is hysteresis. It can easily overshoot in the cool direction. Many feedback loops, natural and artificial, do exactly that and average out to zero.

        I don’t think you mean “hysteresis”: hysteresis is a specific effect where you get a sort of mutual lock-in due to different parts of the system holding others in their current state — the standard example of course is ferromagnetism. (I’lll acknowledge ahead of time that you can of course find people on the Web who misuse the term “hysteresis”: I hope most of them are not physicists, who really should know better!)

        What Matt Marler and I have been discussing are simply oscillations due to time delays in the system, a very common phenomenon that everyone knows occurs in the weather. My guess is that such oscillations cannot wipe out the entire initial forcing, but I agree that it is worth further research. In an ideal world, the guys who own the GCMs would be tweaking them trying to force this sort of behavior and seeing if it is plausible.

        I don’t agree with you that feedback loops tend to average out to zero. I have analyzed various feedback loops over the years and have never seen it happen. Present a concrete mathematical or electronic system that behaves as you claim, and then we can discuss whether it is plausible that the climate system behaves that way. I’m skeptical.

        Dave

    • Geoff: In another comment, I discussed ignoring the nature of the forcing and thinking about ECS more fundamentally as the change in outgoing radiation in response to surface warming. That was an oversimplification, because warming might change cloud cover and therefore albedo. ECS is the change in radiative imbalance in response to surface warming (OLR + reflected SWR).

      Every year, the GMST warms and cools about 3.5 K before temperature anomalies calculated to eliminate these seasonal effect that are far bigger than current climate change. (This happens because the NH has a much larger effective heat capacity than the SH.) CERES and ERBE have been monitoring the change in TOA OLR and reflected SWR associated with this large temperature change. You can see how these fluxes respond to a large change in surface temperature here:

      http://www.pnas.org/content/110/19/7568.full

      Clearly we don’t observe an infinite increase in OLR+reflected SWR (appropriate for ECS of 0) or no increase in OLR+reflected SWR (appropriate for an ECS of infinity – runaway greenhouse). Nor do we see the 3.8 W/m2/K expected for a blackbody (ECS = 1.0). Unfortunately, this is not global warming – this is the total response to one hemisphere warming more than the other is cooling. (Changes in SWR observed from clear skies is caused by changes in snow cover, a phenomena limited mostly to the NH.) However, I think these observations provide evidence that ECS is not zero and that feedbacks due exist. And the size of these seasonal changes – 3.5 degK and 10 W/m2 – are much more robust that the climate forcing (less than 1 W/m2 and 0.5 K) that we have monitored over several decades from space. The rest of the paper demonstrates that AOGCMs do a lousy job of reproducing these seasonal changes in OLR and reflected SWR – and that they all “wrong” in different ways.

      • franktoo: That was an oversimplification, because warming might change cloud cover and therefore albedo.

        Oh. My previous response to you was redundant.

      • franktoo, thank you for the link:

        Fig. 1. The globally averaged, monthly mean TOA flux of outgoing longwave radiation (Wm−2) over all sky (A) and clear sky (B) and the difference between them (i.e., longwave CRF) (C) are plotted against the global mean surface temperature (K) on the abscissa. The vertical and horizontal error bar on the plots indicates SD. The solid line through scatter plots is the regression line. The slope of dashed line indicates the strength of the feedback of the first kind (λ0).

        The regression line in fig 1 (C) is slightly negative, suggesting, more heat retention at the higher temperature rather than less, which counts against my hypothesis. I look forward to more studies on this topic.

  6. Climate sensitivity as defined is a joke. Carbon dioxide effect is time dependent. When they define equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) is “X” degrees for doubling the concentration of carbon dioxide they do not mention the time during which equilibrium is reached. If the time is 10 years, then ECS has a value. If the time is 50 years then ECS is greater and so on. As defined, it is just a mirage that can never be quantified and remains controversial, which is a good opportunity for talk and funding request.

    • Assuming you are correct, how would you suggest re-parametrizing the problem with quantifiable parameters?

    • Visit the publication tab of pacific engineering pllc.com, retrieve the the article titled “Antropogenic forcing….” you will find that the forcing for doubling CO2 (560 ppmv) the year 2068 is 7.59 w m-2. From this value calculate surface temperature, it is (7.59/2) x (0.01) /(1000 x 3.2 E-5)=1.18 degree C. Therefore ECS=1.18 degree C. This last equation is Eq. (19) of the book titled global warming calculation and projection under the same publication tab.

  7. Selective citation is among the worst vices of politicized science-
    Please read the whole essay and its introduction –

    • Selective citation is something you’ve been noticed doing in the wild, or at least in the comments sections of various blogs. Glad you’re here in any event. What short selection of your essay do you think Judith should have added?

      • Everybody pay attention. Little willy is trying to make a point, or something. Let’s humor him.

      • Judith explicitly stated that these were excerpts, plus providing links to the whole essay and more.
        What more do you want?

      • Thomas

        Russell is something of a blog gadfly, alighting to make assertions on subjects as varied as Scottish wine to north pole heat bursts, but rarely stays long enough to develop his theme and answer rebuttals.

        It’s a shame as he does have a keen sense of humour and makes interesting points on occasions, but needs to learn how to hover over his chosen blog target As he rarely develops his theme.

        Tonyb

    • How about a “Thank you Judith for highlighting and linking to my essay”. That would have shown some courtesy.

    • Russell Seitz,

      I don’t know whether it’s relevant in your case, but from time to time an
      author presents as fact something which I am reasonably certain is demonstrably false.

      If this be the case, why should I have absolute faith in everything else the author presents as fact? It is enough for me to selectively quote a seemingly incorrect assertion, to show that author is not necessarily to be believed without checking.

      In any case, if I have located the correct easy, you wrote this –

      “In recent years, three separate and significantly different scientific accounts of the same century-long record of “average” global temperatures, each peer-reviewed and each with its own set of statistical arguments in justification, have been published. They point up, down, and sideways. This is not the dismissal of a century of data, but rather a caution-the warming trend can only he proved by the data, not by a show of hands. The C02 is there, but has the atmosphere begun to notice?

      Some say they are 99 percent sure they can perceive it in the data; some say those who say that are completely out of scientific bounds. Others say they see nothing, and many more that they just can’t tell-both nature’s static-ridden transmission and science’s still-crude receivers make the message far from plain. “What bothers a lot of us is, ” one modeler remarked, “telling Congress things we are reluctant to say ourselves.” Wittgenstein put it better: “Whereof we do not know, thereof we cannot speak.””

      This shows how fair I am. I agree with the thrust, as I perceive your intent. Have you changed your opinion since you wrote those words?

      Cheers.

    • [RS] Please read the whole essay and its introduction

      [GW] What short selection of your essay do you think Judith should have added?

      • Steven Mosher

        Seems a fair question. What part would need to have been included to avoid the apparent charge of selective quotation. I read the whole piece and it’s introduction and am confused as to what is selective about judiths selection other than the mere fact that she didn’t use 100% percent of the piece.

      • The essay covers a lot of stuff. Judith’s selections were interesting. I found this selection interesting as well especially given the recent labeling by Oreskes of Hansen, Emanuel etal as deniers:

        “As surely as C02 can absorb the warming infrared, the strong nuclear force is millions of times stronger than the chemical bonds that are burst in unleashing heat from coal. Rather than embarking down the soft energy path that leads back beyond the Industrial Revolution’s roots into a future dark age, the Greens should pause to consider the effect on the environment of renewing and perfecting our mastery of the atom’s pale fire.

        The prospect of nuclear power’s second coming presents environmental millenarians with a real source of cognitive dissonance: it is they who are the problem. It is their delaying tactics that wasted years and squandered billions at Seabrook and elsewhere. And it is their past indifference to the environmental consequences of the fossil fuel that the reactor might have saved that makes a mockery of their present rhetoric.

        The sooner their paranoia about nuclear waste disposal is laid to rest alongside that waste itself-deep in the and badlands, well secured, and as soon as the criminal mischief of Chernobyl is buried under the foundations of a reactor both safe and sanely contained, the sooner will civilization cease to he obliged to make a chemical waste repository of the sky.

        So let all summon the courage to be kind to our environment. For if the bulk of the arsenals of Armageddon are indeed fading into historical irrelevancy, what better fate for them than to disappear as smokeless fuel into newer and more tractable nuclear furnaces? Better they light the world for a generation than heat it for a baleful instant.”

    • Dear Mr. Seitz,

      Have you changed your mind regarding any of your 1990 positions that Judith has cited?

    • Russell Seitz,

      I have read the full 1990 essay including the recent introduction, your 2008 essay “Climate of Here” and the referenced 2007 essay by Kerry Emanuel “Phaeton’s Reins: The Human Hand in Climate Change”

      Given that it is now 2016 and we have almost survived 8 years of an Administration that has done more to politicize science and polarize views than any other in our history, I think it is fair to ask you how your views may have evolved.

    • Russell Seitz: Selective citation is among the worst vices of politicized science-

      Are her selections misleading? If so, how; and what in your essay ought we pay particular attention to for correction?

    • Russell Seitz,

      I assume, from your lack of response to several comments requesting you to discuss the evolution in your thinking since 1990-2008, that you are not interested in engaging here. Tante pis, or domage, as the French say. You seem to have had a lot to say and said it rather well.

      Unfortunately this thread seems to have veered off into another discussion of climate sensitivity, GMT and models..

  8. YButt:

    Go to publication tab of website http://www.pacific engineering pllc.com, retrieve the the article titled “Antropogenic forcing….” you will find that the forcing for doubling CO2 (560 ppmv) the year 2068 is 7.59 w m-2. From this value calculate surface temperature, it is (7.59/2) x (0.01) /(1000 x 3.2 E-5)=1.18 degree C. Therefore ECS=1.18 degree C. This last equation is Eq. (19) of the book titled global warming calculation and projection under the same publication tab.

  9. It is interesting looking back.

    In the late twentieth century, annual rates of radiative forcing were accelerating, seemingly without end. Scary stuff indeed:

    But rates of radiative forcing peaked and have since fallen:

    In the late twentieth century, population growth rates were accelerating.
    They are now decelerating.

    And per capita CO2 emissions rates are falling in most developed nations.
    If the emerging nations adopt developed nation patterns, it would be of the inefficient use in the past, but the cheaper, better energy use of the future.

    • Good point TE. Let’s expand on it (I assume you already know a lot of what follows but it will be interesting for other readers):

      -The IPCC didn’t expect forcings to grow exponentially. However, it did expect them to increase, and the subsequent stagnation/decline in fact made yearly forcing increases fall below their range of forecasts (as your 2nd chart shows).

      -This mismatch is NOT because CO2 emissions are lower than expected. In fact they are higher than expected. Rather, they are higher than expected or at the high-end of the expectations range – see figure 1.
      http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/8/1/011006/pdf

      -The reason emissions are above-forecast while concentrations are below is that the airborne fraction has plunged in the last 20 years or so. It is very important, in my opinion, that forcing estimates failed not because emission reduction policies were successful, but because the IPCC doesn’t understand the carbon cycle.

      -A 25% decline in the airborne fraction makes any ‘carbon budget’ 33% bigger. A 33% decline makes it 50% bigger and so on. So the plunge since the 1990s matters a lot. Now, how many specialists expected this? None that I know of – they can’t even explain it now that it’s happened! (But they feel very comfortable about forecasting how much CO2 will remain in the atmosphere by 2500, or how much we need to reduce our emissions before concentrations stabilize – come on)

      -The second figure you posted is very telling. The decline in the airborne fraction combines with the logarithmic effect of CO2 to reduce yearly forcing growth. The result: CO2 emissions have exploded by 70-80% since 1990, but CO2 forcing increase has remained about the same. And of course, when combined with the methane stagnation and CFC phase-out total forcing growth is way below what it was then.

      -Previous dips in the airborne fraction in the 1960s and 1990s coincided with big volcanic eruptions (it’s not totally certain but it’s theorized these actually help photosynthesis, hence atmospheric CO2 in their aftermath grows less). That there hasn’t been any big eruption since Pinatubo makes the current AF slump even more perplexing.

      -Estimates of methane concentrations are also way below expectations, though in this case there’s far more uncertainty regarding the human role and exactly how much we are emitting.
      http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/clip_image018_thumb.png?w=550&h=417

      -Something is off with Montreal Protocal greenhouse gases. The chart you posted (from the Hansen paper) shows them as a significant factor, but the IPCC in 2013 pretty much dismisses them.
      https://climateaudit.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/ts_fig1_annotated.png?w=800&h=520

      -Same with tropospheric ozone. I understand it’s a significant positive forcing so why isn’t it in the IPCC chart?

      -Those claiming the airborne fraction is stable or even increasing are on very shaky ground. Look at the chart I just posted, which groups together CO2 from land use with other GHGs from land use. Compare it now with the airborne fraction I posted above and do some numbers. Even if you assume all these emissions are CO2 rather than for example methane, you will find that the airborne fraction, at least using the IPCC numbers, is in fact lower than in 1970 – and much lower than in 2000.

      -Land use emissions are basically a guess: the IPCC has them for 2010, iirc, at 0.9GtC (for CO2 alone, not other GHGs)… but the confidence interval is +-0.8!

      -Exactly one recent paper (Raupach et al 2014) finds a slightly increasing airborne fraction since the 1960s. They do this by assuming very high land use emissions – but then they quote the fraction WITHOUT taking into account these emissions (if you included them, the fraction would be in the 30s not in the 40s). Very misleading.
      http://www.globalcarbonproject.org/global/pdf/pep/Raupach_2014_The%20declining%20uptake%20rate%20of%20atmospheric%20CO2%20by%20land%20and%20ocean%20sinks.BG.pdf

      -Scientists have been desperate to see the natural sinks ‘saturate’ and the airborne fraction increase for a long time. See this article from 2009.
      http://www.globalcarbonproject.org/carbonbudget/archive/2009/UniversityBristol_UK.pdf

      -If somebody is going to use land use emissions to claim the airborne fraction is not falling, then he has to be consistent and ALWAYS talk about land use emissions, i.e. when dealing with emission reduction strategies, when talking about per-capita emissions, etc. Furthermore, if emissions have been greater than expected (because of land use emissions), but our estimates of concentrations are the same, then necessarily residence time is lower than thought.

      -One can get pretty much any result one wants, both in terms of airborne fraction and residence time, by playing around with land use emissions.

      -Which makes you think: when someone posts a chart of a model showing cumulative emissions vs temperature, what the hell is this showing? CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and cement? CO2 emissions including land use? CO2-equivalent emissions (i.e. all GHGs) from all manmade sources? Please specify!

      (This comes from a Nic Lewis post, thought the fault is not Lewis’ but the model’s for failing to specify this)

      -One cannot simply say something like ‘total emissions are fossil fuel CO2 x 1.5’. You cannot simply ‘scale up’ because the ratio of emissions of fossil-fuel CO2 emissions to total CO2 emissions to total (i.e. according to the IPCC it’s gone from 55% in 1970 to 67% in 2010 to probably a higher figure now). Combined with the variability in airborne fraction, this makes me very skeptical of the ability of any model to ‘forecast’ temperatures as a result of ’emissions’.

      Yeah, it didn’t have much to do with your comment. But I’ve been reading up on carbon budgets and I just had to get it out of my chest.

      TL; DR: carbon budgets that don’t specify airborne fraction (and ECS) are a waste of time. Climate models that ‘estimate’ temperature increase from cumulative emissions are probably a waste of time as well.

      • Ok, I made a mistake with the Raupach et al paper. I’m not exactly sure what they mean with the 0.44 airborne fraction, but I’m pretty certain the way they get this ‘stable’ or even increasing fraction is by assuming higher-than-the-IPCC land use emissions, at least for the early period.

      • Unless I’m mistaken, that airborne fraction figure is from a paper that includes James Hansen as an author. If so, they explicitly excluded land use emissions. Land use emissions as a fraction of total emissions has decreased with time and hence doing so means that the over-estimate in airborne fraction is bigger earlier on that it is later on. Hence, that figure does not include all anthropogenic emissions and the apparent drop in airborne fraction could be entirely because of this omission.

      • The Hansen paper TE and I linked to is this:
        http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/8/1/011006/pdf

        The paper claiming a stable airborne fraction is this:
        http://www.globalcarbonproject.org/global/pdf/pep/Raupach_2014_The%20declining%20uptake%20rate%20of%20atmospheric%20CO2%20by%20land%20and%20ocean%20sinks.BG.pdf

        The latter paper is quite dense and I haven’t checked it thoroughly but a look at this chart by the IPCC would seem to show that in fact the airborne fraction is lower now.
        http://climateaudit.org/2015/12/23/cop21-emission-projections/ts_fig1_annotated/

        Taking each percent simply as a ‘point’ (you can convert to GtC but it’s not necessary):

        -In 1970, total CO2 emissions of 72 points included 55 from fossil fuel combustion (and cement presumably, though the latter is very small). ‘Official’ AF of 58% applied to the latter figure would mean 31.9 points remained in the atmosphere, i.e. the ‘real’ fraction was 44.3% (31.9 / 72).

        -In 2010, total CO2 emissions of 76 points included 65 from fossil fuel combustion. ‘Official’ airborne fraction of 45% applied to the latter figure would mean 29.25 points remain in the atmosphere, so AF becomes 38.5% (29.25 / 76).

        Of course the numbers can change a little bit, maybe AF in 1970 was not 58% but 57% and so on, but still it would be hard to argue AF was not lower in 2010 than in 1970. (If someone is reading this quickly, the ‘points’ in the second example are lower than in the first, but since these are taken from percentages that doesn’t really mean anything – in terms of ppm or actual CO2, concentration increases were much greater in 2010 than in 1970).

        The above numbers actually overstate CO2 emissions from land use because they also include land use emissions from other GHGs, converted to CO2-equivalent. Even if the long-term trend is somewhat in dispute, there is no doubt that the plunge in the last 20 years caught everyone by surprise.

      • Btw a couple noob questions, probably answered more quickly here than by reading:
        -When the IPCC talks about tropospheric ozone forcing, they mean actual ozone gas causing radiative forcing. Is this correct?
        -When they talk about stratospheric ozone, I understand they actually mean ozone depletion – a negative forcing. Correct?

      • Here’s the difference between land-use included and land-use excluded:

        ( Land Use column 2 http://www.pik-potsdam.de/~mmalte/rcps/data/20THCENTURY_EMISSIONS.DAT )

        Land use does appear to have slowed somewhat since peaking in 1989.

        But not a lot and in general, as CO2 concentration increases, so too does the rate of uptake increase.

      • TE,
        Since you can do that, you should be able to redo the airborne fraction graph with land use emissions included. What happens when you do that?

      • Alberto Zaragoza Comendador, and Turbulent Eddie, thank you for some interesting posts.

      • I tried to run some numbers with the Potsdam chart TE posted but ‘eyeballing’ is not enough and my head begun to hurt… I’ll leave this to the more technically-oriented. Still some conclusions can be made.

        Their estimate of land-use emissions is way, way higher than that of the IPCC. For 1970 the IPCC has land use at 23.6% of total (17 / (17 + 55)), while for 2010 it’s 14.5% (11 / (11 + 65)).
        https://climateaudit.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/ts_fig1_annotated.png?w=800&h=520
        And even these numbers from the IPCC are overstated because they include other GHGs from land use (even though it’s called ‘CO2 FOLU’ – I checked this in the text).

        By contrast Potsdam has them at 36% for 1970 (325ppm), that is, 0.45ppm out of a total 1.2ppm uptake. For 2010 (390ppm) it’s hard to tell but it seems land-use made up 0.8ppm out of a total 2.8ppm uptake, i.e. 28.5%. I must be missing something cause that seems incongruously high… anyway, I suppose this shows that historical airborne fraction is really uncertain due to the uncertainty in land-use emissions. Airborne fraction has definitely decreased since the 1990s, but it’s hard to tell if we’re talking about the 60s or 70s.

        Remember that according to the IPCC, CO2 from fossil fuel combustion was only 55% of total GHG emissions in 1970, and only 65% by 2010. Using the Potsdam numbers would drive fossil-fuel CO2 below 50% of emissions for 1970, and below 60% for 2010. And that’s even though the IPCC chart I posted does not include ozone and assigns a minuscule value to Montreal gases. In short, it seems the Potsdam figures would make fossil fuels almost a ‘minor’ part of GHG emissions!

        In any case, I think this drives home the point that one cannot estimate warming from ‘cumulative emissions’ if we don’t even know what those cumulative emissions are. Fossil fuel use is accurately measured, but soil decomposition and bovine flatulence are not.

        Now consider that CO2 from fossil fuel is growing at a different rate than total CO2 emissions, which is in turn different from total GHG emissions, and well… I think it’s better to look at concentrations and be done with it.

      • Since you can do that, you should be able to redo the airborne fraction graph with land use emissions included. What happens when you do that?

        Yes, that’s what the Red trace represents.

  10. I’d highlight this from Judiths summary:

    The overall lack of policy relevant progress has been caused by the politicization of the science, and the focus on human caused climate change (neglecting natural causes of climate variability).

    There are many other causes too, I’d argue are more important:

    1. Little focus on trying to improve our understanding of the damage function and reduce its uncertainty. I wonder whether the function may actually show net benefit of warming and increased CO2 concentrations, rather then net damage.

    2. Negligible focus on understanding abrupt climate changes, what causes them and what are the probability distributions of the time to the start of the next one? Is it more likely to be an abrupt cooling or an abrupt warming? How rapid? How much warming or cooling in total?

    3. Advocating for useless policies that have next to no chance of delivering any significant beneficial change to the climate, such as carbon pricing and renewable energy.

    4. Antagonistic anti-sponsors of the most economically beneficial ways of reducing global GHG emissions (e.g. nuclear power).

    5. Little attempt to more accurately estimate the amount of human caused CO2 emissions, and the likely upper limit, that can be released this century, and the proportion that will stay in the atmosphere.

    Others (will come to mind later)

    • I don’t think one can easily craft a “damage function” — that ECS is positive (> ~1) means there is some effect of CO2 on temperature. Because we are messing with a non-linear system it may be wise to try to minimize our perturbations to it, even if the implications of the perturbations are uncertain.

      The problems arise when policy “solutions” also have negative aspects, like nuclear:

      http://aaaspolicyfellowships.org/sci-fly/do-we-need-nuclear-power-avert-climate-change

      There needs to be urgent work done on pinning down the “true” value of ECS so sensible choices can be made of climate (non-linear uncertainty) risks versus policy solutions’ risks.

      And, let’s remember that it is not just the temperature that’s important: there is also ocean acidification which is directly linked to CO2. So it is wise to try to minimize CO2 emissions even while we work hard to pin down ECS.

      Happy to discuss further.

      • ybutt,

        You may want to begin doing some research to understand the damage function. perhaps start here for some background (read the whole book, for some basics on estimate the net benefit of abatement policies and hypothesised reduced climate damages) http://www.econ.yale.edu/~nordhaus/homepage/Balance_2nd_proofs.pdf

      • That is an economic damage function — hardly the best or most comprehensive way to look at the problem. I think it is flawed approach.

        What is the economic cost of nuclear proliferation risks? waste storage? accidents.

        Let’s get to the economics after clearing up the science, shall we?

      • ybutt,

        I should have also pointed out that with out a damage function, there can be no justification for any expenditure on mitigation policies, not o climate science, or renewables or any other CAGW justified policy. if you don’t understand that, you clearly have no understanding of policy analysis.

        Also, if you don’t understand that all other electricity generation technologies have more “issues” (i.e. they cause more fatalities per TWh of electricity supplied) than nuclear, then you have a hell of a lot to learn.

        better start asking questions instead of making baseless assertions as if they are facts.

      • You misunderstand: I am not interested in expenditure.

        I am interested in knowing the risks from climate uncertainties versus the risks of the proposed low-carbon solutions.

        Your point about other electricity sources having greater risks may be valid but those high carbon sources are not proposed as “solutions” so I do not examine them. But you are right: coal plants cause a lot of deaths quite aside from the 1< ECS< 5 CO2 contribution to temperature excursion. That would make two strikes against them.

        Also I don't see an easy way to quantify the proliferation risks of a massive increase in nuclear power. How many North Korean nuclear bombs are you willing to risk to reduce CO2 a bit?

        Your "damage function" is useless in this analysis.

        I suggest you adopt a less condescending tone and stick to actual arguments.

      • ybutt

        I think it is flawed approach.

        And, why would that be. What would you know? What’s your expertise?

        What is the economic cost of nuclear proliferation risks? waste storage? accidents.

        All up, cradle to grave, nuclear is the safest way to generate electricity. If you think you can provide authoritative sources to overturn decades of evidence and thousands of authoritative studies showing this, then please quote, explain and provide links. Nuclear is safer by orders of magnitude than all other technologies that can supply firm power.

        Let’s get to the economics after clearing up the science, shall we?

        OK, happy with that as long as you agree that funding for climate science should cease until such time as there is a persuasive economic case to justify the expenditure. Why should we pay for climate science and mitigation policies if there is no justification for the expenditure? We are currently wasting $1.5 trillion per year on the “climate change industry” with no evidence it will give any return whatsoever.

      • I already mentioned why “damage function” is flawed — it is economics based. It does not tell me anything about e.g. proliferation risks.

        You want citations for why nuclear may be sub-optimal? Read these two:

        “Nuclear power is neither required nor capable of solving the climate crisis.”

        http://www.worldfuturecouncil.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Disarmament/The_Climate-Nuclear_Nexus.pdf

        and:

        “Potentially, nuclear power can expand its contribution to climate goals and energy needs through advanced technologies that promise smaller, cheaper, safer, and proliferation resistant reactors. However, these next generation nuclear technologies currently are in development with potentially long lead times before they will be ready for deployment. They also will need to demonstrate safety and nonproliferation advances, decreased construction costs, and regulatory and public acceptance…. If nuclear power is going to continue to make a significant contribution to limiting CO2e emissions, it must be safe, secure, protected from misuse, and supported by the public. ”

        http://globalnexusinitiative.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/GNI-Policy-Memo-1.pdf

        Your point about funding climate science is odd — I referenced Prof. Curry’s testimony as to why e.g. ECS values need to be better understood before we can make policy decisions. But I’ll do it again — read page 12 onwards:

        http://www.commerce.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/f739759e-3f1b-447e-a1eb-d42bbe70454e/FBA0C80EBB0D0B6545922F1D45D18C75.dr.-judith-curry-testimony.pdf

        Have a nice 2016.

      • ybutt,

        You misunderstand: I am not interested in expenditure.

        I am interested in knowing the risks from climate uncertainties versus the risks of the proposed low-carbon solutions.

        How ignorant is that comment, eh?

        You clearly have no understanding of what risk means, to add to the fact you don’t understand

        – policy analysis and how you justify expenditure, including for climate science and mitigation policies

        – what the damage function is, and

        – anything about nuclear energy or energy risk analysis

        And you haven’t read the references I gave you. This shows you are clearly an empty vessel making much noise and not willing to learn.

        Here’s some on energy risk analysis:

        http://www.externe.info/externe_d7/

        http://www.ier.uni-stuttgart.de/forschung/projektwebsites/newext/

        Looking forward to better informed comments (or questions) from about 2 April.

      • ybutt,

        Just to put this back to you too:

        Also I don’t see an easy way to quantify the proliferation risks of a massive increase in nuclear power. How many North Korean nuclear bombs are you willing to risk to reduce CO2 a bit?

        Please explain how you propose to get weapons grade materials from modern nuclear electricity generating power plants? You’ll need to do some research on authoritative sites before you can answer this. Then you’ll need to explain so you can convince those who actually know far more than you about this subject than you (you’ve shown you know nothing about it other than the nonsense you’ll hear from the anti-nuke groups and their web sites), are persuaded you are correct and all those who understand are wrong. You should also explain why all countries that make nuclear weapons build dedicated facilities and purpose built reactors to produce weapons grade materials, instead of just getting it from civil nuclear power plants.

        Simplistic, dismissive comments wont get you very far.

      • If you want to talk economics: Nuclear power industry would not survive without the Price-Anderson Act which subsidizes their insurance. The nuclear power industry cannot afford to buy insurance on the open market — they require a government handout to even survive.

      • “…. explain so you can convince those who actually know far more than you about this subject than you…”

        er…do you know me? where did we meet?

        I am a nuclear physicist.

        Have a nice rest of 2016 lecturing people you don’t know.

      • ybutt,

        If you want to talk economics: Nuclear power industry would not survive without the Price-Anderson Act which subsidizes their insurance. The nuclear power industry cannot afford to buy insurance on the open market — they require a government handout to even survive.

        That’s your belief. But sorry, as with most anti nukes (whether you’re a nuclear physicist or not does not say whether your an anti-nuke or not), it’s disingenuous.

        The public carries a large part of the risk for all industries. It carries all the risk of pollution from coal, gas, hydro dam failures, and much of the risk of chemical plant accidents. Your simplistic, dismissive, ignorant comments suggest you have no practical understanding of proper options analysis where you have to compare apples with apples, and no practical understanding of risk management. I’d say you also have no understanding of policy analysis.

        Proper risk management means assigning responsibility for managing the risk to the party that is best able to manage it. In the case of nuclear power, much of the risk should be managed by the public funds because if the public delays construction and shuts down plants early, they should pay for the consequences, not the investors. Otherwise the investment risk is far too high. That’s been a clear tactic of the anti-nukes for decades.

        Furthermore, throughout all industries the public carries a large part of the risk. The same has to be the case for nuclear, otherwise it would be even more disadvantaged than it is already.

        The subsidies for renewables are orders of magnitude higher than for nuclear. Without those subsidies there’d be no nuclear.

        If not for the massive impediments imposed on nuclear power as a result of 50 years of anti-nuke propaganda and disinformation – like your disingenuous comments and innuendos here – nuclear would be far cheaper than it is.

        If the same subsidies were given to nuclear, and nuclear was ‘must take’ as is the case with renewables, then there’d be no renewables and nuclear would be experiencing the growth rates it experienced in the 1970s and 80s.

        In case you don’t know it, USA is not the only country in the world. Your politics is what has been and still is delaying progress. It can, and inevitably will, be overcome.

        You might be a physicist, but clearly you have no understanding that economics and finances is what is used to justify expenditure, budgets, funding and policies.

        Have a good 2016 spreading your anti-nuke disinformation and BS.

      • If you want to talk economics: Nuclear power industry would not survive without the Price-Anderson Act which subsidizes their insurance. The nuclear power industry cannot afford to buy insurance on the open market — they require a government handout to even survive.

        That is because of how many more people they have killed than other stuff. Oops, they have killed less than any other energy generation method. There is clearly a problem here. Whoever kills the smallest number of people have the highest insurance costs. How stupid are we to allow this?

      • ybutt,

        If you want to talk economics: Nuclear power industry would not survive without the Price-Anderson Act which subsidizes their insurance. The nuclear power industry cannot afford to buy insurance on the open market — they require a government handout to even survive.

        Your comment is disingenuous. Only nuclear would survive if they all had to pay for the fatalities they cause. To understand this please do a quick calculation. How much should the government subsidise nuclear or penalize other electricity generators to level the field so they all pay for the fatalities they cause? Put another way, how much would we need to subsidise nuclear to reward the comparatively higher safety of nuclear power?

        Here are the inputs you’ll need for a quick, back of an envelope calculation

        1. Value of a statistical life in USA = $9.4 million (2015, https://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/VSL2015_0.pdf )

        2. Fatalities per TWh (Source Forbes http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/06/deaths-by-energy-source-in-forbes.html )

        Coal electricity – world avg = 60 (50% of electricity)
        Coal electricity- China = 90
        Coal – U.S. = 15 (44% U.S. electricity)
        Natural Gas = 4 (20% global electricity)
        Solar (rooftop) = 0.44 (0.2% global electricity)
        Wind = 0.15 (1.6% global electricity)
        Hydro – global average = 1.4 (15% global electricity)
        Nuclear – global average = 0.09 (12% global electricity w/Chern&Fukush)

        3. USA TWh per technology in 2014 (source EIA) https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.cfm?t=epmt_1_1

        Coal = 1,581,710
        Natural gas = 1,126,609
        Nuclear = 797,166
        Hydro = 259,367
        Solar = 17,691
        Other renewables = 261,522

        I decided to do the calculation for you. To level the playing field on the basis of the annual cost of fatalities caused by each technology you’d need to penalize each industry by this amount per MWh:

        Technology $/MWh
        Coal 141
        Natural gas 38
        Hydro 13
        Solar 4
        Nuclear 1

        Or subsidise nuclear by $140/MWh to substitute for coal and 37/MWh to substitute for natural gas generation.

        No do you understand why your comment about the Price-Anderson Act is disingenuous?

      • ybutt,

        You wrote –

        “I am a nuclear physicist.”

        Michael Mann is a Distinguished Professor of Meteorology and holds a PhD in geophysics, apparently. Would you believe everything he says about meteorology or geophysics?

        I might suggest that appealing to your own authority is akin to declaring yourself a legend in your own lunchbox (if you know the expression).

        I’m not sure what authority your occupation confers in calling for a reduction in that most beneficial gas, CO2. Maybe it shows that some nuclear physicists are not all that bright. 50% of them have to be more stupid than the top 50%.

        Have you some physical reason for believing more CO2 is a danger to humanity? If so, what is it? It doesn’t seem logical to me, but I’m not a nuclear physicist.

        Cheers.

      • Mike,
        to be fair, somebody asked for his credentials, he/she did not state it without being asked and/or did not use it as an argument.

      • @ybutt

        ‘I am not interested in expenditure’

        What better reason could there be for ensuring that ybutt or his cronies are never given access to a shilling or a dime of public money?

        And how nice to be above such mundane things.

        I’m told HM the Queen has the same indifference. She never carries cash but that a footman distributes largesse on her behalf.

      • Curious George

        “Nuclear power industry would not survive without the Price-Anderson Act which subsidizes their insurance.” Why is the insurance so expensive? How many people have been killed in nuclear power industry accidents, and how does it compare with other way to generate electricity?

      • ybutt,

        RE: “Also I don’t see an easy way to quantify the proliferation risks of a massive increase in nuclear power. How many North Korean nuclear bombs are you willing to risk to reduce CO2 a bit? ”

        Care to explain your reasoning on how an increase in the number of commercial nuclear power plants in the US, Europe, Japan, China, etc has any relation to the number of North Korean nuclear bombs? Hell nuclear power plants in South Korea has zero impact on the North Korean nuclear arsenal.

        The risks for proliferation from commercial nuclear power, while not entirely imaginary, are way overblown. When I hear people bring them up my first question is “Are they speaking from ignorance or are they trying to leverage fear to achieve some other goal?”

        A couple of things to keep in mind about proliferation.

        1) The genie is out of the bottle.
        2) The genie is not your Laddin’s fable genie. He doesn’t simple grant your wishes. (Translation: developing a workable nuclear weapon is far more difficult and expensive than most people assume. That doesn’t include having a delivery system for it.)
        3) Nuclear weapons have been in existence since 1945. Which is the last time one was used. There is a reason for that.

  11. Contrary to some assertions made by commenters added to this excellent blog posting the “ECS” can in fact be equal to zero. It could also be a negative number. Nobody has proven what the “ECS” actually is, even with decades of funding and effort.

    The “Radiative Greenhouse Effect” as first postulated by Arrhenius is still just a hypothesis, repeat, still just a hypothesis….

    An alternative hypothesis is that the “Radiative Greenhouse Effect” merely delays the flow of energy through the Sun/Earth/Atmosphere/Universe system. This “effect” acts much like an Optical Integrating Sphere (aka an Ulbricht Sphere). Since the delay introduced by this “effect” (likely only tens of milliseconds) is much less than the elapsed time period of a “day” (about 86 million milliseconds) there is no reason to accept the “consensus wisdom” that a “higher average temperature” must result.

    The “ECS” can be (and indeed is very likely to be) EXACTLY ZERO, even though much hand wringing and brow furling by well meaning folks attempting to save us all from FIRE has taken place.

    Cheers, KevinK.

    • Thank you. Do you have any peer-reviewed publications to cite that suggest ECS=0 ? It can theoretically be many things, of course.

      • With all due respect, it is the responsibility of those claiming that they know the value of “ECS” to PROVE IT,

        I do not claim to “know” the value of “ECS” therefore it is not my responsibility to prove it’s value.

        I do not claim to know it’s value, I simply assert that sans additional proof it should be assumed (null hypothesis) to be EXACTLY EQUAL TO ZERO.

        All those folks “peer” reviewing all these “guesses” about what ECS really is should take a very deep breath and realize that there is no good reason to assume it MUST NOT BE EQUAL TO ZERO….

        Cheers, KevinK

      • I agree in theory ECS can be zero. There is no scientific basis to believe that it actually is on the Earth system, according to peer-reviewed science papers. According to reports it is roughly bounded 1 <ECS< 5.

        If you have actual science-based reasons to think it is zero, please cite a paper or show your work.

        For a good review on what ECS is and is not see page 12 onwards at:

        http://www.commerce.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/f739759e-3f1b-447e-a1eb-d42bbe70454e/FBA0C80EBB0D0B6545922F1D45D18C75.dr.-judith-curry-testimony.pdf

      • In Climate science, peer review is not an honest thing.

      • Geoff Sherrington

        ybutt
        Yes, here is a recent publication whose abstract notes the Antarctic possibility of zero or negative sensitivity to CO2.
        http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015GL066749/full
        CO2 is the strongest anthropogenic forcing agent for climate change since preindustrial times. Like other greenhouse gases, CO2 absorbs terrestrial surface radiation and causes emission from the atmosphere to space. As the surface is generally warmer than the atmosphere, the total long-wave emission to space is commonly less than the surface emission. However, this does not hold true for the high elevated areas of central Antarctica. For this region, the emission to space is higher than the surface emission; and the greenhouse effect of CO2 is around zero or even negative, which has not been discussed so far. We investigated this in detail and show that for central Antarctica an increase in CO2 concentration leads to an increased long-wave energy loss to space, which cools the Earth-atmosphere system. These findings for central Antarctica are in contrast to the general warming effect of increasing CO2.

      • Sorry I can’t look it up, but you may want to look at what plant stoma records suggest CO2 levels actually are and temp data. There may be comparisons that indicate zero or negative values over the past several thousand year.

        There is good reason to think that water and biological responses bring CO2 lower trop temp response to near zero. I’m pretty sure that in the past Judith has posted on more recent estimates of TCR and ECS with one or two studies charted with box-whisker graphs covering zero (memory could be wrong though).

      • ECS can be equal to zero if the change in the concentration of carbon dioxide with time is equal to zero. The absolute value of concentration of carbon dioxide alone means nothing. Its change with time that matters.

      • ybutt, “I agree in theory ECS can be zero”

        Not the way it is defined, which may make ECS not very useful. Transient response, however you like to define that, is at least useful.

    • Steven Mosher

      Nope. Can’t be zero.

      • Correct SM, but unfortunately the concept ECS is a bundle of confusions. To begin with it is an abstraction, like the rate of fall of an object in a vacuum. But we do not live in a vacuum so actual rates of fall will vary and may even be negative. If I drop a feather on a windy day it may blow upward. If I drop a bird it may fly upward.

        By the same token, CO2 might double while the globe cools. Presumably this does not make ECS negative, just irrelevant. Unfortunately the nature of the ECS abstraction is never specified, as far as I know.

        Even worse, if the climate is a far from equilibrium system, a natural oscillator, which seems likely, then ECS simply does not exist, even as an abstraction, unless the abstraction from reality is very great indeed.

        The point is that the greater the abstraction is, the less relevant it is to the real situation. So how great is the ECS abstraction? What real processes does it ignore? This is the first question to answer before we take ECS seriously, if we ever do.

      • Nope. Can’t be zero.

        Of course if could be zero – because there are physical ways Other Than Surface Warming that restore radiative equilibrium to a CO2 imposed forcing – just highly unlikely to be zero.

        But, VVuVVt has this good quotation from the IPCC on why it doesn’t matter anyay, because “For most economic sectors, the impact of climate change will be small relative to the impacts of other drivers”

      • Lucia on your side Steven.
        But with this comment you have the great Al Gore on your side as well.

        “Skeptics have one last chance to consolidate their position and focus a discussion.”

      • Steven Mosher: Nope. Can’t be zero.

        Is it possible for the net energy outflow rate above the Antarctic to be increased by increased CO2? How about other cold, dry regions?

        There are a lot more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophies, Steven. Besides books, you should read more papers.

      • David Springer

        ECS can be zero. TCS can’t be zero.

        Mosher might understand an analogy.

        Consider an aircraft. Can it maintain straight and level flight without pilot input despite dynamically changing center of gravity such as passengers moving around? Sure. It’s called positive longitudinal stability.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longitudinal_static_stability#Longitudinal_stability

        Another analogy, from electronics this time, is a common component called a constant current source. It delivers a constant, unchanging current despite a changing load.

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

        In the first changing CO2 is analogous to changing center of gravity and in the second CO2 is analogous to changing load. Temperature is pitch and current respectively. Feedback that keeps pitch or current constant is TCS and the constant output is ECS. It’s not rocket science but it is something that all engineers understand. Load balancing is done everywhere from bridges to aircraft to electric power supplies. You’re not an engineer and that’s the problem. You might understand after it is explained to you but someone has to explain it first. You can’t get there on your own recognizance.

  12. Judith: The current essay on Ocean Acidification at Andrew Montford’s (referencing Steve Milloy and Tony Thomas) seems to reinforce your post. The emails are almost as revealing, if not as scandalous, as Climategate.

      • http://quadrant.org.au/opinion/qed/2016/01/fishy-science-ocean-acidification/

        This is pure gold:
        New York Times: It’s very interesting, but in order to work for us it needs to be geared more toward the general reader. Can the authors give us more specific, descriptive images about how acidification has already affected the oceans? Is the situation akin to the acid rain phenomenon that hit North America? What can be done to counteract the problem?’

        NOAA’s Shallin Busch: Unfortunately, I can’t provide this information to you because it doesn’t exist. As I said in my last email, currently there are NO areas of the world that are severely degraded because of OA or even areas that we know are definitely affected by OA right now. If you want to use this type of language, you could write about the CO2 vent sites in Italy or Polynesia as examples of things to come. Sorry that I can’t be more helpful on this!’

    • yes I’ve spotted this

    • As far as I can tell, this puts the NOAA scientists in a good light, trying to tell a clearly motivated NYT reporter what the science says and doesn’t say, as opposed to what the reporter wanted the piece to say. This is a common interaction between science and sensationalist journalism. Sensationalist journalism goes both ways, environmental extremism on one side and political extremism with conspiracy theories about AGW science on the other, depending on the news outlet. It means just be wary of the reporting from certain outlets. Better to look at the scientific source itself, if you can.

  13. ybutt wrote;

    “I agree in theory ECS can be zero. There is no scientific basis to believe that it actually is on the Earth system,”

    There is NO basis (historical temperature records, etc;) to believe that “ECS” is anything other than ZERO (exactly, carried out to many many decimal places).

    The climate science community claims to know the value of “ECS” and it MUST BE POSITIVE,,,,,, After many decades of funding and media attention this is the time to “PUT UP OR SHUT UP”……

    The climate science community CANNOT STATE HONESTLY AT THIS TIME THAT “ECS” is other than a NON-ZERO VALUE…….

    Twenty years of funding for this and you still cannot clearly define or demonstrate your most fundamental value, What the Heck is Up With That…..

    Heck, the Wright Brothers figured out how to make a plane fly in a couple of years. The climate science community can’t even prove that their fundamental parameter (ECS) is positive/negative/.non-zero after 2 or 3 decades……

    As a taxpayer I want my money back, even the local weather man can tell me when a “big blow” is coming in and I should “batten down” the hatches.

    The climate science community had “NO CLUE” whats coming next. Sorry if that is insulting, but it’s the frigging truth..,,

    Cheers, KevinK.

    • KevinK,

      I think you’re being a bit harsh, wanting your money back.

      The BOM employs over 1600 people, spends over $250 million per annum directly, and has just ordered a new supercomputer costing $77 million or so.

      Yesterday, the BOM, utilising its concentrated expertise, and present admittedly inferior supercomputing facilities, issued a forecast to the media predicting the possibility of rain in the next 24 hours in the Darwin area (it’s the wet season) as 10%.

      Just imagine the panic that might have ensued if a totally unskilled person made a forecast. They might have erred seriously, guessing 40%, or even higher!

      On second thoughts, you prepare a petition, I’ll sign it. The weather seems to do whatever Mother Nature decrees, supercomputers notwithstanding.

      Cheers.

      • Darwin.
        guaranteed rain at 3.30 pm local time nearly every day of the rainy season,
        just after school gets out.
        chance of rain in the dry season < 3% on any given day.
        And rain? like you guys have not seen, bucketing out of the sky accompanied by massive thunder and lightning.
        Ahhhh , Darwin.

    • Steven Mosher

      Can’t be zero. Can’t be negative.

      • Correct, SM, but unfortunately the concept ECS is a bundle of confusions. To begin with it is an abstraction, like the rate of fall of an object in a vacuum. But we do not live in a vacuum so actual rates of fall will vary and may even be negative. If I drop a feather on a windy day it may blow upward. If I drop a bird it may fly upward.

        By the same token, CO2 might double while the globe cools. Presumably this does not make ECS negative, just irrelevant. Unfortunately the nature of the ECS abstraction is never specified, as far as I know.

        Even worse, if the climate is a far from equilibrium system, a natural oscillator, which seems likely, then ECS simply does not exist, even as an abstraction, unless the abstraction from reality is very great indeed.

        The point is that the greater the abstraction is, the less relevant it is to the real situation. So how great is the ECS abstraction? What real processes does it ignore? This is the first question to answer before we take ECS seriously, if we ever do.

      • Can’t be zero. Can’t be negative.

        Oh yes it can. The fact that the chance of that is probably minuscule and isn’t really relevant to policy doesn’t justify denying the scientific facts. That’s as much a “tactical” distortion of the science as what Mann did.

        What is policy-relevant is that the whole idea of “ECS/TCR” actually an artifact of using the wrong methods to analyze climate. The possibility of positive feed-back loops leading to unexpected, rapid, changes actually justifies more concern, and more effort to reduce the dumping of fossil CO2 than any “projections” of 1-2°C temperature rise by 2100, or a meter or two of sea-level rise in the same time-frame.

        Although AFAIK most people would still say it wouldn’t justify significant increases in the cost of energy or fuel.

    • Proof is for liquor and mathematics, not science.

      It can be shown that there is a correlation between temperature and CO2 levels, both increase, so the correlation is positive, leading to a climate sensitivity greater than 0.

      There is also a measured and quantified mechanism and here goes.

      The population of vibrational excited states in a volume of CO2 gas only depends on the temperature, and the rate of decay of those excited states is first order, like radioactive decay, depends only on concentration of the CO2 gas. So effectively the CO2 gas in the atmosphere emits infrared radiation, roughly half of which reaches the surface. Therefore the amount of heat that reaches the surface is dependent on the concentration and temperature of the CO2.

      It’s quantum mechanics, nobody understands it, but it works.

  14. To start 2016, the CAGW meme, vintage 1990.

  15. Instead of giving money to found colleges to promote learning, why don’t they pass a constitutional amendment prohibiting anybody from learning anything? If it works as good as the Prohibition one did, why, in five years we would have the smartest race of people on earth.
    Will Rogers
    http://www.azquotes.com/quote/249425

    Ancient Rome declined because it had a Senate, now what’s going to happen to us with both a House and a Senate?
    Will Rogers

  16. The temperature of earth has the signature of a system that is well regulated.

    Read these words that were written by Willis Eschenbach, they inspire me and should inspire others. http://popesclimatetheory.com/page60.html

    Look at the ice core data from the Antarctic and Greenland. Temperature is regulated in the same bounds while a large change in the solar input to the north and the south took place. http://popesclimatetheory.com/page85.html
    The data looks like the data from a home with a thermostat and an adequate cooling system. http://popesclimatetheory.com/page83.html

    Next year, 2016 should be the year that many of us work together to understand the amazing bounding of Earth Temperature. If my Pope’s Climate Theory is wrong, help find what really can and did regulate the temperature of the past. It must be internal regulation. It clearly has a thermostat and forcing to maintain the bounds.

    In my theory, the polar oceans are the thermostats. The Polar Oceans thaw and that does increase snowfall. The Polar Oceans freeze and that does decrease snowfall. This does not change.

    This is fully supported by the ice core data. Every other forcing uses random luck to get the amazing bounding that has been observed.

  17. JC:

    And finally, some reflections on Seitz’s current role in the climate debate. Seitz continues to publish some interesting essays, notably Knowing the Unknowns. He also blogs on climate issues vvatsupwiththat, which as far as I can tell belongs to the Sou Boudanga school of climate blogging (although I find Seitz’s blog articles pretty incoherent).

    I find a lot of his comments at Rabbett Run incomprehensible. I’m not sure if these Harvard dudes are just too deep and subtle for me or have access to really strong hallucinogenics. I’d also like to note that he is not all that impressed with his Harvard colleague, Naomi Oreskes.

  18. Willis Eschenbach

    Gotta say, when I see Russell Seitz disguising his blog in order to fool naive people into thinking it is WattsUpWithThat, he loses my respect entirely. Take a look at the banner of his blog.

    He may have been prescient in 1990. But what his blog scam tells me is that he doesn’t believe whatever it is he is selling these days. Trying to leech off of a successful website is a clear indication you don’t think you can make it on your own.

    It’s as if someone were claiming to be CBSNEWS by using a double-V in place of the W as Seitz has done … underhanded trickery.

    w.

  19. The most savage controversies are those as to which there is no good evidence either way. -Bertrand Russell

    Quite true but this is not such a case. There is good evidence that global temperature is a random walk and there is good evidence from the Bomb-Test Curve that most CO2 increase is not anthropogenic. This is not a “savage controversy” at all. It is a scam.

    See http://blackjay.net/ .

  20. Judith Curry:

    You write “And we still don’t have a good way to separate unforced (internal) from forced climate variability.”

    Yes we do, because valid physics comes to the rescue and the Second Law of Thermodynamics helps us to understand why it’s not carbon dioxide after all, as I have explained here and nobody can prove this valid physics wrong without proving the Second Law (that entropy does not decrease) to be wrong.

  21. Hi, I’ve been thinking of something about AWG, and perhaps you folks can help me.
    I’m not a scientist, but I have a degree in Engineering, for some time have worked with computer modelling of physiology, and have read a few papers on AWG, before becoming a skeptic, most for the reason that I can’t trust scientists with such a bad record on predictions with anything like hundreds of billions of dollars, specially when most of their predictions come from computer models which, in my own experience, are very easy to fit to anything.
    My question is this: as I understand, most of the supposed AGW comes not directly from GHE of carbon dioxide, but from the amplification caused by positive feedback loops, like that of water vapor. My point is: these feedback loops don’t differentiate between the source of the forcing, they could as well amply warming from aCO2 as from solar cycles, volcanic eruptions etc. And it could also amplify cooling from any source.
    The bottom line is: even if the whole AGW thing is real, and the most catastrophic scenario predicted by the IPCC reports are true, and even if we managed to zero emissions, we would still be extremely vulnerable to any random event that produced a small climate forcing, because a catastrophic scenario is only possible if the Earth’s climate is an intrinsically unstable system.

    Am I right? If not, where is the mistake?

    Thanks!

    • Yep, you are right. The way the problem is posed, CO2 could trigger a new ice age and temperatures would still be warmer than other wise thanks to CO2. But with one bit of physics the alarmist can justify taking control of global energy choices even though there may never be a net benefit in the normal usage.

    • Correct physics is explained here: https://itsnotco2.wordpress.com where I will respond to any questions discussing the physics involved in the “heat creep” hypothesis.

    • stevenreincarnated

      Your mistake is in your initial assumption that the feedback loops would be the same. Here are a couple of papers that argue depth of solar penetration affects ocean currents.

      http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00343-015-3343-3

      http://www.tellusa.net/index.php/tellusa/article/view/25313

      If the depth of penetration actually does affect ocean currents then it is reasonable to expect that SW and LW radiation will not have the same feedbacks. There are also arguments regarding the latitude of the forcing. I believe it was the IPCC 3 report that listed different sensitivities for different forcings based upon primarily latitude, but to be honest I didn’t find their differences large enough to do a follow up. The SW vs LW is much more interesting as it could completely change arguments regarding sensitivity.

    • You can compare effects by quantifying the forcing change. Doubling CO2 has a forcing effect of 3.7 W/m2 which is equivalent to adding 1% to solar forcing. This may not seem much, but the sun never varies more than ~0.1% even between periods like the Maunder Minimum and now, or between sunspot maxima and minima, but even those changes are detectable in the temperature record. Doubling CO2 is an order of magnitude larger in a quantitative sense. We are already at 2 W/m2 which is why heat records are being broken all the time. It is very straightforwards.

      • You are simply ignoring all the research on indirect solar forcing, as usual. Consider the ice ages.

      • David

        A week or two ago there was a new paper cited here that showed that during the Pleistocene?? the very high temperatures and very high co2 levels were alleviated by very long period of much cooler temperature despite the high co2. I had meant to bookmark it but didn’t. Do you remember it?

        tonyb

      • No, sorry Tony but I have been rather busy getting a new paper out. It is a semantic analysis that demonstrates the huge pro-AGW bias in the US funding of climate research.

      • David

        Thanks. I will go and have a look. I think I may have been distracted by Christmas. Doesn’t that seem an impossibly long time ago now? Happy New Year!

        tonyb

      • DW, I would suggest it is the skeptics who are underestimating what the sun does to their argument. We still get the old …but 1910-1940… argument despite increases in solar activity that could explain it, and …but the pause… when decreases in solar activity occurred during it. They have to acknowledge it, even when inconvenient. It’s part of having an honest debate.

      • “DW, I would suggest it is the skeptics who are ….”

        Religious war between believers and sceptics are best left in Victorian times or before. This is supposed to be science. You know, the model after the one you appear to stuck in. They were called Universities.

      • RichardLH, if you have been following along here, you will have seen that there is a large number of denizens who believe (a) the IPCC central sensitivity estimate of 3 C per doubling is very unlikely, and (b) that it is unlikely that most of the warming is anthropogenically caused. This is a clear demarcation line for what I call “skeptics”. You may see it as more blurred, but I don’t see that here. One side is very dismissive of the majority/consensus view, so there really are two sides: the accepters and the dismissers.

      • “RichardLH, if you have been following along here, ….”

        You hadn’t noticed? Oh!

        I see a lot of bull pit theatrical science on display. More politics that real science. More akin to the Victorians or before. FRS says we will suffocate. etc.

        The real science is hard to discover. Assumptions abound everywhere. Ideal hunting ground for a Logician.

      • Yes, the Victorians had flat-earthers and anti-evolutionists too. In fact, the science has moved on, except in these quarters. Parallels to the Victorian era abound.

      • TonyB You asked about a recent article on past incidencer of high temps/CO2 being followed by cooling referenced here recently. This may be the missing link: https://www.skepticalscience.com/co2-higher-in-past.htm . Cheers and HNY to you and yours.

    • Yep. A good example is the “methane bomb” meme. Scientists have estimated a probable large release of methane from clathrates. People often speak of large “climate implications” when mentioning this. The “climate implications” are not about anthropogenic warming, that has a negligible effect on the probability of an event.

      PS, If their estimates are correct, I would think similar past events would be evident in ice cores and other paleo data. This may say something about ice core analysis and also residence times and none temperature responses to methane.

    • Lucas Nicolato Pereira wrote:

      The bottom line is: even if the whole AGW thing is real, and the most catastrophic scenario predicted by the IPCC reports are true, and even if we managed to zero emissions, we would still be extremely vulnerable to any random event that produced a small climate forcing, because a catastrophic scenario is only possible if the Earth’s climate is an intrinsically unstable system.

      Lucas, I am a physicist who has also done engineering. I had similar thoughts when I first started looking into this. Part of the answer is that a modest positive feedback will not produce a catastrophe but can produce amplification of the initial signal.

      The other part of the answer (I owe thanks to my fellow physicist John Baez for pointing this out) is that Stefan-Boltzmann is non-linear (the fourth power) and, for larger positive feedbacks that would otherwise be catastrophic, the Stefan-Boltzmann non-linearity has an effect, roughly speaking, of the “rails” that limit the effects of positive feedback in actual electronic systems.

      What I have just said is, of course, just giving a qualitative sense of what is happening: you really have to go through and do good numerical calculations.

      And, my own experience with years of computer modeling confirms what you say on that issue: there are too many ways to fit a complex computer model to data incorrectly — they need to show they can make correct predictions, and they have failed to do that thus far.

      Dave

      • Saying they have failed is not reasonable. Other than that, you appear to be reasonable. Models that predicted cooling during the current period were wrong; models that predicted natural variation would stave off AGW for a brief time before warming resumed (pale blue)… they’re still in the hunt. Look outside. We just experienced the hottest month in the the entire record, and January looks to be off just as serious a start:

        Also, demanding models have to demonstrate predictive skill may, given the complexity of the system, may be unreasonable:

      • JCH, “Saying they have failed is not reasonable.”

        Nope, it is pretty reasonable to say they have failed. Of course confidently saying that requires a bit more than throwing up a “global” anomaly comparison. The real physics, mainly thermo and fluid dynamics require absolute temperature or energy by region and hemisphere to sort out how useful the models may be. “Average” temperature and temperature anomaly are just about meaningless.

      • In the DePreSys
        forecast, internal variability offsets the effects of
        anthropogenic forcing in the first few years,
        leadingtononetwarmingbefore2008(Fig.4).
        In contrast, the NoAssim forecast warms during
        this period. Regional assessment to February 2007
        (fig. S8) indicates that this initial cooling in
        DePreSys relative to NoAssim results from the
        development of cooler anomalies in the tropical
        Pacific and the persistence of neutral conditions in
        the Southern Ocean. In both cases, the DePreSys
        forecast is closer to the verifying changes observed
        since the forecast start date. Both NoAssim and
        DePreSys, however, predict further warming
        during the coming decade, with the year 2014
        predictedtobe0.30°±0.21°C[5to95%
        confidence interval (CI)] warmer than the observed
        value for 2004.
        Furthermore, at least half of the
        years after 2009 are predicted to be warmer than
        1998, the warmest year currently on record.

        So the first serious attempt to incorporate initial conditions – to predict natural variability (ENSO) in a decadal forecast model. Some misses, but also some significant hits:

        1998 – .63C
        2004 – .54C
        2010 – .72C
        2011 – .60C – no
        2012 – .63C – tie
        2013 – .65C – yes
        2014 – .74C – yes
        2015 – appears to be .87C – yes
        2016 – predicted to exceed .87C – if true, a yes

      • JCH, If they had maintained the same version of the temperature product used to make the predictions, it might have been somewhat impressive. However, when the temperature products are adjusted there will be a bit of confusion over exactly what was being predicted.

        Now if you take regional predictions you don’t have that problem because they don’t even come close.

      • Hogwash – they made a prediction of physics playing out on the earth. GISS is the best earth we have.

      • fairly flat, but Reynolds oiv2 isn’t all that popular with the alarmist set.

      • JCH I predict the Earth will warm by .31 C degrees by 2026 +/- 0.31 C degrees. btw 70% of GISS is ERSST which used to incorporate Reynolds oiv2 until someone decided oiv2 was cooler than the liked and then they jacked things up because they liked buckets.

      • JCH wrote to me:

        Also, demanding models have to demonstrate predictive skill may, given the complexity of the system, may be unreasonable…

        Actually, I agree with you on that. But, then, shouldn’t people stop claiming that these models do have predictive power?

        At the current state of the art, the models are being misused. The modelers should be using the models to investigate possible interactions among climate variables and should then turn to people such as Judith to ask whether those interactions have any empirical support.

        I’ll give a concrete example of what I have in mind:

        Suppose the models predict a correlation between summer temperatures in India and winter precipitation on the East Coast of the US. Ask people like Judith whether empirical observations show such a correlation. If they do, the modelers and empirical climatologists can work together to see if the model provides insight into the causes of that correlation. If not, the modelers can go back and try to see why the models are misleading.

        That is real science. Unfortunately, it doesn’t produce blockbuster movies for Al Gore, soundbites for irresponsible politicians, etc. Real science is hard, painstaking, plodding work.

        Some climate scientists, alas, want to take shortcuts.

        Dave

      • Physicsdave – if you want to trust Judith Curry, fine, I do not.

        There is a group of climate scientists who made decadal predictions based upon the North Atlantic. Latif is one of them. They were spectacularly wrong. Because the AMO is a puny little punk ocean cycle. It’s either along for the global train ride or off doing its own thing with almost no global consequence. The AMOC is another story; it’ not the AMO. DM Smith did the first decadal forecast model that looks about right, and on his first try. Natural variability in the equatorial Pacific was approximately captured. Every time I mention it on this blog they trash it as hard as they can. From the water chef to the capt.

        He predicted 2014 would be the burner; he missed it; instead it’s 2015. What a colossal model failure. Weather models go haywire in a very short time span. A decadal forecast model is as much a weather model as it is a climate model. Smith’s model is still holding together.

        They know way more about natural variability than the folks on this blog can admit.

        JC: I thought that it might account for at least half of the observed warming, and hence my questioning of the IPCC’s highly confident attribution of ‘most’ to AGW.

        From an author of the paper:

        I have a different take on this. The IPCC conclusion applies to centennial warming from 1880. Much of the 0.8 C warming since 1900 is indeed due to anthropogenic forcing, because natural variability like PDO and AMO has been averaged out over this long period of time.

        Our results concern the effect of tropical Pacific SST on global mean temperature over the past 15 years. It is large enough to offset the anthropogenic warming for this period, but the effect weakens as the period for trend calculation gets longer simply because it is oscillatory and being averaged out. – Xie

        Xie’s only error is the PDO and the equatorial Pacific have been dragging against AGW since around 1985. 15 years does cover it. The PDO flipped positive at the end of 2013, and the last 24 months are warming at 5 times the IPCC’s prediction of .2C per decade. And some day that will average out… hopefully. But don’t be surprised if the GMST hits the IPCC number by 2020.

      • JCH, Yep, everyone seems to think they have found the climate key since …. but all of the oscillations are pseudo-cyclic and they are treating them like pure oscillations.

        To make matters worst you have to factor in baseline fudging meaning you have to figure out the psuedo-cyclic nature of temperature adjustments. James Annan didn’t lose a bet because Hadley adjusted the baseline. 2014/2015 are warmest years EVAH because ersst dropped Reynolds oiv2. So I don’t place much stock of barely significant warmest years ever because no one knows what the standard will be in a few years. Heck, they may can all the high tech metrics and rely on rectal thermometers.

      • JCH, I’ll bet that lower trop temps are lower in 2020 than 2014.

  22. ‘The most savage controversies are those as to which there is no good evidence either way. -Bertrand Russell’

    Because the wide window of uncertainty allows emotive memes to take root and grow in society. Our knowledge of reality (as determined by science in the modern climate case, among others), is not sufficient to constrain these memes in such scenarios.

    ‘But the science has become far more politicized, raising a host of questions about implicit and explicit biases in the science.’

    And because scientists are embedded within the society in which the emotive memes take hold, and (may) eventually dominate, then indeed powerful biases will result. Politicization is a mirror of the agenda* of the co-evolving memes, which usually conform to an overall narrative (in the climate case, ‘a certainty of calamity’).

    Hence it is more accurate to say ‘culturalization’, rather than politicization; a culture will manufacture a social consensus. Typically, the narrative agenda will act to block a reduction of uncertainties (because this would eventually kill the narrative, should it be allowed). Hence science itself can be pushed from its theoretical objective path and may no longer provide emerging knowledge about reality, or at least this process may be heavily slowed and impeded, depending upon how entrenched the narrative has become.

    * memes are not sentient nor agential; the ‘agenda’ emerges from differential selection.

      • Heh, already instilling the cultural narrative into children worldwide, they’re now making a start on apes. Cultural narratives often include an urgent agenda of self-replication via every possible route, I guess they really are leaving no possibility aside here ;)

      • This is the one that was edited and released for the Paris climate summit wasn’t it? Someone is getting desperate. Lets hope it was all tongue in cheek

        tonyb

      • Skeptics have one last chance to consolidate their position and focus a discussion.

      • angech: ‘Skeptics have one last chance to consolidate their position and focus a discussion’.

        Skeptics should not rally around a particular theory, if that is what you mean. No one can know what is happening and any such theory might itself start to acquire a cultural consensus, merely to resist the existing (CAGW) one. Great diversity and endless (reasonable) questioning is good, this is a strength and maximally pressures an arbitrary cultural consensus. As part of that, communicating uncertainties regarding all the many aspects of imminent (decades) calamity that have sprung up, is already ongoing.

        Innate skepticism has protected the majority of the global populace pretty well so far, and though mildly eroded by negative ‘hoax’ messaging from some skeptics, remains a far better protection from the narrative of climate calamity than the pushing of a necessarily uncertain opposing theory.

        Meanwhile science will only get back to reducing the uncertainties and providing some answers in the climate domain, when the current cultural grip is loosed. And the best way to achieve that is likely via an unceasing and diverse barrage of inconvenient questions.

      • rogerknights

        angech | January 2, 2016 at 5:53 pm |
        Skeptics have one last chance to consolidate their position and focus a discussion.

        The only way to force a discussion is for a science court to schedule a “trial” on the topic (or topics). Since no official SCs exist, colleges should simply set up unofficial SCs and then set a date. Be there or be square. If contrarians say they’ll appear, warmists will lose by default unless they show up. That will force them into the open. (I’ve written a longer piece on this theme that I hope will appear–somewhere.)

    • “This is the one that was edited and released for the Paris climate summit wasn’t it?”

      And I thought this sort of Politics was down the hall, or back in Victorian times

  23. David Wojick

    Lots of discussion of ECS here. Unfortunately the concept ECS is a bundle of confusions. To begin with it is an abstraction, like the rate of fall of an object in a vacuum. But we do not live in a vacuum so actual rates of fall will vary and may even be negative. If I drop a feather on a windy day it may blow upward. If I drop a bird it may fly upward.

    By the same token, CO2 might double while the globe cools. Presumeably this does not make ECS negative, just irrelevant. Unfortunately the nature of the ECS abstraction is never specified, as far as I know.

    Even worse, if the climate is a far from equillibrium system, a natural oscillator, which seems likely, then ECS simply does not exist, even as an abstraction, unless the abstraction from reality is very great indeed.

    The point is that the greater the abstraction is, the less relevant it is to the real situation. So how great is the ECS abstraction? What real processes does it ignore? This is the first question to answer before we take ECS seriously, if we ever do.

    • The essential physics is the classical analysis of the radiative equilibrium temperature of a sphere. This assumes of course that the sun is the major source of heat.

      Would an earth with no sun be zero K? Obviously not, since it has a molten core.

      Classical physics still says that heat energy causes temperature to rise. This statement is undeniable. Bodies of water with a high specific heat can absorb more erngy without warming as much.

      Fossil fuel burning represents release of stored potential energy which stared from sunlight a long time ago. Any scheme to try to absorb sunlight and immediately use it as energy which ultimately ends up as heat in the atmosphere does nothing except add more heat to the earth. Only transforming solar energy to stored chemical potential energy uses up the heat energy.

      In homes, solar is completely useless for combating warming caused by heat energy.

      Nothing I have said is scientifically controversial. Except in the religous war over global warming and GHGs.

      • …but the temperature can still go down.

        Andrew

      • Blouis, I think you have completely missed the point of my comment, which is simply that ECS is an abstraction which is undefined and may well be irrelevant in the real world. Moreover, ECS has nothing to do with the heat released by fossil fuel combustion. That is just another aspect of the abstraction.

        Bad Andrew has it right. The real temperature can still go down. A positive ECS in no way prevents this.

      • “…but the temperature can still go down.”

        The temperature will go up and down. The questions is, when, by how much and for how long?

    • Steven Mosher

      Again.

      Look guys just because you lost the debate is no reason to hang on to skydragon delusions. Join nic and Judith. Make good arguments about Ecs being in the lower range and show some tactical debate skills. But you guys flat out lost the co2 is not a ghg debate. You lost the second law violation nonsense debate. You can’t show your data on the temperature debate… Jeez for 2016 you should all resolve to work together to chop off the high end tail of Ecs!! There is a modest goal. Show that Ecs must be less than 3.5 that would be some science.

      This is not an invite to quote papers. Do some science. Our economy is at stake cause these greens will surely wreck it

      • Mosher, the nesting suggests that you are replying to me, not blouis. Who are you replying to? If to me then your reply makes no sense whatever.

      • Agreed that the top policy relevant climate science goal should be realistic clarification of the ‘very likely’ top to ECS. Agree that 3.5C is about right. I suspect that once the climate models start using more realistic aerosol forcing, they will be retuned (or will be wildly too warm relative to observations) and the high values of ECS will disappear.

      • Mosher,

        You just don’t people stating the obvious. It’s not good for your out of control Warmerism.

        Andrew

      • Agreed that a careful consideration of the data available, its methods of collection and hence limitations, a consideration that other disciplines might hold some light to this problem, and can we please move from the ‘reversion to roots’ Victorian ‘science by bull pit theatrical debate to the real science’, that model then evolved into. I sometimes think that Oxford in Lewis Carrol days is closer to what we see than 2016.

        A historic parallel would probably best be Stevenson versa the FRS and the like. Fits the meme rather well.

      • “It’s not good for your out of control Warmerism.”

        A bull pit shout.

      • I agree that it would be useful if the modelers started using lower values of ECS, given the fixation on ECS. But I still think that scientifically ECS is a red herring, specifically a useless abstraction. It seems clear that the earth can cool while CO2 doubles. A lot of solar scientists are in fact now warning of precisely this.

      • The economists are fixated on ECS, unfortunately

      • “A bull pit shout.”

        But it’s true. Mosher is a Warmer advocate. He doesn’t deviate from his narrative, and there is no fact that can make him do so. He may even tell you so himself, if you ask him to do so nicely.

        Andrew

      • davideisenstadt

        Mosh:
        Just what science do you “do”?
        A google scholar search indicates not too much science being done, at least not much that gets your name on the list of authors of peer reviewed articles published in academic journals, that is.
        Why not suggest to those who pay you for your work on behalf of BEST that they spend some time on reducing the uncertainty associated with current estimates of ECS and TCR?
        Your name still wouldn’t show up, but at least you could be fighting for change.
        Just saying…

      • “Look guys just because you lost the debate is no reason to hang on to skydragon delusions.” Ascribes a straw man opinion as though it was fact.

        “You can’t show your data on the temperature debate… Jeez for 2016 you should all resolve to work together to chop off the high end tail of Ecs!! ”

        Your problem, not mine.

        Followed by a call for work (without first ascertaining veracity, need or relevance).

      • “Mosher is a Warmer advocate.” I’m not interested in his politics, only is science and data. You should be too IMHO.

      • The last 120 months:

        10 years – 0.0172291 per year
        8 years – 0.0309067 per year
        6 years – 0.0313371 per year
        4 years – 0.0809661 per year
        2 years – 0.11917 per year

        December is going to make them bigger.

        So even Bob Tisdale thinks 2016 could be another warmest year. El Nino events can come back-to-back.

      • ‘It seems clear that the earth can cool while CO2 doubles’

        Actually it’s not clear at all how that could happen. You would need some very strong negative forcing at the same time. Perhaps a lot of volcanos go off and the resultant aerosols lead to more cloud cover which means more reflected sunlight (negative forcing) and, voila, that counteracts CO2 forcing. Solar forcing is minimal… there are a bunch of theories about how it gets ‘amplified’ through cosmic rays and what not but if I’ve learnt anything reading about climate it’s that these theories are wildly speculative.

        You may have hear statements like ‘the Earth was cooler at some points in which CO2 was higher. Well, yeah – billions of years ago CO2 was at 60,000ppm, so its levels have been historically much higher than now (though the declining trend included many ups and downs). And some of those high-CO2 periods included ice ages – due to changes in the Earth’s orbit or clouds or some other reason we don’t know of yet.

        But that is very different from ‘the Earth can cool while CO2 increases’.

      • “I’m not interested in his politics, only is science and data.”

        Then you are ignoring some evidence. His “science” and his “data” are derived from a political model.

        Andrew

      • ‘the Earth can cool while CO2 increases’.

        Look at any squiggly line that climate science has produced. There are many cooling periods.

        Andrew

      • You would need some very strong negative forcing at the same time.

        No you wouldn’t.

      • JCH,
        another warm year in 2016 does NOT indicate that the anomaly is ever upward. Indeed, the anomaly has been relative flat in this “warmest” ever zone for the past decade or so.
        https://judithcurry.com/2015/12/28/global-temperature-trends-after-detrending-with-the-amo/#comment-755426

      • But CO2 is good for plants, Steven. And if it was harmful, they wouldn’t be allowed to put it in Coca Cola. We breave the stuff in and out all the time fer chrissakes!

      • Alberto, I am thinking about the next ice age, or even the next little ice age. If you deny that these are possible that is a very strong claim indeed, one I do not make. I am also pretty sure that the sun-climate connection is not well understood.

      • Historical data in ICE CORES would indicate that another ICE AGE will occur. Just when? That time gets ever closer!

      • “Then you are ignoring some evidence. His “science” and his “data” are derived from a political model.”

        Says you. Why and how do you know what I would consider on the same topic?

      • Geoff Sherrington

        Steven,
        First, my apologies for using shorthand for expressions like feedback and sensitivity, to keep my posts short.
        Second, I have read the to and fro with Nic Lewis and Judith quite closely and have emailed an occasional question to Nic.
        IIRC, their joint analysis was stated to be restricted because they were using IPCC methodology and data, to show that they could arrive at answers different to IPCC. In contrast, I am taking a more general approach and not using data only from IPCC.
        Elsewhere on this thread, I was asked if there was a formal, peer-reviewed publication that gave a sensitivity of zero, or even a negative value. I quoted one such paper.
        http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015GL066749/full
        The authors used features specific the Antarctic to arrive at their conclusion. However, elsewhere they mentioned –
        “T eff, as used in equation (3), represents the temperature of the emitting surface, which is for cloudy conditions the clouds’ top. Therefore, individual negative values of GHE(Tes) are also observed above high reaching clouds, especially over the tropics. However, as the clouds are not stationary, the yearly averages remain positive for all regions, except Antarctica.” (GHE is a generic term for greenhouse effect as defined in this paper by Schmithusen et al.)
        As a generalisation, when I say zero or negative sensitivity, I mean that GHG are causing zero or negative temperature changes (or vice versa) in the specific regions studied.
        Steven, you say that zero sensitivity is impossible. Does that mean that you disagree with these authors, or that you and I have a pedantic difference in definitions?

      • Steven Mosher: This is not an invite to quote papers.

        For my part, I invite you to quote papers. I download and read new ones.

      • Judith,

        The economists are fixated on ECS, unfortunately

        I suggest, economists have been briefed by the climate modellers and so that’s what the economists understand to be a key input ( The climate modellers keep projection smooth curves of increasing temperature as CO2 concentration increase). It seems to me the climate modellers have not seriously considered abrupt climate change (or natural variability such as explained by the ‘Stadium Wave’). The economists can’t model the costs and benefits of proposed mitigation policies unless the climate scientists give them valid relevant information.

        Perhaps you could set a goal of educating the climate scientists to:

        1. recognise that the climate changes abruptly, always has and always will,

        2. Focus on greatly reducing the uncertainties in the estimates of the damage function (net benefit/damage per degree of global warming/cooling). I have no confidence in their projections of increasing damage costs as global temperture increases given that warming has been beneficial to date and life thrived in warmer times when there was no ice at the poles – so clearly there is no persuasive evidence that warming would be catastrophic, but we know for sure that cooling would be catastrophic.

        Abrupt climate change:
        PNAS: http://www.nap.edu/read/10136/chapter/2
        PNAS (definition): http://www.nap.edu/read/10136/chapter/3#14

    • I read your comment as applicable to the application of the classical laws of physics, where abstraction has clarified the core mathematical relationship between fundamental physical qualntities. On this basis, man has made huge technical progress since the industrial age.

      Of course the earth has capacity to cool. Paleoclimate cycles more than adequately demonstrate this over millennia. It may well be that IR active gases are part of the mechanism which enhances radiation to space. A simple lab experiment would show this. But nobody has done any.

      GHG or CO2 ECS is not an abstraction to my mind. A good abstraction removes detail to find a funamental truth. ECS is merely a simple correlation, a linear regression on a complex dataset, but based on a very poor time-limited set of data. Causation is assumed but remains to be proven in the traditional scientific method.

  24. JC says correctly that few were certain of the impacts of climate change in 1990 apart from the likes of Hansen who were looking closely at the evidence themselves. Global temperature records back then were not released and examined as they are now, and were the work on individual groups like Hansen’s. JC goes on to say “But we know so much more now than we did in 1990, right? Well, the range for climate sensitivity remains pretty much the same. ” Well, also the 30-year climate temperature has risen 0.4 C in 25 years, and this has tipped things in favor of, yes, something is happening and it fits with what CO2 was predicted to do 25 years ago. A rise of 0.4 C in the 30-year-mean temperature is highly significant, and evidence that just can’t be ignored. This is the 30-year temperature showing a steady trend. The date is centered in the 30-year window, so 1985-2015 is at 2000. We would also note that 25 years ago, centered on 1975, this final rise was just starting, and predictions of it would have been seen as bold.
    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/gistemp/from:1900/mean:240/mean:120

    • Except the atmospheric temperature has only risen by 0.2 degrees and that rise was coincident with a giant ENSO. There was no rise from 1978-1997 and no rise after 2001. There is simply no evidence of GHG warming in this record.

      But I have explained this to you before, several times in fact. GISS is not measuring atmospheric temperature. It is not measuring anything. It is a crude statistical model, of no real value (except to support the government alarmism that pays for it).

      • You must be misreading the graph. It is 0.4 C in the last 25 years. This is the 30-year climate temperature which by definition has 30 times the data of yearly temperatures, and is much more robust with smaller error bars too.

      • David Wojick

        I am reading the UAH graph. The GISS graph is statistical junk. That is the point you are missing.

      • UAH has a short record, but what there is of its 30-year temperature has a similar trend to GISTEMP.
        http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/gistemp/from:1900/mean:240/mean:120/plot/uah/mean:120/mean:240/offset:0.4

      • David Wojick

        Jim D, regarding your smaller error bars, you do understand that errors do not get smaller when combined, right? If each year has an potential error of n then the 30 year change has a potential error significantly greater than n. But in the case of the surface statistical models we have no idea what n is, except that it is probably very large.

      • The reason that the 30-year temperature is so smooth compared to the annual one is that the noise (mostly ENSO) is self-canceling and therefore of little relevance to climate change, which is why I prefer the 30-year temperature to gauge climate and its change rate.

      • “UAH has a short record, but what there is of its 30-year temperature has a similar trend to GISTEMP.”

        UAH also has an uncanny resemblance to half of a 60 year cycle.

      • With respect to the surface air temperature, UAH is garbage. RSS is honest enough to admit it.

      • “I am reading the UAH graph. The GISS graph is statistical junk. That is the point you are missing.”

        I would have assumed that they were both fairly close approximations to the real truth, just from different viewpoints myself

      • “With respect to the surface air temperature, UAH is garbage. RSS is honest enough to admit it.”

        As both UAH and RSS observe using nearly the same data sources, you are saying their algorithms are suspect. Provide proof or go back to Politics.

      • Geoff Sherrington

        David W,
        Re error bars, at a minimum they should extend from above the GISS value to below the UAH value at a given time, as these are 2 estimates of a similar property. It is not an identical property, because different entities are measured, so my assertion can be questioned. My response would be, of course, what caused a neat similarity in the early UAH years to diverge in recent times?
        Time and again, it comes back to the wicked problems that Judith has mentioned often, notably our inability to separate natural T change from anthropogenic.

      • Not a challenge, merely an observation. The two viewpoints of the same 4D Global Temperature Field closely approximate the true values. One in the quasi-chaotic boundary layer, one seeing the more laminar flow.

      • “Re error bars, at a minimum they should extend from above the GISS value to below the UAH value at a given time, as these are 2 estimates of a similar property.”

        Approximations and error ranges do not seem to be well founded in Climate work. Repurposing instruments is always going to be tricky. It is a lot more complex than a bit of stats IMHO.

    • well, the problem for attribution of the recent 30 year warming is the warming period 1910-1945, which is nearly as large, and associated only with a ~10 ppm increase in CO2

      • Indeed. The accuracy placed on the earlier records is not supported by either the evidence or the assumptions ignored.

      • Indeed, Dr. Curry, but of course this attribution problem assumes that the mean value for the surface statistical models is accurate 100 years ago, which is very unlikely, but widely assumed. The climate debate is fascinating just because of all the micro-debates within it. There are literally thousands of major points at issue and each must be independently debated. I believe this may be historically unprecedented.

      • In the period 1910-1950 the sun was more active. The average sunspot cycle was 10 years in that period, indicating high activity. Lately we have been nearer a 13-year cycle indicating weakness. In 1910 the sun was ending a lull similar to now, but the temperature now is 1 C higher. You can’t just ignore the possibility of natural variability from the sun like this, otherwise you can’t account for any of the background decadal changes.

      • “In the period 1910-1950 the sun was more active….”

        I note your observations are in line with the data. I do not see a casual route between that and the temperature swings here on Earth. Please enlighten me.

      • RichardLH, the easiest causal relation to see is that between the phase of the sunspot cycle and global mean temperature, which has been documented well.

      • “the easiest causal relation to see is that between the phase of the sunspot cycle and global mean temperature, which has been documented well.”

        That the data has changed is accurate. The causality ascribed less so.

      • “Indeed, Dr. Curry, but of course this attribution problem assumes that the mean value for the surface statistical models is accurate 100 years ago, which is very unlikely, but widely assumed.”

        I would have thought that that was the least of their problems

    • JIMD

      I am surprised at your c0mments about climate change not being recognised until The 1990’s. This again reflects the woeful knowledge of the efforts of past generations of climatologists. Climate knowledge did not begin with the advents of powerful computers in the 1980’s. Local and global temperature records have ben examined in great detail for centuries. If you take observational evidence we can trace a knowledge of changing climate back to the Greeks and Byzantine empires.

      The academia del cimento made a first attempt to understand the instrumental temperatures of a wider area by establishing stations in the 1660’s. When that disbanded later in the decade the Royal Society established their own.

      A much wider ‘global’ one was established by them in 1723. The French established a network in 1778 which included Europe, Russia, America and Asia. The German Mannheim palatine also established a global network in the 1780’s . These were highly organised and standardised methods with great scientific merit. Many of these records remain.

      The British Empire organised readings at all their numerous possessions for some 200 years

      Callendar produced a world wide record in the 1930’s ( also saying temperatures would rise) and Mitchell followed suit a couple of decades later illustrating the climate change from the 1850’s.

      Research by Budyko and Lamb amongst others from the 1960’s showed the changing and fluctuating climate. Manabe and Wetherald in 1975 and also budyko and lamb from the same era discussed the effects of man on climate.

      AGW was discussed widely by Russian scientists at scientific conferences back in 1961. In 1948 the considerable warming in Greenland and other arctic areas and the retreat of the glaciers were recognised at an International conference.

      Hansen (who largely copied Callendar’s stations) and Mann were very very late to the party in the 1990’s and chose to ignore the evidence built up over centuries of a fluctuating climate that has been seen to be warming since the 1690’s.

      tonyb

      • I was specifically referring to the impacts of climate change rather than the fact it was occurring which was mentioned occasionally in academic circles, but not going outside them much. Measurements of climate change were very crude, including Callendar’s pioneering effort. However, by the 70’s and 80’s it was starting to get beyond academia into government and industry thinking, especially helped by the efforts of Hansen and Gore and finally got brought to the attention of the UN in the early 90’s. So the state in 1990 was still as an emerging concern. The temperature had not risen much since the 1940’s, so the public were not seeing any effects. In the 25 years since 1990, the 30-year temperature has risen a very significant 0.4 C to levels that just now are starting to show impacts.

      • JIMD

        You continue to wildly underestimate the work done prior to Hansen. The impacts of climate change were observed outside academic circles and the reasons for climate change also mentioned frequently for many years prior to the 1990’s.

        What do you think of Callendars estimates for a doubling of c02 in figure 2?

        http://www.rmets.org/sites/default/files/qjcallender38.pdf

        tonyb

      • tonyb, yes, there was a lot of academic work, but it wasn’t reaching the public media, governments, or industry. How many knew about Callendar’s work or estimates? Few, I would say.

      • JIMD

        Both he and his father were quite well known. I have his archives which make very interesting reading

        https://portal.uea.ac.uk/library/archives/callendar

        What do you think of his estimate for climate sensitivity for a doubling of co2?

        tonyb

      • JIMD

        There was a huge appetite for scientific lectures by the general public. The Royal Society has been holding Christmas lectures since 1821 to packed audiences. Various people demonstrated the effects of co2 and the weather was a popular subject

        http://www.rigb.org/christmas-lectures/history

        tonyb

      • tonyb, as far as I remember Callendar did not include the water vapor feedback that Arrhenius knew about decades earlier, but I think he was an amateur, so it was excusable. However, the warming rate in the 30’s was measurable and he got it that CO2 increases were an important contributor.

      • TE, from the economy point of view, I think the biggest impact of climate change will be a negative one on the fossil fuel sector, but green industries will boom in their place, and forward-looking nations will be best placed to benefit from those. So, yes, some economies will gain at the expense of others. It will be a changing world, perhaps for the economies it will depend on who adapts better.

      • Jimd

        Of course callendar was aware of the water vapour aspects. I linked to his paper above. What did Judith and Nic Lewis estimate?

        Tonyb

      • He was aware of the effects of water vapor on radiation, but kept H2O constant in his calculation thus eliminating the feedback that Arrhenius allowed for. He was only interested in the direct CO2 effect.

      • Jimd

        Excuse the hasty reply but I am watching the first episode of the BBC programme ‘war and peace’ which of course tooK place during a period of great climate variability noted by Tolstoy, napoleon and Charles dickens amongst many others

        So, did Judith and Nic also exclude Feedback in their estimates as they seem rather similar?

        Tonyb

      • Lewis and Curry’s estimate was not based on fundamental aspects of radiative physics, just observations. You can’t compare them. You can also use observations and get higher numbers than Lewis and Curry. It depends a lot on your assumptions about unknown quantities, starting/ending dates, etc.

      • Hi Tony
        When I was at the grammar school, we had to write essays on one of the great European writers’ novel; we drew lots, my lot: Lav Tolstoy – Ana Karenina or War & Peace. I went to the school library looked at two huge books, but Karenina was half the size, the choice was obvious.

      • Vuk

        I have never yet managed to finish war and peace despite several attempts. Thought the BBC programme was good though.

        Tonyb

      • Jimd

        Fancy curry and Lewis using observations. I am surprised they can face the scientific world after that dreadful faux pas.

        Tonyb

      • Yes, a lot of skeptics should criticize this method because it only uses about 3 numbers to represent the degrees of freedom of the global climate. It’s a model of ECS with 3 parameters that they optimize based on observations, but there are many choices to be made especially with uncertainties like aerosols or the remaining imbalance, and these are very subjective. A guessing game, and many say that ECS cannot be derived this way because of unaccounted for long-term changes.

      • tonyb, thanks for the link to Callendar’s paper. Fascinating, especially the Q & A at the end.

        Funny that in 1951 the AMS considered Callendar’s correspondence coincidental and Arrhenius’s work debunked.

    • Jim D,

      Hansen believed the planet’s ocean’s would boil off and Earth would develop an atmosphere like Venus. (He did his PhD on Venus and it deeply affected his beliefs and still does).

      We now know this is BS. It seems most rational, informed people now realise that warming is not catastrophic or dangerous. There seems GHG emissions may deliver benefits that exceed damages throughout this century.

      I suggest we’ve made enormous progress in understanding that GHG emissions are not dangerous or catastrophic .. and we have a long way to go yet. This is the area of climate science that is crying outr for better, unbiased, objective research.

      • The Ph. D. was in 1967 in the infancy of the subject. By 1981, he had a paper in Science that really, along with Wally Broecker’s 1975 ‘global warming’ paper, brought in the era of realistic thinking about the impacts of emissions on future climate containing ideas that are still not disputed today and both their CO2-driven climate forecasts from then have panned out 30 years later.

      • Jim D,

        He was still saying in 2009, in ‘Storms of my grandchildren” that the oceans will boil off if we continue to burn fossil fuels. He called cola trains ‘death trains’. Clearly an extremist of the most irrational, illogical kind.

        Thanks for once again demonstrating your denial.

      • Doesn’t have great deal to do with Hansen, but in 2013 it suddenly became possible to vaporize the earth’s liquid water much easier than previously thought.

        https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Eric_Wolf3/publication/279447190_The_evolution_of_habitable_climates_under_the_brightening_Sun/links/5592ba3308aed7453d463c41.pdf

      • If you are interested in the history of this, you can read about it here. There was a debate for while. It is difficult with known fossil fuel amounts, and not too much of a polar methane release and the sun’s current strength. A 10% increase in solar strength which should happen about a billion years from now makes it possible (as happened for Venus being closer). It’s an interesting physics problem, and was not that easy to dismiss.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runaway_greenhouse_effect
        http://www.fairfaxclimatewatch.com/blog/2013/04/hansen-retracts-statement-about-boiling-oceans.html

      • Hansen was still saying in 2009 that the oceans would boil off and coal trains a re “death trains”. That’s the relevant facts.

        I read all about the stupid nonsense years ago, and realised it ewas stupod then. You still haven’t. What’s that say about you/ Denialist.

      • I believe that the links I posted represent the current thinking on this aspect of global warming.

      • Who cares what you believe, Jim D. We are not talking about what you believe. The point I made is that James Hansen was still saying, in 2009, the oceans would boil off and calling coal trains “death trains”. Virtually everyone (apparently even denier you) now recognise this is BS. Most now recognise CO2 emissions are not catastrophic. Rationalises recognise the mitigation policies supported by alarmist lie you will do far more harm than good, and probably deliver no benefits what so ever. Clearly you will be a denier of reality forever, Jim D.

      • Depends how you define “catastrophic”.

      • Jim D – Dodging and Weaving as usual. “Look over there” Sign #4 of the “10 signs of intellectual dishonesty”. Jim D’s comments commonly displays most of the other of the 10 signs of intellectual dishonesty.

      • You talk about “catastrophic” as though nothing less than the boiling of the oceans is. Clarification was needed. Anyway, don’t bother.

      • The point was, Hansen was still arguing in 2009 that human caused GHG emissions would be catastrophic – i.e. all life on Earth would be wiped out. It is now recognised that was BS. Thjat is a massive change from where we were. That’s the point. Stop denyieing the relevant facts, denier.

        Jim D, every time you write comments to me you display your intellectual dishonesty. You are typical of the real deniers. That’s why I keep pointing it out so others new to CE will recognise that nothing you say can be trusted and that you are an example of a true denier.

      • We settled that, and it was not as easily dismissed as you think. If the sun was only 10% stronger (or perhaps if the Earth was 1/3 darker), it would have been possible according to more recent thinking. In physics terms Earth’s parameters make it a marginal case, so Hansen’s thoughts were not that far off. This is why it is of scientific interest.

      • Jim D,

        You’d believe anything. An extremist denier, and continually intellectually dishonest.

    • David Springer

      Wars are politics not science, babbleboy. But then again consider NYQUIST!

  25. I note that SUM / 2 = Average.

    So where is the Difference figure and why is it not recorded?

    It is regarded as being rather important in Power and Signal work in other disciplines for good reasons.

    Why does Climate Science discard it?

  26. I enjoyed the essay by Seitz “Knowing the Unknowns”.

    The biggest threat to not knowing more of the unknowns is the hubris in believing science knows more than it does. An inertia has set in with many believing all the pieces are there on the table and it is just a matter of spending more time understanding what is before their eyes.

    Will the scientists of 2100 be having a few chuckles about how little this generation knows? If so, then the guffaws will be even louder by 2200.

    Finance/economics is a piece of cake compared to the daunting task before climate scientists. Long Term Capital Management hedge fund had some of the best minds in finance and were certain they had built the infallible mouse trap. Yet it collapsed. Wall Street used Gaussian Copula models for pricing derivatives in the early 2000s, thereby reducing risk. That approach instead resulted in Gushin’ Crapola and was a factor in the housing bubble and the financial crisis. In the first they were dealing with known unknowns. In the second they were dealing with unknown knowns.

    Climate science has the added burden of dealing with the unknown unknowns and perhaps even many paradoxical solutions. Just like in National Security, getting rid of the institutional silos will help.

    • Happy New Yeay, Kid. Thanks for the tip. Below is the Full Monty so Dr Seitz can be satisfied that we can know his true mind from way back in 2013.
      Knowing the Unknowns
      http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2013EF000151/full

      Abstract
      The Earth’s atmosphere is not the only source of radiative forcing and anthropogenic climate change. As surely as people and civilizations have carbon footprints, they have albedo footprints as well. By altering the reflectivity of roughly half the land surface of the Earth in the past, mankind has made inadvertent geoengineering a part of the landscape of history. This worldwide alteration of reflectivity raises questions about the future of climate change, for albedo is a first-order determinant of the Earth’s radiative equilibrium. As surfaces absorb roughly 100 times more solar energy than the CO2 in the atmosphere, future anthropogenic changes in both land and water albedo may figure significantly in climate policy outcomes.</blockquote

  27. “The biggest threat to not knowing more of the unknowns is the hubris in believing science knows more than it does.”

    Fixation Blindness is well understood. There are course in Situational Awareness that can help with that.

  28. Water vapour feedback should be negative. With an increase in climate forcing, upper troposphere and lower stratosphere water vapour will increase and absorb more solar near infrared at higher altitudes.

    • I not your observation s may be correct. How do you suggest we address measuring them accurately?

      • @David Springer
        “H2O does have a deep absorption band at the low frequency end of the near infrared..”

        And a few more further up too!

      • “And a few more further up too!”

        The physics is probably safe from doubt. The conclusions less so. Not yours, everybody’s.

    • Curious George

      Yes, but for a different reason. There is very little energy in solar infrared. But more water vapor means more clouds – roughly. Details unclear at this time.

      • @Curious George.
        Not so, around 49% of the heating effect of solar irradiance is in the near infrared, and water vapour has considerable absorption bands in the NIR.

      • David Springer

        ulric – I note you qualify solar irradiance with “heating effect”. H2O does have a deep absorption band at the low frequency end of the near infrared but I’d not considered it as having any great effect due to the overall low percentage of solar energy in the near infrared. HOWEVER, you qualify it and now that I think about it a lot of the power in visible light from the sun is reflected not absorbed and frequencies above visible are absorbed mostly in the stratosphere without any surface heating.

        What’s your source for the 49% number?

      • David Springer

        Ulric – I found a 40% quote from a research group at MIT developing transparent photovoltaic panels that generate electricity from the near IR portion of sunlight.

        Actually the transparent PV cells are really interesting. Efficiently done means windows and skylights could be dual-purposed as solar cells. Also since current PV uses visible light this may greatly increase PV efficiency since a traditional visible light cell could lie underneath the NIR cell given the NIR cell transmits most or all the visible light.

      • David Springer

        http://news.mit.edu/2012/infrared-photovoltaic-0621

        Ulric – I found a 40% quote from a research group at MIT developing transparent photovoltaic panels that generate electricity from the near IR portion of sunlight.

        Actually the transparent PV cells are really interesting. Efficiently done means windows and skylights could be dual-purposed as solar cells. Also since current PV uses visible light this may greatly increase PV efficiency since a traditional visible light cell could lie underneath the NIR cell given the NIR cell transmits most or all the visible light.

      • David Springer

        Here it is. 48.7%

        “Nearly half of sunlight arrives as invisible “near-infrared” radiation. Cool-colored roofs are designed to reflect this invisible light. (Image courtesy of Heat Island Group, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)”

      • Ever wondered why the sky and ocean are blue, the sun yellow and the vegetation green? Nature does not reject that which it needs.

      • David Springer

        “Ever wondered why the sky and ocean are blue, the sun yellow and the vegetation green?”

        Yeah but not since I was 3 years old and was able to look up the answer in the family encyclopedia.

      • @David Springer
        “H2O does have a deep absorption band at the low frequency end of the near infrared..”

        And a few more further up too!

      • Atmospheric absorption of sw has a fun little twist related to path length. If you assume the stratosphere is part of the surface you add a couple of percent to the area of the “disk”. That couple of percent is semi-transparent and tends to bend light. If CO2 is a big honking driver, that small error in assumption means not much, but if CO2 isn’t, you have to consider the real geometry. Heck, before long things could be complicated. :)

    • “Water vapour feedback should be negative.”

      It is the ‘should’ that worries me. I would like more certainty

      • By reason it should, because long wave radiated from water vapour that has absorbed solar NIR at a higher altitude will warm the surface less than that at a lower altitude.
        But in reality for the last 20 years the climate has displayed a decline in forcing, with a fall in upper level humidity, and an increase in near surface humidity. Along with the increase in negative NAO that warmed the AMO and Arctic.

      • I agree your analysis may be correct. Not knowing the relevance to the question is the problem IMHO.

  29. Skeptics have one last chance to consolidate their position and focus a discussion.

    For those wanting unabridged modern RS views go no further than this

    “The Greatest Gathering of Scientific Authorities Since Marie Antoinette Dined Alone By Russell S.on August 11, 2015
    Cabaret artiste Mark Steyn and the unfunniest cartoonist in England’s grim north have combined forces to show how little thay have learned as PR-flacks in the Climate Wars.
    It is a sign of their side’s decay that it looks to ninety year olds and non-entities with few real connections to climate science as scientific authorities, while ignoring the sensible works of climatologists less ideologically entangled than themselves- Phaeton’s Reins , by Richard Lindzen’s protege and MIT colleague Kerry Emanuel comes to mind.
    Steyn’s highly elliptical, ( and often self-contradictory ) quote mining is so absurdly polemic that this collection may well backfire in favor of the very UN climate bureacrats at which it aims.
    As is customary with self-published climate tracts, this one repeats the errors of many that hve gone before it- readers will find one hundred dollar college climate science textbooks far better buys than this $18.95 potboiler.”

    I did buy the book, Russell

    • Angech, glad you did and I didn’t. Seemed a prudent financial move at the time. Some warmunists are not worth paying attention to, even for refutation value. Anything by Oreskes or Mann probably also qualifies.

      • richardswarthout

        Rud

        Angech reminds me of Baghdad Bob; his forces are, supposedly, on the offensive, evidenced by the great victory in Paris.

        Richard

      • David Springer

        Istvan – to a very limited extent “not worth paying attention to”. The Sky-Dragon Slayers are a much more apt example of unworthy.

        The Art of War, Chapter III – Strategic Attack, by Sun-Tzu

        It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.

        Oreskes and Mann are definitely the enemy. A lot of people listen to them. It’s critical to know what they are saying.

      • Yes, David, the Sky dragons make the same old mistake regarding radiation as do the Lukes and Warmists. Postma tries to explain the surface temperature with radiation calculations, just like the IPCC, Trenberth and others. Maybe you can set them right by explaining to them all that such calculations just don’t work. We have a “Kalte Sonne” don’t we?

        “Doch sind die berüchtigten Treibhausgase tatsächlich im Alleingang für unser Klima verantwortlich? Und warum wird es nicht mehr wärmer? Vahrenholt und Lüning haben sich im Laufe ihrer Untersuchungen intensiv mit den verschiedenen Klimamodellen beschäftigt. Sie kommen zu der Auffassung, dass ein großer Teil der Erderwärmung der letzten 150 Jahre durch einen natürlichen Zyklus bedingt ist, der von der Sonne geprägt wird. Die nächsten Jahrzehnte wird es aufgrund natürlicher Ursachen eher zu einer leichten Erdabkühlung kommen, die vom CO2 vorerst nicht ausgeglichen wird.” *

        which I translate as …

        Are the notorious greenhouse gases actually single-handedly responsible for our climate? And why it is not much warmer? Vahrenholt and Lüning have studied the different climate models intensively. They have come to the conclusion that much of the global warming over the last 150 years is due to a natural cycle, which is indicated by the Sun. Over the next few decades there will likely be a slight cooling due to natural causes, which is for the time being not compensated for by CO2.

        * http://www.kaltesonne.de/der-weltklimarat-ist-sich-sicher

    • You get what you pay for.

  30. Seitz strikes me as a shallow thinker who like a broken watch is right twice a day.

    • stevenreincarnated

      Stop complaining so much or I will put you in moderation. Oh, never mind, this isn’t my blog. I’ll have to start one and put you in moderation there.

    • David Springer

      @stevereincarnated

      Complaining to Curry of someone over posting (quantity and/or volume) will land them in moderation eventually. The rule of thumb she enforces is anything over 5% of the comments from any one individual constitutes over posting. Babbleboy Richard “Nyquist” LH has hit nearly 20% in two recent articles. I made Curry aware of it. He’s not long for this blog if he continues.

    • “Complaining to Curry of someone over posting (quantity and/or volume) will land them in moderation eventually. ”

      I’m sure she has my email if required.

      • Richard, you have made 166 of the last 1000 comments, which is too much by about a factor of 4. Please slow it down, make your comments count.

    • David Springer

      That often?

  31. Judith,

    Agreed that the top policy relevant climate science goal should be realistic clarification of the ‘very likely’ top to ECS. Agree that 3.5C is about right. I suspect that once the climate models start using more realistic aerosol forcing, they will be retuned (or will be wildly too warm relative to observations) and the high values of ECS will disappear.

    I suggest you and the climate scientists are far too fixated on ECS. What does it matter what ECS is if the damage function is negligible or net beneficial with increasing temperature and CO2 concentration?

    It is the damage function that is most uncertain and where the attention needs to be focused.

    The modellers also need to focus on abrupt climate change and probabilities of when it will happen and which direction the change will be.

    We also need a much better projections of how much CO2 can be produced this century and is likely to be.

    Climate Scientists have been focused on ECS for over 25 years and not paying enough attention to the other key inputs needed for policy analysis and for the economic models.

    I hope you might be able to enlighten your colleagues through the course of 2016.

  32. Judith, I apologise. I think my word count is quite low. I do try to keep my words to a minimum.

    How many ‘wack a moles’ a day do I get?

    I cut my eye teeth on uncensored FAQ and Message Boards. It sometimes comes on too strong.

    And I would like to talk to the ‘drive by merchants’ but they don’t stop for long enough.

    • Best not to waste posts on ‘wack a moles’. Best to make substantive comments relevant to main post, or engage in meaningful discussion on a subthread. Thx!

      • OK. What do I do if I see obvious assumptions, distortions or Politics?

        If I set my own limit to 10 a day is that acceptable?

      • Thx. 10 a day is definitely fine, even 20 is ok. Politics is a fair topic on this blog, but not on a technical science thread. It takes a bit of time to figure out who is worth engaging with here.

      • Richard

        If I might make a comment, as I think you are a fellow Brit?

        A couple of times I have noticed that your comments take up all the spaces on the right hand comments board. Generally that might be considered too many at a time, so spacing them out a bit and getting reaction might be useful

        tonyb

      • “It takes a bit of time to figure out who is worth engaging with here.”

        Well shall Il start low and climb higher or should I do that the other way round? :-)

      • “Generally that might be considered too many at a time, so spacing them out a bit and getting reaction might be useful”

        I agree it might seem less firehose. Sorry. The demands of being online nearly permanently (for good commercial reasons) and extremely active on 2 techy Forum where minutes to hours is the response time required is difficult to shed when I move across. It may or may not surprise you to know that I am in the top 5% voted as helpful question answers on one forum and I maintain the ‘Unofficial FAQ’ on the other.

      • Richard, you will find a small subset of commenters repeat the same arguments over and over. It gets pretty dull. I periodically check the blog for new information which is still worthwhile to me. Otherwise, I’m commenting less.

      • The endless, repetitive arguments remind me of Greece. It’s just deja vu all over again. From the article:

        Mon, Jan 04, 2016 – Page 15 

        Bank of Greece Governor Yannis Stournaras gave a stark warning about the risk of Greece failing to reach an agreement with its creditors on a set of measures attached to the country’s bailout as Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras reiterated his government would not succumb to “unreasonable” demands for additional pension cuts.

        http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/biz/archives/2016/01/04/2003636365

      • David Springer

        Richard LH,

        Perhaps you have some expertise in the subject area on other forums. It’s obvious here you’re diving in and arguing without any substantial knowledge of the subject here. I’ve been studying climate change specifically for over ten years. I’ve been retired for 15 with unlimited time to indulge my appetite for it. Thousands of hours of study. You need to read a lot more on the subject and talk a lot less. Most of what you write on this topic is no more than uninformed babbling. And when it got pointed out to you then you started babbling even more trying to get your mistaken points across as if repetition and rewording would somehow win the day. Then you got tossed into moderation as I warned would happen. My advice is if you can’t accept and deal with your non-expertise in this subject area then go somewhere else. If you want to stay then I highly suggest you drop all assumptions of what you think you know and provide supporting links and quotes from the peer reviewed literature for everything.

    • Apparently my attempting to point out some of the rather more obvious flaws in people’s arguments is like poking bees, best avoided.

      I’ll chose my targets more carefully in future :-) Lets just say, a set of ranging shots always gets me a read on their tells.

      Sure those who have been buried in id–ts are going to twitch badly. But no omelettes etc.

  33. So as to keep this to a single conversation (at Judith’s request), please answer the following simple question.

    Is the equation Period = 1/Frequency accepted as science here?

  34. Richard

    It’s good to have you here and that you are so enthusiastic. As you will have noted there are peak times and slack times here so your comments at slack times tend to predominate sometimes.

    Tonyb

    • It is just the difference between constant online activity elsewhere and enthusiasm for the topics under discussion. Logic underpins all of science and it is sometimes not well followed.

  35. I think that the best way to treat thermometer data is to think like a laser spot on fluorescent paint. The newer trace is easy to see, It just blurs out to very wide the further you go in the trace. BEST does a pretty good job of that. The other long term records less so IMHO.

    • The temperature records have been incorrectly adjusted, RichardLH, as has now been exposed with carefully analysis published on WUWT recently. The records from weather stations which were not affected by urban crawl were incorrectly assumed to be showing too slow a rate of warming, so they were adjusted to reflect the rate of warming seen in about two-thirds of the stations which were the ones exaggerating the warming because they were affected by urban crawl. It is of course also absurd that a much higher density of weather stations occurs in the US than anywhere else. All warming, and the hiatus, are natural, as discussed in this comment of mine above …
      https://judithcurry.com/2016/01/01/a-war-against-fire/#comment-756131

  36. re: Mosher’s, can’t be zero cant. sooooo it can be 0.0000001

  37. An observation that may be worth while. Be very careful around Logic. It underpins all that we do in the Sciences and can turn those nice solid equations and stats you have into much more flexible beasts unless used carefully. See the duality of 0:infinity if you want a taste on my blog :-)

    • RichardLH – you might want to check out the Riemann sphere. It renders some functions with zeros in the denominator continuous at infinity. Pretty slick.

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

    • A comment about complex numbers in moderation. Go figure!

    • Have you looked at my 0:infinity observation. Not a call for work, just a question.

    • Yep, looked at it. For 1/x on a number line, numbers would approach the point-previously-known-as-zero from negative and positive directions, approaching -/+ infinity there. At the “ends”, -/+ zero.

      • Sort of. The point is that 0:infinity are not really ‘numbers’ in the way people think at all. In logical terms they are just symbols that carry a meaning.

        People will get blinded by the symbol, but fail to notice the meaning (pun).

        x = 1/x is a case in point. That is at the heart of all calculus. It says you can move terms left or right across the equals in equations. That is all. You can never be absolutely certain that you have chosen companions wisely to set your ‘view’ of what you see.

        Likewise casual use of zero or infinity. There is a lot more to that story than people know IMHO. This is all logic. Nothing to do with Climate. That just happens to be using the logic again without necessarily understanding the implication of what they do.

        So, ‘careful Will Robinson’ there may be unseen assumptions hidden in plain sight. I am just trying to point out some of them.

        Logicians are always put in a corner to mutter on their own. Come and listen in for a while.

      • I could argue that zero is in fact a number. Infinity, not so much, unless it’s on a Riemann sphere.

        If you have a larger and clearer exposition of your thesis, I’d be happy to read it.

  38. David Springer

    @physicistDave

    “But, the anthropogenic CO2 will have a net warming effect while it remains in the atmosphere.”

    Really? Somehow our globe spanning satellites carrying microwave sounding units measuring the temperature of various levels in the troposphere missed that net warming for the past 17 years or so.

    The data don’t support your assertion, physicistDave.

    In what academy of science were you taught that theory trumps observation?

    Cheerios,
    polymathDave

  39. David Springer

    physicistdave | January 2, 2016 at 7:00 am |

    Geoff, a negative feedback does not give zero change: it just reduces the effect from what it otherwise would be — i.e., the multiplier is positive but less than 1.0.

    The reason is simple to explain to anyone who understands control theory: indeed, anyone who understands control theory already knows the answer.

    You obviously don’t understand control theory. It’s an engineering thing. Lots of systems maintain some constant state despite changes in forcings. A constant current source in electronics keeps current flow constant despite changing loads. An aircraft with positive longitudinal stability maintains level flight despite passengers moving around changing the center of gravity. The thermostat that controls the temperature of your home. All these are governed by feedback loops.

    I’m beginning to believe you aren’t a physicist, Dave. That’s the trouble with internet anonymity. Why don’t you use your real name?

    Cheerios,
    polymathDave

    • He has already told us his real name.

    • Dave Miller from Sacramento? Everyone knows who he is!

    • David Springer wrote to me:

      You obviously don’t understand control theory. It’s an engineering thing. Lots of systems maintain some constant state despite changes in forcings. A constant current source in electronics keeps current flow constant despite changing loads.

      Actually, I have designed current sources for integrated circuits: the ones I designed did not rely on feedback. And, while my current sources were designed to vary by a very small amount, yes, they did depend slightly on the load. C’est la vie. (I took my introduction to digital electronics course from Carver Mead at Caltech, by the way, a fellow you may have heard of if you have any experience in digital ICs.)

      The integrated-circuit work I did was as a member of a team that won a technical Emmy Award (’88 or ’89) from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (I emphasize I was only one member of the team: the award went to TRW LSI Products, the firm for which I worked).

      Since my bosses were happy with my work, and since the folks who award the Emmys liked the end result, well, I think that is evidence that I actually do have some practical engineering knowledge of current sources, feedback, and such.

      And, perhaps, the Ph.D. in physics from Stanford might suggest that I also understand the underlying physics and math?

      But I am sure that your credentials, experience, and knowledge vastly exceed my own. By all means, let us know.

      Dave Miller in Sacramento

      • physicistdave, responding to captain dallas: You point to a peer-reviewed paper backing what you would like to believe is true (I would like to believe it, too — i.e., I hope that global warming will not end up being much of a problem);

        On my ResearchGate page is a calculation of mine, not in a peer-reviewed journal, for a surface sensitivity lower than his. In an updated calculation, presented here, I came up with about 0.9C per doubling. As you wrote, and I think many have written, all these sensitivity calculations depend on so-far untested assumptions.

        Years ago in the IPCC reports, there were “Bayesian” estimates based on experts’ prior distributions that had considerable probability in the tail above 5C. Those high-tailed priors were based on no calculations at all, yet are still accorded respect.

        Please stop by often. I look forward to your future posts.

        Here is a review of contemporary “data science” by a statistician. Prof Donoho won the COPSS award for most productive statistician under the age of 40.

        http://courses.csail.mit.edu/18.337/2015/docs/50YearsDataScience.pdf

    • Despite the look at my credentials fest, ECS can approach zero and now that there is a peer reviewed paper on how Antarctic sensitivity can even be negative (really frustrating that the obvious requires a certified paper in what should be an informal discussion) along with latent heat offsetting the majority of warming, we could be at the point where we discuss why ESC is over estimated and nearly useless.

      I noticed on Issac Held’s blog yesterday that the TCR/ECS ratio is estimated to range from about 0.3 to 0.7 which looks limited. Since TCR/ECS can approach 1 as TCR approaches zero (one of those complicated 1s) it would be fun to redefine ECS so that isn’t so complicated.

      http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/blog/isaac-held/2011/03/11/3-transient-vs-equilibrium-climate-responses/

      I believe the “normal” approach doesn’t include a negative sensitivity at very low temperatures aka the Antarctic situation:)

      • btw sensitivity is non linear and while you may not be able to accurately define the curve you can explore the limits.

      • Well said Capt. What is said should stand on its own in a blog discussion! +10

      • peter, it only took climate etc. 5 years to get to where I was 5 years. Every feedback factor has a temperature limit so all those 1/fs are useless.

      • If the surface temp response to co2 in the Antarctic is negative and excess heat tends to migrate towards the poles…

      • aaron, “If the surface temp response to co2 in the Antarctic is negative and excess heat tends to migrate towards the poles…”

        Right the poles are heat sinks. Arctic winter warming and sudden stratospheric warming are heat loss events. In the Arctic in winter CO2 sensitivity isn’t negative but is is very low. In the tropical oceans, latent heat loss to the atmosphere negates most of the sensitivity to CO2. So you have sweet spots between the extremes when most of the CO2 forcing is felt and actual heat uptake related to ECS is limited to mainly to oceans, primarily in the southern hemisphere. Northern oceans in that sweet spot range are warmer and closer to convective triggering temperatures of between 27 and 28 C meaning they have more latent heat loss than CO2 related heat gain.

        The realistic “global” sensitivity to 2xCO2 all by itself is around 0.8C +/- 0.3 C if the energy budget numbers are close to accurate.

      • captdallas2 0.8 +/- 0.3 wrote to me:

        Despite the look at my credentials fest, ECS can approach zero…

        Well, everyone agrees that ECS eventually approaches zero as the CO2 is absorbed by the oceans, then precipitated out, etc. That might take a very long time, though (there is debate about this, as about almost everything else in climate).

        And, of course, everyone agrees that if the negative feedbacks are strong enough, then, even fairly short term, the ECS can be pushed to a very small positive value close enough to zero to make no practical difference.

        The problems, of course, is the “if.”

        You point to a peer-reviewed paper backing what you would like to believe is true (I would like to believe it, too — i.e., I hope that global warming will not end up being much of a problem); however, we all know there are peer-reviewed papers on the other side, also.

        Most of these papers are written by intelligent people who are not intentionally committing fraud. The truth is the science is really, really hard.

        The rational response, instead of playing the dueling-peer-reviewed-papers game is to take a deep breath, admit that while the underlying physical principles are clear the details are still unclear, and wait for the science to be sorted out.

        And, oh, yes, to point out that anyone on any side of the debate who claims to be sure of the future course of global climate is fooling himself.

        Dave

      • dave, “You point to a peer-reviewed paper backing what you would like to believe is true (I would like to believe it, too — i.e., I hope that global warming will not end up being much of a problem); ”

        Actually I was pointing to a paper that anyone with access to MODTRAN should have known. MODTRAN could of course be completely wrong. In any case, dF=5.38ln(CO2/CO2i) has a not so constant 5.38 which is temperature dependent and approaches zero as T approaches -60 C roughly, though there is likely some pressure dependence as well. That would mean the polar heat sinks change little and even become more efficient with increasing CO2. That is a pretty hard limit as long as Earth has a tilted axis. In other words, polar amplification in winter doesn’t add to ECS and is a big deal in higher sensitivity estimates.

        The H2O upper limit is more interesting since it involves deep convection and more efficient polarward advection. Deep convection is related to convective triggering temperature which is a model parameterization i.e. guestimate. Polarward advection tends to maximize in winter where that energy is lost.

        “Normal” for tropical SST should be in the 28.5 C range.

        Basically, you have two greenhouse effects, one in the atmosphere than cannot retain much energy and one in the oceans that can.

    • Here is another Issac Held post that is interesting. Various regions of the the global are sweet spots for various forcing/feedback mechanisms. GLOBAL average temperature is thermodynamically useless and except for mainly political issues, close to useless in general. To increase ECS there has to be significant heat uptake and that is limited to the oceans and glacial melt zones. When glacial melt zones get to a minimum you only have the oceans.

      http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/blog/isaac-held/2015/03/31/58-addicted-to-global-mean-temperature/#more-8827

  40. The atmospheric sciences presently lie in limbo between the Newtonian rigor of classical physics and the realm of the undecidible.

    More like between blacksmithing and black magic and in the realm of the eneluctable!

  41. OK, So anyone want to have an opinion on how much heat energy this represents? Compared to the missing heat as a % of course?

    http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/physics/MomentofInertiaEarth.html

    That Gaia ice skater has a lot of power available there. Not all energy is heat.

  42. “http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-35225744”
    Poland cold snap toll rises to 21 dead

    It’s global warming I tell you.

  43. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #208 | Watts Up With That?