Week in review – science edition

by Judith Curry

A few things that caught my eye this past week.

The latest on the cloud-aerosol debate – this is really interesting [link]

Why do good researchers end up in trouble? Lessons from researcher rehab: [link]

Pacific Stalagmites Cast Doubt On Climate Models And Projections [link]

Taming the Greenland melting global warming hype [link]

Iceland CO2 storage project locks away gas, and fast [link]

The National Academies’ Gene Drive study ignores important & obvious issues [link]

Scientists tag elephant seals to measure Antarctic sea temperatures [link]

Paper on Southern Ocean albedo, inter-hemispheric energy transports and the double ITCZ (open access) [link] …

From Flint to Yucca Mountain, politicized regulators are doing harm [link]

Overfishing and pollution kill corals in a warming world [link]

Widely cited article on personality traits and politocal views reported results opposite of what data actually show. Epic correction of the decade [link]

An Ivy League professor explains chaos theory, the prisoner’s dilemma, and why math isn’t really boring [link]

How climate change could change African migration patterns [link]

Sometimes Embracing Emotional Distress Is the Best Medicine [link]

The stigma of failure slows scientific progress. Negative results in science are just as essential as positive ones [link]

Alaskan climate mystery: Alaska is a net carbon repository, or sink. [link]

Carry on flying: why activists should take to the skies [link]

Burning “liquid sunlight” instead of fossil fuels is getting closer to reality [link]

New technique could make climate models incorporate more small-scale details: [link]

AGU editor:  To work in climate science you have a “civic responsibility” to be a climate activist. [link]

Did ancient climate change ignite human evolution? [link]

Schrödinger’s panda: Fraud, bureaucracy and an obsession with quantity over quality still hold Chinese science back [link]

‘Groovy’ science was playful & improvised, small-scale & done in the name of peace by dropouts from specialisation. [link] …

Revealing ice flow patterns w/historical Declassified Intelligence Satellite Photos [link]

Important essay on the under-appreciated drive for sense-making. [link]

The sun has gone completely blank [link]

127 responses to “Week in review – science edition

  1. Study revised- change from finding Conservative Psychoticism to Authoritarian Liberalism. So… no Nobel after all. (See, Epic Correction…)

    • Gee, completely wrong way ’round! Peer reviewed too. Imagine that.
      Well it served its purpose.

      time to Name and Shame:
      paging the NEW YORK TIMES !!!!!

    • It’s the same sort of distortions and outright lies that we’ve heard so many times in the past from left-wing enthusiasts:

      How Shaw defended Stalin’s mass killings
      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1433323/How-Shaw-defended-Stalins-mass-killings.html

      Stalin’s show trials which led to the deaths of millions of people in the Soviet Union during the 1930s were strongly defended by the British author and playwright George Bernard Shaw….

      Asked whether he believed that the revolution had “attracted degenerate types”, Shaw replied: “On the contrary it has attracted superior types all the world over to an extraordinary extent wherever it has been understood.”….

      Shaw argued that what he called “this Russian trial” had been exaggerated and he rejected suggestions that the accused had only pleaded guilty because they had been drugged or tortured….

      At least 720,000 people were executed in the terror that followed. Millions more died from hunger and ill-treatment in concentration camps.

    • Straight outta the Frankfurt school. I didn’t know there was such a recent resuscitation. Discredit years ago along with Freud and, pretty much, the entire field of psychology.

      http://www.ajcarchives.org/AJC_DATA/Files/5A52.PDF

    • Calm down everyone.
      1. The results they didn’t want to get simply means they need more grant money to keep trying. 2. The results have yet to be adjusted, we’ll just need to give this some time. 3. “completely opposite” is within the error bars of modern science, so based on the precautionary principle we’ll need to begin institutionalizing conservatives now. For your children. 4. Since when is it wrong in science to use your stats “upside down” when drawing conclusions? Why are you so anti-science?
      /sarc

      • We’re talking about greater certainty– e.g., if Joe the Plumber looks at the data there’s a 50-50 he’ll come to the wrong conclusion; but, there’s a 50-50 a scientist looking at the same data will get it right!

  2. Thanks for this post. May the current lack of sunspots bring the seemingly endless climate debate to conclusion.

    • The debate is already over — the climate simply isn’t very sensitive to changes in solar irradiance. (It’s only of order 0.05-0.1 K/(W/m2).)

      • The Sun isn’t the cause of modern warming. In fact, the sun’s irradiance has been on a slowly decreasing trend since about 1960.

        The effect of solar irradiance on Earth’s surface temperatures has been studied for a long time (see the IPCC ARs). It’s purely a problem of energy conservation, so relatively easy to estimate.

        For the zero-dimensional, no GHG planetary model

        (1-alpha)*S/4 = epsilon*sigma*T^4

        where S is solar irradiance and T is surface temperature. So

        dT/dS = T/4S ~ 0.05 K/(W/m2)

        which is about what more detailed studies find.

      • My science comments are being censored again.

      • Last try — the Sun isn’t the cause of modern warming. In fact, the sun’s irradiance has been on a slowly decreasing trend since about 1960. The effect of solar irradiance on Earth’s surface temperatures has been studied for a long time (see the IPCC ARs). It’s purely a problem of energy conservation, so relatively easy to estimate. For the zero-dimensional, no GHG planetary model

        (1-albedo)*S/4 = epsilon*sigma*T^4

        where S is solar irradiance and T is surface temperature. So

        dT/dS = T/4S ~ 0.05 K/(W/m2)

        which is close to what more detailed studies find.

      • Nope — can’t post a comment with some details.

      • No idea why your comment got caught in spam, apologies, it has now been released.

      • You better watch out David! Plenty or warmists (alarmists, e.g. Jim D) seem to think we can predict the sensitivity to changes in GHG based on sensitivity to solar.

        Not me. I see too much difference in how, when, and where they apply. But what I see suggests that there should be a stronger negative “feedback” from clouds with GHG’s than with solar variations..

        It’s always been a possibility that most/all of the current warming really was just unforced variation, and that CO2 has very little effect. Say, perhaps, 0.05-0.1°K/(W/m^2). Or less.

      • Perhaps they have added a filter and Appell’s science gets filtered due not being science.

      • Nice,

        Same post five times. Back off on the caffeine. Or learn patience beyond that of a 5th grader.

      • I think David suffers from physics envy. Solar penetrates the oceans to some depth and the oceans have a nasty habit of circulating. TSI/4 is a simple approximation for a single uniform surface at a uniform temperature with an instantaneous response. It gets you in a ballpark.

        If you are building a solar pond, you would need to consider just a tad more than TSI/4.

      • the climate simply isn’t very sensitive to changes in solar irradiance.
        The Sun isn’t the cause of modern warming. In fact, the sun’s irradiance has been on a slowly decreasing trend since about 1960.

        That is probably wrong due to focusing only on the short term, while the system indicates a long term response. Global warming is about 350 years old and clearly warming and cooling periods coincide with long term solar activity. When the 11-year smoothed solar activity is above average you get a warming period and when it is below, you get a cooling period.

        As after 2000 the sun’s activity stopped being above average, global warming waned.

        A quite clear correlation is seen between the millennial solar activity cycle (Eddy cycle) and global warming taking place since the Little Ice Age, a much stronger correlation that with CO2. This obviously still leaves room for some CO2 induced warming, but as the solar cycle is peaking, it indicates that global warming is more likely to wane than to get out of control. I guess this is good news to everybody.

        We are looking forward to about two decades or three of very little warming or even slight cooling, which is great news unless you happen to be an author of some climate model predicting strong warming.

      • Curious George

        Let’s rely on zero-dimensional models as always.

    • Even wiki seems to understand that changes in solar activity have an influence on Earth’s climate. Generally, “solar activity is well confined within a relatively narrow range,” says Ilya Usoskin. But what happens in an extreme case of solar activity –e.g., how about a, 3,000-year solar activity record? We know because we just lived through it –i.e., a period of global warming.

      • The Sun isn’t the cause of modern warming. In fact, the sun’s irradiance has been on a slowly decreasing trend since about 1960.

        The effect of solar irradiance on Earth’s surface temperatures has been studied for a long time (see the IPCC ARs). It’s purely a problem of energy conservation, so relatively easy to estimate.

        For the zero-dimensional, no GHG planetary model

        (1-alpha)*S/4 = epsilon*sigma*T^4

        where S is solar irradiance and T is surface temperature. So

        dT/dS = T/4S ~ 0.05 K/(W/m2)

        which is about what more detailed studies find.

      • The Sun isn’t the cause of modern warming. In fact, the sun’s irradiance has been on a slowly decreasing trend since about 1960.

        The effect of solar irradiance on Earth’s surface temperatures has been studied for a long time (see the IPCC ARs). It’s purely a problem of energy conservation, so relatively easy to estimate.

        For the zero-dimensional, no GHG planetary model

        (1-alpha)*S/4 = epsilon*sigma*T^4

        where S is solar irradiance and T is surface temperature. So

        dT/dS = T/4S ~ 0.05 K/(W/m2)

        which is about what more detailed studies find.

    • Will try one last time:

      The Sun isn’t the cause of modern warming. In fact, the sun’s irradiance has been on a slowly decreasing trend since about 1960.

      The effect of solar irradiance on Earth’s surface temperatures has been studied for a long time (see the IPCC ARs). It’s purely a problem of energy conservation, so relatively easy to estimate.

      For the zero-dimensional, no GHG planetary model

      (1-alpha)*S/4 = epsilon*sigma*T^4

      where S is solar irradiance and T is surface temperature. So

      dT/dS = T/4S ~ 0.05 K/(W/m2)

      which is about what more detailed studies find.

    • David Appell
      The debate is already over — the climate simply isn’t very sensitive to changes in solar irradiance. (It’s only of order 0.05-0.1 K/(W/m2).)

      You would benefit from some introductory literature. Try Svensmark’s book.

    • Abstract… Average annual balance of the thermal budget of the system Earth-atmosphere during long time period will reliably determine the course and value of both an energy excess accumulated by the Earth or the energy deficit in the thermal budget which, with account for data of the TSI forecast, can define and predict well in advance the direction and amplitude of the forthcoming climate changes. [Abdussamatov, HI. Bicentennial decrease of the total solar irradiance leads to unbalanced thermal budget of the earth and the little ice age. Applied Physics Research. Vol.4, No.1, pp. 178-184 (2012)]**

  3. Curious George

    Burning “liquid sunlight” instead of fossil fuels is getting closer to reality [link]. A dream of artificial photosynthesis, much more efficient than a natural one. All we have to do is to pour billions into this research

    We BURN fossil fuels. That’s a bad way to extract energy; it virtually guarantees an efficiency not much over 30%. We should pour money into a research of fuel cells instead.

    • bedeverethewise

      The Vox “liquid sunlight” article could have been written 15 or 20 years ago, very little has changed. Except for the part about how biofuels have now been proven to be a disappointment. We may need to wait 10 or 15 more years before we see a Vox article that says solar to liquid fuels have proven to be a disappointment.

  4. Dr. Curry, thanks for the link to the Gene Drive report. Isn’t it wonderful to read about the power CRISPR/Cas9 + Gene Drive and how unbelievably fast this technology is evolving. Even CRISPR/Cas9 just been vastly improved with C2c2, AsCpf1 and LbCpf which is orders of magnitude more precise than Cas9.
    http://phys.org/news/2016-06-crispr-genome-cpf1-specificity-mutant.html

    All of our amazing technology is really just an extension of the embedded programing found in all DNA. Chemical reactions are the energy/fuel but DNA is actuator/engine/organic computer that powers the entire biosphere. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the power to control DNA is more important than all the nuclear weapons ever built. Climate change is a trivial problem compared with how humanity handles DNA engineering whether it’s our genome or the whole biosphere. Technology is destiny, enjoy the ride!

  5. The big climate story is definitely Judy’s item 3, the sensational Flores Island speleothem record. The hobbits may just have saved climate science from CAGW just like they saved middle earth from Sauron and Mordor.

    http://www.thegwpf.com/pacific-stalagmites-cast-doubt-on-climate-models-and-projections/

    Ocean driven climate cycles of long duration are shown incontrovertibly in this study, in particular an oscillation of about 1000 years wavelength. What links this to ENSO is fractality which is a signature of nonlinear dynamic systems. Fractality means that similar patterns, e.g. Warm/cold wet/dry oscillations occur on timescales from subdecadal to millenial. What we are seeing here is just a textbook example of fractal oscillation patterns in a nonlinear dynamic system. The oscillation is a Lorenz type butterfly wing oscillator / attractor which alternately hangs in one of two states, or wings – the el nino dominated and the la nina dominated.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorenz_system

    What is interesting is that these Lorenz millenial oscillations are in different phase in different places. Inter hemispheric bipolar seesawing is evident. The paleo records seem to fall into three categories:

    1 North hemisphere like

    Flores, Sulawesi. Warm/dry in MWP, cool/wet in LIA.

    2 Southern Hemisphere like: Galapagos; Cool/wet during MWP, warm/dry in LIA.

    3. Chaotically switching between NH and SH regimes: Peru, Ecuador

    • Comeback when they figure out how one of the cooling side of an ocean cycle can overcome 408ppm. ’cause it can’t.

      And the water chef used to frequently post a graph here that showed the same type of thing… this is not new. It was a big part of his persistent grind.

      • David Wojick

        Are you kidding? Ocean heat content is so big that atmospheric heat content is round off error. Small change is ocean circulation, especially upwelling, can easily overwhelm CO2 induced changes in atmospheric heat content.

        You are quite right that the hypothesis of chaotic climate change is not new, far from it. It is just ignored by the modelers who dominate the scientific funding. A classic case of what I call “paradigm protection” on the modeler’s part.
        (Re dominance see my http://www.cato.org/blog/climate-modeling-dominates-climate-science.)

      • David –

        =>> In other words it looks like climate change science accounts for fully 55% of the modeling done in all of science. =>>

        Gotta admit, that seems quite implausible to me. How did you control for the possibility that the frequency of mentions of “modeling” per article is higher in articles related to climate change?

      • David –

        You also say:

        =>> We next find that when we search just on the term climate change, there are very few more articles than we found before. In fact the number of climate change articles that include one of the three modeling terms is 97% of those that just include climate change. This is further evidence that modeling completely dominates climate change research. =>>

        How did you control for the possibilities such as that studies that focus on observational analyses or paleo studies might reference modeling but not be modeling studies?

      • There has not been an overwhelming, a genuine cooling, of the ACO2-knob-controlled surface air temperature of the earth since the 19th century. We’re in the 21st century.

      • JCH
        “The water chef”
        I like that, it’s a good term for climate – oceans with their vast heat capacity and complex millenial timescale circulation certainly do serve up climate, and “climate change” (a redundant term – climate and climate change have the same meaning). First course – MWP, second course – LIA, etc…

        You mean I guess come back in 400 years when the current warm part of the cycle here in the NH ends – then we get to test if CO2 can stop the change to the next cold period? That’s convenient. Also convenient of course is that the last century of supposed AGW just happened to coincide with the upstroke of a natural oscillation for which we now have solid proxy evidence going back 2000 years or two full wavelengths, two warm and cold periods.

        This superb Flores speleothem proxy does squeeze the space available for CO2 to prove its role in 20th century warming. The refrain “it must be CO2 because we cant think of anything else that could cause this” just got even less convincing. Oceanographers have always known, of course.

        https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00766389/document

        http://web-static-aws.seas.harvard.edu/climate/eli/reprints/Tziperman-Cane-Zebiak-1995.pdf

        http://www.harmonyforearth.org/publications/Sun-Sun-Wu-Wang-2012.pdf

        http://escholarship.org/uc/item/1g33d303#page-1

        http://docs.lib.noaa.gov/rescue/mwr/097/mwr-097-03-0163.pdf

        http://web.yonsei.ac.kr/jungchoi/Paper/2013_CD_An_Choi.pdf

        http://192.111.123.246/phod/docs/2004_Wang_Picaut.pdf

    • I think it does show that the blips we call El Nino and La Nina now are peanuts compared to the longer running ocean surface heating and cooling. It’s a plus for natural variation as an explanation for current “climate change.”

      • Quite the opposite. It shows the PDO, which is characterized by the dominance of one phase of ENSO over the other, is the beast ocean cycle; therefore, it is about to get exceedingly hot around here… because the down side of the PDO no longer works.

      • The charts in the paper show proxies for the Walker circulation. It is associated with ENSO. Of course, you may continue to make up whatever you like.

  6. From the Ivy League professor link –

    “The other thing is that all mathematicians know that we make mistakes constantly. When we’re doing our professional work in research, we’re constantly saying stupid things, making mistakes, correcting each other, being embarrassed. Your face gets red. That’s normal. I mean, that’s why they call it trial and error. You have to take risks, and try things, and make mistakes to make progress.”

    Even mathematicians such as Gavin Schmidt? He wouldn’t say anything stupid, or make any mistakes, surely!

    Next thing, an Ivy League professor might say real scientists make mistakes and correct them. Not climate scientists, of course.

    Only joking, but Warmists don’t seem to admit to making mistakes, in general. Or saying stupid things. That’s for everybody else, apparently.

    Cheers.

    • Curious George

      Mike, you are too impatient. There are many predictions for year 2100; why don’t you simply wait and see?

  7. Re: Revealing ice flow patterns w/historical Declassified Intelligence Satellite Photos

    This allowed us to extend the ice velocity records of Larsen Ice Shelf back into 1960s ~ 1970s for the first time. The retrospective analysis revealed that acceleration of the collapsed Larsen B occurred much earlier than previously thought.

    Paywalled :-(

    • Update: I requested the paper from one of the authors on researchgate and promptly received it. Still hate paywalls for scientific papers.

  8. At the Cheifio’s
    I found it interesting but then
    No one else does?
    “Hurst, Dependence, Persistence, and a fatal flaw in “Climate Science”. Seasonality and Dependence in Daily Mean USCRN Temperature
    A study of daily mean temperature data from five USCRN stations in the sample period 1/1/2005-3/31/2016 shows that the seasonal cycle can be captured with significantly greater precision by dividing the year into smaller parts than calendar months. The enhanced precision greatly reduces vestigial patterns in the deseasonalized and detrended residuals. Rescaled Range analysis of the residuals indicates a violation of the independence assumption of OLS regression. The existence of dependence, memory, and persistence in the data is indicated by high values of the Hurst exponent. The results imply that decadal and even multi-decadal OLS trends in USCRN daily mean temperature may be spurious.”

  9. Overfishing and pollution kill corals in a warming world [link]

    According to the article, overfishing and pollution kill corals with or without warming, and there is no evidence in the article itself that warming is bad.

    I don’t in principle support either overfishing or pollution, but the seriousness of the “problem” described in the article is that tourists find the corals more attractive than the vegetation that competes with the corals, and so do most people. It’s an aesthetic preference. The story is another on how vegetation has increased along with warming and increased CO2 (though the main driver is the pollution and overfishing, not explicitly the warming or CO2.)

    On the question of whether reducing CO2 is a good idea, the article has no information.

    Compared to land, oceans rivers and lakes have low concentrations of nutrients. When nutrients are added (accidentally or on purpose [example in the paper]) the growth of vegetation increases. Ever since I first read of such “eutrophication” I have been surprised at how often it is considered “bad” principally because it is “different”.

    • “Ever since I first read of such “eutrophication” I have been surprised at how often it is considered “bad” principally because it is “different”.”

      worth repeating

    • Mid century…

    • Ever since I first read of such “eutrophication” I have been surprised at how often it is considered “bad” principally because it is “different”.

      Hydrogen sulfide production and volatilization in a polymictic eutrophic saline lake, Salton Sea, California by Brandi Kiel Reese, Michael A. Anderson, Christopher Amrhein Sci Total Environ. 2008 Nov 15;406(1-2):205-18. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2008.07.021

      The Salton Sea is a large shallow saline lake located in southern California that is noted for high sulfate concentrations, substantial algal productivity, and very warm water column temperatures. These conditions are well-suited for sulfide production, and sulfide has been implicated in summer fish kills, although no studies have been conducted to specifically understand hydrogen sulfide production and volatilization there. Despite polymictic mixing patterns and relatively short accumulation periods, the amount of sulfide produced is comparable to meromictic lakes. Sulfide levels in the Salton Sea reached concentrations of 1.2 mmol L(-1) of total free sulfide in the hypolimnion and 5.6 mmol L(-1) in the sediment pore water. Strong winds in late July mixed H2S into the surface water, where it depleted the entire water column of dissolved oxygen and reached a concentration of 0.1 mmol L(-1). Sulfide concentrations exceeded the toxicity threshold of tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus) and combined with strong anoxia throughout the water column, resulted in a massive fish kill. The mixing of sulfide into the surface waters also increased atmospheric H2S concentrations, reaching 1.0 micromol m(-3). The flux of sulfide from the sediment into the water column was estimated to range from 2-3 mmol m(-2) day(-1) during the winter and up to 8 mmol m(-2) day(-1) during the summer. Application of the two-layer model for volatilization indicates that up to 19 mmol m(-2) day(-1) volatilized from the surface during the mixing event. We estimate that as much as 3400 Mg year(-1) or approximately 26% of sulfide that diffused into the water column from the deepest sediments may have been volatilized to the atmosphere.

      AFAIK it can happen with fresh-water lakes as well.

      • From Wiki

        Occasionally, carbon dioxide (CO2) or other dissolved gases can build up relatively undisturbed in the lower layers of a meromictic lake. When the stratification is disturbed, as could happen from an earthquake, a limnic eruption may result. In 1986, a notable event of this type took place at Lake Nyos in Cameroon, causing nearly 1,800 deaths.

        The deaths appear to have been from suffocation from CO2, but with sufficient amounts of H2S poisoning can also take place.

    • In the paper, the vegetation, seaweed, increased because the fish that eat it were caged out. The seaweed grew larger, and began competing successfully with the coral. Think cows and a pasture.

      Increased vegetation in the oceans is mostly in the form of:

  10. Hope this is an ok thread to post this. My only paper that is intentionally funny, a methods piece riffing on a famous physics experiment, meant to make fun of economists setting themselves up as masters of methods.

    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/299501075_Robert_A_Millikan_meets_the_credibility_revolution_comment_on_Harrison_2013_'field_experiments_and_methodological_intolerance

  11. from the AGU article on “civic responsibility”: While some might be concerned about potential loss of scientific objectivity from such advocacy, such concerns are only relevant before the major science issues have been resolved.

    I think that the most important “civic responsibility” of scientists is to pursue the completeness and accuracy of the science, because they are the people best trained and most competent to do so. When their advocacy biases their research, or they succomb to the temptation to exaggerate that was explicated by Stephen Schneider, they abandon what is most uniquely valuable to humans about science.

    The most important science issue has not in fact been resolved: How much difference will it make to the climate for humans to reduce CO2 emissions? In the aggregate, the liabilities in the calculations (incompleteness of knowledge of mechanisms, errors in the estimates of parameters, and approximation errors in the models) swamp the estimated size of effects. Equally important, Will those changes be good or bad on the whole, if they are obtained? In the face of such conflicting evidence as we have (e.g. the combination of increase CO2, warming and rainfall may be net benefits to vegetation growth, including agriculture), and ignorance (energy flows through the parts of the system, including the terrestrial surface where almost everything lives), the highest civic responsibility of scientists ought to be to become humble.

    • Outstanding Mathew

    • Step 1 is to figure out the BAU scenario. Even conservative estimates say 700 ppm of CO2 by 2100, given population growth and development leading to per capita CO2 emission growth. Then the question becomes what does 700 ppm do to our climate? Many would point to the last time it was like that which is prior to Antarctic glaciation in the Eocene when the earth was an iceless hothouse with 200 feet higher sea levels over 40 million years ago. That would not happen by 2100, but that would be the direction headed, even as the levels continue to rise beyond 700 ppm under BAU. It is just a matter of thinking where we are headed with no policy. The IPCC says instead of 700 ppm and growing they would prefer to limit it below 500 ppm and stable, which is what is causing outrage among some here.

      • Because of plate techtonics, you cannot compare the Eocene to now. Your extrapolations are all unreasonable. The reason Milankovitch cycles did not trigger ice ages until about 2mya is that is when the gap between North and South America closed, fundamentally changing ocean circulation.
        The scariest you can get is the Eemian, with SLR over 3 millennia reaching about 6.5-7 meters above today. That is 23 cm/century, about the rate geostationary tide gauges show for the past century. Not scary, adaptible. Ocean sediment proxies suggest Eemian peaked ~2C above present in temperate latitudes, and up to 6-7C in Greenland (Neem core).
        Observational ECS 1.5-1.8 suggests 800 ppm would eventually produce less than the 2C Ma Nature produced all by herself.
        Your doomsday comments are not only unreasonable, they are factually silly.

      • You have to make the case that 700 ppm and rising is OK for 2100. It’s a tough one given what we have as evidence already. This is why, you may have noticed, no one has made that case yet. They should try at least and not fear looking like they are crazy, and it has to be an honest broker that you can’t tie to fossil fuels or anti-government ideology.

      • The reason Milankovitch cycles did not trigger ice ages until about 2mya is that is when the gap between North and South America closed, fundamentally changing ocean circulation.

        Plausible. I’d say probable. But not proven. There’s lots of holes in the whole Milankovitch thing, and at least one paper (that looks good to me) showing that the ice ages can be explained purely as stochastic variation. (With, perhaps, a bit of Milankovitch triggering.)

      • The Ice Ages started as CO2 reached the lowest levels in hundreds of millions of years. Coincidence? I think not. Science explains why.

      • Curious George

        “You have to make the case that 700 ppm and rising is OK for 2100.” No, YOU have to make the case that 700 ppm and rising is bad.

      • So far no one has disputed the arguments of IPCC WG2 on impacts of 4 C rises. Some like NIPCC have denied their possibility, but that is not the same thing. 1 C at 400 ppm gives you 2.5 C at 700 ppm, and that is just the transient value on the way to something closer to 4 C. Not to even consider 4 C is the height of irresponsibility, so you can ask them why. Do they even have economic models that go that high? Luckily their view is in a dwindling minority and the world has moved on with looking for alternatives and leaving carbon in the ground. Like I said, their main problem is that they never specifically defended CO2 levels in excess of 700 ppm or even talked about them, possibly because it would make them look crazy given what happened in paleoclimate at those levels.

      • Curious George

        “1 C at 400 ppm gives you 2.5 C at 700 ppm.” I bow to your superior knowledge.

      • Just observations.

      • Curious George

        Observations? Link, please.

      • http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/gistemp/from:1950/mean:12/plot/esrl-co2/scale:0.01/offset:-3.25
        1 C per 100 ppm, as scaled here =2+ C per doubling. This period accounts for 75% of emissions and 75% of the warming.

      • catweazle666

        Jim D: “It’s a tough one given what we have as evidence already.”

        No, we have nothing of the sort.

        You are making stuff up again.

      • When is a “skeptic” going to be brave enough to write about a 700 ppm world as he sees it (with science to back it up of course). Instead they are outraged that anyone even thinks maybe we are better off stabilizing it below 500 ppm.

      • catweazle666

        Jim d: “1 C at 400 ppm gives you 2.5 C at 700 ppm”

        NO IT DOESN’T. Not even close.

      • Try again. It does.

      • The Ice Ages started as CO2 reached the lowest levels in hundreds of millions of years. Coincidence? I think not. Science explains why.

        I set out to better understand the LGM.

        I ran a radiative model on a given atmosphere ( same atmosphere used through out, so no changes there, also, no elevation changes ) with estimated surface characteristics.

        By comparing the individual factors ( albedo, CO2, land mask from sea level fall, and orbit ) it’s possible to compare the relative significance.

        If one considers the global annual mean, orbit was actually very slightly positive and CO2 was third order behind ice albedo and the effect of more land surface:

        But the ice ages were not the result of global annual mean radiance, but of maximum net radiance in the ice accumulation zone ( high Northern latitudes ). There, the effect of orbit is more pronounced and the ice albedo is greatly pronounced. The greatest forcing of ice accumulation is ice accumulation:

        That’s consistent with ice/no ice as a bi-stable state. Albedo as well as the elevation of glacial ice mean there is always an elevation at which glaciation is possible for a range of global and even regional temperature. That’s why Greenland had ice through the Holocene Optimum and why Greenland has ice today even though sea level temperatures around Greenland are above freezing.

        You can see the ranges of radiance in this chart:

      • I think you would find that CO2 levels towards 500 ppm or so won’t permit Ice Ages, Greenland glaciers or Arctic sea-ice, and at 600 ppm, the Antarctic becomes less likely to be glaciated. The background CO2 level is closely tied to sea level for obvious reasons.

      • I think you would find that CO2 levels towards 500 ppm or so won’t permit Ice Ages, Greenland glaciers or Arctic sea-ice, and at 600 ppm, the Antarctic becomes less likely to be glaciated.

        That’s not what I found.

        It appears 800ppm is still relatively small effect on summer time maximum net radiance when compared with past orbital deglaciations:

        The background CO2 level is closely tied to sea level for obvious reasons.

        CO2 lagged by 800 years both up and down. Seems more likely glaciation changed CO2 than the other way round.

      • Obviously we don’t expect CO2 to affect solar irradiance much if that is what you mean by “maximum net radiance”. So you are saying that more than 5 W/m2 of extra GHG forcing will not even remove Arctic sea ice in your model? That’s not the way things are appearing from observations. What kind of model is this? Does it even allow for GHG insulation increases, water vapor feedbacks and global mean temperature changes?

      • Well, we do know that the conditions of the Eemian and the HCO which ended the last two glacials were of much greater than 5W/m^2 summer time net radiance.

      • Are you confusing 60 N summer irradiance with global irradiance? I don’t understand the question. These aren’t the same thing at all.

      • Are you confusing 60 N summer irradiance with global irradiance? I don’t understand the question. These aren’t the same thing at all.

        Exactly.

        Summer irradiance explains the glacials.

        Global average irradiance does not.

      • Did you consider why there were no glacials when CO2 levels were more in the vicinity of 500 ppm? Ice Age glacials are a relatively recent thing (< 2 million years) in a long-term cooling trend over the last 50 million years, and it was only in this period that the background CO2 level dropped well below 400 ppm. Coincidence? I think not.

    • Steven Mosher

      its funny to tell people they should be humble. really funny.

      • In that vein Steven, you might be interested to know that Al Gore showed a graph in his Inconvenient Truth, he went back beyond 420K like Vostok stuff, out to like almost 650K years and was able to show me that I was not correct. It should be the 7 Tops, as he was able to point out. He did not mention in the flick that CO2 followed temps and that dust is always the last thing. The Hula Wave rolls on.

      • It depends whom I tell. I am addressing people who want a lot more of other people’s earnings and efforts. It would be different if all they did was write grant applications (which are replete with references to what is not yet known but important), and papers. Then there’s that whole investigate, insult and jail the “deniers” and “serial disinformers” routine, and the “science is settled” (except in the grant proposals) meme.

      • Curious George

        Do you still maintain that a “climate sensitivity” is degrees per watt (forget square meters), without bothering to establish a link to CO2?

      • No it is not.

        However it is even better to lead by example

      • Steven Mosher

        “It depends whom I tell.”

        That’s even funnier.

      • Steven Mosher: That’s even funnier.

        It’s reason to advantage dressed.

        or

        The little gems of truth are what make it funny, as with most humor.

      • Next time you talk with Al, about his touted Nobel Prize as a leader in heart medicine…

        http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/679918/Viagra-heart-attacks-treat-sex-drug-Erectile-dysfunction

        tell him it’s now OK to screw the statins too.

  12. I started reading the flying activist piece by Jem Bendall. Couldn’t finish. What a self centered rationalizing a-hole. “it’s not how big a carbon footprint you, have, but what you do with it.”.

  13. Vox ‘liquid sunshine’. Nice review of current research gains, but way too hopeful. Ignores two things. 1. Scope and scale. 2. Cost. Sapphire Energy and Joule Unlimited stumbled on 1 and never got to 2.

  14. Alaska carbon sink. Fun to watch Chris Mooney twist good carbon sink news into warmunist alarm. Start with his warming alarmingly link, which is to January 2016 during a strong El Nino not mentioned. Then say Alaska stores 58% of US carbon. No reference. Its big, but not that big. And most US carbon is ‘stored’ in unexploited coal, oil, and gas deposits, not trees and tundra. Alaska does not hold 58% of those deposits. Just one silly assertion after another, right down to the usual permafrost methane trope.

  15. David Wojick

    The AGU Editor’s call for CAGW activism is disgraceful. I have posted the following comment (now in moderation):
    “The science is by no means as settled as you think. In fact the attribution problem — human versus natural warming — has yet to be solved, as has climate sensitivity, which rapidly growing evidence says may well be benignly low. But the Federal funders of climate research simply ignore this issue. See two of my studies on this failure:
    http://www.cato.org/blog/nsf-climate-denial?utm_content=buffer2695b&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
    http://www.cato.org/publications/working-paper/government-buying-science-or-support-framework-analysis-federal-funding

  16. Having been born a Democrat, having worked as younger man for the cause, and having thought of myself as being at least as liberal as any, I find the liberal/conservative psychological profiling physcobabble unbelievably stupid.
    These people need adult supervision.
    I don’t believe in climate change and I didn’t vote for Ronald Reagan.
    It is the political branding that is changing, not my or anyone else’s brain.
    When they can breed liberal and conservative mice for controlled experiments, maybe I’ll listen.
    The progressive mice will cost extra.

    Academia is becoming an embarrassment.
    I blame inbreeding.
    But I’m Southern, I blame a lot of stuff on that.

  17. Somebody mentioned Milankovitch which reminded me of other thing. Warning: off-topic ramble coming.
    http://www-eaps.mit.edu/faculty/lindzen/171nocephf.pdf
    Check out the last paragraph (cannot copy&paste from PDF). It explains why every paleo estimate of sensitivity is hopeless: even if you knew the temperatures, which you don’t really but even if you did, you’d have no idea what caused them. Lindzen uses the example of equator-to-pole heat transport but there are many more things that can cause climate to change, and we mostly know nothing about how they affected climate in the past.

    We have records of methane and CO2, but we don’t have records of cloud albedo, ozone, water vapor, vegetation… someone might quibble that we do have some records of vegetation and dust for example, but unlike CH4 and CO2 you cannot assume these dust or vegetation ‘levels’ applied globally.

    (Hell, until recently the greening trend of the last half-century was in dispute, even though we can look at the world’s plants and trees with seven billion pairs of eyes plus a few billion cameras, including some mounted on satellites. To assume we can now estimate greening or browning trends from twenty thousand years ago is preposterous.)

    And we have estimates of how much area was covered in ice, but we have no idea how much dust that ice was covered with, or if the radiative forcing one could expect from the ice was really ‘apples to apples’ (i.e. of the same efficacy) as that of CO2. Now we know that as sea ice recedes the Arctic gets cloudier so the overall effect is about 1/3 of what you would expect simply looking at the decline in ice; we have no idea if the same thing would happen upon the disappearance of an ice sheet because we have never observed such a thing. Until recently we thought Greenland was reflecting less sunlight because it was getting dustier; it then turned out that, rather, the satellites’ sensors were getting degraded.

    We still have little idea how aerosols affect climate… yet some guys are trying to model the aerosols of the past. And they’re not even the same kind (today the main agent is sulphuric acid, before dust).

    (It’s funny that the ‘forcing efficacy’ issue has been raised about instrumental studies, and not about paleo papers that would be devastated if efficacy really changed much between forcing agents. For example, only about 20% of the forcing in LGM reconstructions is CO2).

    You cannot simply assume that whatever change in GHG concentration (or other ‘forcings’) took place at the time of these temperature changes was responsible for said changes. In fact, by excluding other factors (which you know nothing about) you will systematically overestimate sensitivity. That’s why paleo sensitivity disagrees with both energy budget and inter-annual (ERBE/CERES) estimates. It also explains in part why the range of sensitivity in paleo is so wide.

    Admittedly this is also a strike against sensitivity estimates using the instrumental record, but less so – because we have observations that allow us to rule out a good many ‘natural’ causes of climate change. We know that in the last 150 years the AMOC hasn’t shut down and there hasn’t been a massive change in equator-to-pole heat transfer. We know that since 1980 the amount of cloud cover has remained more or less the same, within a 5% band; the warming trend since then would be very difficult to explain from changes in cloud cover alone. And so on.

    Whenever one mentions natural climate change the response from a certain side is something like ‘the ocean cannot create heat’ or ‘the clouds cannot change by themselves’. While technically true these statements are meaningless and reveal at best ignorance and at worst deception. All climate changes will involve a radiative change at some point, but said radiative change (forcing, feedback, whatever you call it) does NOT have to originate from a radiative source. It can all start with a change in air currents, or ocean currents, or tree cover, or sea ice, or methane emissions from bacteria, or…

    Asking ‘yeah but what caused the clouds to change?’ is like asking why are there planets.

    The best example of non-radiative climate change is in fact Milankovitch cycles, which affect not the amount but the distribution of sunlight (well eccentricity changes the amount of sunlight, but precession and tilt don’t). Technically speaking, the forcing is zero; paleo estimates consider GHGs, ice sheets and vegetation/dust forcings but if one is strict they should be considered feedbacks. Sensitivity, calculated the way it’s done for observational estimates, would be infinite.

    You can also see how simply switching one of these radiative ‘things’ from forcing to feedback, or viceversa, can allow a researcher to arrive at a radically different sensitivity number. It’s all meaningless.

    The one advantage of the paleo method is that since there is enough time for the ocean to reach equilibrium you avoid that source of uncertainty. But that also means you cannot use it to estimate TCR.

    Anyway, as time goes on the estimates of aerosol forcing and heat uptake will get better and better. The instrumental studies will arrive at a number, if not for what sensitivity ‘is’, at least for what it has been for the last 150 years. The paleos will never arrive at anything.

    • [… E]ven if you knew the temperatures, which you don’t really but even if you did, you’d have no idea what caused them.

      There’s considerable use of oxygen isotopes as global temperature proxies, although refinement is still going on.

    • AZC, very nice comment. I read a number of paleo sensitivity studies and commented on them in the climate chapter of AoT. But had not come across your trenchant criticism before. Whatever the paleosensitivity might be, it cannot be to anthropogenic forcings. So meaningless in the context of AGW sensitivity.
      A great soundbite comment taking a large junk of the paleo confirms models argument right off the table.

  18. Willis Eschenbach

    David Appell (@davidappell) | June 10, 2016 at 11:57 pm

    Will try one last time:

    The Sun isn’t the cause of modern warming. In fact, the sun’s irradiance has been on a slowly decreasing trend since about 1960.

    The effect of solar irradiance on Earth’s surface temperatures has been studied for a long time (see the IPCC ARs). It’s purely a problem of energy conservation, so relatively easy to estimate.

    For the zero-dimensional, no GHG planetary model

    (1-alpha)*S/4 = epsilon*sigma*T^4

    where S is solar irradiance and T is surface temperature. So

    dT/dS = T/4S ~ 0.05 K/(W/m2)

    which is about what more detailed studies find.

    Thanks, David. As you point out, the answer you give is for a “zero-dimensional no GHG planetary model”. And for that model, it is indeed a valid statement …

    However, your assumption that therefore your model is valid for a four-dimensional (including time) immensely complex planetary model with clouds, water vapor, and other greenhouse gases is a bridge too far. In fact, it’s a half-dozen bridges too far. You can’t extrapolate from a zero-dimensional planet to the real world.

    w.

    PS—you have also assumed when taking your derivative that alpha (the planetary albedo) is a constant … bad scientist, no cookies, and you have lots of company in that misconception. If there is anything in your equation that varies, it is certainly alpha. Among other huge problems with your differentiation, for both the tropics and the polar regions alpha is a function of T, but with different functions and even different signs (one positively correlated, the other negative) … guess what that does to your differentiation?

  19. Señor Comendador
    When insolation is high (i.e. summer) the long term variability in the land temperatures (in this instance the CET) follows closely the long term changes in solar activity.

    The CET’s summer trend for whole of the 1660 to 2015 data period is near zero. The rise in the summer CET since the 1980s appears to be ‘exceptional’, it is about 0.2C greater than that for the 1690-1720 period.
    When the insolation is reduced (i.e. winter) correlation is sporadic. In the recent decades it appears that the driver changes from the summer solar to the winters Arctic jet stream meandering.
    This conflict between the summers solar and the winters jet stream drivers makes the annual attribution uncertain. However, it is the winter that gives the
    CET an overall rising annual trend of approx. 0.25C/century.
    In order to attribute the CET’s 360 years of annual rising trend it is necessary to know long term changes in the polar jet stream, but its records are only few decades long.

  20. A Newyorker article on the mistrust of science.
    http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-mistrust-of-science?

    • Danny Thomas

      Humm. Interesting. Now we can all tell Mosher we’ve all been ‘doing science’ all this time.

      • David Wojick

        Actually he says that climate skeptics are “industry groups” and “pseudoscientists.” What a fool! Is this what they are teaching at Caltech?

        Climate skeptics do not mistrust science. We mistrust green activists using science badly to push for harmful policies. This distinction is lost on some people, especially those who do not know the difference between science and activism, including government activism.

      • It seems correct to characterize the skeptic groups as industry groups because that is how they are funded. For pseudoscientists you only need to read the integrated sunspot and planetary cycles stuff, which seems to dominate their blog discourse of alternatives to AGW.

      • Curious George

        Jim D – you must have contacts with skeptic funding organizations. Please let them know that I have not received my first check yet.

      • As a skeptic, you wouldn’t be of much financial use unless you are trying to support the anti-AGW lobby in Congress. That’s where the money goes, not to blog commenters, sad to say.

  21. Did ancient climate change ignite human evolution?

    The drying of tropical Africa and development of the savannas has for a long time been suggested as playing a key role in the development of upright walking, eventually running adaptations, leading to hunting. Around the time of Homo habilis a number of transformation began to take place: larger brain, tool use, and probable diet change.

    See Wrangahm’s Catching Fire

    https://www.amazon.com/Catching-Fire-Cooking-Made-Human/dp/0465020410

    There is a another climate mystery relating to human evolution which I have not seen much about.

    It is hard to imagine civilization arising without the positive effects of climate in our current interglacial. I suppose this could be coincidence but certainly the development of agriculture and domestication of livestock allowing large sedentary populations became a significant influence during this interglacial and not before. If climate and the development of agriculture/civilization are related, here’s the mystery.

    Anatomically modern humans evolved at least 200,000 years ago. Why did we not develop agriculture and civilization during the Eemian interglacial?

    • Why did we not develop agriculture and civilization during the Eemian interglacial?

      Probably because “we” weren’t there. Why do you assume the major thrust of human evolution was anatomical?

      The Neanderthals had bigger brains (on average) than we do, but a different distribution of cortical area among regions. It would make sense that brain size was limited by maternal/developmental constraints, while the actual specifications continued evolving right up to the adoption of agriculture.

      IMO there’s plenty of developmental history embedded into the workings of language. It’ll be found once the researchers get themselves sorted out over the “blank slate” fallacy. And the “all human brains are identical” fallacy.

      • Actually human brain sizes were as large or larger than they are now by the Eemian. Of course, there is no way to know if the internal wiring was different, although that is a possibility.

        I don’t know of any contemporary researchers who believe humans are blank slates or that all brains are identical.

        You might have a point about language if you want to assume modern languages developed after the Eemian. Evidence is for modern language evolving at least as long ago as 70-80,000 years but it is hard to imagine this came out of the blue with no precedent (as apparently Chomsky has suggested).

      • I don’t know of any contemporary researchers who believe humans are blank slates or that all brains are identical.

        The blank-slate paradigm would appear to be alive and well as of this year. Just an example. I would say the denial of a “Universal Grammar” (“UG) constitutes a vote for “blank-slate”. Unless some other reconciliation is proposed.

        The supposition that only certain constructions will emerge in the interaction between that blank slate, the local cultural/linguistic norms, and the realities of communication (theory) is hardly an argument against “blank-slate”. Rather, it would seem (to me) to be an argument how the “blank-slate” could be adaptive.

        As for “all brains are identical”, I suppose I was summarizing (and putting down) the effectively universal notion that every human’s language capacity is similar in type if not in quantity.

        For this, I offer the Pirahã controversy: Everett (and many others) took their linguistic differences as evidence against the UG. I don’t recall exactly how supporters of UG attempted to reconcile it, but I distinctly recall noticing one option that wasn’t on the table: that the Pirahã possessed genetic differences that interfered with their ability to use certain types of recursion.

        While I’m not saying this is the right explanation, the fact that it was avoided (unless I missed something I was looking pretty hard for) demonstrates the underlying assumption that all humans have qualitatively identical language capacities.

      • AK,

        Thanks for your thoughts.

        BTW I am not dismissing your arguments in any way. In fact, I think there is a good deal of merit to them and, in fact, I have argued much the same way, That is, that there have been major changes in the brain since the Eemian that account for modern behavior.

        https://broadspeculations.com/2012/12/22/lost-history-revenge-of-the-nerds/

        Saying if you don’t accept UG (which I more or less do), however, I don’t think is exactly saying that human beings are blank slates. And certainly human brains, while not identical, are similar enough that any human can learn any language if exposed to it at any early enough age.

        My argument in the link is that there was some dramatic transformation in humans probably in Southern Africa about 70-90,000 years ago.

        In part I was wondering for other evidence:

        Was there something different about the Eemian that made it less propitious for civilization?

        Is there even a relationship between civilization and climate? Is it coincidental that civilization arose in the Holocene? Could it had arisen earlier although perhaps not so robustly?

        Or, was there something about the Eemian and its arrival at this particular stage of the evolution of Homo sapiens that may have set the stage for the later changes? In this case, changes see in the archaeological record about 70-90,000 years ago (mainly in Southern Africa) might really be the result of neurological changes that occurred during the Eemian. I am thinking here of particular selection pressures – for example increases in aridity – that have selected for particular human traits.

        My argument in the link relates especially to creation to extended kinship groups and expanded cooperative and reciprocal behavior that would enhance survival during periods of environmental stress. Terrence Deacon in the The Symbolic Species points to language arising from the needs of mating and in association with marriage and kinship. While he seems to argue for a much earlier origin for language, his theory certainly makes a link between language and kinship,

      • @James Cross…

        And thanks for yours. An interesting post. Here’s one of mine, on a similar subject.

        Saying if you don’t accept UG (which I more or less do), however, I don’t think is exactly saying that human beings are blank slates.

        Well, UG would represent a genetic (or otherwise non-culturally-transmitted) set of defaults for language development. Supposing UG not to exist, I don’t see how anything but a purely cultural transmission could explain language acquisition. How is that distinguished from “blank slate”?

        And certainly human brains, while not identical, are similar enough that any human can learn any language if exposed to it at any early enough age.

        My point is that that’s dogma. Both sides in the Pirahã controversy built that assumption into their arguments. But, assuming UG, how could the recursion so essential to it be left out of their language?

        Oh, there are possible explanations: most researchers consider UG to be about defaults, not compulsions. I suppose a sufficiently compulsive cultural norm could override it.

        But my point is that genetic differences are a valid potential explanation. The fact that they never came up for discussion demonstrates that their invisibility is a cultural norm imposed on science, not that the notion is invalid (as a hypothesis).

        And climate science thinks it has problems with cultural interference.

        My argument in the link is that there was some dramatic transformation in humans probably in Southern Africa about 70-90,000 years ago.

        Such as Toba? Couple things I’ll point out: a genetic restriction of this sort could as easily happen due to a local sweep and speciation without a massive die-off. Perhaps the sweep involved some neuro-linguistic innovation that made its possessors more adaptive.

        Another thing to consider is that the sea-level was much lower 7-90,000YA. It’s not impossible that the most advanced humans lived in coastal parts of the East-Arabian corridor, parts all deep underwater (and probably under sediment) today.

        My preferred model is that the innovation occurred in this area, and expanded in all directions, including back into Africa where there was enough back-flow from the previous populations to provide the apparently high genetic diversity there. But I admit it’s all very speculative.

        My argument in the link relates especially to creation to extended kinship groups and expanded cooperative and reciprocal behavior that would enhance survival during periods of environmental stress.

        Well, I find myself more convinced by the corticalization logic: with a brain capable of maintaining a “well-known” group of 150 for each individual the capacity for maintaining kinship networks among groups would be far higher than with 50 (e.g. chimpanzees/bonobos). And language just makes it better.

        Terrence Deacon in the The Symbolic Species points to language arising from the needs of mating and in association with marriage and kinship. While he seems to argue for a much earlier origin for language, his theory certainly makes a link between language and kinship,

        Yes, there’s much evidence for an early appearance of language of some sort.

        I’d guess there were at least 4 stages in the development of human language after the split with chimpanzees/bonobos. Also, I’d guess there’s a similar relationship between corticalization and vocabulary as between corticalization and group size.

      • Great discussion, AK.

        Regarding UG, I probably have not looked into it enough to judge but I was understanding it to have a particular set of rules and syntax that it was declaring universal. One could posit a more general symbolic capability that could express itself in language among other forms that would be non-blank slate but not UG.

        I really wasn’t thinking of Toba, although I am aware of that theory. I am thinking more about the multiple lines of evidence tracing back to South Africa and the time period of 70-90,000 years ago: earliest elaborate artistic complexes, language phoneme analysis, and genetic analysis that I mentioned in my post. Incidentally the San bushmen, like the Piraha, also use clicks and whistles as part of their language. Years ago I don’t remember where I read about someone theorizing about whistles and clicks being part of the earliest languages and were used in hunting. They also might be sounds that could be made by humans before the larynx descended which fully occurred (I think) also around this same time period, suggesting a possible major advance in language capability with more expressive capabilities.

        If we want to argue for full modern language before this capability then we would need to think of humans 150-200,000 years as very much like humans today. That would open up my original question of why didn’t they create agriculture and civilization during the Eemian?

        However, I certainly don’t think language appeared out of the blue 100,000 years ago. I don’t know whether you are aware of the theory of an association between tool use and language. The same parts of the brain used in language are also used in making stone tools. A pathway like this could have occurred. Early humans make tools. They learn to make tools by watching other humans make tools. From watching others making and being watched, it is a small step to use the hands that made the tool to make other gestures for communication. If you supplement this with whistles, clicks, and other vocal expressions, you might have an intermediate language. As the larynx began to descend over time, you would be able to have the full expression capability of modern language.

        I need to spend more time on your post but what little I got from glancing at it suggests that it wouldn’t be contradictory to tool use to sign language as an intermediate step.

        “My preferred model is that the innovation occurred in this area, and expanded in all directions, including back into Africa where there was enough back-flow from the previous populations to provide the apparently high genetic diversity there. ”

        There certainly is a lot of evidence of human moving from Africa along the sea shore and also back-flow. Not only out of Africa but back from Asia too. My theory has been more than main innovations originated in South Africa and spread across the continent and after that this other stuff happened but as you say this is all speculative.

        At any rate, it would be fascinating if there could be mapping done of the best knowledge about human populations and African, Asian, and European climate from the Eemian to the Holocene.

      • @James Cross…

        Yes, interesting discussion. Few points:

        WRT the descent of the larynx: my picture had been that it had partly descended by the time our lineage split from the Neanderthals (homo heidelbergensis), and then continued its descent in our lineage while reversing in Neanderthals. (Late Neanderthals certainly don’t appear to have had a descended larynx.)

        But checking out more recent work, science appears to have passed me up, and the descent (in our lineage anyway) appears to be more recent: 150,000 YA ago or less. Indeed, Lieberman (a late larynx descent enthusiast) says:

        Surprisingly, our reconstruction of the 100,000-year-old
        specimen from Israel, which is anatomically modern in most respects, also would not have been able to accommodate a SVT with a 1:1 ratio, albeit for a different reason. Although it had only a moderately long face, its extremely short neck would have also placed its larynx too low in the chest if its SVT were equally proportioned. Again, like its Neanderthal relatives, this early modern human probably had an SVT with a horizontal dimension longer than its vertical one, translating into an inability to reproduce the full range of today’s human speech.

        It was only in our reconstruction of the most recent fossil specimens—the modern humans postdating 50,000 years—that we identified an anatomy that could have accommodated a fully modern, equally proportioned vocal tract. Interestingly, the date of these specimens coincides with the appearance of the Upper Paleolithic tool kit, which is often associated with a florescence in modern human cognitive capacities.

        This would roughly synchronize with the “Cro-Magnon event”, which I would speculate involved the final step in language evolution.

        I have my doubts about tool use. I remember a picture (from a recent paper) showing a young gorilla learning to make tools by watching its mother, and Frans de Waal makes some good arguments about the non-need for language in such learning in The Ape and the Sushi Master. Combine that with the linguistic ability demonstrated by bonobos (which probably predates the split), and I can’t see much need for new language abilities to make simple tools.

        If we suppose several steps in language capacity evolution, we could start with something like the abilities we share with bonobos, and consider them part of the radiation that produced the “crown” great apes: Humans, Chimpanzees/Bonobos, and Gorillas.

        After that, perhaps each step is associated with a subsequent radiation: Homo “habilis”, ergaster/erectus, heidelbergensis, AMH, and the final step 50-70,000 YA with the “Cro-Magnon event” and similar expansions into Austalia and back into Africa.

        IMO this step had more to do with communicating techniques across space and time, rather than the cognitive abilities to use them.

      • Some final comments.

        It isn’t that language is required for tool use. The theory is more based on a coevolution of tool use and language.

        http://www.wired.com/2013/09/tools-and-language/

        Looking more at your genetic difference explanation for the Piraha, I can’t really buy into unless there was actually DNA testing showing some significant genetic difference. Frankly I doubt much will be found from surrounding groups at least.. Human populations are well mixed. It is unlikely that the Piraha have been isolated more than a few hundred years max and probably not even that much. That is they probably mix with nearby groups even today. But even if they were isolated for a few hundred years, that wouldn’t be enough to create a significant difference in language. I think more likely more analysis will reveal substantial similarities with other cultures and language. In other words, I think Everett probably is exaggerating and/or misunderstanding some things. BTW Wikipedia says the Brazilian government has opened and they are learning Portuguese.

  22. Pingback: Orbital Climate Change | Science Matters

  23. Turbulent Eddy,

    If a 10km meteor strikes at around 90 degrees, at 20 km/s it unleashes a lot of energy. Around 6 X 10^7 megatons TNT equivalent. That’s a really, really big heap of Hiroshimas, considering the Hiroshima blast was around 20 kilo tons.

    The physics are awesome, and the consequences of such a strike literally earth shattering. There is evidence of bigger strikes than this having occurred in the past, and it is quite possible, or even likely, that mass extinction events resulted.

    Extreme meteor summer, followed by possible meteor ice ball for an extended period seems on the cards.

    A known catastrophic danger, with proven past occurrences.

    But Warmists ignore it totally, preferring to waste billions in the pursuit of ridding the Earth of plant food.

    If you’ve got a few minutes, the Internet is well worth scratching around in, looking for meteorite information. I thought you might be interested.

    Cheers.

    • Steven Mosher

      “f a 10km meteor strikes at around 90 degrees, at 20 km/s it unleashes a lot of energy. Around 6 X 10^7 megatons TNT equivalent. That’s a really, really big heap of Hiroshimas, considering the Hiroshima blast was around 20 kilo tons.”

      too funny Flynn makes predictions.
      What happened to to the Flynn who said you cant make predictions about the future?

      But you have an interesting hypothesis there about a 10 km meteor.
      lets do an experiment, otherwise I have my doubts

    • Steven Mosher,

      I’m glad you can stay amused. There are few, if any, adverse side effects, from being happy.

      As to making predictions, as usual you are relying on the contents of your own fantasy. The word “if” connotes a certain amount of doubt or uncertainty. That’s why I used it. I expected an English major BA to be reasonably aware of the English language.

      However, I understand your confusion, to a degree. Real science involves the evaluation of theory by performing repeatable experiments. In other words, does the predicted result occur? If not, your elegant seductive theory is not worth a brass razoo! Warmists prefer avoidance of the scientific method, it seems.

      Warmists, who have no theory, merely some bizarre assumptions, go to some lengths to shy away from anything which might be scientific. No verifiable predictions, just “scenarios”, or similar Warmist Weasel Words.

      As to me claiming that one can’t make predictions about the future, this would be another figment of your imagination, no doubt. Predictions concern the future, by definition. You might prefer predicting the past, but it seems that as hard as you try, you can’t manage to do it with any success – at least as far as temperatures are concerned.

      In regard to meteor strikes, you may deny that any have occurred in the past, or that any might occur in the future. Warmists have a history of denial, so I’m not surprised.

      As to possible meteorite impact consequences,, you might find the following paper of interest –

      “Earth Impact Effects Program: A Web-based computer program for calculating the regional environmental consequences of a meteoroid impact on Earth”

      This contains the science behind the Purdue University and Imperial College, London Web page, showing likely effects from a meteor strike, given certain input parameters.

      You may choose to flatly deny the possibility of a disastrous meteorite strike occurring in the unknown future. Good for you. I accept the possibility, but my care factor remains approximately at zero. Nothing much I can do about the possibility, in any case.

      Of course you can make predictions about the future. The future is unknowable, so you might have to wait a while to see if your predictions actually came to pass. Fortune tellers, astrologers, seers and climatologists make predictions all the time. Romantic or financial success, health, boiling to death, inundation by rising seas – believe as you wish.

      Keep smiling – it’s probably better than crying!

      Cheers.

      • Steven Mosher

        Flat earth Flynn appeals to authority.
        Flynn for the win.
        Too funny.

        Today’s question why does Flynn think Reagan was a flat earther?

      • Steven Mosher

        Flynn for the win
        We need experiments.
        Otherwise we can’t know what a future meteor impact would result in.
        Flat earth flynn.
        For the win

      • Steven Mosher,

        You wrote –

        “Flynn for the win.” – twice, actually.

        I agree.

        However, you seem to confuse me with NASA, or Warmists with their brightly coloured diagrams, portraying the Earth as flat.

        I’m actually in agreement with Eratosthenes, and others. The world appears to be roundish. Eratosthenes actually had a think about what a friend writing from another location had said, and performed a bit of an experiment. A lot of an experiment, really, considering the times.

        He came to the conclusion, as did I, that the Earth is not flat. Well, apart from locally, for practical purposes, that is.

        So your silly attempt to deny, divert, and confuse, in typical Warmist fashion, may not garner the support you desire.

        There are no winners and no losers when it comes to fact. And facts, from my assessment of them, seem to support my contention that the mysterious quantity bizarrely described as TCS, ECS, or something similar, is indistinguishable from zero – for practical purposes. In theory, slightly less than zero, but who really cares?

        It matters not. I know that “decision makers” have, on occasion, decided to make decisions after initially being somewhat sceptical about thoughts I may have expressed.

        If the facts you present are more substantive, I would no doubt change my thoughts. So far, as you say repetitively, “Flynn for the win”.

        I’m sure you are trying to make some point. I’m not sure if anyone understands what it is, apart from the truism that burning more stuff generates more heat. One of us seems to be thick. I don’t think it’s me, but maybe I’m wrong.

        If you have a new fact, maybe you need to produce it. Have you any?

        Cheers.

  24. Not sure this belongs on the Science post, but anyway, from the article:

    A new study from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations in the atmosphere are likely to remain above 400 parts per million (ppm) for many years. Specifically, scientists forecasted that levels would not dip below 400pm in “our lifetimes.” The CO2 concentrations of “about 450ppm or lower are likely to maintain warming below 2 degrees Celsius over the 21st century relative to pre-industrial levels.” However, lead author on the paper Richard Betts said we could pass that number in 20 years or less. In an article on The Guardian, he said even if we reduce emissions immediately, we might be able to delay reaching 450ppm but “it is still looking like a challenge to stay below 450ppm.” El Nino has played a significant role in climbing carbon dioxide levels, but it’s likely we’ll see higher CO2 levels than the last large El Nino storm during 1997 and 1998 because “manmade emissions” have risen by 25 percent since that storm, according to The Guardian. Met Office experts predicted in November 2015 that in May 2016 “mean concentrations of atmospheric CO2” would hit 407.57ppm — the actual figure was 407.7ppm. The NOAA reported during 2015 that the “annual growth rate” of CO2 in the atmosphere rose by 3.05ppm. NOAA lead scientist Pieter Tans said, “Carbon dioxide levels are increasing faster than they have in hundreds of thousands of years. It’s explosive compared to the natural processes.”

    https://science.slashdot.org/story/16/06/16/2018219/co2-levels-likely-to-stay-above-400ppm-for-the-rest-of-our-lives-study-shows

  25. There are no inductive inferences.
    Karl Popper