Beyond Physics: Advanced Biology and Climate Change

by Clive Hambler

Reflections on the stabilization of Earth’s climate by life.

People frequently believe the claim that basic physics, established in the 19th Century, is sufficient to predict that Earth will warm in response to increasing CO2. However, I argue here that negative feedbacks due to life (‘Gaia’) may have stabilized the planet’s climate — on geological timescales and in recent decades. The biology of any such stabilization is far from settled, with a mechanistic understanding delayed by evolutionary debate. I conclude that even with such advanced biology we have little power to predict global climate changes.

There is a basic flaw in the basic physics argument of climate change: biology. Indeed, just one word should be enough to cast doubt on all models of the atmosphere: “oxygen”. No educated person is unaware of one aspect of Earth’s basic biology: most atmospheric oxygen results from living organisms. Physics and chemistry therefore cannot explain atmospheric composition or properties. Basic chemistry would leave the planet a rusty ball (like Mars or Venus). So, as James Lovelock articulated in his Gaia hypothesis in the 1970s, the properties of our atmosphere result from the tight coupling of living and non living components (biota and abiota). Earth’s obvious and massive departure from chemical equilibrium is unique in the solar system. So, if it’s easy to understand that life is central to atmospheric chemistry, why have many people found it much harder to understand life could be pivotal in atmospheric energy and climate? And if life is so intimately involved, predictive models would need to include it — which I’ll argue they can’t because the biology is too complex.

An initial response, I anticipate, will be that oxygen is not a climatically-active gas, because it is not radiatively active. However, that does not weaken the argument that life changes Earth far from the state which non-biological “basic” science would predict — an example of the planetary power of life. Moreover, few realise that oxygen could have major implications for the long-term temperature trajectory of the planet, if it is helping to keep Earth wet. This controversial idea was discussed in meetings on Gaia in Oxford in the 1990s, postulating that in the absence of life and oxygen, the splitting of water by sunlight would eventually lead to desiccation of the planet (as hydrogen bled away into space). Photo-dissociation might be offset by the presence of atmospheric oxygen, scavenging hydrogen and restoring water. If so, the dominant climatically-active gas in the atmosphere — water — also owes its abundance to life.

Whether the planet is wet due to life requires further study and discussion. Fortunately my argument — that life is largely missing from the models — does not depend on this. What is more important is that people who believe basic physics is sufficient to predict climate should consider cloud condensation.

It is very widely accepted that clouds are hard to model, yet central to understanding climate sensitivity to CO2. It is not even known if the overall cloud feedback effect in a warming world is positive or negative. Indeed, the IPCC (2013) state: “Clouds and aerosols continue to contribute the largest uncertainty to estimates and interpretations of the Earth’s changing energy budget….some aspects of the overall cloud response vary substantially among models…”.

The basic physics of absorption and emission of infrared radiation have been combined with complex and uncertain physics to estimate that doubling of CO2 would warm the Earth by about one degree Celsius. Feedbacks involving water vapour and clouds are required to invoke larger climate changes from a doubling of CO2. Unsurprisingly, cloud feedbacks estimated from models vary substantially. Cloud-related feedbacks could be net positive (because condensed water emits infrared radiation). Cloud-related feedbacks could be net negative (because clouds reflect sunlight back into space). Further, cloud processes and convection induce and modify complex atmospheric motions, from very small scales to planetary scales. The uncertainty of cloud behaviour might eventually be tractable with complex physical models for a lifeless planet (which somehow retained water), but I think that the uncertainty is amplified to unmanageable levels on our biologically-active Earth.

It was James Lovelock who identified a potentially huge impact of life on the climate. No wonder, then, that he now argues that “anybody who tries to predict more than five to ten years is a bit of an idiot, because so many things can change unexpectedly”. Consider this: some unknown fraction of the cloud of this planet, of unknown type and altitude and climate activity, is produced for unknown reasons by unknown numbers of living species with unknowable population dynamics. If there are any modellers who think this is tractable, I hope they will indicate how in the Comments below.

How, how much, and why is life involved in cloud formation? Nobody knows. I’ll outline a few of these unsettled elements of the science of climate change.

The question “how” is life involved is the simplest: some species release chemicals that become cloud condensation nuclei (CCN), without which water remains a vapour. Some species secrete a gas, DMS (dimethyl sulphide), which seeds some clouds. Some plants secrete gases with similar properties, including Volatile Organic Compounds such as isoprene and pinene. Clouds are often observed rising over rainforest trees and other forests. It has been known for hundreds of years that some forests create rainfall (and I hypothesize that life in lakes similarly creates some of the clouds associated with them).

Unfortunately, “how much” cloud is created by life is unknown, a problem worsened by paucity of data on how much of each type of cloud cover there is and was (particularly before satellite observations). Some argue that life creates a substantive fraction of the global cloud cover, others less – and the fraction will vary through time.

“Why” does life create clouds remains unknown, but two fascinating evolutionary reasons have been proposed. Hamilton and Lenton (1998) suggested that “microbes fly with their clouds”. This is a proposal I expect many scientists will too-readily dismiss — even if they understand the track record of Hamilton as the biologist central to modern evolutionary theory (through his initially controversial ideas). However, the ‘selfish’ reason microbes of oceans, forests (and lakes?) secrete a cloud-forming gas (at metabolic cost) could be to generate latent heat of condensation, thence uplift of air — and thus dispersal of life to sites with more opportunities. And a plausible reason for plants to generate clouds is that they use rainfall. Predictions that clouds should increase when plankton become stressed (such as by nutrient deficiency or irradiance) will require long-term and large-scale observation.

I guess climate modellers will counter that they have performed sensitivity analyses, and that life and its interations with clouds, are not needed to predict the future climate accurately enough, or have small effects. Such arguments might have convinced me whilst models appeared to fit the unadjusted observations. However, several inexplicable (but biologically evident) warmer periods in the Holocene and Eemian damage climate model credibility. It’s not possible to do sensitivity analysis for an element of a system if there is no reliable benchline against which to measure the effects of manipulations.

Biology is very poorly represented in all of ‘climate science’, be it the mechanisms, ecological effects or policy response. Tellingly, the IPCC Assessment Report (2013) calls its first volume ‘The Physical Science Basis’. As one of the few scientists publishing on the evolutionary mechanisms of ‘Gaia,’ I know that very little attention has been paid to this topic. Perhaps if Bill Hamilton were still alive and researching the stability of the Earth system, things would be different. Because Lovelock’s original version of Gaia has an evolutionary flaw, I redefined Gaia as “planetary stability due to life”, and worked with Hamilton and Peter Henderson to seek mechanisms compatible with evolutionary biology. (Amongst the reasons few biologists have taken an interest in Gaia are that the original theory and models, such as ‘Daisyworld’, had an evolutionary bias, required ‘group-selection’, or implied natural selection amongst communities or planets). Instead, Hamilton, Henderson and I looked for negative feedbacks though two biological processes: i) ecology (density-dependent population growth); and 2) evolution (frequency-dependent selection – a mechanism also postulated by Richard Dawkins in The Extended Phenotype in 1982). The frequency of cloud-producing living organisms (abundance or biomass) is likely to be responsive to CO2, generating positive and/or negative biological feedbacks (Canney & Hambler, 2002, Biological Feedback, in: The Encyclopedia of Global Change).

At the risk of adding yet another failure to the litany of failed climate predictions, I predict climate models will struggle to include biology. No amount of physics, basic or complex, will overcome this deficiency. It is not possible to model population changes of even one species of organism several generations into the future. The unpredictability of complex systems is well known in ecosystems – as Robert May and colleagues demonstrated in the 1970s for multispecies fisheries. Populations of species that influence each other’s survival, reproduction or dispersal in ways related to abundance are likely often to demonstrate ‘deterministic chaos’, in which simple equations including time lags often generate superficially chaotic population changes. Even two species coupled through the Lotka-Volterra differential equations may show such behaviour. Imagine the problems, then, of modelling millions, billions or even trillions of microbial ‘species’ on Earth – when not even the number of species is known, let alone each of their requirements and climatic influences. Whether multi-species systems have more predictable emergent stability remains to be seen; this would make incorporation of ecology into climate models easier. Such stability is being investigated by Peter Henderson in the ‘Dam World’ model of Gaia he created with Bill Hamilton (Canney & Hambler, 2013, Conservation).

Modelling changes in plankton becomes even more implausible when one considers the responses to changing CO2: ‘ocean acidification’ might boost plankton through improved bicarbonate availability, and thence even cool the planet through DMS induced clouds. Or it might impact plankton through metabolic costs, thereby reducing calcification and a carbon sink and creating a positive feedback. The population and metabolic consequences of interactions (including those between warming water, CO2 outgassing, pH changes, thermoclines, nutrient and carbon dioxide availability for photosynthesis) are not known for any planktonic species, let alone entire hyper-complex marine ecosystems. Even if population changes could be predicted, we could not predict their cloud production behaviour — or the overall effect on albedo or convection.

It should come as no surprise to scientists and the public that wildlife has climate impacts – yet few realise how large these can be. When and if people accept that life can greatly change the chemistry of the atmosphere, they may be ready for another logical step. In this paradigm, temperature drives life drives CO2 levels. As Murry Salby (2012) deduced (Physics of the Atmosphere and Climate), CO2 lags temperature on a wide range of timescales (including glacial to interglacial oscillations, the last few hundred years, decades, and within a year). About 5% of the CO2 emitted to the atmosphere each year is from human activities, leaving ample scope for minor changes (perhaps in solar activity) to change the major biological sinks and sources of this gas and overwhelm human influences on radiative forcing. Perhaps the paradigm shift required to understand causality in climate is comparable to discovering the ancient nature of fossils, or plate tectonics, or neo-Darwinism, or the inhibitory models of plant succession. I’ve witnessed and taught through some of these shifts, so know how hard they are.

The ecology and evolution of negative feedbacks and Gaia might provide a framework to reconcile climate data and theory – but with very different theory to the basic physics of the climate. Instead, climate becomes — as many others have noted — a perhaps intractable and wicked problem. Prediction and attribution of useful climate detail may be beyond any science. If ‘the pause’ continues, or the world now cools or warms, we may never know why. It might be that negative biological and other feedbacks prevented runaway warming in the past, and have already begun to act. Or solar activity might be driving the carbon cycle, stifling CO2 increase. Or both. If extinction rates continue to rise such feedback may collapse — a perverse outcome of climate policy that destroys habitat. We hear a lot about high risk justifying high expenditure on reducing CO2 emissions, despite low probability of such risk. If we applied those expenditures to protecting the biological component of climate, we would conserve the climatically-active ecosystems — not, perversely, destroy them though renewable energy impacts and opportunity costs.

I anticipate many of the suggestions above will raise calls for publication in journals. Perhaps that’s the way physics works. Yet many key biological advances have been published in books or informal articles. Some of Hamilton’s ideas were published only in less formal articles and in a film on clouds (which very few people have watched). Moreover, conventional peer review demonstrably does not work well in some areas of climate science.

I thank Judith Curry for yet another brave move in hosting this entry. I hope policy makers will focus on no-regrets actions (such as protecting forests and marine life) which are relatively cheap and would work even if I’m wrong.

Link to essay published in the Bulletin of the British Ecological Society:  ‘Thank you for Gaia’, by Clive Hambler [hambler-bes-gaia-paper]

Biosketch.  Clive has been an Oxford College Lecturer in biology at Merton, St Anne’s, Pembroke and Oriel. He joined Hertford in 1998 and is the college’s director of studies for Human Sciences. He works in Oxford’s faculties of Zoology, Geography and Anthropology. He is coauthor of the acclaimed book Conservation, published by Cambridge University Press (see reviews).

Moderation note:  As with all guest posts, please keep your posts civil and relevant.

JC note: You may recall that CE has published previous posts related to this topic, from the team of Makarieva, Gorshkov, Sheil:

 

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Image from Pixabay

286 responses to “Beyond Physics: Advanced Biology and Climate Change

  1. Humanity is not a mistake. Good to know.

  2. ” required ‘group-selection’”

    I hope you are not disparaging group selection. Without it, there would have been no evolution of multicellular creatures.

    Great post.

  3. Pingback: Beyond Physics: Advanced Biology and Climate Change – Enjeux énergies et environnement

  4. “There comes a time in all of our lives-professionally and personally-when it feels good to be able to take the narrative back.”

    Aaron Rodgers

  5. Very interesting, a perspective we need very much and have not been getting from the climate-change establishment.
    I hope more light is shed on the earth’s climate well before the next Ice Age begins– so we can prepare.

  6. Thought-provoking. While the complexity of interactions he describes tends to want to make me throw up my intellectual hands and give up at ever understanding even the simplest of the dynamics involved, I am buoyed by the realization that the long term persistence of complex, seemingly chaotic systems,like ours, probably means they have characteristics that will continue to keep them around, irrespective of my understanding or actions. I’d liken following no regrets policies in these circumstances to following a philosophy of life of attempting to be a good person; it might result in a good outcome, it might not. But, smugness seems like a lighter burden to carry than guilt.

    • I’ve never come across a so-called “no regrets” policy in practice.

      • Huh? The IPCC defines “no regrets policies” as : No regrets options are by definition GHG emissions reduction options that have negative net costs, because they generate direct or indirect benefits that are large enough to offset the costs of implementing the options.
        Are you saying when I super-insulated my house, reducing my energy bill substantially, as well as making my space much more comfortable and quiet, that I was not practicing a “no regrets” policy? If so, you have a different definition from what I can find online.
        By the way, because I did the work myself, I thoroughly enjoyed; the new skills I acquired, the feelings of acquired competence in accomplishing my goal and the smugness at the path I chose of being a good steward of my space as well as planet. I have already reached a complete payback for materials and my girlfriend’s propensity to be more scantily dressed while moving about our house has even improved our sex life. Regrets? I’ve had a few, but not about this policy. Do you stick by your assertion?

      • johnvonderlin,

        Either you have misquoted the IPCC definition of “no regrets” or IPCC has changed the standard definition.

      • Peter, for more on the IPCC’s discussion of no regrets see
        http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/tar/wg3/index.php?idp=292

        By the way, this discussion agrees with World Bank usage of the term, at least in the studies I am familiar with.

      • johnvonderlin

        Many folks rushed to “superinsulate” their homes in the late 1970s and early 1980s after calculating the anticipated financial gains. Many later realized unanticipated issues with moisture in the conditioned spaces and within structural cavities, leading to serious problems including structural damage and black mold. These problems often required fixes ranging from extensive remediation to demolition.

        I hope that your upgrades benefited from lessons learned the hard way by those who went before you. Before launching on global policies with long-term ramifications, however, it is important to understand that “no regrets” policies are not always what they seem up front.

  7. Oh, but there is one very important “biological” effect that is accounted for. One lifeform has evolved to the extent that it can remove deeply sequestered fossil carbon and use it as energy while injecting it into the atmosphere where it becomes CO2. This has raised CO2 levels in the atmosphere from 280 ppm to 400 ppm in little more than a century while also acidifying the ocean that absorbs some of it. Fossil fuel reserves may permit this level to exceed 1000 ppm in a hundred or so years unless that lifeform comes to its senses and stops. The largest uncertainty is how much more will be emitted by this species. At one extreme it is 1000 GtCO2, while at the other it is 10000 GtCO2, so the temperature uncertainty is about 1-7 C of warming as a result of these extremes. The species has noticed temperatures warming, glaciers melting and sea-levels rising due to this, but the effect of precautionary actions remain to be seen.
    A helpful graphic for your research on this topic is this, noting that in 1900, the CO2 would be around -0.3 on this scale (0.01*CO2ppm-3.2)
    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/gistemp/mean:240/mean:120/plot/esrl-co2/scale:0.01/offset:-3.2/plot/gistemp/from:1985/trend

    • Either you didn’t read the post, or did and ignored it because it doesn’t fit in your 100% uncertainty free universe.

      • I am pointing out the important biological effect that the poster was ignoring. This is one that obeys a carbon budget unlike the things posted. The atmosphere and ocean both gained carbon. Where from? Think.

    • Which is to say, humanity’s existence could contribute to help prevent the next ice age… for all we know.

      • Good thinking. That was due in 50k years, so we need to leave a lot of carbon in the ground for our descendants to enable them fight that when the time comes. If we use it now, they’re left with nothing.

      • Long range planning for what may happen here in 50,000 years when the Rose Parade in Pasadena was moved to Monday when the 1st fell on Sunday so floats wouldn’t scare horses tied up in front of Churches?

      • That’s the kind of thinking you exhibit with references to the next ice age.

      • The horse and buggy thinking of the 1900s? How so?

      • You think you have a practical solution to the next ice age, right? Can you know what the CO2 level will be 50k years from now? Your solution has no relevance to today’s problems. It’s a horse and buggy solution for a car age.

      • You apparently assume humanity will need oil to generate energy 50,000 years from now, much like in the 1900s most believed the biggest problem facing humanity was getting rid of all horse sch*t.

      • That seemed to have been your assumption. In the shorter, and more realistic, term we can remove all the glaciers and raise sea levels 200 feet, so you should focus on that part first before talking about subsequent effects.

      • What is your 200′ sea level rise prophesy based on, more clouds, less Antarctica? And, how quickly of course… is planning for 50k years into the future seem realistic to you?.

      • Yes, Antarctica and Greenland, and even if it takes a couple of thousand years that is 10 feet per century, rates that have been seen since the last Ice Age. This is why people are concerned about sea level. There is a tipping point scenario for Greenland that plunges Europe into colder temperatures as the Gulf Stream shuts down too.

      • How does an imagined tipping point scenario for Greenland explain the real world collapse of Viking settlements in Greenland following the MWP?

      • True, true, I am sure Mr. Smith would like to burn Jo Nova at the stake:

        “In the last 20 years NASA has been turned from a space agency to one that ignores satellite data in favour of doing statistical tricks with badly placed ground thermometers and relies on Russia to do things in space.” ~Jo Nova

      • Sorry for the mess, cant seem to make it work. I’ll stop now…

      • For all we know unicorns could save the planet…for all we know. .

        Anything follows from a premise of we don’t know.
        Thats why arguments from ignorance are unfalsifiable

      • There are huge, non-climate effects of carbon dioxide which are overwhelmingly favourable which are not taken into account. To me, that’s the main issue, that the Earth is actually growing greener. This has actually been measured from satellites. The whole Earth is growing greener as a result of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, so it’s increasing agricultural yields, it’s increasing the forests, it’s increasing all kinds of growth in the biological world. ~Freeman Dyson

      • wagathon, as you have noted, climate change does have negative consequences. Given the choice between fast change and stabilizing climate it makes sense to stabilize it.

      • ” In such a system, doing something at the margins and not doing something in the margins are equally unpredictable. And the question we should be asking our politicians are, what climate are you actually aiming to produce and when we get there won`t it change anyway?” ~Philip Stott

      • Curious George

        Jim D – does a climate change have only one positive consequence?

      • The more and the faster, the worse it is. It’s a downhill path from the long-adapted optimum.

      • …or, more simple-minded Al Gore-type fake news, fake science, propaganda, disinformation, exaggeration, dismissive Leftist bias, fearmongering-AGW alarmism that is used as an excuse to abandon the scientific method?

      • From Jim D,

        “The more and the faster, the worse it is.”
        and
        “It’s a downhill path from the long-adapted optimum.”

        You are getting good Jim. Though I should say more efficient. Two completely baseless, made up statements in just two sentences.

        The worse what is? The climate? The welfare of the human race? We are seeing continuing emissions of CO2, (your more) at increasing amounts per year (your faster). What we are not seeing is your “worse it is.” It is almost like you at the track, just waiting for your pony to come in. You keep betting higher sums, more frequently and because of that you are convinced your odds of winning are increasing.

        As for “long adapted optimum” – what exactly is that? Who determined what an optimum climate is for humans, or exactly when it existed? If climate changes, then there is no stable, optimum regime we can freeze it at. And if we are headed downhill, it could very well be into the next glaciation, which is due. For all we know, we are on a slow climb up hill from that descent.

      • Good point… when it comes to the optimum temperature, for some New Yorkers , for example, the chosen “long adapted optimum” for the last >20 years has been to spend winters in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

      • What is the optimal sea level rise rate for New York City? Should they rebuild coastal areas that now get devastated by even marginal storms like Irene or Sandy? These are the questions for that region. Other regions have change-related questions related to droughts, floods, water supply, agriculture, etc. Every region has such questions, and we are only at the beginning of the climate change ramp. This is why the climate service business is actually quite lucrative now.

      • What is the optimal population, apartments, parking lots, airports, snow, tourists, plays, gender distribution, restaurants, mosquitoes, GDP, public beach, police, birth rate, economic growth, theaters, bicycle paths, air conditioners and space heaters, buses, bees, minimum wage, average home price, doctors, teachers, banks, free enterprise jobs, government jobs, global warming alarmists…

      • Optimal is what we and nature have evolved in and adapted to over thousands of years. We are going outside that range of temperatures, and not by a little, so it is better to stabilize the climate than to push things to or past limits.

      • Walter Starck noted that if only humans really were able to heat the globe, “and it helps to prevent another ice age, this would be the most fortunate thing that has happened to our species since we barely escaped extinction from an especially cold period during the last ice age some 75,000 years ago.”

      • Little does he know…

      • What if global warming were to continue for 100 years? But, what if as throughout the 10,000 years of the Holocene, the global warming had nothing to do with humans–still a disaster?

      • Sure, if it gets warmer than in 30 million years by 2100, I would think so.

      • ‘Gaia’ may not agree with you–

      • “Optimal is what we and nature have evolved in and adapted to over thousands of years. We are going outside that range of temperatures, and not by a little”

        More alarmist drivel.

        Where I sit, a few thousand years ago was under around a kilometre of ice.

      • “Anything follows from a premise of we don’t know.
        Thats why arguments from ignorance are unfalsifiable”

        Two statements that are very applicable to AGW theory, and to post-normal science in general. The bit that’s missing from the first sentence is: But we can guess.

      • jimd

        the relatively recent Pliocene was substantially warmer than today, had elevated sea levels and co2 levels comparable to today. It was especially warm at the arctic

        http://emps.exeter.ac.uk/csm/research/globalchange/projects/climate/

        Today is not unprecedented in any shape or form, even to the early part of the Holocene

        tonyb

      • Tony,

        Today is not unprecedented in any shape or form, even to the early part of the Holocene

        This is almost amusing, posted as it is at the home of the uncertainty monster.

        Firstly, according to the best information we know, current temperatures are about as high as they have been at any point in the holocene, within uncertainties. So if you want to talk purely about average global temperatures, it would probably be fair to say

        “Today’s temperatures are close to unprecedented in the whole of the holocene”

        Secondly, given the current rate of rise and our knowledge of the climate system we can be almost certain that temperatures will pass the “Holocene unprecedented” mark in the next few decades.

        “Today’s temperatures are close to unprecedented in the whole of the Holocene and will exceed the Holocene maximum in coming decades”

        Thirdly, it seems likely that the *rate* of rise of temperature is unprecedented in the Holocene. It may be unprecedented in the whole of the Phanerozoic (see Kemp, below), even compared to events which caused mass extinctions.

        So, your

        “Today is not unprecedented in any shape or form, even to the early part of the Holocene”

        is highly misleading and:

        “Today’s temperatures are close to unprecedented in the whole of the Holocene and will exceed the Holocene maximum in coming decades. The current rate of rise is very likely higher than anything experienced in the Holocene and may exceed any rate experienced in the past 500 million years”

        would be a fairer summary of our current state of knowledge.

        Or to put it more pithily

        “The earth may not have not experienced a heating shock comparable to manmade global warming whilst complex organisms existed”

        http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2013/09/paleoclimate-the-end-of-the-holocene/
        http://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms9890

      • VTG,

        Firstly, according to the best information we know, current temperatures are about as high as they have been at any point in the holocene, within uncertainties. So if you want to talk purely about average global temperatures, it would probably be fair to say

        “Today’s temperatures are close to unprecedented in the whole of the holocene”

        here’s a correction:

        Firstly, according to the best information we know, current temperatures are near the lowest they have been at any point in the Phanerozoic, within uncertainties. So if you want to talk purely about average global temperatures, it would probably be fair to say

        “Today’s temperatures are close to the lowest the planet has experienced in the whole of the Phanerozoic”

        This is a much better perspective, rather then you cherry picked bit of history. TonyB’s comment you disagreed with is correct:

        the relatively recent Pliocene was substantially warmer than today, […]. It was especially warm at the arctic

        http://emps.exeter.ac.uk/csm/research/globalchange/projects/climate/

        Today is not unprecedented in any shape or form, even to the early part of the Holocene

      • Peter,

        you say you’re correcting me, but you seem to agree with me, as you don’t point to anything I’ve said which is incorrect. It’s a bit confusing. Please let me know where I’ve written something you actually dispute?

        You do seem to want to distract from the dangers of climate change – that it is fast realtive to natural changes and unprecedented in human history – by instead quoting the average temperature relative to the whole of the phanerozoic. Perhaps you could indicate why you feel that is a relevant measure?

      • You talk of “average temperature,” “the Phanerozoic,” “natural changes,”unprecedented in human history,” and really believe you are being relevant?

        The thing we can be sure of is that even the weather has been politicized and reason has been abandoned.

        It is an indisputable fact that carbon emissions are rising—and faster than most scientists predicted. But many climate-change alarmists seem to claim that all climate change is worse than expected. This ignores that much of the data are actually encouraging. The latest study from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that in the previous 15 years temperatures had risen 0.09 degrees Fahrenheit. The average of all models expected 0.8 degrees. So we’re seeing about 90% less temperature rise than expected. ~Bjorn Lomborg

      • “You do seem to want to distract from the dangers of climate change”

        The danger is cooling, not warming.

        A couple of degrees of warming will be a practically unmitigated blessing to humanity, a similar reduction will be catastrophic, with no benefits whatsoever.

        Unless you’re one of these who hates mankind and wants to see us practically exterminated and driven back to the Stone Age, of course…

      • RE: Steven Mosher: “. . . Thats why arguments from ignorance are unfalsifiable.”

        But we’ll shut the whole shebang down anyway . . . just in case.

      • VTG,

        You may believe climate change is dangerous. But that is just your belief, not fact and unsupported by valid argument or evidence.

      • Peter,

        You may believe climate change is not dangerous. But that is just your belief, not fact and unsupported by valid argument or evidence.

      • You may believe climate change is not dangerous. But that is just your belief, not fact and unsupported by valid argument or evidence.

        You may believe climate change is dangerous. But that is just your belief, not fact and unsupported by valid argument or evidence.

      • …and, there’s nothing we can, to prevent climate from changing… tra la la la lalalala …

    • Jim said

      ‘The species has noticed temperatures warming, glaciers melting and sea-levels rising due to this, ‘

      You are right. The Romans noticed this. Nero ordered houses be built tall and in narrow streets to prevent warming, beech trees disappeared from Rome, There was great business for the ‘umberalla’ salesmen and ice imbued with exotic flavours became a viable business.

      Ostria became viable as the Roman port and, it is said, Hanibal was able to pass over the Alps as the glaciers had largely disappeared. Glad to see you paying attention to history or were these great changes merely natural variability?

      tonyb

      • Local coastal subsidence that you mention could be an additive issue. New Orleans wasn’t always below sea level, and it is not sea-level rise alone that caused that. It’s never one issue responsible, but it is an amplifier to have sea level rising everywhere on top of this, especially in some areas. Eastern England has some of these now submerged areas too, and now the process is even faster.

    • Geoff Sherrington

      Jim D,
      Please open your mind.
      Mankind has done more than burn fossil fuel. Mankind has made lakes and dams where there were none, has turned plains to forests and reverse, has seen the last of huge herds of bison, has poured buoyant chemicals on the seas, has affected dust and grime in the air and settled some on snow – one could go on and on.
      Your brainwashed selection of CO2 for emphasis is plain silly and shows how shallow your ruminations are compared with those of the author Hambler.
      How about you give your over-frequent words here some respite and write only about deep, important matters?
      Geoff.

      • Yes, critters could be important for global climate, especially one of them who is actually altering the atmosphere. Just putting this post in the correct perspective, which you may not like, and you make that clear, and that is fine.

    • I believe that the Poster is suggesting that there is a significant biological feedback loop. The increase in CO2 results in increased plant life productivity that in turn yields greater O2 emissions that subsequently yield greater water vapor and thereby an increase in cloud formation. None of this is modeled which makes long range forecasts very suspect.

    • I’ll bite…

      So, Jim, all of the stuff you just mentioned … what if the “biological effect” you identified wasn’t quite knowledgeable enough (yet) to know (fully) that what it was noticing is actually a problem it has to (or should) contend with?

      Or, maybe the planet’s other thousands upon thousands of complex climate, ecological, and biological systems are in fact proceeding in a manner that can eventually account for your “biological effect” naturally, not needing its involvement at all?

      OR, the “biological effect” you reference might even be “micromanaging” the problem it thinks it has identified, and might be causing a single or whole host of other problems that won’t show up until much later (feedback loops, adding variables to complex systems in its haste to “do something about it” etc.)?

      Notice the question mark at the end of these possibilities.

      • History tells us that the main response of biology to climate change is mass extinction and limited survival, and this is what we face this time around too. The size of change we have just embarked on is comparable to past major climate shifts and extinction events. The solution isn’t abrupt either. It can be spread out over the next few decades as technology allows. Only the motivation is needed, and I think this species can figure it out.

      • @Jim D

        Line by line from your short response (thank you, btw)…

        “History tells us that the main response of biology to climate change is mass extinction and limited survival, …”

        I agree, except for the “mass” part, and the “limited” part, those are human interpretations. Different species, different survival rates, evolution, adaptation from natural selection etc.

        “… and this is what we face this time around too.”

        Do we face this extreme possibility? It’s possible, for sure. We are evolved from the same complex set of systems and processes after all. But, do have a tendency to panic, overreact, build ideologies, create religions, want control of our environment etc. too.

        Do you not think any of these other behaviors factor into the creation of our models, and our reactions to / interpretations of those models?

        “The size of change we have just embarked on is comparable to past major climate shifts and extinction events.”

        Assuming whatever information output and data you are referencing is correct, this could be possible. I don’t think it’s probable (yet), but predictions are notoriously hard to get right, because our species tends to try really hard to “prove their point” by confirming their arguments with charts and data. This applies to “both sides” of the climate argument, not just what we call “deniers.”

        Instead of proving the point, I would tend to more closely trust the findings of those scientists who do take more findings into account, including those findings that challenge their own. Instead, what I see is a “my paper versus your paper and who’s RIGHT” back and forth. Charts can be used instead of “paper” in the preceding quote.

        “The solution isn’t abrupt either. It can be spread out over the next few decades as technology allows.”

        How are you so certain that any “solution” we come up with won’t be abrupt, even allowing decades of time? Corporations externalize costs all the time, and “dump” waste materials from the creation of our solutions where they shouldn’t etc.

        But aside from that, how can we be certain that our “solutions” won’t create an entire set of new systemic problems even worse than our alleged climate problem (assuming it is a problem that can be solved)?

        “Only the motivation is needed, and I think this species can figure it out.”

        While I hope we can “figure” out whatever is necessary, the fact that you use the word “motivation” is telling.

        Motivation assumes a condition where there is a lack of motivation to begin with. The problem is, this big-picture examination of our climate has turned into an “us vs. them” circus … instead of an integrated and multi-disciplinary attempt to truly further the understanding of our climate.

      • It is very well for people to say, don’t even try to do anything until we have more information. But these people ignore the information we already have. A straight observational comparison of CO2 and temperature rise supports 2 C per doubling as a transient rate. A look at paleoclimate says that 500-700 ppm periods don’t have polar glaciers and do have much higher sea levels and there is no mystery about why. Our information says that BAU gives us about 700 ppm by 2100, while mitigation can keep us below 500 ppm. Furthermore, mitigation is a slow process, limited only by technology and willpower. It won’t happen tomorrow, but we only need to decrease emissions by half over several decades, and this is a process that is already starting with a flattening of emission rates. Climate change costs, but mitigation costs less, and benefits by taking us off fossil fuels which needs to be a 21st century priority anyway.

      • @Jim D (your 2nd response),

        “It is very well for people to say, don’t even try to do anything until we have more information.”

        There is a logical fallacy in this statement (not one of the traditional ones). I believe it’s called “actions have consequences” (I might be wrong) but I’m going to set that aside and…

        Let’s assume all of your “problem description” is entirely accurate, and we move to mitigating these problems globally (which I think you would agree would have to happen, not just U.S.). Let’s also assume that we can do this, and in the time frame necessary to get the result you are claiming…

        … (Also keep in mind, that I wasn’t arguing for the economic cost comparison between “doing” and “not doing”)…

        Now what? Do all of the religious-like behaviors and social bickering go away too? Because we have WON, we have solved the world’s greatest problem, right? We can all breath, we aren’t going to die a horrible death, our food systems will be saved etc.

        The grant dollars can go to something else now, right? Because we now know how to implement the solutions effectively without making any mistakes that cause us to keep spending money towards the problem … right?

        Not a chance. Why? Because the “goal post” isn’t a static or stationary target either. Once we get “there” (500ppm, 400ppm, 650ppm, doesn’t matter) the problem doesn’t magically “go away.”

        Instead, the problem just changes, and in an even more complex way. Now, we were able to, in essence “control” our climate to a degree … so what will we do? Pick another target. And another, and another, and another…

        The new “Michael Mann” will arise, the new Watts will arise, or the two entities (whatever they are) will butt heads again.

        Because dang it, we have to micro-manage our climate now, THINKING we’re gods and can somehow bring a billions-of-years old set of complex systems that interlock and are interdependent to their proverbial knees.

        Nothing will be “good enough” to stop (even slow down) this “battle” we go through, because very much like the complex systems we are trying to manage … the natural cycle keeps chugging along.

        NOTE: I don’t think we should do “nothing, ever” … but I do think our ambitions, biases, competitive nature, etc. get in the way of what we can truly accomplish (when we are willing to look deeply in the human mirror).

        I think we are capable, but in the really big picture some of the “fight or flight” has to get evolved out of our species before we truly become the metaphorical gods we have the potential to be.

        I have hope … and this article was about (finally) considering the biological in the analysis of the climate. That, to me, is one big step in the right direction. :)

      • Joseph, you have a rather hopeless way of viewing how environmental policies can work. Other things have been successfully mitigated to make the environment incrementally better than it was in the past, at least in developed countries, and this is just one more focused effort that happens to need a global effort by its nature. Yes even a 2 C rise will have problems and it is too late to prevent most of that, but we can prevent 3-4 C. You seem to be coming at it from a political rather than environmental perspective. The bottom line is the kind of environment we want for future generations, and we have a say in that, which they don’t.

      • “Joseph, you have a rather hopeless way of viewing how environmental policies can work.”

        Ring ring, ring, ring.

        Kettle answers his phone:

        Kettle: Hello?

        Pot: Hello Kettle? This is Pot, you’re black!

        Pot slams his phone down satisfied he has pulled yet another mic drop.

        “Other things have been successfully mitigated to make the environment incrementally better than it was in the past, at least in developed countries, and this is just one more focused effort that happens to need a global effort by its nature.”

        Let me translate that for ya:

        In the past government used policy to address problems of pollution by creating administrative agencies that have, through time, incrementally grown in size and power and which now seek global dominance.

        “A straight observational comparison of CO2 and temperature rise supports 2 C per doubling as a transient rate.”

        The likelihood of a straight line existing between cause and effect is a dubious claim. The likelihood that too much data is lacking in knowing any particular cause is a more plausible claim. We are better equipped to identify effects, but assuming A to B causes to explain those effects suggests simplistic thinking in regards to a complex (climate) phenomenon.

        “A look at paleoclimate says that 500-700 ppm periods don’t have polar glaciers and do have much higher sea levels and there is no mystery about why. Our information says that BAU gives us about 700 ppm by 2100, while mitigation can keep us below 500 ppm.”

        That’s the ticket, Jim. When simplistic arguments in regards to a complex phenomenon fall flat, make hundred year predictions. Amaze and astound your friends and neighbors with really scary climate predictions based on business as usual. Of course, a hundred years ago the personal income tax had only just begun so the funding of administrative agencies that would grow into unsustainable monstrosities was sleight.

      • JPZ, word of advice, most rational people would just stop reading when you start to talk about global dominance. Leave that garbage out.

      • Jim D.,

        Rational people don’t look for reasons to stop reading an argument and look at the whole of the argument before deciding what is garbage and what is not. Critical thinkers will take it further and look at the nations planting military bases across the world, invading countries, employing intelligence agencies to topple governments that have no to minuscule relevance to the security of those nations and consider the possibility that global dominance might just be a strategy.

        What’s Aleppo indeed.

      • @Jim D (3rd response)

        “Joseph, you have a rather hopeless way of viewing how environmental policies can work.”

        Hopeless, no (I did end my previous response with “I have hope.” after all). But realistic, yes, factoring in more than A –> B simplistic solutions to complex problems.

        There’s more to it than reaching stationary numerical targets, and that is assuming everything predicts correctly once a solution is implemented (let alone the trouble we have with climate models aligning with observations currently).

        “Other things have been successfully mitigated to make the environment incrementally better than it was in the past, at least in developed countries,”

        Okay, I agree, incrementally. But IF the 1 – 7C increase is a problem we can solve (IF it’s one we have to solve), “incrementally” gets thrown out the proverbial window.

        “… and this is just one more focused effort that happens to need a global effort by its nature.”

        I’m going to stop here, and allow you to think about what you’re asking. IF this is a problem we can (or should) mitigate, the “global effort” has another set of complexity (social, economic, political etc.) that goes beyond the biological impacts on climate.

        “Just one more focused effort” is so far off the mark, it’s not even funny. It’s going to take a lot of integrated, coordinated, cooperative, and efficient work … all at pretty much the same time. And that all assumes we have the right solutions, AND they get the results you’re speaking of here.

        Then the fun begins, if all of that works correctly.

        7 Billion people live on this planet together, and from what I’ve read we haven’t even confirmed a problem for all of us to solve yet. Hence, why it’s not as easy as trading numbers, charts, even physics etc…

        But, so we’re clear, I do have hope. Dr. Curry’s blog and all of the intelligent people on it are a part of the reason for that.

      • Joseph, it looks like you would rather throw your hands up than give things like Paris a chance to play out and at least support their effort. There may be a few people left that don’t like or understand the scientific basis of the effects of CO2, or think it is hopeless to even begin to try to stabilize the climate, but the rest of the world has moved on without waiting for these people to catch up.

      • Jim D “History tells us that the main response of biology to climate change is mass extinction and limited survival” Once again from NASA https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2016/carbon-dioxide-fertilization-greening-earth

      • Jim D: “History tells us that the main response of biology to climate change is mass extinction and limited survival”

        More arrant, ill-informed nonsense from the blog champion.

        History tells that without climate change, the Earth would be a sterile desert.

        Life in all its myriad diversity only became possible when the climate of the Earth changed sufficiently that it was able to support it.

      • More baseless statements Jim.

        “History tells us that the main response of biology to climate change is mass extinction and limited survival, and this is what we face this time around too.”

        Provide examples of when a warming climate led to mass extinctions.

        Knowing you can’t, how about providing examples of species going extinct in the last hundred years. The only documented case I’ve seen is for some little rat found on only one small island in the Pacific. Now some are claiming it is due to climate, but even with my limited expertise in wildlife biology, I am aware of other, more likely causes, starting with a small, isolated population.

      • Timg56,

        Is it alright if I name 2 species that have gone extinct in the last 100 years, no matter the cause? None of the following can be attributed to climate change, as far as I can tell. Some birds are tasty.

        Every one should know of the Passenger Pigeon, but that was just over 100 years ago, so it doesn’t count.

        But what of the Carolina Parakeet?
        The Golden Toad of Costa Rica?
        Have you seen or heard of any confirmed sightings of the Ivory Billed Woodpecker?
        In a few years you can add the Northern White Rhino to the list.

      • Some of the last examples of species have names

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

      • Bob
        Why do you make it so easy to discredit some of the naive things you say. Don’t dumb down the debate by trying to blame everything on AGW.
        Extinction can be the result of a multitude of factors. The woodpecker loss of habitat. Same with the toad and perhaps natural variability in a region.
        The think due to poaching which I’ve heard about for decades. The parakeets thought to be extinct in 1918 but a few later sighted.
        There might be hundreds of species that have become extinct. But that has been happening in the US for a couple hundred years as man encroached on habitat or otherwise made it difficult for the species to survive.
        Many fish in the Great Lakes have been threatened by invasive species brought in by ocean going vessels. The Kirtland Warbler was near extinction because of timber operations in the 1800s.
        Climate change is a complex issue. Warmists do themselves no favor by trying to oversimplify it. The extinction issue is just one example of blowing hype with no facts.

      • The Rhino due to poaching.

      • None of the following can be attributed to climate change, as far as I can tell.

      • Is it alright if I name 2 species that have gone extinct in the last 100 years, no matter the cause? None of the following can be attributed to climate change, as far as I can tell. Some birds are tasty.

        Precisely. Most of the extinctions are from direct causes, mostly predation:

        Making up a story about indirect climate change as a cause has huge holes. That stands to reason climate has always varied, especially over evolutionary time scales. Natural selection necessarily has left existing populations with tolerance to climate change because they have evolved under such conditions.

      • Should we discuss Timg56’s other statement now?

        “Provide examples of when a warming climate led to mass extinctions. ”

        It’s a pretty hot topic in certain circles these days.

      • Bob

        You mean like the circle in ” One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” with Randle P McMurphy, Martini and Nurse Ratched?

        I see why it would be.

    • “One lifeform has evolved to the extent that it can remove deeply sequestered fossil carbon and use it as energy while injecting it into the atmosphere where it becomes CO2.”

      Yes, but that life-form did it for a purpose – the long and largely successful quest to make life less “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” because the species in question considered the associated suffering to be a great evil. This mission is far from complete, and not everyone is prepared to suspend it, even if they themselves have already escaped the worst of that evil.

      • There are more modern ways to generate energy and use fuel, and these are emerging now. The combustion engine will be seen as primitive a few decades from now, and coal burning will go the same way. Things are changing for the better and the choice in the 21st century is to accept it or get out of the way.

    • There are now at least 4 papers demonstrating that atmospheric CO2 is not well correlated to fossil fuel emissions. A rudimentary bounding analysis considers that annual natural CO2 emissions are about 30times fossil fuel emissions. Since it becomes a well mixed gas in the atmosphere the net increase cannot have a higher concentration than 30:1. It would seem unlikely that all the increase can be due to fossil fuel.

      • The increase in CO2 is half of the total emitted, and this increase has been occurring since emissions started at rates in proportion to emission rates. Oceans have acidified as they also gain carbon, so they are a net sink, not a source.

      • There are now at least 4 papers demonstrating that atmospheric CO2 is not well correlated to fossil fuel emissions.

        In which case you’ll be able to provide links to them.

    • “There are more modern ways to generate energy and use fuel, and these are emerging now. ”

      Reliable, cheap and abundant?

      Sadly not, but you say they are ’emerging’. That’s cool! And when they have emerged everyone will switch to them. Rather than dictating to people that they accept bad solutions rather than good, why not bring about the situation of which you are certain and convince people with reality rather than rhetoric?

      People cannot improve their lives with your hot air. Human beings, for all of their failings, are smart enough to have figured that out. Perhaps that is why you are not very fond of them.

      • There are things that can be done now, like switching from coal to gas, or to nuclear, while developing renewables with storage and maybe even fusion, and there is a motivation to do these things, which is to stabilize the climate.

    • Jim D eloquentlyducks the issue at hand, by including man under “biological”. Classical ‘consensus’ determination to never look at causes other than man.

      • I think there’s only a few people left who think climate’s destiny is not in our hands in this century.

      • “I think there’s only a few people left who think climate’s destiny is not in our hands in this century.”

        Very much to the contrary, the number of believers in the cult of dangerous anthropogenic climate change is dwindling at an ever-increasing rate.

        Most people now believe man can no more significantly alter the climate than significantly alter the time the Sun rises and sets.

      • You can search for the polls as well as I can. Find how many think we need to reduce emissions if we can, and they don’t think that for just fun. It’s the climate. You probably find even in your own circles that you come off as the outlier.

      • “You can search for the polls as well as I can”

        Ah, “the polls”. I see…

        Like the polls that said Kinnock was going to beat Thatcher by a landslide in 1992?

        Or the polls that said Miliband was going to beat Cameron by a landslide in 2015?

        Or the polls that said the EU Referendum was going to be won by the Remainers?

        Or the polls that said Hillary was going to be sworn in as POTUS on 20/01/2017?

        THOSE polls?

        Yeah, right!

        PRAT!

      • You are entitled to your own version of the truth. This one is not even close.

      • Here’s a somewhat larger sample.

        Out of a global sample comprising 9,734,179 respondents “Action taken on climate change” came flat last, 16th out of 16 categories.

        So it appears that globally not many people seem particularly concerned about it.

      • That is a different question. When it is yes/no should we do something, it is yes. And that should not surprise you at all.

      • Jim D(enier) said

        I think there’s only a few people left who think climate’s destiny is not in our hands in this century.

        That shows you don’t think at all. You simply believe what you want to believe. Show me the evidence that more than 1% of world population (i.e. >73 million people) believe “the climate’s destiny is in our hands“.

      • http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/04/18/what-the-world-thinks-about-climate-change-in-7-charts/
        There are polls, and they are easy to find, and some are even global. Here’s one I found.

      • Jim D(enier),

        Did you check the number of people who responded to those surveys and calculate the number who believe “the climate’s destiny is in our hands” – No!

        Or did you dodge an weave and avoid the question as usual – Yes!

      • What percentage of a population has to be sampled for you to be satisfied with a poll? So when they have 78% of the sample supporting Paris, do you think it could still be really 1% if more people were sampled?

      • Jim D(enier

        Don’t dodge and weave. Answer the question. Show me evidence that more than 73 million people believe “the climate’s destiny is in our hands“.

        How may responded to the pole? They don’t even say, right?

        Your first comment was really dumb (and totally without any support).

        I think there’s only a few people left who think climate’s destiny is not in our hands in this century.

        It shows you don’t think. Most of your comments are equally dumb!

      • This bot was a quote of Jim D(enier)’s dumb unsupported assertion:

        I think there’s only a few people left who think climate’s destiny is not in our hands in this century.

      • Jim D,
        No need to repeat your evasion, we got it first time. Must look only at anthro issues, or the political script will be lost.

      • Peter Lang, I am not going to explain how polls work by sampling a population, but if 78% of the people in those 40 countries polled think that we should reduce emissions, that represents the views of billions of people.

      • Jim D(enier)

        if 78% of the people in those 40 countries polled think that we should reduce emissions, that represents the views of billions of people.

        Your comment is incredibly ignorant. You haven’t a clue.

    • Never trust a post that begins with “Oh”.

  8. 99% of all species that ever existed are extinct and atmospheric oxygen levels are dropping not rising.

  9. I agree. Most climate models treat the biosphere as a victim, and fail to account for how the biosphere regulates climate as I detailed in the essay How Gaia and Coral Reefs Regulate Ocean pH
    http://landscapesandcycles.net/gaia-and-coral-regulate-ocean-ph.html

  10. Geoff Sherrington

    Thank you to all of those involved in presenting this most important material here. As an ageing chemistry major, it is possible to comprehend clearly both the stated and unstated importance of the need to correctly balance simple radiation physics and complex life form interactions with the globe.
    (My personal reference is is to not use ‘Gaia’ because of pop-science connotations, while still recognising the scholarship behind it.)
    It is disappointing to have to agree that the life form complexity is so large and unquantified that the topic will need a long research term ahead before the true magnitude of influence of many climate mechanisms can be accepted. It is sad that the simple physics approach has been able to jump the gun and be partially incoporated into policy that the world will one day regret.
    Geoff

  11. The carbon cycle, or Life on earth, is the cause of climate change. This can be seen in the Antarctic ice core data or mathematically in a paper that I published last year titled “Anthropogenic and Natural Forcings as Functions of Emission Time” DOI: 10.14355/des.2015.03.001

    I believe that there is quite a bit of scientific truth to the Gaia.

  12. Pingback: Beyond Physics: Advanced Biology and Climate Change | privateclientweb

  13. Reblogged this on Stephen Hinton Consulting and commented:
    Reblogging this excellent piece on the difficulties of modelling climate because life influences it.Thanks to Judith Curry.

  14. It seems obvious to me, that the earth acts as something like a resonator with some energy input. These devices amplify their output (here temperature) until the overall feedback is one. Fluctuations to the upside then meet a negative feedback that drives the amplitude down again. If the energy input is increased independently, the amplitude will increase but less than proportional.
    (Such systems with an initial positive feedback increase their amplitude until either the feedback is reduced to one by some nonlinearity or until the system is destroyed. So feedback based systems found in nature always have a feedback of one in their equilibrium state.)
    In the current case Co2 increases the energy input, but that’s the same as water does, so at a stable point of the system when Co2 increases the energy input a negative water feedback will compensate (because both work in the same way. If Co2 worked in a unique way (equivalent to higher solar irradiation), the temperature would be increased somewhat, but less than proportional.)

    The current model seems to be one of a “device” (climate) regulated by some arbitrary control circuit that is itself regulated by Co2 (which only supplies energy by absorption, the same as water does). So far I didn’t find an argument why this should be so, why Co2 should control the control circuit (I only looked superficially so far, so perhaps my fault, but I believe I must have hit upon it somewhere).
    The only way I see for this to come about would be for Co2 changing the feedback properties of the biosphere in a destabilizing direction (the opposite of the Gaia hypothesis). But so far I have not seen an argument for this point and the above article seems to indicate there hasn’t been one.

    If the current theory was correct we would have a runaway hothouse like Venus because water vapor alone could do the trick. What did I miss?

    (I remember there to have been some attempts to measure the feedback on occasion of “natural experiments”. But these were local and so irrelevant for judging about the whole system. And further in principle the feedbacks may kick in only with considerable delay or may be obfuscated by ocean dynamics for a time.)

    • With “If Co2 worked in a unique way” I mean a way that doesn’t interfere with water vapor feedback directly (would refer to a completely different system).

      The compensation form water vapor will not be perfect. Slight temperature increase anyway. But counted as feedback on top of C02-effect between zero and one. So temperature increase per Co2 doubling between zero and about 1.1 or 1.2°C.

  15. Pingback: biology stabilizes climate … | pindanpost

  16. I have no doubt life regulates/impacts atmospheric gas concentrations on geologic time scales. It does so to a smaller extent on a short term scale. But I’m not sure it can fully counter the impact of the CO2 and methane concentration changes we are observing. I assume this statement isn’t controversial, because there seems to be a sense that doubling CO2 does increase temperature. The question is how much, what’s going to happen in the next 50 years?

    I want to use this opportunity to remind you that oil prices are increasing, that emissions aren’t increasing as predicted by the IPCC, and that “business as usual” isn’t what they thought it would be 10 years ago.

  17. Clive Hambler

    Perhaps the paradigm shift required to understand causality in climate is comparable to discovering the ancient nature of fossils, or plate tectonics, or neo-Darwinism, or the inhibitory models of plant succession.

    Yes. That is probably a good comparison. The difference is that ‘scientists are trying to use models to do research instead of getting out in the field and collecting and analysing the data. As a famous engineer once said: “the time has come to ask not only the experts but the rocks themselves [admittedly in a different context].

    It might be that negative biological and other feedbacks prevented runaway warming in the past, and have already begun to act.

    Almost certainly true! Much evidence of greening-planet and of increasing effectiveness of sinks over recent decades as CO2 concentrations increased.

    If we applied those expenditures to protecting the biological component of climate, we would conserve the climatically-active ecosystems — not, perversely, destroy them though renewable energy impacts and opportunity costs.

    Important point!

    I thank Judith Curry for yet another brave move in hosting this entry. I hope policy makers will focus on no-regrets actions (such as protecting forests and marine life) which are relatively cheap and would work even if I’m wrong.

    This is a wonderful post. A breath of fresh green air.  Thank you Clive Hambler and thank you Judith Curry for continuing to explore ideas outside the box of conventional wisdom.

  18. Clive Hambler,

    I would like to suggest an important point I think you have missed.

    The climate was much more variable before multi-cell life burst forth. Before that, the climate experienced cycles of warm periods and ‘Snow-ball Earth’ events. The last one ended about 620 Ma ago. The first multi-cell animals developed on the sea floor beneath the ice. When the planet warmed, animal life burst out. Over the next 200 Ma or so, animal and vegetable life invaded the oceans and land. Since then, the climate has been much more moderate – but generally much warmer than it is now.

    I’d also add that life thrived in periods much warmer than now and struggled in cold periods. It’s important to recognise that the planet is in a rare, extremely cold period. There has been only one previous period this cold (Permian-Carboniferous Ice Age) since multi-cell life burst out about 600 Ma. For most of the past 500 Ma GMST has been more than 5 C warmer than now.

    It certainly time for more focus on collecting evidence about the climate and biosphere over the period since multi-cell life invaded the seas and land.

  19. What does the author mean by this

    However, I argue here that negative feedbacks due to life (‘Gaia’) may have stabilized the planet’s climate — on geological timescales and in recent decades.

    In what way has the climate stabilised in recent decades?

    • Perhaps referring to the pause. Which like so much of climate change may or may not exist.

      • I did wonder if that might be the case, but that would seem rather odd since the only way one can claim an actual pause (as in stopped, or stabilised) is to play statistical games. It may well have warmed more slowly than expected, but it seems clear that the surface is still – on average – warming and other indicators (ocean heat content, for example) indicate that overall global warming continues, pretty much as expected from our understanding of climate physics.

      • “…warming continues, pretty much as expected…”
        That apparently means that the thermosteric component of SLR has been cordoned off from around Sydney because since 1886 SLR has been at .65mm/yr with no acceleration and no evidence of vertical land movement.

    • It’s probably referring to the carbon cycle – sequestration in biomass. But I wouldn’t take any of it remotely seriously.

      It is hopelessly lacking in scholarship – relying on Salby for carbon cycle, and WUWT for cloud feedbacks(!) just for instance, and casually skipping six orders of magnitude in timescale without justification.

      References to biological feedbacks are, well, rather selective. Chapter 6 of AR5 covers some of this.

      It makes the usual allusions to ” unadjusted observations”, “pause” et al to reassure the audience he’s on their side.

      And, of course, even if the speculations are right, and unaccounted for biological feedbacks are large enough to be significant, there is a 50:50 chance they’ll make things worse rather than better.

      Sure there are interesting ideas and speculations, but that’s all, no coherence and no rigour.

      • vtg,

        relying on Salby for carbon cycle and WUWT for cloud feedbacks(!)

        I missed that, thanks. Indeed, that is rather poor. Maybe the author should try to look into this a bit more before presenting what is suggested to be some kind of breakthrough in how our climate is likely to respond to changes.

    • In what way has the climate stabilised in recent decades?

      For the past four decades human CO2 emissions airborne fraction has been decreasing. A bigger part of CO2 emissions is being taken up by natural sinks. It is reasonable to think that increased greening of the planet is at least partially responsible for that, as warming oceans should reduce their CO2 capacity.

      I am sure that if you believe that increased CO2 is partially responsible for global warming, then the increase in biological sinks is a stabilization factor.

      • For the past four decades human CO2 emissions airborne fraction has been decreasing.

        I don’t think this claim is correct. Reference?

      • What you think is not relevant.

        The source is James Hansen in person.
        Hansen, J., Kharecha, P., & Sato, M. (2013). Climate forcing growth rates: doubling down on our Faustian bargain. Environmental Research Letters, 8(1), 011006.
        http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/8/1/011006

      • You should read that properly. The figure does not include emissions due to land use which means it over-estimates the airborne fraction at earlier times (i.e., land use makes up a decreasing fraction of emissions with time).

      • Nice attempt at sowing methodological confusion, but still wrong:

        Keenan, Trevor F., et al. “Recent pause in the growth rate of atmospheric CO2 due to enhanced terrestrial carbon uptake.” Nature communications 7 (2016).
        http://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms13428

      • Javier,
        You claimed the airborne fraction had been decreasing for four decades. Your evidence for this was a figure from Hansen et al. that explicitly does not include land use emissions. Land use emissions have been a decreasing fraction of our emissions over the last 4 decades and hence your figure over-estimates the supposed decrease in airbore fraction.

      • > I am sure that if you believe that increased CO2 is partially responsible for global warming, then the increase in biological sinks is a stabilization factor.

        It’s what’s being dogwhistled by that argument that rings odd. From the end of Keenan & al’s discussion:

        Despite the decline in the airborne fraction and the resulting pause in the growth rate of atmospheric CO2, the ultimate outcome regarding the pace and magnitude of climate change depends heavily on future emission pathways. CO2 emissions, through the burning of fossil fuels, cement production and land use, have continued to track close to the high end of all scenario predictions. Enhanced carbon uptake by the biosphere to date has served to slow the growth rate of atmospheric CO2 and our results support the hypothesis that net terrestrial CO2 uptake has been especially strong recently. Without effective reduction of global CO2 emissions, however, future climate change remains a stark reality.

        If you prefer the storification of the same:

        The scientists found that despite increasing emissions from human activity, the growth rate of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere actually held steady from 2002-2014. Without the help of plants, Keenan says, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels would already be at about 460 ppm. “That’s something we don’t expect until about 2050 or 2060,” he adds.

        The catch, Keenan explains, is that while plants take in atmospheric carbon dioxide through photosynthesis, using it to grow and support their metabolism, they also release carbon dioxide through a process called respiration. And respiration, Keenan notes, is highly dependent on temperature.

        “So, as CO2 is going up, plants take more CO2 from the atmosphere,” Keenan says. “But as temperatures go up, they also release more CO2 into the atmosphere, because of the effect of temperature on respiration.”

        In other words, our slowdown in global warming — like all grace periods — is temporary. “As temperatures rise with CO2, that has a net negative effect on the carbon balance of the land surface and on ecosystems,” Keenan says.

        In fact, Keenan wagers that with the force of El Niño over the past two years, bringing with it increased temperatures, our grace period may already be over.

        A lot of carbon goes into soils, and these soils are respiring,” he says. “As [the] temperature rises, the carbon that has been stored there could be released back into the atmosphere. That’s super important because, in the Paris Agreement that was signed recently, two-thirds of the countries said they would use the land sink to help them in their mitigation efforts.”

        https://www.pri.org/stories/2016-12-05/plants-are-ramping-photosynthesis-help-absorb-all-our-carbon-dioxide

        “But Gaia” may very well be a double-edge argument.

      • First: Decrease in CO2 emissions from land uses has taken place over the last decade (since 2000) according to IPCC, not over the last four decades.

        Second: The decrease in land use emissions is small, about 5% of total emissions. Its effect on the airborne fraction must be correspondingly small. Airborne fraction has decreased by 10-15%.

        Third: You are free to believe whatever you want. Published scientific literature supports enhanced terrestrial carbon uptake. Unless you can show evidence to the contrary you are just hand waving.

      • Chapter 6, IPCC WGI AR5 (page 495)

        A positive trend in airborne fraction of ~0.3% yr–1 relative to the mean
        of 0.44 ±0.06 (or about 0.05 increase over 50 years) was found by all
        recent studies (Raupach et al., 2008, and related papers; Knorr, 2009;
        Gloor et al., 2010) using the airborne fraction of total anthropogenic
        CO2 emissions over the approximately 1960–2010 period (for which
        the most accurate atmospheric CO2 data are available). However, there
        is no consensus on the significance of the trend because of differences
        in the treatment of uncertainty and noise (Raupach et al., 2008; Knorr,
        2009).

      • Willard,

        If you prefer the storification of the same:

        You can save yourself the effort. I know how to read a paper and to distinguish between evidence and opinion in a paper.

        What the evidence shows is a fact as long as it has been properly collected. The interpretation of the evidence is often just opinion however, since the same evidence often admits different interpretations. The moment scientists start talking about the future they abandon the realm of science as the evidence never predicts the future. Hypothesis based predictions are a way of supporting a correct interpretation of the evidence if and only if they come to happen.

        “Without the help of plants, Keenan says, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels would already be at about 460 ppm. “That’s something we don’t expect until about 2050 or 2060,” he adds.”

        Evidence of hypothesis fail. Nothing more. Atmospheric CO2 should have accelerated with increasing emissions and it didn’t.

        “In other words, our slowdown in global warming — like all grace periods — is temporary”

        This is unsupported by evidence, and therefore opinion. They are just taking the failed predictions and recycling them by pushing them further into the future. This is against scientific principle where failed predictions require modification or dumping the hypothesis that was used to make them.

        There have been several slowdowns in global warming. Their hypothesis is clearly failing to take them into consideration or their predictions wouldn’t have failed them.

        The line “everything is gonna get so much worse soon” is tiresome and unscientific. Scientists have to go only where evidence takes them. Beyond that is the realm of hypotheses and predictions. That realm is fantasy unless predictions turn to be correct. A good scientist knows better than jumping from evidence to fantasy.

        “Keenan wagers that with the force of El Niño over the past two years, bringing with it increased temperatures, our grace period may already be over.”

        Rumors about the dead of the hiatus appear premature.

      • > I know how to read a paper and to distinguish between evidence and opinion in a paper.

        That’s a very important skill to have: that’s how contrarians can replace the authors’ opinion with their own.

        ***

        > You can save yourself the effort.

        Says the guy who wrote five paragraphs to rationalize when being caught presenting his opinion as evidence.

      • Here is a paper suggesting a declining uptake rate of atmospheric CO2 by land and ocean sinks.

        A case of your paper against my paper. Here is a third one:

        Ballantyne, A. P., et al. “Increase in observed net carbon dioxide uptake by land and oceans during the past 50 years.” Nature 488.7409 (2012): 70-72.
        http://www.cfc.umt.edu/research/gcel/files/Ballantyne_IncreasedCO2Uptake_Nature_2012.pdf

        Chapter 6, IPCC WGI AR5 (page 495)
        A positive trend in airborne fraction of ~0.3% yr–1 relative to the mean
        of 0.44 ±0.06 (or about 0.05 increase over 50 years) was found by all
        recent studies

        Clearly not all recent studies. I just showed several that don’t. It would certainly be surprising if the demonstrated greening of the planet would not be accompanied by an increased capacity to absorb CO2. Do you think newly added plants are less photosynthetic?

      • That’s a very important skill to have: that’s how contrarians can replace the authors’ opinion with their own.

        Opinion is opinion. Scientists have not been demonstrated to be more correct in their opinions than non-scientists.

        Should we replace empirical evidence based science with scientists opinion based science?

        Says the guy who wrote five paragraphs to rationalize when being caught presenting his opinion as evidence.

        I have not presented my opinion as evidence so you are suffering from some reading problem.

      • Here is a paper suggesting a declining uptake rate of atmospheric CO2 by land and ocean sinks.

        Seems to be uncertainty with the individual items in the CO2 budget, but the bottom line net of emissions is easy to figure, and indicates an increase in absolute uptake rates:

      • Javier,
        That Ballantyne paper is “net uptake”. Look at Table 1, 5th row.

      • > A case of your paper against my paper.

        It’s actually a case of AT’s paper against your opinion of Stephen & al, an opinion that does not cohere with the authors’ discussion.

      • > Should we replace empirical evidence based science with scientists opinion based science?

        Nice strawmen rolled into a neat rhetorical question, sugarcoating your own opinion as “empirical evidence based” along the way. It’s actually a clash between a scientific explation and a a dogwhistled extrapolation based on a graph.

        The explanation is quite simple. CO2 goes up. Plants take more CO2 from the atmosphere. Then they release more CO2.respiration. So Da Paws in the acceleration (gotta love when contrarians omit that bit) may be temporary, which the recent El Niño indicates.

        Javier’s handwaving at graphs can’t compete with that.

      • > I have not presented my opinion as evidence […]

        Of course you did.

        First, you presented a graph that does not take into account what you make it say. Second, you cite Keenan & al, which does not support your dogwhistling. Third, you finally voice your implicit argument by distanciating yourself from it: Rumors about the dead of the hiatus appear premature..

        Not only Keenan & al does not support that opinion, it proposes a mechanism which shows why Da Paws in the acceleration of temps is subsiding.

        Presenting evidence as if it was speaking for itself is the best way to present one’s opinion as evidence.

      • It’s actually a case of AT’s paper against your opinion of Stephen & al, an opinion that does not cohere with the authors’ discussion.

        Willard, stop making a fool of yourself. What Stephen & al? You are not capable of correctly citing and use nonsensical arguments.

        No opinion of mine in Keenan et al., 2016 Figure 1.

        The evidence in that figure can only be disputed with better evidence, not with opinion.

        You are just showing your problems with the scientific literature.

      • Keenan et al., 2016 opinion is completely irrelevant as they do not show evidence to back it up. Last time I checked the valuation of opinion, it was still 2 cents. Keenan, yours, and mine.

      • > What Stephen & al?

        Keenan & al, of course.

        ***

        > The evidence in that figure can only be disputed with better evidence, not with opinion.

        You’re doing it again, Javier. One does not simply point at evidence in figures. Evidence is always evidence of something. It’s also evidence to someone.

        Besides, there’s no need to dispute in that graph to dispute what you infer from it. And what you infer from Keenan & al goes against the very mechanism they posit to make sense of the graph as evidence.

        No wonder you simply cut-and-past graph without saying much about it.

      • > Besides, there’s no need to dispute in that graph to dispute what you infer from it.

        That is, there’s no need to dispute the evidence in that graph to dispute what you infer from it.

        Since we’re into quoting stuff:

        Both theory and observations suggest CO2 fertilization as a likely, dominant explanation of the global enhancement, though alternative perspectives exist.

        There are three references in that passage, two self-citations and this other one, which has an alternative:

        Fatichi, S., Leuzinger, S. & Körner, C. Moving beyond photosynthesis: from carbon source to sink-driven vegetation modeling. New Phytol. 201, 1086–1095 (2014).

        These authors suggest we should revise the stoopid plants modulz:

        Because many processes shown in Fig. 1 are strongly correlated and optimized by evolution, it is possible to get similar results with either model structure in the short term. For example, biomass production will inevitably decrease with elevation, whether the model structure is sink-driven (temperature acts on growth directly), or whether temperature reduces assimilation and thus growth. However, the underlying processes are fundamentally different. We argue that if these processes and particularly the causalities are not reflected correctly, it is unlikely DGVMs will accurately simulate future C storage except under near-optimal conditions when photosynthesis may become limiting, as shown in a simple proof-of-concept in Fig. 2. Furthermore, since forest structure and composition themselves are likely to feedback on C assimilation, they will also fail in predicting long-term C fluxes.

        http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/nph.12614/pdf

        The renewed hope by contrarians in the correctness of the biological modulz is “refreshing,” as Senior said of Rex Tillerson’s crap about AGW.

      • ???
        Climate isn’t stable, it never has been – it varies:

    • RE: aTTP: “In what way has the climate stabilised in recent decades?”

      I believe it’s an ongoing process . . . IE: ever-changing.

  20. What a fantastic piece by the author. He really seems to have understood the scientific position that not only has the climate been stable in the last 19 years but it has been for the last 10,000 years. Because any nitwit who has studied the climate, knows the interglacials are a relatively stable period where any mechanisms that cause warming must disappear – otherwise warming would just carry on.

    And a biological explanation is a very strong contender to explain the necessary negative feedbacks in the interglacials

  21. I think most people whose consciousness includes a wide range of knowledge of the planet, and can do basic maths and physics, know this “intuitively”. Specialised mathematicians who create climate muddles seem not to understand the difference between hypothesis and reality. I will try to explain modelling 101, again.

    Interpolation within the data range of empirically proven deterministic relationships AND complex non linear numerical models can both produce reliable and effective models, with or without laws. It is used in Neural nets, etc. While computer models can be useful, they are still problematic, even in supposedly deterministic models in “simple” 3 term chemical process control systems with only a few variables for example, within the data range. Forget without. How lucky do you feel?

    Hence the Ziegler-Nichols criteria is often applied when the fancy stuff fails. I pick chemistry because “physical” hardware engineering is easier to model predictably.

    HOWEVER – Extrapolating data series using simplified numerical computer models without understanding the inter relationships betweem multiple non linear stochastic variables involved is probably naive, and certainly not provable science. Just isn’t. How hard can this be to understand? Maybe money and ego blinds the modeller/climate activist priests? It’s obviosuly NOT the basis for wasting Billions on renewables in poreference to gas and nuclear that in fact must make CO2 emissions worse in most countries by law. No question about how generation and the grid physics work,easy to model. David MacKay has done it for one, and the limit conditions are High School physics facts that global climate models are not. QED.

    • > Extrapolating data series using simplified numerical computer models without understanding the inter relationships betweem multiple non linear stochastic variables involved is probably naive, and certainly not provable science. Just isn’t. How hard can this be to understand?

      Rather hard apparently, even for you, brianrlcatt:

      In fact “the greatest challenge we face” per Cameron—of climate change invoked to support renewables legislation promoting 100 or 200% subsidised wind farms and bio fuel burning that overall make CO2 emissions expensively worse in science fact—is something that was always unproven and whose nature and causes remain unknown outside of orbital and precessional terrestrial variation and solar intensity variance, plus a dash of plate tectonics and its consequences.

      Funny how deterministic climate suddenly becomes when natural causes can be invoked to explain past variability, innit.

      > Maybe money and ego blinds the modeller/climate activist priests?

      I just adore how you so effortly wax into speculation and insinuation one sentence after having delivered an impassioned lecture about provable science.

      • That’s because unprovable in fact climate change hypothesis is used to justify speculative profit that makes CO2 emissions worse at massive cost, while the rational solution is unsubsidised and doesn’t. Yes, I moved from the engineering fact, to the climate science is hypothesis, exploited for fraudulent profit by regressive renewable subsidies. I thought that was trasnparently obvious. Only the energy engineering is fact. As New York State energy supply and plans will confirm to you, perhaps. They plan what works, with some token subsidy farms.

      • > […] exploited for fraudulent profit by regressive renewable subsidies.

        Yeah, because tax considerations for fossil fuels are simply non-existent.

        > I thought that was trasnparently obvious.

        What’s far from transparently obvious is how Milankovitch orbital forcing and solar variability can be Sound Science ™ whilst CO2 forcing is not just an unproven hypothesis, but an *unprovable* one because … lack of “understanding the inter relationships betweem multiple non linear stochastic variables”, brianrlcatt.

        What’s transparently obvious is your special bleating.

  22. Humans of earth: we are carbon based life forms, whose every sentient moment occurs only by the grace of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    Mother nature has had a solar energy program for billions of years that didn’t require tax credits or losing money on Solyndra. It’s called photosynthesis.

    • ‘Humans of earth: we are carbon based life forms, whose
      every sentient moment occurs only by the grace of CO2
      in the atmosphere. ‘

      Those models jest can’t model clouds or complex
      breathing biology…

      ‘Before man came to blow it right
      The wind once blew itself untaught,
      And did its loudest day and night
      In any rough place where it caught.

      Man came to tell it what was wrong:
      I hadn’t found the place to blow;
      It blew too hard–the aim was song.
      And listen–how it ought to go!

      He took a little in his mouth,
      And held it long enough for north
      To be converted into south,
      And then by measure blew it forth.

      By measure. It was word and note,
      The wind the wind had meant to be–
      A little through the lips and throat.
      The aim was song–the wind could see./

      Robert Frost.

  23. I find it odd that the role of biotic influences over four billion or so years in geoengineering the planet into the one that we now find ourselves on has been so much ignored by the purported experts in CAGW theory in favour of narrow abiotic mechanisms such as found in radiative physics. Odd, but not unexpected though.

    When you’re paid only for using a blunt instrument and the idea that the particular tool you wield is the only tool that’s worth using has been successfully sold to the purchasers of your skills then it’s happy days for you!

    An excellent and thought-provoking post that, sadly, will be ignored except for drive-by vilification by a hubristic and well-rewarded consensus establishment.

    Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose – Sigh.

  24. Oxygen IS a greenhouse gas
    Thanks Clive for summarizing the numerous bio-feedbacks and bio-nonlinearities impacting climate. Note that though not directly like H2O and CO2, climate is still impacted by O2 and thus by bio oxygen generation and further multiple nonlinear feedbacks.
    e.g., See: Poulsen, Christopher J., Clay Tabor, and Joseph D. White.
    “Long-term climate forcing by atmospheric oxygen concentrations.” Science 348.6240 (2015): 1238-1241.

    The percentage of oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere varied between 10% and 35% throughout the Phanerozoic. These changes have been linked to the evolution, radiation, and size of animals but have not been considered to affect climate. We conducted simulations showing that modulation of the partial pressure of oxygen (pO2), as a result of its contribution to atmospheric mass and density, influences the optical depth of the atmosphere. Under low pO2 and a reduced-density atmosphere, shortwave scattering by air molecules and clouds is less frequent, leading to a substantial increase in surface shortwave forcing. Through feedbacks involving latent heat fluxes to the atmosphere and marine stratus clouds, surface shortwave forcing drives increases in atmospheric water vapor and global precipitation, enhances greenhouse forcing, and raises global surface temperature. Our results implicate pO2 as an important factor in climate forcing throughout geologic time.

    Citations
    Poulsen, Christopher J., Clay Tabor, and Joseph White. “Response to Comment on “Long-term climate forcing by atmospheric oxygen concentrations”.” Science 353.6295 (2016): 132-132.

    Goldblatt argues that a decrease in pressure broadening of absorption lines in an atmosphere with low oxygen leads to an increase in outgoing longwave radiation and atmospheric cooling. We demonstrate that cloud and water vapor feedbacks in a global climate model compensate for these decreases and lead to atmospheric warming.

  25. An excellent post.

    I read the Makarieva posts from 2010 to 2014 and was intrigued by the difficulties the authors encountered in publishing their work. New ideas are not received easily. Of the 1400 comments in the 2013 post, Pekka’s contention that the research applied only to weather but not to climate made the least
    since to me. If the dynamics are at play a billion times over an extended period, why not.

    I suspect, given the establishment’s reluctance to embrace new ideas, Makarieva’s ideas and the Biotic Pump Theory are not gaining much traction.

    Perhaps the next generation of climate scientists will be more receptive to the ideas in this post and those of scientists like Makarieva.

  26. BTW, JimD pointed out above that including humans as biological components is necessary for a complete picture. That includes human population. And considering the reason why human CO2 emissions peaked a few years ago:

    This makes it easy to predict:
    Human CO2 emissions have already peaked and will decline going forward and this didn’t even take agreeing to high level government accords.

    • Emissions have grown several times faster than population, so clearly something else is a factor, i.e. development. Both population and development are increasing, so BAU would give us a faster emission growth than population growth, and the population growth itself is about 50% by 2100.

      • Emissions have grown several times faster than population

        Right up until 2016 when emissions started falling:

        While no one was looking, a paradigm shifted.

        clearly something else is a factor, i.e. development.

        Yes, economic development leads to falling emissions after development.
        The irony is the Ehrlichs of the world railed against economic development but that’s what leads to environmental improvement.

      • People were saying, and maybe some still do, it would collapse the global economy to reduce emissions. How wrong they were. Emissions will grow in populated areas of the world where the per capita use is far below the global average, like India and Africa, and the key is to get them to use less damaging forms of energy generation and fuel in their inevitable development, which is not as easy as you might think.

      • People were saying, and maybe some still do, it would collapse the global economy to reduce emissions.

        Yes, probably hyperbole both with the economic as well as climate effects.

        But the decreases, which are in many different countries, were not forced by higher priced alternatives, but were, largely the result of decreasing demand.

      • Here’s a view. It’s how the fossil fuel prices will evolve that the detractors of alternatives fail to account for. Gas is very finite. Oil’s usefulness as an asset became limited, so there is a price war to sell it before it can’t be sold anymore which is killing the less efficient production methods. Plus how dirty coal is, is being finally realized and that industry is folding. These pressures were applied because of climate change, so they are collapsing under their own weight, even without having to do much.

      • “Gas is very finite.”

        On a centennial – possibly even millennial scale…

      • Using all the gas available is no biggie in terms of potential CO2 added, but it is better to spread it out over time, possibly as a backup to renewables, and because my home heat relies on it.

      • According to Jim D, the external political pressures crushing fossil industry, mean the industry is collapsing “under its own weight”.
        What this slick spin seems to mean, is that the creatively imagined economic costs based on creatively imagined attribution of man’s CO2 to creatively imagined CAGW scenarios, are treated as unquestioned gospel.

      • People looking to invest are no longer looking at fossil fuels as something with much potential in the energy sector. This is how industries die.

      • “People looking to invest are no longer looking at fossil fuels as something with much potential in the energy sector.”

        Clearly demonstrating you know no more about investment strategies than you do about science, ie the square root of SFA.

      • They’re diversifying or jumping ship altogether.

      • Jim D re-evades the point, noting that energy investors are looking at areas other than fossil, but again neglecting to mention that the obvious cause is political interference rather than the efficacy of fossil.

  27. It is important to consider that on relevant temporal scales life on Earth acts through feedbacks, responding to climate change, and not as forcing, and therefore does not cause climate change.

    The feedbacks are very complex. During deglaciations living organisms absorb great amounts of CO2 as they expand, while microorganism emit important amounts of methane. They also increase humidity which increases snow. During glaciations the opposite happens and the living organisms are partially responsible for elevated CO2 levels as the cold progressively kills significant amounts of living organisms that release CO2. There’s also decreased humidity that decreases snow precipitation.

    As a general rule I would say that living organisms oppose climate change on relevant temporal scales and on average should constitute a negative feedback.

  28. No educated person is unaware of one aspect of Earth’s basic biology: most atmospheric oxygen results from living organisms.

    I am an educated person, but I am not so sure. Most of atmospheric oxygen might have come from photodissociation of water by incoming UV radiation in the upper atmosphere and subsequent Hydrogen escape to space. This process is not mediated by biology, it is a physical process.

    Moreover, it does not work any more, because our current atmosphere is dominated by diatomic gases, so convective currents only go up to the tropopause, while there is an ozone layer high above it, stopping UV, which would not be there with no Oxygen.

    Living organisms (those capable of photosynthesis) only produce Oxygen, if their body is buried on death, otherwise all living tissue is oxidized again. I do not know if there is enough reduced carbon compounds in the crust to account for atmospheric Oxygen plus the vast amount of iron in a highly oxidized state. Could someone provide quantitative estimates?

  29. Pingback: Beyond Physics: Advanced Biology and Climate Change | The Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF)

  30. Like I said. unicorns Make clouds.

    Arguments from ignorance. Bad. Very bad.

    You can model the climate..even knowing very little.

    See climate audit. Steves essay on Callandar.

    • Callander did not do a climate model per se. He did an estimate of ECS that came out 1.67. Remarkably close to Lewis and Curry 2014, and about half of the median CMIP5. From Callander in 1938 to Lewis 2015, onlu the IPCC models repeating the Charney estimate say we have a problem. Old steam engineers and new observational estimates say we don’t.

    • You can model the climate..
      But modeling doesn’t mean predictability.
      Some things are predictable.

      Relative variation of seasons ( summer warmer than winter ) will remain predictable. Why? Because the radiance is based on orbits which are stable.

      Relative aridity of the Namibian Desert versus the Amazon will remain predictable. Why? Because the forcing of the continental topography and pole to equator gradients are stable.

      Relative global warming with increased CO2 will remain predictable. Why? Because the forcing at the tropopause is stable and largely unaffected by changes below.

      Things that are not predictable: whether precipitation will increase, decrease, or stay the same for larger regional areas on earth for the next month, or year, or decade, or century. Why? Because precipitation is a function of dynamics which are not stable or predictable.

      Ditto for storms. And winds. And Droughts. And the related heatwaves. And cold waves. And….

      • Steven Mosher

        “Things that are not predictable: whether precipitation will increase, decrease, or stay the same for larger regional areas on earth for the next month, or year, or decade, or century. Why? Because precipitation is a function of dynamics which are not stable or predictable.”

        These too are predictable. Everything is predictable. What you meant to say is that actionable predictions are hard. Or accurate ( defined relative to a purpose ) are hard.

      • “Relative global warming with increased CO2 will remain predictable.”

        Wrong.

        ToA energy balance, maybe. (near) surface temp – no way. Advection and latent heat transport are THE dominant drivers of near surface temp. These are unlikely to be usefully modelled at global scale any time soon (if ever).

        Or, alternately put, wind, rain/snow and clouds have a significant impact on near surface temp, as anyone who has experienced two consecutive days with > 20% variation in min or max temp can attest – and that’s pretty much everyone.

        Or, to get back to evidence, in the last 30 or so years, we’ve emitted more CO2 than at any previous time in our history, yet there has been LESS change in near surface temp over that time than at times where pretty much everyone agrees we simply could not have affected temps with our CO2 (just didn’t spit out enough of it to matter) – refer to various “warm periods” and “cold periods”.

      • ToA energy balance, maybe. (near) surface temp – no way. Advection and latent heat transport are THE dominant drivers of near surface temp. These are unlikely to be usefully modelled at global scale any time soon (if ever).

        Advection certainly determines much of local weather, including temperature. But advection of a generally warmer troposphere means a generally warmer surface.

        Latent heat is also very significant and if it rained more everywhere, temperature response would be reduced. To be completely reversed, however, would require a lot of rain everywhere.

        I think global average temperature increase is stably and accurately though not precisely, predictable.

    • RE: Steven Mosher | “You can model the climate..even knowing very little.”

      Really? So how come nobody has? (I mean, somewhat accurately, or even remotely useful.) Even though they know very little.

      I get it. Models are good. Observations are bad. We have modeled the climate even though we know very little.

      And more taxes will fix it. Like I said, I get it now . . .

  31. Predicting is easy. Getting the prediction right is the hard part.

    A lot of climate science these days is just about predicting.

  32. “Or solar activity might be driving the carbon cycle, stifling CO2 increase.”

    If weaker solar activity is responsible for a warm AMO, then elevated CO2 levels would be a natural negative feedback, as CO2 uptake is greatly reduced with a warm North Atlantic.
    http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v6/n2/abs/ngeo1680.html

    The association between sunspot cycles, and the AMO:
    https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/association-between-sunspot-cycles-amo-ulric-lyons?trk=pulse_spock-articles

  33. Great essay. Two supporting sound bites.
    1. Coniferous forests produce turpene aerosols. Deciduous and rain forests produce isoprene aerosols. Ocean algae produce DMS aerosols. All are cloud condensation nuclei as the Great Smokey Mountains attest. Feedback not in climate models.
    2. The major quasi permanent CO2 sink (save thankfully for recycling via plate tectonic subduction zone volcanism) is carbonate formation by marine organisms like diatoms and coccolithophores (eventually producing chalk and limestone). That sink never saturates, unlike the Bern model.

    • I remember reading someone saying without this huge amount of CO2 being converted by tiny shell creatures, Earth would’ve turned into Venus. If true, could this be a factor in Fermi’s paradox?

  34. I would like to tell you of my latest book and documentary.
    ‘The Deliberate Corruption of Climate Science’.
    My latest documentary and video of my presentation.

    My website is
    Thank you.
    Tim


    http://www.drtimball.com

    • I see my rebuttal that Tim Ball is a “climatologist” has bee removed.

      • Please will someone provide evidence that Tim Ball is a “Climatologist” as he claims.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_Ball

        “Timothy Francis “Tim” Ball (born November 5, 1938) is a Canadian geographer. A retired professor, he taught in the department of geography at the University of Winnipeg from 1971 until 1996. Ball rejects the scientific opinion on climate change, stating that “CO2 is not a greenhouse gas.”He has worked with the Friends of Science and the Natural Resources Stewardship Project, and is a research fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.”

      • Gavin has degrees on Math. Ball has degrees in Geography. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are college dropouts.
        So what’s your point?

      • Tony Banton

        I note your Wikipedia link has an edit by William Connely. If we are looking for bias lets go straight to Tim’s web site

        http://drtimball.com/_files/dr-tim-ball-CV.pdf

        I understand that amongst his various credentials is that he obtained a degree in historical geography, very useful for tracking back through climate history. His work on the Hudson bay trading Co records is especially interesting.

        I don’t think that Gavin or James Hansen had degrees in climatology.

        tonyb

      • Tony,

        thank you for your clear report that Tim Ball is a straightforward climate science denier (aka “slayer”) with no understanding of the subject.

        Ball., T.F. , Johnson, C., Hertzberg.,M., Olson.,J.A., Siddons.,A., Anderson.,C.,
        Schreuder.,H., and O’Sullivan.,J. Slaying the Sky Dragon:Death of the Greenhouse Gas
        Theory., Stairway Press, Mount Vernon Washington. February 2011.

      • VTG

        I hold no particular brief for Tim Ball. I often find his pieces at WUWT a little tiresome. However his work on historical climate is generally pretty good.

        tonyb

      • Tony,

        Regardless of your views of his writing, his cv clearly shows that far from being a “climatologist” he is in fact a denier of the science of climatology.

      • VTG: Ball’s cv shows nothing of the sort. You are confusing your personal views with science, where multiple views abound.

      • I seem to recall that Tim’s Manitoba degree is specifically in climatology, one of the first such. He is certainly an expert in the subject.

      • > I seem to recall that Tim’s Manitoba degree is specifically in climatology

        And I seem to recall that this is a lie that just will not die:

        https://www.desmogblog.com/dr-tim-ball-the-lie-that-just-wont-die

      • science, where multiple views abound.

        Not on skydragon physics they don’t.

        You’re conflating conservative ideology with science.

      • “Gavin has degrees on Math. Ball has degrees in Geography. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are college dropouts.
        So what’s your point?”

        Simple and quite obvious I would have thought…
        It is that that video still has the title “Climatologist” on it followed by his web addy.

        What qualifies him as a Climatologist?
        And if he has neither gained a qualification in that discipline, nor worked professionally in that field, why does he think he is the equivalent of someone who has?

      • Gavin has degrees on Math.
        Stephen Schneider had degrees in mechanical engineering.
        James Hansen has degrees in Physics and Astronomy.

        Not many of the prominent climate doomsters have much education in climatology.

      • David:
        “VTG: Ball’s cv shows nothing of the sort. You are confusing your personal views with science, where multiple views abound.”
        “I seem to recall that Tim’s Manitoba degree is specifically in climatology, one of the first such. He is certainly an expert in the subject.”

        Nope:
        No mention of the disciplines that he studied for his B.A/M.A/Ph.D at all in his cv ….

        http://drtimball.com/_files/dr-tim-ball-CV.pdf

        Also his wiki page omits any mention of what his Ph.D was earned in …..

        “Ball received a bachelor’s degree with honors from the University of Manitoba in 1970, followed by an M.A. from the University of Manitoba in 1971 and a PhD from Queen Mary University of London in England in 1983.[4] Ball became an instructor at the University of Winnipeg in 1971, and a lecturer the following year. He then served in the latter capacity for 10 years. In 1982 he became an assistant professor there, and was promoted to associate professor in 1984 and full professor in 1988.[4]”

        However Geography is listed as his “Field”

        I would rather think that he is the prime editor of that page.
        Why does he keep his Ph.D subject quiet?

        I’ve just had a tussle with denizens at WUWT re double standards.
        May I suggest that if there were such a “Climatologist” prominent in the media on the consensus side then your response to that claim would be less sanguine?

      • David:

        “VTG: Ball’s cv shows nothing of the sort. You are confusing your personal views with science, where multiple views abound.”
        “I seem to recall that Tim’s Manitoba degree is specifically in climatology, one of the first such. He is certainly an expert in the subject.”
        Nope:
        No mention of the disciplines that he studied in his Phd at all in his cv ….

        http://drtimball.com/_files/dr-tim-ball-CV.pdf

        Also his wiki page omits any mentionof what his Phd was earned in …..

        However Geography is listed as his “Field”

        I would rather think that he is the prime editor of that page.
        Why does he keep his Phd subject secret?

        I’ve just had a tussle with denizens at WUWT re double standards.
        May I suggest that if there were such a “Climatologist” on the consensus side then your response to that claim would be less sanguine?

      • “Gavin has degrees on Math.
        Stephen Schneider had degrees in mechanical engineering.
        James Hansen has degrees in Physics and Astronomy.
        Not many of the prominent climate doomsters have much education in climatology.”

        Eddie;
        Maths is a transferable discipline.
        Physics is a transferable discipline.
        Mech eng is not so much …. though I studied it and physics was a part.

        Also Re ….
        “Schneider studied the role of greenhouse gases and suspended particulate material on climate as a postdoctoral fellow at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. …..”

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

        What climate doomsters might they be then?

      • Ton

        Did it go over your head as to why I mentioned Mann? Talk about double standards.

        Mosher has a degree in Medieval Lithuanian Literature, or whatever to hell it is, and he still at times does a pretty good job.

      • cerescokid:
        I did not “mention” Michael Mann as my beef is why Ball passes himself off as a “climatologist” when he plainly isn’t …. in fact he seems to want to hide whatever it is he did study to get a BA, MA and PhD.

        Here is Mann’s cv….

        http://www.michaelmann.net/content/about
        Climate science is applied physics.

        “Dr. Michael E. Mann is Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science at Penn State, with joint appointments in the Department of Geosciences and the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute (EESI). He is also director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center (ESSC).

        Dr. Mann received his undergraduate degrees in Physics and Applied Math from the University of California at Berkeley, an M.S. degree in Physics from Yale University, and a Ph.D. in Geology & Geophysics from Yale University. His research involves the use of theoretical models and observational data to better understand Earth’s climate system.”

      • I intended to repeat my point about Gavin, mistakenly typed in Mann. Still holds true for Gavin. No climatology degree.

      • NOAA Postdoctoral Fellow in Climate and Global Change Research

      • I didn’t realize that Mann didn’t have an education in atmospheric science either.

      • Climatology is applied physics, as is meteorology at it’s root.
        What it is not, is Geography.

        http://applied.physics.indiana.edu/atmospheric.shtml

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

        “Climate research is made difficult by the large scale, long time periods, and complex processes which govern climate. Climate is governed by physical laws which can be expressed as differential equations. These equations are coupled and nonlinear, so that approximate solutions are obtained by using numerical methods to create global climate models. Climate is sometimes modeled as a stochastic process but this is generally accepted as an approximation to processes that are otherwise too complicated to analyze.”

        BTW: Is “songhees” who I think it is?

      • Accordng to Verytallguy, a prerequisite of being a climatologist is that you swallow the ‘consensus’ whole wihout blanching.

  35. After reading the Hambler post yesterday, I placed my hands on the keyboard because I wanted to say something, something profound and insightful regarding biology and its complexity. Alas, my mind was and still is a jumble of thoughts although one thought is recurrent: Mitochondria, the engine within our cells taking simple sugars and through oxidation and reduction processes make energy plus CO2 and water.

    One of the remarkable facts of mitochondria is that they arose from bacterial mitochondria. Mitochondria were parasitized by other single cells which in turn gained extra energy from more complete use of the substrate. This energy system added additional energy (ATP) from the redox process, allowed individual cells to be combined with other cells to become multi cell organisms.

    Cells contain a host of structures and various transport proteins shepherding chemicals from one internal receptor to another under the supervision of its resident DNA. DNA itself listens to what is going on outside the cell and then contributes its own expertise to pass along on the river flowing by or the electronic signaling system. The cell’s mitochondria provides the energy for all this to happen, the protein factory power house. The “coal” that is the fuel for this power house is in part, the carbon cycle, coming full circle.

    Marrying climate and biology into some transformational paradigm will require a better understanding of both systems before studying how the two interact as well as how each system changes one other through such interactions.

    Both are “wicked” problem systems in their own right let alone in the dynamic world in which we live.

    • RiH, I have been following molecular biology since leading the Mot biochip (genechip) effort in the late 1990’s. Met some great people like Bert Vogelstein at Hopkins and Frank Prendergast at Mayo. Incredibly complex wicked problem. The actual science part I can only generally comprehend; most details are above my pay grade, and are for sure wickedly complex. But the war on cancer and inherited disease has driven incredible progress since I got peripherally involved about 20 years ago. Gleevek against CML faulty bcr-cml, and now Keytruda and Optivo against PD-1 in metastatic melanoma. Jimmy Carter likely cured in 4 weeks. Literally a miracle from my perspective starting 20 years ago.
      Unlike climate science, where answers seems to have preceded questions and little scientific progress has apparently been made on that other wicked problem since the 1992 ‘answer’ was dictated. Regards.

      • ristvan

        Thank you re: the mystery of cancer. Here a miracle, there a head scratching predicament.

        My father died of metastatic melanoma when I was 10 years old. At the death conference, that used to be held by doctors who read and interpreted the autopsy report to the family, the doctor said to my mother: “Mary, we will have this cancer thing figured out in 10 years.” Mayo Clinic, 1953. Think of how long ago that was.

        Today I have lived through some real miracles: childhood lymphocytic leukemia, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, osteogenic sarcoma and some others more. From: ” I’m sorry but…” to “here is what we are going to do and I am very very optimistic.”

        Yet, as we learn from what I would call: dys-biology; ie cancer and so many diseases, to biology, the study of how things work, I am reminded of the parallel of climate science research and biology research; currently, not the how and why, rather, what can we do about….? that is, fixing what we perceive is broken.

        I have also lived through an era where persistence, doggedness, fighting though the pain and suffering, striving for each second and never ever giving up gives way to: it is the time to say: “now I am going to rest. I have fought my fight. Good bye.”

        The mind, body, the physics, the chemistry, physiology all merge at the penultimate: birth and death. The journey in between is the struggle.

  36. Looks like all supposition and no evidence supporting the thesis of the guest post.

    The climate scientists have made predictions and the evidence supports their predictions so far.

    Or another way to say it is “All hat and no cattle!”

    • bd, that is one of your more ridiculous uninformed comments ever. See my two soundbites upthread for two separate supporting examples.

      • I’d have to say I am way more informed than you ristvan.

        For unlike you and Clive, I know there is no pause, which can’t continue, since there has been no pause.

        And since the carbon cycle is incorporated in to the latest climate models, I would say the gaia hypothesis is all wet.

        Otherwise the guest post is word salad.

      • I have said this before, and I’ll say it again.

        No one who champions a pause is willing to define it and put it to statistical test in accordance with their definition.

        That’s what I know, convince me I am wrong.

        You are not up to the task.

      • All these climate scientists disagree with you.

        Dr. Phil Jones – CRU emails – 5th July, 2005 – “The scientific community would come down on me in no uncertain terms if I said the world had cooled from 1998. OK it has but it is only 7 years of data and it isn’t statistically significant….”
        __________________

        Dr. Phil Jones – CRU emails – 7th May, 2009 – ‘Bottom line: the ‘no upward trend’ has to continue for a total of 15 years before we get worried.’
        __________________

        Dr. Judith L. Lean – Geophysical Research Letters – 15 Aug 2009 – “…This lack of overall warming is analogous to the period from 2002 to 2008 when decreasing solar irradiance also countered much of the anthropogenic warming…”
        __________________

        Dr. Kevin Trenberth – CRU emails – 12 Oct. 2009 – “Well, I have my own article on where the heck is global warming…..The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.”
        __________________

        Dr. Mojib Latif – Spiegel – 19th November 2009 – “At present, however, the warming is taking a break,”…….”There can be no argument about that,”
        __________________

        Dr. Jochem Marotzke – Spiegel – 19th November 2009 – “It cannot be denied that this is one of the hottest issues in the scientific community,”….”We don’t really know why this stagnation is taking place at this point.”
        __________________

        Dr. Phil Jones – BBC – 13th February 2010 – “I’m a scientist trying to measure temperature. If I registered that the climate has been cooling I’d say so. But it hasn’t until recently – and then barely at all. The trend is a warming trend.”
        __________________

        Dr. Phil Jones – BBC – 13th February 2010

        [Q] B – “Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming”[A] “Yes, but only just”.
        __________________

        Prof. Shaowu Wang et al – Advances in Climate Change Research – 2010 – “…The decade of 1999-2008 is still the warmest of the last 30 years, though the global temperature increment is near zero;…”
        __________________

        Dr. B. G. Hunt – Climate Dynamics – February 2011 – “Controversy continues to prevail concerning the reality of anthropogenically-induced climatic warming. One of the principal issues is the cause of the hiatus in the current global warming trend.”
        __________________

        Dr. Robert K. Kaufmann – PNAS – 2nd June 2011 – “…..it has been unclear why global surface temperatures did not rise between 1998 and 2008…..”
        __________________

        Dr. Gerald A. Meehl – Nature Climate Change – 18th September 2011 – “There have been decades, such as 2000–2009, when the observed globally averaged surface-temperature time series shows little increase or even a slightly negative trend1 (a hiatus period)….”
        __________________

        Met Office Blog – Dave Britton (10:48:21) – 14 October 2012 – “We agree with Mr Rose that there has been only a very small amount of warming in the 21st Century. As stated in our response, this is 0.05 degrees Celsius since 1997 equivalent to 0.03 degrees Celsius per decade.”Source: metofficenews.wordpress.com/2012/10/14/met-office-in-the-media-14-october-2012
        __________________

        Dr. James Hansen – NASA GISS – 15 January 2013 – “The 5-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade, which we interpret as a combination of natural variability and a slowdown in the growth rate of the net climate forcing.”
        __________________

        Dr Doug Smith – Met Office – 18 January 2013 – “The exact causes of the temperature standstill are not yet understood,” says climate researcher Doug Smith from the Met Office.[Translated by Philipp Mueller from Spiegel Online]
        __________________

        Dr. Virginie Guemas – Nature Climate Change – 7 April 2013 – “…Despite a sustained production of anthropogenic greenhouse gases, the Earth’s mean near-surface temperature paused its rise during the 2000–2010 period…”
        __________________

        Dr. Judith Curry – House of Representatives Subcommittee on Environment – 25 April 2013 – ” If the climate shifts hypothesis is correct, then the current flat trend in global surface temperatures may continue for another decade or two,…”
        __________________

        Dr. Hans von Storch – Spiegel – 20 June 2013 – “…the increase over the last 15 years was just 0.06 degrees Celsius (0.11 degrees Fahrenheit) — a value very close to zero….If things continue as they have been, in five years, at the latest, we will need to acknowledge that something is fundamentally wrong with our climate models….”
        __________________

        Professor Masahiro Watanabe – Geophysical Research Letters – 28 June 2013 – “The weakening of k commonly found in GCMs seems to be an inevitable response of the climate system to global warming, suggesting the recovery from hiatus in coming decades.”
        __________________

        Met Office – July 2013 – “The recent pause in global warming, part 3: What are the implications for projections of future warming?………..Executive summaryThe recent pause in global surface temperature rise does not materially alter the risks of substantial warming of the Earth by the end of this century.”
        Source: etoffice.gov.uk/media/pdf/3/r/Paper3_Implications_for_projections.pdf
        __________________

        Professor Rowan Sutton – Independent – 22 July 2013 – “Some people call it a slow-down, some call it a hiatus, some people call it a pause. The global average surface temperature has not increased substantially over the last 10 to 15 years,”
        __________________

        Dr. Kevin Trenberth – NPR – 23 August 2013 – “They probably can’t go on much for much longer than maybe 20 years, and what happens at the end of these hiatus periods, is suddenly there’s a big jump [in temperature] up to a whole new level and you never go back to that previous level again,”
        __________________

        Dr. Yu Kosaka et. al. – Nature – 28 August 2013 – “Recent global-warming hiatus tied to equatorial Pacific surface coolingDespite the continued increase in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, the annual-mean global temperature has not risen in the twenty-first century…”
        __________________

        Professor Anastasios Tsonis – Daily Telegraph – 8 September 2013 – “We are already in a cooling trend, which I think will continue for the next 15 years at least. There is no doubt the warming of the 1980s and 1990s has stopped.”
        __________________

        Dr. Kevin E. Trenberth – Nature News Feature – 15 January 2014 – “The 1997 to ’98 El Niño event was a trigger for the changes in the Pacific, and I think that’s very probably the beginning of the hiatus,” says Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist…
        __________________

        Dr. Gabriel Vecchi – Nature News Feature – 15 January 2014 – “A few years ago you saw the hiatus, but it could be dismissed because it was well within the noise,” says Gabriel Vecchi, a climate scientist…“Now it’s something to explain.”…..
        __________________

        Professor Matthew England – ABC Science – 10 February 2014 – “Even though there is this hiatus in this surface average temperature, we’re still getting record heat waves, we’re still getting harsh bush fires…..it shows we shouldn’t take any comfort from this plateau in global average temperatures.”
        __________________

        Dr. Jana Sillmann et al – IopScience – 18 June 2014 – Observed and simulated temperature extremes during the recent warming hiatus“This regional inconsistency between models and observations might be a key to understanding the recent hiatus in global mean temperature warming.”
        __________________

        Dr. Young-Heon Jo et al – American Meteorological Society – October 2014 -“…..Furthermore, the low-frequency variability in the SPG relates to the propagation of Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) variations from the deep-water formation region to mid-latitudes in the North Atlantic, which might have the implications for recent global surface warming hiatus.”

        Are you really trying to make out you know more than Dr. Phil Jones. Dr. Judith L. Lean, Dr. Kevin Trenberth, Dr. Mojib Latif, Dr. Jochem Marotzke, Prof. Shaowu Wang, Dr. B. G. Hunt, Dr. Robert K. Kaufmann, Dr. Gerald A. Meehl, Dave Britton, Dr. James Hansen, Dr Doug Smith, Dr. Virginie Guemas, Dr. Judith Curry, Dr. Hans von Storch, Professor Masahiro Watanabe, Professor Rowan Sutton, Dr. Yu Kosaka, Professor Anastasios Tsonis, Dr. Gabriel Vecchi, Professor Matthew England, Dr. Jana Sillmann and Dr. Young-Heon Jo?

        Good luck with that.

      • Catweazle666, as chemistry and Navy Nuclear Power instructor like to mark on papers, first you get a ATQ, and if you don’t improve you get ATFQ.

        “Dr. Phil Jones – CRU emails – 5th July, 2005 – “The scientific community would come down on me in no uncertain terms if I said the world had cooled from 1998. OK it has but it is only 7 years of data and it isn’t statistically significant….”

        Note: Jones is saying the cooling trend from 1998 to 2005 is not statistically significant, which is the same thing I am saying.

        “Dr. Judith Curry – House of Representatives Subcommittee on Environment – 25 April 2013 – ” If the climate shifts hypothesis is correct, then the current flat trend in global surface temperatures may continue for another decade or two,…”

        Three years ago, busted already. Record warm years 2014, 2015 and 2016 and remember, she is talking about surface temperatures, not the satellite record.

        “Dr. Kevin Trenberth – NPR – 23 August 2013 – “They probably can’t go on much for much longer than maybe 20 years, and what happens at the end of these hiatus periods, is suddenly there’s a big jump [in temperature] up to a whole new level and you never go back to that previous level again,”

        Since I am sure Trenberth knows that it takes nearly 30 years for the uncertainty in a trend to eliminate either the warming or no warning from the confidence interval, that means Trenberth agrees with my position that the “pause” has yet to achieve the elimination of either trend.

        For example the RSS TLT trend from 1998 to 2107, is 0.045 +/- 0.185 C/decade

        So you cannot eliminate either the no warming hypothesis, nor the continued warming at 0.2 C/decade counter hypothesis.

        But if you go back to 1992, you find the trend from 1992 to 2017 is 0.146 +/- 0.123 C/decade, which allows you to exclude the “pause” hypothesis.

        “Professor Matthew England – ABC Science – 10 February 2014 – “Even though there is this hiatus in this surface average temperature, we’re still getting record heat waves, we’re still getting harsh bush fires…..it shows we shouldn’t take any comfort from this plateau in global average temperatures.”

        This isn’t 7th Avenue, I’ll take no comfort here.

        Try this for an exercise. Model the sum of a 2 C/century warming trend and 0.2*SIn(x*pi/30) where x is years

        Thanks for collecting all the quotes, but understanding still eludes you.

    • We don’t even know what snow is. Bob, thank you for a timely post. You must live in Australia.

      • Check out “The Man From Snowy River”

      • Geoff Sherrington

        I live in Australia, but that need not be bad. Our establishment climate science effort is so poor that intelligent people here rely on other countries for proper science. Many scientists now retired were doing OK before zealotry took over some major universities and learned societies are party line without much evidence of having studied in any depth.
        Bobdroege, you are not thinking either. Silly to describe the lead essay as supposition without evidence. Hypotheses in science commence with a germ of an idea then can develop at a rate limited by ability to gather data. This is the case with life form discussion here. There is likely more harm than good to adopt the first hypothesis that you like, CO2 it seems in your case, to exclude others in earlier development. Completely anti- science of you. The CO2 hypothesis is not delivering acceptable results. Some Evidence? Why does this blog grow ever stronger?
        Geoff

      • Curious George

        Sorry for the confusion, Geoff. I meant to point out that it is snowing now in most of of North America and Europe.

      • Geoff, it’s not the first hypothesis I like, you tread on thin ice if you think I have not put some thought into all the other “it’s not CO2” ideas out there.

        Gore said “inconvenient” in the title of his film, meaning it would be nice if burning fossil fuels did not have the adverse consequences that they do.

      • Why does this blog grow ever stronger?
        Geoff

        For the same reason Pacific islanders built fake airports. They wanted the cargoes to come back. Looks like science; talks like science; acts like science; claims to bend spoons; ain’t science… CargoCult Etc.

    • I guess what Bob is saying is that while obviously temps look about flat for nigh on 20 years, clever stats can still discern a warming figure not quite zero.

      • We’ve had three record high years in a row, so no, temps do not look about flat.

        Also, again, I’ll say it takes nearly 30 years for the value of the trend to be larger than the uncertainty in the trend, which is required to support the hypothesis of continued warming over the no warming hypothesis.

        Stats is just math, so trust math over your eyeballs.

      • 30-year trend:

        RSS slope = 0.0163423 per year
        GISS slope = 0.0177331 per year
        ———————————————
        difference – immaterial
        ==========================

        20-year trend:

        RSS slope = 0.00633148 per year
        GISS slope = 0.0173768 per year
        ———————————————
        difference – .011
        ==========================

        As I understand it, the RSS and UAH ocean (SST) is roughly the same as Karl’s ocean, so the difference is in the land component since around 1997.

      • Did the 30-year RSS for land… should be:

        30-year trend:

        RSS slope = 0.013038 per year
        GISS slope = 0.0177331 per year
        ———————————————
        difference – .004
        ==========================

      • The three (El Nino) high years don’t alter the 19-year flatness. Especially now El Nino has ended and brought some cooling . But yes, what happens next is still anyone’s guess.

        And clever math can discern hockey sticks in red noise. So don’t ditch the eyeballing just yet.

      • The three years are part of the calculation of the trend, and they have devastated the long ago almost completely paws up pause. Going forward, the Eastern Pacific appears to have changed regimes, so likely there will be no 1998-2000-style La Niña cooling that was predicted to me several times here at CargoCult Etc.

        An important paper’s completely ignored paragraph:

        The synthetic series in Fig. 5a also show examples of greatly accelerated warming lasting a decade or more, which are evidently spring-back effects as an internal variability cooling episode is followed by a strong internal variability warming episode. The strong warming episodes are further amplified by the underlying forced warming trend. One extreme example shows a warming of almost 1 °C in 15 years—a much greater 15-year warming rate than has occurred in the observations to date (red curves). These spring-back warmings illustrate another important potential consequence of strong internal multidecadal variability as simulated in CM3, and reinforce the need to better understand whether such internal variability actually occurs in the real world.

        There appear to have been three spring-back warming periods in the instrument record centered on… ~1934 to 1944; ~1975 to 1985; and, ~2014 to 20??.

  37. @bobdroedge

    I submit Clive Hambler has an excellent head with hat to match, and has not partaken too much of the sun.

    Here are some research points for you to follow up on.

    It is quite likely that Earth chemistry began like Venus or Mars with a mostly pure CO2 atmosphere.

    At some point plants began to grow converting CO2 to oxygen and hydrocarbons in various ways.

    CO2 persisted at high levels until a few hundred million years ago,
    after which alternating cycles of plant growth > CO2 loss > repopulation by
    volcanos or funguses & animals became the norm.

    http://earthguide.ucsd.edu/virtualmuseum/climatechange2/07_1.shtml
    http://geocraft.com/WVFossils/Carboniferous_climate.html
    https://www.skepticalscience.com/co2-higher-in-past-intermediate.htm

    An interesting benchmark is the taconite bands formed when the O2 got high enough.

    http://www.galleries.com/rocks/bif.htm

    All the best.

    • 4kx3,

      Thank you for the links. Earthguide is an interesting summary on a page: http://earthguide.ucsd.edu/virtualmuseum/climatechange2/07_1.shtml

      Geocraft link doesn’t open.

      SkepticalScience – All posts written by extreme climate alarmists. Nothing can be trusted.

      The Banded Iron Formations from 1.8 to 3 billion years ago is also interesting http://www.galleries.com/rocks/bif.htm , but too far back to be of much relevance to the current discussion. However, I do strongly argue that the past 540 Ma is very relevant as the fossil record during the time that life has thrived shows us catastrophic climate change (as hypothesised by extreme alarmists like James Hansen) is not a realistic proposition.

      • Bobdroege,
        Thank you for this link https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2944365/ . It’s very interesting. I had learnt much of what it covers – about the formation of the planet, atmosphere and oceans – in the late 1960s. Green and Ringwood were amongst the leaders in the field at the time and were amongst the few scientists given samples of moon rocks from the first moon landing to analyse. Their sample is now displayed at the Tidbinbilla Tracking Station near Canberra.
        This NASA paper you linked was excellent revision and provides a good update. I was not aware of the significance of the Moon-forming impact. It suggests to me that Earth is possibly a much rarer planet and, therefore, life may be much rarer, than I had previously recognised.
        I also now realise you probably have much more understanding of all this that I had previously recognised from your comments.
        Thanks again. I learnt a lot.

      • Peter, thank you for this comment.

      • It has been obvious for years here that bobdroege is sharp as a tack. If you missed it, maybe you need to reevaluate. The alarmist are bad nonsense is a horrible information filter.

        As for the pause, I like it in that it has inspired a great deal of interesting science on climate dynamics/natural variability, almost all of which points to it’s going to be worse than they thought.

        But fully agree the pause died before it lived.

        It’s a chaotic system. You have to watch the system everywhere all the time or you’ll miss it. Like now. After a couple of months of minor league cooling, it just switched back to hot.

      • JCH

        Smarts doesn’t provide a monopoly on the future. Otherwise Einstein would have made a ton on the ponies. We only know what we are familiar with. The future climate is unknowable. Anyone who believes they are so intellectually superior to refute that is delusional.
        When all the pieces of the puzzle are on the table and fully understood, then being sharp may give an advantage to know what is in store. We are not even close to that state.
        Until then a little humility will go a long way toward greater understanding.

      • Cerescokid,

        We should all show a little humility, but you make this statement

        “The future climate is unknowable.”

        I would guess I am considered delusional as I disagree with that statement.

        But you are 100% certain.

      • Some things are unknowable and some things are self evident. If you can’t grasp that, there is no hope.

      • Going the luddite route I see.

        We’ll see how the climate models continue to predict the future climate and see whether or not the future climate is predictable or not.

        So far it looks like it is.

      • We’ll see how the climate models continue to predict the future climate and see whether or not the future climate is predictable or not. So far it looks like it is.

        Hmmm….
        Global average temperature may be predictable.
        But global average temperature is not climate.
        Climate ( continental or smaller scale variations of precipitation, temperature, storms, droughts, clouds, etc. ) will probably never be predictable, based on the instability of the governing equations of motion.

        There’s nothing magical about 30 years, but it’s still probably a reasonable duration to consider because natural variability does effect both mean temperature as well as actual climate variation. If one considers Hansen’s testimony predictions from 1979:

        or from 1988, the year of his testimony:

        One can say the models have successfully predicted an increase in global mean temperature. One can also say that this increase has been at the low end of modeled projections:

      • Tubulent Eddie,

        “One can also say that this increase has been at the low end of modeled projections:”

        This is true when compared to global measurements that include oceans, which Hansen did not base his models on. They do much better when compared to the metrics his models were based on, specifically the met station only version of GISS.

        With caveats that those metrics do overestimate the warming since they are basically land only, but his predictions do match his metric.

  38. An excellent post. It reminded me that a group including Freeman Dyson worked along similar lines. Dyson left when pompous fools (he is too decent to call them the proper name) took over. http://e360.yale.edu/feature/freeman_dyson_takes_on_the_climate_establishment/2151/

  39. “Fortunately my argument — that life is largely missing from the models — does not depend on this.”

    Without life their would be no models.

    They are just updated cave paintings.

  40. SM, so in your temperature regional expectation model. Please explain again BEST 100669, Amundsen Scott South pole. Your method excludes 26 months of record colds since 1956 based on BEST regional expectation. The nearest regional expectation station is McMurdo, 2700 meters lower and 13000 kilometers away on the Antarctic Coast. See footnote 25 in essay When Data Isn’t for that and other detail referrences.
    When you have a rational explanation for that specific BEST data butchery, please get back. Then we can debate stats methods and such. Until then, BEST methodogy is proven crap by that one example. As Einstein said, it only takes one. And now you have it–again, for the nth time. Without a cogent response for the nth time.
    I called Monckton out using math and observations. Thanks for reposting one of those, although you missed at least four other guest posts here and at WUWT doing similar. You need to up your evidentiary games –a lot.I do not and never did subscribe to Heartland. No thanks for the blatantly false attributions. Up your game, please.

  41. Pingback: ¿Nunca hubo una pausa en el CGA? | PlazaMoyua.com

  42. “No educated person is unaware of one aspect of Earth’s basic biology: most atmospheric oxygen results from living organisms.” Wow! I consider myself an “educated person,” but had no idea that oxygen results from life. I thought it “caused” life. I now have another reason to shudder as I watch individuals and companies cut down trees here in North Carolina to install solar panels. Their behavior is triggered by tax policies that were enacted in order to save the planet. Sigh.

    Kim Jones

  43. You say “Some of Hamilton’s ideas were published only in less formal articles and in a film on clouds”. Can we get link? I’d like to watch the film. If not a link perhaps a complete reference? Thanks.

  44. Well, he has got this part right:

    “The unpredictability of complex systems is well known in ecosystems – as Robert May and colleagues demonstrated in the 1970s for multispecies fisheries. Populations of species that influence each other’s survival, reproduction or dispersal in ways related to abundance are likely often to demonstrate ‘deterministic chaos’, in which simple equations including time lags often generate superficially chaotic population changes. Even two species coupled through the Lotka-Volterra differential equations may show such behaviour. ”

    We see sophomoric journal articles every month blaming some species’ population rising or falling and with great masses of calculation performed to show that the trend, “if it continues along with rising global temperatures”, will boom or bust over the next fifty years, or whatever. TWO factors — population size and global temperature…..in a system that is, alone, chaotic…not to mention its complex and chaotic relationships with the rest of creation.

    I did an entry level series on Chaos Theory at WUWT for those interested…. including some graphs of Robert May’s population formulas.

  45. >>About 5% of the CO2 emitted to the atmosphere each year is from human activities<<
    Is this correct?
    And what variation is there in the other 95 (or whatever) percent ?

  46. And then there’s biology

  47. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #255 | Watts Up With That?

  48. This post reminds me of the (Darwin and Hooker) experiment on Ascension Island. The island was an important station for the Royal Navy in the 1800s but, because it was an arid volcanic island, all fresh water had to be brought by sea. The experiment involved planting a wide variety of plants and trees from all over the world over quite a long time. The experiment worked and the plants organised themselves into stratified layers up the side of the volcano. If you look at the island on Google Earth you will see about 2 sq km of green with clouds above surrounded by (mostly) cloudless volcanic ash.

    Perhaps we should try this in the Sahara.

  49. Pingback: Bortom fysiken; biologi och klimatförändringar - Stockholmsinitiativet - Klimatupplysningen

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