Putting the atomic bombs into perspective

I’ve been trying to avoid discussing the whole comparison between atomic bombs and global warming. I initially didn’t have a problem with it as I always perceived it as an energy comparison. However, I recognise that there are aspects that make the comparison poor (entropy for example) and I can also see that using a horrific event, such as Hiroshima, to get people’s attention, is questionable. I will add, however, that when the impacts of global warming/climate change do become obvious, people will not be blaming those who tried to get everyone’s attention.

Thanks to a tweet from Barry Woods, I’ve become aware of a post by Jo Nova that attempts to put the Hiroshima comparison into context. Jo Nova attempts to do this by comparing the rate at which we’re accruing energy (which is probably the most fundamental aspect of global warming) and the rate at which the Sun is depositing energy into our climate system. The post says

Since 1998, Global Warming has been occurring at 4 Hiroshima Bombs per second, not that we can measure that rate to a statistically significant value*, or that it means anything at all. Every second the sun pours 2700 Hiroshima bombs of energy on the Earth at the top of the atmosphere.

Well, we may not be able to measure it accurately if we were to do a measurement for a second, but we can measure the energy accumulation over much longer timescales and then determine the average rate. It is currently equivalent to the energy of 4 Hiroshima bombs per second. The Sun may indeed be pouring 2700 Hiroshima bombs of energy every second into the top of the atmosphere but, typically, the earth then radiates 2700 Hiroshima bombs worth of energy every second back into space.

That’s not to say that the system has never been out of energy balance before. There are periods in the past when we’ve undergone global warming and global cooling (Milankovitch cycles, for example). However, the evidence suggests (see Marcott et al. 2013 for example) that the current rate at which we’re accruing energy is likely faster than it’s been for the last 11000 years and that the temperature today is likely higher than its been for 11000 years.

Joanne Nova also says

As well as missing the big-picture, Cook and Nuccitelli show us they don’t have a good grip on cause and effect. The world may have been warming, but that does not mean that CO2 caused it. Though they would very much like you to think that.

No, it is now very clear that we can attribute the warming to anthropogenic influences. The IPCC did not say that it was extremely likely that more than half of the warming since 1951 was anthropogenic because they are trying to mislead people. It’s because it is extremely likely.

Jo Nova’s post then includes the following figure. It shows the total amount of energy received by the Sun since 1998 (red) and the amount that’s accumulated (black). The implication being that the amount that’s accumulated is insignificantly small. Of course, it fails to correctly point out that, on average, the black portion would be expected to typically be zero – or close to zero – over timescales of many decades. The correct comparison would be with what we’d expect the accumulation to be (i.e., even smaller) and what it actually is (i.e., quite large compared to what we’d expect based on out past climate history).

Comparison between the total amount of energy we've received from Sun since 1998 (red) and the amount that's accumulated (black)

Comparison between the total amount of energy we’ve received from Sun since 1998 (red) and the amount that’s accumulated (black)


I’ve come across these claims before. Currently the energy imbalance is around 0.6 Wm-2. In an earlier post I quote Anthony Watts as saying

So imagine the output of a 0.6 watt light bulb, 1/100th the power of a common household 60 watt light bulb.

Could you even see it?

As I point out, in the same post, if a typical house was retaining 0.6 Joules per square metre per second, the temperature in the house would rise by around 4.5oC per day and you’d reach the boiling point of water within a month.

We can do a similar calculation for the Earth to see if Joanne Nova is indeed correct that it’s essentially insignificant. The climate system is accruing energy at the rate of about 5 x 1022 J per decade. Most (about 93%) goes into the oceans, about 4% heats the land and atmosphere, and the rest is associated with melting polar ice. The land and atmosphere has a total mass of around 1019 kg and a heat capacity of 1000 J kg-1 K-1. Therefore it would take 1022J to increase the temperature of the land and atmosphere by 1oC (or 1 K).

If the total energy is increasing at 5 x 1022J per decade and 4% (2 x 1021J per decade) is associated with heating the land and atmosphere, that means – on average – we’d expect the temperature of the land and atmosphere to increase by 0.2oC per decade. Not far off what we’re actually seeing. That gives 2oC per century and 20oC per millenium.

The above also ignores that as we continue to add CO2 to the atmosphere, the energy imbalance will likely increase and the rate at which we’re accruing energy, therefore, will also increase. Hence, 2oC per century is a conservative lower limit. It’s much more likely to be in excess of 3oC by the end of this century.

The basic point is that just because one number happens to be small relative to another number, does not mean that the smaller number is not significant. A basic physics calculation suggests that the current rate of energy increase will warm the land and atmosphere at an average rate of around 0.2oC per decade. This is likely faster than at any time in human history. I find it hard to believe that anyone can argue that this is insignificant (actually, I don’t really find anything surprising anymore, but you know what I mean).

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446 Responses to Putting the atomic bombs into perspective

  1. Jo Nova’s argument is the same as the ‘trace gas’ myth; that CO2 can’t be causing global warming because it’s only 0.04% of the atmosphere. It just makes a comparison to another large but irrelevant metric to make the number seems small and thus intuitively insignificant. Basically it’s an appeal to the gut, not to the brain.

    If you don’t like the Hiro analogy, there’s always kitten sneezes :-)

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2013/dec/17/climate-change-agu2013-pictures

  2. Dana, indeed, it’s exactly the same type of simplistic argument. I do like the kitten sneezes. Got a good laugh out of my family last night too, which may be the first time they’ve laughed about something associated with my slightly obsessive blogging ;-)

  3. Rachel says:

    As I’ve said previously, I don’t have any problems with the bomb analogy.

    I think you’re missing a ‘w’ at the end of “no” 5th paragraph down. I got stumped on that sentence for a bit. Should it read, “No, it is now very clear…”

  4. Rachel, thanks. I’m still on the fence a little. I realise that it’s been effective and getting people’s attention is important. Certainly the more people try to argue that what it’s illustrating is wrong, the more it appeals to me. On the other hand, Hiroshima was an horrific event and we need to be careful how we use such events when trying to draw attention to other things. As I said in the post though, I very much doubt that – in the future – we will be criticising those people who did their best to try to highlight the significance of global warming.

  5. Jo Nova says:

    Dana, Mr andthentheresphysics, I knew someone would construct that strawman. Read my whole post. See *** at the bottom. (Sorry if I made that too small).

    The “large irrelevant metric” is the 4-Hiroshima-bomb (can we get more publicity) App. We merely satirized your PR-grab with reality.

    As for an appeal to the gut? You mean like milking an event that caused mass death to dredge up some alarm for your pet cause. Now who would do that? Oh wait…

  6. This nicely illustrates the problem with with atom bomb analogy. You act as if the number is huge and then you get such pie charts that show that it is just a small percentage. And then you have to admit that indeed the number is relatively small and you have to explain that this does not mean that it is not significant, and so on. This could have been avoided by stating in the first place that while the energy imbalance is small, the consequences are not. That is what I would see as professional science communication. Just like we do for the CO2 concentration or emissions, which we also do not express in number of shredded kittens per second.

    The kitten comparison is good science communication, especially for the social media. Low entropy and cuddly. Still David Appell does not like it. Not too well founded I would argue.

    http://davidappell.blogspot.de/2013/12/kitten-sneezes-are-worse-than-hiros.html

  7. Jo, if I missed that your post was satirical, I apologise. I also did miss your final footnote about a real energy imbalance being important. Here’s the main point though. There is no evidence to support the assertion that it isn’t real. The attribution statement in the IPCC document is also robust. There is no way to explain our recent warming unless it is mostly anthropogenic. If you can find a way, great. But there is no known physical mechanism that can do so. Also, my very basic calculation here of the rate of surface warming – given the energy imbalance – is quite similar to the long-term trend (GISSTemp – 0.0148 +- 0.024 degrees per decade and my back of the envelope calc gives 0.2 degrees per decade). Coincidence?

    As for an appeal to the gut? You mean like milking an event that caused mass death to dredge up some alarm for your pet cause. Now who would do that? Oh wait…

    Care to point out why that statement is relevant. I don’t think I’ve been milking any event. I was simply responding to your post that appears to use precisely the same comparator.

  8. Victor, I presume you meant that it is not insignificant? You make a good point. A big issue with much of what people say is that, if they’re not careful, it can then be used against them. Another example is any discussion associated with extreme weather. Many, as far as I can tell, try to be very careful when they discuss extreme weather, but that still doesn’t seem to stop the criticisms. It’s, sadly, all a bit of a marketing exercise, which I think is unfortunate. Would be nice if we could simply focus on the scientific evidence and use scientific notation and scientific terminology. That’s doesn’t always work in a public context and hence you always run the risk of someone finding a way to undermine the message you’re trying to get across.

  9. Tom Curtis says:

    Joanne Coddling, just out of curiosity, when exactly is your husband going to issue a public retraction for falsely claiming that Hansen’s 1988 model only used CO2 as a forcing? Or for falsely claiming that increases in forcing agents matched his scenario A when they were less than scenario B in all cases, and in several cases less than scenario C?

    And more directly on topic, when are you going to issue a public retraction for claiming that:

    “Plus there has been no significant warming in the last sixteen years, so technically the rate is almost as likely to be zero bombs a second, not four.”

    Do you really not understand the difference between heat content and temperature as your claim seems to indicate; or the difference between a positive but statistically insignificant trend and a zero trend (as it certainly indicates)?

  10. DrTskoul says:

    Jo Nova,

    Your are the one putting up straw men. Comparing magnitude of fluxes in and out with accumulation? Really basic physics and math and you fail!! On purpose disinforming!!

    Good luck trying to argue that black is white!

  11. Chris Cooper says:

    AndThenTheresThePhysics,

    I’m not bothered at all in this context by the horrific connotations of the Hiroshima bomb, but I’m very much bothered by propagandists flinging a big number at the public to scare it. Four Hiroshima bombs per second – is that a lot? The pie chart from Jo Nova is relevant to this question – it shows us that 4 Hiroshima bombs per second is very small in some contexts (such as total radiation flux on the Earth). Which forces us to think about what it means in terms of warming rate of the Earth.

    Your calculation connecting the 4Hb to the standard .2 deg C per decade warming rate shows us how big the scary figure is. Whether it then remains scary or not depends on how scary that rate of warming is.

    But then, what’s the point of the 4Hb figure? It means nothing whatever until converted into a warming rate. Its only purpose is to bully. Why take the side of propagandists so much less reasonable than yourself?

    Best,

    Chris

    [Rachel: As this is your first comment, I've let it through. But take note that any future accusation made about "propagandists" will be deleted.]

  12. Rachel says:

    Anders and Victor, I think you both have reservations about this analogy because you think too much like scientists and not enough like communicators. :-)

  13. Chris Cooper says:

    I have no idea what the kitten-sneezers think they’re proving with their little joke. They’ve shown that you can express a quantity in as huge a figure as you like if you choose the right units. Which means that no-one should be impressed by any number until put into relevant context.

  14. Jo Nova says:

    andthenthereisphysics — My footnote was a bit small, and it should have been in the text. I have fixed that. Sorry. And the “appeal to the gut” was directed at Dana’s comment, not your post.

    The satire still makes a real point. You say: ” Here’s the main point though. There is no evidence to support the assertion that (the imbalance) isn’t real. ”
    There is no evidence to support the assertion that it is. IPCC statements are only as “robust” as any committee paid to produce a predictable outcome. They are not an observation of the planet. If you can find observations of the climate that support the key assumptions of the climate models (especially about positive water vapor feedback), you will be the IPCC’s new best friend, because they can’t find them. Seriously, the ocean heat content figures before 2002 are a joke, and even after Argo started there is that problem of the missing energy (read the links in caveat one *). See my point in caveat **.

    Models amplify the basic warming of CO2 by a factor of 2 – 3 with feedbacks. That’s what we need to see evidence for.

    “No known physical mechanism” is argument from ignorance. It’s not 95% certainty. It’s not attribution.

  15. I would argue that also as a communicator Hiroshima is not a good idea. Because you have to think one step ahead (at least) and anticipate that such a Nova post would come.

    The kitten idea is quite good however, everyone loves cats. Even in that case I would focus the communication on the consequences of the accumulation of energy, on the temperature increases, on the changes in precipitation, on heat waves, on changes in ecosystems and not on such a geeky detail as the energy imbalance.

  16. If you would have thought ahead, you would have seen that you would have to admit that the pie graph is right, but that the corresponding statement, “IPCC statements are only as “robust” as any committee paid to produce a predictable outcome”, is complete baseless nonsense and a conspiracy theory. A difficult mixed message, rather than good science communication.

  17. andrew adams says:

    Victor says

    This nicely illustrates the problem with with atom bomb analogy. You act as if the number is huge and then you get such pie charts that show that it is just a small percentage. And then you have to admit that indeed the number is relatively small and you have to explain that this does not mean that it is not significant, and so on.

    This has essentially been my objection all along – that the comparison isn’t particularly meaningful in the context in which it is being made.

    What I’m not buying are claims that it constitutes “milking an event that caused mass death to dredge up some alarm for your pet cause” or “bullying” for “propaganda” purposes.

  18. Rachel says:

    Victor, I don’t really like the kitten analogy. It’s silly. I read something today which said we need to change our strategy in the climate change debate from one that communicates the problem to one that debates the solutions. I thought it was good – http://www.thersa.org/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/1536844/J1530_RSA_climate_change_report_16.12_V51.pdf

  19. verytallguy says:

    Jo,

    Models amplify the basic warming of CO2 by a factor of 2 – 3 with feedbacks. That’s what we need to see evidence for.

    This is a fundamental misconception. The “no feedback” number assumes that the atmosphere does not change composition as it’s temperature rises. As 70%ish of the earth is covered in a volatile liquid, that’s clearly wrong. To a first approximation we’d expect relative humidity to stay the same, which would be a good null hypothesis.

    We could then sensibly demand evidence from anyone who claimed the sensitivity was *different* than that expected from a constant relative humidity hypothesis.

    Let’s examine that There is some evidence that it’s higher (paleoclimate) and some evidence it’s lower (some observational studies).

    Evidence to support it – took me 30 seconds to find from NOAA

    Since 1973, it’s been getting more humid by roughly 0.1 grams of water vapor per kilogram of air per decade.

    http://www.climate.gov/news-features/understanding-climate/2012-state-climate-humidity

    Do I get to be the IPCCs new best friend?

  20. OPatrick says:

    I do love the idea that people who are beyond satire think they can carry off satire.

  21. Rachel, talking about the solutions is indeed a very good idea, much better as these geeky analogies.

    Solving the climate problem has many additional advantages. Clearer air in the cities, saver streets, children can play on the street again, improved comfort in well isolated homes, no dependence on Middle East dictators from the middle ages, less unemployment due to less wage taxes, etc.

    That is something to communicate, you can also see the value of these advantages if you do not believe in global warming.

  22. Marco says:

    “IPCC statements are only as “robust” as any committee paid to produce a predictable outcome.”
    You’re projecting, Codling.

  23. Jo,

    Models amplify the basic warming of CO2 by a factor of 2 – 3 with feedbacks. That’s what we need to see evidence for.

    I believe we’ve had a brief feedback discussion before. There is direct evidence for feedback. I can explain if you wish.

    “No known physical mechanism” is argument from ignorance.

    No it is not. It is based on basic energy conservation. We have measured the change in solar forcing. We are confident that it cannot explain the warming. If it was a consequence of solar forcing it would imply that our climate is extremely sensitive to changes in radiative forcing and that would apply equally to anthropogenic forcings. It can’t be internal variability as that should average to zero over long enough timescales (decades). There is no evidence that cosmic rays can seed aerosols necessary for enhance cloud feedback. Hence, there is no known physically motivated mechanism that can explain the warming, other than anthropogenic influences. This should not really be all that controversial. Suggesting otherwise is – in my opinion – effectively appealing to magic.

    If you can find observations of the climate that support the key assumptions of the climate models (especially about positive water vapor feedback), you will be the IPCC’s new best friend, because they can’t find them.

    As I mentioned, above there is evidence for positive feedback. You really can’t explain the warming without positive feedbacks that are comparable in magnitude to the change in anthropogenic forcings.

  24. verytallguy says:

    More generally, it’s actually quite interesting to consider how to make a good comparison between effects. These always should be dimensionless.

    “It’s huge” is generally in comparison to a human eg:
    1) The Empire State building has a height of 222 humans*. Huge.
    2) An ant is “tiny”, perhaps 10mm or 1/200th of a human dependent on species.

    So is CO2 a huge or a tiny effect?

    1) Huge = 4 hiroshimas a second in heat absorbed.
    or
    2) Tiny = 0.04% of the atmosphere.

    Heat is obviously more relevant to warming – the 0.04% is only relevant if we’re interested in the change on total pressure; an obvious red herring. But the 0.04% is at least dimensionless. Jo has, to her credit, picked a dimensionless way of showing the heat effect, and by her measure it is tiny.

    So, what would be a relevant, honest, dimensionless way of evaluating whether CO2 has a huge or tiny effect?

    Here’s my attempt. We can visualise the effect of an ice age. I think from memory that the interglacial temperature difference is about 5 degrees.

    So I’d use ice ages as my metric; dT(CO2 doubling)/dT(ice age)

    which is about 1

    The effect of adding the amount of CO2 we are will have an equivalent impact on the earth of an ice age

    * my standard human is 2 metres tall. Verytall in fact.

  25. johnrussell40 says:

    I can’t believe Jo Nova, A Watts, Barry Woods and their co-conspirators in climate misinformation, actually don’t understand what is, after all, a very simple concept: that accumulating energy due to the imbalance is the problem. I’m convinced that they use the tactic of illustrating the small percentage imbalance so as to appeal to the vast body of climate-illiterate members of the public for whom they know the ‘insignificance’ category of memes—including CO2 concentrations, temperature rise and energy imbalance—create superficially convincing arguments.

    Monckton often litters his talks with the phrase, “it’s blindingly obvious” when he illustrates arguments like this. ‘Insignificance memes’ are amongst the simplest designer weapons to stop members of the public thinking any deeper about the subject and, as a consequence, becoming concerned about climate change; thus ensuring that business as usual continues as long as possible.

  26. johnrussell40 says:

    Re. the ‘atomic bombs’ analogy. Someone in a Guardian article today commented that 250 trillion Joules/sec is equivalent to the energy required to boil 306 Olympic-sized swimming pools per second. I must say I find that a much simpler and more meaningful illustration of the rate of energy up-take by water, without any side issues. It’s one I will use in future.

  27. BBD says:

    JN says:

    Seriously, the ocean heat content figures before 2002 are a joke

    This is untrue, unsupported and self-serving.

  28. AnOilMan says:

    Jo Nova is employing cutting edge Feelie thinking!

    Jo? What would you prescribe? Hmmm? Cat yawns?

    Seriously who really uses joules? Anyone? Anywhere? If I gave the actual Gawd awful horrific large number of joules would it mean anything to Jo Q Public? (No.)

  29. Jo Nova says:

    verytallguy : Do you get to be the IPCC’s best friend? No. The water vapor has to increase in the upper troposphere where emissions escape to space. Below that does not make any difference.

    andthentherewasphysics: I say “No known physical mechanism” is argument from ignorance.
    You say: No it is not. It is based on basic energy conservation.
    I reply: No both energy and logic are conserved in my argument. Your thesis relies on the models knowing all the natural forces. But 98% of models didn’t predict the pause. Almost as many greatly overestimate Upper T warming and humidity. They don’t work on global, continential, or regional scales. They don’t work on very long timeframes, and they don’t work on short scales either. Obviously, they don’t contain all the forcings.

  30. BBD says:

    So the PETM never happened.

  31. BBD says:

    Nor any other GHG-forced hyperthermal coz it’s all wrong, see, all wrong. We’re still stuck in the Marinoan. Except we aren’t are we Jo? So maybe – just maybe – there’s a problem with your reasoning here.

  32. Jo,

    No both energy and logic are conserved in my argument.

    I don’t believe you actually made an argument, unless you mean the suggestion that the data’s wrong. Sure, if you dismiss all inconvenient data, then maybe your argument does conserve energy, but that seems rather contrived.

    Your thesis relies on the models knowing all the natural forces. But 98% of models didn’t predict the pause. Almost as many greatly overestimate Upper T warming and humidity. They don’t work on global, continential, or regional scales. They don’t work on very long timeframes, and they don’t work on short scales either. Obviously, they don’t contain all the forcings.

    My thesis doesn’t rely on the models at all. Here it is for you. The emissivity of the atmosphere is about 0.6. The temperature change since 1750 is about 0.9oC. Assume a baseline temperature of 288K, that means that outgoing flux has increased by

    ΔF = 0.6 σ[(TT)4 - T4] = 2.9 Wm-2.

    We still (despite what your post is suggesting) have an energy imbalance of between 0.6 Wm-2 and 0.9Wm-2. Overall, then, we effectively have a net change in forcing of between 3.5Wm-2 and 3.8Wm-2.

    The change in anthropogenic forcings since 1750 is around 2.2Wm-2. Hence, the only way to explain the observations (a 0.9oC increase in surface temperature and an energy imbalance today) is that feedbacks must be providing forcings of around 1.5Wm-2.

    All this is a little approximate and I’m not suggesting that the number I get is precise, but you really can’t explain the observations without there being feedbacks that are providing a radiative forcing of between 1 and 2Wm-2.

  33. AnOilMan says:

    Ask yourself if any self respecting aussie would go for a drive in the outback with a broken radiator. We’re only talking about accumulating a little heat right Jo?

    Understanding thermal balance is critical in pretty much all of engineering. And more to the point net accumulation is a serious concern. In engineering we’d be more concerned with where you wish your final temperature to arrive at because the results can be catastrophic.

  34. AnOilMan says:

    Hey, Jo, while you’re here, could you repudiate this [Rachel: snipped a word; bit insulting/unnecessary]?

    http://joannenova.com.au/2011/11/the-chemistry-of-ocean-ph-and-acidification/

    To be fair that was sorta early days. Perhaps you could run a story on the clear and obvious danger of ocean acidification?

    Here’s a great paper for you to read. A summation of the experts by experts.

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcb.12179/full

    “Here, we perform the most comprehensive meta-analysis to date by synthesizing the results of 228 studies examining biological responses to ocean acidification. The results reveal decreased survival, calcification, growth, development and abundance in response to acidification when the broad range of marine organisms is pooled together. However, the magnitude of these responses varies among taxonomic groups, suggesting there is some predictable trait-based variation in sensitivity, despite the investigation of approximately 100 new species in recent research.”

    ” Last, the results highlight a trend towards enhanced sensitivity to acidification when taxa are concurrently exposed to elevated seawater temperature.”

  35. johnrussell40 says:

    Oh come on, Jo, “…98% of models didn’t predict the pause”?

    Climate models aren’t designed to predict shorter-term natural variability; only long term trends. For instance, we might know that on average a major volcanic eruption occurs every 15 years; but only a soothsayer can predict when that eruption will be. This is very basic. I would have thought you’d know that.

  36. BBD says:

    And yet again we have another “sceptic” pretending that everything depends on modelling results, when in fact paleoclimate behaviour is the key indicator that CO2 emissions are going to be a serious problem unless sharply reduced.

  37. ligne says:

    you could take Mr Micawber as an example. according to Jo Nova, he’s got no reason to be worrying about a mere shilling here or there. after all, it’s a mere 0.25% of his annual cashflow, so how could it possibly affect his financial status in any way?

  38. Chris Cooper,

    They’ve shown that you can express a quantity in as huge a figure as you like if you choose the right units. Which means that no-one should be impressed by any number until put into relevant context.

    I agree. What is the relevant context?

  39. I must admit that while I accept the Hiroshima bomb energy issue, I do have problems with people on our side continually using such images and ideas to promote the science that have their roots in the darkest days of human existence. For example, Denier, Hiroshima, Childrens heads exploding etc., it’s not good and creates a bad impression. We cannot complain about contrarians using black and distasteful imagery if we are happy to do these things. I really wish we would not do it, but worst of all, stop justifying and rationalising it’s use. We are defending the indefensible.

  40. By the way, it’s pretty impressive having big hitters from both sides in the debate. Is this a Christmas special?

  41. Gareth,

    For example, Denier, Hiroshima, Childrens heads exploding etc., it’s not good and creates a bad impression.

    Personally, I avoid “denier”. Not so much because I think it is never appropriate, but more because it is a term that tends to destroy any chance of a serious discussion (although I am starting to think that any serious discussion with those who are vitriolically “skeptical” is virtually impossible anyway). I have some sympathy with those who criticise the Hiroshima analogy (as, hopefully, was clear from the post). The Childrens head exploding was clearly a very bad idea. So, yes, I largely agree that we should try to be careful about how we engage with the public. At the same time, we have to be careful that we don’t become so cautious that we don’t end up saying anything that might be effective. It’s clear that some will try to criticise any attempt to explain – in an understandable way – what is happening.

  42. By the way, it’s pretty impressive having big hitters from both sides in the debate. Is this a Christmas special?

    If true, it was entirely unintentional :-)

  43. andrew adams says:

    Gareth,

    Much as I’m loathe to get into yet another debate about the “D” word, I simply don’t think it has the connotations which skeptics claim. And similarly with the Hiroshima analogy, although I don’t think it’s the best metric to use for the reasons stated above I don’t think it’s inappropriate or tasteless. I’ve seen it used to compare for example the strength of hurricanes without it seeming to generate any controversy.

    I think the exploding children has been condemned by just about everyone on our “side” (at least those whom I’ve seen comment on it). Even people who “get” it still think it was inappropriate, and useless as a communication tool, as far as I can see. So we do object when we see what we perceive as genuinely inappropriate language and imagery, we’re just not obliged to accept the demands of others to do so when we think there is no need.

  44. OPatrick says:

    I think the exploding children has been condemned by just about everyone on our “side”

    I condemn far more the people who cynically exploit this misjudged attempt at trying a different tack in the 10:10 campaign. It is trivially obvious that there was no intent to threaten or intimidate and anyone who reflects on it for a moment will realise this. Those who sell the idea that there was are far more at fault than the people who produced the film itself and their dishonesty should be highlighted every time the implication is made. The film was clearly meant to be in the vein of Pythonesque humour – not appropriate for the broad audience it was aimed at.

  45. AnOilMan says:

    Jo’s response is utterly meaningless. Just do some equivalent math in a way that puts it into perspective.

    My province dumps 13000000000W (13GW) of electricity on the power grid. My computer uses 500W (max), or .000003846% of the total electricity. If I overclock my PC, its power consumption increases by 30W max. Which represents a .0000002307% increase in power consumption compared to the power grid.

    So according to Jo Nova, no one needs to worry about computer heat. The numbers are so small, right?

    Does that make sense to anyone other than Jo Nova?

  46. toby52 says:

    I note the difference: ANTT actualy writes down equations and does pertineint estimates. Jo Nova responds with sark.

  47. toby52 says:

    ANTT, if “denier” destoys discussion so does “warmist”, “activist”, and “alarmist”

  48. Frank says:

    andthentheresphysics: I hope you won’t mind several comments and questions:

    1) Where does the estimate that the current radiative imbalance is 0.6-0.9 W/m2 come from? The rate heat is accumulating in the ocean? If that is the key metric, I sure that you are aware that at least four recent papers (for example, Otto et al Nature Geoscience (2013) 6, 415–416) on energy balance models have used the recent forcings, temperature change, and heat storage in the oceans to calculate ECS (most likely, 2.0 degC) and TCR (1.3 degC). How do your back-of-te envelop calculations compare with these results.

    2) You can avoid having to deal with emissivity by using a relationship found in one of Hansen’s early papers (1988?): dW/W = 4*(dT/T). It can be derived by differentiating the S-B equation with or without an emissivity term (which conveniently cancels). Since radiative forcing is defined for the flux crossing the the tropopause, I suspect the best values to use are T=255 and W=342.

    3) When you are calculating the temperature change associated with a forcing, the system can evolve so that you soon need to take into account the Planck feedback (or increase/cooling in radiative cooling upon warming/cooling). For example, a year and a half after Pinatubo erupted (a -2.5 W/m2 forcing at peak), about half of the aerosol was still in the atmosphere, but satellites showed that the flux imbalance at the TOA (anomaly) was roughly zero because the atmosphere had cooled about 0.7 degC. Your calculations of how much a house or the planet might warm under a particular forcing quickly become meaningless when you don’t take Planck feedback into account.

    4) When you are considering the value of the Hiroshima analogy, you might consider that mean global surface temperature rises and falls 4 degC every year. About 50 m of the ocean’s mixed layer and the atmosphere presumably warm by the same amount. The asymmetric distribution of land makes the planet as a whole warmer when it is summer in the NH, but we are used to seeing plots of temperature anomalies and it is easy to miss seasonal changes. Furthermore, each hemisphere separately warms and cools even more. Or you could calculate how much energy goes into melting Arctic ice every summer.

  49. RB says:

    Frank,
    With regards to 2, I think the W=240 for OLR (340-100 reflected). Similar to Hansen, another way to do it is by Taylor expansion i.e., (1+dT)^4=1+4*dT. I think the 255K might be right though i.e., greenhouse effect raises temp by 33K.

  50. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    [Rachel: As this is your first comment, I've let it through. But take note that any future accusation made about "propagandists" will be deleted.]

    I am aware that the word “propaganda” has acquired negative connotations. However, I do not feel that it is a big insult. Given that the SkS goal is to provide information to the general public (hence their denier memes debunk list, their 97% to counteract public perception of no consensus, and their measure of Hiros to communicate the scale of AGW), the use of “propagandist” does not -to me- look very offensive, but only as a slight exaggeration. ;)

  51. RB says:

    For (1), I suspect ATTP has something of a sensitivity between TCR and ECS. If no feedback sensitivity is 1.2C, feedback = 1.2/(1-f)

    In this case, using Otto of 0.6W/m^2, forcing=2.2 W/m^2, with feedback it is 3.5 W/m^2, or,
    1-f=2.2/3.5 leading to f ~0.4
    Sensitivity = 1.2*3.5/2.2 = 1.9C
    Comments?

  52. If the current human forcing is, as observed, six times stronger than anything we can find in the geological record, how is that not signicant?

    If the current pace of warming is 20 times faster (without the coming addition of various amplifying feedbacks) than at the end of the last ice age, how is that not significant?

    As for the atom bomb analogy, it represents a measure of accumulated heat that does not return to space. It doesn’t matter how much energy Earth receives from the sun so long as the same amount goes back out. The pace of heat accumulation is huge and, in my view, the use of atomic bombs is apt. That said, the rate is probably closer to 6 per second at this time…

  53. andrew adams says:

    OPatrick,

    Yes, fair point. While I do think that the 10:10 video was completely inappropriate for its purpose and bound to cause offence it’s also ridiculous and disingenuous to claim that it was actually advocating violence against people opposed to action to prevent AGW.

  54. RB says:

    Additionally, estimating forcing using black body radiation at 255K, and continuing with linear feedback assumption
    using Otto OHC of 0.6 W/m^2, sensitivity = 1.2*((3.4+0.6)/2.2)=2.2C
    using Trenberth OHC of 0.9W/m^2, sensitivity = 1.2*((3.4+0.9)/2.2)=2.35C

  55. Joshua says:

    Jo Nova –

    They don’t work on very long timeframes,…

    On what basis do you make that determination?

  56. Tom Curtis says:

    RB, your source on thunderstorms cites wikipedia, but wikipedia actually says:

    “A 1953 study found that the average thunderstorm over several hours expends enough energy to equal 50 A-bombs of the type that was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan during World War Two.”

    The study in question found that the average thunderstorm expends 10^15 Joules of energy against the environment, compared to the 0.067 x 10^15 Joules from Little Boy. The 10^15 Joules is, however, only 80% of the total energy available to the thunderstorm. The rest is dissipated by evaporation of condensed water vapour from clouds. As a result, there are only 0.19 thunderstorms of energy per second.

    It might be considered inappropriate to include the energy from condensation of water that is later simply evaporated. It is, however, energy that is released. The atomic bomb comparison, by the way, includes the 15% of energy released by the decay of fallout products, which is analogous.

  57. RB says:

    Sorry about this – but I think calculating the increased forcing at the surface with surface warming as 4*(dT/T)*240 W/m^2 has to be done at T=288K as ATTP did and not 255K because it is at the surface that you see the temperature increase of 0.9C and it is at the surface that you see the impact of feedbacks. The effective radiation temperature of earth at TOA is always 255K to balance with incoming solar. With additional greenhouse forcing, this radiative balance is just going to occur higher in the atmosphere.

    So, we are back to sensitivity of 1.2*(3.5/2.2)=1.9 based on surface imbalance of 0.6 W/m^2 in Stephens 2012. If you believe there is additional warming still in the pipeline due to slow feedbacks, this sensitivity estimate will go up. I think I’ll stop there this time.

  58. RB says:

    Hi Tom,
    I didn’t check, but Trenberth linked a thunderstorm to a nuclear detonation also recently .

  59. Tom Curtis says:

    RB, Trenberth is quoted as saying, “Think of the convective cloud from a nuclear explosion as being more like the energy in a small, single thunderstorm” (my emphasis). The research I cite invokes an average thunderstorm cell (technically the average for Ohio and Florida). I’m not sure how to equate the energy of “a nuclear explosion” given that fission devices can range from 0.001 to 500 kilotons, and fusion devices can be much larger. If we are going to make a numerical equation, we need actual cited energy values rather than rough comparisons.

  60. Victor, I disagree with your concerns about the Hiro. You say we could have seen the objections of Jo Nova’s sort coming – well sure, but look who’s making them. They’re confined to the denialosphere, having no impact on the general public. If we worried about how the Novas and Wattses and Goddards and McIntyres were going to react to everything we tried to communicate, we would never communicate anything. But we don’t care, because their attacks are confined to a dark corner of the internet where only like-minded intellectually inaccessible people venture.

    I can tell you from personal experience in observing audience reactions in talks John Cook and I have given, the Hiro is a highly effective communications tool. People are always surprised about how much heat is building up in the climate system when they hear the statistic. And that’s the point – sure it sounds small if averaged over the entire Earth’s surface, or if compared to all of the energy in the universe or other irrelevant metrics, but in reality it’s a damn lot of heat, and people don’t realize that. The Hiro is also very good at debunking the ‘pause’ myth, so it kills two birds with one stone.

    If you prefer we also included Hurricane Sandys, 6.0 earthquakes, and a few other metrics in the widget. And then there’s the kitten sneezes if you prefer. But I’m certainly not going to stop using an effective communications tool because the deniers don’t like it.

  61. BBD says:

    Argh!

    First they took “sceptic”, then “denier” and now we are not allowed to describe energy imbalance as we choose. if we cede control of language to the contrarians, we have lost the debate.

  62. Note that megaton is more precise and describes bombs that have never been used in war. Better?

  63. Dana, what is your measure of effectiveness for climate communication? Number of surprised people? Number of people that click on your blog post?

    No wonder they are surprise, the analogy is counter intuitive. You hardly notice global warming up to now, right? And that intuition is right. The thing people have a hard time imagining is how freaking large the world is. That is reason the energy imbalance can be compared to a nuke.

    I am afraid what happens to those surprised people when they come home, start to read and think and start seeing SkS as a less reliable source of information. That would be a great long term loss for the climate “debate”.

    That no one listens to Nova, Watts and Co. would be a reason to shut down SkS. Isn’t the main activity of SkS debunking the nonsense that sprouts from these sources?

  64. BBD says:

    VV
    If the contrarians hadn’t objected to the Hiroshima analogy, how much fuss do you think there would have been? IMO zilch (nothing).

  65. Victor, my tweet shows that I derived a very similar analogy before SkS launched their widget. I was actually answering an explicit question about how much energy it would take to raise surface temperatures by 1C. I crudely modeled the heat capacity of the atmosphere + ocean mixed layer (ignoring heat of vaporization as the planet warms, etc.) and got a large number of joules. Knowing that most people don’t like scientific notation, I tried to find a unit of measure large enough to express the number without scientific notation. Megaton hydrogen bombs came to mind. About ten million of them.

    Since global warming is fundamentally a problem of time-integrated radiative imbalance, it manifests as extra heat. About 90% goes into the oceans, while more popular surface temperatures only diagnose a few percent of that extra heat. In my dumb opinion, we need to keep the focus on that ARGO-measured heat. Feel free to use kitten sneezes for the comma fans.

  66. A world without climate contrarians would be great. Except maybe that I might be out of a job because people might not care that much about the quality of the climate observations. But no problem, I can do something else. :)

    Then we could get to work solving the problem and we would also not need attention grabbing analogies.

    When it comes to climate communication, I would argue that we will have to live with the situation that this has to be done in a world where contrarians exist. That is reality and our communication strategy should also work in the real world.

    Also without it not being a good communication strategy, I would be against this analogy. I have written about that before at Rachel’s.

    http://quakerattled.wordpress.com/2013/12/12/an-atomic-bomb-analogy/#comment-4258

  67. DumbScientist, how many were suddenly convinced that the Earth is warming when they heard your atomic number, people that were not convinced then we told them the much more direct and less abstract information that the surface temperature has increased by 0.8°C per century since 1980?

  68. DumbScientist, the meme is, by the way, already a bit older than the widget. It was already presented in an article some time ago and also then already most of the blogging climatologists found the analogy inappropriate, mainly for the reasons I mentioned at Rachel’s.

  69. Victor, my success rate has always been ~0%; I almost always seem to fail to communicate with contrarians. I’m just a dumb physicist, not a PR expert. I care about the fact that ARGO heat reveals ~90% of the problem while surface temperatures reveal a measly few percent.

    Thanks for the link to Rachel’s. I’ll check it out and see if I have anything to add.

  70. Victor’s focus on Hiroshima in that link makes me even more curious about an answer to my repeated question “Better?”

  71. Rachel says:

    DumbSci,
    I think your “10M megaton nuclear bomb” is better. I can understand people objecting to the word Hiroshima.

    I do think BBD is right however in that had contrarians not been making a fuss about this, not many others would have been that concerned. No one seemed terribly bothered by comparisons made between the meteor over Russia and Hiroshima or earthquakes and Hiroshima. I understand that scientists are complaining because these analogies fit better than the one with global warming, but the complaints from contrarians are not about this. Their complaints are that it’s offensive to the survivors of Hiroshima or that it’s fear mongering or that it creates an association with death and destruction. See this post about it atWUWT.

    Reich,
    I am aware that the word “propaganda” has acquired negative connotations. However, I do not feel that it is a big insult.
    Ok, thanks for letting me know. It’s possible I am getting carried away. :-) For me, propaganda is more than just the dissemination of information. It is the dissemination of a political doctrine, which is why I dislike it as this is not what a website about science does. But if other people are not bothered then I will not make a fuss about it.

  72. I seem to have missed an interesting discussion here. Thanks.

    I know RB has largely responded to Frank. To add to that, what I’ve done here would be largely consistent with Otto et al. I’m using similar numbers.

    Frank,
    I don’t, however, know what you mean by this

    Your calculations of how much a house or the planet might warm under a particular forcing quickly become meaningless when you don’t take Planck feedback into account.

    I wasn’t assuming a forcing. I was imply pointing out that the temperature in a house that was retaining 0.6 J per square metre per second would rise at around 4 degrees per day. This was simply a response to AW’s comment that we would not notice a 0.6 W bulb. I don’t think my analogy is meaningless. Ridiculous maybe, but not meaningless :-)

  73. Rob Painting says:

    Like Dana Nuccitelli I’m going to continue using the Hiroshima metaphor too. It is such a powerfully effective communications device that it would be a mistake not to. The ‘pearl clutchers‘ are going to get a lot of clutching practice no doubt.

  74. Barry Woods says:

    As has been mentioned, a discussion about ‘Hiroshima’s framing was had a few months back (including at the Making Science Public blog, Nottingham University)

    http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2013/08/14/more-heat-than-light-climate-catastrophe-and-the-hiroshima-bomb/

    “So perhaps a less sensational means of communication might be more effective. One candidate is the idea of the atmosphere as a bathtub, that is gradually being filled up by carbon emissions. One can argue about how big the bathtub is, the rate at which it is filling, and what happens when it overflows. However it does more effectively communicate the nuances of the potential effects of climate change, and the incrementally increasing risk, rather than the context-free, catastrophic climate porn of the Hiroshima meme.” – Dr Warren Pearce

    Dana, John Cook discuss this with Warren in the comments there..

    and Dr Warren Pearce commented on Dana’s article in the Guardian (as did Richard Tol, and me):

    http://discussion.theguardian.com/comment-permalink/29196568

    http://discussion.theguardian.com/comment-permalink/29197667

    “What is bizarre is to think that people will not imagine mushroom clouds and suffering when offered this analogy.” – Dr Warren Pearce..

    John Cook thinks the Hiroshima’s framing ‘sticky’ cognitively.. (and it certanly is!) but is it effective is what should matter to Cook, however ‘sticky’ it is. Of course if I was a proper ‘sceptic’ I would keep quiet about this… ie I think Hirsohima’s is utterly counterproductive, (especially IF not in context.)

    Imagine a member of the public (or anybody) who is not involved in the debate or really aware of climate science, being shown the ‘Hiroshima’ app, or told about 4 Hiroshima’s per second… they will perhaps react like John Cook recounts.

    “When I mention this in public talks, I see eyes as wide as saucers. Few people are aware of how much heat our climate system is absorbing.” – John Cook

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/4-Hiroshima-bombs-per-second-widget-raise-awareness-global-warming.html

    Now imagine, if those audience members discover for themselves (or goes away and calculates it – like Warren)) or are directed to Jo Nova’ App, or told how many ‘hiroshima’s the sun puts out a second to the Earth..

    What might that persons reaction be,, loss of trust in the communicator for providing no context, trying to scare them?, for being told about 4 Hiroshima’s without this context. This is a problem, for even if, the 4 Hiroshima were contributing to dangerous climate change, trust may be lost by not putting it into context. how many sceptics of the communicators that use this metaphor, will it create?

    John Cook wrote back in July about Hiroshima’s here:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/4-Hiroshima-bombs-worth-of-heat-per-second.html

    I have seen the response made that Cook and Nuccitelli no more about communicating than climate scientists.. so I’ think they will keep using it…

    By the way Ben Pile came up with the kittens framing in response to the App (though Dana has now added sneezes, ‘on the shoulders of giants’, quipped Ben, on twitter),. somebody else did Big Mac equivalents.

    Scott Denning originally told John Cook the equivalent of a permanent equivalent of a child’s nighlight forcing per square metre.. John preferred Hiroshima’s…..

  75. Barry Woods says:

    I notice on the link that Rob provides Dr Doug Mcneall (Met Office) made this comment:

    “Hey Eli,
    You’re a little late on this one. The twitter was a twitter, and much support for the hiro amongst the climatists there was not.
    You wouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that someone is wrong because you dislike them, would you?

    Doug McNeall”

  76. Barry,

    Now imagine, if those audience members discover for themselves (or goes away and calculates it – like Warren)) or are directed to Jo Nova’ App, or told how many ‘hiroshima’s the sun puts out a second to the Earth..

    As much as I’m in favour of context, why is what Jo Nova presents relevant? What’s important – as I’ve pointed out and others – is how much energy our climate system is accruing today compared to what we might expect or compared to past history. Millenial reconstructions suggest our climate is quite stable on century – or longer – timescales. Milankovitch cycles see the global surface temperature varying by 5 degrees, but with a cycle length of 100000 years. Even if we consider the rising part of that cycle, it’s likely 5 degrees over a few thousands years. We’re warming at the rate of at least 1 degree per century.

    So, how does Jo Nova pointing out that we get a lot of energy from the Sun somehow diminish the evidence that we’re accruing energy at a rate likely faster than at any time in human history? To me, it seems that what Jo Nova (and yourself) are doing is trying to diminish the significance of something that is likely unprecedented.

    Who do you think we will thank in the future, those who tried to put things in context by making it seem insignificant, or those who tried to highlight something that may indicate that we’re about (and may already have) move into a climate regime never before experience by the human species and at a rate faster than at almost any time in the past.

  77. Rob Painting says:

    I don’t know Doug McNeall is , nor do I follow the reasoning that communication should be determined by popular vote amongst climatists – whatever they are. Seems all very group-thinky.

  78. Rob,

    nor do I follow the reasoning that communication should be determined by popular vote amongst climatists

    I agree. It’s very common for scientists to have very different views about how best to communicate something. I find it quite disappointing that there isn’t at least a recognition by those who criticise the Hiro analogy that science communication is tricky and there is always a judgement involved in how best to communicate a complicated concept. One can disagree with what others decide while still accepting that communicating science is hard.

    On a slightly more controversial note, I am surprised by the behaviour (on social media at least) of some British climate scientists. I see no evidence to suggest that they don’t agree with the consensus view of AGW and yet they seem to engage in a way that appears to give credibility to those who do disagree. I don’t know if it’s British reserve, something subtle, or a sense that there should be fair play.

  79. Rob Painting says:

    By the way Ben Pile came up with the kittens framing in response to the App (though Dana has now added sneezes

    Unless he (Ben Piles) travelled back in time and planted the seed into the mind of a certain SkS contributor, I don’t think so.

  80. Rachel says:

    Hi Barry,
    I haven’t lost any trust in the communicators of this bomb widget and I’ve read Jo Nova’s page and the WUWT page about it. I am more likely to lose trust in someone who underplays a risk, particularly when the consequences of being wrong are so high.

    Anders,
    On a slightly more controversial note, I am surprised by the behaviour (on social media at least) of some British climate scientists.

    Can you give us a link? Or an example?

  81. Rachel,

    Now you’re putting me on the spot there. I found Doug MacNeall’s response to Eli unfortunate. I find the kind of comment that implies something about someone’s character a rather poor way to engage.

    My comment was really just a general comment and probably partly unfair as science communication is clearly a tricky thing. Mainly it’s probably what we’ve discussed before. Communicating with others is fine, but it’s hard to see why one would do that if you don’t also put some effort into correcting their misconceptions. At the same time, as I’ve said before, each person has to work out for themselves how best to engage.

  82. Barry Woods says:

    Doug has a couple of good blogs:

    http://dougmcneall.wordpress.com/2013/08/01/some-more-thoughts-on-advocacy-in-climate-science/

    http://betterfigures.org/

    And is a scientist at the UK Met Office Hadley Centre:

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/people/doug-mcneall

    Doug is a scientist working on analytical techniques to better understand the impacts of climate change.

    Doug asked for reactions from his scientist followers (mainly UK) on twitter, about the Hiroshima App. and the response was broadly negative,

    an example:

    Mark Brandon ‏@icey_mark 25 Nov
    @dougmcneall @dana1981 @ed_hawkins @skepticscience I’m with Doug on this. bomb analogies IMO unhelpful in lots of ways

    to answer your question, (who Mark is) Dr Mark Brandon (@Icey_Mark) is a polar researcher & oceanographer, and was the principle academic advisor on the BBC documentary Frozen PLanet, and consultant BBC’s PLanet Earth and Blue Planet.

    http://science-people.open.ac.uk/m.a.brandon

    He also has an excellent blog, with some amazing polar photographs

    http://mallemaroking.org/

  83. Rachel says:

    Oh, sorry. I should have realised that’s what you were referring to. I don’t really like his final sentence either and don’t really understand why he said it. What’s he talking about? I just filed it under “don’t get it” in my head.

  84. Rob Painting says:

    Anders – I am undeterred by the criticism. My observation is that climate scientists are generally very poor communicators, so I don’t expect to get any useful advice from that quarter. Science – yes, communication advice – no.

    The comment about public comments from British climate scientists is interesting though. I have noticed pretty much the same thing.

  85. Barry Woods says:

    Rachel I’m sure you haven’t.. my point was about how the general public might react, who know nothing or very little about the debate..

  86. Barry,

    As Rob says, it’s not clear that scientists are necessarily the best people to decide how to communicate with the public. I have sufficient experience with that to feel that that is not an unreasonable statement. Simply pointing out that some scientists disagree doesn’t immediately prove that it is a bad way to illustrate global warming.

    When I started getting interested in this topic there were many (and some still do) who associated global warming only with the rise in surface temperatures. As I hope you yourself recognise, global warming is actually about the increase in total energy in the climate system, most of which goes into the ocean. It appears that people are much more aware of this distinction today than they were in the past. I can only think of two reasons why that is. One is that there has been much more discussion about the ocean heat content, so people are more aware of actual data that shows how the overall system is warming. The other is the Hiro comparison.

    Personally, I think that getting people to recognise that global warming is actually about energy and not just about surface temperatures is a good thing – it provides the correct context. It’s hard to believe that the Hiro comparison has not played some positive role in this.

  87. Barry Woods says:

    Arguably Mark for example has a lot of experience communicating science to the public, and it might be wise to listen to his (and others like him) concerns.

  88. Barry,

    I’m certainly not saying that one shouldn’t listen to their concerns and also not suggesting that all those who disagree with it have no experience communicating, or are no good at communicating. There is, however, typically quite a lot of disagreement – even amongst good communicators – as to the best way to do so and so it’s not surprising that some disagree and it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not effective.

  89. Rob Painting says:

    Traced where the kitten sneeze idea came from – a commenter at The Guardian calling her/himself Nelthon back in April. Worthless trivia I know.

  90. Rachel says:

    There’s a good article in The Conversation from August, Four Hiroshima bombs a second: how we imagine climate change which is written by a communications and media studies academic. He thought the bomb analogy was good.

    What Cook and his group have hit upon is that abstract climate change processes are best explained by memes, icons and social memories that make the physics involved meaningful to people. What is going on in the oceans needs to be explained using events that can be visualised, or have maybe even been experienced.

  91. Barry Woods says:

    Hi Rob… I hadn’t seen that , great minds think alight then!.. Ben seems to have come up with it by himself independently.
    On twitter somebody linked to this: (catsplosion) more worthless trivia.

    Doug McNeall expanded on why he disliked it (replying to John Cook) , on twitter here,

    follow link to see the conversation:

  92. Rob Painting says:

    If the Hiroshima metaphor is no good it will sink without trace. On the other hand, if it has stickabilty it will be referenced for some years to come. I say let the professional climate communicators do their thing and we’ll do ours. Testing our communication strategies in the real world is the only way of determining what does and doesn’t work.

  93. Barry Woods says:

    I couldn’t click on the tweet url.
    If you want to follow the link, clicking on the date time of the tweet seems to works
    (ie 8:00 AM – 25 Nov 2013)

  94. Barry Woods says:

    I think it will ‘reach’ some people, I think it will polarize others and even alienate some others.. whether this is a ‘good’ communications strategy, I agree, time will tell. However, is there is a risk of a backfire effect on the communicators themselves?

  95. Rachel says:

    Ok Barry, you’ve made your point. Please try not to bomb the thread with lots of repetitive comments.

  96. Barry,

    I think it will polarize others and even alienate some others.. whether this is a ‘good’ communications strategy, I agree, time will tell.

    I suspect those who are alienated and those who are polarized are unlikely to be receptive to anything.

    However, is there is a risk of a backfire effect on the communicators themselves?

    It certainly appears that some are trying very hard to make it backfire on the communicators themselves. I wonder why?

    Anyway, as Rachel says, can we avoid going over and over the same ground. The points been made and doesn’t really need to be made again.

  97. Any metaphor can be useful in communication, we never know how useful until it’s tried. I know from experience in using various ideas which I thought were very useful in media interviews, only to find they went down like a lead balloon. I think the trick is never to assume your communication idea is good just because you think it is, or vice versa, and also not to worry if it does not work, but have the insight to change it if it does not work. We are all individuals and I don’t think there is any size that fits all. The Hiroshima bomb idea is obviously effective otherwise we would not all be talking about it, I suppose it could be said that whether it is ethical or not is not really relevant, as long as it gets the message across.

  98. Barry Woods says:

    Anders – You wonder why?
    fine keep it, use its lots.. iI think it helps ‘sceptics’ because of the ‘problems’ with it.

  99. jsam says:

    Everything annoys sceptics. Who cares?

  100. Barry,

    I haven’t really used it much, other than to discuss it.

    I think it helps ‘sceptics’ because of the ‘problems’ with it.

    I suspect it does, but your comment does rather imply that your goal is to undermine any attempt to explain to the public the basics of global warming.

    Given that you were the one who RTd Jo Nova’s post, do you actually think what she was illustrating has merit. (i.e., do you think that comparing the energy imbalance with the total amount of energy we receive from the Sun is the correct context)?

  101. Gareth,

    I suppose it could be said that whether it is ethical or not is not really relevant, as long as it gets the message across.

    I think this is an interesting point. There’s clearly no law against it. It’s clearly been used in other circumstances (earthquakes) without people claiming it’s immoral. You’re clearly correct that the fact that it is so heavily discussed means it’s having some kind of effect. If the consequence of global warming are going to be as serious as some think they are, getting people’s attention is clearly a good thing to do. As I think I said in the post, in the future we will likely not be criticising those who tried to get people’s attention.

  102. SekeRob says:

    As Jo Nova tries to minimize the additional energy in that distortive pie presentation, I can show you a chart how preposterously small the solar variation is in TOA… about 0.1%, and on a slightly declining trend since the 50’s [just pure coincidence as '51 is mentioned as departure point]. Just make a scale on a line chart that has 0 – 1400 W/m and you get the picture. Like here… https://sites.google.com/site/allthingsclimatechange/the-sun

  103. Could it be that there is also a cultural difference? In Europe violence gets you and R-rating (in the US it is sex). In Europe people think of an atomic explosion and all its consequences. In the USA nukes have been abused so much that people have become desensitised and it has become just another energy unit. Just like mutilated corpses on breakfast television are just another number.

    Were those sufficient attention grabbing, half true statements about which one can discuss, to be effective science communication?

    Dumb Scientist (@DumbSci) says: “Better?”

    Yes, a “10M megaton nuclear bomb” is better, because it does not directly refer to Hiroshima and is thus less insensitive for the suffering Japanese. Still, I was already against the analogy before someone pointed me to this problem.

    The entropy problem remains: a bomb has high entropy, global warming is a low entropy phenomenon. And it is the high entropy of bombs that is destructive. Furthermore, the effects of climate change up to now are still much smaller as the analogy suggests. The global warming since 1970 to now is not comparable to a nuclear carpet bombing with one bomb per female inhabitant.

    Rob Painting says: “I don’t know Doug McNeall is, nor do I follow the reasoning that communication should be determined by popular vote amongst climatists – whatever they are. Seems all very group-thinky.”

    Normally SkS presents the opinion of the scientific community. In this case, they do not. This is more a matter of opinion as of evidence, so everyone can entertain his own opinion. However, if my opinion differs from respected peers, this is a reason to think extra deep whether I am really right. (I do not know Rob Painting, but do find it ironic that someone of SkS is arguing against a consensus, even if it is allowed in this case.)

    Wotts: “I find it quite disappointing that there isn’t at least a recognition by those who criticise the Hiro analogy that science communication is tricky and there is always a judgement involved in how best to communicate a complicated concept.”

    Science communication is tricky and there is always a judgement involved in how best to communicate a complicated concept.

    Rob Painting says: “My observation is that climate scientists are generally very poor communicators, so I don’t expect to get any useful advice from that quarter. Science – yes, communication advice – no.”

    Does this count as an ad homin? Even if not, Painting do you have any evidence what so ever that Horoschima of effective more than just being controversial and leading to pageviews? If it is just about pageviews, even Watts would be an effective science :) communicator.

    Rob Painting says: “If the Hiroshima metaphor is no good it will sink without trace. On the other hand, if it has stickabilty it will be referenced for some years to come.”

    Like the meme that there is no climate change just urban heat island?

    andthentheresphysics says: “It certainly appears that some are trying very hard to make it backfire on the communicators themselves.”

    I know this was not directed at me, but feel an urge to respond.

    Maybe good willing people who would like this meme to stop in time before it discredits SkS on a large scale. And maybe people who think it is a bad idea to give the ostriches a meme they can legitimately object to. And maybe scientists how hate to be forced to be arguing on these same side as the anti-science crowd. And maybe simply scientists that see the analogy as wrong, because the have learned about entropy and thus realise that while technically it is about energy, but that an explosion is something very different from a minor increase in heat capacity.

    Should science communication be about the communication of science? Or has science communication become the use of sciency sounding arguments in a political fight? At least I would prefer if people would not call this meme effective science communication but rather call it effective political communication. (And I still doubt it is effective beyond grabbing attention.)

  104. I wonder ( just for a lighthearted comparison) how much extra heat in Atomic bombs is caused by the emissions of all ruminants, domesticated, wild and sacred? Something to keep the maths wizards amongst us busy on Christmas day after a fine lunch.

  105. Rachel says:

    Victor,
    The entropy problem remains: a bomb has high entropy, global warming is a low entropy phenomenon.
    The average person doesn’t know what entropy means. I think people are analysing this too deeply. What is the message behind this widget? It’s that the Earth is accumulating *alot* of energy.

    Where do Australia and New Zealand fit in your cultural differences? Neither country has any nuclear power at all. New Zealand has been nuclear-free since 1984 and yet New Zealanders are perfectly happy to accept atomic bomb analogies for their many earthquakes.

    Maybe good willing people who would like this meme to stop in time before it discredits SkS on a large scale. And maybe people who think it is a bad idea to give the ostriches a meme they can legitimately object to.

    I disagree with you here. This is not going to discredit anyone. It’s a perfectly legitimate way to explain a challenging concept. It’s not immoral or illegal and the ostriches haven’t really provided any valid objections in my view. Yours and the objections of other scientists are typically scientific and, forgive me for saying, a bit pedantic.

  106. RB says:

    Annan/Hargreaves have papers in support of ~2C sensitivity from paleo based on estimates derived from the Last Glacial Maximum. Not enough time to find the references right now, but one paper had ECS at 1.7C and caveated higher due to non-linear feedbacks; the other had ECS at 2.5C and caveated lower to closer to 2C ECS when incorporating a simple dust model.

  107. > I think it helps ‘sceptics’ because of the ‘problems’ with it.

    I think using the word “sceptics” does not help those who use it incoherently in #ClimateBall.

    So what I think Barry means is that the use of the Hiroshima metaphor will help the contrarians because of the concerns they will raise with it.

    I don’t think contrarians will be helped much, as they could always return to their concerns about the use of the D-word, e.g.:

    If the contrarian concerns never end, and God knows we should be thankful for them, we have no reason to believe that this or that concern helps their noble cause more than another.

    I don’t think that’s a big IF.

  108. Rachel says:

    I think we can take comfort from the fact that contrarians are so vehemently opposed to this widget: it must be effective.

  109. I wonder how many can sneezes there is in this fantasy:

    Seems I can’t retweet Tall One’s tweet.

    I wonder why.

  110. Ian Forrester says:

    I am in complete agreement with Rachel’s last comment:

    I think we can take comfort from the fact that contrarians are so vehemently opposed to this widget: it must be effective

    The more they rant and rave about something e.g. Mann’s hockey stick, the more we know that they realize that these totems are convincing the non-scientists to the worrying effects of AGW.

  111. Victor,

    “Dana, what is your measure of effectiveness for climate communication? Number of surprised people? Number of people that click on your blog post?”

    Effective climate communication helps people understand climate change and the risks it poses.

    “I am afraid what happens to those surprised people when they come home, start to read and think and start seeing SkS as a less reliable source of information.”

    I’m not the least bit afraid of this. The information is correct, for one thing. For another, people who aren’t already aware of the global heat buildup probably aren’t familiar with SkS to begin with. And if they’re going to trust their ‘guts’ over the facts, then they probably wouldn’t like SkS anyway.

  112. I also agree, if the deniers are attacking something, odds are it’s because it’s an effective communications tool (the 97% consensus being another great example of this).

  113. Victor,

    Could it be that there is also a cultural difference? In Europe violence gets you and R-rating (in the US it is sex). In Europe people think of an atomic explosion and all its consequences. In the USA nukes have been abused so much that people have become desensitised and it has become just another energy unit. Just like mutilated corpses on breakfast television are just another number.

    A megaton of TNT is just another energy unit, equal to 4.184E15 J.

    The entropy problem remains: a bomb has high entropy, global warming is a low entropy phenomenon. And it is the high entropy of bombs that is destructive. Furthermore, the effects of climate change up to now are still much smaller as the analogy suggests. The global warming since 1970 to now is not comparable to a nuclear carpet bombing with one bomb per female inhabitant.

    Again, I almost always fail to communicate with contrarians. I’m having trouble explaining that a megaton is a unit of energy, and that the climate problem is fundamentally a problem of heat energy buildup, primarily measured by ARGO in the ocean.

    Your ambitious attempt to explain energy and entropy in a single metaphor is admirable, and noted. Godspeed, Victor.

  114. OPatrick says:

    What is the message behind this widget? It’s that the Earth is accumulating *alot* of energy.

    I may be wrong about this but my impression is that the Hiroshima analogy, as with a lot of Sceptical Science’s resources, is aimed at responding to ‘sceptic’ arguments, in this case the common suggestion that the changes we are bringing about in the climate system are tiny and therefore insignificant. I wonder then if it is right to talk about the ‘message’ behind the widget – should it be an ‘anit-message’? Would this change the morality of its use? I think so. If you are setting out to inform people who are genuine blank slates then I can see it backfiring, but if you are responding to messages that you know your audience have already been exposed to it feels more justified.

  115. Tom Curtis says:

    Rachel, Ian Forrester, contrarians oppose things vehemently either because they are effective, or because they are easy targets. “Hide the decline”, for example, was no an effective piece of climate science. Indeed, it was not even a piece of climate science – just a phrase used out of context and endlessly misinterpreted. The 10-10 add fiasco was not effective either.

    So, the question is, do the contrarians oppose the atomic bomb comparison because it is effective or because it is an easy target?

    In fact, it is both.

    It is effective. It grabs peoples attention, and lets them realize in a visceral way that global warming is storing a lot of heat at the Earth’s surface. But it is also an easy target because it is only a partial communication. It communicates energy, but not relative size of energy to energy flows, not entropy, and not the critical role of surface temperature. Further it distracts with side issues (actual harm in the Hiroshima comparison, potential offensiveness). The distractions could have been avoided by using a nuclear test for an example (with my preference being for the Trinity device).

    The limited communication not only leaves the atomic bomb comparison open to attack by skeptics, it has the potential to mislead those who are being communicated to. Such potentially misleading comparisons are the bane of good science communication if the issues are not explicitly addressed. Not only are the target audience potentially mislead, they are set up to be prey for pseudo-scientists and contrarions who can implicitly attack the valid part of the science by attacking the misconceptions that have been encouraged by the image. IMO, the use of the comparison by the SkS team do not address these issues adequately, making their communication superficially effective, but setting their audience up for the contrarian counter attack.

  116. Tom Curtis says:

    Dana, the contrarians do attack incessantly effective communication tools. But assuming something is effective because they attack it merely makes you complacent. You run the severe risk of assuming something you do is effective when they are attacking it because it is an effective thing for them to do, ie, an easy target that distracts from the main issues.

  117. OPatrick says:

    But assuming something is effective because they attack it merely makes you complacent.

    ‘Odds are…’ doesn’t sound like an assumption to me.

  118. Tom Curtis says:

    Barry Woods wrote:

    “As has been mentioned, a discussion about ‘Hiroshima’s framing was had a few months back (including at the Making Science Public blog, Nottingham University)

    http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2013/08/14/more-heat-than-light-climate-catastrophe-and-the-hiroshima-bomb/

    “So perhaps a less sensational means of communication might be more effective. One candidate is the idea of the atmosphere as a bathtub, that is gradually being filled up by carbon emissions. One can argue about how big the bathtub is, the rate at which it is filling, and what happens when it overflows. However it does more effectively communicate the nuances of the potential effects of climate change, and the incrementally increasing risk, rather than the context-free, catastrophic climate porn of the Hiroshima meme.” – Dr Warren Pearce”

    I have a low opinion of Pearce, and this quote by Woods just confirms it.

    The quote comes from what is supposed to be a considered blog about the use of the Little Boy Bomb analogy in climate science, and is proposed as a substitute for that comparison. The immediate and obvious problem is that the “bathtub” analogy does not even communicate the same information as the Little Boy comparison. Therefore it cannot be a suitable replacement for it. Having been presented with the problem of how to communicate effectively the rate at which heat is accumulating at the surface of the planet, Pearce merely changes the subject to the rate at which the CO2 concentration is increasing.

    Even worse, the bathtub analogy is a poor one even for communicating the increase in atmospheric CO2. There is no “full level” for the atmosphere, above which it overflows. While we cannot increase atmospheric CO2 to above 0.2-5% of the atmosphere, in theory there is no upper bound on the partial pressure of CO2. At least no upper bound other than that dictated by general relativity – ie the irrelevant limit that if we add enough CO2 eventually the Earth will become a black hole.

    For the bathtub analogy to make sense, the person making the analogy must set a line as the upper limit of “safe” increase, for some definition of “safe”. That might by 350 ppmv (for example). But that limit is not a given. It is actively disputed even among climate scientists.

    So, all that the bathtub analogy gives you is a mental picture for those who find images more memorable than concepts. For everybody else, you communicate more effectively by simply saying, beyond a certain limit, increasing CO2 concentrations will result in harmful consequences due to global warming.

  119. AnOilMan says:

    I think the nuclear explosion comparison is effective. It must be if Jo has to get off her high horse, and come over here to vent. Surely she knows she should not engage the trolls. (In this sense, we are the trolls.)

    Dana Nuccitelli;

    I’m not sure your comments that the denial sphere is strictly limited. Here’s Monckton explaining to Jo and Gina Rinehart etc how to capture people’s minds;

    http://www.desmogblog.com/monckton-pitches-fox-news-australia-idea-mining-magnate-seeks-super-rich-backers

    Jo can be heard talking about how this will result in her receiving click throughs. In marketing speak, they are constructing a funnel which will misinform, and possibly earn supporters.

    Shortly after that, Gina Rinehart has been taking control of Aussie media…

    http://www.desmogblog.com/mining-magnate-gina-rinehart-bids-editorial-control-australia-s-fairfax-newspapers

    Which suddenly started reporting garbage for climate science…

    http://www.desmogblog.com/2013/11/01/australia-s-biggest-newspapers-lying-public-about-climate-change-says-study-author

    What about Gina Rinehart?

    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Gina_Rinehart

    (Not exactly loved by her father… Wow… denier who’s a university drop out… What a surprise that’s just like Watts!)

    We need a funnel to inform and explain facts. (I don’t believe Skeptical Science can really reach Jo Q Public. Its very technical, and I find it hard to even locate old articles which are all so good.)

  120. Rob Painting says:

    Victor Venema – “Normally SkS presents the opinion of the scientific community. In this case, they do not. This is more a matter of opinion as of evidence, so everyone can entertain his own opinion. However, if my opinion differs from respected peers, this is a reason to think extra deep whether I am really right.

    No. Skeptical Science presents evidence from the mainstream scientific community. What you are describing is in fact groupthink, or an argument from authority. It is fine for you to operate in this manner, however I tend to be a tad more evidence-reliant. So far the naysayers have resorted to emotionally loaded rants to make their case. I find this weakens my respect for them, but YMMV. If someone can present a compelling evidence-based case I all ears though.

    Victor – “Does this count as an ad homin?”

    A personal observation is now ad hominem? News to me.

    Even if not, Painting do you have any evidence what so ever that Horoschima of effective more than just being controversial and leading to pageviews?

    Anecdotally, yes. When people say that they did not realise it was that much energy, you realise that at least something is getting through.

    “If it is just about pageviews, even Watts would be an effective science :) communicator.”

    See above. Fooling people into accepting climate quackery, as WUWT does, isn’t climate science communication in my book, i.e. it has no connection to the real world.

    Like the meme that there is no climate change just urban heat island?

    If people believe air conditioners around airport thermometers can melt the Greenland & Antarctic ice sheets, raise global sea level and cause the planet-wide migration of plants and animals away from the equator, I think those people are beyond climate science communication. Those types of people will just follow what others do.

  121. Tom Curtis says:

    One final note – the use of detonation of Little Boy as an example to benchmark the energy content of an abstract unit (“atomic bombs of energy”) may or may not be offensive. I suspect it will cause offense to some, but not to most. The use of an abbreviated name of a city devastated by atomic fire as an abstract unit of energy, ie, the “hiro”, is IMO unquestionably offensive. It trivializes the harm and suffering of the people of Hiroshima.

    If you wish to use such a unit, select a tragedy from your own nations history (Coventry, perhaps, for the British), Dresden for Germans, and the WTC for US) and convert that into a unit among your friends and neighbours. If, and only if, you are not reviled for doing so, then perhaps you can use another nations tragedy so trivially.

  122. Tom Curtis says:

    AnOilMan, the desmogblog article refers to two papers, The Australian and the Herald Sun. Both are owned by Rupert Murdoch, not Fairfax (the corporation into which Gina Rinehart has bought).

  123. BBD says:

    Annan/Hargreaves have papers in support of ~2C sensitivity from paleo based on estimates derived from the Last Glacial Maximum. Not enough time to find the references right now, but one paper had ECS at 1.7C and caveated higher due to non-linear feedbacks; the other had ECS at 2.5C and caveated lower to closer to 2C ECS when incorporating a simple dust model.

    I only recall Hargreaves’ paper and that’s what happens if you use MARGO estimates of LGM cooling (especially equatorial). It is biased warm, so your LGM/Holocene derived ECS estimate is biased low.

  124. BBD says:

    This atom bomb stuff is wearyingly tedious and we are being led by the nose again. Let’s try not to let the contrarians run the show all the time.

  125. Tom,

    The use of detonation of Little Boy as an example to benchmark the energy content of an abstract unit (“atomic bombs of energy”) may or may not be offensive. I suspect it will cause offense to some, but not to most. The use of an abbreviated name of a city devastated by atomic fire as an abstract unit of energy, ie, the “hiro”, is IMO unquestionably offensive. It trivializes the harm and suffering of the people of Hiroshima.

    This is where the whole offensive aspect becomes tricky. I started using “Hiro” in the some of my comments to try and avoid using Hiroshima (i.e., turn it into a “unit” of some kind, rather than a place) but you make the perfectly valid point that that may be more offensive than using Hiroshima in the first place.

    To be honest, I don’t quite know what to think. A bunch a people I respect disagree with each other, fundamentally a fairly healthy thing, I would argue. My intention, here, isn’t to capture people’s attention, so I can probably simply avoid using it (or use kitten sneezes if I need to use something). What I would say though, is that I think what Dana, John, Rob and the rest at SkS are trying to do (communicate a complex concept to the public) is both valuable and difficult and, as far as I can tell, they’re doing a better job than most. Since (I would argue) that there is no chance that they’re intending to be offensive, some recognition of both the value of what they’re doing and how difficult it can be to both get this right and to be effective is probably worth acknowledging, even if some disagree with this particular situation.

    Also, as BBD says, we do – in my opinion at least – have to try to not let the contrarians control the dialogue and specify what language is acceptable.

  126. There’s no question (I would suggest) that they’re trying to be offensive

    I’d rather assume you missed a “not” than interpret that phrase literally…

  127. AnOilMan says:

    Tom Curtis: My bad… I do have a hard time keep all their activities in order. They are so very busy. :-)

    After enough debunking, I just started focusing more on the politics behind why they invent the alternative to physics that they invent.

  128. @DumbSci, thanks. I’ve changed the whole first part of the sentence as it was a bit unwieldy. Hopefully it reads as intended :-)

  129. stevefitzpatrick says:

    Anonymous blog host,

    “The above also ignores that as we continue to add CO2 to the atmosphere, the energy imbalance will likely increase and the rate at which we’re accruing energy, therefore, will also increase.”

    Really? I thought that a rising surface temperature always leads to a greater rate of heat loss to space. Whether the net imbalance will increase or not in the coming decades depends on if the rate of increase in net forcing is greater than the net increase in heat loss from a warming surface. And that of course depends on climate sensitivity, emissions trajectories, the magnitude of future aerosol offsets, natural pseudo-cyclical behaviors like ENSO, AMO, PDO, etc., and more. It is by no means certain that the rate of heat accumulation will increase. The measured rate of ocean heat accumulation (0-2000 meters) does not appear to have changed much since about 1990 (Levitus et al), although the pre-Argo data below 700 meters are admittedly quite sparse.

    Seems to me a bit less confidence about the future rate of ocean heat accumulation is called for.

  130. stevefitzpatrick,

    Seems to me a bit less confidence about the future rate of ocean heat accumulation is called for.

    You do understand that the word “likely” implies some uncertainty?

    Also, the influence of ENSO, AMO, PDO cycles should average to zero on timescales of 30 years or so. If you consider a BAU emissions pathway, an estimate for the TCR, and use the estimates for the ECS to get the level of feedback, you would expect the energy imbalance to increase with time. It’s fairly basic physics and if we do continue to emit CO2 as we are, there really isn’t much chance that the rate of ocean heat accumulation won’t rise.

  131. Steve, saying the imbalance depends on emissions trajectories is exactly the same as saying “as we continue to add CO2 to the atmosphere”. It’s great that we can agree that the best way to insure that the radiative imbalance doesn’t keep growing is to stop emitting CO2 as quickly as possible. Surely your comment about future aerosol offsets was a little joke referring to how that strategy wouldn’t do anything to stop ocean acidification?

  132. Rob Painting says:

    Steve Fitzpatrick – “Seems to me a bit less confidence about the future rate of ocean heat accumulation is called for

    When the climate shifts into the positive phase of the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (weak wind-driven ocean circulation) the rate of ocean heat uptake should decrease. Global surface temperatures, however, should increase rapidly. Sea level rise should too (less mixing of heat into the deeper ocean).

    Now that our observational capacity has greatly increased (albeit far from desirable), it will be interesting to see how the observations stack up.

  133. stevefitzpatrick says:

    andthentheresphysics,
    “Also, the influence of ENSO, AMO, PDO cycles should average to zero on timescales of 30 years or so.”
    Make that ~60 years, and I would agree. 30 years is about half as long as would seem appropriate based on the instrumental record. If the physics are fairly basic to show that there is little chance of anything other than an increasing rate of heat accumulation, then perhaps you could show that calculation; but I expect the result will depend on assumed values for transient and equilibrium responses. ‘BAU’ is itself an imponderable; BAU at present is leading to a substantial drop in CO2 emissions in the States due to substitution of less expensive (fracked) natural gas for coal. If fracking to increase natural gas substitution for coal were widely adopted (not clear if this will happen) then the BAU trajectory would be lower that the IPCC’s BAU trajectory.

    Dumb Scientist,
    Who said anything about ocean pH? I said that net forcing will certainly depend on aerosol effects; no joke intended.
    I agree that if you want of reduce the rate of growth of CO2 in the atmosphere, then you need to reduce the amount of CO2 emitted to the atmosphere. The best ways to do that seem to me 1) a rapid substitution of natural gas for coal wherever possible, 2) an all-out effort to build nuclear power plants, and 3) research to improve energy storage so as to make solar and wind power more practical. Those are some practical steps that would make a difference.

  134. Stevefitzpatrick,

    Make that ~60 years, and I would agree. 30 years is about half as long as would seem appropriate based on the instrumental record.

    Okay, fine. 60 years may be more appropriate.

    If the physics are fairly basic to show that there is little chance of anything other than an increasing rate of heat accumulation, then perhaps you could show that calculation; but I expect the result will depend on assumed values for transient and equilibrium responses.

    Of course it is. What else am I meant to do?

    I’ll do it anyway. If you assume a TCR of 1.5oC and an emissivity of 0.6, then once we’ve double CO2 the increase in outgoing flux will be about 3.7Wm-2. In the absence of feedbacks, that would essentially match the radiative forcing due to the increased CO2. However, even low-ball estimates for the ECS are around 2oC per doubling, implying that feedbacks are providing forcings around 70% that of the anthropogenic forcings. Hence, at the instant we’ve doubled CO2, the energy imbalance will likely be around 2.6Wm-2. Hence the rate of ocean heat content uptake will be significantly greater than today (0.6 – 0.9 Wm-2).

    Sure, if we end up emitting less things will be different and that would be good. But if we continue to emit CO2 at the rate we are today, or higher, we will continue to accrue energy and the rate at which we do so will likely increase.

  135. Rachel says:

    Someone sent me this link – Why Rob Ford is mad as hell. Is there be a similarity between angry Rob Ford supporters and angry contrarians?

  136. RB says:

    BBD,
    This was the Hargreaves paper on a 2-2.5C sensitivity and this was the >1.7C sensitivity paper.

  137. stevefitzpatrick says:

    Rob,
    “Now that our observational capacity has greatly increased (albeit far from desirable), it will be interesting to see how the observations stack up.”
    Sure, but I am probably too old to see more than the next 15 years or so. There is some evidence of cyclical behavior in ocean heat accumulation, but that seems limited to something less than the top 700 meters, and mainly the top 400 meters or so. Deeper accumulation (below 700 meters) is probably too slow (too long a time constant) to have a lot of cyclical influence; it also where the data is very limited except for the last decade or so, and where we are least able to discern long term changes with any confidence.

  138. AnOilMan says:

    stevefitzpatrick: Nope.

    Substituting coal for natural gas is a non-starter. Its a marginal reduction on emissions at best, and make no mistake. The target number is zero, and fast. (We have to do this faster if we wait longer.) Fast is painful.

    Utility grade energy storage currently costs $0.05 per kwh delivered to your home. There are many companies working on that. (I’m following Ambri. I don’t think many people made money betting against Bill Gates. But I’m willing to hold your coat if you want to.)

    Solar currently costs $0.22 per kwh on grid, and $0.35 per kwh off grid (battery). That is the cost in not so sunny Canada. These costs are comparable to subsidized coal.

    This is why you are seeing such a strong uptake in solar use, and the utilities are desperately afraid of a disruptive event occurring in their market space.

    http://grist.org/climate-energy/solar-panels-could-destroy-u-s-utilities-according-to-u-s-utilities/

    Does anyone here still drive the cheap car they drove in university? Or have we all started spending a lot more? The logic that we must chase the the cheapest dirtiest fuels is a non-starter on so many levels.

  139. BBD says:

    RB

    Thanks for the links – the MARGO problem doesn’t go away though.

  140. Steve, I completely agree with your (2) point about nuclear power and your (3) point about energy storage. As long as natural gas doesn’t leak too much, actually shuts down coal plants, and doesn’t compete with truly renewable energy sources, then I’m not opposed.

    As I’ve been explaining on another thread, the revenue neutral carbon fee endorsed by me, the Citizens Climate Lobby and Reagan’s economics adviser will help achieve all these goals in one fell swoop. According to economists, other approaches seem to require more regulations and larger government. As a fiscal conservative, I’m opposed to that.

    I’d rather tax what we burn, not what we earn.

  141. RB says:

    BBD, I need to look into the issues regarding paleo-derived constructions, but I noticed this post which presents some counter-arguments including the MARGO-related issues.

  142. Rachel, thanks for that fascinating article. It deserves a second link, if not to go viral.

  143. stevefitzpatrick says:

    andthenthersphysics,

    I don’t agree that 2C ECS is a low-ball figure; in fact it is not far from what seems to me the most likely value for ECS based on empirical estimates (somewhere near 1.8-1.9C per doubling). Heck, even GISS Model E-R now puts ECS somewhere near 2.2C per doubling. A transient sensitivity of 1.5 seems to me if anything a bit of a high-ball estimate. Lots of people (including Isaac Held) suggest a somewhat lower transient figure is more likely (say 1.3C). Of course, most estimates of equilibrium and transient sensitivity depend on the assumed level of aerosol offsets (present and historical), and these levels remain quite uncertain. Arguing about what the true equilibrium and transient sensitivities are without good aerosol data is unlikely to be fruitful.

  144. Rachel says:

    DumbSci,
    We actually have jsam to thank for that fascinating article.

  145. Steve,

    I don’t agree that 2C ECS is a low-ball figure; in fact it is not far from what seems to me the most likely value for ECS based on empirical estimates (somewhere near 1.8-1.9C per doubling)….A transient sensitivity of 1.5 seems to me if anything a bit of a high-ball estimate. Lots of people (including Isaac Held) suggest a somewhat lower transient figure is more likely (say 1.3C).

    Well, maybe low-ball’s the wrong word, but it’s clearly on the low side of the range. Also, worrying about difference of 0.1 – 0.2oC is not really worth doing.

    Given what we were originally discussing, it doesn’t really make much difference. Even if we use the lowest reasonable number (1.8 for ECS, 1.3 for TCR) we would still have an energy imbalance of around 1.6Wm-2 when CO2 has doubled. That was what you were questioning in your first comment.

    Also, if you consider the recent Cowtan & Way paper, the recent Trenberth & Fasullo paper, and that empirical estimates do not take into account the likely non-linear nature of the feedbacks, everything point towards the ECS being higher than empirical estimates suggest.

    Arguing about what the true equilibrium and transient sensitivities are without good aerosol data is unlikely to be fruitful.

    Indeed, but as far as I’m aware, ignoring anthropogenic aerosol forcing probably implies that the ECS is larger still than empirical estimates suggest.

  146. BBD says:

    Heck, even GISS Model E-R now puts ECS somewhere near 2.2C per doubling.

    Does it? I thought it was ~2.8C or thereabouts. Is there a link for this?

  147. AnOilMan says:

    Rachel: There is a lot we can learn from Rob Ford.

    For folks not up to date, this is the mayor of Toronto. He’s fat, vile, aggressive, foul mouthed, and he doesn’t always remember when he smokes crack because he’s in a drunken stupor. (Secret drop offs with large bottles that he downs.)

    His sole constituents are Conservative.

    He’s running on the same suburb targeting political platform that the US Republicans are, that was pioneers by Frankl Luntz. Who does this appeal to?

    http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/

    (Non Authoritarians, have no issue with trashing their heroes.)

    These are the very politics that are now spread and cementing up the rest of the world.

    There was a great CBC interview with some Rob Ford supporters after his admission of crack use. Why do they support him? One said that in looking at city politics, it just wasn’t working for them. Taxes were increasing. He was looking at 45 minute commutes to work, and yet the city was listening to some lefty arguing over how to help homeless people with city money. He says there comes a point where this is taxation without representation.

    And there is most definitely some truth to that.

  148. AnOilMan says:

    Conservatives are riding that very dissatisfaction to carve the agenda they want.

    They don’t deliver on anything. But that’s OK. Authoritarians are backed, no matter how much they screw up.

  149. stevefitzpatrick says:

    Dumb Scientist,
    “and doesn’t compete with truly renewable energy sources, then I’m not opposed”
    I think that is an unrealistic hurdle. How could natural gas NOT compete with other energy sources? The reason fracked natural gas displaces coal is because it is cheaper… much cheaper. The reason truly renewable energy is not being used very much is because it is hugely more expensive, without subsidies, it would not be used at all. Most CO2 emissions growth in the coming decades will be in developing countries, where cheap energy is desperately needed by a lot of desperately poor people (under US$2 per day income). It is unrealistic to expect those people are going to not burn natural gas if it is far less expensive than renewable energy.

    With regards to carbon taxes: I probably have much less faith than you in the political possibility of a “revenue neutral carbon fee”; please point out a single new tax which has remained ‘revenue neutral’ over any extended period anywhere.

  150. BBD says:

    It is unrealistic to expect those people are going to not burn natural gas if it is far less expensive than renewable energy.

    Where’s all this gas going to come from? I thought one needed to be sitting atop the right shale geology. If not, it becomes an expensive import, no?

  151. How could natural gas NOT compete with other energy sources? The reason fracked natural gas displaces coal is because it is cheaper… much cheaper

    The reason truly renewable energy is not being used very much is because it is hugely more expensive, without subsidies, it would not be used at all.

    Can we run some numbers here. My understanding is that the cheapest natural gas system is around $70 per MWh. Onshore wind is around $90 per MWh. Solar can be around $140 per MWh. Offshore wind around $220 per MWh. However, adding a reasonable estimate for a carbon tax ($55 per MWh) would bring the cheapest natural gas system to being more expensive than onshore wind and similar to solar. So, is it really cheaper … much cheaper and renewables hugely more expensive? All sources here.

    This also ignores that the renewables sector is still developing while fossil fuels are typically a mature technology that was – I believe – subsidised in the past.

  152. BBD,

    If not, it becomes an expensive import, no?

    Agreed. It seems that this is something that is often (always) ignored. Currently the UK imports around 30% of its oil and gas.

  153. BBD says:

    stevefitzpatrick

    Given that the US (for example) is burning its own natural gas and says it will continue to do so, it’s not really clear that there will be any surplus to export at all.

    BTW did you manage to find a link for that model sensitivity you mentioned above?

  154. BBD,

    Given that the US (for example) is burning its own natural gas and says it will continue to do so, it’s not really clear that there will be any surplus to export at all.

    In fact, I read somewhere recently that all the gas would be owned by the companies who would clearly sell it on the global market (or at least set the price based on the global price). So, even if the US was technically energy independent (i.e., could produce enough for their own use), the price they pay will still be set by the global market.

  155. stevefitzpatrick says:

    andthentheresphysics,
    “ignoring anthropogenic aerosol forcing probably implies that the ECS is larger still than empirical estimates suggest”
    I don’t get that at all. If aerosol forcing is lower, then estimates of ECS automatically are lower. EG. today’s total non-aerosol forcing is in the range of 3.1 watts/M^2 relative to pre-industrial times, and warming over that period about 0.9C. Ocean hear uptake (averaged over all of Earth’s surface) is about 0.5 watt/M^2, add another 0.1 for land and atmospheric warming and ice melt, and you reach 0.6 watt/M^2 accumulation. If there is no net aerosol offset, then (linear) ECS is ~0.9/(3.1 – 0.6) = 0.36 degree per watt, or 1.34C per doubling. If you assume 1.2 watts/M^2 aerosol offset, then ECS is ~0.9/(3.1 – 1.2 – 0.6) = 0.69 degree per watt, or 2.56 C per doubling. Seems to me you can’t ever ignore aerosol forcing, and I don’t think anybody does.

  156. Steve,

    Seems to me you can’t ever ignore aerosol forcing, and I don’t think anybody does.

    I agree. I wasn’t suggesting that it be ignored – I worded that poorly (I really meant ignoring uncertainties wrt aerosol forcings). I’ve always used around 2.2Wm-2 for the net anthropogenic forcings, which I think is the current IPCC estimate including aerosols. The point I was trying to make is that it’s my understanding that the influence of anthropogenic aerosols is unlikely to reduce the ECS further. It’s more likely, I think, to increase it slightly.

  157. BBD says:

    stevefitzpatrick

    From the PALAEOSENS project results (Rohling et al. 2012):

    Many palaeoclimate studies have quantified pre-anthropogenic climate change to calculate climate sensitivity (equilibrium temperature change in response to radiative forcing change), but a lack of consistent methodologies produces a wide range of estimates and hinders comparability of results. Here we present a stricter approach, to improve intercomparison of palaeoclimate sensitivity estimates in a manner compatible with equilibrium projections for future climate change. Over the past 65 million years, this reveals a climate sensitivity (in K W−1 m2) of 0.3–1.9 or 0.6–1.3 at 95% or 68% probability, respectively. The latter implies a warming of 2.2–4.8 K per doubling of atmospheric CO2, which agrees with IPCC estimates.

    Doesn’t really look as though ECS is below 2C and it seems much more likely that the value is closer to 3C.

  158. BBD says:

    Thank you. Much appreciated.

    I was also interested to read what you had to say about US natural gas. Good point. I need not to forget that the geological resource is not claimed as state property as in the UK.

  159. BBD,

    I believe that the same issue applies here. Fracking in the UK will be insignificant in a global context and so won’t influence global prices. So, UK fracking really cannot drive prices down even if it is economically viable.

  160. stevefitzpatrick,

    I think that is an unrealistic hurdle. How could natural gas NOT compete with other energy sources?

    And then there’s physics. The unrealistic hurdle I think humanity should be concerned about is how we’ll keep increasing our food and water supplies despite warming Earth more than 2°C by 2100. Since aerosols can’t offset ocean acidification, survivable future anthropogenic radiative forcing scenarios are mostly determined by our future CO2 emissions. Here are several CO2 emissions curves which all warm Earth by “only” 2°C by 2100.

    At best, with no leaks, natural gas emits half the CO2 of coal per unit of energy. Note that all those emissions curves are below half of our current emissions rate by ~2035. We can’t use natural gas en masse for more than another ~20 years. Not without advances in energy efficiency due to a technological singularity (which is impossible this deep in the Slow Zone anyway).

    That seems like an unrealistic hurdle to me, and a good reason to prefer long-term strategies like nuclear and renewables.

    With regards to carbon taxes: I probably have much less faith than you in the political possibility of a “revenue neutral carbon fee”; please point out a single new tax which has remained ‘revenue neutral’ over any extended period anywhere.

    A carbon fee is inherently self-extinguishing. By acknowledging that the damage done by each ton of emitted CO2 is greater than $0.00/ton, we’ll eventually be able to stop emitting CO2. At which point people will stop getting checks in the mail.

    Seriously. Think about that. A fellow CCL member once brought this up as a real concern. Carbon fees are mainly visible to citizens because of the dividend checks they receive, or an income tax credit, etc. She pointed out that people won’t want to stop getting those checks. She’s right.

    Let me repeat that.

    Because a revenue neutral carbon fee can safeguard civilization by reducing our CO2 emissions, people will eventually stop getting these dividend checks.

    Seriously. That’s a real objection.

    Think about that.

  161. stevefitzpatrick says:

    andthentheresphysics,
    The devil is in the details. Most of those projected costs (2018) for natural gas fired generation are based on projected gas prices…. higher than actual prices. The current actual price is somewhat lower,as is the total generation cost. The prices for natural gas, especially outside the States, will depend in large part on how much political resistance there is to fracking.
    The prices you quote for solar and wind are, ahem, distorted. You need to have backups for wind and solar, because there are no practical storage technologies. Unless you want the lights going out, you need to have a very large portion of the capacity of any wind or solar installation duplicated by conventional generation (say, natural gas). So you have to consider not just the capital for a wind farm, but the added capital for the backup capacity for that wind farm, and the added costs for fuel, maintenance, additional grid distribution etc. Looking at wind and solar as standalone systems in the same way as you can look at a combined cycle gas plant is just mistaken, and misleads rather than informs. Fortunately for those of us in the USA, there will be enough hard lessons learned elsewhere (like in Germany and the UK) that saner heads will likely prevail before the USA makes the same bad choices on wind and solar.

  162. Steve,

    You’ve said a lot in that comment. I provided a link to estimate based on plants entering service in 2018. You’ve made various claims about costs without so much as providing a single shred of evidence. Care to provide some?

  163. RB says:

    Indirect aerosol forcings are the biggest source of uncertainty. Per Carslaw et al., it is ~-1.16 W/m^2 compared to the -0.45 W/m^2 expert assessment in AR5. Let’s first stipulate that this number from Carslaw will be subject to future revisions. Using Carslaw’s numbers though, ERF would be 1.6 W/m^2 instead of AR5 2.3 W/m^2 and feedback multiplier would be 3.6/1.6 = 2.25 and ECS would work out to be 1.2*2.25 = 2.7C per doubling.

  164. By the way, I’m a dumb physicist, not an economist. So I’m humbled by Anders’ reasonable request for evidence. In the third video here, Dr. Shi-Ling Hsu makes the case for a carbon tax. He’s written a book with a similar title that may also be of interest. It’s important for me to note that this is Dr. Hsu’s specialty, not mine.

  165. Rachel says:

    Thanks OilMan, I hadn’t heard of Rob Ford until today. Sounds like a nice guy. And the links you posted earlier to those videos with Monckton were amazing. I wonder how they came to be in the public domain?

  166. AnOilMan says:

    stevefitzpatrick: Natural gas prices will go back up to pre-fracking values. This is why we stopped drilling for it 3 years ago. The price is too low to make money. The industry is now seeing the tail end of pipeline installation and requisite safety gear.

    The Boom is over.

    To quote a geophysicist plans wells, “Natural gas is a dirty word.”

  167. BBD says:

    ATTP

    Yes, that’s my understanding – especially as UK fracking is not expected to reduce even UK gas prices in the short term, if at all.

  168. @AnOilMan,

    Here’s a post I wrote a little while ago. It seems consistent with what you’re saying.

  169. AnOilMan says:

    Rachel: Some flavor of NeoCon is coming to your nation. They are just formulating how to make it work. Look for aggressive behavior and absence of due process towards criminals. Emoting with victims is what you need to look for.

    As for Jo and her videos with Monckton? They’ve been removed a lot. The important question is why they are concerned it got made public. If Jo and co are such wonderful cuddly people, why do they have to hide what they really want? What are they afraid of I wonder?

  170. stevefitzpatrick says:

    Dumb Scientist,
    “At best, with no leaks, natural gas emits half the CO2 of coal per unit of energy.”
    No. The heat of combustion of methane is 54 KJ per gram, and for hard coal ~27 KJ per gram. the CO2 produced by 1 gram of natural gas is 0.75/12 mole = 0.0625 mole (about 1.4 liters). For coal it is 0.0833 mole (about 1.86 liters). The thermal efficiency of a new, high efficiency coal fire power plant is at best ~45% (most run closer to 35%), while a new gas fire plant has a thermal efficiency of ~55%. So on an equal net energy basis, gas emits only (27/54)*(0.0625/0.0833)*(45/55) = 31% as much CO2 as coal (new plant to new plant) but costs much less to build and operate.
    “We can’t use natural gas en masse for more than another ~20 years. ”
    No, the reserves are quite large in the USA and many other places; much more than 20 years. Globally, reserves are growing, not declining (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:World_Gas_Reserves.png), despite an increase of 100% in consumption over the past ~30 years. Current world reserves are ~2 X 10^14 M^3 and current consumption ~6 X 10^9 M^3. Distribution of all that gas may be an issue (production may be far from consumers), but there is a lot of natural gas available.
    “A carbon fee is inherently self-extinguishing.”
    Only if it is revenue neutral and only if the tax is set so high that fossil fuels become too expensive to use. As I said before, please point to a single instance of a revenue neutral tax which has remained so for an extended period. But please note the assigning a value to a ton of carbon is nothing more than speculation combined with personal values. There is no rational way to assign a suitable present value, because there is no rational way to estimate future costs, and no agreement on a suitable discount rate for century-to-millennial investments. It all comes down to values, morals, and judgements.

  171. AnOilMan says:

    andthentheresphysics: You can see where I work. I know what’s selling and what isn’t.

    We’ve recently made rather large sales into solar manufacturing. Tar sands sales are dead dead dead. Natural gas is in ‘sustaining’ mode.

  172. BBD says:

    ATTP

    We can litter Mars with probes but we can’t write blogging software worth a damn, eh?

    Rachel/Dumb Scientist

    And the links you posted earlier to those videos with Monckton were amazing. I wonder how they came to be in the public domain?

    Guilty of lazy reading here – may I ask for the links again? I have looked back but still missing them. Thanks.

  173. BBD says:

    AnOilMan

    We’ve recently made rather large sales into solar manufacturing. Tar sands sales are dead dead dead. Natural gas is in ‘sustaining’ mode.

    Interesting. Thanks.

  174. There is no rational way to assign a suitable present value, because there is no rational way to estimate future costs, and no agreement on a suitable discount rate for century-to-millennial investments. It all comes down to values, morals, and judgements.

    In a sense I agree with this, but that’s more because of the complications related to economic modelling, than because I don’t think there is going to be a future cost. We will eventually pay for our continued emission of CO2.

  175. Rachel says:

    BBD,
    They’re in this comment from OilMan.

  176. AnOilMan says:

    stevefitzpatrick is right about reserve sizes. But it is a contentious issue. Property values die in fracking regions. Water gets polluted. (Most of the down hole sensors are for detecting leaks in and around the concrete. But they aren’t run very often, and Schlumberger’s data on leaks is alarming.)

    Dumbscientist is correct about the leaks. Currently the bulk of natural gas emissions are from well head completion. This is why the EPA is currently working on so called ‘Green Completions’. In this case, the oil companies will be flaring about 1/3 of the natural gas. (Wanna live by that? Anyone? Buller?) On top of that natural gas leaks in delivery are a serious concern. Current distribution sensors are unable to even see the leaks unless its an outright cut hole. Leaks to power plants are reasonably known and accurate.

    The fact is however that if we can compare natural gas to coal, its not good enough. Methane is a very very strong energy absorber. This is bad news.

  177. BBD says:

    @ Rachel, thanks for that and sorry about the confusion over commenter’s names.

  178. AnOilMan says:

    BBD: Well, I’m no ‘playa’ but I’m well connected and I hear this from all over. Its not just my opinion.

  179. RB says:

    Another issue with gas seems to be the rapid decline rate of well production.

  180. “please point out a single new tax which has remained ‘revenue neutral’ over any extended period anywhere.”

    British Columbia has had a revenue-neutral carbon tax in place for what, 5 years now?

  181. Dumb Scientist,
    “At best, with no leaks, natural gas emits half the CO2 of coal per unit of energy.”
    No. … 31% as much CO2 as coal…

    For the sake of argument, let’s see what changes if that’s right. Consider the emissions curves I just linked. Ignore the green curve- we didn’t take that choice in 2011. Now we get to choose between the red and blue curves. Current CO2 emissions are ~30 Gt/year, so roughly speaking replacing all coal plants with natural gas would reduce that to ~10 Gt/year using your 31% estimate. The red and blue curves cross that point between 2035 and 2037, not ~2035 as I said.

    If you’re right, I’ll happily concede that we can only use natural gas en masse for ~24 years, not the ~20 years I claimed earlier. A bigger uncertainty would be how quickly an instantaneous swap of natural gas for coal could take place. If we could do this in just a few years, the total emitted CO2 might drop quickly enough to stretch out a natural gas transition beyond ~24 years. As long as we don’t worry about ocean acidification.

    Sadly, my deepening cynicism makes the kind of “urgent action” needed to replace coal with gas that rapidly seem unlikely. And I’m worried about ocean acidficiation anyway, so that’s why I’m glad to see we can agree about the need for new nuclear power plants.

    “We can’t use natural gas en masse for more than another ~20 years. ”
    No, the reserves are quite large in the USA and many other places; much more than 20 years. Globally, reserves are growing, not declining…

    Steve, I hope you just didn’t read what I wrote. Please read it again?

    Only if it is revenue neutral and only if the tax is set so high that fossil fuels become too expensive to use.

    Physics are why fossil fuels are becoming too expensive to use. Policy should reflect physics, in my opinion.

    There is no rational way to assign a suitable present value, because there is no rational way to estimate future costs, and no agreement on a suitable discount rate for century-to-millennial investments. It all comes down to values, morals, and judgements.

    I claimed that each ton of CO2 does more damage than $0.00 per ton, and you seemed to disagree. But we do agree that values are at stake. As I explained here at November 23, 2013 at 10:40 pm, it takes considerable bravery to leave a permanent record effectively endorsing the RCP8.5 future.

  182. stevefitzpatrick says:

    AnOilMan,
    ” Currently the bulk of natural gas emissions are from well head completion.”
    Odd then that even with a huge growth in number of wells, total production, and total consumption over the past 20 years, methane concentration in the atmosphere has shown only a rise of ~6% and no acceleration in trend. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mlo_ch4_ts_obs_03437.png

  183. BBD says:

    Re: Monckton – more good old subversion of democracy by misinforming the public.

  184. BBD says:

    stevefitzpatrick

    US methane emissions are higher than previously estimated. I don’t know why, but it is certainly worth noting at this point.

  185. To respond to a few emails, I haven’t withdrawn my concern about methane leaks. My timeframes should be considered the best possible scenario where tomorrow we develop Star Trek level technology for preventing natural gas leaks but forget to use that technology for anything better than fracking. This probably isn’t the best possible future for humanity, but it seems like the best possible future for a staunch fan of fracking.

  186. AnOilMan says:

    stevefitzpatrick: That’s a pretty simplistic view of methane using a single data point. (Can you say, ‘Cherry Pick’?) Its emitted all over the place, not the least of which is permafrost melting, and meat farts (cows, sheep). I also have no idea how evenly it would mix with the atmosphere and then blown by your single data point.

    US EPA is estimating that methane is down;

    http://epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/gases/ch4.html

    That correlates with my understanding that we stopped (sharply reduced) drilling in 2008. Globally they aren’t drilling either. (No one is Gamma drilling.)

    The bulk of natural gas ‘production’ is in fact waiting for LNG export ports to open. I spoke to some Japanese business men who stated that Japan has already inked deals with the US and are awaiting delivery. (This means you are trashing farms for foreign LNG sales. I’d be bitter over that.)

    Which reminds me, 8% of natural gas is consumed when it is compressed for LNG. That means 8% higher emissions before its transported to leaky pipes somewhere else.

    RB: Those wells are also very expensive to drill and cap. Oh… they are capped. Many companies are waiting for prices to come up to uncap. Oil wells are like banks in many respects.

    Dana Nuccitelli: You are correct. And the tax is really working. There is only one exception… BC is the only place on earth with no leaks in natural gas completions. No one knows why. :-)

  187. stevefitzpatrick says:

    Dumb Scientist,
    Sorry, I misunderstood what you were saying about 20 years.
    But I honestly reject the notion that anybody knows enough to state that X tons of emission will lead to Y degrees of warming, and even more, that anybody can even estimate the cost of Y degrees of warming 100 years from now. Change the assumptions (climate sensitivity, influence of aerosols, what temperature rise causes what extent of damage, wealth of people in different countries, etc) and you can draw very different conclusions. That graph represents a specific set of assumptions about which reasonable people can honestly disagree. Don’t get me wrong here, there are lots of good reasons to try to reduce CO2 emissions, not the least of which is a potential long term harm from warming.

    But there is much more to the question than that. Poor people need inexpensive energy to speed economic development… and with that economic development slow rapid population growth sooner rather than later. Poor kids should not be dying from preventable diseases that come only from being poor. Those same poor kids deserve a chance for more than a dirt floor, a lack of education, and a hopeless future. I do not know with any certainty what damage will come from a 1C rise in temperatures, but I do know the damage that a billion+ kids living in extreme poverty will suffer if their economies do not grow rapidly because energy is too expensive for them to have access to it. There are for sure lots of things that the poorest of the poor need for faster economic growth, including better government, better infrastructure, better health care, better nutrition, and much more, but all these depend on having inexpensive energy available. The world needs more energy, not less, cheaper, not more costly, and sooner rather than later. Whatever public policy is contemplated to reduce CO2 emissions, it must be consistent with that need. The developing world will accept nothing less, nor, IMO should they.

  188. stevefitzpatrick says:

    AnOilMan,
    “This means you are trashing farms for foreign LNG sales. I’d be bitter over that.”

    I am not surprised the Japanese want to buy US natural gas; it is a cheaper alternative for them.
    Please show some data documenting the number of farms which have been “trashed” from natural gas drilling.

  189. stevefitzpatrick,

    I honestly reject the notion that anybody knows enough to state that X tons of emission will lead to Y degrees of warming

    You other brothers can’t reject the last century of physics. Notice that I didn’t use the slur from this iconic song:

  190. AnOilMan says:

    stevefitzpatrick: We absolutely understand how much energy is absorbed by green house gasses. Ask a spectroscopist they will dig out a nice old text book and explain that to you. If you know the concentration, you know the absorption, and vice versa. That whole branch of science can’t be wrong, and it reaches into everything we do.

    Also, population growth stopped.

    Yes… Hans Rosling would agree with you. We can’t just say ‘no’ the third world.

    That in no way means we should say ‘yes’ to the developed world.

  191. stevefitzpatrick says:

    AnOilMan,
    ” I also have no idea how evenly it would mix with the atmosphere and then blown by your single data point.”
    Well, with an atmospheric half life of ~14 years, it gets pretty well mixed in. The concentration in the northern hemisphere (where most emissions are) is a bit higher than the southern hemisphere, as you would expect because the exchange rate between the hemispheres is less than mixing within a hemisphere. My “cherry picked’ data point is from Mauna Loa (northern hemisphere), and represents a reliable record of the atmospheric history (including seasonal variation, of course). So not much of a cherry pick.

    Since the atmospheric lifetime is relatively short, the slowing of the rate of growth implies that the growth in total emission (drilling/distribution, ruminants, land fills, marshes, arctic releases, etc.) has been very low over the past couple of decades. Not at all what you would expect for the atmospheric concentration if drilling and distribution were 1) major contributors to the total emissions, and 2) undergoing rapid growth.

  192. stevefitzpatrick,

    Poor people need inexpensive energy to speed economic development… and with that economic development slow rapid population growth sooner rather than later. Poor kids should not be dying from preventable diseases that come only from being poor. Those same poor kids deserve a chance for more than a dirt floor, a lack of education, and a hopeless future. … I do know the damage that a billion+ kids living in extreme poverty will suffer if their economies do not grow rapidly because energy is too expensive for them to have access to it. … all these depend on having inexpensive energy available. The world needs more energy, not less, cheaper, not more costly, and sooner rather than later. Whatever public policy is contemplated to reduce CO2 emissions, it must be consistent with that need. The developing world will accept nothing less, nor, IMO should they.

    I’ve grown weary of Eric Worrall and Bjorn Lomborg implying that the NAS’s recommended urgent action will somehow hurt the poor. It’s absolutely beyond me how anyone can say that with a straight face when climate change is already affecting developing nations more than us… nations filled with people who are less responsible for the problem than we are.

    I’m also weary of explaining that a carbon fee provides slightly more dividends to the lower ~60% of income brackets, and will jumpstart a clean energy economy that will spur innovation. Hopefully, this new industrial revolution can happen quickly enough to power the Red Cross and the U.S. military, etc. as they provide an increasing amount of disaster relief to a growing number of developing countries.

    Hope springs eternal.

  193. stevefitzpatrick says:

    AnOilMan,
    ” Ask a spectroscopist they will dig out a nice old text book and explain that to you. If you know the concentration, you know the absorption, and vice versa. That whole branch of science can’t be wrong, and it reaches into everything we do.”

    Please. I am a chemist by training and have used spectroscopic measurements for 45 years. I understand spectroscopy quite well. In fact, I suspect rather better than you do.

  194. troyca says:

    I found this blog recently, and I am glad to see it seems to be a place to discuss some reasonably technical points with civility. In particular, I am happy to see some interesting issues – particularly climate sensitivity – discussed. I wish I had more time to participate, but here are a few comments I would add (I will avoid links for this initial post to avoid a SPAM filter):

    ATTP,

    Also, if you consider the recent Cowtan & Way paper, the recent Trenberth & Fasullo paper, and that empirical estimates do not take into account the likely non-linear nature of the feedbacks, everything point towards the ECS being higher than empirical estimates suggest.

    I think it is a mistake to assume that we can only point out things that would make these estimates higher. For instance, I assume you are referring to the Otto et al. (2013), since the CW13 would have very little influence on estimates that used the GISS dataset rather than HadCRUT4, for example. But we can easily point out aspects that would make the Otto et al., 2013 estimate lower, as well: 1) The positive imbalance modeled in 19th century is conservative, and was set about half of the output from an AOGCM. If you argue that the AOGCM is not that sensitive, you would provide a larger value for the 19th century imbalance, yielding a smaller delta_H and thus a smaller estimate for sensitivity. 2) Satellite based and hemispheric temperature estimates for the aerosol forcings are of lower magnitude than those used in Otto. 3) The “latest decade” estimate for H of 0.65 W/m^2 uses 2000-2009 by (I believe) combining the upper-700m CSIRO (Domingues) OHC data with the lower layer NOAA (Levitus) data. If all Levitus is used, or JAMESTEC (Ishii and Kimoto) is used, you get a lower estimate. Same thing if you used the most “recent” decade from 2004-2013.

    This is not to say that any of those decisions should’ve necessarily been made, but there is no necessary reason that these estimates will drift towards a 3 K ECS. You might be interested in my paper (Masters, 2013, Climate Dynamics), which takes into account the apparent non-linearity of feedbacks as modelled by AOGCMs (I say “apparent” because there is evidence to suggest that the localized feedbacks themselves are linear but appear non-linear in a global average when the spatial warming pattern changes). I would note that of the 10 CMIP3 models I examined (which had effective sensitivity and ECS estimates readily availably), 6 of them showed this non-linearity to amplify the sensitivity, whereas 4 of them attenuated it. Given the strong dependence of this apparent non-linearity on regional warming patterns, and the fact that AOGCMs generally do poorly at modeling these regional patterns, I would say it is a coin flip as to whether the non-linearity increases the sensitivity or not.

    Finally, regarding the recent Trenberth paper, I assume you are referring to subbing in the ORAS4 OHC dataset to increase the estimate from Otto. I see that RB already made many of my points in a previous thread, but to clarify a few:

    1) While the apparently different rate of ocean heat uptake from the first half and second half of the decade is problematic in a number of different OHC datasets, due to this breakpoint being completely absent in the satellite data (and no theoretical reason for such an event), it is by far the worst in ORAS4.

    2) The high rate of ocean warming from 2000-2004 (which raise the whole decade TOA balance) in ORAS4 primarily comes from the upper 700m…so despite much of Balmaseda et al, (2013) discussing the deep ocean warming, the discrepancy in this case is primarily for the upper ocean, for which we have many other OHC datasets that all show lower uptake rates: NOAA (Levitus), CSIRO (Domingues), JAMESTEC (Ishii and Kimoto), Palmer (2010), etc. It is important to remember that while all these sets utilize some combination of input data and modelling, ORAS4 is a reanalysis set which relies more on the latter than the others do.

    3) It is odd that this apparent breakpoint coincides precisely with when ARGO comes online. Obviously, one might be concerned with the XBT to ARGO transition, and I’ll note that if you use the No-ARGO 2000s presented in Balmaseda et al., 2013 for ORAS4, you get a current TOA imbalance only 69% of the rate if you use the transitional data, or 0.62 W/m^2 if we assume 93% of energy imbalance is taken up by the ocean.

    4) Alternatively, we might consider ARGO only data, per Stephens et al., 2012: “The average annual
    excess of net TOA radiation constrained by OHC is 0.6±0.4 Wm–2 (90% confidence) since 2005 when Argo data became available,
    before which the OHC data are much more uncertain.” You get an even lower estimate using von Schuckmann and Le Traon (2011).

    So, the apparent discrepancy that Trenberth shows with Otto only exists if we use the problematic XBT to ARGO transitional data, along with ORAS4, over the specific time period mentioned. It disappears if we do any of the following:

    a) Use XBT only

    b) Use ARGO only

    c) Use any of the other 5 observational datasets I mentioned above rather than the reanalysis.

    It is of course possible that the reanalysis has provided a more accurate estimate than any of the other datasets, and that the satellite data is just wrong, but I would not consider it particularly likely at this point. I think that as we get more data with the improved ARGO coverage, the poorly constrained earlier estimates will become less important in any case.

  195. AnOilMan says:

    stevefitzpatrick: Evidence.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-06/drillers-silence-fracking-claims-with-sealed-settlements.html

    Or oil companies deciding to get into farming; :-) Which do you believe? Wheat is so much more profitable oil and gas!

  196. stevefitzpatrick says:

    Dumb Scientist,
    You can hope, but I think you will be disappointed. Developing nations will not listen. Capital is limited, and they will use what they have to grow.

  197. Developing nations aren’t the ones with listening problems.

  198. AnOilMan says:

    stevefitzpatrick: About methane emissions, I’d need to read a paper. I don’t trust your assertions.

    So as a chemist you know very well that we can exactly measure spectral absorption. Case closed.

  199. troyca says:

    BBD, regarding GISS-E2-R ECS:

    Does it? I thought it was ~2.8C or thereabouts. Is there a link for this?

    Presumably, Steve is referring to Forster et al, 2013, JGR-A, which lists ECS for GISS-E2-R as 2.11K (and GISS-E2-H as 2.31K).

    Doesn’t really look as though ECS is below 2C and it seems much more likely that the value is closer to 3C.

    Regarding the PALAEOSENS project results, note that the 2.2K – 4.8 K estimate provided is merely the 67% CI, whereas the 95% CI is from 1.1K – 7.0K. Obviously, Paleo estimates provide an additional view, but as with other estimates there is a large amount of uncertainty involved (regarding the analogies to current climate state, forcing uncertainty, and even temperature uncertainty). I do not think the paleo would be incompatible with a relevant ECS of ~ 2K (or slightly below).

  200. Rachel says:

    Stevefitzpatrick,
    I’m tired of the argument that climate change policies hurt the poor. It’s said without recognition that climate change hurts the poor; without recognition that the world’s poor are the least responsible for the problem; without recognition of the impact of climate change on the natural world and frames the problem as a false dilemma: that we can must choose one or the other.

    I think that if people are genuinely concerned about the world’s poor, they would be arguing for a greater portion of the remaining carbon budget to be given to developing nations while the rest of us rich folk get a smaller portion. This is known as the equal per capita cumulative emissions approach and it aims for equality over time. It recognises that the developed world has used up half the carbon budget already and so allocates the remaining budget on the basis while taking into account past emissions. Is this what you’re arguing for? I didn’t think so.

  201. RB says:

    just a quick note: stevefitzpatrick is alluding to uncertainty about sensitivity, not about CO2’s absorption properties. I am pretty sure that he is in agreement with the methodology behind Otto’s TCR estimates. These are good times – we can all now quibble about the assumed values of aerosol forcing and OHC than about whether the deep ocean is taking up heat or some mysterious medieval wave is causing today’s warming.

  202. RB says:

    BBD,
    For GISS_E2R, you can find a link in my comment here – same paper as Troy suggested.

  203. BBD says:

    So if we stabilise at about 560ppm all will be well? Best crack on with policy then.

  204. Rachel,

    First of all, there is scant evidence that global warming/climate change has (so far) hurt anyone, not even the poor. In fact, an argument can be made (Richard Tol has made it) that to date higher atmospheric CO2 has on net been a positive influence for humanity.

    There is no false dilemma. Capital, financial and human, is limited; spending the money on one thing means you don’t spend it on something else. If you imagine that wealthy people are going to suddenly abandon fossil fuels to “give” the rest of some hypothetical “total carbon limit” to developing countries, then you are simply mistaken. This is just not going to happen. But more to the point, insisting on such a plan ensures that no real progress on total CO2 emissions is going to happen any time soon. What is needed is support for efforts that are politically realistic, economically realistic, and actually have a chance to cut emissions. I wish more people would focus their attention on those efforts. James Hansen, as wrongheaded as I think is is on lots of subjects, has at least begun to recognize that a huge increase in nuclear power (replacing coal power) is the most practical way to actually cut CO2 emissions globally.

  205. BBD says:

    ames Hansen, as wrongheaded as I think is is on lots of subjects,

    :-)

  206. AnOilMan,
    “I don’t trust your assertions.”
    No need to. The atmospheric concentration of methane is for sure described in some recent papers (and especially, papers on why the rate of increase has fallen as much as it has). But those papers are not going to provide the basic information. If you just read the Wikipedia page on atmospheric methane that will show you how the concentration varies globally, with altitude, and over time. It also gives a bunch of references to relevant published papers.

  207. TroyCA and RB,
    Thanks for the links to Forster et al 2013… I was too lazy to dig for it.

  208. stevefitzpatrick,

    Sadly, nuclear power is apparently not an appealing investment. Maybe this is related to the fact that coal and gas plants use cutting edge “dig stuff up and burn it” technology, and are thus easier to understand than nuclear plants (which requires much less mining per unit energy produced, has killed FAR fewer people than coal, etc.).

    Or maybe it’s related to the fact that coal and gas plants get to use our atmosphere as a free sewer. I don’t know, so let’s perform a thought experiment.

    Suppose that a major pizza chain opens two restaurants right next to each other. One restaurant throws its trash into the street; the other pays for disposal like we all do. For some reason the police and government never issue fines. All else being equal, which restaurant will survive by having the highest “income minus expenses”?

    Bonus question: as you watch trash pile up in the street, which restaurant would you prefer survive?

  209. It is almost off topic by now.

    I also think that SkS does not intend to be offensive, but rather to communicate that climate change is an important problem that needs to be solved. I appreciate the efforts of the SkS volunteers and truly hope that my concerns will turn out to be unfounded and that this meme will not damage the reputation of SkS.

    Still converting the unit from 4 Hiroschima’s to the number of 9/11’s may make it easier for Americans to see how a Japanese person would feel about this unit. Toms’s suggestions to use a comparison to a local national tragedy is a great way to improve empathy. The number of Christ Church’s for New Zealand. The number of Dresden’s for Germany.

    How about using this formulation?

    “While the energy imbalance is relatively small locally, its sum over the entire Earth is comparable to 4 atomic bombs per second.*
    * We used as reference Little Boy, the first atomic bomb to be used as a weapon.”

  210. BBD says:

    Yes.

    Also belatedly agreeing with Dumb Scientist’s suggestion that decoupling is the appropriate response to Tom Curtis (and many others) who are uncomfortable with this.

    Peace and unity
    ;-)

  211. BBD says:

    Does NASA Goddard have a reference model version these days? Or do we just pick from the list according to personal preference?

  212. Steve Bloom says:

    Victor, evidence for meaningful numbers of Japanese, and Hiroshima survivors in particular, feeling bad about this analogy? I’ll even accept non-meaningful numbers to start with. Otherwise, are you perhaps projecting your personal discomfort in a manner that just might be offensive to said survivors? My experience with survivors (from spending some years focused on anti-nuke work) is that they are much more concerned than the average person about environmental threats.

  213. Without intending to be rude, perhaps this is a good reason to just use megaton hydrogen bombs. Because megaton is more precise and describes bombs that have never been used in war.

    Maybe we can get back to my question about the restaurants, just in case someone who genuinely thinks it’s a good idea to treat our atmosphere as a free sewer can please answer that question. And, ideally, the bonus question. Please?

  214. Steve Bloom says:

    troyca: “Obviously, Paleo estimates provide an additional view, but as with other estimates there is a large amount of uncertainty involved (regarding the analogies to current climate state, forcing uncertainty, and even temperature uncertainty). I do not think the paleo would be incompatible with a relevant ECS of ~ 2K (or slightly below).”

    And what if it isn’t? ESS being what it is (note most relevantly recent Lake E and Beaver Pond results for the mid-Pliocene), would it mean simply that there is more of a lag between GHG forcing and ultimate consequences? Rather bad news if so, isn’t it, given human nature? If on the other hand you’re making an argument for low ESS, as I’m not aware of much of a case for that in the literature perhaps you would do me the favor of pointing to it.

  215. Steve Bloom, not I do not have any evidence. None what so ever. Just like you have no evidence of the contrary.

    And no one in this discussion has evidence beyond subjective anecdotal impressions. This is not a scientific question, at least not without a lot of money for focus groups and surveys.

    All I can ask you is to use your empathy. To put yourself in a similar position, a tragedy that happened as close to your as possible, and try to imagine how you would feel if that was used as a unit of energy.

    Let’s not make this a contest in who is most concerned about the environment. I do not think that helps us understanding this question.

  216. Steve Bloom says:

    “never been used in war”

    And consequently aren’t associated with doing (much) damage. That’s a fail IMO, although I realize I’m repeating myself on that point.

    I do like your restaurant analogy. It would make for a great video.

    As for your second question, a restaurant operator skimping on garbage collection in that way is likely also under-paying their staff, in which case (putting on our Lomborgian unthinking caps) we would prefer it to survive since those employees are less able to afford losing their jobs. Conversely, anyone wanting the polluting restaurant to fold must hate the poor, right?

  217. Damage isn’t the point; heat energy is. ARGO measures ocean warming, which involves much more heat than surface warming, so it’s measuring more of the problem. Keeping the focus on ARGO heat is the same as keeping the focus close to the radiative imbalance, which is the global warming part of climate change that’s different from ocean acidification.

    The reason I chose hydrogen bombs is because I tried and failed to think of a different analogy to make the difference in heat capacity between the oceans and the surface clear to, say, my family. It’s not about how large the Earth is. It’s about the fact that most of that heat is absorbed by water which has a very high heat capacity. Heat, not damage. Heat. ARGO heat.

    Back to the restaurant questions…

  218. Dumb Scientist,
    “Or maybe it’s related to the fact that coal and gas plants get to use our atmosphere as a free sewer.”
    Just as we all do breathing, driving to work, or watching TV. If you want to claim an external cost that must be paid for, then you need to show harm. Not hypothetical harm, not some harm that is unquantified and distant, but real, quantifiable harm. Put that harm on a balance sheet. And don’t forget to subtract from the harm all the benefits from lower cost/more plentiful food, more rapid forest growth, and fewer cold weather deaths. Then add in the cost of additional deaths there may be from higher temperatures. And let’s not forget the cumulative benefits of technology and global wealth, much of which is directly attributable to ‘digging stuff up and burning it’, including a human lifespan that has increased (on average) by 35+ years since the start of the industrial revolution. Add in car and airplane crash deaths, subtract lives saved by ambulances and modern emergency medicine, and subtract some estimate of the personal value of more free time and less hard physical labor. The balance sheet grows very long, and each and every item is a point of contention. Seeking social justice, international justice, or even just a defensible ‘exernal cost for fossil fuels’ with this balance sheet is a fool’s errand.

  219. Steve Bloom says:

    As I thought I noted, Victor, in the past I’ve actually met and talked to some of those people. Based on that experience, I do not believe your assessment of their likely response is correct.

    To repeat myself repeating myself, an apt analogy must above all imply a scope of damage on the same scale. Otherwise we’re analogizing to something other than the actual consequences, which quite misses the point. Note that the bathtub concept mentioned above (derived IIRC from John Sterman’s work), although an excellent analogy to the stock and flow aspect of the problem that was heavily promoted (IIRC around 2004/5), nonetheless failed to catch on. Let’s try to learn from history.

  220. stevefitzpatrick,

    “Or maybe it’s related to the fact that coal and gas plants get to use our atmosphere as a free sewer.”
    Just as we all do breathing,

    Wow. I’m still wading through your response, but it’s astonishing that in your first six words you compared fossil fuel use to breathing. As I explained at Sou’s recently:

    A plumber who understood plumbing as well as Monckton understands the carbon cycle would confuse a pool’s circulation pump with a hose filling up the pool. They both pump water! The circulation pump even pumps more gallons per minute. So obviously the circulation pump is why the pool is filling up.

    A surgeon who understood surgery as well as Monckton understands the carbon cycle would confuse a severed artery with the patient’s heartbeat. They both pump blood! The heart even pumps more gallons per minute. So obviously the heart is responsible for that inexplicable long-term decreasing trend in blood pressure.

    Fortunately, a surgeon that incompetent couldn’t affect many people. Spreading misinformation which threatens the future of civilization, on the other hand…

  221. Note that we asked a Hiroshima commemoration board prior to launching the widget – they had no qualms with it. We’re far from the first to use the Hiro as a unit of energy. It’s been used for earthquakes, for example. There are several other examples on Wikipedia. And James Hansen has used it regarding global warming for years. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists also supports its use.

  222. Dana, I take full responsibility. Blame the Scientist who was too Dumb to speak up in time. But right now on the front lines I think we need fewer distractions, not more.

    I can’t help but notice that Steve didn’t answer my first restaurant question, let alone the bonus question. He even seems to keep disagreeing with my claim that the damage caused by each ton of emitted CO2 is greater than $0.00. He seems to be repeatedly endorsing the RCP8.5 future, with his real name. How brave! I wonder if he wants fewer distractions, or more?

  223. Steve Bloom says:

    Just to add, Victor, I live in earthquake country and was present in the damage zone of the Loma Prieta earthquake ~20 years ago. I don’t think it’s an especially apt AGW analogy for other reasons, but FWIW I would be entirely unoffended to see it used.

    This 2003 seismology textbook has an interesting graphic (scroll up slightly from the link location). Yep, there’s Hiroshima, but also the Oklahoma City terror bombing (a fresh memory at the time)! Go figure.

  224. Steve Bloom says:

    Dana, “Hiroshima commemoration board”? Particulars? TIA.

  225. Is a transient ischemic attack yet another distraction?

    Again, I can’t help but notice that Steve didn’t answer my first restaurant question, let alone the bonus question. He even seems to keep disagreeing with my claim that the damage caused by each ton of emitted CO2 is greater than $0.00. He seems to be repeatedly endorsing the RCP8.5 future, with his real name. How brave! I wonder if he wants fewer distractions, or more?

  226. Erm, stevefitzpatrick. Sorry. No offense intended, Steve Bloom.

  227. Dumb Scientist: “never been used in war”
    Steve Bloom: And consequently aren’t associated with doing (much) damage. That’s a fail IMO, although I realize I’m repeating myself on that point.

    Thank you for your honest. That gives me some anecdotal evidence that at least one person did not see Hiroshima as an energy unit that is easier to understand or visualise than Joule. That rather some will think of the damage. Of the destroyed city, of the slowly dying victims with burned away skins, of radiation deaths, of stillborn and malformed babies. That is Hiroshima. I would expect for most have this internal picture. There may be some for which it is just another energy unit. I would personally not expect for many.

    It is likely that not everyone finds such comparisons offensive, Steve Bloom would be an example, I am also not that overly sensitive myself. I still expect that not everyone will see the comparison as innocent.

    To repeat myself repeating myself, an apt analogy must above all imply a scope of damage on the same scale.

    I fully agree, that given the dangers of climate change a good analogy would also suggest a similar amount of damage.

    However, while I am concerned about climate change, I do not think that the changes we had up to know are similar to dropping an atom bomb, if a small one, on the heads of every second person. In future the consequences of climate change will be much larger, but still not be as bad as dropping multiple nukes on everyone’s heads.

    Thus at least for people like you, who think of the damage done in Horishima, this meme is political communication and not science communication.

    Dana, what do you think of my compromise formulation mentioned above, that explicitly states that the energy imbalance is relatively seen small? That would at least protect us against angry people who learn that what the had learned from SkS was large, turned out to be small.

  228. Dumb Scientist,
    ” He even seems to keep disagreeing with my claim that the damage caused by each ton of emitted CO2 is greater than $0.00. He seems to be repeatedly endorsing the RCP8.5 future, with his real name. How brave! I wonder if he wants fewer distractions, or more?”
    I said before that there are lots of good reasons to reduce CO2 emissions, not the least of which is possible harm from future warming. I’m not at all endorsing any RPC, 8.5 or other. Not sure what to make of the “How brave!’ comment, and have no idea what you mean by ‘more distractions’. I would appreciate if you would explain those comments.

    With regard to your though experiment question: It is a poor parallel, which is why I wanted to ignore it. But since you seem to be insisting; of course, lots of people would start complaining loudly in front of the offending restaurant, and other people would avoid that restaurant; they would likely mend their ways and stop littering. I would be one of the people complaining.

  229. Victor, when you tell that anecdote, remember to mention the Dumb Scientist who corrected him. The point is heat energy from Argo, not damage. Heat. In the oceans. That’s why your “compromise formulation” isn’t a compromise as much as a misdirection. The heat that Earth normally receives and then re-radiates isn’t important. Just like a pool’s circulation pump isn’t relevant to the pool’s water level. Just like a heart’s circulation rate can’t explain a long-term trend in blood pressure. See above.

    I don’t doubt that you understand these points, but some people in this thread might not. Again, I can’t help but notice that stevefitzpatrick didn’t answer my first restaurant question, let alone the bonus question. He even seems to keep disagreeing with my claim that the damage caused by each ton of emitted CO2 is greater than $0.00. He seems to be repeatedly endorsing the RCP8.5 future, with his real name. How brave! I wonder if he wants fewer distractions, or more?

  230. Sorry stevefitzpatrick, I didn’t notice you had responded. Given the end-Permian and PETM, how was my thought experiment a “poor parallel”?

  231. Mircea says:

    Hi,

    There is something that I do not understand about this energy imbalance. You say that “currently the energy imbalance is around 0.6 Wm-2″. But in a system like earth with so much life existing on it, each one storing energy in their bodies, with so many chemical processes resulting in energy stored (for example decomposition of CO2 in O2 and C can be said that stores energy), shouldn’t be there an energy imbalance? Is Earth a perpetuum mobile? I see 0.6wm-2 as a reasonable energy imbalance for a biosphere that is growing in mass each year.

    I know that all energy will eventually get to be heat but this happens at equilibrium when all energy stored in the system is given back. But all ocean life whose bodies are stored deep in the ocean when dead, all plants and animals that are buried, all chemical deposits, all energy stored in all the bodies of all animals, plants and humans, the growing of the biosphere. all these store energy which is not immediately released back as heat. And I don’t even talk about sea waves, winds, etc, etc…

    I miss something but what? Where am I wrong?

    Thank you!
    Mircea

  232. Steve Bloom says:

    “That gives me some anecdotal evidence that at least one person did not see Hiroshima as an energy unit that is easier to understand or visualise than Joule. That rather some will think of the damage.”

    To be clear, for me the value is in doing both at once.

    “However, while I am concerned about climate change, I do not think that the changes we had up to know are similar to dropping an atom bomb, if a small one, on the heads of every second person. In future the consequences of climate change will be much larger, but still not be as bad as dropping multiple nukes on everyone’s heads.”

    Analogies are, by their nature, imperfect. The energy part can be matched, in magnitude if not in kind, but the damages can’t be. Beyond that, an effective analogy must be attention-grabbing. I await your improved one that still covers all three aspects adequately.

    Agreed that it’s political, unavoidably so. If instead we were living in a world where policy makers actually listened to scientists… but we don’t.

  233. stevefitzpatrick,

    I said before that there are lots of good reasons to reduce CO2 emissions, not the least of which is possible harm from future warming. I’m not at all endorsing any RPC, 8.5 or other. Not sure what to make of the “How brave!’ comment, and have no idea what you mean by ‘more distractions’. I would appreciate if you would explain those comments.

    So we can agree that the damage done by each ton of emitted CO2 is greater than $0.00/ton? That’s great! Otherwise, as I explained here at November 23, 2013 at 10:40 pm, that would implicitly endorse the RCP 8.5 future. (Or possibly the RCP 10,000,000 future that an anonymous WUWT mod seemed to prefer.)

    I’m glad we can agree that we need to stop treating our atmosphere as a free sewer. Let’s quibble on the price next year, eh? Merry Christmas!

  234. Dumb Scientist,
    PETM? Littering restaurants? Sorry, I don’t see any connection at all.

  235. Mircea,

    Scientists take many factors into account when measuring radiative imbalances, and when considering what they’ve been in the past. Our current radiative imbalance has probably increased at a rate that’s unprecedented in the last 300 million years. Species can adapt, but only by migration and evolution which both have rate limits. Google end-Permian, PETM. Or perform the same search on this blog.

    I always suggest that people start with the National Academy of Sciences’ informative booklet that can be freely downloaded, along with a companion video. NASA’s climate website is also very informative. There’s a conflict of interest on that last link, but these are my opinions, and mine alone.

  236. Mircea,
    I think that if you look into it you will find a very large increase in biological mass (and so a substantial amount of chemically stored energy) would use up a lot of CO2 from the atmosphere… too much to not be noticed. The accumulated heat energy discussed here is thermal (not chemical) energy, and is calculated from measured ocean warming, estimates of ice melt, and land/atmosphere warming. It really has nothing to do with stored chemical energy from increased primary biological production.

  237. RB says:

    Hi Mircea,
    Let me take a quick-and-dirty stab, i might be making mistakes. As far as human beings are concerned, population increases at the rate of 1.1% per year, which is about 77 million people. To gain one pound a month, you need around 125 calories a day extra. This is about the energy from a 6W bulb that is constantly on. Let’s say that there are about 2 billion people (from age 0-25) in the growth phase. This will amount to about 12 billion watts of power that gets stored. Averaged over the surface of the earth that is probably 25nanoWatts/m^2.

  238. stevefitzpatrick,

    Dumb Scientist,
    PETM? Littering restaurants? Sorry, I don’t see any connection at all.

    So you still disagree with my claim that each ton of emitted CO2 does more than $0.00 per ton? How about after learning that we’re emitting CO2 ten times faster than before the Great Dying? Or after learning about the ocean extinctions and increase in insect leaf damage during the PETM?

    Coal plants are littering without paying. Nuclear plants pay for waste disposal. I thought you supported nuclear power? So do I. Let’s even the playing field, like the conservative R Street Institute, etc. proposes.

  239. Oops, my claim that each ton of emitted CO2 does more than $0.00 damage per ton?

  240. Dumb Scientist,
    Humm… As best I can determine, CO2 levels were maybe 5 times higher than today during the PETM, continents were in different locations, and so ocean circulation was not the same. There was no glaciation, and so a lower average surface albedo. The warming which took place (5C to 8C seems the most common estimate) was from a warmer starting point, so temperatures were probably 10C to 13C warmer than today. Are you suggesting that is the level of warming we can expect from fossil fuel use? If so, what atmospheric CO2 level do you think will lead to that much warming?

  241. As I pointed out on November 23, 2013 at 10:44 am, scientists are worried about our rapid increase in atmospheric CO2, not the absolute value. The ancient climate shows that extinction rates aren’t correlated with absolute CO2 values. They’re correlated with CO2 rates of change. If the climate changes too quickly for species to adapt by migrating or evolving, they go extinct. For example, atmospheric CO2 increased rapidly before the end-Permian extinction.

    Honisch et al. 2012 shows that we’re dumping CO2 into the atmosphere ten times faster than the rate preceding the end-Permian extinction. Wiping out 90% of all species on Earth seems like an adverse effect to me.

    Just to be clear, are you still disagreeing with my claim that each ton of emitted CO2 does more than $0.00 damage per ton?

  242. Mircea says:

    RB,

    I thought about this, that the quantities might be too small to matter.

    Probably you are right in you calculus and even corrected with the fact that there are 8 billion people that have energy stored in their body the number will not increase to make a difference. I was thinking more at the plankton and sea life. The plankton accumulates huge quantities of energy that will take into the deep. The plankton and sea plants provides energy for all marine life.
    It is hard for me to understand that all this life doesn’t consume energy, that we calculate energy in – energy out and get 0 plus life on earth. When I think at all the life that exists everywhere 0.6 w/m-2 seems small.

    Also, I think that the more we become green the more the imbalance should increase because we’ll replace the old solar energy stored in fossil fuels with present sun energy (wind is also sun energy at origin).

    stevefitzpatrick,
    I understand that the energy imbalance number is the result of measuring top of atmosphere solar radiation and top of atmosphere outgoing radiation. Am I wrong? If I am wrong then your explanation fully answer my question.
    ” very large increase in biological mass (and so a substantial amount of chemically stored energy) would use up a lot of CO2 from the atmosphere… too much to not be noticed”
    50% of human produced CO2 is absorbed by nature, we noticed it. But the increase in biosphere can be monitored by satellites, I think I can even find a link

    Anyway, I do not want to get in a debate. I am puzzled by this question and I thought long time about it and the more I think about it the more I get confused. On the other hand I think is an interesting and valid question.

    Thank you!
    Mircea

    PS
    Dumb Scientist (@DumbSci) I have nothing to add to your post. I agree with what you say and I thank you for the links (I looked at them) however I think that my question remains unanswered.

  243. Tom Curtis says:

    Mircea,
    the total amount of energy stored by photsynthesis across the globe is approximately 1.6 times the current energy imbalance. The energy does not stay in storage, however. Most of it is used by the organism that synthesized the sugars from sunlight to grow, live and reproduce. Those organisms in turn are eaten by a variety of other organisms, who use the energy for similar purposes. The result is that in a short time, nearly all the energy photosynthesized is returned to the environment as heat. A very small amount of energy is not returned as heat. A negligible part of that energy is stored in fossilized carbon. The rest is stored by increasing biomass. On average for geological time periods, that additional storage is zero. Currently it comes to 2-4% of the total energy imbalance.

  244. Tom Curtis says:

    Mircea:

    “It is hard for me to understand that all this life doesn’t consume energy, that we calculate energy in – energy out and get 0 plus life on earth.”

    There is no process on Earth, or in the universe that can “consume” energy as energy is neither created nor destroyed (conservation of energy). Rather, when used, energy goes from a low entropy state to a high entropy state, ie, from a more concentrated to a more diffuse form. In the case of energy used in photosynthesis it goes from very concentrated sunlight, to slightly less concentrated sugars, and then eventually to much less concentrated thermal energy, eventually in the form of IR radiation to space.

  245. Mircea says:

    I will say something that it is most probably wrong and OT but, honestly, this is where I am with my thinking regarding the energy imbalance:
    Can it be possible that the deep ocean heating is due to the heat resulting from the decomposition of all the extra organic matter that gets there? I mean, the organisms store energy from the sun when they are alive and then release it when dead on the ocean’s floor. Is anybody able to do the math of what this would mean? Most probable it is a dumb idea, but this would explain why models that didn’t take into account the increase in biosphere missed the flux of energy toward the deep oceans.

    Mircea

  246. Mircea, such amounts of organic matter are implausible (see above) but that organic matter would probably originate at the base of the food chain (chlorophyll) where they’d be observed by satellites which measure ocean color.

  247. Dumb Scientist,
    “Just to be clear, are you still disagreeing with my claim that each ton of emitted CO2 does more than $0.00 damage per ton?”
    Just to be clear: I do not believe anyone is in a position to generate an accurate estimate of that value. Richard Tol suggests it will be negative for some time to come, then turn positive at higher CO2 levels. You seem to be suggesting it is a large positive value right now. I am saying I don’t know, and I suspect strongly that nobody else really does either because there are too many unknowns and too much uncertainty about the “knowns”. Trying to assign that value is so difficult and so subjective as to be a ‘fool’s errand.’

  248. Mircea says:

    Tom Curtis,

    I think your answer is a valid explanation and I have to admit that I am very surprised that only 2%-4% of energy imbalance is stored ( 0.024w/m2 ??).

    I wrote my previous comment before seeing your answer so please ignore!

    Thanks!
    Mircea

  249. So you’re effectively endorsing the RCP8.5 future, if not the RCP 10,000,000 future (by seeming to agree with the WUWT mod who actually thought damage was negative).

    This disagreement isn’t just between a dumb scientist and Richard Tol. The important point is that most scientists are urging people to choose the RCP2.6 future over the harsher-but-seemingly-WUWT-endorsed RCP8.5 future because climate science has made many successful predictions…

    Considering the stakes involved, I’m impressed that so many people are willing to sign their real names to comments [effectively endorsing the RCP8.5 future]. A growing mountain of evidence keeps confirming the mainstream scientific community, including NASA and the National Academy of Sciences. It takes considerable bravery to leave a permanent record effectively endorsing the RCP8.5 future.

  250. RB says:

    Mircea,
    Actually I made a mistake in my calculations. Nevertheless, I think Tom Curtis’ numbers sound reasonable. I think you can find links showing that photosynthesis products store 0.2% of incident solar energy. On average, that will be about 0.2*240 =0.5W/m2 which is almost the same as the energy imbalance. The chemical energy in plant food is transferred to other living beings with decreasing efficiency from plants-> animals->other animals. For humans, an energy efficiency is probably reasonably 10%, but maybe only 20% of humans are on average in the growth phase while the rest radiate everything they eat. So, only 2% of photosynthesis products consumed by humans are stored in humans while 98% is dissipated as heat. Similarly extending across the biosphere, 2% of the energy imbalance is likely stored while the rest is dissipated.

  251. Rachel says:

    Wow, there are so many great comments! It’s getting hard to keep up.

    I want to respond to something Stevefitzpatrick said “If you want to claim an external cost that must be paid for, then you need to show harm. Not hypothetical harm, not some harm that is unquantified and distant, but real, quantifiable harm. Put that harm on a balance sheet….”

    George Monbiot has an article out this week, Power Crazed, which includes a graphic depicting the health impact of coal plant emissions in China. According to him, recent research suggests that if we shut down coal power plants in China then a quarter of a million deaths per year would be prevented. Now I know what you’ll say next. How many deaths are prevented due to the higher living standard fossil fuels have given? I don’t think that’s relevant because I’m not suggesting they abandon their standard of living. I think they should replace coal with nuclear.

    The other thing you touched on is this idea that there is a small benefit from global warming, according to Richard Tol, for the near future. Even if this is true, and I’m not necessarily going to agree that it is, the harmful effects once this benefit becomes a cost will last for centuries and span many generations. So while only a few generations may benefit in the near term, generations of humans spanning hundreds of years will be harmed in the longer term. There is no argument in my view to choose a short term benefit for the few over a long term harm for the many.

  252. Marco says:

    Steve Fitzpatrick, careful with your references to Tol. Apart from taking him as some kind of prophet, in 2005 he stated that with temperature rises between 2-4 °C people north of a line drawn from Paris to Munich would benefit, while south of it, people would be overall “losers” of climate change. In other words, he is not a good reference if you claim that greenhouse gas reductions will hurt the poor/developing nations the most. Au contraire…

  253. Tom Curtis says:

    RB, the basic figure for Gross Primary Productivity, ie, the amount of energy stored through photosynthesis was obtained here. It works out as 0.773 W/m^2. Net Primary Productivity, ie, Gross Primary Productivity less the energy used by the photosynthesizing organisms for respiration, works out as 0.656 W/m^2. That includes both land plants, oceanic plants and phytoplankton. I calculated the energy stored as 1-2 times the ratio of terrestial carbon exchange with the atmosphere to carbon fixation from Gross Primary Production, using values from IPCC AR5 for the former, and the commonly quoted figure of 120 GtC for the later. The 1-2 times allows for the uncertainty of whether or not increased ocean GPP matches the increased land GPP due carbon fertilization, reforestation in the NH and improved agricultural productivity.

    Your back of the envelope calculation uses NPP rather than GPP. The 2% for humans is not generalizable. Cold blooded creatures are far more efficient in energy use in that the primary use of consumed energy is to provide a low entropy energy source. To maintain metabolic rates, they rely on high entropy energy from the environment. Possibly more important, while human populations are increasing, resulting in a net if very temporary storage in energy, wild animal biomass is decreasing. That may or may not be overcompensated by the increase in population of human food animals. To the extent that it is overcompensated, it is through the introduction of fossil fuel energy (but not carbon) into the food chain by the manufacture of fertilizers.

  254. Tom Curtis says:

    stevefitzpatrick, economic modelling of the costs of climate change, including that by Richard Tol assumes:
    1) a prescribed rate of economic growth;
    2) in most cases, that death and hardship in third world nations is less costly then equivalent death and hardship in first world nations;
    3) loss of major ecosystems can be ignored as costs, or accounted for by applying an arbitrary cost; and
    4) a discount rate of future damages that presumes ongoing economic growth.

    Personally I feel that the loss of major ecosystems at a 2 C increase such as the Arctic (certain), the Great Barrier Reef and the majority of other reef systems (almost certain), the Amazon (50/50 chance) etc; will significantly damage the potential for future economic growth. At medium to high temperature increases, therefore, economic growth may well be negative. If it is, the discount rate over those intervals ought also to be negative (ie, future costs weigh as more important than current costs), ie, assumption (4) is unsound. Certainly the economists cannot tell us otherwise, for they do not model the effects of climate change on economic growth as opposed to economic productivity (assumption 1). Therefore, for variations in global temperature near plus 2 C or above, the “cost” calculations from economic models represent, at best, a best case scenario. That is, if we are lucky, net costs if we consider European and Japanese deaths more important than African deaths, will at best be negative up to 3 C, but is likely to be significantly positive by then (note, “costs”, not benefits).

    If we do not consider European and Japanese races to be some how exulted above all others, the estimated 100 thousand excess deaths per anum in the third world at current levels of increase of global temperatures (WHO) makes the best case one of neutral net costs now, with only greater pain for the future. You may be happy with the fundamentally immoral assumption that human value is set on a parity level by monetary value of income, and its plainly racist consequences. I am not.

    Pretending to champion the poor while accepting that assumption, as you are at least tacitly doing, smacks of the highest hypocrisy.

  255. Rob Painting says:

    Troy – “While the apparently different rate of ocean heat uptake from the first half and second half of the decade is problematic in a number of different OHC datasets, due to this breakpoint being completely absent in the satellite data (and no theoretical reason for such an event), it is by far the worst in ORAS4.

    From oceanographic perspective there is every reason to expect ocean heat uptake to slow after the peak in the wind-driven ocean circulation around 2004, and weakening thereafter.

    When the easterly trade winds strengthen they push surface water in a small band around the equator (where the Coriolos Force is zero) over to the western tropical Pacific where heat is mixed down into the subsurface layers (as part of the tilting of the thermocline). Outside that band they push tropical surface water poleward into the centre of the subtropical ocean gyres where it converges with surface currents pushed equatorward by the mid-latitude westerlies. Where these currents converge they have nowhere else to go but downwards (Ekman pumping) and in doing so they take properties such as heat with them. Of course these processes must be balanced, and there is strong upwelling of cold deep water at the equator (especially pronounced in the eastern tropical Pacific) to compensate for the export of water out of the tropical surface ocean.

    Simply put; the ocean, takes up more heat when the wind-driven ocean circulation is intense because more heat is being mixed down into the ocean by the winds, and more cold water is brought to the surface. Less heat is mixed downwards when the winds weaken, and there is reduced upwelling of cold water and thus reduced cloud cover in the tropics (more sunlight entering the surface ocean to heat it). The ARGO data show very clearly that the great majority of the heat accumulating in the deep ocean is being pumped downwards into ocean gyres – as is to be expected.

    The ‘breakpoint’ is entirely consistent with a physically-based understanding of the ocean circulation. Indeed it shows up very clearly in the Hiroshima Widget.

  256. Seems like I’ve missed most of an interesting discussion by having an early night. Thanks to everyone who commented.

    @troyca, thanks for the comment. I agree, one should indeed be careful about highlighting all those aspects that would change something in one direction and not the other. I shall try and have a read of your paper when I’ve finished marking this pile of exam papers :-)

  257. johnrussell40 says:

    Rachel says: “So while only a few generations may benefit in the near term, generations of humans spanning hundreds of years will be harmed in the longer term.

    It’s important to understand the mindset of economists, especially when considering the power and influence they wield. In talking to economists and reading what they have to say about things, it’s become very clear to me that economists tend not to place much value on life that doesn’t yet exist: and any value they do place diminishes the further ahead they look. Short termism rules, OK? Lawson, Ridley, Lomborg, Tol are all similarly afflicted. Their ‘bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’ mentality has no place when it comes to concern for the environment.

  258. Rachel says:

    John Russell,
    I think economics has to change. They’ve got a few things wrong, namely, rich people are not worth more than poor people; the natural world does have value; and the interests of people living 100 years from now must be taken into consideration.

  259. Barry Woods says:

    How about the interests of the people now, I just don’t get it, when I see an activist on the roof of the House of Commons, or up a power station, because 300,000 people are dying of climate change. NOW

    when, several million people are dying of poverty NOW. Priorities..?

    especial if you look at the WHO or GHF reports, those that are allegedly dying of ‘climate change’ 95% of the victims suffer from extreme poverty, and dying of the very same problem that kill the over several million (with CC assumption, % or extrapolation, ie a third order effect at best)

    Helping, the poor now, ie sanitation, electricity (ie refrigeration) medicine infrastructure, is relatively simple to do, doesn’t require global agreement, much cheaper, known solutions, and would actually help their future generations as well IF there were climate impacts..

    If there are less poor, and by that I mean people with the very basics we in the UK are assume are given, clean water, sanitation, clean (vs open fire) heating, refrigeration, access to medicine, infrastructure that means 60% of crops don’t rot in the fields, due to lack of infrastructure, etc then their children (the future) would be even better placed, by saving the futures children now, we save the children’s future.

    But the students (greenpeace, etc) are on the roof, motivated because of a dodgy 300k climate change death NOW soundbite.. but they ignore the Save the Children No Child Born to Die (with the very real several million deaths NOW)

  260. Barry Woods says:

    meant to say:

    by saving (and improving the lives) of the parents of the future’s children now, we save the children’s future. (making them as resilient to life as us)

  261. Barry,

    But the students (greenpeace, etc) are on the roof, motivated because of a dodgy 300k climate change death NOW soundbite.. but they ignore the Save the Children No Child Born to Die (with the very real several million deaths NOW)

    Sure, how you judge the behaviour of others is entirely up to you. I don’t especially approve of everything that people are saying or doing in the name of global warming/climate change. What’s it got to do with science? I’d still be quite interested in your answer to the question I asked you here.

    If there are less poor, and by that I mean people with the very basics we in the UK are assume are given, clean water, sanitation, clean (vs open fire) heating, refrigeration, access to medicine, infrastructure that means 60% of crops don’t rot in the fields, due to lack of infrastructure, etc then their children (the future) would be even better placed, by saving the futures children now, we save the children’s future.

    Sure, but you seem to be suggesting that doing anything to mitigate against climate change is incompatible with this. Personally, I think that increasing income inequality (in the developed world at least) is something that we have to try and do something about. I also think doing something about poverty in the rest of the world is also something we should be acting on. It’s not obviously incompatible with also acting to mitigate against climate change. Following neo-liberal policies, however, seems unlikely to do much.

    Here’s another question for you. Currently we import 30% of our oil and gas. Unless UK shale gas turns out to be a real miracle, this will increase at the rate of 20 – 30% per decade suggesting that we may be importing £50 – 100 billion worth of oil and gas sometime in the next few decades. Do you think we should stick with oil and gas even if we need to import it all, or do you think spending some (or most) of that money investing in technology and jobs at home is a better economic path? It doesn’t matter if the energy is cheaper if there aren’t jobs to give people salaries that they can the use to pay for it. I know that there will still be jobs, but energy is something like 10% of our economy and so importing versus local generation will have a significant impact on our job market.

  262. Rachel says:

    Hi Barry,
    If you are concerned about world poverty, then might I suggest taking the pledge at The life you can save where you pledge to donate a proportion of your income to people in the developing world. If everybody did this, we would generate enough money “to end widespread extreme poverty”. Peter Singer discusses this in a TED talk, Effective altruism. He has been donating 10% of his income to the developing world for many years now.

  263. Barry Woods says:

    I’m saying tackle the low hanging fruit, the easy stuff with big payback first.. (or at least in parallel, vs not at all)

    if climate change were killing 300k poor people now, a making them less ‘poor’ would save them..

    if the future assumes the poor (ie no electricity, clean water, etc,etc ) are still there to be killed by more climate change, because they are poor..

    Isn’t that the poverty of imagination..

    plus the 300k figure is discredited anyway, by taking the actions I suggest, whoever is right or wrong about AGW, millions of life’s will be saved.

    a comparison, how many live would be save by tackling ‘black carbon’ let alone the AGW effect, but that low hanging fruit got left out of Kyoto.

    ref your question – I have no goal to undermine anything!

    I want to the public to here the science, hear the facts, not the distorted media, ngo version of climate science. the 300k climate deaths soundbite, being a classic example, used to motivate people to action, but is false. I would be proud of my son or daughter trying to action, ie caring enough to try, but rather they were up there, for the 6 million real death, vs 300k imaginary ones.. ie tackle the real issues that hurt people, not blindly following.

    of course, to ask to get these fact right, and to question, is in some people s views ‘spreading doubt’ or ‘undermining’ (not your view)

  264. Barry Woods says:

    Hi Rachel – I donate to Smile Train and Second Site.. 2 charities withe personal connections (both without the big NGO overheads) which make huge changes to individual lives.

  265. Barry,

    I have no goal to undermine anything!

    That’s not really an answer and I don’t think is a fair representation of what the question was asking.

    If you really want people to hear the facts, not the distorted media (and I agree that some of it is), then you should be willing to also have a go at the GWPF, WUWT, Jo Nova, David Rose, Matt Ridley, and all the others who do their utmost to either suggest the science isn’t sound or that the only valid science is the science that diminishes the likely effect of climate change.

  266. Dumb Scientist,
    Considering the stakes involved, I’m impressed that so few people are willing to sign their real names to comments. Where is the courage of their convictions?

    You appear to think that you are justified in claiming you know what other people think better than they do themselves. Very strange. Wrong, but very strange.

  267. Barry Woods says:

    Anders – I do, several times with Delingpole for example, and he now blocks me on twitter because of it.

    isn’t this your perception of what they are doing, are you assuming nefarious motives, when they are Wrong, can they not be sincerely wrong. motivated by the reasons I suggest. just as a mirror to the ‘wrong’ climate activists, both sincere?

    ” and all the others who do their utmost to either suggest the science isn’t sound or that the only valid science is the science that diminishes the likely effect of climate change.”

    anyway, charity plug coming up

    http://secondsight.org.uk/New/Pages/Welcome.html

    http://www.smiletrain.org.uk/

  268. Rachel says:

    Barry,
    I’m saying tackle the low hanging fruit, the easy stuff with big payback first.. (or at least in parallel, vs not at all)

    This is the point I was trying to make. It is not a choice between helping the poor or tackling climate change. We can do both. According to the life you can save we can already end extreme world poverty simply by donating a portion of our income to the developing world.

  269. Tom Curtis,
    “Pretending to champion the poor while accepting that assumption, as you are at least tacitly doing, smacks of the highest hypocrisy.”
    Rubbish. How many times have you looked into the eyes of a hungry 5 year old who lives in a mud-wall hut or a cobbled-together cardboard shack? I have, lots of times. Not only am I concerned for the welfare of very poor people, my wife and I spend several thousands of dollars each year helping to feed, cloth and educate very poor kids in developing countries. I suggest you step down from your high horse. I find the data and arguments that ‘support’ claims about poor people suffering today from global warming specious. All their suffering, which is quite real and quite terrible, is the suffering that comes from extreme poverty. What they need to escape that suffering is economic growth. They sure as hell don’t need people like you lecturing about hypocrisy to people who actually do care about their future, and are actually doing something about it.

  270. Rachel says:

    Stevefitzpatrick,
    I think you have misunderstood Tom Curtis. What he is saying, I think, is that it is hypocritical to champion the poor while accepting an economic argument that values the poor less than the rich.

  271. Barry,

    isn’t this your perception of what they are doing, are you assuming nefarious motives, when they are Wrong, can they not be sincerely wrong. motivated by the reasons I suggest. just as a mirror to the ‘wrong’ climate activists, both sincere?

    It’s not really my perception. It’s based on my understanding of the actual scientific evidence and what they say with respect to the actual scientific evidence. I don’t know their intent or whether or not it’s nefarious. That doesn’t change that, in my opinion, much of what they say about the science is wrong. And, for some unknown reason, always seem to be wrong in a way that suggest that global warming/climate change is unlikely to be as serious an issue as others are suggesting. If it was just randomly wrong, wouldn’t they swing from being extremely alarmed at times to being completely unconcerned at others?

  272. Barry Woods says:

    Rachel . I agree with you.
    The charities I like deal with helping individuals, rather than contributing to a fund.. but if everybody did that (either way) our individual efforts would be magnified. Helping one person masively. Or a 1000 people a little bit. Adds up the same. If enough people do it. As I said personal reasons motivate charity choices. My wife is an optician and the guy on the frontpage of the website was her supervisor at City Uni..

  273. Barry Woods says:

    Anders you could say the exact same thing. In reverse about where the cl8mate activistsget thing wrong. Always in one dwhat might be birection.

  274. Barry,

    No I don’t think so. This isn’t a symmetrical argument. There’s not an equal amount of “wrong science” on the “alarmist” side as there is on the other – in my opinion at least. Plus, bear in mind, I’m specifically talking about what people say about the scientific evidence, not what people might claim about what policy option is best.

  275. Barry Woods says:

    Oops. Smartphone seemed to have posted that. Before I had finished it. Hsd just put my phone in my pocket.

  276. Rachel says:

    There’sFizz (feeling fickle, Anders is just not right today),

    And, for some unknown reason, always seem to be wrong in a way that suggest that global warming/climate change is unlikely to be as serious an issue as others are suggesting.

    I would add that they’re not very good at acknowledging mistakes and correcting them. I’ve never seen it happen from the contrarian side. Perhaps it has and I missed it, but I’ve seen mistakes acknowledged and corrected from the acceptance side.

  277. Barry,

    It was certainly impressively jumbled :-)

    Rachel,

    Likewise. Also some (Andrew Neil) for example, complain that he gets “shouted out” for just saying something about sea ice. Well, maybe, that’s because what you’re saying is essentially wrong and rather than complaining about being shouted at, you could go and talk to some actual climate scientists (maybe more than one) and see why it is that what you say gets such a reaction.

  278. BBD says:

    All we have to do is support the UN – not just the IPCC – the full array of UN Millennium Development Goals:

    1/. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

    2/. Achieve universal primary education

    3/. Promote gender equality and empower women

    4/. Reduce child mortality

    5/. Improve maternal health

    6/. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

    7/. Ensure environmental sustainability

    8/. Global partnership for development

    Some people reject the science behind climate change because they reject its implications – that the developed economies are going to have to pay for at least some of the damage they have done. And this is going to mean tax. The same individuals are generally against the rest of the MDGs because – oh yes – tax.

  279. verytallguy says:

    Stevefitzpatrick,

    your thesis appears to be that unrestricted fossil fuel use will produce a net benefit to the poorest.

    Without examining whether the evidence supports it or not, in principle that’s a perfectly ethical position to take.

    What I think is unethical is that the people who take this position also feel they have to distort the scientific evidence of the consequences of CO2.

    So if your argument was

    “Continuing unfettered use of fossil fuels will cause a 4 degree temperature rise, a commitment to at least 7m sea level rise over centuries, increased extreme drought and rainfall events, ocean acidification and a massive impact on ecosystems the world over. However, these are consequences worth bearing due to the alleviation of poverty”

    then I think that is honest and coherent, not that I would necessarily agree with it.

    However, what this seems to morph into is

    “The science shows that continuing unfettered use of fossil fuels will cause a 4 degree temperature rise, a commitment to at least 7m sea level rise over centuries, increased extreme drought and rainfall events, ocean acidification and a massive impact on ecosystems the world over. However, this cannot be true because of [insert whichever contrarian talking point is currently in vogue]. Therefore people concerned about global warming are preventing alleviation of poverty.

    I would respect the poverty argument much more if it didn’t always seem to have to start with trying to overturn the science.

  280. VTG,

    That’s essentially one of my main issues. I would have much more time for those who think acting against global warming will be damaging to the poor if they could argue for their policy preferences without having to, at the same time, make it appear as though there are huge uncertainties about the scientific evidence. Makes me think they don’t believe their policy preferences are consistent with what should be done, given the scientific evidence.

  281. Rachel,
    “I think you have misunderstood Tom Curtis.”
    I understand clearly enough when someone accuses me of hypocrisy. He knows absolutely nothing of what he speaks.

    My youngest shares your name.

  282. stevefitzpatrick,
    Just in case you are unaware, Tom Curtis is regarded by many (on both sides of this debate) as extremely honest and extremely well-informed. You may think he knows absolutely nothing of what he speaks but, in general, he really does know of what he speaks. If you were genuinely interested in understanding more about global warming and climate change, I would certainly recommend reading Tom Curtis’s comments again. Plus, I think Rachel’s interpretation was correct.

    It’s hard to take someone seriously when their argument is that mitigating against global warming will harm the poor, and that there is evidence that future warming will have a net benefit. What they then fail to acknowledge is that even this work (Tol 2009) acknowledges that the poorer parts of the world will still suffer, while most of the benefit will go to the already developed world. They also fail to acknowledge that the net benefit comes from (I believe) a single study (Tol 2002).

  283. Rachel says:

    SteveFitzpatrick,
    My youngest shares your name.
    And what a good name it is.

    In the interests of acknowledging mistakes, I think I am partly to blame for this disagreement becoming personal because I made a mistake in my first response to Barry this afternoon by making it personal. My only explanation is that I am tired of the “but the poor” as an excuse for business as usual and I reacted accordingly.

  284. Tom Curtis says:

    stevefitzpatrick, I am glad you have genuine concern for the poor. I take it, therefore, that you reject economic modelling of the costs of climate change that value a life based on an income? That being the case, and given that Tol shows current levels of warming to have been net beneficial for developed nations, but net harmful for undeveloped, do you agree that current levels of global warming are net neutral globally, and will get progressively worse with increased warming?

  285. verytallguy,
    No, the argument is neither of those. It is more like:

    “Continuing use of fossil fuels will cause some warming, but the extent of warming, its timing, and especially the downstream consequences of warming, are very uncertain. There is clearly some risk of negative consequences; so it is sensible to better define that risk, and to take prudent steps to reduce it as the risk becomes better defined. However, whatever prudent steps are taken, they must not interfere with the alleviation of poverty, which is both real and terrible in its effects on people and the environments in which they live. Alleviating poverty requires economic growth.”

    I am a scientist, so I look mainly at the science. I am so far unconvinced that the risks are worth the costs. I hope you don’t find that immoral, and I am sorry if you do. But please try to understand that I find many of the proposed ‘solutions’ to global warming to be unwise, economically damaging, and unlikely to make much difference.

  286. stevefitzpatrick,

    You’ve essentially just responded to VTG’s comment in a manner that precisely illustrates the point he was trying to make.

    the downstream consequences of warming, are very uncertain. There is clearly some risk of negative consequences; so it is sensible to better define that risk, and to take prudent steps to reduce it as the risk becomes better defined.

    This is essentially a contrarian talking point – everything’s very uncertain. It really isn’t.

  287. johnrussell40 says:

    Rachel says: “I think economics has to change. They’ve got a few things wrong, namely, rich people are not worth more than poor people; the natural world does have value; and the interests of people living 100 years from now must be taken into consideration.”

    I agree 100%. Our problem is that economists have a status way above their value to society—way above that of scientists, for instance. They also seem to inveigle themselves into political power too easily (as do lawyers). How we make these people change their beliefs in line with those you list in a timeframe which will permit action on climate change, is the big question. I mean; can we wait for a whole generation to die off—particularly as some appear, like Lawson, to become more entrenched and more vocal with age?

  288. Tom Curtis,

    I would like to continue the discussion, but I must leave to catch a plane… to visit one of my daughters for Christmas. Cio.

  289. andthentheresphysics,

    “This is essentially a contrarian talking point – everything’s very uncertain. It really isn’t.”

    Nonsense. Everything is not uncertain, but lots of things are, especially the future cost of GHG driven warming. I would appreciate if you could refrain from name calling.

  290. verytallguy says:

    Steve,

    ATTP has already made the point I was going to. I would merely add that you are choosing to emphasise only the upside uncertainties, not the downside uncertainties. If you emphasised both equally, you would be unable to support your conclusions.

    Have a great Christmas.

  291. William says:

    A very tall guy,

    Where as you emphasise the downside and not the upside.

    It seems that already 40 countries are coming out of poverty so something good is happening.

  292. johnrussell40 says:

    The quote from stevefitzpatrick in ATTP’s comment leads me to regurgitate the response I always direct at those who play the ‘uncertainty’ meme.

    Science tells us we’re about to fall off a cliff. The uncertainty is about its height; what’s at the bottom; what bones we’ll break on the way down, whether we’ll end up paralysed in a wheel chair or even die. What we can be very sure about, with 95% certainty, is that it’s going to f**king hurt. Let’s do all we can to avoid it.

  293. BBD says:

    RB

    Now I’ve had a chance to look at Forster et al. I see that the CMIP5 multi-model mean ECS is 3.22C (TCR 1.82C). So the GISS model E v2 coupled to either the Russell ocean (E2H) or the HYCOM ocean (E2R) is somewhat below the mean value. Perhaps using the multi-model mean in future would be more informative.

  294. stevefitzpatrick,

    I really didn’t name call. Pointing out that you seemed to use a standard contrarian tactic of suggesting that everything’s uncertain isn’t the same as name calling.

    Everything is not uncertain, but lots of things are, especially the future cost of GHG driven warming. I would appreciate if you could refrain from name calling.

    I don’t understand your response. I would agree that the future cost is uncertain. What is reasonably certain is that – if we do nothing – we will continue to warm, potentially by 3 degrees or more (relative to pre-industrial times) by 2100. We will see more precipitation in the wetter regions, and the drier regions will get drier. Sea level will rise. The experts appear to think that the IPCC has likely underestimated the sea level rise. Extreme weather is difficult to predict but it seems very unlikely that if we continue to add energy to the climate system that some events won’t get more energetic.

    If one could acknowledge the above while still making the same policy argument would – in my opinion – have more credence than trying to diminish the strength of the scientific evidence while making your policy argument.

  295. BBD says:

    I see that once again, we touch on commenters who emphasise only one aspect of an argument. For example, treating as good evidence only the very lowest estimates – however lacking in robustness – for sensitivity and ignoring the rest of the range.

  296. Rachel says:

    JohnRussell,

    How we make these people change their beliefs in line with those you list in a timeframe which will permit action on climate change, is the big question.

    I’m not sure but I would like to see more ethicists involved in the debate and political decision making because I view this as a problem of intergenerational ethics. Maybe if there were more of these voices, or at the very least from groups who are not economists, they would provide a much-needed counterpoint to the economic ones.

  297. Please think about speeding on an unfamiliar road when fog rolls in. Do you react to the added uncertainty of the fog by driving faster or slower?

  298. BBD says:

    Russell ocean (E2H) or the HYCOM ocean (E2R)

    “Russell ocean (E2R) or the HYCOM ocean (E2H)”

  299. verytallguy says:

    William,

    Where as you emphasise the downside and not the upside.

    Whilst I try not to, I may have done this. Please could you provide an example where II have, or failing that, acknowledge you’re mistaken?

    thanks

  300. johnrussell40 says:

    In the case of climate change I think it’s very logical to emphasise the downside and not the upside. The upside would be nice but no big deal if it occurs. The downside would be very damaging. To pick up on Dumb Scientist’s analogy; the benefit of speeding up on a foggy road could be to knock a few minutes off the journey time. The downside…

  301. BBD says:

    It transpires that the configuration of GISS Model E2 (GISS-E2-R) used for AR5 has an ECS/2xCO2 of 2.7C.

    Reference.

    Sorry for going on about this, but I like to get facts of this type straight, and they were not straight at all.

  302. RB says:

    BBD,
    Model aerosol indirect forcings are at odds with the aerosol expert assessment. Using AR5 aerosol estimates leads to lower sensitivities as calculated by Otto. To agree with multi-model mean, you need aerosol estimates similar to Carslaw et al. Of course, the experts may be wrong and models may be right. Unfortunately, indirect forcings are also model-derived, so it’s something to keep an eye on and certainly something that is likely to be revised in the future.

  303. William says:

    A very tall guy,

    I am sorry , you are right, I believe you have come down neither on one side or the other, so credit to you.

    There again an steve mentioned that the pluses and minuses ( his words were different ) Should be evaluated.

    But judging by the oxford universtiy report on poverty reduction over the last 20 years of hottest temps ever this fills me with hope.

  304. RB, can you clarify in what way the aerosol forcings are at odds. What are the experts suggesting? Are they suggesting that the negative aerosol forcing is actually bigger (more negative) than as used by Otto et al. – for example?

  305. BBD says:

    RB

    You have just ignored my clarification of a claim you made repeatedly earlier, and which others backed you up on. Best to understand at this point that I consider partial information provision to be next door to misinformation and you and TroyCA were sailing very close to the wind indeed on this.

  306. Steve Bloom – I think it was called the Hiroshima Day Commemoration panel, or something like that. I don’t remember the specifics – it was John Cook who talked with them. Like I said, they had no problem using the Hiro as a unit of energy, and we’re far from the first to do so.

    Victor – “Dana, what do you think of my compromise formulation mentioned above, that explicitly states that the energy imbalance is relatively seen small? That would at least protect us against angry people who learn that what the had learned from SkS was large, turned out to be small.”

    I don’t agree that it’s small, and I think downplaying the size of the energy imbalance plays into the deniers’ hands. I just don’t see the point.

  307. verytallguy says:

    Thank you William, I appreciate it.

    But judging by the oxford universtiy report on poverty reduction over the last 20 years of hottest temps ever this fills me with hope.

    I agree there is good news around on poverty reduction. I’m not sure, however, that there is good news on your logical reasoning :-)

    In the same way that my well being is improved by the addition of a small cat on my lap in front of the fire, but not at all by panthera tigris being similarly situated, the fact that poverty reduction is consistent with small changes in climate does not imply that it is consistent with large changes in climate.

    It is a red herring, a canard, or to mix my metaphors and languagues un herang rouge.

    Merry Christmas everyone, I’m off

  308. As long economic modeling is being discussed, I believe Tol’s 2009 paper (which is outdated, coincidentally) estimated peak benefit from global warming at around 1°C (which we’re already more than committed to). While 1-2°C is technically a net benefit as compared to 0°C, it’s a decline from the “benefit” at 1°C. So if people citing Tol really cared about maximizing economic benefit, they would support taking action to stop global warming from continuing.

    That’s of course aside from other other issues of valuing people at their financial worth, placing no value on biodiversity or costs on cultural loss, etc.

  309. Barry Woods says:

    ‘deniers’ – Dana? please define it once and for all…

    the Guardian who you write for on occasion, have a style guide and definition, that does NOT include me as a ‘denier’, it offers some positive suggestion for communicators like yourself, especially the first bullet point I quote:

    Guardian:
    • Rather than opening itself to the charge of denigrating people for their beliefs, a fair newspaper should always try to address what it is that people are sceptical about or deny.

    • The term sceptics covers those who argue that climate change is exaggerated, or not caused by human activity.

    • If someone really does think that climate change is not happening – that the world is not warming – then it seems fair enough to call them a denier (and I’d love them to explain to me why comma butterflies are flying north to Scotland, for the first time in history, as fast as their jagged little wings will take them). A final quotation, this time from George Jean Nathan: “The path of sound credence is through the thick forest of scepticism.” Let’s hope no one’s burned down the forest to build a motorway or drill for oil.”

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/mar/01/climate-change-scepticism-style-guide

    further ref:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/03/02/sea-change-in-climate-journalism-the-guardian-and-the-d-word/

  310. Rachel says:

    Merry Christmas, VTG.

  311. RB says:

    ATTP,
    the aerosol indirect in AR5 is -0.45 W/m^2, the multi-model range is -0.4 to -1.8 W/m^2. Carslaw’s best estimates is ~-1.1 W/m^2.
    BBD,
    I couldn’t care less what you think and i’m not always at your service to respond to things that you may have brought up immediately if it involves looking things up and I’m rushing on other things. Regardless, I am not beholden to a lower ECS. My source was Forster et al. for which i provided a link. I’ll check your other source later.

  312. troyca says:

    Rob,

    From oceanographic perspective there is every reason to expect ocean heat uptake to slow after the peak in the wind-driven ocean circulation around 2004, and weakening thereafter.

    When the easterly trade winds strengthen they push surface water in a small band around the equator (where the Coriolos Force is zero) over to the western tropical Pacific where heat is mixed down into the subsurface layers (as part of the tilting of the thermocline)…

    This continues to confuse ocean heat uptake *efficiency*, which deals with the ratio of surface warming to the rate of ocean heat uptake, with the rate of ocean heat uptake itself. The former is affected by winds, ocean stratification, and in general deals with vertical distribution of heat uptake, but is not informative of the TOA imbalance. The latter – which IS informative of TOA imbalance and is what we’ve been talking about – is little affected by the vertical distribution, and as we’ve (RB in the last thread and I in my blog conversation) been trying to explain, the mechanisms you present do not have any bearing on it.

    Simply put; the ocean, takes up more heat when the wind-driven ocean circulation is intense because more heat is being mixed down into the ocean by the winds, and more cold water is brought to the surface.

    No, the ocean does not take up more heat (in any significant way); rather it takes up more heat *relative to the surface* (again, *efficiency* is affected, but not the raw heat uptake). The rate of ocean heat uptake is primarily determined by the energy imbalance at the top of the atmosphere, NOT by winds.***

    The ‘breakpoint’ is entirely consistent with a physically-based understanding of the ocean circulation. Indeed it shows up very clearly in the Hiroshima Widget.

    This “breakpoint” will show up in most OHC datasets, and I would note that this is because they all use the same XBT data in the early decade. However, this does not change the fact that it shows up the worst in ORAS4, and that only by using the XBT to ARGO 2000s transition data in ORAS4 (that is, none of the other OHC datasets, and not XBT-only ORAS4, and not ARGo-only ORAS4) that one can deem the Otto et al an underestimate of H (which is, after all, how the conversation started).

    ***Caveats – there is a very tiny effect resulting from a decrease in atmospheric / land stored heat, and the Planck response from a surface increase, and winds can potentially change cloud distributions to some effect on the TOA imbalance, but these smaller effects are not what is being discussed.

  313. In addition to what Dana says, I wrote a post about that a while ago. Also,there is a typo in Tol’s paper. His paper suggest Hope (2005) was +0.9, but instead it is -0.9 (confirmed with Chris Hope). So, I did a quick correction (without uncertainties). It’s clear that with this typo corrected, the net benefit claim is based almost entirely on a single piece of work (Tol 2002).

  314. Rachel says:

    Barry,
    We’re not having a discussion about the word ‘denier’, thanks. It has been done before. Many times.

  315. > My only explanation is that I am tired of the “but the poor” as an excuse for business as usual and I reacted accordingly.

    Another reason why we should always be thankful for contrarian concerns, Rachel.

    Besides, notice how Barry adapted his digression techniques. Speaking of which, how it got to be about CS was a thing of beauty. Kudos, stevefitzpatrick!

    Wasn’t this supposed to be a thread about putting the atomic bomb into perspective?

  316. BBD says:

    RB

    I have provided you with a definitive reference above. You are now behaving with ill grace which suggests that my original impression of your position in this exchange was exactly correct.

    And nota bene: 2.7C for AR5.

    There are lots of configurations of Model E2 so it is necessary to avoid misrepresentation, eg picking the lowest one documented anywhere and pretending that it is representative, when in fact the representative model ECS is 2.7C. I do hope this is sufficiently clear to stand as a ground rule in any future exchanges we may have.

  317. troyca says:

    BBD,

    Best to understand at this point that I consider partial information provision to be next door to misinformation and you and TroyCA were sailing very close to the wind indeed on this

    Are you serious? You asked for a citation for the GISS-E2-R 2.2 sensitivity. I sent you to “Evaluating adjusted forcing and model spread for historical and future scenarios in the CMIP5 generation of climate models”, written by two lead authors on the IPCC AR5 report, noting GISS-E2 has sensitivities 2.1 and 2.3 depending on the ocean coupling. In turn you find a paper on PlioMIP saying the GISS-E2-R sensitivity is 2.7 K. Rather than consider that a) the latter paper might be incorrect and accidentally used a previous generation of the published GISS-E2 sensitivity, since there is no calculation or reference for that number, or b) considering that when one thinks of CMIP5 AR5 models he might not immediately think of finding a paper on PlioMIP, or c) considering that this confusion might be the result of GISS-E2-R providing multiple versions without clarity, or d) considering that your question was not as specific as you would’ve liked, you immediately assume the people that provided you the link *that you asked for* are misleading you.

    You also seem to imply that when you asked for a link to the GISS-E2-R sensitivity, you should have also been provided with the multi-model-mean, even though the reference itself provided this as well. This does not make one want to answer even your simple requests in the future.

  318. troyca says:

    ATTP, in the above comment, “Best to understand at this point that I consider partial information provision to be next door to misinformation and you and TroyCA were sailing very close to the wind indeed on this” should be in blockquotes, as it was a quote from BBD.

  319. AnOilMan says:

    Dana Nuccitelli: The current cost of removal and CCS is 200 dollars a ton.

    http://carbonengineering.com/

    The Average Canadian produces 5 tons of carbon per year. (Industry and especially the tar sands, are the rest.)

    Of course we can’t do that in Alberta. We’ve drilled and fracked everywhere so the government estimated that we could sequester for maybe 30 years before it all leaked out. Better (deeper?) storage would be needed.

  320. William says:

    A very tall guy,

    Ah, but add it to the nothern hemisphere greening, some deserts greening, and then take away,if we had the money, the massive damage done by non idigionous species and we start to build a different picture.

    all this over the last 20- 30’years.

  321. troyca, fixed.

    I’m busy trying to crack through a pile of exam scripts before rushing home, and Rachel has been busy moderating a lot this week. Can I ask that we avoid a “fight” between people who, likely, agree more than disagree. It should be possible to clarify things in a manner that is consistent with good scientific practice :-)

  322. AnOilMan says:

    Steve: Cost of damage for climate change. That’s a hard number to put your finger on. Calgary got quite a wake up call with its floods. But that’s just the beginning. Rain induced by climate change is estimated to cause (30 to 50%) larger flood plains in Alberta.

    So.. Albertans will have have to quite literally take a multi-billion dollar bath. In anticipation of future climate change related damages, insurance is already going up. I am now paying for climate change damage. The Insurance industry is already moving to remove coverage for people living in the now larger flood plains. (It just wouldn’t be sporting if they had to actually pay.)

    I do know that we are paying a lot of medical costs associated with climate change. CDC and pretty much all health care systems have precise data on how many people get sick, from what after any weather event. More rain = more disease.

    NONE OF THE COSTS ARE A BENEFIT TO SOCIETY. IT IS A DEAD WEIGHT TAX.

  323. When I was a kid we used to talk about two things related to the climate:

    1. The global cooling that we were expecting
    2. The nuclear winter we were expecting when the bombs went off.

    Now when so many people talk about global warming, I wonder why, if it was so easy to create a nuclear winter, isn’t it just as easy to stop a small bit of warming by detonating a few bombs.

    What this shows is that either people were lying about the effects of nuclear winter and global cooling when I was a child, or they are exaggerating the ease with which global cooling could be tackled and/or overstating the impact of any warming now.

  324. ScotScep,
    Given this comment in your most recent post about academia (yes, I did read some of it – with open-mouthed amazement, to be completely honest)

    In effect, we have what in industry is called a “closed shop”. The “union” of academics have a “union-members only” policy. If you aren’t a member of the union, you do not get employment in the form of grants. It is an unspoken rule that union members do not work with non-union or “scab labour”

    why would you expect me to engage with someone outside of the close-shop in which I – according to you at least – work?

  325. Rachel says:

    Scotty,
    I’m not sure that I understand your comment but if you’re repeating the tired myth that scientists were predicting global cooling in the 1970s, I’d prefer you didn’t. A small number of scientists predicted global cooling in the 1970s but the vast majority were predicting global warming. See Climate myths: They predicted global cooling in the 1970s. I realise this thread has branched into many different topics, but this one is definitely off the table.

  326. Marco says:

    Mike Haseler, did you just seriously propose to detonate some nuclear bombs in our atmosphere?!?!

    Apart from the problem of the radioactive fall-out, you’d have to do this in areas where firestorms are likely (those are actually necessary to get enough particles in the stratosphere), and the impact ‘only’ lasts for a few months to years, depending on how many bombs. When the particle matter has fallen out of the sky, and that will happen within that time-frame, we just get warming again, because the greenhouse gases are still there!

  327. Marco,

    Maybe go and read ScotScep’s most recent post and decide then if you should really bother. I’ve pretty much made up my mind.

  328. BBD says:

    TroyCA

    I know what your views are and I know where RB is coming from. There isn’t going to be a meeting of minds here.

  329. RB says:

    BBD,
    You are a classic example of what is wrong with both aisles in this debate – the railroading of those perceived to be contrary to ones worldview. You accuse me of misleading you and then turn around and accuse me of ill grace? Yes, I don’t have to acknowledge some link you provided when I know there are multiple GISS versions with different ECS, I don’t know which one the paper you are referring to is using, and when I don’t have the time to look it up. As I said, I’m not at your service. You were not misled. You were provided a “citation” from Forster/Gregory! in a comment where I say

    On the lower side, GISS-E2R is TCR/ECS of 1.5/2.1 and GISS-E2H is TCR/ECS of 1.7/2.3.

    .
    I’ve sized you up pretty well too, you can have the last word.

  330. Maybe all this ado about climate sensitivity could use some perspective.

    Type in your birth year, or the birth year of a young person you care about, and click until you reach the fourth graph or so. “There is some good news: the new IPCC report suggests that the climate may be slightly less sensitive to carbon than previously thought. Unfortunately that doesn’t help much.”

    The graph constantly shifts to show the consequences of the difference between the 2007 and 2013 IPCC estimates of climate sensitivity. Anyone inclined to argue about climate sensitivity might want to keep this shifting graph in the background.

  331. RB,

    In the hopes of moving this in a slightly different direction, maybe you could comment further on this

    the aerosol indirect in AR5 is -0.45 W/m^2, the multi-model range is -0.4 to -1.8 W/m^2. Carslaw’s best estimates is ~-1.1 W/m^2.

    It’s my understanding that if the aerosol forcing is more negative than the AR5 number, that would essentially increase the empirically determined TCR and ECS estimates. If, however, we could sustain a large, negative aerosol forcing, then presumably that would slow the warming and, presumably, if it were still present when CO2 has doubled, would reduce the realised TCR. However, if we were to clean up our emissions (as might be expected) the aerosol forcing would reduce, the net anthropogenic forcing would increase and we’d be back to higher TCR and ECS estimates. So, in some sense, if the aerosol forcing is more negative than the AR5 estimate that’s a bad thing in the sense that higher TCR and ECS values become more likely. Is that right, or is there some subtlety I’m missing?

  332. Barry Woods says:

    Rachel. I try to avoid responding to willard in kind, unless I get accused of thread bombing/high jacking. May I ask for similar courtesies I’m tired of his innuendos.

  333. Tom Curtis says:

    Before buying into the GISS-ER climate sensitivity debate, I just want to recall the background. Specifically, Ander’s claimed that:

    “If you assume a TCR of 1.5oC and an emissivity of 0.6, then once we’ve double CO2 the increase in outgoing flux will be about 3.7Wm-2. In the absence of feedbacks, that would essentially match the radiative forcing due to the increased CO2. However, even low-ball estimates for the ECS are around 2oC per doubling, implying that feedbacks are providing forcings around 70% that of the anthropogenic forcings.

    In response, stevefitzpatrick replied:

    “I don’t agree that 2C ECS is a low-ball figure; in fact it is not far from what seems to me the most likely value for ECS based on empirical estimates (somewhere near 1.8-1.9C per doubling). Heck, even GISS Model E-R now puts ECS somewhere near 2.2C per doubling. A transient sensitivity of 1.5 seems to me if anything a bit of a high-ball estimate. “

    Now, in that context, if we look up table 9.5 of AR5, we do indeed see that the GISS-ER-H model has an ECS of 2.3, and the GISS-ER-R model has an ECR of 2.1, so stevefitzpatrick is correct in the narrow claim that the “even GISS Model E-R now puts ECS somewhere near 2.2C per doubling” (BBD please note).

    However, what is interesting is what he has not mentioned. He has not mentioned that GISS-ER-R ties for the lowest ECS among all models evaluated, and that GISS-ER-H is clearly the third lowest, or that the mean ECS for the models is 3.2 C. Nor, having brought the GISS models into the discussion, does he mention that GISS-ER-H has a TCR of 1.7 C, while GISS-ER-R has a TCR of 1.5, with a multi model mean of 1.8.

    His evidence, therefore, only supports his argument by means of very selective citation. He cites just one model, at the extreme lower end of ECS to prove that an ECS of 2 C, lower than any model is not a “low ball figure”, and neglects to mention the TCR of the model he cites equals the value he claims to be a “high-ball estimate”, even though it is lower than the multi-model mean.

    For completeness, the AR4 assesses the ECS using all evidence as likely (17-83% confidence) being 1.5 to 4.5 C, and the TCR as likely being 1-2.5 C. That suggests fitzgerald’s selectivity has not been limited to computer models. Indeed, examining the relevant section of AR5 chapter 10 shows empirical assessments to support the overall conclusion, and that assuming a low climate sensitivity depends on only accepting a limited range of papers.

    So, my question is, why is the discussion still focused on fitzgerald’s artificially narrow range of evidence? Why do those who want to pretend ECS is low get to artificially exclude 80% of empirical studies, and a greater percentage of models from consideration?

  334. RB says:

    ATTP,
    that’s correct – if aerosol indirect forcing is higher, ECS is higher, as I calculated based on Carslaw somewhere above (actually, I think using forcing of 3.7 W/m^2 for CO2, it becomes close to 3C). As it stands, it is no secret that models are diverging from observations, as documented on an on-going basis by Ed Hawkins. The answer could lie either in aerosol underestimation or in some modeling deficiency – I have an open mind towards reading about future progress on either scenario. Also, the expectation is that aerosols are likely to drop in this century leading to the scenario you describe.
    .

  335. RB,

    I have to head off somewhere, so a quick response. I’m not sure why the model divergence is such a big issue. It could simply be a internal variability issue not being captured properly the models (could be something else of course). Either way, we have paleo and empirical TCR and ECS estimates that still suggest eventual warming of 2 – 3 degrees per doubling (for the ECS at least). Globally, surely, the models aren’t all that relevant. They’re, I would have thought, more relevant for trying to understand likely regional climate variations (I’m not trying to suggest they have no global relevance, just that it’s only one strand).

  336. RB says:

    Reference for above comment

  337. BBD says:

    @ Dumb Scientist

    Great link – had seen Richard Millar’s basic RCP visualisation tool, but not the gussied-up version. Makes the ECS/TCR point – and a number of others – very strongly.

  338. RB says:

    ATTP,
    The multi-model mean trend diverges from observations’ trend (improved with Cowtan/Way and GISTEMP SST-adjusted), and the 5-95 range barely contains HADCRUT4 as seen on Ed Hawkins’ climate lab book site. It could be internal variability but Nielsen-Gammon showed for one particular model that emulates internal variability that there may be more than just internal variability going on. Last figure here

  339. RB says:

    I appreciate the prompt response from Gavin Schmidt (there, Gavin, now please don’t expose my anonymity if you read this) providing me with the following information:

    6. Climate sensitivity

    The climate sensitivity [Charney, 1979] for each model configuration is calculated using
    the q-flux model (with a maximum mixed layer depth of 65m to reduce computation time)
    to estimate the climate response to 2×CO2. The NINT, TCAD and TCADI ModelE2
    versions have sensitivities of 2.7ºC, 2.7ºC, and 2.9ºC respectively. Coincidentally, the
    ModelE sensitivity in the same configuration was also 2.7ºC. Estimates of the coupled-
    ocean model sensitivity (which additionally allows for impacts of changes in ocean and sea
    ice dynamics) can be estimated from the transient behaviour of the 4×CO2 instant forcing
    simulations [Gregory et al., 2004]. Offline calculations using the pre-industrial control cli-
    mate give that the radiative forcing after stratospheric adjustment for 2×CO2 and 4×CO2
    (i.e. Fa [Hansen et al., 2005]) are 4.1 and 7.9 W/m2, respectively. Scaling the long-term
    response to 4×CO2 to the 2×CO2 forcing, the estimated sensitivities are 2.3ºC, 2.3ºC, and
    2.4ºC and 2.5ºC, 2.4ºC, and 2.5ºC respectively for the three physics-versions and the two
    ocean models (R and H). There is a consistently slightly higher sensitivity for the TCADI
    runs (attributable to an increase in cloud feedbacks with changes in aerosols), and an
    increase in sensitivity when using the HYCOM ocean model, related either to the slightly
    different base climate or a different pattern of SST change, though the overall differences
    are small. All calculations include a sensitivity in the stomatal conductance to CO2 level
    which causes reduces latent heat fluxes over land and relatively higher land/ocean contrast
    in surface temperature response, though the global mean impact is small (<0.1ºC).
    The TCAD/TCADI simulations for the future include a feedback in CH4 (via wetlands)
    that would be an additional feedback to those considered in the q-flux models mentioned
    above. Given the sensitivity in the RCP scenarios of about 130 ppb CH4/ºC of warming
    (Nazarenko et al., “Future climate change under RCP simulations with GISS ModelE2”,
    submitted), that translates to an additional radiative effect of 0.05 W/m2/ºC and so an
    additional warming effect of about 0.1ºC. Thus including this additional CH4 as a feedback
    would lead to a q-flux sensitivity of 2.8ºC and 3.0ºC respectively.

    Using the methodology of Andrews et al. [2012] (who use a linear fit to the first 150
    years of the instantaneous 4×CO2 results), the 4×CO2 forcings are diagnosed as 7.5, 7.0,
    and 7.2 W/m2 (E2-R) and 7.7, 7.5, 7.4 W/m2 (E2-H) – all significantly less than the
    actual adjusted radiative forcing. The implied effective sensitivities are 2.1, 2.2, and 2.4ºC and
    2.3, 2.3, and 2.5ºC respectively- up to 0.6ºC lower than the actual long-term sensitivity.
    The reason for these offsets are that the relationship between radiative imbalance and
    temperature is not perfectly linear in these models (it is slightly convex), and thus a linear
    fit underestimates the intercepts on both axes. This is related to a time-dependence in
    effective sensitivity [e.g. Williams et al., 2008; Armour et al., 2013].

    Source

  340. BBD says:

    Since you are still talking, RB, then you should consider what Tom said above and what I said earlier. Both are remarkably similar in essence.

    It is possible to be both partial in what one says and narrowly correct at the same time.

  341. Barry should beware his wishes, as I have a policy to answer people who ask for candid answers. I certainly can substantiate my claim that Barry’s peddling tricks have evolved during the thread.

    ***

    Meanwhile, let it be noted that CS can refer to a median or a mean. Some may be lukewarm to switch between the two as if they designated the same thing.

    Does the end justify the median?

  342. Barry Woods says:

    How about cities

    How much energy per second in City equivalents. How much electricity a city consumes in a day, week, month or year.

    And something the public can relate to?

    We all walk, work, live or visit a city and can grasp how msny people, how much power, that it keeps to keep a city functioning.

    Could be used country specific.
    How many Tokyo’s, London’s, New York’s etc

    Thoughts?

  343. Barry Woods says:

    Willard if you can substantiate what I’m thinking.. you should patent it and make a fortune.

    I will respond every time anyone publically accuses me of not paricipating in good faith, but I’m equally sure moderstors could do without these back and forths.

    Elsewhere, and here (as an example) I publiically state that I’m sure all those involved in Skeptical science are sincere and have the best intentions, something I also consider of absolutely the majority that blog on all sides of the issues

  344. > I will respond every time anyone publically accuses me of not paricipating in good faith, [...]

    I have no reason to doubt Barry’s faith in the cause he serves by expressing his concerns, to which I am truly thankful, if only because it makes him peddles tricks that deserve, in my humble opinion, due diligence. Paying due diligence to peddling tricks has nothing to do with questioning motives. Barry presumes such an independence when he publicly states that the targets of his concerns have the best intentions.

    That Barry refuses me in one sentence something he allows himself in the next is just another peddling trick. He used that trick in an earlier thread. Joshua made the same remark as I did.

    Recycling peddling tricks is the most suboptimal trick of all.

  345. Barry,

    I believe that the world energy consumption is around 1020J per year. So the current energy imbalance means that we are accruing the annual energy consumption of the world every 3.6525 days

  346. Steve Bloom says:

    Re Scotty, Anders, the thing about paranoid world views is that they’re self-reinforcing.

  347. Barry Woods says:

    [Rachel: I've removed a previous comment which Barry references here, so for consistency, have removed this bit]

    Back on topic, or has it run its course. I wonder what lasting effect any comparison has on the general public at large. Be it, hiroshimas, kittens or cities

  348. Barry,

    I’m not sure that that is a question we can actually answer. I’m still quite keen to know if you think the comparison that Jo Nova made between the energy imbalance and the total energy we receive from the Sun is the correct way to put the energy imbalance into context.

  349. I’m still quite keen to know how Jo Nova’s comparison is any different than a plumber confusing a pool’s circulation pump with a hose filling up the pool.

  350. Steve Bloom says:

    Ooh, censored so fast I didn’t even get a chance to see Barry struggle. (And really, Rachel, what I wrote was just a two-word summation of Willard’s comment, no more harsh in tone IMO. But if you or Anders were to take it as a hint that the string of threads that have been hijacked in this manner has become tedious, that would be good.)

    But tussling with Barry is boring. Time for a new post. How about a related one on the subject of Oreskes’ AGU talk on the need for scientists to appear more alarmed? Are there specific things to be done to encourage them in that direction? Add to that the new report pointing out that the real problem isn’t overt deniers but rather the mass of the disengaged and “stealth deniers” (who note are unlikely to ever read a climate blog of any inclination). I have thought both of these things for several years now and would be very interested to participate in an integrated discussion of them.

  351. Steve, thread hijacking does become tedious. Difficult to control and it is always a bit of a balancing act. One, thanks to Rachel, that I’m having to worry about a little less :-)

    Anyway, a new post is up. My Friday evenings are full of fun. The tenor of that post may have been infuenced by the couple of glasses of wine I had prior to writing it :-) Not about Oreskes’ AGU talk, though, but maybe I’ll give that a little thought.

  352. Rachel says:

    Thanks, Steve. Hint taken.

    I agree with regards to a post about Oreskes. I would love to see her talk actually. Have you got a link?

    Add to that the new report pointing out that the real problem isn’t overt deniers but rather the mass of the disengaged and “stealth deniers”

    Are you referring to this report? http://www.thersa.org/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/1536844/J1530_RSA_climate_change_report_16.12_V51.pdf

  353. Steve Bloom says:

    That’s the one, Rachel. The Oreskes lecture is here.

  354. Steve Bloom says:

    I should add that the AGU has endeavored to make those videos difficult to access directly. Among other problems, presenter names aren’t searchable within the video page. Instead I had to search the scientific program for Oreskes in order to find the session code (U52A in this case), then use that identifier to search for a listing of the relevant videos. Somewhere there may still be a text listing of all the videos, but I didn’t keep a link to it and now can’t find it.

  355. Barry Woods says:

    Ref. Jo Nova. I thin at least it is an attempt to put things into a context..
    And. I think victor summarised best very early on the communication issues that could arise, ie that a response was inevitable and a simple issue gets conplicated.
    But beyond that?
    I can’t imagine most politicians using it, nor most of the MSM, nor by a number of scientist reactions (albeit mainly UK ones) scientist either.

    Though that wasn’t the target audience for the App, rather than the comparison.

    So the success or not of the App, is probably going to be best measure by how many bloggers and websites make use of it.
    Greg Laden has, has anybody seen it elsewhere? Not just as an article about it, but used as a widget.

  356. Barry,

    I thin at least it is an attempt to put things into a context..

    If you really do think that Jo Nova’s comparison puts it into context then, in my opinion, you should put some effort into going and talking directly to the climate scientists that you seem to know and get them to explain the difference between the significance of the energy imbalance and the TSI.

  357. Joshua says:

    “The tenor of that post may have been infuenced by the couple of glasses of wine I had/…”

    As might your typing.

  358. Joshua, yes, I like to make it seem authentic :-)

  359. Tom Curtis,
    “Why do those who want to pretend ECS is low get to artificially exclude 80% of empirical studies, and a greater percentage of models from consideration?”

    Ummm… maybe because the projections of warming based on models is a bit higher than observed reality? Those studies and models which suggest higher sensitivity are pretty much excluding themselves, there is no help needed from anyone. I suspect Gavin knows this, and he is clearly no dunce.

    By the way, there is no ‘pretend’ involved in what I write. Do you really think that TroyCA (and me for that matter) says one thing but truly believes another? If so, then how do you know this is the case? An assumption of bad faith and deceit is not a good starting point for a constructive dialog. It seems to me you have a problem accepting the possibility that reasonable people can actually disagree on matters of substance. My experience is that they can… and often do.

  360. stevefitzpatrick,

    maybe because the projections of warming based on models is a bit higher than observed reality?

    but a model estimate of the ECS takes 1000 years (I believe). Why, then, would we reject the model results just because of a ~15 year mismatch with observations? Plus, paleo? Many empirical estimates also above 2oC. ESS? I’m not suggesting that this means the ECS is > 2oC but I would argue that the evidence suggests that this is at least more likely than not.

  361. Joshua says:

    steve –

    “It seems to me you have a problem accepting the possibility that reasonable people can actually disagree on matters of substance. My experience is that they can… and often do.”

    If I recall correctly, I have seen you quite often write comments that suggest that many people – specifically climate scientists – who disagree with you on matters of substance related to climate change are not engaging the debate in good faith.

    Assuming my memory is correct, as a scientist, by what validated evidence do you distinguish those engaging in good faith from those who aren’t?

  362. andthentheresphysics,
    “I really didn’t name call. Pointing out that you seemed to use a standard contrarian tactic of suggesting that everything’s uncertain isn’t the same as name calling.”
    Then if I were to suggest that you use ‘standard alamists’ tactics of exaggerating risk and certainty, that would be OK? I suspect not.

    “I don’t understand your response. I would agree that the future cost is uncertain. What is reasonably certain is that – if we do nothing – we will continue to warm, potentially by 3 degrees or more (relative to pre-industrial times) by 2100.”

    And it could be a lot less than 3C by 2100. The consequences of future warming are even more uncertain. The real issue is how to rationally respond to uncertainty. How do we rationally (and morally) balance present needs and present costs against uncertain future costs? It is a difficult question with no certain answers, and one about which people can in good faith disagree.

    “The experts appear to think that the IPCC has likely underestimated the sea level rise.”
    So you are saying that the IPCC sea level experts were poorly selected, and other experts would have been more appropriate? Somewhere in the range of ~50 cm rise by 2100 seems about right to me, though maybe 10-20% higher than I would myself estimate.

    “Extreme weather is difficult to predict but it seems very unlikely that if we continue to add energy to the climate system that some events won’t get more energetic.”
    There is very scant evidence of extreme weather events increasing, and the IPCC AR5 (correctly, I think) acknowledges this. So you disagree with the IPCC AR5 on this subject as well?

    ” trying to diminish the strength of the scientific evidence while making your policy argument”

    Why does everyone here seem to imagine that they can read minds? The evidence is the evidence. I think different people can look at the same evidence and come to different conclusions. Happens all the time in jury trials.

  363. Joshua says:

    Steve Fitz:

    “There is very scant evidence of extreme weather events increasing, and the IPCC AR5 (correctly, I think) acknowledges this.”

    This seems to me to be a bit grammatically ambiguous. Do you mean:

    There is very scant evidence of extreme weather events increasing [thus far], and the IPCC AR5 (correctly, I think) acknowledges this.

    Or do you mean:
    There is very scant evidence of [a likelihood of] extreme weather events increasing [going forward], and the IPCC AR5 (correctly, I think) acknowledges this.

    As I understand the IPCC report, it would be consistent with the first statement, and not the second: In other words, it seems to me they think there is a reasonable likelihood of increases in at least some kinds of extreme weather going forward. Am I wrong about that?

  364. Joshua says:

    Steve –

    One more:

    “Why does everyone here seem to imagine that they can read minds? “

    Do you think that is: (1) consistent with engaging in good faith and/or, (2) an indication that you think that you can read minds and/or (3), consistent with the evidence (i.e., not an over-generalization)?

  365. andthentheresphysics,

    “but a model estimate of the ECS takes 1000 years (I believe). Why, then, would we reject the model results just because of a ~15 year mismatch with observations?”

    Because the run-to-run model variability makes it very unlikely that the real trend falls within the the model’s plausible range. Lucia (rankexploits.com) has done a lot of work on this subject, as have many others. Most individual models are clearly inconsistent with what has been observed (>95% confidence), while a minority of individual models remain statistically consistent with measured trends, but on average well above the measured trend. The pooled models are very near the 95% bound (they bounce back and forth between rejection/acceptance at 95% confidence).

    ” I’m not suggesting that this means the ECS is > 2oC but I would argue that the evidence suggests that this is at least more likely than not.”
    And I am not suggesting that ECS is definitely <2C, but I would argue that the evidence suggests it is in the range of 2C… or, IMO, a bit lower.

  366. stevefitzpatrick,

    Then if I were to suggest that you use ‘standard alamists’ tactics of exaggerating risk and certainty, that would be OK? I suspect not.

    If someone were to point this out and if they were justified in doing so, I would acknowledge it. Feel free to point out where I have and I will happily acknowledge that I’ve done so if your criticism is indeed warranted.

  367. stevefitzpatrick

    Most individual models are clearly inconsistent with what has been observed (>95% confidence), while a minority of individual models remain statistically consistent with measured trends, but on average well above the measured trend.

    Again, for the last 15 years. Right?

    And I am not suggesting that ECS is definitely <2C, but I would argue that the evidence suggests it is in the range of 2C… or, IMO, a bit lower.

    Seriously, why? The majority of evidence (whether you agree with it or not) suggest and ECS > 2oC. Why would you argue that evidence suggests it is in the range of 2C or, IMO, lower? That would appear to be a reasonable assertion only if you choose to ignore some of the evidence. Why is that a reasonable thing to do?

  368. Joshua says:

    OK, I lied. (Two more):

    “And I am not suggesting that ECS is definitely <2C, but I would argue that the evidence suggests it is in the range of 2C… or, IMO, a bit lower. "

    Let’s say that the reduced trend in land surface air temperatures continues for another two years – presumably putting the trend outside the 95% CI. On that basis, would you be highly confident that in 50 or 100 or 200 years, the current model projections will be significantly in error? Somewhat confident?

  369. andthentheresphysics,
    “That would appear to be a reasonable assertion only if you choose to ignore some of the evidence. Why is that a reasonable thing to do?”

    I evaluate the relative quality of different estimates and conclude that some are more credible than others. That seems perfectly reasonable to me. I imagine you do the same, but tell me if I am mistaken about that.

  370. Tom Curtis says:

    “fitzgerald?” Sorry, I wrote that post at 4 AM local time, and was only writing at all due to insomnia. Clearly not all brain cells were functioning.

    “Tom Curtis,

    “Why do those who want to pretend ECS is low get to artificially exclude 80% of empirical studies, and a greater percentage of models from consideration?”

    Ummm… maybe because the projections of warming based on models is a bit higher than observed reality? Those studies and models which suggest higher sensitivity are pretty much excluding themselves, there is no help needed from anyone. I suspect Gavin knows this, and he is clearly no dunce.”

    You object to my very generalized use of the word “pretend” later, but here you ignore the fact that I explicitly query your rejection of 80% of empirical estimates of ECS because “the projections of warming based on models is a bit higher than observed reality”. That is a non-sequitur. Straightforwardly so. The issue of model accuracy has no bearing on the results of empirical studies. You can prattle on all you like about good faith, but when you indulge in blatant cherry picking, and respond to criticisms by changing the subject, I cannot pretend you are actually looking at the evidence with an open mind, nor that the evidence you present will be a fair sample of the evidence you have come across.

    Later you claim:

    ” Lucia (rankexploits.com) has done a lot of work on this subject, as have many others. Most individual models are clearly inconsistent with what has been observed (>95% confidence), while a minority of individual models remain statistically consistent with measured trends, but on average well above the measured trend. The pooled models are very near the 95% bound (they bounce back and forth between rejection/acceptance at 95% confidence).”

    Yes, I have seen some of Lucia’s efforts. I enjoy the fact that she ignores the expectation that models will lie outside of the 95% confidence interval 95% of the time. I further enjoy the fact that she ignores the autocorrelation of global temperatures which means the times that temperatures lie outside of the confidence interval will cluster together. Mostly I enjoy how she ignores the impact of ENSO fluctuations on short term trends, an impact not accounted for in the multi-model mean. ENSO states, as indicated by the SOI have shown a persistent cooling trend since 1993, something Lucia simply ignores.

  371. lie outside of the 95% confidence interval 5% of the time

  372. Tom Curtis,

    “Yes, I have seen some of Lucia’s efforts. I enjoy the fact that she ignores the expectation that models will lie outside of the 95% confidence interval 95% of the time. I further enjoy the fact that she ignores the autocorrelation of global temperatures which means the times that temperatures lie outside of the confidence interval will cluster together. Mostly I enjoy how she ignores the impact of ENSO fluctuations on short term trends, an impact not accounted for in the multi-model mean. ENSO states, as indicated by the SOI have shown a persistent cooling trend since 1993, something Lucia simply ignores.”

    So many things wrong there that it is a bit hard to begin. But OK..

    “she ignores the expectation that models will lie outside of the 95% confidence interval 95% of the time” What? The expectation is that reality ought to lie within the 95% confidence range of the models… all except 5% of the time. Reality is in fact inconsistent with the expected range of warming based on multiple runs of most models. I am honestly puzzled that this is not obvious to you.

    “she ignores the autocorrelation of global temperatures which means the times that temperatures lie outside of the confidence interval will cluster together.”
    Lucia has considered the influence of autocorrelation, using a couple of different well known corrections for autocorrelation, and usually shows what the influence of those corrections is compared to the same data without the correction.

    “she ignores the impact of ENSO fluctuations on short term trends, an impact not accounted for in the multi-model mean. ENSO states, as indicated by the SOI have shown a persistent cooling trend since 1993, something Lucia simply ignores.”
    Nonsense. If models do not generate realistic ‘natural variability’ at multiple time scales as an emergent property (including ENSO), then that just means the models do not correctly describe reality. Why they diverge from reality is a different, and perhaps informative question, but most do clearly diverge from reality. Lucia doesn’t appear to me to ignore very much.

  373. Tom Curtis,
    “You can prattle on all you like about good faith, but when you indulge in blatant cherry picking, and respond to criticisms by changing the subject, I cannot pretend you are actually looking at the evidence with an open mind, nor that the evidence you present will be a fair sample of the evidence you have come across.”

    Nice. You can prattle on all you like about bad faith, and I will, in kind, conclude that you are always acting bad faith. I suggest you try to get past this whole ‘assumed bad faith’ thing. It would add a lot to your credibility. On the other hand, there is no evidence I can see that this matters to you at all.

  374. This is why we can’t have nice things.

  375. Joshua says:

    I notice that you’re ignoring my questions, steve. I wonder if it is similar to Barry ignoring my questions, also (when he isn’t given an answer that ducks the question).

    It could be that you consider the questions beneath you. What other reason might there be?

  376. Tom Curtis says:

    stevefitzpatrick, I notice how quickly you pick up on an obvious typo as a supposed debate point. That reveals that you are here for point scoring rather than for real debate – but we knew that from your blatant cherry picking and non-sequitor responses already.

    If she persistently finds the AR4 models outside the 95% confidence intervals, she has persistently not accounted for auto-correlation within those confidence intervals. If you do account for auto-correlation in your confidence intervals, even the 1998-2008 HadCRUT4 trend does not exclude the multi-model mean trend. Indeed, with an upper confidence bound of 0.385 C per decade, it does not exclude any model.

    With regard to ENSO, again you reply with a non-sequitur. I was talking about trends, and you switch to range of variability. They are not the same. However, as you should know, some of the AR4 models do include ENSO like fluctuations – and some do not. Even for those that do not, however, no inference follows on their ability to accurately predict long term trends. For such an inference to follow, we would have to take as an axiom the principle that “Any disagreement between model and reality falsifies all aspects of the model” from which we must necessarily conclude that all models are falsified. As there is no principled distinction between a model and a theory, we can conveniently conclude that all scientific theories are false and go back to superstition and the dark ages.

    More sensibly we can realize that “all models are wrong, but some are useful”. That a model does not perform well with regard to ENSO does not mean it does not perform better than all others in other regards, including the prediction of long term trends.

    Finally, HadCRUT4 never falls outside of model range when properly base lined. An while it has fallen below the 2.5%ile of the model range, it has not done so since 1985. Yeah, I know that if you select just the right single year baseline, or choose a short enough trend that the ENSO trend becomes significant, or make sure you compare the global model estimates with the less than global HadCRUT4 observations, and you can make it look like the the models have been falsified. But that is an appearance from carefully misapplying statistics and graphing techniques – nothing more.

  377. Joshua says:

    I wonder if this is what steve considers to be engaging in good faith:

    stevefitzpatrick | December 18, 2013 at 3:35 pm |

    Willard,

    I wonder if you can understand how obscure, apparently irrelevant, and utterly impossible to understand that comment is; I suspect you can’t, or you would not have written it….. it seems to fail the Turing test.

    Lucia was right. A deus.

  378. Joshua says:

    Perhaps more of steve’s concept of good faith exchange?:

    Steve Fitzpatrick | September 14, 2013 at 10:31 am | Reply

    Nick,

    The Met office report is a political document. Your arguments, while technically relevant and clear, seem to me orthogonal to the issues the Met document is trying to address; to wit, lower empirical estimates show that the CMIP ensemble, and the Met GCM in particular, are essentially without value for projecting future warming. This is a political problem for the Met (and the UK government), because they are absolutely committed to mandated draconian reductions in fossil fuel use in the UK, justified by projections of extreme future warming. Any reduction in the consensus best estimates of transient and equilibrium responses could undermine political support for those reductions in fossil fuels, and add to political support for extensive use of fracking technology to recover large reserves of natural gas in the UK.

    The goal of the report seems to me only to cloud the water with very questionable claims which will delay public perception of a new scientific consensus on lower sensitivity; they simply want to delay changes in public opinion for as long as possible. While I think this sort of thing being done by scientists is reprehensible, it is certainly not unexpected for scientists with one foot in science and the other in political advocacy. I think you can count on several other climate science/political advocacy organizations doing much the same as the Met.

  379. Joshua says:

    So let’s compare and contrast. On the one hand, we have this:

    Why does everyone here seem to imagine that they can read minds? The evidence is the evidence. I think different people can look at the same evidence and come to different conclusions.

    And on the other hand, we have this:

    The goal of the report seems to me only to cloud the water with very questionable claims which will delay public perception of a new scientific consensus on lower sensitivity; they simply want to delay changes in public opinion for as long as possible.

  380. Tom Curtis says:

    “Nice. You can prattle on all you like about bad faith, and I will, in kind, conclude that you are always acting bad faith. I suggest you try to get past this whole ‘assumed bad faith’ thing. It would add a lot to your credibility. On the other hand, there is no evidence I can see that this matters to you at all.”

    Absent an apology for the cherry picked data you presented, as clearly shown by me above, the presumption has to be that it was deliberate. If it was accidental, based on superficial examination of the data, or use of biased sources – say so. If you are not willing to say so, you wear the responsibility yourself, and therefore are shown to have cited a model to show a value was not a low estimate when you knew the model you cited had the second lowest estimates of ECS among the models; and when the same model refuted your claims about TCR.

    Further, once admitted that your review of the data was superficial, or from biased sources, you need to revise your opinion.

    Taking responsibility for the data you present, and basing your opinions on all the data available to you are the definition of good faith in scientific discussion. You clearly have not done either.

  381. Joshua says:

    Looks like steve has a selective approach to mind-reading abilities.

  382. I shared open source R code for calculating trends and uncertainties in the presence of auto-correlated noise. It’s a few dozen lines, and a lot of that is just formatting.

    Confusion regarding baselines makes me think that plotting the trends and error bars is better than plotting the timeseries with an “ideal” baseline. Since the trend is the time derivative of the original timeseries, the constant baseline is irrelevant. That removes at least one degree of freedom from (presumably) unintentional cherry pickers.

    It seems much safer to plot the trends and uncertainties like Tamino does in that baseline link in his article’s last plot. It’s called “Since 1990″ and may help a real skeptic see that modeled and observed surface trends are indistinguishable within uncertainties that account for auto-correlated noise.

  383. Tom Curtis says:

    Dumb Scientist, I agree that plotting trends is a better approach, but only if you limit yourself to long term trends (at least greater than 22 years). Otherwise choice of start year can significantly effect the trend. My preference is in fact to use a proper baseline, and show both trends and range, as in this graph:

  384. Yes, there are many remaining degrees of freedom that unintentional cherry pickers can pick from. I like your plot because it uses a 30 year average baseline, which as you say is long enough to define the climate.

    I’m just tired of explaining why plots that look like yours but with single years (like 1998) as baselines are misleading. Based on the number of “escalator” arguments I still see, I don’t think the public really understands which choice of baseline is better. So I prefer communication tools that make baseline irrelevant.

  385. Rachel says:

    The Oreskes lecture is here.

    Thanks, I really enjoyed that and I completely agree with her. You can be rational and emotional at the same time and I think it is desirable to be so. The idea that scientists must remain dispassionate if they are to be rational sounds very 19th century to me. I think she’s right when she says there’s a credibility gap when what you are saying does not match your tone of voice. Tone of voice is important in understanding what is being said.

    This reminds me of something I heard in an interview recently with geologist, Chris Goldfinger on the topic of super earthquakes. He recalled being at a meeting in 2005 where a Japanese geologist concluded his talk by saying we should expect a magnitude 9 earthquake in North-East Japan sometime soon. It was met with brief silence then polite applause. Then the next speaker came along and no one thought anymore about it. Why not? I can only speculate as to how his message was communicated but it’s my assumption that it was presented without emotion or passion yet it’s the sort of message that requires both. Communicating climate change requires both as well.

  386. Barry Woods says:

    TP I said:
    “Ref. Jo Nova. I thin at least it is an ATTEMPT to put things into a context..

    Ie I did not say it was brilliant!!, merely better than SkS which makes no attempt, and went on to say that Victor summarised things best for the ‘problems for communications..

    extract:

    http://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2013/12/18/putting-the-atomic-bombs-into-perspective/#comment-10010

    :”This nicely illustrates the problem with with atom bomb analogy. You act as if the number is huge and then you get such pie charts that show that it is just a small percentage. And then you have to admit that indeed the number is relatively small and you have to explain that this does not mean that it is not significant, and so on. This could have been avoided by stating in the first place that while the energy imbalance is small, the consequences are not. ” – VV

    As I haven’t seen the widget on many blogs (yet) I think it likely that it (the App) may fade away. But it is also holiday time, and people have better things to do. so maybe we will see more of it next year.. but Iwill suggest< i don't think it will get much traction in the wider media, or amongst NGO's or politicians, because of the 'problems'

    We will see

    There are three recent Met Office reports which are good summary of where we are (ref Ocean Heat content, 'pause', etc, etc)

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/news/recent-pause-in-warming

    which I refer to.

  387. Barry,

    Ref. Jo Nova. I thin at least it is an ATTEMPT to put things into a context..

    Ie I did not say it was brilliant!!, merely better than SkS which makes no attempt, and went on to say that Victor summarised things best for the ‘problems for communications..

    Okay, Jo Nova makes a comparison between the energy imbalance and the total incoming flux. SkS makes a comparison between the energy imbalance and atomic bombs. I would suggest that “no attempt” by SkS is not strictly true.

    My question, though, was related more to whether or not you thought Jo Nova’s comparison puts it into an appropriate context, not whether or not it is an attempt. As you are someone who is vocal in the UK in the climate change/global warming debate, this would appear to be an opinion you should be willing to express.

  388. Barry Woods says:

    I think that the SkS is ‘Hiroshima’s is not very appropriate, so any response putting into context (using the same framing they use, to explain it) will itself be not very appropriate. SkS created the framing, not Jo who is merely responding.

    SkS make a comparision between energy balance and atomic bombs. Jo explains how the energy ‘imbalance’ fits with respect to the total system. I thus, I disagree that SkS put it into the total context. (which is the criticism)

    I have expressed my opinion, you seem to be saying I ‘m unwilling to express my opinion? !

    Jo’s response would NOT exist but for SkS’ flawed ‘Hiroshima’s app’ . It is what it is. If the figures are right (which I think they are) what issues do you have with it.
    I don’t think either will go far beyond the blogs, so the argument is pretty moot now.

    But I could be completely misreading you and talking cross-purposes. If your question is:
    Has Jo come up with a better way of doing this? Probably not… but I don’t think she was trying to!, she was just trying to put SkS into context,

    Lots have people have tried already, Warren’s bathtubs, big macs, childs night lights, etc.
    A tricky piece of science communication?

    Anyway, as a ‘sceptic’ (lukewarmer really) I ‘ve tried to put forward a ‘better’ idea’ I think, that people can relate to.. How about ‘Cities’?

  389. Barry,

    SkS make a comparision between energy balance and atomic bombs. Jo explains how the energy ‘imbalance’ fits with respect to the total system. I thus, I disagree that SkS put it into the total context. (which is the criticism)

    I didn’t say that SkS did put it into the total context. However, it’s my view, that Jo Nova’s comparison is at best simplistic and at worst misleading (maybe not intentionally though).

    Rather than asking you the question again, I’ll explain why I think Jo Nova’s comparison is not putting it into the right context at all. The TSI is the rate at which we’re receiving energy from the Sun. Typically, however, we radiates as much energy back into space as we receive. This determines the equilibrium surface temperature. The energy imbalance is essentially what determines the rate at which we’re warming (gaining energy). The energy imbalance is always much much smaller than the TSI. The system is likely, however, never in true energy balance. We have, in the past, gone through periods of global warming and global cooling (Milankovitch cycles, for example). However, in all of human history the rate of warming has almost always been significantly slower than the rate today. We are likely accruing energy at a rate 10 times faster than at any time in human history.

    How does Jo Nova’s comparison illustrate this in any way? If anything, it makes the energy imbalance seem insignificant when (I hope you would agree) it is anything but insignificant (wrt to our past climate history at least). You could argue that the SkS comparison doesn’t put it into the right context either. However, the evidence suggests that our current warming is unprecedented. At least SkS are trying to get that message across, rather than appearing to show that it is nothing to worry about.

  390. Barry Woods says:

    I don’t think Jo was trying to do a better one, just simply show how much the sun does.
    ie a simplistic response to a simplistic App.

    Maybe we should just ask the Met Office to come up with something?

    but that will have to wait to after Christmas, as I’m getting evil looks from my wife, lots of lots to do (ie 90% of Christmas shopping to do, and everything else.).

    Happy Christmas

  391. BBD says:

    An assumption of bad faith and deceit is not a good starting point for a constructive dialog.

    This, from a regular at Climate Audit.

    New irony meters will be available from the following URL at no charge to regular visitors to this blog:

    http://www.noselfawarenessatall.com/newironymeter

  392. Barry,

    Maybe we should just ask the Met Office to come up with something?

    Happy Christmas

    Maybe so, but I imagine some would still find some reason to criticise.

    Happy Christmas to you too.

  393. Tom Curtis ,

    “Absent an apology for the cherry picked data you presented, as clearly shown by me above, the presumption has to be that it was deliberate. If it was accidental, based on superficial examination of the data, or use of biased sources – say so. If you are not willing to say so, you wear the responsibility yourself, and therefore are shown to have cited a model to show a value was not a low estimate when you knew the model you cited had the second lowest estimates of ECS among the models; and when the same model refuted your claims about TCR.”

    I did not cherry pick anything, I gave an example of a model which has undergone an apparent revision (downward) in its diagnosed ECS value, and I noted in passing that Gavin is no dunce. The issue is pretty simple: the real world trend is running well below the projected trends for most of the models. The divergences appear significant at >95% based on the emergent variability of those same models. Some models, like GISS E-R and E-H make projections which remain consistent with reality, while the majority do not. Those that remain consistent with reality (like GISS E-R and E-H) do appear to diagnose somewhat lower values of ECS, values which are more consistent with lower ECS values from recent empirical studies like Otto et al and others. Those are not cherry picks, just observations. Seems to me comparing model temperature projections to measured temperature trends is a perfectly valid way to discriminate between the credibility of individual models and to evaluate the credibility of the models’ pooled mean projected trend.

    I don’t think you can stop accusing people who disagree with you of bad faith, hypocrisy, etc. Nor does it appear you have any desire to. This is your problem, not mine. So, as my Brazilian friends would say, ‘A deus’.

    My participation on this thread has been at least educational, in that I see civil discussion is very much less likely than I thought.

  394. Tom Curtis says:

    I note that what fitzpatrick now claims his argument to have been bears little resemblance to what it was. Perhaps he merely misspoke in a way that seemed relevant to the discussion he was having, and seemed to massively cherry pick the evidence, and managed to turn the 20% of empirical estimates below 2.5 C into the only empirical estimates worth mentioning (with out mentioning that fact).

  395. Tom Curtis says:

    I note, in passing, that fitzpatrick did not mention Gavin at all in his original cherry picking expedition. Rather, he mentioned him much later when I called him on the cherry picking, saying:

    “Those studies and models which suggest higher sensitivity are pretty much excluding themselves, there is no help needed from anyone. I suspect Gavin knows this, and he is clearly no dunce.”

    So Gavin was made an authority for something he does not agree with, but conveniently supports fitzpatrick’s point of view; and the fact that Gavin is certainly no dunce suddenly gives his authority to fitzpatrick’s view even though fitzpatrick cannot find Gavin saying anything in support of that view.

    It must be convenient to be able to simply wish away 80% of the evidence, and wish into existence authoritative support for your opinions without actually troubling yourself with the authorities opinion.

  396. > The issue is pretty simple: the real world trend is running well below the projected trends for most of the models.

    We should not conflate observational data with the real world, more so when choosing different time spans for these trends can lead to contradictory conclusions.

    We should also bear in mind that pussyfooting on single values like ECS carries little information. Such pussyfooting can be seen in many political documents, among them blog audits and parliamentary submissions. That we don’t even distinguish medians and means just show how silly all these so-called “technical debates” are.

    Issues are seldom so simple as to be prefaced with “the issue is simple”.

  397. Joshua says:

    “Perhaps he merely misspoke…and managed to turn the 20% of empirical estimates below 2.5 C into the only empirical estimates worth mentioning (with out mentioning that fact).”

    Nothing inadvertent about it. Obviously, steve thinks that models that have higher projections than Nic’s assessment “are essentially without value for projecting future warming.”

  398. BBD says:

    The issue is pretty simple: the real world trend is running well below the projected trends for most of the models.

    AKA the “short timescale fallacy”. You ain’t cutting it, steven. Bye.

  399. BBD says:

    And, what Willard said (twice, now).

  400. Joshua says:

    I have to admit:

    “I don’t think you can stop accusing people who disagree with you of bad faith, hypocrisy, etc.

    That is a work of art and a thing of beauty:

  401. BBD says:

    I presume we’ve all see the RealClimate debunk of this neverending misdirection, but for completeness’ sake…

  402. Tom Curtis says:

    Joshua, from the IPCC, 80% of empirical determinations of ECS, and more than half of empirical determinations based on 20th century temperatures yield an ECS of 2.5 or greater. fitzpatrick only mentioned those with a lower determination, and when challenged on it responded that he didn’t mention those other empirical determinations because “… the projections of warming based on models is a bit higher than observed reality?” So if anything is obvious, it is that fitzpatrick rejects any determination, empirical or model based, that gives him a result higher than he desires.

  403. Joshua says:

    “So if anything is obvious, it is that fitzpatrick rejects any determination, empirical or model based, that gives him a result higher than he desires.”

    Indeed. So it seems. So then I wonder whether his “goal… [is] only to cloud the water with very questionable claims which will delay public perception [because he] simply want[s] to delay changes in public opinion for as long as possible. ” It seems that he thinks that he can mind-read to interpret such a goal in others. I wonder whether his logic of cause-and-effect only applies to others.

    This has been an interesting discussion to observe, as despite steve’s bad faith [generally] in climate scientists who disagree with him, I have found him to be willing to exchange in good faith sometimes in the past.

  404. stevefitzpatrick,

    My participation on this thread has been at least educational, in that I see civil discussion is very much less likely than I thought.

    My tagline is only trying to keep the discussion civil. I don’t make any claims as to whether or not I’ll achieve that. Also, pointing out that you appear to have cherry picked your data and chosen – without much justification – to ignore a significant fraction of the evidence, isn’t particularly uncivil, given the normal tenor of the debate. I would say more, but I think others have pretty much covered this point.

  405. Chris Cooper says:

    [Belatedly]

    @ Rachel:

    > As this is your first comment, I’ve let it through. But take note that any future accusation made about “propagandists” will be deleted.
    …..
    >It’s possible I am getting carried away. For me, propaganda is more than just the dissemination of information. It is the dissemination of a political doctrine, which is why I dislike it as this is not what a website about science does.

    ————————

    I think your first instinct was sound. I’m ready to be held to the high standard of avoiding words like “propagandist”.

    I’ll also try to avoid ” co-conspirators in climate misinformation”, and some other gems that got past your scrutiny.

    I will most certainly not be guilty of anything equivalent to:

    > Is there … a similarity between angry Rob Ford supporters and angry contrarians?

    That remark is offensive without the use of any offensive words. Is it “what a website about science does”?

    Chris

  406. Rachel says:

    Chris,
    Thanks for your comment. I’m the first to acknowledge bias on my part and accept your criticism. I will try to do better in future.

  407. Chris Cooper,

    I think it’s going to be difficult to avoid a bias and this is admitted in the moderation page. One thing we ask is that if people who comment here are serious about have a constructive discussion that they also recognise that we’re really just trying to do our best, but won’t always get it right (me more than Rachel to be honest). As is clear from Rachel’s comment, we’re more than happy to acknowledge ours errors and biases and just ask that others not only recognise that it’s not going to be perfect and also ask that they too acknowledge their errors and biases. Also, we don’t always have to explain the moderation decisions – playing the ref is discouraged :-)

  408. johnrussell40 says:

    I think any suggestion that Jo Nova’s diagram is to put the heat gain into context is disingenuous. It’s rather like fixating on a company’s turnover which, provided it’s stable long-term, has no relevance to what matters: profitability. Financial success—or failure—is based on the difference between incomings and outgoings and whether that margin is increasing or decreasing year on year.

    You’d think that metaphor would be right up, Lawson, Tol and Ridley’s street.

  409. johnrussell40 says:

    Chris Cooper wrote, “I’ll also try to avoid ” co-conspirators in climate misinformation”, and some other gems that got past your scrutiny.”

    So you didn’t watch the videos linked to higher up the thead by AnOilMan (
    December 19, 2013 at 4:56 pm)? If Chris Monckton, Jo Codling and others weren’t recorded engaging in a conspiracy to misinform then please explain what they were doing.

  410. BBD says:

    Oop North, where I come from, they call this “brass neck”. Where I live now, it’s generally “effrontery”.

  411. John,

    You’d think that metaphor would be right up, Lawson, Tol and Ridley’s street.

    I was thinking of precisely the same metaphor and, like you, was surprised that those involved didn’t get this, given their particular expertise :-)

  412. Chris Cooper says:

    @ johnrussell40

    > If Chris Monckton, Jo Codling and others weren’t recorded engaging in a conspiracy to misinform then please explain what they were doing.

    A completely open discussion is not a conspiracy.

  413. Rob Painting says:

    Troy – “This “breakpoint” will show up in most OHC datasets, and I would note that this is because they all use the same XBT data in the early decade. However, this does not change the fact that it shows up the worst in ORAS4, and that only by using the XBT to ARGO 2000s transition data in ORAS4 (that is, none of the other OHC datasets, and not XBT-only ORAS4, and not ARGo-only ORAS4) that one can deem the Otto et al an underestimate of H (which is, after all, how the conversation started).”

    Not sure why you would repeat that when it was pointed out to you on your blog that when Balmaseda (2013) removed the ARGO data entirely the abrupt uptake of heat in the ocean during the early 2000’s remained. This is clearly visible in the upper panel of figure 2 in Balmaseda (2013). So contrary to your claim, the slowdown or breakpoint isn’t just an artefact of the XBT-ARGO transition.

    From the paper:

    The magnitude of the warming trend is consistent with observational estimates, being equivalent to an average 0.47 +/-0.03 W m–2 for the period 1975– 2009. There is large decadal variability in the heat uptake, the latest decade being significantly higher (1.91 +/-0.11 W m–2) than the preceding record. Globally this corresponds to 0.84 W m–2 consistent with earlier estimates [Trenberth et al., 2009]. In an observing system experiment where Argo is withdrawn, the ocean heating for the last decade is reduced (0.82 +/- 0.10W m–2) but is still significantly higher than in previous decades. The estimation shows depths below 700 m becoming much more strongly involved in the heat uptake after 1998 and subsequently accounting for about 30% of the ocean warming.

    Anyway this discussion is all very familiar due to its circular nature, and I’ll leave it at that.

  414. Rob Painting says:

    Typo in the quoted text (not copy/pasting correctly) now fixed:

    “The magnitude of the warming trend is consistent with observational estimates, being equivalent to an average 0.47 +/-0.03 W m–2 for the period 1975– 2009. There is large decadal variability in the heat uptake, the latest decade being significantly higher (1.19 +/-0.11 W m–2) than the preceding record. Globally this corresponds to 0.84 W m–2 consistent with earlier estimates [Trenberth et al., 2009]. In an observing system experiment where Argo is withdrawn, the ocean heating for the last decade is reduced (0.82 +/- 0.10 W m–2) but is still significantly higher than in previous decades. The estimation shows depths below 700 m becoming much more strongly involved in the heat uptake after 1998 and subsequently accounting for about 30% of the ocean warming.”

  415. Chris Cooper,

    As far as I can tell a conspiracy is defined as

    An agreement to perform together an illegal, wrongful, or subversive act.

    Says nothing about whether the meeting to decided whether or not to carry out the act should be open or not.

  416. Rachel says:

    Chris,
    I don’t have a problem with “co-conspirators in climate misinformation” and nor do I think my own comment about angry Rod Ford supporters is particularly offensive. Where I think the criticism is deserved is with regards to your original comment and use of the word “propagandists”. Here, I think, is where I made a mistake and I am sorry for that. You are welcome to disagree with me, but if you want to air any other criticisms about my moderation then I’d prefer you keep if off the blog. You are welcome to email me separately, rachelmmartin@gmail.com, and while I will read your concerns, I may or may not respond.

  417. At Judy’s, stevefitzpatrick asked asked an interesting question:

    > What data would lead you revise your current thinking on the severity/importance of global warming?

    His own answer:

    Based on all the data I have seen, I think the most likely transient climate sensitivity is about 1.3C-1.4C per doubling, and the most likely equilibrium sensitivity is in the range of 1.8C-1.9C per doubling. The transient sensitivity has less uncertainty than the equilibrium value because there is at least some chance that non-linearity in the temperature response at somewhat higher temperatures will increase the equilibrium value (there is very little hard evidence for non-linearity, only the projections of some, not all, climate models).

    http://judithcurry.com/2013/12/21/ringing-out-2013/#comment-427667

  418. Tom Curtis says:

    Willard, I think that is his exposition of his current position that might be changed with contrary evidence. We might consider that a dubious proposition in that he has shown a clear disposition to avoid contrary evidence already. However, his actual answer to the question is:

    What would change my mind on these things? 1) A clear upward trend in surface temperatures at a substantially more rapid rate than today for a decade or so. 2) A clear acceleration (not flat or deceleration) in the rate of sea level rise. 3) Other clear data supporting negative effects from warming with important consequences.”

  419. > I think that is his exposition of his current position that might be changed with contrary evidence

    You’re right, Tom. I should have said something like “his answer starts with”.

    My point was to show that pussyfooting about CS is of little relevance to answer his question.

  420. Chris Cooper says:

    @ andthentheresphysics

    > An agreement to perform together an illegal, wrongful, or subversive act.
    > Says nothing about whether the meeting to decided whether or not to carry out the act should be open or not.

    To my surprise, I find you’re right. A “conspiracy” really can be perfectly open. So it can be applied to any group of people acting in concert for ends that the speaker thinks “wrongful”.

    Makes it an even emptier term of abuse than I thought.

  421. Chris Cooper,

    I’m not sure I agree that the speaker thinking it “wrongful” is sufficient, but given the season I’m not that keen to start a big discussion about whether something is a conspiracy or not. Have a good Christmas :-)

  422. johnrussell40 says:

    Yes, Chris, I note you cherry-picked the word ‘wrongful’ rather than ‘subversive’ or ‘illegal’. However, enough; ’tis the season of goodwill to all men. Merry Christmas.

  423. Chris Cooper says:

    @ johnrussell40

    > Yes, Chris, I note you cherry-picked the word ‘wrongful’ rather than ‘subversive’ or ‘illegal’.

    John, you’re logic’s poor (if Rachel will let me say that). I picked the most general of the three terms in order to favour your case – I didn’t think you’d want to argue that the “conspirators” were actually promoting something illegal or subversive (taking “subversive” to mean something specific like “intended to undermine the state” or something).

    But before we all lose the will to live … Merry Christmas and God bless us, every one.

  424. John Mashey says:

    Regarding conspiracy and such, in this long thread I’ve lost track of the arguments, but this comment might shed some light on behind-the-scenes cooperation, typically for climate anti-science. Sadly, such are not usually FOIAble, and only rarely become publicly available.

  425. BBD says:

    Who cares whether is is definitionally correct to call this a conspiracy? It is a concerted effort, backed by money from the extractive industries, to inject misinformation about climate science into the public – and so political – consciousness. As I have said before, this is in fact a subversion of democracy by vested special interest, and as such is reprehensible.

  426. Duncan McN says:

    I’m fairly new to these discussions and trying to find the science behind the socio-economic-political stramash. I read with interest your analysis :

    “We can do a similar calculation for the Earth to see if Joanne Nova is indeed correct that it’s essentially insignificant. The climate system is accruing energy at the rate of about 5 x 1022 J per decade. Most (about 93%) goes into the oceans, about 4% heats the land and atmosphere, and the rest is associated with melting polar ice. The land and atmosphere has a total mass of around 1019 kg and a heat capacity of 1000 J kg-1 K-1. Therefore it would take 1022J to increase the temperature of the land and atmosphere by 1oC (or 1 K).

    If the total energy is increasing at 5 x 1022J per decade and 4% (2 x 1021J per decade) is associated with heating the land and atmosphere, that means – on average – we’d expect the temperature of the land and atmosphere to increase by 0.2oC per decade. Not far off what we’re actually seeing. That gives 2oC per century and 20oC per millenium. ” (sorry about the formatting. I would be extremely happy if the formatting of my comment below could be fixed).

    Using this reasoning as a basis and applying it to the oceans I calculated :

    The total mass of oceans is about 1.4 x 10 21 kg and a heat capacity of 4200J kg-1 K-1. Therefore it would take approx. 6 X 1024J to increase the temperature of the ocean by 1oC (or 1 K).
    If the total energy is increasing at 4.65 x 1022J per decade (93% of 5 x 1022J per decade) and is associated with heating oceans, that means – on average – we’d expect the temperature of the ocean to increase by 0.008oC per decade.

    This would increase the temperature differential between atmosphere/land and ocean. Does it not then follow that because of the increased temperature differential, more heat would be transferred to the oceans from the atmosphere/land and this would result in a smaller overall atmosphere/land temperature increase?

  427. Duncan,

    I’ll probably have to give this more thought in the morning. As far as I can tell, your calculation is correct. However, the complication is that both you and I have ignored temperature gradients. So, everything I’ve calculated is an average for the land and atmosphere and everything you’ve calculated is an average for the whole oceans. I suspect that there will be gradients (i.e., the surface will be the warmest part of the land and atmosphere and the top of the ocean will be the warmest part of the ocean) means that 93% going into the oceans and 4% heating the land and atmosphere is about right. Happy to be corrected by other, more knowledgeable, commenters :-)

    Also, maybe I should add, as a rough calculation the ocean has a heat capacity 100 times that of the atmosphere, so maybe 93% and 4% isn’t quite right. It was just meant to be back-of-the-envelope.

  428. Tom Curtis says:

    Duncan McN, the top several hundred meters of the ocean is mixed by the effects of winds with the result that temperatures are closely related to surface temperatures. Below that, however, temperatures are for the most part governed by the thermohaline circulation which takes very cold, very saline water at the poles which because of its density, sinks to the bottom. Because the density of water rises to a maximum around 4 C, this process can only drive very cold water to the bottom. Further, while ice continues to exist at the poles, the temperatures where this process occurs cannot significantly rise.

    The consequence of this is that rise in ocean heat content with time does not imply a uniform rise in ocean temperature by depth and location. On the contrary, most of the increase is near the surface, even after equilibrium within the ocean is reached. Consequently your calculation makes a faulty assumption.

  429. RB says:

    Essentially, what Tom Curtis said regarding the mixing in the ocean. You can see one particular temperature profile here:

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

    By my calculations, for the same temperature profile, you can calculate the heat content as equivalent to a constant temperature slab of ~160m instead of the average ocean depth of ~3800m (this is my approximate calculation based on that figure, may not be correct in magnitude but is probably in the ballpark of the right ‘explanation’). Scaling your 0.008 by 3800/150 brings it back up to ~0.2/decade.

  430. Tom, RB, thanks. I knew there’d be a straightforward explanation.

  431. Duncan McN says:

    Thanks for all the feedback. Although it now puzzles me that Tom Curtis says “most of the increase is near the surface, even after equilibrium within the ocean is reached.” when I have been reading that the missing heat (no atmosphere/land temperature rise for several years) is going into the deep ocean (which I presume we can’t/haven’t measured)?

  432. The Argo probes measure deep ocean heating directly, which is shown on the SkS widget this post is discussing. Argo can be compared to an estimate obtained by subtracting the GRACE ocean mass rise from the TOPEX altimetry sealevel rise to yield only the part of sealevel rise due to thermosteric expansion. The oceans are warming, even down to 2000 meters. I shared open source code so real skeptics can verify that there hasn’t been a statistically significant change in the surface warming rate.

  433. Tom Curtis says:

    Duncan McN, a larger temperature increase in the top 300 meters does not result (currently) in a greater heat increase in the next 1300 meters because it is only 18% of the volume of water. For the top 300 meters to increase heat faster than the next 1700 meters, it would need approximately 5 times the rate of temperature increase. For the top 700 to increase faster than the next 1300, it would need to increase in temperature approximately twice as fast. As it happens, all else being equal, they do. Currently all else is not equal due to a string a La Ninas forcing warm water down in the Western Pacific, and Cool water up in the Eastern Pacific.

    And as it is the 25th where I am, happy Winter Solstice festival to you all.

  434. Tom Curtis says:

    Just to put some figures on my previous post, since 2004, the 0-2000 meters OHC has increased at 2.43 times the rate of the 0-700 meters, which means the 700-1300 meters OHC has increased at 1.43 times the rate of the 0-700 meters. Given the relative depths of the two regions, that indicates that the mean temperature increase of the 700-1300 meter region is 0.77 times that in the 0-700 meters region. Of course most of the increase for both regions is concentrated near the top of their respective regions.

    Over the entire period of record, 0-700 meter OHC has increased at 1.45 times the rate of 0-2000 meter OHC. Consequently 700-2000 meter OHC has increased at 0.45 times the rate of 700-2000 meters OHC. That means a relative mean temperature increase for 700-2000 meters at 0.24 times the mean rate for 0-700 meters.

    Figures based on pixel counts on graph 3 at the NODC, but good enough for a first approximation ;)

  435. Duncan McN, In a spare moment on Christmas Day (hope everyone’s having – or had – a good one) I thought I might elaborate a little on what I think Tom is saying. We’ve only really measured the OHC down to a depth of 2000m which – since 1970 – has increased by about 2.5 x 1023J. If I redo your calculation, then to a depth of 2000m, the average temperature has risen by 0.08oC since 1970 (or about 0.02oC per decade). However, most of the increase since 1970 is in the upper 700m. This has increased by about 2 x 1023J, which – in this layer – amount to an average increase of 0.2oC since 1970 (or 0.05oC per decade). However, as mentioned by RB, there’s a thermocline at around 100m where the temperature suddenly drops with depth. Hence, most of the heating is probably in the upper 100m or so. Hence, the rate of increase in this layer is likely even faster than 0.05oC per decade and hence is getting close to being similar to the rate of increase in surface temperature.

  436. RB says:

    In this old paper by Stephen Schwartz , he shows by regressing heat accumulation rates in the ocean, that for purposes of global average heat accumulation, the ocean can be replaced by a constant temperature ocean of equivalent depth of 148m, thus yielding a heat capacity that is 25 times that which is suggested by considering the entire depth of the ocean.

  437. RB says:

    err… 25 times smaller than the entire ocean.

  438. Pingback: It’s a really bad idea to compare climate change to atomic bombs | SoshiTech

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