Is the GWPF avin’ a larf?

I know I should really ignore these things, but not only is the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) taken seriously by some, my incredulity also tends to win out. The latest in my they can’t really have said that, can they? series, is a report called The Small Print: What the Royal Society left out. The idea is to tell us things about climate change that the Royal Society won’t/doesn’t. There’s a very good reason why the Royal Society doesn’t tell us these things: these are particularly stupid things to say and the Royal Society – by and large – is not made up of idiots. It’s a little concerning if the GWPF released this report as some kind of joke. It’s even more concerning if they are actually serious.

Let me give you some examples. This alone should completely invalidate anything else they say:

Carbon dioxide levels have been increasing steadily. A body of evidence points to this being due to human effects – emissions from burning of fossil fuels and land-use changes – although the Earth’s carbon dioxide budget is not sufficiently understood to accurately quantify the human and natural contributions.

It’s all anthropogenic. This is not in dispute. It’s about as certain as anything can possibly be. Only half of our annual emissions remain in the atmosphere: more than half is absorbed by the oceans and biosphere. If they weren’t doing so, atmospheric concentrations would be rising even faster than they currently are. That the oceans and biosphere are absorbing more than they emit, means that they can’t be the source. All that’s left is us. It really is us. There is no plausible alternative.

The report also says

Is the climate warming?
.
.
.
This is hardly an important question. The Earth’s surface is always warming or cooling, or on some occasions barely changing. What is important is that the change referred to is small and imperfectly measured.

Small and imperfectly measured? Small is clearly a judgement. Imperfectly measured may be true in the sense that analysing all the data so as to produce a temperature record is difficult, imperfect and has errors and uncertainties. Noone, however, doubts that we have warmed and that the change in temperature since pre-industrial times is probably unprecendented in the Holocene.

I don’t want to go through too much, but another example is:

There is significant evidence that the Sun has played an important role in climate change, and over the 20th century in particular.

No, there isn’t. There really isn’t significant evidence that the Sun has played an important role in climate change over the 20th century. It certainly influences our climate, but the dominant change in forcing over the 20th century is anthropogenic.

One more:

The Earth has many and hugely varied climates. The climate also changes naturally on every timescale. Mankind is remarkably adaptable, living in almost all of these climates.

Well, yes, but there is vast difference between it being possible to live in a wide variety of different climates, and being able to provide food, shelter, and a decent standard of living for a population in excess of 7 billion people. As I may have said before, this isn’t about the survival of our species, but about the survival of our civilisations! There’s a reason why some regions of the planet are more heavily populated than others.

and another:

While carbon dioxide levels appear to be higher than they have been for hundreds of thousands of years, they are relatively low compared to most of the last 600 million years (when most lifeforms evolved), ….. there were periods during which the carbon dioxide level was as much as 10 times higher than today but the climate was colder, for example the Silurian Period (about 443–420 million years ago). The fact that most plant life evolved during these periods is because plants thrive when carbon dioxide is increased.

Good grief! Humans have only been on the planet for about 100000 years. Mammals for just over 100 million years. The plants that evolved during the Silurian are nothing like the plants we have today. This also ignores other issues, like ocean acidification, which the report also suggests may not be a big problem.

and finally:

it is not currently possible to reconcile estimates of sea level rise with estimates of the factors that are thought to contribute to it.

Yes, it is. It is true that it’s difficult to project future sea level rise because of uncertainties about ice sheet melt, but the general view is that projections are probably a bit conservative: just ask the US Navy.

There’s plenty more if you can bothered to read it. Some might find it amusing; well in a depressing how can anyone possibly think this makes any sense kind of way. It’s quite remarkable that people who regard themselves as experts have actually endorsed this tripe. It seems that even some Fellows of the Royal Society are not immune.

It’s reports like this that make me cynical about the idea that we should reduce name-calling and engage in more grown-up dialogue. Not that I’m specifically arguing for name-calling, but if those endorsing this report are the elite of the “skeptic” movement – and if they are actually serious – grown-up dialogue is clearly impossible, and it’s hard to see how name-calling would actually make any difference, one way or the other.

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134 Responses to Is the GWPF avin’ a larf?

  1. semyorka says:

    It has been my position that the climate debate online is largely a defensive activity. You do not talk to a “skeptic” (denier) expecting them to change their opinion, You respond so that readers are less likely to be convinced that they have a devastating critique.

    It can be largely an unrewarding grind of repeatedly making sure the talking points are rebutted.

    The one plus side is there are a large number of people who have become very active in learning science and understanding the process by which new science is produced. You have a look at participation level on things like MOOCs on climate and the pages of quite technical blogs like Real Climate and the number of non science people who have rallied to the defense of science has been quite heartening.

  2. semyorka,

    You do not talk to a “skeptic” (denier) expecting them to change their opinion, You respond so that readers are less likely to be convinced that they have a devastating critique.

    Yes, I agree, although I do keep forgetting.

  3. Andrew Dodds says:

    They also forget that the sun was cooler hundreds of millions of years ago. But apparently the sun only affects climate when they want it to..

    I tend to agree that reasonable debate is impossible with these guys. Because they clearly don’t care about being wrong, or don’t even understand the concept of scientific-right-or-wrong. It’s all about relentlessly pushing the same line with a straight face. Something that these guys are perfectly capable of doing until reality crashes through the windows..

  4. Although, I should add that I’ve had some reasonable discussions on Judith Curry’s blog which, AFAICT, is the only “skeptic”-aligned blog worth commenting on. Judith also seems to be trying to moderate sensibly. This could all change, but that is my current impression.

  5. It’s all about relentlessly pushing the same line with a straight face. Something that these guys are perfectly capable of doing until reality crashes through the windows..

    If it wasn’t such a serious topic, it might be quite amusing and somewhat impressive that people have so little interest in their own scientific credibility.

  6. BBD says:

    One always tries to avoid imputing motive – especially dishonesty – to behaviour like this, but this poses a stark choice. If the endorsers of this tripe are not lying, then they must be incompetent to a startlingly high degree. Either that or they profess a shocking disregard for scientific accuracy flatly at odds with their academic qualifications, which are once again paraded for all to see, presumably in order to lend spurious weight to the nonsense they have endorsed.

  7. Let’s face it; the GWPF just produces these ‘papers’ to provide links for the ‘skeptic’ world’s denial meme doubt machine. I’ll take a bet that most of the names on it had no input into it; they just offered their credentials in order to increase its perceived credibility. We can expect to see it quoted endlessly in newspaper opinion pieces by Booker, Ridley, Rose, Lawson Lilley & Co over the coming months and then re-quoted by the usual politicians as well as the echo chamber army in blog comments.

    In other words, it stinks.

  8. Andrew Dodds says:

    BBD –

    But consider this..

    I was able to spend 7 years doing science at university, and to be honest, pertinent philosophical questions (‘How do we know what we know’ kind of thing) rarely if ever came up. It’s perfectly possible to get a PhD without ever thinking about such things; in my case it was the experience of encountering creationists online that actually sharpened up the whole area of proof-and-uncertainty.

    So it’s not really surprising that people can advance a long way in academia, especially if they have a narrow technical focus, and still be compartmentalized in their thinking.

  9. BBD says:

    Andrew Dodds

    Sure, compartmentalised or ‘silo’ mentality is normal enough. However, I think it is deeply troubling that academics are prepared to endorse a collation of bollocks like this. I as a layman know that most of this stuff is misleading or wrong. This returns us to the stark choice between active dishonesty or startling incompetence.

  10. verytallguy says:

    I’ve seen so much misinformation from climate deniers over the past few years that most of it doesn’t touch the sides any more.

    But this pernicious disinformation made me genuinely angry.

    It’s a quite deliberate piece of propaganda attempting to mislead through partial truths and, on several points, outright lies. A mendacious document whose untruths would not be obvious to any layman, and would take a response at least ten times the length to expose all the falsehoods within it.

    A piece of work the academics on the GWPF should be ashamed to be associated with.

    I hope the RS come out all guns blazing on this.

  11. entropicman says:

    GWPF is not a scientific site. Its purpose is political propaganda.

    As such it is not bound by such naive concepts as accuracy, evidence, honesty and balance.

    It will say whatever promotes the agenda of its political and business backers.

    Denier sites such as GWPF, WUWT and Bishop Hill average a couple of hundred hits a day, mostly true (dis)belivers. Perhaps we should stop wasting time debating on them, any more than we would debate with creationists or flat earthers.

  12. vtg,

    A piece of work the academics on the GWPF should be ashamed to be associated with.

    Agreed.

    I hope the RS come out all guns blazing on this.

    So do I.

    EM,

    GWPF is not a scientific site. Its purpose is political propaganda.

    Hard to argue otherwise, especially given both their name and the nonsense they’re willing to promote.

  13. verytallguy says:

    entropicman,

    the sites themselves are not influential, but those behind them actually are, and the sites provide pseudo intellectual cover for the lies* told by their masters.

    Consider:
    -The GWPF is run by Nigel Lawson. Nigel Lawson is a go-to politician for the BBC on climate science
    -Bishop Hill is run by Andrew Montford, who is the go-to climate sceptic for the BBC
    -The GWPF has published documents by Andrew Montford
    -Matt Ridley is a conservative peer and on the GWPF council and House of Lords Sceince and Technology committee
    – Matt Ridley writes for the Times
    – Matt Ridley is brother in Law of Owen Paterson, climate change denier and former environment secretary.

    – The Times is owned by Rupert Murdoch, climate change denier and owener of Fox News

    I could go on at considerable length.

    This crowd may lack integrity, but they are far from lacking in influence

    *I normally try not to use such emotive terms, but this document clearly does lie on a number of occasions.

  14. climatehawk1 says:

    Thanks for writing this response. I agree with what’s been said about arguing with deniers, but still essential for someone with expertise to be making refutations available for use, so I’m grateful for your work.

  15. Fergus says:

    Don’t underestimate the influence of this lobby group. It exists partially to provide self-justification to the 100+ MP who make legislation and don’t want to deal with the reality, are wilfully blind and willing to find any excuse to not act, like Ridley.
    Of course they won’t be ashamed of the material – it serves its purpose admirably, which is to peddle lies to willing readers.
    The question is whether to make the effort to address the BS or let it sink into the miasma of obscurity; personally, I think the former is probably still necessary.

  16. climatehawk1 says:

    “The question is whether to make the effort to address the BS or let it sink into the miasma of obscurity; personally, I think the former is probably still necessary.”

    Yes, I think so too. False info will be used until (and usually long after) it is refuted, so having refutations available is essential.

  17. entropicman says:

    Verytallguy, fergus

    I recognise the problem of influence. It makes it necessary to counter the propaganda, but the denier sites themselves are not the place to do it. I spent a couple of years debating on BH and made no measurable difference.

    If the denier sites exist to provide quotes for use on more mainstream media, then the mainstream media should be where the debate takes place.

    What tactics would be appropriate? It is quite possible to be factually correct, yet lose a political debate to an operator.

  18. John Hartz says:

    Speaking of sea level rise and the future of the human race…

    “A hundred years from now, humans may remember 2014 as the year that we first learned that we may have irreversibly destabilized the great ice sheet of West Antarctica, and thus set in motion more than 10 feet of sea level rise.

    “Meanwhile, 2015 could be the year of the double whammy — when we learned the same about one gigantic glacier of East Antarctica, which could set in motion roughly the same amount all over again. Northern Hemisphere residents and Americans in particular should take note — when the bottom of the world loses vast amounts of ice, those of us living closer to its top get more sea level rise than the rest of the planet, thanks to the law of gravity.

    “The findings about East Antarctica emerge from a new paper just out in Nature Geoscience by an international team of scientists representing the United States, Britain, France and Australia. They flew a number of research flights over the Totten Glacier of East Antarctica — the fastest-thinning sector of the world’s largest ice sheet — and took a variety of measurements to try to figure out the reasons behind its retreat. And the news wasn’t good: It appears that Totten, too, is losing ice because warm ocean water is getting underneath it.”

    The melting of Antarctica was already really bad. It just got worse. by Chris Mooney, Energy & Environment, Washington Post, Mar 16, 2015

  19. verytallguy says:

    entropicman,

    I’d certainly agree that if your purpose is to change people’s minds then BH and the like is not the place to go.

    On tactics – I don’t think there is one set of tactics, it depends on your audience.

    As a summary, though, Stephen Schneider put it well – balancing the all nuance of the science with communicating something at a level the audience understands.

    Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.

    Personally, I think the original RS statement is about right on that balance

  20. Andrew Dodds says:

    John Hartz –

    Yes, in fact you could almost ask the question – was Antarctica actually stable or just retreating very slowly at pre-industrial temperatures, or just at the margin of stability. After all, a lot of ice vanished in the Eemian at only marginally higher temperatures.

    One thing is certain, the ice sheets have never been this far out of equilibrium.

  21. John Hartz says:

    Andrew Dodd: Mooney concludes his article (cited above) with the following…

    Much as with the ocean-abutting glaciers of West Antarctica, just because a retreat has been observed — and because the entirety of the region implies a sea level rise of 11 or more feet were all ice to end up in the ocean — does not mean that we’ll see anything near that much sea level rise in our lifetimes. These processes generally are expected to play out over hundreds of years or more. They would reshape the face of the Earth – but we may never see it.

    The problem, then, is more the world we’re leaving to our children and grandchildren — because once such a gigantic geophysical process begins, it’s hard to see how it comes to a halt. “With warming oceans, it’s difficult to see how a process that starts now would be reversed, or reversible, in a warming world,” Siegert* says.

    *Martin Siegert is a co-author of the study and is based at the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London.

  22. Michael 2 says:

    Going off the rails just a bit with “It’s all anthropogenic. This is not in dispute.”

    Or perhaps it is at the very heart of the dispute that gives this blog and others a reason to exist. Seems to me that global warming is allowing peat bogs to outgas. I do not consider that “anthropogenic” except maybe as a secondary effect.

  23. Michael 2 says:

    Andrew Dodds says: “So it’s not really surprising that people can advance a long way in academia, especially if they have a narrow technical focus, and still be compartmentalized in their thinking.”

    It is probably essential to be compartmented in your thinking to achieve a PhD. By its nature such persons are highly specialized.

  24. M2,

    Or perhaps it is at the very heart of the dispute that gives this blog and others a reason to exist.

    No, it really is anthropogenic. Some major laws of physics (like mass conservation) would need to be wrong for this to not be the case.

    It is probably essential to be compartmented in your thinking to achieve a PhD. By its nature such persons are highly specialized.

    An element of truth, but they have done broader degrees earlier on in their careers and they are meant to be exposed to scientific thinking and to other areas within their own discipline, at least.

  25. dana1981 says:

    At the end of the post you linked to the Daily Mail quoting Michael Kelly (Royal Society member) saying,

    But a report today by the academic council of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, which includes several Society Fellows and other eminent scientists, states the Society has ‘left out’ parts of the science, so the answers to many of the questions ought to be different.

    I had to laugh when I first read that. Presumably Kelly is the UK version of someone like Happer – a good scientist in another field who knows jack squat about climate science, and allows his biases to dictate his beliefs on the subject, then uses his scientific credibility to manufacture doubt. I think we’ve reached the point where citing GWPF is a disqualifier for anyone who wants to be considered credible on climate science. You may as well be citing Philip Morris on the health effects of cigarettes.

  26. Dana,
    Apparently, there is a group of 43 RS members who a few years ago signed some kind of letter objecting to the stance of the RS on climate change. Kelly is one, but I haven’t found out who the rest are. There are 1600 RS fellows, so 43 is not a huge numbers anyway.

  27. MMM says:

    On sea level: they state, “But sea level has been rising for thousands of years”: but actually, the best estimates of sea level over the past 2000 years look pretty flat until the last 100… yes, sea level rose quite a bit at the end of the last glacial (and contrarians love to average SLR over the last 20,000 years), but… sigh.

    Actually, their quote about “it is not currently possible to reconcile estimates of sea level rise with estimates of the factors that are thought to contribute to it” was true until fairly recently: having said that, like much of what they throw out, they find something where there is a little bit of uncertainty, and imply (nudge nudge wink wink) that it means we know nothing. So, fine, our estimates of thermal rise, glacial melt, isostatic rebound, and water withdrawals didn’t use to quite line up with our observed total – does this mean we don’t have confidence that sea level will keep rising? Similarly, there may be some small (5-10 ppm) portion of the observed 120 ppm rise in CO2 that is due to warming of the oceans or other non-fossil-fuel non-land-use processes (though possibly still linked to anthropogenic warming) – that doesn’t mean anything in the big pciture.

    The GWPF article as a whole is indeed an embarrassment to its signatories. Or it should be, anyway.

    btw, from one of the commenters here: “One thing is certain, the ice sheets have never been this far out of equilibrium”: I’m actually not at all certain of that. We may have changed global forcing faster than ever before, but given things like thermohaline circulation shutdowns and similar tipping points, there have been fairly large historical local deviations in stability… I really wouldn’t be surprised if at some point during either the formation of the ice sheets 30 million years ago, or during one of the many melt/reglaciation cycles, that the ice sheets were further out of equilibrium.

    -MMM

  28. eddieturbulence says:

    Humans have only been on the planet for about 100000 years.
    Homo habilis has been around 2.8 million years.

    Which means into and out of numerous ice ages.

    Of course, it also appears that most of this time was in Africa, less directly effected by glacials.

    But it also means most of our traits evolved in tropical climates.

  29. MMM says:

    Also: “but because the dissolved carbon dioxide forms bicarbonate and carbonate ions”. Actually, the whole point is that dissolved carbon dioxide decreases the presence of carbonate ions by skewing the equilibrium towards bicarbonate. So, yes, more bicarbonate, but no, not more carbonate. That’s basic chemistry.

  30. eddieturbulence,
    Yes, I was referring to Homo sapiens specifically, rather than to our earlier ancestors. The fundamental point, though, is that we as a species may well be able to survive major changes to our climate but can we continue to advance our civilisations in the manner we might like to (better standards of living for a larger fraction of the population, education, healthcare) if we make drastic changes to our climate. The point, as far as I’m concerned, is not whether or not these changes will be beneficial; it’s that it will be fine because one of our ancestors survived an ice age hundreds of thousands of years ago is an incredibly weak argument.

    But it also means most of our traits evolved in tropical climates.

    Possibly, but natural selection is not going to play a significant role in our evolution in the next 200 years. Well, this may not be true, but it won’t play a positive role.

  31. eddieturbulence,
    You do realise that no sockpuppeting is one of my moderation rules.

  32. verytallguy says:

    M2,

    Help me understand? do you dispute that the entire rise in atmospheric CO2 since 1750ish is anthropogenic in origin?

    If yes, what proportion do you believe is non-anthropogenic (a range would be fine if you don’t want to give an exact figure)?


  33. Denier sites such as GWPF, WUWT and Bishop Hill average a couple of hundred hits a day

    Those sites are much more widely read than that. We should not deny that pseudo-science sites are extremely popular in the USA. There is a long history here that has essentially bridged from traditional media such as Coast-to-Coast AM, which is possibly the most popular syndicated radio show late evening and overnight in the states. And you know what the topics are …

    … and not just nationally, where I live there is an actual high-wattage broadcast radio show that devotes 3 hours every evening to very serious discussion about ghosts and paranormal, called Darkness Radio. What a waste of Maxwell’s waves ….

    Do not even try to compete in popularity. Discussing physics is a dank backwater compared to what is out there.

  34. Andrew Dodds says:

    @eddieturbulence –

    Two slight issues with your argument –

    (1) A roaming band of hunter-gatherers can adapt to fairly large amounts of climate change by, well, roaming. Cities find it harder to roam.

    (2) If a past change in climate did kill off 90% of the human population at the time, you wouldn’t know.

  35. Eli Rabett says:

    M2 if it’s the peat bogs, well there is a hell of a lot less peat being dug these days except in some remote locations for native rituals related to distilling, so CO2 should be decreasing if you are correct.

  36. Michael 2 says:

    verytallguy “M2, do you dispute that the entire rise in atmospheric CO2 since 1750ish is anthropogenic in origin?”

    Yes, but that is not the point of my comment. ATTP made the claim that this is not in dispute when it is nearly certain to be in dispute and in fact this very page would not exist if the dispute did not exist.

    It is a bit like saying “this is not a sentence”.

    It is too easy to say that the rise in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is entirely human in origin, it also is too convenient to a particular viewpoint, that of “humans bad, everything else good” — wildly popular and seemingly inexplicable in view of what I consider to be evolutionary theory.

    “If yes, what proportion do you believe is non-anthropogenic (a range would be fine if you don’t want to give an exact figure)?”

    To me it is the wrong question (I’m reminded of Will Smith in “I, Robot”). But to answer it anyway; I barely have an idea. It seems likely that half or more of the measured increase is probably a direct consequence of burning carbon based fuels.

    The problem for me is the action of various carbon cycles. Suppose a factory emits carbon dioxide that, for the sake of argumentation, is entirely taken up by young trees in a nearby forest. Older trees are cut and burned for fuel. Now, these older trees took up carbon dioxide that once had been part of ancient carbonate rocks weathered perhaps from the White Cliffs of Dover. Since many trees are being burned, but not so many are growing, one might measure an increase in CO2. But is it “anthropogenic”? Well, maybe, it depends, people are burning the trees, at least in that part of the world.

    Meanwhile, a slight change in solar flux — itself too weak to get noticed by anyone other than Willie Soon who makes it his life work to notice such slight flutters — is just enough to perturb a northern hemisphere jet stream. In North America, the effect is that the western half warms up unusually while the eastern half is frozen setting new records. In the Canadian Northwest Territories some peat bogs warm up and decay, releasing large quantities of carbon dioxide and methane. Is that anthropogenic? You will probably say yes, somehow tying the perturbation to human activity, I would say “no” in that case, with both of us being “correct” since we aren’t defining the terms the same way.

    Over in Africa, global warming is putting stress on marginally productive land lightly forested with Baobab trees. The trees do not like it but the termites love it; so there’s a big increase in termite flatulence. Is that anthropogenic? Not to me, but I can see where it might be to you since humans presumably created the circumstance that enabled the termites to flourish, but that would be a presumption and not a certainty.

    So, in the end, what can be measured or calculated from published statistics is how much of various kinds of fuels have been mined or pumped and presumably burned. That is indisputably anthropogenic carbon dioxide. But what happens to it? All sorts of things!

    So measuring a rise in atmospheric CO2, which is an easy thing to measure, correlates with carbon based mining and pumping and burning, but what fraction is a direct cause, and what fraction is indirect, and what fraction has absolutely nothing to do with human activity I do not know and I am not so easily persuaded by “all of it” or “none of it” claims.

  37. BBD says:

    Seems to me that global warming is allowing peat bogs to outgas. I do not consider that “anthropogenic” except *maybe* as a secondary effect.

    I think M2 might be referring to the crater-blasting methane permafarts now pocking the Siberian tundra with increasing frequency. If so, these are fundamentally anthropogenic in causation – they are a carbon-cycle feedback to warming caused by anthropogenic GHG emissions.

  38. BBD says:

    eddieturbulence

    Modern dependence on global agriculture makes modern civilisations vulnerable to the impacts of rapid climate change. Agriculture was only invented during the Holocene. H. Habilis is irrelevant. This was recently pointed out either to you posting under another alias or to another commenter.

  39. M2,

    Yes, but that is not the point of my comment. ATTP made the claim that this is not in dispute when it is nearly certain to be in dispute and in fact this very page would not exist if the dispute did not exist.

    Okay, maybe it is actually in dispute, but not amongst anyone who is honest and who understand this topic.

  40. anotheralionel says:

    Professor Michael Kelly has a rap sheet, and it is off key.

    When it comes to East Antarctic the melting of the Totten Glacier was mentioned at least a couple of years back ISTR bringing it up with links on a thread at Deltoid. Here is one source that I noted back then:

    East Antarctic Ice Sheet, from AntarcticGlaciers.org

    I have long used a tool which, amongst other things, can be used to produce topological profiles it is a Java app’ by the name of GeoMapApp, producing profiles from Antarctica and Greenland are instructive.

    aka

    Lionel A

    I had some issues with WordPress and logins awhile back and this handle is perfectly usable elsewhere on WP. Strange.

  41. Fergus says:

    entropicman @ 1:14: How to right the wrongs of disinformation? If only we had a better formula. All of us do what we can, where we can. I agree with the observation that beating your head against a brick wall on BH and similar is not much use. I often comment at The Guardian, and write a blog, and comment on sites such as these. In conversation with skeptics I talk quietly but firmly about the evidence base, my ten years of research, and the nature of the Media, source of much of the problem.
    I’d also advise against attempting dialogue – a to and fro of ideas – this always seems to end in a stalemate, possibly because to each proponent the other’s POV is incomprehensible.
    Recently I’ve become more directly involved in Politics, but that’s a personal choice. All I can really suggest is Keep Doing the Right Thing – in whatever way works for you, insofar as you are able.

  42. guthrie says:

    Just to make the point clear, we know that it’s human produced CO2 because 1) the isotope ratios in CO2 in the atmosphere are changing, because buried carbon has no C14 in it, and we observe less in the CO2 in the atmosphere, and 2) the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere is decreasing because we’re turning it into CO2.
    Anyone denying these facts is a {pre-censored} and a danger to society.

  43. Andrew Dodds says:

    @guthrie –

    (3) The increase in CO2 is about half of man made emissions. If it were twice or emissions then you could argue over semantics a la M2.

  44. andrew adams says:

    Yes, humans may have evolved in tropical climates, but they really thrived once they reached more temperate areas.

  45. BBD says:

    M2

    Below is the Holocene in GHGs. Of course it’s all bloody anthropogenic. Please stop the ‘it’s not all us’ nonsense. It’s beyond discredited.

    http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/syr/en/figure-2-3.html

  46. Kevin ONeill says:

    M2 writes: ” I do not know and I am not so easily persuaded by “all of it” or “none of it” claims.

    Oh c’mon. Skeptical Science lays it out pretty clearly.

    “The human-caused origin (anthropogenic) of the measured increase in atmospheric concentrations of CO2 is a cornerstone of predictions of future temperature rises. As such, it has come under frequent attack by people who challenge the science of global warming. One thing noteworthy about those attacks is that the full range of evidence supporting the anthropogenic nature of the CO2 increase seems to slip from sight. So what is the full range of supporting evidence? There are ten main lines of evidence to be considered:

    1) The start of the growth in CO2 concentration coincides with the start of the industrial revolution, hence anthropogenic;
    2) Increase in CO2 concentration over the long term almost exactly correlates with cumulative anthropogenic emissions, hence anthropogenic;
    3) Annual CO2 concentration growth is less than Annual CO2 emissions, hence anthropogenic;
    4) Declining C14 ratio indicates the source is very old, hence fossil fuel or volcanic (ie, not oceanic outgassing or a recent biological source);
    5) Declining C13 ratio indicates a biological source, hence not volcanic;
    6) Declining O2 concentration indicate combustion, hence not volcanic;
    7) Partial pressure of CO2 in the ocean is increasing, hence not oceanic outgassing;
    8) Measured CO2 emissions from all (surface and beneath the sea) volcanoes are one-hundredth of anthropogenic CO2 emissions; hence not volcanic;
    9) Known changes in biomass too small by a factor of 10, hence not deforestation; and
    10) Known changes of CO2 concentration with temperature are too small by a factor of 10, hence not ocean outgassing.”

    This fake middle ground you stake out is just another instance of false equivalence. There is no evidence that the increase in CO2 concentration is anything other than anthropogenic.

  47. verytallguy says:

    guthrie,

    I agree with you, but I think it’s actually a lot simpler:

  48. Michael 2 says:

    eddieturbulence “most of this time was in Africa, less directly effected by glacials.”

    It may have been affected by glacial periods but was effected by plate tectonics.

  49. verytallguy says:

    AR5 on CO2:

    From 1750 to 2011, CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion and cement production have released 375 [345 to 405] GtC to the atmosphere, while deforestation and other land use change are estimated to have released 180 [100 to 260] GtC. This results in cumulative anthropogenic emissions of 555 [470 to 640] GtC. {6.3}

    Of these cumulative anthropogenic CO2 emissions, 240 [230 to 250] GtC have accumulated in the atmosphere, 155 [125 to 185] GtC have been taken up by the ocean and 160 [70 to 250] GtC have accumulated in natural terrestrial ecosystems (i.e., the cumulative residual land sink). {Figure TS.4, 3.8, 6.3}

    Compared to the quite deliberate lie from the GWPF:

    the Earth’s carbon dioxide budget is not sufficiently understood to accurately quantify the human and natural contributions.

    [ATTP/Rachel – does either of you have the expertise to make the graph above display in-line?]

  50. Susan Anderson says:

    fwiw, VTG’s link works, just didn’t display here, worth a look.

  51. anoilman says:

    Its called “Manufacturing Consent”.

    The purpose of so called ‘think tanks’ like the GWPF is to generate an ecology of ideas on which politicians can act. I say ‘ecology’ because there is a loud echo chamber repeating their crap, and baseless ideology. If you have enough people saying it, it may sound plausible to someone not really paying attention.

    In Canada this has taken on a very malicious and active form.

    We have shills paid directly by oil interests coming out with insinuations against environmental groups suddenly getting huge attention. (Some po dank blogger named Vivian Krause got face time with Parliament for instance.) If a story comes with a vaguely acceptable story (they work hard to lie about their paychecks), they give it as much legs as they can. The Harper government has then unleashed a punitive assault of Revenue Canada accountants to attack environmental charities. (Found nothing, obviously.)

    News organizations are actively limiting what information is being pumped through their machines. i.e. run articles attacking greenpeace while preventing them from defending themselves. Its a pretty one sided view of the world.

    Much of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service is focusing on environmental groups at this time. Presumably at he behest of oil executives. (Nothing found, obviously.) [Personally, I’m on the fence that this is an issue, but at some point you have to admit that there is in fact partisan motivations driving CSIS, and not really national concerns.]

    Blogging, and internet communication has put a serious dent in the ability to move think tank, crap. Although there are a lot of paid interests trying to set up digital astroturf groups in order to fake support for their efforts.

  52. snarkrates says:

    Michael 2,
    I think I see your problem. You are suffering from a severe case of “not doing the math”.

    Atmospheric CO2 has increased by X.
    Anthropogenic CO2 emissions have been 2X.
    Exercise to the reader: What would X have been if 2X were 0.

    You also aren’t doing the physics or the chemistry. We know that the CO2 responsible for the increase is anthropogenic because fossil carbon is enriched in C-12 relative to C-13 and C-14.

    Your not knowing these things doesn’t negate the fact that others do know them.

  53. MMM says:

    Yes, there are 3 proofs that the CO2 rise is 90+% anthropogenic, any of which could be sufficient alone, but together make for evidence that _should_ be indisputable:

    1) The ice core record showing the CO2 increase to 400+ ppm that is coincident with the industrial revolution, after 800,000+ years of remaining between 200 and 300 ppm.
    2) Mass balance arguments showing that human fossil fuel & land use emissions are much greater than the atmospheric increase
    3) Our theoretical understanding, as embodied in carbon cycle models, and as matched by observations of a) isotope changes, b) oceanic carbon observations, c) spatial and temporal patterns.

    Do we know everything about the carbon cycle? No. But we can still know that 90+% of the observed rise is due to fossil fuel burning & land-use change emissions. And it is kind of ridiculous how many supposedly competent scientists are so in love with the idea that the consensus is wrong that they seriously entertain arguments to the contrary (ahem, looking at you Curry, Spencer, Essenhigh, etc).

    -MMM

  54. Maybe mine is a simplistic way of looking at things but following on from BBD’s graphs, isn’t it stretching incredulity, illogical and even stupid, to advance any other cause for those spikes in greenhouse gasses, and thence global warming over the last 100 years, other than directly or indirectly through humans extracting billions of tonnes of fossil fuels from the ground and then burning it, over exactly the same period?

    Surely if someone wants to propose some other cause for the GHGs and the warming we’ve experienced, then they first have to explain where the anthropogenic-produced gasses from fossil fuels have gone, or how they are not causing the recorded warming? Only when they’ve found a credible way of disappearing fossil fuel emissions or explaining away the green house effect are they clear to start offering their own alternative theories for rising global temperatures, the acidification of oceans, and SLR.

  55. vtg,

    [ATTP/Rachel – does either of you have the expertise to make the graph above display in-line?]

    It was just that particular link, for some reason. I’ve changed it to a different one that – I think – is the same image.

  56. verytallguy says:

    ATTP, thanks

    BBD, your figure was the one I wanted, couldn’t remember where it was. I guess the evil ATTP had you in moderation when I posted mine

    I was wondering if anyone has ever seen an annotated version. My choices for milestone annotations might be:
    “First cultivation of crops”
    “Iron smelted”
    “Watt and Trevithic patent”
    “First commercial electric grid”
    “First jet powered air flight”

  57. BBD says:

    BBD, your figure was the one I wanted, couldn’t remember where it was. I guess the evil ATTP had you in moderation when I posted mine

    Censorship!

  58. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    I think that following is the best, because it encapsulates so well the logic of “skepticism.”

    What is important is that the change referred to is small and imperfectly measured.

    Really, what more needs to be said?

    So it’s imperfectly measured yet we know that it is small. There’s no doubt that it’s small. No uncertainty. No error bars. No CIs. They’re not needed because we know it’s small. And imperfectly measured. And small.

    This is the twin sibling to “There’s no such thing as GAT and it can’t be measured but we do know that the increase in GAT has paused.”

  59. Eli Rabett says:

    The decrease in oxygen (the other Keeling curve) with matching annual cycles is the real clincher.

  60. verytallguy says:

    Joshua,

    it’s far more beautiful than that.

    GWPF on temperature:

    The climate has cooled since the mid-Holocene climatic optimum
    8,000 years ago, and the warming of the past few decades is relatively small in
    comparison.

    GWPF on CO2:

    any natural imbalances, perhaps as a result of temperature changes, can
    swamp human contributions.

    In other words:

    Recent temperature change is small compared to historic changes during which time CO2 was stable. The current large rise in CO2 is, however, caused by this small temperature change, not by humans.

  61. John Hartz says:

    In my opinion, the “bathtub graphic” is the best way to illustrate how antroprogenic CO2 accumulates in the Earth’s atmosphere. There are numerous versions of this graphic, but the one posted by National Geographic in 2009 would be a good one for Michael2 to stare at. It is embedded in an article which begins with the following paragraphs:

    It’s simple, really: As long as we pour CO2; into the atmosphere faster than nature drains it out, the planet warms. And that extra carbon takes a long time to drain out of the tub.

    A fundamental human flaw, says John Sterman, impedes action on global warming. Sterman is not talking about greed, selfishness, or some other vice. He’s talking about a cognitive limitation, “an important and pervasive problem in human reasoning” that he has documented by testing graduate students at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Sterman teaches system dynamics, and he says his students, though very bright and schooled in calculus, lack an intuitive grasp of a simple, crucial system: a bathtub.

    In particular, a tub with the tap running and the drain open. The water level can stand for many quantities in the modern world. The level of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere is one. A person’s waistline or credit card debt—both of which have also become spreading problems of late—are two more. In all three cases, the level in the tub falls only when the drain runs faster than the tap—when you burn more calories than you eat, for instance, or pay off old charges faster than you incur new ones.

    Plants, oceans, and rocks all drain carbon from the atmosphere, but as climatologist David Archer explains in his book The Long Thaw, those drains are slow. It’s going to take them hundreds of years to remove most of the CO2; that humans are pouring into the tub and hundreds of thousands of years to remove it all. Stopping the rise of CO2; will thus require huge cuts in emissions from cars, power plants, and factories, until inflow no longer exceeds outflow.

    Most of Sterman’s students—and his results have been replicated at other universities—didn’t understand that, at least not when the problem was described in the usual climate jargon. Most thought that simply stopping emissions from rising would stop the rise of CO2; in the atmosphere— as if a tap running steadily but rapidly would not eventually overflow the tub. If MIT graduate students don’t get it, most politicians and voters probably don’t either. “And that means they think it’s easier to stabilize greenhouse gases and stop warming than it is,” Sterman says.

    The Carbon Bathtub, National Geographic, Dec 2009

  62. JCH says:

    So it’s imperfectly measured yet we know that it is small. There’s no doubt that it’s small. No uncertainty. No error bars. No CIs. They’re not needed because we know it’s small. And imperfectly measured. And small.

    This is the twin sibling to “There’s no such thing as GAT and it can’t be measured but we do know that the increase in GAT has paused.”

    This is why I stopped reading your comments and never respond to them when I do read them.

  63. Tom Curtis says:

    M2:

    “The problem for me is the action of various carbon cycles. Suppose a factory emits carbon dioxide that, for the sake of argumentation, is entirely taken up by young trees in a nearby forest. Older trees are cut and burned for fuel. Now, these older trees took up carbon dioxide that once had been part of ancient carbonate rocks weathered perhaps from the White Cliffs of Dover. Since many trees are being burned, but not so many are growing, one might measure an increase in CO2. But is it “anthropogenic”? Well, maybe, it depends, people are burning the trees, at least in that part of the world.”

    The quoted text is so cut of from reality as to not even constitute intelligent discussion. Specifically, plant carbon is drawn from the air by photosynthesis. Therefore plants rooted in soil overlaying cretaceous chalk will have ΔC14 values related to recent atmospheric C14, and ΔC13 values that are a function of recent atmospheric C13 values. There is no way that they can take up “carbon dioxide that once had been part of ancient carbonate rocks” without that carbon dioxide first entering the atmosphere (probably by cement manufacture).

    If that is not bad enough, CO2 entering the atmosphere due to trees being cut down and burnt by humans is anthropogenic CO2. M2’s scenario suggests some of the CO2 increase may not be anthropogenic because there is more than one source of anthropogenic CO2. Utterly bizarre.

    Michael, you need to recognize that your discussion of the issue reveals only that you do not have a clue of what you are talking about on this topic. Your only sensible response is to go back to square one and relearn the topic from actual experts in the field. (And please note that there is a 100% concensus on this point from scientists whose main area of study is carbon cycles. This is a point in as much scientific doubt as that the Earth is not flat. Seriously.)

  64. MIchael Hauber says:

    This is the type of thing I hate the most. I believe sometimes people sprout nonsense because they genuinely believe it and don’t know better. But leading sources of climate propaganda do seem to know better, because they never actually say anything that is actually false, but is often highly misleading. The fact they so carefully avoid saying anything that is actually false, while still being immensely misleading suggests competence and dishonesty. Anthony Watts shows the same pattern.

    Eg. ‘Earth’s carbon dioxide budget is not sufficiently understood to accurately quantify the human and natural contributions’

    True for appropriate definition of accurate. However it is sufficiently understood to identify that man plays a dominant role.

    ‘warming..is small and imperfectly measured’.

    Small compared to seasonal cycle and past climate changes. But the rate of change, and the size of the predicted future changes is large. Imperfectly measured, but measured well enough to know that it is warming at roughly the same rate models predicted.

    ‘sun played an important role in climate change’

    Important yes, dominant no. Although it has not contributed any warming since about 1950, it did contribute significant (but not most) warming prior to 1950. Perhaps the sun is also an important contributor to the recent pause.

    ‘it is not currently possible to reconcile estimates of sea level rise with estimates of the factors that are thought to contribute to it.’

    Certainly true a few years ago, being the core issue of Trenberth’s missing heat. I believe that recent papers may have closed this budget, so perhaps this is no longer true, and perhaps a failure to keep up with the latest scientific literature.

    ‘Is the climate warming?
    .
    This is hardly an important question.’

    Really this is a judgement call and not an issue of fact, but in my mind I’d call this blatantly false and not something I can think of a weaselly way to interpret as true.

    And finally from their text ‘Is the climate warming?’

    ‘the two periods of increase are indistinguishable, although the earlier increase cannot be attributed to increased carbon dioxide’

    Two periods being early and late 20th century.

    Why not say the later increase cannot be attributed to increased carbon dioxide? The only reason I can think of is that they know that this is not true, and not in anyway defensible.

  65. Michael 2 says:

    Eli Rabett says: “well there is a hell of a lot less peat being dug these days”

    It isn’t my idea and it isn’t even a skeptical idea. The idea is that peat decays and any organic decay releases CO2.

    You are so convinced that I am a denier that when I cite a warmist theory you still argue with it.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Warming_to_Ignite_the_Carbon_Bomb.html

    True, I cited peat decay where they cite peat burning.

    Then there’s the methane bubbles

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2014/08/how-much-methane-came-out-of-that-hole-in-siberia/comment-page-2/

    It is just too easy and convenient to blame everything on humans; which would be a harmless hobby except when it comes time to “fix it” and you do whatever you intend to do to humans and don’t actually fix it.

  66. Morbeau says:

    JHC, you’re clearly someone who will go to great lengths to not read someone’s comment and then not respond when you do read one. No doubt you were thinking of Emerson as well:

    “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.”

  67. Michael 2 says:

    John Hartz recommends the bathtub analogy. “In all three cases, the level in the tub falls only when the drain runs faster than the tap”

    That is certainly true of tubs.

    “As long as we pour CO2; into the atmosphere faster than nature drains it out, the planet warms. And that extra carbon takes a long time to drain out of the tub”

    Also true, more or less. It becomes more true this way by eliminating a conclusion not proven by the proposition:

    “As long as we pour CO2; into the atmosphere faster than nature drains it out, the atmosphere has more CO2. And that extra carbon takes a long time to drain out of the atmosphere.”

    As to National Geographic being a reliable and acceptable source of climate science: No. It is a great source of geographic knowledge, more anecdotal than scientific but that’s okay. I have it for the pictures mostly anyway. 😉

  68. Brandon Gates says:

    Joshua wrote:

    So it’s imperfectly measured yet we know that it is small. There’s no doubt that it’s small. No uncertainty. No error bars. No CIs. They’re not needed because we know it’s small. And imperfectly measured. And small. This is the twin sibling to “There’s no such thing as GAT and it can’t be measured but we do know that the increase in GAT has paused.”

    VTG wrote:

    Recent temperature change is small compared to historic changes during which time CO2 was stable. The current large rise in CO2 is, however, caused by this small temperature change, not by humans.

    Repeated for emphasis. I’m laughing so hard right now that I can only add that your attempts at satire and parody are utterly lame. Unless, of course, it is possible to be a caricature of oneself. Oh dear, someone hand me a tissue, I’m weeping. 🙂

  69. Michael 2 says:

    WebHubTelescope reminds readers “Do not even try to compete in popularity. Discussing physics is a dank backwater compared to what is out there.”

    No climate website is popular. Consider the 27 million views of “50 Shades of Grey” on YouTube.

    But I really do appreciate this dark backwater of physics right here.

  70. Michael 2 says:

    I really thought I was done for the evening, but this made me COL (Chuckle Out Loud)

    JCH says “This is why I stopped reading your comments and never respond to them when I do read them.”

    I have not read your comment and this is not a comment. 😉

  71. Brandon Gates says:

    MIchael Hauber,

    Certainly true a few years ago, being the core issue of Trenberth’s missing heat. I believe that recent papers may have closed this budget, so perhaps this is no longer true, and perhaps a failure to keep up with the latest scientific literature.

    This is now 4 days stale over at WUWT, but Bob Tisdale attempted to make as many waves as possible with this recent release:

    Liang et al. (2015), Vertical Redistribution of Oceanic Heat Content (pre-print): http://www.mit.edu/~xliang/resources/liang2015a.pdf

    Basic premise being that at very deep layers of the ocean — ie, where no measurements exist or are very very sparse — residual heat from warming episodes up to thousands of years prior may still be lingering. It’s more of a, “hey, be aware this when doing OHC calcs” kind of paper, but Bob’s spin implies that it’s THE reason for the observed rise in OHC since 1950. He also passes it off as breaking news, which it isn’t:

    Yang and Zhu (2011), “Equilibrium thermal response timescale of global oceans” (open-access): http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/enhanced/doi/10.1029/2011GL048076/

    Wunsch and Heimbach (2013), “Bidecadal Thermal Changes in the Abyssal Ocean” (pre-print): http://ocean.mit.edu/~cwunsch/papersonline/heatcontentchange_26dec2013_ph.pdf

    I could have dug back further … one of my favs, Bintanja (2008) goes there, albeit more in the context of ice sheet dynamics. My read is that the budget is not closed, and some heated (read: healthy) debate continues … witness last year’s minor dust-up between Trenberth and Josh Willis: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/mystery-of-ocean-heat-deepens-as-climate-changes/

    ATTP,

    While I’m on it, I rebutted Tisdale’s obligatory “the models are wrong” charge on that thread with this graphic from Balmaseda (2013) …

    … which you’ll note I cribbed from your blog. My interpretation is that the models are lowballing OHC, which is something I did not know until I happened upon that plot. OTOH, the surface is running a smidge hot, not just The Pause, mind. You see where I’m going with this, I’m sure, but I don’t have a handy reference that ties it together. Thoughts from you or any would be welcomed.

  72. Joshua says:

    JCH –

    That was excellent. I had to read it twice before I got it. And then I read it a third time just to triple-check.

    Which, of course, is why I never read your comments either. Or respond to them.

  73. The amount of CO2 captured is nowhere near the equilibrium. The argument is one of kinetics. Sequestration of CO2 is a diffusive phenomenon, which means it approximates a random walk as a CO2 molecule wanders deeper into the ocean. For a random walk in one dimension, about half will travel deeper and half will re-emerge. Thus the approximately 1/2 remaining in the atmosphere.

  74. verytallguy says:

    M2

    So measuring a rise in atmospheric CO2, which is an easy thing to measure, correlates with carbon based mining and pumping and burning, but what fraction is a direct cause, and what fraction is indirect, and what fraction has absolutely nothing to do with human activity I do not know and I am not so easily persuaded by “all of it” or “none of it” claims.

    Just a small extract of an awful lot of words M2, and quite an insight into how it’s possible to attempt to justify avoiding obvious conclusions – and how the GWPF find so many ready dupes.

    The emissions from burning fossil fuels are a little more than double that necessary for the atmospheric increase observed. See AR5 extract

    There is no change within the last million years remotely comparable.

    There is also strong supportive evidence from multiple lines of evidence

    It’s a proven fact, way beyond any reasonable doubt, that the CO2 rise since 1750 is anthropogenic. If you’re unable to acknowledge this simple truth, there’s absolutely no point debating anything else scientific or factual with you.

    Here’s the graph again. James Watt’s first patent was granted in 1769. The GWPF are taking you for a fool.

  75. BBD says:

    M2

    When exactly are you going to acknowledge that your crap about non-anthro CO2 sources is crap?

    Time and time again you are corrected on this blog but I never seem to recall any acknowledgement on your part that you were wrong. You just… slide over your errors, no matter how serious. That’s not good enough. It’s next-door to active dishonesty.

  76. izen says:

    @-M2
    Humans are not responsible for 100% of the atmospheric rise in CO2.
    We are responsible for 200% of it.

    Tactics.
    Attacking the scientific deficiencies of statements from sources like the GWPF is missing the target.
    The GWPF does not care about the ‘science’ in the statements beyond making it superficially plausible and marginally defensible if you use their specific definitions of ‘small’ incomplete’ significant’ etc. The ‘science’ these sources use is largely irrelevant, as others have noted it is often designed to imply a message without providing any definitively ‘wrong’ statement.

    Dana had it right above, point out the dubious nature of the source by association.
    Using the GWPF statements, articles as an ‘authority’ on the science is like using Creationists as an authority on evolution or tobacco companies as an authority on the health risks of smoking.

    Never mention THEIR ‘scientific’ arguments, simply state the RS and consensus, points;
    CO2 rise 100%(x2) anthropogenic;
    temperature rise 100%(+?) anthropogenic;
    sea level rise >50%(+<50%) anthropogenic.

    The endorsement by a list of scientific experts is also a trademark of such political/ideological propaganda. It is actually useful tactically, as with Intelligent Design, Tobacco, anti-vaxers etc, there is always a small list of 'eminent' experts cited as endorsing the POV advanced. A small group dwarfed by the numbers directly involved in the science who hold to the mainstream consensus.

    This of course is an appeal to authority.
    But so is the GWPF publication. That is why they have the expert endorsements.
    In this case the mainstream 'authority' is much bigger, has an established history and a better record of success than the contrarian few.
    And is not defending it's coal mining business.

    At which point it usually becomes clear that in such disputations it is the ideological affiliations/business interests that are the problem, not the science. People reject the Royal Society statement as scientifically accurate because of the perceived (and conspiratorial) biases of the scientific establishment. Not because they have any coherent point to make about the science.

  77. verytallguy says:

    There’s an interesting post on Realclimate about tropical cyclones. There was some discussion here a few weeks ago about the model of the atmospheric circulation as a heat engine. The basic equation for peak windspeed in a cyclone is given there as:

    where Vp is the potential maximum wind speed, Ts is the surface temperature, Tt is the tropopause temperature, hs* is the saturation moist static energy of the sea surface, and h* is the saturation moist static energy of the free troposphere.

    Other than the general interest, the relevance here is against the GWPF’s

    Extra energy does not cause storms. Nor does it necessarily increase their strength. Energy differences and gradients cause storminess. Changes in internal energy and moisture that do not affect gradients and differences can have little effect… …In fact models call for a decrease in gradients between equator and poles, which would imply a reduction in storminess.

    (my emphasis)

    So the temperature difference of relevance for intensity of tropical cyclones is that between the surface and the tropopause (the heat source and sink driving the “engine”). Which increases with greenhouse driven global warming.

    It is of course more complex than this. See http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2015/03/severe-tropical-cyclone-pam-and-climate-change

  78. vtg,
    That’s a very good Realclimate post, thanks.

  79. izen says:

    So…
    CO2 warming causes a reduction in the temperature difference between equator and poles. flow of energy from equator to poles reduces, causing changes in the Hadley cells and ocean circulation.
    Co2 causes an increase in the temperature differential between surface and tropopause. So more energy drives the local turbulence (storms) on that (reduced) equator -> pole flow.

    And models predict some of this, indicating a rise in storm intensity. But the short period of observation indicates that the models, as with sea ice, seem to underestimate the observed changes. Or fail to model how much variation there is from PDO or other postulated inherent cycles.

    So as with ice and sea level rise, the models are wrong on storm intensity.
    It is either worse than we thought.
    Or as bad as we thought, but natural variation can make it even worse.
    -grin-

  80. entropicman says:

    Webhubtelescope, Michael2

    Last time I looked, Bishop Hill was getting 190 hits/day and Realclimate 150 hits/day.

    We are indeed a backwater.

  81. It’s on a sliding scale.The fact that pseudo-science sites beat realclimate in site rankings is understandable given the history of human thought. Who knows whether it will turn around in the coming generations.

    Yesterday, I saw that I was compared to Doug Cotton for my “wild-eyed” ideas by some leprechaun named Steve Fitzpatrick .. yes it was on St. Patrick’s Day.

  82. Lucifer says:

    izen,
    CO2 warming causes a reduction in the temperature difference between equator and poles.
    -or-
    Co2 causes an increase in the temperature differential between surface and tropopause.

    Or, CO2 warming doesn’t change the pole to equator temperature gradient much at all,
    leaving the general circulation much as before.

    The models ( Hot Spot ) predict a strong increase in temperature gradient ( at 300mb, which is near the jet stream and maximum momentum level ).
    The observations reveal a weak decrease in temperature gradient:

  83. BBD says:

    Lucifer

    I thought the observational data were insufficient to make that claim. I thought that this, and all other ‘models are wrong’ claims wrt the tropical tropospheric hot spot were simply denialist talking points.

    I also recall you posting this graphic several times already here, despite being made aware that strong claims wrt the tropical hot spot are unsupportable from the data. That teeters on the slippery brink of bad faith.

  84. Lucifer says:

    vtg:
    So the temperature difference of relevance for intensity of tropical cyclones is that between the surface and the tropopause (the heat source and sink driving the “engine”). Which increases with greenhouse driven global warming.

    Well, if the models were correct, the HotSpot would tend to squelch tropical cyclone development ( because there is a dramatic increase in static stability ) from surface to hot spot.

    The observations are of not much change in the tropical lapse rate which has corresponded with not much change in tropical cyclone intensity.

    The future bears watching.

  85. Lucifer says:

    Adrew Dodds,

    If a past change in climate did kill off 90% of the human population at the time, you wouldn’t know.

    Very much to the point.

    If a past change in climate did kill off 90% of the human population, the remaining population was strongly selected for traits of surviving climate change.

    This process has occurred, of course, for all species and their progenitors over many millions of years.

  86. Lucifer,

    If a past change in climate did kill off 90% of the human population, the remaining population was strongly selected for traits of surviving climate change.

    Indeed, and this is something I’d quite like to know: are those who are broadly unconcerned about climate change happy with this as a possible outcome. It does sometimes seems as though they regard any central interference as completely wrong and, therefore, that even if our actions do lead to some kind of catastrophic event, that that is simply how things should work. Natural selection being a fundamental aspect of free-market economics?

  87. verytallguy says:

    Lucifer,

    I’m not being funny here, but you’re a random anonymous bloke on the internet making unreferenced assertions. From my very brief research, experts seem to disagree with you, so I might just go with the experts. But perhaps you can back up your assertions?

    Well, if the models were correct, the HotSpot would tend to squelch tropical cyclone development ( because there is a dramatic increase in static stability ) from surface to hot spot

    Citation needed – a link would be nice
    Note that Kerry Emmanuel in the RC link above seems to disagree

    The observations are of not much change in the tropical lapse rate

    Citation needed – a link would be nice.
    Note Santer et al (2008) seem to disagree: “We find that there is no longer a serious discrepancy between modeled and observed trends in tropical lapse rates.”

    http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abs/sa01200l.html

  88. Hey Lucy, Your devilish buddy Shubby was tweetplaining about WaPo’s Mooney and the fact that Mooney said skeptics never seem to want to advance the science, only to kick some tired old ideas down the street.

    Why not use your large satanic brains to figure out how ENSO works and model its behavior? It’s not that difficult to make some progress.

    We will wait on your reportage.

  89. verytallguy says:

    Oh, and Lucifer, I would appreciate a response to your being caught out being mendacious here:

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2015/03/07/impacts/#comment-50228

    ‘cos unless you can back up your assertions, history seems to be repeating itself

  90. Jon says:

    If a past change in climate did kill off 90% of the human population, the remaining population was strongly selected for traits of surviving climate change.

    This process has occurred, of course, for all species and their progenitors over many millions of years.

    And what, hypothetically, if the past change in climate that killed off 90% of the human population was one of the many colder periods we know have occurred since homo sapiens arose? Do you believe the traits selected for during a glacial period would magically also turn out to the the traits most suitable for surviving hotter conditions?

  91. BBD says:

    Whoopsie. Demon falling…

    By ignoring my comment and instead repeating an unsupported assertion Lucifer has lost his grip on the slick rim of bad faith and is now on his way down to Pandaemonium.

  92. BBD says:

    Sigh. Repeat: agriculture is our achilles’ heel to impacts from rapid climate change and agriculture was invented only during the Holocene. The rest is paleosquirrels.

  93. snarkrates says:

    Lucifer: “If a past change in climate did kill off 90% of the human population, the remaining population was strongly selected for traits of surviving climate change.”

    Oh, dear. Somebody doesn’t understand how evolution works. Or climate change, for that matter. Why would you assume that the current change epoch is similar to past epochs in terms of degree of change, speed of change or duration? Why would you assume that the sorts of changes we’ve seen in the past 100000 years would prepare modern humans for the changes we are seeing now? Why would you assume that having a human population of >7 billion people existing in a highly integrated global civilization doesn’t change anything?

    Lucy, you got a lot of ‘splaining to do.

  94. Lucifer says:

    vtg,

    I take the questions you have as:
    1. would the Hot Spot inhibit tropical cyclone intensity?
    2. is the Hot Spot verifying?

    First, the equation you cite of energy proportional to tropopause to surface temperature difference, still applies, and given a near constant tropopause temperature ( which is modeled and borne out by observations ) would tend to increase TC energy as surface temperatures rise.
    However, the energy of convection, indicated by the temperature difference term, also applies to the intervening levels from surface to tropopause. The modeled Hot Spot, as seen in figure C from the IPCC below:

    indicates peak warming around 300 millbars in the tropics. The difference in temperature of the surface and the temperature @ 300 millibars decreases dramatically. This is an increase in static stability which inhibits convection.

    As for the Hot Spot, the graphic I update from time to time is one I create from the GISS model, the RATPAC-B raob data set, the RSS MSU data and the UAH MSU data. The common color shadings are based on the temperature trends for each available level.

    The Hadley RAOB analysis used to reside in this report:
    http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap1-1/finalreport/sap1-1-final-all.pdf

    Hmmmm…. – its gone. Wonder who did that.

    Anyway, the Hot Spot is not a ‘radiative feature’ rather it is a result of fluid dynamics.
    Since the fluid dynamics of the atmosphere are non-linear and chaotic, it is not surprising that such features might not verify.

  95. verytallguy says:

    Lucifer,

    I note that you have not provided a reference which supports your assertions.

    You assert that a tropical hot spot would “squelch cyclone development”

    Please provide a reference which supports this claim. Your own rambling on stability is not a reference. Kerry Emmanuel disagrees.

    On hot spot, please provide a reference which shows that models and observations disagree. Sanger et Al say they do agree.

    On your mendacious out of context quote from AR3, I await your response with interest.

  96. Lucifer says:

    BBD, here’s your one reply, so enjoy it.

    Yes, much of modern agriculture was developed during the Holocene Climatic Optimum. The development of grains, most notably, allowed storing food for year round consumption and ended the wandering around searching for new supplies. That included rice in the far east, wheat in the middle east ( as well as sugar and citrus fruits ) and corn in Central America. Of course, at the same time that grains allowed for civilization, they’re also responsible, particularly in their refined forms, for the diseases of civilization – obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Things are never black and white.

    Anyway, rice remains a fairly tropical crop. However, consider that corn was first cultivated in Central America but was spread to both the deserts of New Mexico and the plains of Iowa. Wheat, first developed in the middle east is grown in the US, Canada, Europe, including strains in Ireland. While climate can be important, in the spread of grains, anyway, it is not that important.

    Now, here are the surface temperature anomalies from the CESM model for 6 thousand years ago for winter:

    and summer:

    For land in the Northern Hemisphere- Colder Winters & Hotter Summers – a good definition of more extreme climate. Agriculture developed in a mode extreme climate. Compare that with the modeled climate change from CO2 – greater warming in winter, less in summer. Overall warming with a less extreme climate.

    Given the geographical and temporal variation already observed in human agriculture, I’d submit that climate change will not be that significant. It certainly hasn’t been so far with continuing increases in global crop yield, calories consumed, and obesity.

  97. John Hartz says:

    Yes, Chris Mooney is driving the folk in Deniersville nuts because he presents what they cannot cope with, i.e., scientific explanations of what’s happening within various components of the the Earth’s climate system. His blog post of today is illustrative of this and is very timely and informative to boot.

    This is climate skeptics’ top argument about Antarctica — and why it’s wrong by Chris Mooney, Energy & Environment, Washington Post, Mar 18, 2015

  98. BBD says:

    Lucifer

    Agriculture developed in a mode extreme climate. Compare that with the modeled climate change from CO2 – greater warming in winter, less in summer. Overall warming with a less extreme climate.

    Given the geographical and temporal variation already observed in human agriculture, I’d submit that climate change will not be that significant. It certainly hasn’t been so far

    Agriculture did *not* develop in a climate with summer temperatures in excess of those during the HCO. But – unless you deny the validity of multiple lines of evidence – that is what we are going to see fairly soon now. And crop yields are *very* sensitive to summer heat extremes.

    The bold part is just risible nonsense. Regional agriculture NOW in the late Holocene is adapted to regional climate. And arguing that future climate change under greatly increased forcing will be relatively benign because of current conditions is so obviously, painfully wrong that it deserves only one response: derision.

  99. BBD says:

    Hmmmm…. – its gone. Wonder who did that.

    Oh dear, Lucifer is a conspiracy theorist.

  100. John Hartz says:

    While Lucifer and his ilk spread their pseudo-science poppycock on comment threads like this, real science marches on. For example…

    A study of wheat yields by 53 researchers on six continents, including a Kansas State University professor, has found that the effects of climate change on Kansas’ top crop will be far more disastrous, and begin much sooner, than previous thought.

    Each time the average global temperature increases by one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit), global wheat grain production is reduced by about 6 percent, according to the study, published in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change.

    According to the researchers, the 6 percent decline would equate to 42 megatons, or 42 million tons, of wheat each time the global temperature rises by a single degree Celsius.

    “To put this in perspective, the amount is equal to a quarter of global wheat trade, which reached 147 (megatons) in 2013,” the researchers wrote. The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported last September that the Earth had warmed 0.85 degrees Celsius between 1880 and 2012.

    Study: Effects of climate change on wheat will be dire by Justin Wingerter, The Topeka Capital-Journal, Feb 23, 2015

  101. dhogaza says:

    Note that in Lucifer’s first graphic, it appears to be the modeled hotspot for a doubling of CO2. So Lucifer appears to be comparing that with current observations, though of course we’re still a long ways from having doubled CO2. This ummm “ampliies” ummm any “mismatch” between modeled outcomes and current results.

    Lucifer generates the graph himself, I’m comparing it with a known graphic from SkS which uses model output for doubling of CO2 and they look very similar.

    Here’s the SkS graphic for comparison with Lucifer’s above:

  102. Kevin ONeill says:

    Lucifer says: “…much of modern agriculture was developed during the Holocene Climatic Optimum.” and “Agriculture developed in a mode [sic] extreme climate.” I assume you meant ‘more’ extreme climate than today.

    The first assertion is problematic in that the HCO occurred at different times in different places – by several thousand years within the same continent. But even taking that out of the equation we’re left with the fact that agriculture is generally believed to have begun around 12ka BP and the HCO is typically listed as 9ka to 6ka BP.

    The second assertion – what BBD said and what I’ve said in the paragraph above *and* why are you using a single model’s output with no indication of whether it matches other models or proxy data?

    You conclude with this, “It certainly hasn’t been so far with continuing increases in global crop yield, calories consumed, and obesity.”

    What BBD said. Yours is a rather superficial statement given that much of this increase can be attributed to fertilizer usage and irrigation systems. Nor does it take into account that plants may appreciate higher levels of CO2, but high temperatures, drought, and extreme precipitation events are not conducive to plant growth – and each of these are part and parcel of global warming as we expect it to unfold.

  103. But Mooney is only an English major!
    While Lucy and Shubby are Devil’s Advocates … egad, lawyers.

  104. dhogaza says:

    Climate Dialogue had a great discussion about this a couple of years ago, and included Mears (RSS) and Christy (UAH). A summary can be found here:

    http://www.climatedialogue.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Climatedialogue.org-extended-summary-the-missing-tropical-hot-spot.pdf

    Skip to #10 for the “models vs. data” part. The summary IMO is a bit too fair to Christy (it is written by Marcel Crok), but not horribly so (I came to my conclusion by reading the original comments). Though the RSS results more closely match modeled results than UAH, Mears emphasizes the problems with analyzing MRU data (demonstrated, among other things, by the fact that different attempts to generate temperature time series from it differ noticeably). His conclusion is that the data is insufficient to detect the model outputs so far (remember, we’ve not doubled CO2 yet, so the pertinent model outputs aren’t as drastic as they look in the above graphic).

    That seems reasonable to me.

    Others may disagree.

  105. If 90% of Homo sap had been wiped out, the evidence of that population bottleneck would be in our genes. There was some argument to that point circa late 90s/early 2000s suggesting that such a thing had happened around ~70,000 BC (the Toba eruption, leading to a global winter, not warming) , but the hypothesis has not held up particularly well to tests since. And in any case it would not indicate the survivors were especially well adapted to global *warming*, nor, of course, that our civilization is , either. Michael2, do you ever plan to admit you’ve been wrong about anything (practically everything, really) so far?

  106. (FWIW, there’s othere proposed human population bottlenecks, but they aren’t associated with global climate change so much as with e.g. migration out of Africa)

  107. anoilman says:

    Steven Sullivan: “Michael2, do you ever plan to admit you’ve been wrong about anything (practically everything, really) so far?”

    No… he casts aspersions, makes massive leaps of logic, and walks away when you provide absolute, and clear evidence that he has not clue what so ever.

    Eventually you’d think he’d clue in to what the real shortcoming here is. He doesn’t. So I’d say pretty far down the Kruger Dunning scale.

  108. MIchael Hauber says:

    Lucifer,

    the hotspot is related closely to the moist adiabatic lapse rate – the rate at which a parcel of saturated air cools as it ascends. This rate slows down as air becomes warmer, as it holds more water vapor and more latent heat is released as this water vapor rises. This means that as the world warms up the upper atmosphere must warm faster for instability levels for saturated parcels of air to remain constant, and this is the primary reason why the hotspot is expected to exist. Hurricanes form from saturated parcels of air.

    And on agriculture, while most crops grow in a wide variety of climates, productivity does vary dramatically according to the climate. Detailed analysis of the likely impact of climate change seems to suggest that while there are going to be winners (less freezing and more rain will increase productivity in the sub arctic) and losers (increased drought and heat in generally rainfall limited temperate to subtropical regions) that overall there will be a decrease in productivity. I’ve never gone into the details, and it looks like a tricky subject which would need a lot of work to get to the bottom of. I trust the experts.

    Overall crop yields may have increased, but the question is where are we in relation to the earth’s maximum carrying capacity. If the total capacity is well above current demand then it is expected that crop yields will increase as demand increases, even though loss of productivity is reducing the maximum possible capacity. It is only when the maximum capacity gets close to or below the demand level that we get into real trouble.

    We will still have crops in the year 2100. But will it be enough?

  109. John Hartz says:

    The results of this newly published scientific research does not bode well…

    The amount of carbon that the Amazon rainforest is absorbing from the atmosphere and storing each year has fallen by around a third in the last decade, says a new 30-year study by almost 100 researchers.

    This decline in the Amazon carbon sink amounts to one billion tonnes of carbon dioxide – equivalent to over twice the UK’s annual emissions, the researchers say.

    If this pattern exists in other forests around the world, deeper cuts in human-caused carbon dioxide emissions are needed to meet climate targets, the researchers say.

    Amazon rainforest is taking up a third less carbon than a decade ago by Robert McSweeney, The Carbon Brief, Mar 18, 2015

  110. entropicman says:

    Webhubtelescope

    “Yesterday, I saw that I was compared to Doug Cotton for my “wild-eyed” ideas by some leprechaun named Steve Fitzpatrick ..”

    In my Debating Society days insults lost points. They were regarded as a sign that ones opponent had run out of useful arguments, and was therefore losing.

    Whatever the topic, you were winning the debate. 🙂

  111. Michael 2 says:

    anoilman “he casts aspersions…”

    I wondered if anyone was going to notice. Good on you!

    “makes massive leaps of logic”

    Nothing but the best for my readers.

    “and walks away when you provide absolute, and clear evidence that he has not clue what so ever.”

    Nothing here is evidence. As to walking away, I expected a bit more gratitude.

    Futbol season has started and it occupies quite a bit of my spare time. So, like it or not, I’ll be here less often.

  112. BBD says:

    M2

    Nothing here is evidence.

    Rubbish.

  113. russellseitz says:

    When will it dawn on Nigel Lawson that you can leave out all the disputed temperature data and still define the trend ?

  114. Kevin ONeill says:

    BBD – I’m not familiar with the mind set that can just disregard multiple lines of evidence, but I would assume that when those lines are shoved in front of one’s face one would need to look away, vacate the area, and give one’s brain some time to erase the memory so that one can continue on as before.

    The alternative would be to admit error. God knows where that could lead.

  115. entropicman says:

    Kevin ONeill

    It is called Morton’s Demon.

  116. anoilman says:

    Kevin ONeill: “The alternative would be to admit error. God knows where that could lead.”

    Progress, competence, and eventually enlightenment?

    But that’s not on the menu for some…

  117. JWhite says:

    entropicman

    “It’s called Morton’s Demon”

    Nailed it.

  118. izen says:

    @-anoilman
    “Progress, competence, and eventually enlightenment?
    But that’s not on the menu for some…”

    Because some people are convinced that they are enlightened, content and further progress is not possible, in fact any change in their outlook would be a deterioration, not an improvement. They hold their present POV to be correct without any doubt or scepticism.
    {Actually most people consider their present beliefs to be correct and unimprovable, it seems to be an inherent aspect of any strongly held opinion.}

  119. I think that battling Morton’s Demon is something we all should be aware of. In climate science and meteorology, the use of anecdotal information and “just so” narratives runs rampant. It is very easy to get seduced by the anecdotes that support your position while ignoring the rest.

    I have a possible example of a Morton’s Demon that I am battling myself. I say possible in that it may actually be valid to make a selection that improves an estimate. Consider how Bayes is often applied. Or how machine learning algorithms are often constructed.

  120. Joshua says:

    WHT –

    Thanks for referencing that concept. Google brought this as the first hit:

    Maxwell suggested a famous demon which could violate the laws of thermodynamics. The demon, sitting between two rooms, controls a gate between the two rooms. When the demon sees a speedy molecule coming his way (from room A), he opens the gate and lets the speedy molecule leave the room and when he sees a slow molecule coming at the gate (from room A), he holds it closed. Oppositely, when he sees a speedy molecule coming at the gate from room B he closes the gate but when he sees a slow molecule from room B coming toward the gate he opens it. In this way, the demon segregates the fast moving molecules into one room from the slow ones in the other. Since temperature of a gas is related to the velocity of the molecules, the demon would increase the temperature of room B and cool room A without any expenditure of energy. And since a temperature difference can be used to create useful work, the demon would create a perpetual motion machine.

    Maxwell’s demon was shown to fail by Szilard who showed that the demon needed to use light (and expend energy) to determine a fast molecule from a slow one. This energy spent to collect information meant that the demon couldn’t violate the 2nd law.

    What an interesting way to analogize motivated reasoning.

  121. Joshua says:

    Oops.

    Never a good idea to read blog comments in reverse chronological order (although I often do so).

    Thanks should go to entropicman, who linked the exact same page that I excerpted. 🙂

  122. JCH says:

    The great kim pulled the demon out the either day. He appears to think when he next ice age commences, anthropogenic warming of the deep oceans will keep mankind cozy on the surface.

  123. BBD says:

    He has a point. Anthropogenic warming of the climate system is likely to inhibit at least the next glacial cycle and probably prevent it altogether (Archer & Ganopolski 2005).

  124. Kevin ONeill says:

    izen says: “…Actually most people consider their present beliefs to be correct and unimprovable…”

    The first part of this – that we believe our present beliefs to be correct – would be rather strange if *not* true. It would truly be weird if we wandered around with beliefs we thought were wrong 🙂

    The ‘unimprovable’ part is the portion that varies from person to person and from belief to belief. There are varying degrees of confidence in any particular belief we hold. I am highly confident about my Social Security Number, much less so about who the eventual winner of the NCAA basketball tournament will be.

    So I think what we’re really dealing with is misplaced or overestimation of the confidence level we personally attach to different beliefs.

  125. izen says:

    @-Kevin ONeill
    “… – that we believe our present beliefs to be correct – would be rather strange if *not* true. It would truly be weird if we wandered around with beliefs we thought were wrong :)”

    Speak for yourself.
    On good days I think only half of what I believe is probably wrong.
    Other days I wonder which half.

  126. Joshua says:

    I thought of Matt Ridley’s logic, and the whining about “CENSORSHIP”, when I tsaw this:

  127. Michael 2 says:

    Steve Mosher recommends

    http://educ.jmu.edu//~omearawm/ph101willtobelieve.html

    That’s some great writing. Thank you for recommending it. I’ve been down some of those roads that lead only to futility with friends and family; but I say, “it is what it is” and they have their beliefs and I have mine; and someone whose nature it is to try to persuade others cannot deny his nature, but those upon whom he preaches can as easily ignore the persuasion if that is their nature.

  128. > The great kim pulled the demon out the either day. He appears to think when he next ice age commences, anthropogenic warming of the deep oceans will keep mankind cozy on the surface.

    Hence “Koldie,” JCH.

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