The 2C fantasy?

In the run up to the Paris meeting there seem to be a number of people focusing on the idea that the 2oC limit is essentially now a fantasy. There’s a post by Andy Revkin, and there’s a Nature feature called is the 2oC world a fantasy.

My own view is that giving ourselves a good chance of keeping warming below 2oC will be difficult. To have something like a 66% chance of staying below 2oC would require emitting no more than about another 300GtC. At the current rate, this could take less than another 30 years. So, clearly not an easy task. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible, or that there aren’t ways that it could be achieved. So, I find how many seem to frame this issue very frustrating.

Consider the Nature feature. It says

Climate modellers have developed dozens of rosy 2oC scenarios over several years,

Why rosy? They are simply models that give some indication of what pathways we could follow to give some kind of chance of staying below 2oC.

Followed by:

This work has fuelled hope among policymakers and environ­mentalists

How? I don’t think anyone who is moderately numerate fails to understand that trying to limit total future emissions to something like 300GtC is not going to be easy. What are they meant to do? Give in to despair?


But take a closer look, some scientists argue, and the 2oC scenarios that define that path seem so optimistic and detached from current political realities that they verge on the farcical.

This is one of the statements that really bugs me. In what sense are they meant to put political reality into a climate model? What would happen if climate scientists suddenly made such judgements? It just seems ridiculous. Climate models fundamentally obey the laws of physics. Until such time as something is physically impossible, it is still possible. The decision as to whether or not it is possible in a societally relevant sense is a decision that should be made by policy makers who are – ideally – acting on behalf of society.

The Nature feature also quotes Oliver Geden (who is also quoted by Andy Revkin) who says

Everybody is sort of underwriting the 2-degree cheque, but scientists have to think about the credibility of climate science.

How has this got anything to do with the credibility of climate science? Climate scientists are simply presenting possible future pathways. Imagine the uproar if a bunch of climate scientists were suddenly to say “sorry, although this pathway is actually possible, we’ve decided that we should no longer consider it because it is a political impossibility”. If anything, it seems that doing as Geden seems to be suggesting would be introducing politics directly into climate science, and damaging their goal of being policy relevant without being policy prescriptive.

There also seems to be a rather bizarre suggestion that somehow these supposedly optimistic scenarios are allowing us to carry on as we are, because they imply we can fix things later. For example

Models that have these negative emissions really do let you continue to party on now, because you have these options later

But these models aren’t – as far as I’m aware – suggesting that we can invoke negative emissions later. They’re models that suggest that there are certain emission pathways that may require negative emissions if we wish to still keep below 2oC. If this is not likely to be possible, then surely – if we still think aiming to stay below 2oC is a sensible target – we should then be aiming to follow some other kind of emission pathway that doesn’t require negative emissions, not blaming scientists for presenting future pathways that you think might be impossible to follow. Surely this isn’t all that hard to understand?

I guess at the end of the day, I find these kind of argument disingenuous. There seems to be two basic ways to look at this. Either you think a 2oC target is what we should be aiming for. If so, then what the climate models are suggesting is that we have to substantially reduce our emissions and we should probably start doing so now. Remember, there are large uncertainties. The roughly 300GtC carbon budget is based on giving us something like a 66% chance of staying below 2oC. Consequently, emitting more than 300GtC does not mean that we will fail to do so. We still might, and if someone thinks that a 2oC target is worth aiming for, then just missing it is likely to be a good deal better than giving up altogether.

An alternative is to disagree with there being some kind of 2oC target and – consequently – to argue for something different. Maybe a higher target, or some kind of different strategy that doesn’t directly involve a target. However, trying to blame scientists for presenting pathways that you now regard as politically impossible, just seems to entirely miss the point – intentionally, in some cases, I think. If we do miss what is regarded as an important target, it’s not going to be the fault of the scientists who have been highlighting various possible future pathways and outcomes. I fail to see how criticising climate scientists is anything other than trying to find a scapegoat for our lack of willingness to actually get down and do something constructive…well, or an excuse to continue doing nothing.

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138 Responses to The 2C fantasy?

  1. Something I didn’t quite get across in the post is that this seems like another example of where climate scientists simply can’t win. Speaking out means they’re advocating and people lose trust in their objectivity. Present climate models results that are politically unfeasable, and they’re being overly optimistic and unrealistic and people lose faith.

  2. Objectivity is something that’s very difficult for the average person. Scientists are trained to be objective—though not all can manage it all the time. In other walks of life, particularly politics, it seems impossible.

  3. “But take a closer look, some scientists argue, and the 2oC scenarios that define that path seem so optimistic and detached from current political realities that they verge on the farcical.”

    The people who wrote this part of the IPCC report assume that readers (a) know their energy and (b) recognize sarcasm. They have their cake and eat it. They tell environmentalists what they think they want to hear, and others what they need to know.

  4. Marlowe Johnson says:

    Thank you for saving me the trouble of writing this post. Can you imagine the cries of ‘politicization’ if modelers didn’t model include these scenarios? damned if they do, damned if they don’t. Plausibility in the context of mitigation is a fluid concept that’s governed far more by politics than engineering constraints. The menu of plausible courses of action when your house is on fire is very different than the one you’d consider when the insurance salesman showed up at your door a few months ago.

  5. pete best says:

    Is that right to speak of possible technologies that dont exist yet in order to postulate a possible future scenario. Negative emissions technologies are speculative presently for the scales needed. I mean what about the scenario in which nuclear fusion is commercially viable by 2060 and we electrify everything by then scenario.

    Something’s do sound not worth postulating as a viable scenario perhaps

  6. NevenA says:

    Why rosy? They are simply models that give some indication of what pathways we could follow to give some kind of chance of staying below 2oC.

    Earlier today I read this article on Skeptical Science and it says:

    He notes that of the 400 scenarios that have a 50% or better chance of meeting the 2 °C target, 344 of them assume the large-scale uptake of negative emissions technologies and, in the 56 scenarios that do not, global emissions peak around 2010, which, as he notes, is contrary to the historical data.

  7. Neven,
    Doesn’t sound very rosy to me.

  8. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Whilst reading about Prince Charles today (as you do)* I found out that the New Economics Foundation’s One Hundred Months campaign got its timetable from a reckoning of when combined atmospheric forcings (the six ‘Kyoto gases’ minus cooling aerosols etc.) would cross a notional 400 ppm CO2e threshold that would guarantee 2 deg C warming.

    I didn’t know NEF’s ‘100 months till doom’ shtick had any scientific pretensions. I really thought it was just the usual nice-round-number activist tosh plucked out of nowhere. Silly me.


    According to current estimates by the EEA, that particular 400 ppm CO2e threshold was crossed several years before NEF’s campaign was even launched (and older EEA estimates don’t put the threshold later than 2010) so why the hell is the Grauniad still giving space to the One Hundred Months campaign? According to it own rules, doom is guaranteed and always has been (or has been for the last sixty months if you use earlier EEA estimates). Funny old world.

    *A splendid quote from a speech Prince Charles gave about climate change during his 2009 eco-tour of South America in a large private jet:

    I am afraid that I am one of those people who prefers actions to words and that is why I immediately set about establishing my Prince’s Rainforests Project on the basis that if nothing is ventured nothing is gained.

    The usual long-winded false humility. Shorter version:

    I have flown here in a private jet to tell you that because I prefer actions to words I have set up yet another talking shop

    What a numpty. Poor old Charlie.

  9. verytallguy says:

    There’s a really serious point here.

    Temperature is analogue, not digital, and impacts rise much faster as temperature rises beyond 2C.

    So if we can’t meet 2C, mitigation becomes even more important and urgent, and we can be more certain that each bit of co2 reduction is worthwhile.

    Whereas often this is discussed along the lines of as we can’t avoid 2C anyway, we may as well not bother.

  10. NevenA says:

    ATTP, I haven’t had and won’t have the time to inform myself of all the details, but as I’ve understood almost every model that says 2 °C is possible paints a rosy picture by assuming that we’ll have technology that takes excessive CO2 out of the atmosphere somewhere in the future (ie a technofix that isn’t there yet, nor does it seem to be on the horizon) or that global emissions peak around 2010, which was 5 years ago.

    So, if true, that sounds rosy to me.

  11. verytallguy says:

    I see I crossed with vinny and he pre-vindicated me.

    Thanks vinny.

  12. Neven,
    I guess my view is that these projections aren’t really painting a picture at all – rosy, or not. They’re presenting a pathway that gives us a chance of staying below 2oC. if that now probably requires negative emissions, and if that is very unlikely to be achievable, then that provides information. Either we have to do more, or we have to accept that we can’t achieve the target.

  13. T-rev says:

    A good talk here by Kevin Anderson. He points out many holes in the 2C target.

    Ever the optimist, he makes mention that he’s 99.9% certain we won’t stay under 2C, but not to concentrate on the negative, as we do have a 0.1% chance’

    ATTP: You use the figure for emisions based on this years. Why would they stop at this years level ? They’ve inexorably climbed over the decades and nothing we’re doing is slowing that. Kevin Anderson, once again, points out that it’s about 15 years at most.

    That aside, if the ECS is a say 3, it’s already to late as Michael Mann points out here

    even if the ECS is low, he’s also suggesting 2036, which lines up with Kevin Anderson’s 2034.

    It seems odd to me to play russian roulette with any of this. Going back to your opening bit.. a 66% chance seems very poor odds for the very dangerous climate change, particularly as all bets are off after that, including the destruction of the biosphere as we know it. I would prefer 98% or higher. It’s as though all of this is an esoteric debate. The WHO (not the rock band…) estimate 150,000 deaths per annum all ready (1/2 way down).

    That’s before the Nordhaus rough guess of 2C as an acceptable political target, with not much scientific backing. 1.5C seems to be the often muttered number I see from climate scientists Hansen, Box etal

  14. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Thanks yourself, VTG. I’ve been in favour of a carbon tax since before the One Hundred Months Campaign was launched. (Top-down international targets? Not so much.)

  15. firstdano says:

    Kevin Anderson has an (always) interesting take on how scientists and others are behaving re: 2C limit. This is in line with what I’ve been saying for some time now: 2C is totally doable if we completely change our natures and transform our societies at the most basic level.



  16. firstdano says:

    Oh, whoops: should have F5 before commenting, apologies.



  17. izen says:

    The emissions totals and surface temperature are two global metrics that simplify a very complex web of real physical factors.

    Many perceive the threat implied by a 2degC temperature rise and while conceding that it is possible, even likely, warn of the dire consequences of reaching and exceeding it.
    Despite attacks by the uncertainty monster.

    But dismissing the opposition to the 300Gtn limit implied by a 2degC risk level as being that it is politically impossible might ignore a larger objection.
    Some see the 300Gtn limit as a threat to the equally complex logistics of our present human global civilisation. It is not just a ‘political’ problem to limit CO2 emissions. It is a real problem in the allocation of resources that are required for transport, manufacture and most importantly food.

    It doesn’t help that some of the possible solutions involve political and economic change that those with the most economic and political power find threatening.

    Of course it may be PHYSICALLY possible to limit global CO2 emissions by following a pathway involving a lot of complex physical processes, just as it is physically possible for global temperatures to exceed 2degC with complex local consequences.

    However many see evident(?) damage that would result from CO2 emission limits, to the agriculture, transport and manufacturing economy of the globe that is presently providing ~6 billion people with better health and education than at any time in human history .
    A globalised culture/economy/food production system that is 80% dependent of fossil fuels for the energy it uses.

    Damage inflicted by present actions, not speculative future impacts.

    The possible emissions pathways and the consequences are insufficiently imaginative. If you are going to allow negative emissions, carbon capture on a significant scale it means paradigm changing technology. The thermodynamics means carbon capture requires an energy source at least double the efficiency/convenience of fossil fuels. Half to power the current system, half to mop up the old CO2.

    Or at least an chemical/enzyme system MUCH better than Rubisco that can convert CO2 to carbohydrates, hydrocarbons or limestone much better than grass, trees and coral can.

    If you can have emissions scenarios involving that sort of technological advance, allow technology that can enable the extraction or exploitation in situ of the massive amounts of sequester hydrocarbons in coal, shale gas and oil tar sands etc.
    Last estimate I saw gave around another 2000Gtn in reserve…

  18. Eli Rabett says:

    Anderson, Betts, Geden, etc are of the relax and enjoy it school

  19. rustneversleeps says:

    “Anderson, Betts, Geden, etc are of the relax and enjoy it school”

    Huh? What are you on about, bunny?

  20. I think Betts may have just been a little rude to our Bunny, and Eli’s probably right about Geden. Anderson, on the other hand, is – from what I’ve seen – of essentially the opposite school.

  21. I doubt it’s fair to lump the first two with our mutual favorite, Eli:

    Dr. Oliver Geden (hereafter Oliver, as we’ve been introduced), Head of the EU/Europe Research Division of the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, has circled around the contrarian bandwagon, e.g. at Pierre’s or Judy’s. The title at Pierre’s intrigued me: Oliver sees a “paradigm shift.” This may not predispose Eli, who is not exactly a Kuhn fan. However, there is a stupendous entailment: this paradigm shift leads to a “depolitization” of climate science. I find the possibility tempting enough to start to believe in paradigms beyond hi-fi stuff. (No affiliation; I’m a Lynn snob.)

  22. mwgrant says:

    johnrussell40 wrote

    Scientists are trained to be objective—though not all can manage it all the time.

    This should be “Scientists are trained to be objective—though no scientist can manage it all the time. (There are no Mr. Spock’s.)

  23. Eli Rabett says:

    Richard was just being Brit. Eli understands

    @richardabetts @ed_hawkins @curryja Eli hears what you say :)— eli rabett (@EthonRaptor) November 28, 2015

  24. mwgrant says:


    There has to be a logical reason for Spock’s behavior in those scenes. :O)

  25. John says:

    Isn’t the point of the article is to legitimise geoengineering? Just another version of don’t fix now what can be fixed later…

  26. jsam,
    Wow, he persistant, I’ll give him that.

  27. Sam taylor says:

    Eli is waaaay off on Anderson, that’s for sure. I would suggest that twitter isn’t the best forum to get someone’s nuanced views on a complex subject.

    Physically, of course it’s possible to avoid 2C. We simply switch off all our coal plants and what have you and there you go. It’s the political and economic side of things where it gets thorny. The issue being that it’s, fundamentally, a massive collective action problem and there’s no large scale enough body to club everyone into cooperating. Too many incentives to weasel out, especially if the required rates of decarbonisation end up causing economic pain.

  28. bill shockley says:

    jsam said:

    Matt King Coal says don’t worry, be happy.

    Is this something new for SA to be publishing this kind of crap?

  29. Rachel M says:

    Matt Mullenweg, my boss and the CEO of Automattic, sets out goals each year for our company and he always makes them very ambitious saying that if we meet every single one of them, they weren’t good enough to begin with. I like that attitude and I think it means that the loftier the goal, the more you will end up achieving than if you’d aimed towards something more easily attainable.

    There’s an open letter from academics around the world calling on global leaders to aim for 1.5 degrees. I think our goal should be nothing more than this.

  30. bill shockley says:

    There’s an open letter from academics around the world calling on global leaders to aim for 1.5 degrees

    James Hansen agrees with this target and says “the science is clear…”

    In a new Guardian blog post he also predicts this year’s conference will end the same way as previous years’ conferences.

    Get ready for the great deceit and hypocrisy planned for December in Paris. Negotiators do not want the global leaders to look like fools again, as they did in Copenhagen. They are determined to have leaders clap each other on the back and declare the Paris climate negotiations a success.

  31. Sam taylor says:

    I hardly see the point in shooting for 1.5c when 2c is probably out of the window given political and economic realities. But hey, if some tech ceo is apeing something he read in a motivational book then it must be a good strategy.

  32. bill shockley says:

    It doesn’t have to happen at the International treaty conferences and Hansen knows it won’t. But he thinks the technocrats who run China may listen to reason. You only need the US and China to adopt a carbon tax, and the rest of the world would be obliged to follow suit, or end up giving away lots of carbon tax revenue that they could be keeping for themselves.

    As improbable as a good outcome seems, I have to respect and admire Hansen’s ardor and fight.

  33. Rachel M says:

    I don’t see why it seems like such an impossible dream. What sort of goals would we need to aim for 1.5C? I guess they might look a bit like this:

    * Implement a carbon tax
    * Invest in renewables
    * Invest heavily in R&D
    * Tax meat
    * Tax private motor vehicles
    * Increase spending on bicycle infrastructure and public transport
    * Invest in 4th generation nuclear
    * Improve insulation of building and housing stock

    On the individual level we can all have our own goals too:

    * Switch power providers to one that sells renewables
    * Stop eating meat or eat less of it
    * Get rid of your car
    * Take fewer flights
    * When the gas boiler dies replace it with something that doesn’t use fossil fuels
    * Insulate your home

  34. christian says:


    I dont think its more difficult to staying below 2K, its often forgotten, that Aerosols would push (magnitude is uncertain) the warming because if emissions will reduced its likely that some part is in Aerosols. Another point is, is the climate change we has seen really so “linear” as we had messurced? I have doubts about this, because antropogenic climate change and natural climate goes Hand in Hand and Regime Shifts are possible like this here:

    If you ask me, i would say 50 to 50 chance that we staying below 2K. And am i right, the now see the next “Regime Shift”, there is a very huge jumb in the most upper part of the oceans: (which can not explained by El-Nino only), so the only Questions is, huch much will we warm the next few years, i tend to say if we see next year more warming (because of delayed El-Nino-effects), we will see temperatures arround 2015 by the coming La-Nina-Event, would mean we jump arround 0.3K by a few years

  35. Ethan Allen says:


    You need to be careful at what you are looking at, in this case the 3rd quarter annual time series of mean temperature in the upper 100m of the water column (it’s been awhile, but I’m thinking 3month_mt directory stands for mean temperature, the 3month_sl directory stands for salinity and the 3month directory stands for combined or OHC)

    Very likely in is due to ENSO, because all that heat was stacked up in the western Pacific, the Westerlies weakened, and that big blob of OHC is now spread out throughout the eastern Pacific as well as the western Pacific (just now somewhat thinner).

    Just my SWAG, YMMV (someone else may want to correct me).

  36. Ethan Allen says:

    OK, sl stands for thermosteric sea level (my bad, see the FIGURES folder).

  37. christianjo says:


    I dont think so, ENSO or PDV do change the heat exchange between the Layers, the increase is due the positive Imbalance, so integrated over the deeps ( See 0-2000m) is more like the years before.

    In a simple way, the upper ocean is more going foreward to equilibrate with the Imbalance.

    And thats the clue, because of this we wont see temperatures like 2011 by next La-Nina, its more likely arround 2014/2015. I would bet for this..

  38. christianjo says:


    It’s not correct at all, that heat is coming from western Pacific, because there is not real water transport, it works about Kelvinwaves which are propagate eastward and push down the termoclimine, since then the upwelled water is warmer then usually and this reduce grandients and also weakens the Tradewinds.

    No time yet more later

  39. bill shockley says:

    Rachel: I don’t see why it seems like such an impossible dream. What sort of goals would we need to aim for 1.5C? I guess they might look a bit like this:

    A carbon tax would achieve most of the things on your list. If the playing field had been level all these years, with FF paying for their external consequences, they would never have become the dominant energy source. A carbon tax will restore the balance. The IMF estimates the combined subsidies and external costs to FF consumption at $5 Trillion per year, globally. Imagine the boost to economies as that burden is lifted.

    Hansen agrees that centralized guidance by governments can be helpful in certain cases. For example technology sharing and cooperation on nuclear between countries, especially the US, India and China could hasten conversion from coal in the most critical places where growth is the biggest and coal is presently the path of least resistance.

    He thinks 1.5C is totally doable and a 2C target is simply lazy.

    A major element in his calculations is the potential for CO2 drawdown through well-understood methods of reforestation and soil management in agriculture, which could remove 100GtC over 80 years.

    Here are his IPCC/RCP-equivalent scenarios:
    This is from his Dec., 2013 contra-IPCC opus Assessing Dangerous Climate Change

    It boggles me that smart, well-intentioned, prominent people like Kevin Anderson are able to overlook essential AGW mitigation tools that Hansen has identified (practical CO2 drawdown and revenue-neutral carbon taxation).

  40. Ethan Allen says:

    bill shockley,

    Here’s what Hansen really thinks about Obama and USA involvement in COP21 …

    The only thing I’ll say about that one is that I really don’t like the appeal to emotion informal logical fallacy on the part of Hansen. Oh and what appears to be an appeal to authority informal logical fallacy on the part of Ars Technica.

  41. bill shockley says:

    Ethan Allen,

    My quote from Hansen is from the very letter you proffer as his real thoughts (published on his Guardian blog rather than as an open letter on his Columbia U. webspace. Notice: the titles are the same.)

    Not sure what specifically you object to in the ars paper. I was delighted to see them highlight what Hansen is saying. It left out the usual negative spin they bring to the AGW issue.

  42. Ethan Allen says:

    bill shockley,

    I’ve never known Ars Technica to put a negative spin on anything AGW related. I’ve been a daily reader of their website for at least the past decade. You would have to provide some Ars Technica links in which you ‘think’ they (meaning specifically Ars Technica) have put a negative spin to the AGW issue. TYVM.

  43. Ethan Allen says:


    “No time yet more later” Don’t run away now.

  44. Ethan Allen says:

    I think I see my foul up, I used Westerlies when I should have used Trade Winds (which normally come from the east). Winds come from and water waves go to the directions indicated.

  45. christianjo says:


    Yes… but this dosent show the low level winds, which under El-Nino blows from South America to Australia (only known exception was 1997/1998 ). So the transport of water is the same direction but weaker, you see this well because the thermohaline isnt on the same Level from W to E under El-Nino its just not a strong grandient.

    For all other: (Figure 6 and Figure 8 )

  46. Pingback: Misrepresented? | …and Then There's Physics

  47. Sam taylor says:


    It’s great to have a list of things like that, but it’s yet another to get it implemented. If you’re a national government, good luck instigating a list of reforms like that without getting voted out. While the small minority of people who are educated and informed about climate change would probably think that those are a decent list of options, try getting a Sun reading white van man to vote for it.

    Furthermore, on the international level, you’re going to have a hell of a time getting everyone to play ball on reducing emissions. Far too much of a free rider incentive at the national level, and national politics are going to trump international agreements nearly all the time. Without the ability to punish defectors, you’ll have a hard time getting anything meaningfully binding. Furthermore, if the rapid emissions cuts that we require mean taking a short term economic hit (as seems likely to me), then no national leader would accept it.

    Exactly the same problems predominate at the individual level. If I stop eating meat, then great, but if this reduces the demand (and hence price) for meat, other less scrupulous people will have an incentive to eat more. Furthermore, while the cost of eating less meat (or installing a less efficient boiler, or flying less, not not having a car) is largely borne by me, the benefits of these actions will largely be felt by others. Therefore I have no real incentive to change my behaviour. This is the issue at the heart of the collective action problem here.

    There’s also a whole host of economics issues. Firstly, you’ve got the fact that economics does a pretty crappy job of dealing with the role of energy in economic growth. Most growth theory these days involves, from what I can tell, a load of hand-waving about ‘learning by doing’ some equations involving labour and capital and that’s your lot. ‘Total factor productivity’ (the unexplained residual that makes up the majority of economic growth observed over the last century or so) is basically treated as manna from heaven. There is, however, a pretty solid empirical literature within ecological economics documenting the relationship between energy and the economy. Yet, due to the fact these guys are pretty heterodox, they don’t really get much of a look in in this debate. Which is unfortunate, because these results could be pretty significant. And I think they certainly make Hansen’s spiel about revenue neutral carbon taxes and so on look quite seriously wrong (not that Hansen is much of an expert on energy or economics, to my knowledge).

    Even within the regular economic models, they’re totally open to all sorts of fiddling. You change a few little assumptions about discount rates (changing the functional form can have serious implications too, since hyperbolic discounting leads to much different outcomes than exponential, and occasionally irrational things like preference inversion) or future technologies and all of a sudden you can come to completely different conclusions. Just look at the wildly differing conclusions of Nordhaus or Stern based on choices in discount rate. For a more thorough discussion of this see Pindyck ( )

  48. BBD says:

    2000.625 0.135 0.092 0.130 0.098 0.138 0.087
    2001.625 0.161 0.091 0.203 0.093 0.131 0.090
    2002.625 0.186 0.060 0.243 0.079 0.146 0.047
    2003.625 0.224 0.059 0.307 0.061 0.167 0.058
    2004.625 0.240 0.059 0.366 0.066 0.153 0.055
    2005.625 0.243 0.050 0.367 0.060 0.158 0.043
    2006.625 0.269 0.046 0.357 0.051 0.207 0.043
    2007.625 0.192 0.043 0.289 0.049 0.126 0.039
    2008.625 0.216 0.039 0.288 0.046 0.167 0.034
    2009.625 0.299 0.037 0.405 0.045 0.225 0.031
    2010.625 0.232 0.040 0.309 0.046 0.178 0.036
    2011.625 0.230 0.037 0.275 0.047 0.200 0.030
    2012.625 0.260 0.034 0.292 0.040 0.237 0.029
    2013.625 0.270 0.036 0.334 0.045 0.225 0.029
    2014.625 0.289 0.031 0.403 0.036 0.209 0.027
    2015.625 0.452 0.034 0.573 0.043 0.368 0.028

    Wow. If I’ve read this right and WO = world ocean then that is indeed a huge spike. Also look at the numbers for NH vs SH. All ENSO EN? I’d be surprised too.

  49. BBD says:

    Oh dear, the formatting went away. I refer interested readers 😉 to the original NODC OHC data link (thanks, Christian).

  50. Ethan Allen says:


    Yes wo = world ocean, ao =Atlantic Ocean, io = indian Ocean and po = Pacific Ocean. Then it’s split into north and south hemispheres. I’ve downloaded all 16 quarters for the four above for 0-100m, combined and plotted. npo shows the most upward movement. Need to use consistent y-axis scale for all (to do).

    I’m still trying to wrap my head around Rossby Waves, Kelvin Waves and the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO). My thinking was along the lines of a simple oceanic wind driven seiche. 😦

  51. christianjo says:

    I hate writing from smartphone, if there is some confusion, me is “christianjo” and “Christian” but on smartphone i cant switch to “Christian”

    So were there some confusions about i am sorry

  52. Christian,
    I’d worked it out 🙂

  53. bill shockley says:

    Ethan Allen, I could find more if I took the time, but here’s a few choice ones:

    California’s drought declared natural by NOAA
    No, scientists aren’t predicting 10ft higher sea level by 2050
    Sandy-like storms not projected to become more common

    Titles and themes delivered with a straight face…

  54. christian says:

    @ BBD

    Y, its not only ENSO, its such thing like PDO/PDV. But its bit complex, first of all, there is some modification in heat-exchange between upper and deeper oceans caused by both. In the last few year, ENSO and PDO/PDV were often in their negative Modes, that had increased the heat-exchange, so the Heatuptake by Imbalance goes in the upper ocean and from there it was more then usually went down to the deeper oceans. You can see this, if you looking the Temperature for the Layer 0-100m and 0-2000m

    What you see is that Temperature-Anomaly since arround 2003 was very stabile between 0-100m and nearly doubled in 0-2000m.

    So we now going to a strong positive Modes in both, the heat-exchange is now slowed down, the heatuptake stay in the most upper Layer(we feel that as increased SST) and get not so strong down to the deeper Layers.

    This you can also see here:

    What you here see is, that upper oceans jumps very huge, nearly a doubling in Anomalie, the 0-2000m are also increased (because the upper ocean is a part of them) but not so strong as in the upper layer.

    So i hope you get it?

    And then, there was the positive Imbalance… so if 2017 get a La-Nina (its likley) the heat-exchange will increase but since the Imbalance is positive, this kind of more exchange can not compensate the fully increase of energy before, the upper oceans will low there anomalies but not in a magnitude that we will see a Anomalie arround before… that means the oceans surface temperature will not go back to temperatures like last La-Nina arround 2011.

    As is said before, i would bet for this

  55. JCH says:

    A few years ago on Climate Etc. there was a frequent commenter I nicknamed the Water Chef, as I was pretty confident he could boil water and little else. He was a chief hydrologist. He would often claim steric SLR was flat, and he would post the same dumb graph over and over. Professor Curry would hint at the same thing.

    One day Paul S pointed out to the Water Chef that the area of the ocean thought to be experiencing the most steric SLR was stacked up on the far Western Pacific… beyond the reach of the ARGO network.

    So in 2014 when ONI started drifting up to zero and beyond, that hot water started sloshing back toward the Eastern Pacifc, and SLR and OHC almost instantly started going up. Way up. In my simple mind it was because this very hot water stared encountering ARGO buoys.

    What I wonder is Zwally might be right, and steric SLR may have been underestimated in the sea level budget.

  56. Brendan says:

    I think Kevin Anderson’s point has been that the 2C goal is not physically possible today because the CCS (climate capture and storage) that is cited in these pathways does not currently exist.

    His point is that these facts are presented as if the technology is already proven and can be deployed on a large enough scale all while decarbonizing the economy.

    Even if we can use currently known techniques, at some point the energy required to plant all the trees and manage the soil better while feeding and housing all 7 billion humans won’t be there.

  57. BBD says:


    Thank you for your response, which provides a welcome (and needed 😉 ) insight into the physical processes that may be operating here.

    Can I just ask for clarification on one point?

    What you see is that Temperature-Anomaly since arround 2003 was very stabile between 0-100m and nearly doubled in 0-2000m.

    Does this mean that the rate of ocean heat uptake increased post 2003? (Presumably as a consequence of an increased rate of vertical transport down through the 100m layer?)

  58. christian says:


    I dont think this has caused change the rate of heat-uptake(0-2000m), but it has changed that relativ to the upper layern the deep ocean has stored more Energy. In a physical sence, in the very last period, there was more equatorial and costal upwelling of colder deep water, this lower (relativ) SST and Temperature of the upper ocean. In consiquence of this, if more water comes up it have to come more water down and the exchange increased and warmer (relativ) water is pushed down.

    Hope that helps

  59. bill shockley says:

    Brendan: I think Kevin Anderson’s point has been that the 2C goal is not physically possible today because the CCS (climate capture and storage) that is cited in these pathways does not currently exist.

    His point is that these facts are presented as if the technology is already proven and can be deployed on a large enough scale all while decarbonizing the economy.

    I know this assumption drives him mad and he rails against it at every opportunity. But if his calculations included CO2 drawdown of the order Hansen suggests is possible, he would not be saying we need to mitigate at 8-10% per year. This, plus I’ve never heard him mention the idea.

    OTOH, I have heard him speak against a carbon tax, showing no awareness of the revenue neutral idea which protects the less-wealthy segments of society.

    Even if we can use currently known techniques, at some point the energy required to plant all the trees and manage the soil better while feeding and housing all 7 billion humans won’t be there.

    I can see us maybe running out of money to buy oil but not out of oil (presumably what you are implying — as in agriculture running out of needed oil to run machinery?) If not this, then some other calamity, and the longer we wait, the greater the chances.

  60. bill shockley says:

    Opps! messed up the italics. Last paragraph is me speaking.

  61. BBD says:


    Okay, thanks. I’m still struggling with this 😦

    I understand that upwelling cold deep water must be counter-balanced with an equal volume of downwelling warm surface water. So if the rate of overturning circulation is increased (wind driven) and more warm surface water is subducted (? terminology) then surely the rate of ocean heat uptake would increase?

  62. Brendan,

    His point is that these facts are presented as if the technology is already proven and can be deployed on a large enough scale all while decarbonizing the economy.

    Possibly (and I agree that I’ve seen little to indicate that such technology could be deployed on a large scale) but who is saying this? I don’t see climate scientists, specifically, saying this. As I understand it, they present results that indicate what kind of pathway we might have to follow to give ourselves a chance of staying below some warming target. Whether such a pathway is actually possible is another issue.

  63. JCH says:

    BBD – the way I see it, uptake is really just the net of energy into the oceans minus energy out of the oceans. It goes up, as an example, during a La Nina, and it goes down during an El Nino. So when Hansen said the models had an uptake issue, it was the dominance of La Nina during the pause. Obviously, as ACO2 increases, energy out of the oceans is progressively inhibited, so OHC tends to progressively rise.

  64. BBD says:


    What’s puzzling me is the apparent contradiction between all this and eg. England et al. (2014):

    Here we show that a pronounced strengthening in Pacific trade winds over the past two decades—unprecedented in observations/reanalysis data and not captured by climate models—is sufficient to account for the cooling of the tropical Pacific and a substantial slowdown in surface warming through increased subsurface ocean heat uptake.

  65. BBD,
    But does that imply an increase in the net ocean heat uptake rate, or simply a change in the distribution of the heat uptake (I must admit that I haven’t been closely following this discussion, so may be missing the basic issue).

  66. JCH says:

    Do they mean stronger winds, or more persistent winds, or both? Subsurface, to me, in which part of the ocean. It redistribution.

    The simplest explanation, by Rahmstorf:

  67. BBD says:


    But does that imply an increase in the net ocean heat uptake rate, or simply a change in the distribution of the heat uptake

    I think that’s where I’m going wrong with this.

  68. JCH says:

    It would be interesting to know where the wind is, lower chart, post 2012.


  69. christianjo says:


    The comment of ATTP is rigth, it doesent increase the rate at all, it change the exchange between upper and deeper oceans. The increased SST is a result of less exchange and that water below the surface is warmer then usally (but its erverytime cooler then Surface).

    So that mean if there is some upwelling driven by Wind’s, the SST wont cool down as usually, in the tropics if this happen it would also reduce grandients which also reduce trade winds, which then reduce the Upwelling. Its like a positive Feedback whats happen, when system switch to El-Nino .

    I ve to work now i hope later that day i have time to explain better

  70. bill shockley says:

    Sam Taylor,

    You make the argument that reduced demand in one region stimulates demand in another by lowering the price. Hansen agrees with you here and points out that if enough of the global consumer economies, say US + China adopt a carbon tax with enforcement at their borders, then the tax becomes contagious.

    Lack of political will to support an idea does not invalidate the idea. If it’s what must be done, then we need to create the will, or feel very sorry later.

    Pricing carbon to account for enormous and growing externalities is a simple idea and its implementation can be simple. Economists and FF companies may not like it for this reason.

  71. BBD says:


    Again, thanks! I’ve been seeing this as simply variability in ocean heat uptake modulating tropospheric temperature but – I think – what I have been missing is the way that changes in ocean mixing impact SSTs which influence tropospheric temperatures without necessarily changing the overall rate of ocean heat uptake.

    Although this may still be wrong…

  72. BBD,
    I think that there is an additional complexity in that the different spatial pattern of the surface temperatures can influence the radiative response (through feedbacks) so that there is a smaller impact on the system heat uptake rate than one would expect if one assumed that everything remained fixed apart from a slight reduction in surface temperature – or slower surface warming.

  73. Brendan says:

    Bill Shockley,

    I feel like we’re all splitting hairs here over what is possible and what is not. From carbon taxes to carbon capture, there are tons of things that could have been started but are a long way from the scale of implementation that we need. I hope for the best but what is possible keeps changing and over time doors will keep closing.

    My last point about energy, not money, and it was my own I think (I’m sure it’s been in plenty of lectures and books). No matter the scenario, we will have coal and oil in the future, but at some point we have to stop using them, so I always think of the future as having less energy overall. Even if we really start building more nuclear power, we don’t have anything that can replace the return on investment of oil and coal. So any grand projects in 10 years or so of reforesting large areas of land would have to be done with less energy than we have now. I think at some point it would become impossible to do.

  74. JCH says:

    You’re looking at tiny sliver of energy that will either end up in GMST or OHC, depending upon the dynamics of wind and ocean at any particular time. For the most part, the earth gains energy regardless: La Nina, El Nino, ENSO neutral. Trenberth’s reanalysis indicated these brief moments when OHC actually went down: very strong EL Nino events and volcanoes. TOA imbalance goes the other way, and the energy, I presume, goes straight to space.

  75. BBD says:


    I think that there is an additional complexity in that the different spatial pattern of the surface temperatures can influence the radiative response (through feedbacks) so that there is a smaller impact on the system heat uptake rate than one would expect if one assumed that everything remained fixed apart from a slight reduction in surface temperature – or slower surface warming.

    I found the enegy budget thread quite hard to follow 🙂 but it’s starting to gel now. As you wrote a while back, it’s easy to misunderstand aspects of climate science, and this is not one of the more accessible topics 😉

  76. BBD says:


    And yet it is papers like Balmaseda et al. that appear to show an increase in the rate of ocean heat uptake (at least from about ~2000). You can easily see how confusion arises 😉

  77. anoilman says:

    We have a carbon capture system in Saskatchewan Canada. It doesn’t work properly. Or rather its functioning at 40% near as anyone can tell. The government has been avoiding talking about it since its a healthy $0.5billion subsidy… and the CO2 is being sold to oil companies for EOR;

    Saskatchewan is currently paying fines of like $72 million a year for the CO2 losses. And when it comes to EOR.. Umm.. its hard to keep this stuff down in oil fields.

    I suspect it will work in the end, but keep in mind that it still doesn’t cover all the costs. EOR means, oil companies are using the CO2 in wells they’ve drilled. Its also essentially an subsidy for oil companies.

  78. Paul S says:


    ERA reanalysis zonal wind stress is available at Climate Explorer. I haven’t checked the exact lat/lon parameters used by England but a general Pacific tropics average seems to be close to their graph. It shows the 2015 figure is back up to the long-term normal:

  79. BBD says:

    Paul S

    It shows the 2015 figure is back up to the long-term normal:

    Does the shear stress graph show *increased* values from ~1992 to 2011? If I understand this aright, the higher negative value indicates increased shear stress.

  80. bill shockley says:

    Brendan, I hadn’t considered the cost of reforestation as in issue.

    I don’t think we disagree about anything except maybe the cost of nuclear. France’s electric costs (70% nuclear) are roughly on par with the rest of Europe.

    I heard it said the other day, if Germany had invested in nuclear rather than solar, they would be carbon neutral now.

    Some people are optimistic about gen4 nuclear technologies. China is making a fairly large investment in MSR/Thoium, aiming to make it commercial in 2024 but such things cannot be believed till you see them.

  81. anoilman says:

    bill shockley: Outside of agriculture, reforestation should be such an issue. Plant some trees around your house and neighborhood. That would go a long ways, and its easy to do.

    I’ve planted 6 trees in my yard since I bought the place. I have two giant spruces in the front which I’m waiting to die so I can go solar. I’ll probably replace them with largish deciduous trees, which will provide some heat for the house in winter, and shade in summer.

    Another adaptation that I always harp on is air vents like we had in South Africa. We had small panels that we could open at the floor and ceiling. We’d open them in summer and close them in winter. As a result our house was relatively comfortable year round without air-conditioning.

  82. paulski0 says:


    It shows a trend to more negative values from 1992 to 2011, if that’s what you mean.

  83. Ethan Allen says:

    bill shockley (sorry for the delay as I just now found your reply),

    “Ethan Allen, I could find more if I took the time, but here’s a few choice ones:” rel=”nofollow

    Titles and themes delivered with a straight face…”

    Seriously? Face effin’ palm.

    You said “It left out the “USUAL NEGATIVE SPIN” they bring to the AGW issue.

    I would take “USUAL NEGATIVE SPIN” as meaning the vast majority of Ars Technica reporting on AGW if not their entire reporting on AGW.

    Most of their AGW reporting is devoted to the peer reviewed literature and not any denier memes whatsoever. I consider their reporting on the AGW issue very close to objective. Look at their reporting on the Lamar Smith versus NOAA issue (the majority of those various letters I got from them).

    You need to show me just ONE unambiguous article where Ars Technica engages in “USUAL NEGATIVE SPIN” with anything even remotely approaching a denier meme. Just ONE!

    I don’t know what you normally read, but what I read is almost always the actual paper being reported on myself, because I have ZERO trust in the PR spin coming from the author’s organizations (they almost always say stuff that the respective journals would never have allowed to be printed in their journal, bordering on almost outright public policy advocacy).

    Have a good day.

  84. bill shockley says:

    anoilman, thanks for the ideas. If I was young I’d move to the desert and learn how to permaculture and create my own little oasis so as to be out of the way when the hungry hoards invade (I don’t like crowds). I saw this video of what can be done with a little ingenuity. It’s amazing.

  85. bill shockley says:

    Ethan Allen, I didn’t say ars was WattsUp. ars serves a well-to-do, scientifically sophistacated crowd. Denier bludgeon-crap is not going to float. Compare any one of those three articles with how the same topic or paper was treated at ClimateProgress or The Guardian (USA) and tell me which way it was spinning.

  86. anoilman says:

    Ethan Allen: Thanks for all that about arstechnica. It appears to be a pretty crappy site offering crappy information, driven by biased reporting. I don’t think I would have noticed that if you hadn’t pointed it out.

    Great job, and have a better day!

  87. bill shockley says:

    anoilman, I probably started reading ars before Ethan Allen did. I loved their science coverage, especially the stuff about human evolution and always began my computer builds with their “budget box” recommendations. Comment sections were informed, with lots of professional/academic contributors. I only began noticing the corporate slant when they began coverage of the Manning and Snowden episodes, and then later when I began reading their climate articles. I had also begun reading Chomsky around that time and had recently stopped reading the NYer. Maybe that was my problem. Brainwashed by a fraud.

  88. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Let’s say someone could wave a magic wand and immediately reduce atmospheric CO2 concentrations to 250 ppm and keep them there in perpetuity no matter how much coal etc we burn. This would ensure that the famous 2C limit wasn’t breached. It would, however, remove a major reason for changing how we currently live and everyone everywhere would keep wanting more and more stuff and this would likely have effects on ecosystems worldwide. Do people here think that the carbon fairy should wave that magic wand?

    Be honest, now. For you, is climate change the real nasty or is it consumerism that you hate?

    (With apologies to Solitaire Townsend: )

  89. Vinny,
    I’ve no idea. Why is it a question worth answering?

  90. Willard says:

    Be honest, Vinny. Wasn’t your mind-probing false dilemma a rhetorical question?

  91. bill shockley says:

    Vinny, honestly, that question has been bugging me. I need to go back to Richard Heinberg for a refresher on resilience.

  92. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Willard, it was, yes. I know who you are. You know who you are. A bit foolish to try to get you say who you are. My bad.

  93. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Do people here think that the carbon fairy should wave that magic wand?”

    yes, of course, duh!

    Not worth answering, of course, but there you go anyway.

  94. JCH says:

    You can see it in England’s graph, but especially in Paul S’s graph, the cause of the pause, the genuinely anomalous winds, happen after 2005. Which is something I keep saying at Climate Etc. The cause of the pause happened after 2005. So an 18-year stoppage in warming was caused by something that did not start happening until 10 years ago. Before that, the 18-year pause was enjoying accelerated warming over the 30 years up to 1999. Issac Held has a post on Pacific winds. Read it in this context. When, if ever, will the anomalous winds return? Then think about the C-L low climate sensitivity based upon “observations”.

    I’ve read that EBU is expected to become more prevalent with AGW. Good news for the fish. And yet, many papers are suggesting EL Nino will come to dominate. I guess they are not mutually exclusive.

  95. Willard says:

    > I know who you are.

    You do, Vinny?

    If you could tell me what we’ve learned too, at least before you send me away to teach me how to be sensible, logical, responsible, and pragmatic, that would be great.

  96. Joshua says:

    Vinny –

    ==> “Be honest, now. For you, is climate change the real nasty or is it consumerism that you hate?”

    Honestly, I have mixed thoughts about consumerism and I think that continued BAU w/r/t ACO2 emissions presents risks.

    What about you?

  97. paulski0 says:


    Immediate drop to 250ppm… that’s an instantaneous -2.5W/m2 forcing. Highly irresponsible of this fairy. What about methane, n2o, halons, ozone, aerosols? I don’t think he’s thought this through.

  98. Ethan Allen says:

    bill shockley says:

    “November 30, 2015 at 6:02 pm
    Ethan Allen, I didn’t say ars was WattsUp. ars serves a well-to-do, scientifically sophistacated crowd. Denier bludgeon-crap is not going to float. Compare any one of those three articles with how the same topic or paper was treated at ClimateProgress or The Guardian (USA) and tell me which way it was spinning.”

    Climate Progress? ROTFLMFAO! Strike One. Back in the day when WUWT? would ‘disappear’ one of the very many they ‘disappeared’ I’d go over to post it verbatim at JR’s and it always got posted. When JR ‘disappeared’ some of my posts, WUWT? always let those through for the same odd reason. After about a half dozen rounds of that ‘game’ I stopped, as I figured they were both tribal chumps.

    The Guardian? You mean the one with the D****. Strike Two. I have a habit of mostly NOT reading op-eds, three full decades and counting.

    anoilman? Bashing for the sake of bashing. Strike three.

    So, I see you like your climate science ‘news’ biased with very much of the “USUAL POSITIVE SPIN” or so it would seem, appear or suggest. AlGoreIsNotFay style.

    I read the science and just the science because I’m able to mostly understand the science as written by myself. Ars Technica is just one of many cites I read, they post climate science articles, I read them, and then I go find the actual journal article and read that too.

    Still waiting on that ONE article. Please do post that ONE article when you do get a chance.

    If you haven’t figured it out yet, the whole effin’ world is SPINNING (and I don’t mean rotating).

    Thanks, and have a fantastic day.

  99. bill shockley says:

    Ethan Allen, you asked for “some links” displaying spin. I gave you 3. Now you say I must give you just one. OK. Take the first one.

    California’s drought declared natural by NOAA

    The title fairly well matches the content of the paper. The ars article goes on to qualify that there are other opinions on the matter and we can’t really know for certain if AGW contributes to the drought without more information. That sounds fair and reasonable… Until you find out to what extremes of willful ignorance the authors of the NOAA paper had to go to achieve their conclusion.

    Joe Romm himself, the man at Climate Progress for whom you profess to respect did the coverage himself.

    Recent peer-reviewed studies strongly support the view that California’s epic drought was made considerably worse by human-caused global warming. A new report from NOAA seeking to cast doubt on that assertion omits some of the latest science and is deeply flawed, as three leading climatologists told me. -snip-

    [their] mistake seems to be driven by their focus primarily on the precipitation, when we have known for at least a quarter-century that it is the combination of reduced precipitation during a time of increasing warming-driven evaporation, which creates the very worst droughts. -snip-

    He notes other climatologists’ bafflement with the NOAA analysis

    In his critique of the NOAA assessment, leading climatologist Michael Mann, explains “most inexplicably, they pay only the slightest lip service to the role of temperature in drought, focusing almost entirely on precipitation alone. This neglects the fact that California experienced record heat over the past year, and this certainly contributed to the unprecedented nature of the current drought.”

    Then later in the article,
    Climatologist Kevin Trenberth sent me comments that noted, “this study completely fails to consider what climate change is doing to water in California. It completely misses any discussion of evapotranspiration and the increased drying associated with global warming.”

    And then the capper,
    I was on the press call with Hoerling and Seager, and asked them why they focused on the precipitation deficit and mostly ignored the unprecedented recent warming. The answer they gave was that precipitation is what this drought was about. As evidence, they said farmers “were praying for rain, not cooler temperatures.”

    So, the doctor says, why don’t YOU tell me what you think you have. It’s not science, it’s farce.

    Read the whole CP article to get the full force.

    I call the ClimateProgress article fair, direct and informative.
    I call the ars article feigned objectivity.

  100. anoilman says:

    bill shockley: I’ve become a bit of a fan of SPCR. I recently built a computer with no moving parts. Technically I’m using the case fan because it keeps the PC down to 42C when I’m gaming, but it only hits 55C under heavy load with no fan blowing. Even the power supply has no fan.

    I’m using a nofan CPU cooler;

    About Arstechnica: I though it was an incredibly duplicitous article. While it contained all facts, it misunderstood and misrepresented them all. Mann’s comment was the telling one; “California, they point out, has been suffering through unusually warm weather during the drought, which has accelerated evaporation. The full impact of the drought, they contend, can’t be captured simply by looking at the lack of rain.”

    i.e. don’t blindly stupidly stare and numbers and attempt to draw a conclusions. Try to understand the physics, and look deeper.

    Entertainingly I was in Banff for one weekend, and there were a lot of Texans and Californians there complaining about who had the bigger drought. That’s when the Californian piped up that they go on ‘raincations’ to experience what rain is like.

  101. bill shockley says:

    anoilman, I’m just barely tolerating my computer now. Asus used to have a good name, I guess they’re cashing in. Sent the original motherboard in on warranty. Got it back without the doo-hickey that holds the cpu. Now the replacement is acting screwy. Gigabit next time.

    I live in the US northeast. Inland. Weather’s been pretty decent last few years. Unless you’re in Buffalo. (Too much snow). We don’t get hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, floods, earthquakes, heatwaves, riots. Great water from the finger lakes. A cold snap here and there. ‘Bout one of the safest places on Earth. Of course I probably just jinxed it by saying that.

  102. anoilman says:

    bill: All my PCs are Asus, and I’ve only had some issues with their configuration utilities.

    I live in the the land of tar and sand, and if we get everything we want out of Paris, I’ll be out of a job. Weather here is wild, but the riots are way more fun;

  103. Leto says:

    Bill Schockley, I followed another of your three links…

    It is another piece written with a clear agenda of minimising the extent to which AGW gets the blame. Comes across as reasonable if you haven’t read discussions of the same issue on other sites, but ultimately their technique is to pick out one aspect of a problem and argue that AGW didn’t cause all of that one aspect, so no need to worry. Final paragraph was as follows:

    “Higher sea levels made Sandy’s storm surge a little more damaging than it would have been a century ago, and warmer ocean water could have strengthened Hurricane Sandy. But if this analysis is correct, climate change deserves no blame for the most important conditions that made Sandy a “superstorm.” That would be good news for the folks living on the coast.”

    You’ve convinced me…

  104. Ethan Allen says:

    bill shockley,

    Long story short? We disagree.

    I’ve seen enough of JR’s stuff to know that he cherry picks just as the Guardian does to suit their preferred POV.

    So, say for example, he asked 100 climate scientists, and the three that agreed with his predetermined POV were Mann, Gleick and Trenberth, extremely unlikely that that ever actually happened. So JR goes “Who’s sympathetic to my views?” I don’t expect objectivity from inner circles of preferred players. We don’t know how those conversations went down, if the well was poisoned or the pump was primed, all we do have are partial quotes taken from whatever their original context was.

    I can only say that you seem to fall for the informal logical fallacy of appeal to preferred authorities just as JR does.

    I don’t expect ‘balance’ from JR and I never have. He’s paid to do one thing and one thing only, advocate for public policies that mitigate AGW. Clearly he has his own opinions on what to do and it is only natural that those opinions will show up in his writings.

    Now to quote from that Ars Technica article … byline …
    “But some scientists are calling the report limited in perspective.”

    That byline tells me quite a lot already, not all climate scientists agree on the specific interpretation(s).

    “Beyond the immediate causes, however, it’s reasonable to ask whether the drought is a symptom of a warming climate, and thus whether we should expect more of them in the future. Several papers have already looked into the matter, with mixed results.”

    Ditto my previous comment.

    “But the report has come under criticism from some scientists, and it may have been finalized before some recent, relevant papers.”

    3rd time is a charm.

    “That would seem to suggest that natural variability could be a sufficient explanation for the recent drought. But a separate study that has been posted in advance of publication has looked at the same problem using tree ring data. It finds that, while three-year droughts are common in the record, the current drought has put trees under water stress that they’ve never experienced in the last 1,200 years. So, the drought may be historically unprecedented after all.”

    The same report that JR linked to, funny that. So 4th time is a doozie.

    “A key question is whether this variability—or at least three consecutive years of it—is normal. It’s a bit hard to say, given that the models that were used did not fully couple the atmosphere and the oceans, such that sea surface temperatures couldn’t respond to atmospheric conditions. Things are also complicated by the fact that the sea surface temperatures in each of the years look somewhat different in terms of their location and extent, which makes it hard to ascribe them all to a single underlying cause.”

    So Ars is questioning the NOAA modeling effort, good for Ars. So 5th time is a royal flush.

    “That conclusion, however, has been criticized by other scientists (a typical example of the criticism comes from Michael Mann, who elaborated on his criticism in a blog post). California, they point out, has been suffering through unusually warm weather during the drought, which has accelerated evaporation. The full impact of the drought, they contend, can’t be captured simply by looking at the lack of rain.”

    So a 6th time, Ars is playing standard five card poker and Ars throws down six effin’ Aces.

    So if I were a science reporter I would never link it to anything even remotely associated with JR simply because he’s not objective enough for my tastes, he’s to political and policy driven.

    You do know JR used to be a lobbyist in DC didn’t you and works at a ‘stink’ tank (The Center for American Progress (CAP) is a progressive public policy research and advocacy organization)? BTW CATO is also a ‘stink’ tank.

    So there you have it, you don’t like ‘corporate’ Ars Technica’s climate science reporting and I don’t like ‘stink’ tank JR’s climate science opinion reporting [You yourself presented that ironic statement about Ars Technica. You should also Google “Ars Technica” “climate science” “biased reporting’ good luck with that one].

    At the end of the day that makes us equal.

  105. bill shockley says:

    Ethan Allen, so, he worked for Koch? May I ask how you came by this knowledge?

    BTW, I never would have suspected that

  106. bill shockley says:

    Ethan Allen,

    You should also Google “Ars Technica” “climate science” “biased reporting’ good luck with that one].

    Interesting. It’s allars denying that organizations like CATO are poisoning the science well.

    You disagree, and yet you could have written my argument for me and been more convincing. I’ll start worrying when we start agreeing.

  107. bill shockley says:

    Leto, thanks for the sanity check.

  108. bill shockley says:


    I live in the the land of tar and sand, and if we get everything we want out of Paris, I’ll be out of a job. Weather here is wild, but the riots are way more fun;

    LOL. Nothing like the quiet life, far away from everything.

  109. Ethan Allen says:

    bill shockley,

    “Ethan Allen, so, he worked for Koch? May I ask how you came by this knowledge?

    BTW, I never would have suspected that”

    D’oh! They are all lobbyists, same ilk different political persuasions, they all should be outlawed.

    “Interesting. It’s all ars denying that organizations like CATO are poisoning the science well.”

    You need to stop making stuff up.

    “I’ll start worrying when we start agreeing.”

    Me too. It must be a beach to be wrong 100% of the time.

  110. Vinny Burgoo says:

    So that’s only one hand up for the carbon fairy. (Thanks, dikranmarsupial.) This blog must have more than 200 readers, so I could claim that as an even deeper green result than Townsend got, but I won’t.

    Joshua, I’m also a bit schizo about consumerism. I tend to think it’s rather vulgar, don’t you know, and take pride in ‘make do and mend’ but somehow I have a house full of gadgets, some of them seldom* used, and they didn’t get there by themselves. It must be that it’s only consumerism when other people do it.

    *Or never in the case of the stick welder that was going for a crazily cheap price at Aldi about ten years ago. A week of gawping at its shiny wonderfulness then bung it in the shed to gather dust and be forgotten.

  111. bill shockley says:

    Ethan Allen,

    Pardon my error. I confused CATO and CAP.

    I still would appreciate your reference for SJ working at CAP.

  112. Rachel M says:


    Regarding the carbon fairy, of course everyone would say yes to the fairy waving its wand. If we could keep to <2C *and* eliminate the other consequences of the greenhouse effect like ocean acidification then YES, of course we'd do it. I didn't reply because it goes without saying. If you think there's a bunch of green hippies trying to turn the world into hippies, you're WRONG.

  113. bill shockley says:

    Ethan Allen:I’ve seen enough of JR’s stuff to know that he cherry picks just as the Guardian does to suit their preferred POV.

    It’s OK to be biased. If you’re not biased, you’re not breathing.

    The Guardian making errors of logic and fact does not excuse ars of doing the same.

    “Spin”, OTOH, to me, imples allowing your bias to affect your judgment and perception, and allowing that to creep into your analysis. This can happen deliberately or at the unconscious level.

    I’ve found good articles on the Watts blog covering subjects that no one else covered. Apparently, they are capable of good analysis. Bias doesn’t disqualify one from good analysis. Romm is biased to the positive on AGW affirmation. You won’t see AGW-negative articles on his blog. That doesn’t make any one article necessarily inaccurate or invalid.

  114. paulski0 says:

    Regarding the carbon fairy, of course everyone would say yes to the fairy waving its wand.

    I’ve already said no. I think it would be irresponsible of the carbon fairy (who elected this ethereal being anyway?) to apply that large an instantaneous forcing – you’re looking at around 1degC cooling in a decade 😉

    The question appears to be a variant on the Experience Machine thought experiment. Philosophers have been arguing for decades over why exactly people tend to reject magical utopian hypothetical situations. My take is that responses would depend on the details of setting and setup. In this particular instance I think most people probably can’t be bothered to engage fully with the question, preferring to focus on real solutions.

  115. Ethan Allen says:

    bill shockley,

    Ok, I’ll bite, who or what is SJ? Slick Joe or Stinkin’ Joe perhaps.

    BTW, what’s up with all that stoopit imagery at Think Progress (and Climate Progress) anyways?

    You Are More Than 7 Times As Likely To Be Killed By A Right-Wing Extremist Than By Muslim Terrorists

    While I’m at it, let’s limit campaign financing to like $100/person, get rid of the EC and stop with all the gerrymandering each and every decade.

    What’s far worse then sitting on death row? Watching the HoR 247 on C-SPAN!

    “Effin’ hey do I hate the USA! Someone deport me PLEASE!” (from the end of a rather incomprehensible post of mine at RR)

  116. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Rachel, I’m not wholly wrong. Such green hippies do exist. Some of the spikier ones turned up in Paris at the weekend. For fluffy, see Totnes or Machynlleth or the climate camps or Transition Towns or the peasantry-worshipping pronouncements by various NGOs.

    But I do concede that there probably aren’t many among the regular commenters here. (I was drunk, Willard, when I implied that there are.)

  117. Vinny Burgoo says:

    paulski0, I’m sure the magic carbon fairy could solve any problems caused by such a rapid cooling.

  118. bill shockley says:

    Ethan Allen, oh, sorry, I thought you had used Scott Johnson’s initials yourself (SJ), but you were referring to JR, Joe Romm, whom I thought you respected, but apparently not (cherry-picking, etc.)

    I would still appreciate your reference that Scott Johnson worked/works for CAP.

  119. dikranmarsupial says:

    Vinny wrote “So that’s only one hand up for the carbon fairy. (Thanks, dikranmarsupial.)”

    not really, I was only answering to show what a dumb question it was, and to see if you were going to go anywhere with the answers (apparently not).

    Suggesting that peoples views on climate change are dependent on their views on consumerism seems like a bit of projection to me. I suspect that most people would like to live without constraints on their lifestyle even when they wouldn’t choose to be consumerists.

  120. Willard says:

    > The question appears to be a variant on the Experience Machine thought experiment.

    Indeed. A difference between Vinny’s faery and Bob’s experience machine is that the machine disconnects you from everything and everyone. It powers on solipsism. This could have an interesting application to the climate problem, for it lets us abstract away from its social entanglement and allows us to ask: what if I told you we were not all in it together, and that it would be solved if you were in it all alone? We could even dramatize the effect by supposing that getting in the experience machine would preserve it from imminent destruction. (Dramatization for Vinny’s confirmation pleasure only.)

    To celebrate Vinny’s sobriety, here’s a quote from Bob:

  121. Ethan Allen says:

    You mean …

    I think Leto brought that one to the table, as it were.

    This is what I said …
    “You do know JR used to be a lobbyist in DC didn’t you and works at a ‘stink’ tank (The Center for American Progress (CAP) is a progressive public policy research and advocacy organization)?”

    JR works for CAP.

    If you want to talk about Sandy, well then, I use to work for the USACE ERDC CHL (the coastal zone is of the USACE mission, at the very least in terms of permitting). people here have referred to me as a retired civil ENGINEER (I’ve also been called Junior quite a bit, as in posting as EFS_Junior at WTFUWT?). But whatever you call me, don’t call me a Sand Engineer (which is currently standard practice for the USACE.

    I do know ‘some’ rather minor stuff, which is how do you say it, ‘off the record’ meaning no paper trail, or emails or voice recordings. Essayons.

  122. anoilman says:

    Ethan Allan “You Are More Than 7 Times As Likely To Be Killed By A Right-Wing Extremist Than By Muslim Terrorists”

    Yeah, I’d believe that. Heck even their kids are armed and dangerous.

  123. bill shockley says:

    Ethan Allen, yes that Scott Johnson. The Sandy Storm ars article was the second link of my original three.

    JR works for CAP.

    Oh, OW! OK, that makes a lot more sense. I would have believed Scott Johnson worked at CATO but not at CAP. I was still seeing “SJ” for “JR” when I read that and it stuck.

    Yeah, Joe Romm also spent a lot of years as a technology policy guy in the federal government.

  124. Ethan Allen says:


    I was actually commenting on the “A terrorist group marches through the streets of Swainsboro, Georgia in 1948.” image. They ‘could’ have put up an image of a lynching with the ‘terrorists’ in full attendance and burning crosses for all I care, but I’m sort of guessing that that type of imagery might get some pushback from those who are not TP like say the SPLC or the NAACP. TP/CP gotsta jerk the right chains dontcha know, the image is more important then the message dontcha know. That is the standard schick with TP/CP dontcha know.

    Let’s see 2015 – 1948 = 67 years ago (those Crackers are all dead now and the clan is almost gone now (in relative terms), that’s a reasonably safe one, let’s run with that one)

    Heck maybe TP/CP should used a screen capture of some black guy with a knife getting shot 16 times by a police ossifer. Nope TP/CP would never get pushback on that one.

    What TP/CP should have done is show some modern pictures of an abortion clinic bombing or killings. Or perhaps a carnage image from the latest nutter shoot up. Or perhaps a modern image of skinheads marching (which would have been my preferred choice, since, you know, are talking about CURRENT events)). Or perhaps the latest black-on-black inner city ‘hate’ crime. Or perhaps some Civil War imagery or an image of Crackers watching over their slaves.

    Most of the above is what one would call sarcasm (except for the should have used a modern skinhead rally image).

    The overarching point is that TP/CP does this type of misplaced imagery all the time, several times a day even.

    So why do they do it? To invoke the informal logical fallacy of appeal to emotion (and it’s way easier to do that than to write a thousand words to garner the same net effect). D’oh!

    I only go to TP?CP to look at the headline and associated misplaced imagery, dontcha know.

    While I’m on a roll, let’s outlaw all handguns, gut the 2nd Amendment and outlaw the NRA (I’m actually being serious now).

  125. anoilman says:

    Ethan Allen.. that picture might be old, but don’t for a minute think we don’t have a serious racism problem in North America. Oh look! They wear black now!

    Here’s what us pleasant Canadians are up to;

    Anyways Canadians don’t have as many problems with guns and mass killings as you Americans do. We’ve always had licensing and restrictions. (My father was a collector, and spare time gun smith.)

    The last time I was in the states though I got a hilarious poster for Crime Stoppers raffling off 40 guns in 40 days. I thought that was hilarious. (I don’t see the fear of gun regulations as a concern, and I’m not sure why anyone would be all up in arms about it. Perhaps assault weapons are over kill for city applications? I would be unhappy if gun fans were not able to get their toys however.)

    Back on topic;

  126. Vinny Burgoo says:

    dikranmarsupial, I wasn’t suggesting that people’s views on climate change are dependent on their views on consumerism but rather that some people opportunistically campaign against climate change when what they really want is to stop something else – that is, that some people’s climactivism isn’t really about climate change at all and that the something else will always take precedence.

    But, yes, my question was dumb. I shouldn’t have posed it in a forum that is nominally about physics.

    (Perhaps I should have posed it at the Royal College of Arts, where physics – or indeed seplling – don’t seem to mean as much:

  127. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Willard, hic haec hoc – again.

    (By the way, can someone please switch off the snowflakes. I thought I had a floater earlier.)

  128. BBD says:

    Bah, humbug.

  129. anoilman says:

    Vinny Burgoo: Why would you think that views on Climate Change depend on consumerism? I’m no hippie, and I like my stuff.

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