Censoring their own research?

This is going to be my last post about the whole 2oC pathways issue, I promise 🙂 I was wanting, however, to discuss this Washington Post article called The magic number. It quotes Kevin Anderson, whose work I’ve discussed before. I’ve been generally impressed by what Kevin Andreson presents. It’s passionate, but also seems quantitatively robust.

However, I’m slightly confused as to why, in his Nature Geoscience Commentary, he chose to say that many of his scientific colleagues,

are ultimately choosing to censor their own research.

and, apparently,

particularly objects that many models now rely on “negative emissions” through technologies that remove carbon dioxide from the air or after combustion processes.

The reason for this is apparently because these pathways conform with today’s political and economic hegemony and, consequently, do society a great disservice. My understanding (and I’m happy to be corrected) is that he is suggesting that these supposedly unrealistic pathways give policy makers an excuse for not cutting emissions as much as maybe they should.

pathways-towards-2c-global-pathways-and-implications-for-european-climate-policy-detlef-van-vuuren-massimo-tavoni-elmar-kriegler-keywan-riahi-2-638Why do I find this confusing, though? Consider the figure on the right. Emission pathways that give us at least a 66% chance of keeping warming below 2oC are shown in green. You can see the negative emissions beyond about 2060. However, even these pathways would require halving our emissions by about 2040, and getting emissions to zero by about 2060. They’re not exactly pathways that we can follow with ease.

graphical-summary-1024x785Consider now, the figure on the left which shows the emission pathway (in red) that we might follow as a result of the agreements reached in Paris. It’s not even close to a 2oC pathway that requires negative emissions. It’s a pathway that will likely lead to us missing a 2oC target by more than 1oC. How can people presenting 2oC pathways that may require as yet untested negative emission technologies, be somehow responsible for policy makers essentially opting to follow a pathway that won’t even come close to achieving the specified target? If anything, coming close to following one of the 2oC pathways – even if it does ultimately require negative emissions – would seem like a remarkable achievement, given what we currently appear to be doing.

So, what research are scientists censoring and what else should they be doing? Should they be presenting emission pathways that have even more drastic emission cuts; keeping warming below 2oC without requiring negative emissions? I can certainly see that if negative emissions are untested and possibly unlikely to be viable, that such pathways may be necessary if we want to achieve this target. However, if we’re not even close to a pathway that requires negative emissions, why would presenting one that would seem even more extreme be more effective?

Should they be speaking out more about the fact that our planned emission cuts are unlikely to achieve the supposed target? Some, of course do, and I have no problem with more doing so, but I’m still unsure as to whether or not it should be expected. Climate scientists seem to get flack from all corners these days. Speak out and they’re advocating and losing objectivity, keep quiet and they’re doing society a disservice. At the end of the day, those who are doing society a disservice are those who have the opportunity to make decisions, and have plenty of information to use for their decision making, but choose to be influenced by delayers and mis-informers, rather than by the actual experts.

As many have said before, we known more than enough to make suitable decisions. If we’re not doing so, it seems unreasonable to suggest that scientists are somehow responsible for this lack of action, but maybe I’m missing something about this. If so, I’m happy for it to be clarified.

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100 Responses to Censoring their own research?

  1. wetenschap25 says:

    Even if we somehow manage to keep warming below two degrees the consequences will be so severe that negative emissions will be needed.

  2. wetenschap25,
    That may well be true, but given that we’re not even really trying to keep it below 2C at the moment, it just seems a little strange that we’re criticising those who present pathways that give us a chance to keep warming below 2C, but that might need negative emissions in the future.

  3. Ethan Allen says:

    I have no idea, except if the censoring involves pathways that are greater than 2C. Or conversely, 2C paths without negative emissions are seen as too unrealistic by the policy makers.

    Or the policy makers are banking/hoping/praying/believing on lower ECS then the current generation of climate models are suggesting (don’t want to have to go through too much hardship to find out that ECS was closer to 2C, that way negative emissions aren’t necessary in the future).

    It’s called “And then a miracle occurs” or some such.

  4. I would say the graph looks quite hopeful. Until 2030 we are on the path to the 2°C limit. I would not interpret this as us being on the path to 3.5°C. Fixing politics for the coming 15 years is a very long time span, which is good, but we should not forget that this is politically a very long time span. It is also very hard to estimate what kind of technologies we will have, which may also make much more ambitious scenarios suddenly a lot easier than we would now think.

    In this respect, it is interesting whether this path to 2°C is realistic. Not sure if I would immediately call every scenario with negative emissions unrealistic. Most people think about burning biomass with carbon capture and storage as negative emissions. Let’s see if we can get this working. Biomass is potentially interesting because you can use it to fill gaps in the production of solar and wind power. A source of negative emission that is hardly mentioned is that it likely makes sense to have an overcapacity of wind and solar to handle fluctuating supply and demand. A lot of the time electricity will be for free and could be used to bind carbon.

    Let’s just get on the path and get to work. I fear the surprises of taking the climate system in uncharted territory, but I am hopefully about the surprises we will find to solve the problems. These technological surprises will much more likely happen if we have a market and you can make money solving humanities problems.

  5. Pete Best says:

    I think it was expected that we would do something WW2 in scale and cost and keep below 2C but in reality its more than likely to be over that, how much over in any ones guess. That’s what I think Kevin Anderson was thinking, its all about 2C and if its about that with technologies that don’t really exist yet then that’s not good enough perhaps. Reality is more like what Michael Mann said, it’s a series of runs on a ladder and we will get off on one of them.

  6. Victor,
    Yes, I guess that is true.

    I would say the graph looks quite hopeful. Until 2030 we are on the path to the 2°C limit.

    I also agree with this

    Let’s just get on the path and get to work.

    In a sense what I suspect is regarded as best is a carbon tax, in which case we’re not specifically engineering an emission pathway, but “hoping” that properly pricing carbon will allow alternatives to compete.

    Pete,

    I think it was expected that we would do something WW2 in scale and cost and keep below 2C

    Yes, that’s my impression too.

  7. “It’s called ‘And then a miracle occurs’ or some such.” Ha, that was exactly the phrase that occurred to me (though I guess it is not surprising). I think maybe the operative phrase is actually something like “climate unreality in our time” or “in the long run, we’ll all be dead.”

    Oh yeah–there is that other applicable story about the prisoner who is sentenced to death and gets the sentence postponed by promising to teach a horse to sing: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jlawler/aue/sig.html

  8. magnus w says:

    I do think this happens to little in Climate research… It is as if the need to stand together against climate deniers and such has made it hard to discuss the catastrophic side of the results. As a bystander I do not know what researchers Kevin mean but my general feeling from what is reaching me from the news is that it has been to easy to report what is happening as, we are behind but we can fix that later by increasing our effort.

    Now Kevin and others have as far as I have seen acknowledged that it is theoretically possible to go down to 2 degrees and who knows with a bit of other (then negative emissions) geoengineering perhaps less than that.

    So what is the problem? As he say in the nature article it is that there is no sign of politics setting up a system that could handle this and the infrastructure for CCS and never mind negative emissions are lagging far behind (much to do with the political system not enabling it). Not even in Sweden where the public is generally friendly towards environmental taxes are we prepared to handle the infrastructure (roads, cars, buildings, food, flights and so on) in a way that takes us towards 2 degrees… as far as I can tell. So it is all down to nations playing each other no one dears to take a big risk going at it without others following tight. That means that some sort of deal needs to be done and that has not worked so far and I can no see any sign of that in Paris.

    The Paris deal looks better then what has been done before but without mechanisms like CO2 tax what will drive the change? Where will the money come from… Globally it seams easy and correct that all that is needed is a tax that is different for different countries but that looks to be almost a certain no go (can not even agree on how much to cut down co2 without it being binding). So then each country can try to tax their own or use subsidies. Lots of countries will not accept tax (and if one party promises it is easy for the next to remove it) and for subsidies money from something and therefore generally is to little and to often misdirected.

    And if we can not get this correct then why would we get a WW2 kind of thing going? This is NOT the same thing as a war. If it was it would have been fixed a long time ago. It is creeping up on us we reach the amount of CO2 that can be released for the 2 degrees target far before the consequences are seen. And even when the consequences are seen some countries will benefit or loos far less then others. And on top off that people will still make the argument that it is wiser to go for pure economic stimulation as that will benefit the world more. (at least it is theoretically possible.)

    How to build this in to projections? I think that the what is behind the different projections is fart to difficult to see. What is driving development, innovation, prices… and so on. No scenario will be correct, there are to many variables for that and it impossible to see 30 years forward. But if they would be clearer then they would be easier to rule out. For example both GB and Sweden has recently downed CCS projects and without such no negative emissions and even when they get ready and are environmentally tested and accepted a lot of infrastructure needs to bee built and without a much bigger price on carbon no one is willing to take the risk needed to get things done.

    So could one can not rule out that we still will reach the 2 target but does that mean it should be modeled? As was said in another article there was pressure on the scientists by the countries to not use to use to tough language with the different projections, which perhaps already shows that Kevin is correct ( http://www.nature.com/news/is-the-2-c-world-a-fantasy-1.18868 ) . And every possibility should not be modeled… there exists several other projections that never was modeled.

    Hmm to try to sum up my incoherent rant before bed…

    When the politics and infrastructure built in to the projections seems to be off and we know why… perhaps they should be ignored. At least until we get the systems that is needed for them started. And yes we might be saved by some smart solar invention and electric cars… lets hope. But lets not build to much hope in to projections when what we seen so far shows the opposite.

    (need to go to sleep now might have thought of something better in the morning… any way this is my 5 cent.)

  9. T-rev says:

    >How can people presenting 2oC pathways that may require as yet untested negative emission technologies, be somehow responsible for policy makers essentially opting to follow a pathway that won’t even come close to achieving the specified target?

    Because Dues ex machina is not scientific but a plot device used in literature and used by Economists to define money. It’s a political pathway.They’re presenting the impossible as possible and that’s a political motivation. I would agree with Kevin Anderson but then I am a bit of a fanboy mainly because his thinking aligns with my own, there is no real solution aside from enforced penury and that is not politically acceptable, therefore there is no chance. Of course, to paraphrase Kevin, we’re 99.9% sure we will miss 2C but lets not concentrate on the negative, we have a .1% chance of success 🙂

  10. Our best chance is a realistic carbon tax. Not only would it help existing, non-carbon alternatives to compete but it would generate significant investment in R&D, as industry and commerce look for ingenious ways to avoid using fossil fuels.

    That’s what I find missing from much of the general debate: recognition of the exciting opportunities which can be presented by a new technological revolution; which the oil-stained status quo brigade are unable to imagine. The hoped for miracle can occur—but it won’t appear out of thin air while society continues to subsidise fossil fuels.

  11. Leto says:

    I can see where Anderson is coming from. Here’s a somewhat unfair analogy that I think captures some of what bugs him about what some scientists are doing.

    What would you think of a cancer specialist who plotted a chart showing different pathways of cigarettes consumed over a lifetime and the associated cancer risk, and just for the hell of it invoked some new undiscovered cancer vaccine appearing in 2030 that let smokers get away with 5 times as much smoking before they faced an appreciable cancer risk? Would it be all okay if they explained in the text that the vaccine was purely hypothetical at this stage? Or would the creation of the chart with the overly optimistic projections be irresponsible? You could pretty much guarantee that nuances would be lost when the smoker sees he can actually keep smoking a pack a day for the next two decades and still face a happy ending. Sure, it is partly the smoker’s fault for not putting enough weight on the text referring to the ‘hypothetical’ nature of the vaccine, and the scientist may not have literally produced any actual falsehoods, but the scientist has contributed to the false optimism.

  12. To begin with, those two plots are scaled to different metrics on the y-axis, ATTP. And difficult to see various other assumptions being applied.

    @Victor, I don’t think we are anywhere near “I would say the graph looks quite hopeful. Until 2030 we are on the path to the 2°C limit.”

    The UNEP Emissions Gap report is clearest (consistent, comprehensive) on this (and the full IEA World Energy Outlook – did they publish this year?)

    Let me grab the UNEP. Way off by 2030.

  13. Here is the UNEP scoring of the current BAU path, current INDCs (as of early November), and 2°C-likely paths for CO2-eq median at 2030.

    “Until 2030 we are on the path to the 2°C limit.” Uh, I don’t think so…

  14. rust,
    Thanks. I guess we only have a budget of about 300GtC, so even a few years above the 2oC range can have a big impact on whether or not we can later reduce emissions sufficiently.

  15. Thanks for all the other comments. I’ll have to think about this a bit more, after I’ve finished my first coffee 🙂

  16. These analyses are very interesting and I have a lot of respect for Kevin Anderson for pointing out what is actually obvious to many of us. In particular I think his article in nature was a really valuable summary, but it is a little unfair to accuse scientists of “censoring our own work”.

    The different pathways that CMIP5 used (and which were therefore presented in AR5) deliberately did not set down emissions scenarios in the way that the previous CMIPs had done. Instead, the RCPs (Representative Concentration Pathways) were an attempt to get away from the problem of not really knowing what kind of technology or economic system we will have in the future and instead concentrate on what happens to the earth system given a forcing of X or Y Watts m2, which could be reached by multiple different routes.

    Of course these RCPs do also have a political/physical reality, by which I mean that in order to follow RCP2.6 rather than RCP8.5 say, we know something pretty drastic is going to have to happen to greenhouse gas emissions.

    But the experiments are all there, all reported on and even all downscaled to local and regional level (see CORDEX http://www.cordex.org/ for these runs), so it’s not like we haven’t examined all the possibilities, if some RCPs are emphasised more than others, well that is I think a political decision rather than a scientific one.

    In fact, there has been some debate within the CORDEX community (and I’m not going to name any names) about whether it’s worth doing RCP2.6 since very few of the climate scientists involved think it’s a plausible RCP, this is partly why we have concentrated on RCP45 and RCP85 in our regional downscaling with HIRHAM5.

  17. Thanks for the comment. That’s essentially how I perceived things, especially this

    But the experiments are all there, all reported on and even all downscaled to local and regional level (see CORDEX http://www.cordex.org/ for these runs), so it’s not like we haven’t examined all the possibilities, if some RCPs are emphasised more than others, well that is I think a political decision rather than a scientific one.

  18. Leto says:

    Just watched the youtube video that T-rev linked upthread. Well worth watching the entire Anderson lecture.

    Does anyone here (and I dont mean lurking denialists) think Anderson has made factual errors in his lecture, or made any highly implausible assumptions?

  19. Leto,
    I can’t remember if I’ve watched that one specifically (I’ll try to) but from what I’ve seen, Anderson’s analysis is pretty spot on.

  20. JCH says:

    But is he a Nic Lewis?

  21. I now also noticed another graph that puts the politically planned emission in 2030 well above the 2°C path. This is well beyond my expertise. I guess people still expect/hope that in Paris the pledges will become stronger.

    That was, however, not the point I was making. My point was that I find it bizarre, to be honest, to judge current political plans for their emissions in 2100. These plans will be continually updated and we do not have a clue how that the 2100 society will look like.

    Secondly, it does matter whether the 2°C path is realistic. Especially when we plan to be on it for the next 15 years, but also as long as we are not too far from it. If RCP2.6 is easier for the next 15 years than afterwards, then we are fooling ourselves. Again, I am just a natural scientist, to judge this is way beyond my expertise. I do think that while “realistic” is important, what is “realistic” is very hard to define so many years ahead.

    A perfect topic for public debate, on contrast to the Erik WUWT Worrall question whether the Earth has been cooling the last century.

  22. Gavin Schmidt had an interesting tweet: https://twitter.com/ClimateOfGavin/status/671658078199222272

    Am I reading this correctly? Does it mean that scientists were asked to suggest all the pathways to meet the 2C target—even those that included ‘magical mechanisms’? If so it changes the discussion a bit, I think.

  23. Victor,
    Isn’t the basic point that we expect warming to depend roughly linearly on cumulative emissions. If we emit more now, then we’ll either have to accept more warming or have more drastic cuts sometime in the future. We can’t simply move onto a 2C emission pathway sometime in the future, if we’ve overshoot it now; we’ll have to move onto something more extreme than today’s 2C pathways, if we still want to achieve that target.

  24. Sam taylor says:

    Here’s a fairly recent interview with Anderson. I think he attempts to answer some of your questions attp:

    http://manchesterclimatemonthly.net/2015/11/25/professor-kevin-anderson-on-climate-hope-2-degrees-and-paris/

    Victor,

    I fail to see how we can just rapidly switch from one emissions pathway to another in 2030. There will be lots of lags involved in any transition, due to long lived infrastructure and so on. Like how you have to start steering an ocean liner a long time before you need to turn.

    And as for 15 years being a long time to “fix” politics, look at the state of American politics in the last 15 years. Moving in entirely the wrong direction with no indication of any change. Furthermore it’s very easy to point the finger of blame at politics or the media, but the general population are just as complicit. If people didn’t respond to things like sound bites, identity politics, appeals to emotion and all the rest of it then politics wouldn’t have descend to it’s current state. It’s very easy to point and say it’s broken, but fixing it is going to be vastly more difficult than people seem to assume.

  25. tlsmith says:

    I am a bit confused, isn’t this essentially the message that Bjorn Lomborg was giving that you slated recently: i.e. the proposals/pledges for Paris aren’t going to achieve much.
    What am I missing? I feel like I am missing something obvious.

  26. tlsmith,
    What I criticised about Lomborg’s analysis was his claim that by 2100 the warming would be only slightly less than that along an RCP8.5 pathway. He essentially assumed that we would give up in 2030 and start increasing our emissions again. The INDCs themselves will not do enough to keep us to a 2C target, but that is not the same as being virtually the same as RCP8.5.

  27. Willard says:

    > But is he a Nic Lewis?

    Of course not:

    [AT] So, just to be clear, we’ve emitted – to date – around 550GtC. This analysis is suggesting that we could emit another 450GtC and warm by only another 0.1 to 0.2C? Is that a fair summary?

    [Nic] No, it is not a fair summary! For the 2010-19 decade, cumulative post 1870 CO2 emissions are about 550 GtC, and the projected GMST rise per my model is 0.9C. When cumulative emissions reach 1000 GtC (ruling out RCP2.6), it is 1.4C (slightly more with RCP8.5 CO2 emissions, if non-CO2 forcing is also as per RCP8.5). That is a further rise of 0.5C, not 0.1 to 0.2C.

    [AT] Okay (and you still wonder why I regard you as a pedantic nitpicker ). The point, though, is that we could almost our double our emissions, and your model suggests that we will only warm by around half of what we have so far; that is essentially what you’re suggesting, right? We could avoid arguing over reasonably small fractions, like 10% or so.

    [Chorus] BUT YOU SAID PEDANTIC NITPICKER! SHOCK AND HORROR!

    Ongoing here: http://judithcurry.com/2015/11/30/how-sensitive-is-global-temperature-to-cumulative-co2-emissions/#comment-747669

  28. ATTP: Isn’t the basic point that we expect warming to depend roughly linearly on cumulative emissions.

    Yes, but how easy it is to reduce emissions is not constant. That likely becomes increasingly easy and ever cheaper, maybe even up to the point that negative emissions are realistic, hard for me to judge, likely hard for anyone to judge. Still people working on those Integrated Assessment Models should aim to make scenarios that are somewhat constantly difficult otherwise it is hard to assess where we are.

    It is more than about emissions. The 2°C target (and the corresponding cumulative emission limit) is an implicit compromise between the damages and how hard mitigation is. If we thought it would be super easy, the target would have been lower to avoid more damages. In this respect, a greening of the tax system (price on carbon) may be a more transparent way to make this trade off. It would still be a political price (how much is a dead or traumatized person, an orphan, a limb, a depopulated city or a destroyed World Heritage worth?), but the trade off would be more explicit.

    It is more than about emissions. Cloudy Germany has helped a lot in creating a market for solar energy, which drove the prices down. When a subtropical country had done the same, you have seen a larger effect on the current emissions, but for the long term the creation of a large solar market was the important part.

  29. Willard,
    Steven Mosher is playing the role of moderator, but I can’t tell if he’s being ironic or not.

  30. Victor,

    Yes, but how easy it is to reduce emissions is not constant. That likely becomes increasingly easy and ever cheaper, maybe even up to the point that negative emissions are realistic, hard for me to judge, likely hard for anyone to judge.

    This may indeed be true, but there is still an issue, though. What we build typically has lifetimes of decades. If we carry on as we are, we could use up the 2C budget in a few decades. If we are still building fossil fuel based power generartors, then that may mean that we may reach a point where we have to not only replace these rapidly, but also simply turn things off that still have useable life left. Neither of these seems easy, even if we do have the technology.

  31. Sam taylor says: “Victor, I fail to see how we can just rapidly switch from one emissions pathway to another in 2030.

    I did not say that.

    Yes, I am likely more optimistic because I live in a reasonably working democracy. You can do too.

    But also in America a lot has happened in the right direction; the crazies may take a lot of time in the dysfunctional Anglo-American media and climate “debate”, but they are not America (and they are highly unamerican). There are solid majorities for transitioning to green energy in the USA and the market has become a lot larger.

    P.S. My last comment is stuck in moderation.

  32. dikranmarsupial says:

    ATTP, I found Steven Mosher’s comment quite amusing. ;o)

  33. ATTP: “What we build typically has lifetimes of decades. If we carry on as we are, we could use up the 2C budget in a few decades. If we are still building fossil fuel based power generartors, then that may mean that we may reach a point where we have to not only replace these rapidly, but also simply turn things off that still have useable life left.

    Yes, so you cannot expect politicians to plan for more than no more new fossil fuel capacity. It is always hard to judge the reliability of such numbers, but we are not that far from that point in the industrialised countries. Doing more is expensive.

    There will come a moment when the creative destruction of the market will kick in and put those stupidly build new fossil fuel based power generators out of business. Many large investors realise that by now and divest such fossil liabilities. These are excessive-risk investments.

  34. Pete best says:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/paris-climate-change-conference/12025836/Paris-climate-conference-10-reasons-why-we-shouldnt-worry-about-man-made-global-warming.html

    Listen to The Daily Telegraphs Mr Booker and then go made with rage as to his very miguided but deliberately so stance on AGW. He has been at it for years and never once has he stood down on his stance or admitted any false claims.

    Go on someone contact the DT and see if they will publish to refutre his clever but hopefully discredited stance

  35. Those that feel that the world is crazy and nothing is moving: Learn another language than English.

    There are 150 heads of states in Paris. Climate change is taken seriously. Maybe not as much as it should, but certainly not as little as the Anglo-American published opinion would like you to think.

  36. BBD says:

    Victor

    I hope you are right. There were lots of delegates from non-English-speaking countries at all previous COPs and it did not appear to help.

  37. It’s an experiment. My guess is that there are only a couple people who can stay on topic

    and only one or two who can remain civil

    Nick Stokes

    it’s pretty amazing when you stop to actually look at it.

  38. anoilman says:

    Steven Mosher: Thank your for that. And you are which, precisely?

  39. BBD, I also hope I hope am right. :o)

    Another optimist. Geoffrey Lean, who was sacked by The Telegraph just in time for COP21 because his reporting on climate change was too accurate. Imagine the response of WUWT when Christopher Booker were let go for inaccurate reporting, which makes more sense.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/paris-climate-change-conference/12024579/Paris-conference-The-old-white-men-and-their-climate-scepticism-are-finally-in-retreat.html

    He now blogs at:
    http://geoffreylean.tumblr.com

  40. Steven,
    Oh yes, I agree. I have a great deal of respect for people like Nick Stokes who can remain civil and I wish I could do so. My only consolation is a sense that it would make no difference whatsoever.

  41. dikranmarsupial says:

    Steven Mosher: “and only one or two who can remain civil”

    a better experiment would be to see if you can be one of them, in all seriousness it would improve your communication of the good scientific points that you make.

  42. Sam taylor says:

    Victor, you’re in Germany, correct? In which case, while the political system there is undoubtedly in a better shape than that of the US, it’s still capable of making some remarkably brain-dead decisions. Prematurely closing all the nuclear plants being a real highlight. It’s quite remarkable that, even factoring in the ongoing european stagnation (again something Germany is playing a big role in, thanks to its decision to beggar its eurozone neighbours) that Germany seems near certain to miss it’s 2020 CO2 targets. And when one analyses climate change as a collective action problem, it becomes fairly obvious that the end result of Paris is highly likely to be a failure. Our institutions are not designed for tacking collective action problems of this scale, and it’s by no means a given that we can cooperate at such a level.

    I had a brief read of that site, and frankly it under-diagnoses the severity, depth and breadth of systemic issues blighting the USA. Campaign finance reform will be using a sticking plaster to staunch an artery. America is basically Rome burning, as far as the state of its politics is concerned.

    And as for how seriously climate change is taken, I prefer to focus on outcomes as opposed to opinions. The keeling curve being a very nice distillation of how seriously we seem to be taking climate change. Magical thinking about wind and solar energy (which really are nowhere near ready for the big leagues) won’t help. Neither our technology nor our politics seems capable of addressing this problem.

    (by the way, I’m currently learning to speak Slovene, and as far as I can tell they couldn’t care less about the climate right now, and rather just want someone to do something about all the refugees crossing their broders)

  43. anoilman says:

    Sam taylor: Just because you don’t see how we can hit a proper solution in the required time frame, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. I’m quite concerned as I live in a northern climate as well.

    An no… you’re wrong outright about wind and solar. Its only really expensive right now. There’s no reason not to push it as far as you can right now.
    http://scienceofdoom.com/2015/07/30/renewable-energy-i/

    As an engineer I’ve learned not to freak out, and instead calmly work the problem. That is what gets results.

  44. BBD says:

    Steven

    and only one or two who can remain civil

    And you are not one of them.

  45. BBD says:

    AOM

    An no… you’re wrong outright about wind and solar. Its only really expensive right now. There’s no reason not to push it as far as you can right now.

    Your link contradicts you. Renewables become more expensive at higher penetrations. Same wrong being peddled by Geoff Lean.

    SoD:

    The essence of the calculation is a probabilistic one. At small penetration levels, the energy input from wind power displaces the need for energy generation from traditional sources. But as the percentage of wind power increases, the “potential down time” causes more problems – requiring more backup generation on standby. In the calculations above, wind going from 0.5 GW to 25 GW only saves 4 GW in conventional “capacity”. This is the meaning of capacity credit – adding 25 GW of wind power (under this simulation) provides a capacity credit of only 4 GW. So you can’t remove 25 GW of conventional from the grid, you can only remove 4 GW of conventional power.

    Now the calculation of capacity credit depends on the specifics of the history of wind speeds in the region. Increasing the geographical spread of wind power generation produces better results, dependent on the lower correlation of wind speeds across larger regions. Different countries get different results.

    So there’s an additional cost with wind power that someone has to pay for – which increases along with the penetration of wind power. In the immediate future this might not be a problem because perhaps the capacity already exists and is just being put on standby. However, at some stage these older plants will be at end of life and conventional plants will need to be built to provide backup.

  46. Like I already wrote above, I do not focus so much on short term emissions. When the German emissions did not go down that much the last decade due to the end of nuclear, that is a small price to pay for creating a market for solar energy which increases its adoption in the entire world and is important on the long term.

    More realistically, the EU emission are actually determined by the dysfunctional European carbon trading scheme. Renewable energy has grown so much (and the economy did so poorly) that carbon emissions had nearly no price and coal and lignite power plants were used a lot. The trading system determines the emissions, only indirectly the power plants used. (Unpredictably economic growth is another reason to prefer greening the tax system over subsidizing large banks with a carbon trading system. Especially because predictable prices are important for a capital intensive industry as renewable energy.)

    If I may be just as polemic: magical thinking about nuclear energy won’t help. We already see how the same demographic as the mitigation sceptics in the USA respond when Iran want to generate a small portion of its electricity with nuclear energy. In Somalia nuclear would be an even less good idea.

    It might have a niche in some countries, politically stable and not much sun, wind or storage, but otherwise it is an energy source that is expensive and the price is not going down, it stimulates a big government police state, is an enormous moral hazard (German energy companies try to privatise the costs of nuclear disposal by shifting these “assets” to a subsidiary that may go bankrupt one day), is a huge terrorism risk and it has an unsolved waste problem. Not a global solution to climate change. Maybe the non-existent magical future versions would be a solution, but not the ones that could be build the coming years. I am sure that people from countries with atomic bombs see this differently. The military has large PR budgets.

    Climate change by itself is a huge collective action problem. Solving it may not be a collective action problem in the light of the huge drop in prices of renewable energy, because there are benefits aside from global warming: less mortality and morbidity due to air pollution, no need for a huge military to support dictators in the Middle East, no more subsidies for dictators who finance terrorists as a thank you. Shifting the tax burden from labour to energy will increase demand for labour and thus reduce unemployment, which reduces the costs for the benefits we have to pay the poor. If we save energy on mobility by a shift from cars to public transport (in future the distinction may lose its meaning), we would lose a lot less lives and limbs by accidents, children could again play on the streets and in doing so bring the adults of a neighbourhood into contact with each other. I prefer a high-quality weather proofed German house over a draughty English one, much more thermal comfort.

  47. BBD: “Renewables become more expensive at higher penetrations.

    That is not a problem we have now. By the time we have it renewables will be cheaper, also price of storage go down. Market will bring supply and demand together; demand will not be as inflexible as it is now. I know UK likes being an island, but a strong European electricity network would also help in reducing the price of such bringing supply and demand together.

  48. BBD says:

    If I may be just as polemic: magical thinking about nuclear energy won’t help.

    What magical thinking, Victor? Neither Sam Taylor nor I think nuclear will be able to do more than make a modest contribution, globally, and we’ve both said so in comments here.

    In Somalia nuclear would be an even less good idea.

    And this was a strawman last time you trotted it out.

  49. BBD says:

    That is not a problem we have now.

    But it *will* be a problem when renewables scale up. So people who go round now always talking about how cheap renewables are becoming are simply misinforming the public.

    By the time we have it renewables will be cheaper, also price of storage go down.

    Says who? Utility-scale storage technology *now* means Big Pumped Hydro which is *always* going to be very expensive. As for batteries, there’s nothing beyond R&D stage. Economically viable technology ready for large-scale deployment could be two or three decades away or simply never emerge.

    Exporting realtime surplus across a supergrid assumes that there will be a realtime surplus equal to all regionally unfulfilled demand. That is a very big assumption. If the whole interconnector grid-balancing thing is not to rely on realtime dispatch of surplus then it must be based on utility scale storage. And we are back to the misleading meme about cheap renewables again…

  50. BBD, you may confuse me with Fernando Leanme. I am not aware of having used the Somalia argument before.

    I would not see it as a strawman, though. The entire world needs to stop its CO2 emissions. So we also need a solution for Somalia. When you want nuclear in the UK and are willing to pay for it: you are a sovereign country. I must admit that in the light of a president Trump, the prospect of being a nuclear power suddenly becomes a lot more attractive.

    More importantly, BBD: “Exporting realtime surplus across a supergrid assumes that there will be a realtime surplus equal to all regionally unfulfilled demand.

    This solution is called a market. (Nearly?) all products have fluctuating supply and fluctuating demand. The market finds a price at which supply and demand equal each other.

    We will someday need storage or use more biofuels than otherwise efficient, but I would personally expect that demand adjusting to supply will be the main solution. If half of the time electricity is free, companies will find a way to concentrate their power use on those times. If you can make money with it, people become very ingenious and flexible.

    Some companies in Germany have started making gas out of wind (windgas). Advantage is hat you can store it and transport it with the existing system for natural gas. You need to start early to give developments a time, but it looks to me like that is much too early as long as we still buy so much gas from Russia. I wonder if they mainly do this to diffuse fears of energy shortages. I would not invest in it, my money would go to companies that work on intelligent machines and factories that can flexibly respond to changes in supply.

  51. izen says:

    @-BBD
    “So people who go round now always talking about how cheap renewables are becoming are simply misinforming the public.”

    It is true that renewables, specifically solar and wind, will be able to undercut fossil fuel electrical generation on a simple Kw/hr basis.
    The problem is that they cannot duplicate the pattern of energy use that we have developed with fossil fuels. Renewables are not a simple plug-and-go replacement for the fossil fuel generation of electrical power and certainly inadequate for the manufacture of products requiring a larger thermal input. Transport is also uncongenial to the simple replacement of its present dependence on fossil fuels with renewables.

    The simple price advantage of renewables is negated by the way in which we generate, distribute and use energy at present. The negation is a result of allowing no significant change in technology or the current pattern of energy use.

    The a priori assumption is that the present pattern of energy use must be largely preserved, or duplicated, by any alternatives. Unfortunately that pattern of usage is the historically optimised contingent result of fossil fuel use. This makes it VERY HARD to construct an emissions pathway that can achieve significant reductions without radical change in the way advanced human civilisation has evolved the present system of energy use.

    Perhaps that is why the ‘official’ RCP low pathways have to include magical technology like CC to achieve negative emissions.

  52. Sam taylor says:

    Oilman

    Never said we shouldn’t try. I just think it highly unlikely that we’ll succeed.

  53. Sam taylor says:

    Victor,

    As bbd correctly points out I’m hardly a member of the breakthrough institute when it comes to nuclear, despite having previously worked in the industry. And besides, it hardly matters whether German emissions not going down was a price that was worth paying when it was a price that didn’t need paying in the first place. The reactors were already there, built and working. Why not simply let them continue to operate and roll out solar as well? I find the nuclear phase out utterly baffling.

    And I’m not convinced you’re clear on the nature of a collective action problem. They’re commonly characterised by people betting fully aware that they’re trapped in a suboptimal equilibrium with lots of unpleasant results (such as those you listed) , but this by no means that people have any incentive to change their behaviour. Put simply, it may be in our interest as a species that I stop using fossil fuels, but that doesn’t mean it’s in my interest to do so because I derive such great benefits from them. The harm primarily being born by others. And until we either get a Promethean energy breakthrough, or someone figures out a set of institutions and incentives capable of persuading 7 billion apes to use less energy in the aggregate, I see no reason for optimism.

  54. Sam Taylor, did not want to claim that you were a BTI boy. Just explained why I think that the German rejection of nuclear power could be a good thing rather than a bad thing for climate change mitigation.

    I do know what a collective action problem is. You are right that my examples did not fully solve the collective action problem, they only transferred the problem from the international scene to a regional or nation theatre. Theoretically we have democracies to solve the collective action problem at those levels to create a better life for our group.

  55. “ATTP, I found Steven Mosher’s comment quite amusing. ;o)”

    “Guest” post is the operative word.

    That said. I was wrong to call you a bad name. It wont happen again.

  56. “Steven

    and only one or two who can remain civil

    And you are not one of them.”

    Yes BBD. I thought it might be a good experiment.

    Willard will be along to explain your fallacy

  57. Steven,
    Oh yes, I agree. I have a great deal of respect for people like Nick Stokes who can remain civil and I wish I could do so. My only consolation is a sense that it would make no difference whatsoever.
    ################

    Zeke can do it as well. And Robert Way is very good at it.

    It’s interesting to watch people react.

  58. Willard says:

    > It’s interesting to watch people react.

    It’s also interesting to watch people react when they perceive that a critical commentator is not civil too. ClimateBall ™ players should bear in mind that it’s easier to deflect toward concerns about tone and civility (two concepts that are too often confused) than to parry objections or answer questions. Any courteous comment that remains unanswered becomes a small win. If the comment gets repeated even more courteously and still gets unanwered, the win increases. Losing patience while the pot gets bigger and bigger may always be beyond me [1].

    In our case, the main issue was that Nic refused to answer AT’s repeated question. It might have been preferable to observe that his responses were simply irrelevant. This lack of relevance focuses on the topic to be discussed, and not any alleged cause of the deflecting behavior.

    The main problem with Nic picking things is that the actual question gets lost. That Nic does that is Nic’s problem alone, and is not something to be adressed in a public exchange. Best may have been to connect this behavior as an accounting trait, and to use that as a hook to return to the accounting problem AT underlines.

    Nic’s argumentative construction is too shaky to waste any time wondering about Nic.

    [1]: To take one recent example:

    After being caught connecting two unconnected variables (making the connection explicit would make him lose), Fernando should not bug me for a while.

  59. willard should be along to explain his own fallacy.

  60. bill shockley says:

    ATTP,

    I suspect that Kevin Anderson is correct about scientists buckling to the will of the corporate state. It’s what the intellectual elite have done throughout history, according to Chomsky.

    KA, has always struck me as a conscience-guided man. Congrats to you for bringing this issue forward.

    Will has to be created by those who understand the issue. Yes, scientists must find a way to speak and make their voices heard.

  61. Thanks Willard. “it’s easier to deflect toward concerns about tone and civility (two concepts that are too often confused) than to parry objections or answer questions” is a useful formulation.

    I have the misfortune to be the the good ol’ US of A, and it is not pretty. Reminds me of how when we dug up a field, all the rodents came out. This conversation is polite by comparison.

    The idea that truth or logic has any standing is erroneous. For example, I got Dyson and Giaver thrown at me (I believe they’re part of the Hustle contingent). Unfortunately, the layperson can’t tell the difference, which returns us to Willard’s point. One already knows about the bad faith (not necessarily known by the person repeating the misinformation) of the talking point. Masses of people think there’s no difference; if there’s a degree, they prefer the “authority” that says what they want to hear.

  62. BBD says:

    Victor

    BBD, you may confuse me with Fernando Leanme. I am not aware of having used the Somalia argument before.

    I’m very sorry about that. I think I’m starting to get old.

    You write:

    This solution is called a market. (Nearly?) all products have fluctuating supply and fluctuating demand. The market finds a price at which supply and demand equal each other.

    We will someday need storage or use more biofuels than otherwise efficient, but I would personally expect that demand adjusting to supply will be the main solution. If half of the time electricity is free, companies will find a way to concentrate their power use on those times. If you can make money with it, people become very ingenious and flexible.

    Izen writes:

    The problem is that they cannot duplicate the pattern of energy use that we have developed with fossil fuels. Renewables are not a simple plug-and-go replacement for the fossil fuel generation of electrical power and certainly inadequate for the manufacture of products requiring a larger thermal input. Transport is also uncongenial to the simple replacement of its present dependence on fossil fuels with renewables.

    The simple price advantage of renewables is negated by the way in which we generate, distribute and use energy at present. The negation is a result of allowing no significant change in technology or the current pattern of energy use.

    The a priori assumption is that the present pattern of energy use must be largely preserved, or duplicated, by any alternatives. Unfortunately that pattern of usage is the historically optimised contingent result of fossil fuel use. This makes it VERY HARD to construct an emissions pathway that can achieve significant reductions without radical change in the way advanced human civilisation has evolved the present system of energy use.

    He also sees that (not for the first time), markets are not the answer. Optimism is good, but one must be realistic too.

  63. dikranmarsupial says:

    Steven wrote “Guest” post is the operative word.”

    I don’t see why that should make a difference.

    “That said. I was wrong to call you a bad name. It wont happen again.”

    That is good to hear; as I said, you are more effective without that sort of thing. However, I should point out that it wasn’t just the name calling, as you continued to try and wind me up after that (unsuccessfully, Ferdinand is a very good communicator, and definitely one for the list of those who are good at remaining civil). If you want people to be civil, you need to do more than just avoid name calling, you need to actually be civil (i.e. “adhering to the norms of polite social intercourse; not deficient in common courtesy”), which requires rather more.

    P.S. If you find me being uncivil, then do point it out, my intention is to try to be civil, but i don’t have the patience of Nick, Zeke, Robert and Ferdinand and the reminder is welcome.

  64. dikranmarsupial says:

    BTW as ATTP wrote “My only consolation is a sense that it would make no difference whatsoever.” agrees with my experience and also with my observation of the response to Ferdinand Engelbeen’s efforts, he is tirelessly civil and sticks to the science, but this is very rarely reciprocated.

  65. agrees with my experience and also with my observation of the response to Ferdinand Engelbeen’s efforts, he is tirelessly civil and sticks to the science, but this is very rarely reciprocated.

    On the other hand, Willard’s point is essentially correct. Having pointed out that I regard Nic Lewis as a pedantic nitpicker, the Climate Etc. thread has now largely degenerated into people complaining about that and using it as an excuse as to why I’m not treated well there. It’s kind of fair enough, but there’s the whole pot, kettle issue that many seem to ignore. If I could somehow remind myself of the consequences of saying such a thing, I might convince myself that it’s not worth it, even if justified. Hindsight is 20:20, though.

  66. BBD says:

    The problem here is that the contrarians expect to be able to behave unacceptably while denying anyone else the right to point out that they are behaving unacceptably. It is just another example of they way in which they seek to control the language and conduct of the discourse.

    It is fundamentally unacceptable.

  67. dikranmarsupial says:

    Yes, I agree about Willard’s point, however if the game really is ClimateBall rather than discussing science, then another way to disrupt the discussion would have been found. I suspect that there are those who are not even playing ClimateBall, but ClimateCraic, who are not even interested in “winning” the discussion, but just enjoy arguing.

  68. bill shockley says:

    Hansen should be the focal point, not Anderson. Hansen is more comprehensive in understanding the possible pathways for mitigaiton and deeper and more dire in his assessment of the dangers (2C is not even an appropriate target).

    1) Hansen understands how a carbon tax (revenue neutral) is NECESSARY and can be employed without stressing the less wealthy sectors of society (the reason for Anderson’s objection).

    2) Anderson implies, by not suggesting other means, that Paris or world bodies in general are the only avenues to international action. They are not. Hansen points out that, for example, a bilateral agreement between China and the U.S. on a carbon tax would catalyze the rest of the world to follow in step.

    3) Anderson does not acknowledge the capacity for biosphere management to draw down CO2, that adds approximately 10 years to a 1.5C (not 2C) deadline.

  69. bill shockley says:

    4) Hansen recognizes that Paris is just window dressing for politicians.

  70. Joshua says:

    BBD –

    ==> ” The problem here is that the contrarians expect to be able to behave unacceptably while denying anyone else the right to point out that they are behaving unacceptably. It is just another example of they way in which they seek to control the language and conduct of the discourse.”

    They can seek whatever they want. IMO, the question is whether or not anyone else is materially advancing their own agenda by being uncivil.

    ==> “It is fundamentally unacceptable.”

    It is the lay of the land that “skeptics” will employ fallacious argumentative practices. You have no way to affect whether or not they choose to do so.

    Dikran –

    ==> ” I suspect that there are those who are not even playing ClimateBall, but ClimateCraic, who are not even interested in “winning” the discussion, but just enjoy arguing.”

    I guess that was more or less a throw-away, but I suspect that it is neither that they are (consciously, at least) playing climateball or arguing simply for the sake of arguing. IMO, they are protecting their own ideological identification (through identity-aggressive and identity-defensive behaviors). Such a practice is ubiquitous, and by virtue of the wonderful mechanisms of motivated reasoning, people can employ internally logical arguments (e.g., I am successfully targeting the weaknesses in their arguments because people are insulting me) that lack external validity (that may be the case sometimes, but how do I know if it’s true in this case?)

  71. Willard says:

    > if the game really is ClimateBall rather than discussing science, then another way to disrupt the discussion would have been found

    I prefer to call these exchanges, for reasons that should be obvious by now.

    The easiest of disrupting the flow of exchanges would be to remain silent, for instance:

    Dan never responded to a comment I took a week to write. Next time we’ll exchange, I’ll remind him of that silence. For now, no time has been wasted trying to micro-manage the meta-communication.

    ***

    In any case, nobody responded to my comment to Nic at Judy’s to date. It’s pre-moderated, which may not help those who follow using an RSS reader. Nevertheless, I don’t expect Nic to add anything to it, since I basically answered his rhetorical question (i.e. it backfired on him) by making his lukewarm gambit more explicit:

    > What is there to respond to about that?

    That the analysis isn’t so incredible as to look specious. To see how plausible it looks, try to come with an analysis with even lower CS and carbon sinks. If you can’t, this would show something about the lowest bounds lukewarm ingenuousness [can put] on the market.

    More generally, how an analysis that selects the lukewarmest bounds can become an argument regarding the claim about “better” estimates.

    http://judithcurry.com/2015/11/30/how-sensitive-is-global-temperature-to-cumulative-co2-emissions/#comment-747827

    Having written it nit-picker proof might have helped.

    ***

    Nic’s nit-picking has an important function in that thread. It distracts from the argumentative structure. If you try to go bottom-up against a parsomatics (H/T Eli) artist, you’ll never get to the top. If you go top-down, he might prefer to go for the silence treatment.

    The easiest way to test this ClimateBall ™ strategy would be to start with Nic’s bottom line:

    The mean carbon cycle behaviour of CMIP5 ESMs and EMICs may be quite unrealistic.

    What are his arguments? Don’t get lost if what Nic’s display of graphical power. Look for his arguments. Where are they? (Hint: look for “better,” the word I used in my comment.)

    Auditing the bottom line is a good way to deal with all kinds of bankcrutpcy.

  72. Willard says:

    The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing:

    Interestingly, matthewmarler’s comments bypassed AT’s main point:

    I think he has chosen carbon cycle feedbacks that are on the low side of the range, and hence the airborne fraction does not change much as we warm because the selected TCR is also on the low side of the range.

    So far, Nic failed to pick on this small detail too.

    After all, a main point becomes a very tiny nit when one only repeats it once every few comments.

    INTEGRITY ™ – Lower Is Better

    http://judithcurry.com/2015/11/30/how-sensitive-is-global-temperature-to-cumulative-co2-emissions/#comment-748012

  73. Willard says:

    Well, it seems I just got un-pre-moderated at Judy’s.

    Fancy that.

  74. BBD says:

    Joshua

    It is the lay of the land that “skeptics” will employ fallacious argumentative practices. You have no way to affect whether or not they choose to do so.

    But I can point out that it is fundamentally unacceptable. I should have added “if the aim is functional discourse”.

  75. Joshua says:

    BBD –

    I’m just saying that calling it unacceptable doesn’t work (for me, anyway). Can you not accept something if you have no ability to affect whether it occurs? It’s a semantic thing…not really an important distinction.

  76. Joshua says:

    And yes…”if the aim is functional discourse” pretty much covers it.

  77. “P.S. If you find me being uncivil, then do point it out, my intention is to try to be civil, but i don’t have the patience of Nick, Zeke, Robert and Ferdinand and the reminder is welcome.”

    Ferdinand is a good addition. I think it’s better for me just to point out the good examples rather than police the bad.

    Sorry for trying to wind you up on that prior thread, it won’t happen again.

  78. Willard,

    I am having a hard time following all of ATTP claims and questions.

    start with this

    “If being the operative word here. Most analyses suggest that the airborn fraction will increase with increasing emissions. Since you now seem to think that you have expertise in the carbon cycle, it would be interesting to know if you still think that only a small fraction of our emissions will remain in the atmosphere for hundreds of years and, if so, what you mean by a small fraction.”

    what do you see?

  79. Steven,
    Well, I am quite interested in the answer to that question (I must remember to put question mark after my questions). If someone is going to say something that appears to suggest that they have a poor understanding of the carbon cycle and then – a few weeks later – develop a model in which the carbon cycle plays a crucial role, it would certainly be interesting to know if they’ve improved their understanding of the basics.

  80. BBD says:

    Joshua

    I see your point, but what I was trying to say is that one can discount whatever ‘sceptics’ say when they use tactics like this. By behaving in a way that fundamentally precludes functional discourse, they automatically concede the argument. It’s like being sent off the pitch for a foul.

  81. BBD says:

    what do you see?

    Nic Lewis stretching the evidence to or past breaking point in order to peddle his lukewarmerism.

    As ever.

  82. Willard says:

    > what do you see?

    A reference to this:

    My frustration was largely because I had thought that Nic was simply being pedantic about my not qualifying something sufficiently. However, it seems that he was actually suggesting that not only could the equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) be low, but that – in fact – the carbon cycle could draw down CO2 rapidly enough, that only a small fraction would remain in the atmosphere for a very long time. Depending on how one defines “small fraction”, I think that this is not what is expected. I thought, therefore, that I would try to discuss our current understanding.

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2015/10/10/drawing-down-atmospheric-co2-part-1/

    This comment refers to this previous one:

    Nic,

    Can you qualify this, because I’m starting to feel that maybe I gave you too easy a time when you last commented on my blog (I thought you were just being complaining that I hadn’t qualified something sufficiently, rather than actually suggesting that the alternative we really a likely possibility)

    Not really, even allowing for ocean chemistry (Revelle factor, etc.). Whilst it does appear likely that a small fraction of emitted CO2 will stay in the atmosphere for a millennium or more, there is no good evidence for the rest having a long (centennial upwards) lifetime.

    I’ll even provide some basics of how I understand our current position. If we get to 600ppm and stop emitting entirely, after 100 years, the concentration would still be above 500ppm, and after 1000 years it would probably be around 350ppm. If we got to 600ppm and then reduced emissions to around 1GtC/yr (i.e., a reduction of 90% compared to current emissions) it would still exceed 500ppm after 1000 years. Of course, this is for a single model, but most models suggest something similar; the atmospheric concentration will decay over many centuries; see Figure 1 in here.
    In other words, our current understanding is that the timescale over which atmospheric CO2 would return back to pre-industrial levels is indeed many centuries – in fact, to get back to something like 280ppm would likely take thousands of years. Your comment seems to suggest that you disagree and think it would reduce much faster than this? Do you think this and – if so – why?

    http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2015/10/5/puffed-rice.html?currentPage=3#comments

    The whole “nitpicking” theme started there:

    ATTP, you write: “the amount of warming depends almost linearly on cumulative emissions”.

    For the record, whilst this may be true for simulations by most current Earth system models, it is an entirely model dependent result. So please don’t present it as if a fact. If one builds a model with a low ECS, and moderate climate-cycle feedbacks, warming peaks immediately if emissions cease and declines quite rapidly thereafter. Which would happen in the real climate system is not as yet known, of course.

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2015/09/28/emission-reductions/#comment-63875

    My emphasis.

    ***

    Incidentally, observe that Nic had no response to this:

    > That makes three other teams getting similar results […]

    Are you referring to Otto & al as an “other team,” Nic?

    Sounds like double accounting to me.

    http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2015/10/5/puffed-rice.html?currentPage=3#comments

    ***

    I’d rather start with Nic’s argument instead of starting with a claim AT made. The operative words of this ClimateBall ™ episode are unrealistic and better. Two adjectives, which means Nic’s preference for adverbs may be subsiding, viz. Nic’s exchanges with the MET Office:

    http://judithcurry.com/2013/09/14/nic-lewis-on-the-uk-met-office-on-the-pause/

  83. Since the nature of our collective problem is that it is urgent we take action, unskeptical “skeptics” win every day, by arguing that evidence is not evidence. Every pixel we waste arguing with them is a win for them. They have tied up government in the US. They need do almost nothing, just follow Schopenhauer and create endless arguments. In the US, it is worse, not better. You’d think reality would kick in, but apparently they don’t care about that.

  84. dikranmarsupial says:

    Steve I appreciate that.

    IIUC Nic Lewis said: “Whilst it does appear likely that a small fraction of emitted CO2 will stay in the atmosphere for a millennium or more, there is no good evidence for the rest having a long (centennial upwards) lifetime.”

    I suspect he may mean that ice core and instrumental measurements of atmospheric CO2 don’t provide good evidence for this. However, that is not unduly surprising AFAICS. The direct observations we made at a time when the carbon cycle was being quite vigorously forced by anthropogenic emissions, so atmospheric growth has largely been dominated by the fast(ish) acting components of the carbon cycle, not the slow ones that cause this long tail. For the ice core data, there hasn’t been a time when there has been an abrupt change in the sources and sinks, so that doesn’t give a clear indication either.

    More importantly the ice cores and atmospheric observations are not the only source of evidence, evidence about the transport of carbon between the deep ocean and thermocline is also very relevant, and you need to understand that rather well before you can start making useful quantative predictions for the future. Models should be as simple as possible, but no simpler. Carbon cycle models with a single box for the ocean are a non-starter as we know the oceans are strongly stratified and will not act as one.

  85. “Steven,
    Well, I am quite interested in the answer to that question (I must remember to put question mark after my questions). If someone is going to say something that appears to suggest that they have a poor understanding of the carbon cycle and then – a few weeks later – develop a model in which the carbon cycle plays a crucial role, it would certainly be interesting to know if they’ve improved their understanding of the basics.”

    I’m less interested in that portion of the dialog and more interested in his actual argument and your response. I’m trying to read more and comment less.

    However, if one day you said something that suggested you had a poor understanding of
    say Korean culture and then a few weeks later posted something about 화랑. My question
    would not be ‘so you consider yourself an expert?” My comment might be
    “Cool, have you taken up an interest and what did you read?”

  86. BBD

    “what do you see?

    Nic Lewis stretching the evidence to or past breaking point in order to peddle his lukewarmerism.

    As ever.
    ##########

    In ATTP’s comment? Sorry I’m not seeing that there. could you explicate?

  87. Willard,

    you read a reference to this post in ATTP’s comment?

    “A few days ago, I was somewhat less than civil in response to a comment by Nic Lewis, which then lead to a typically juvenile post on Bishop Hill. It was, though, quite amusing to have Anthony Watts complaining about my lack of civility and suggesting that I could learn from Nic Lewis, who has published more climate papers than I have. It’s clear that Anthony Watts puts great stead in those who are both civil and well-published.”

    Thanks. I will see if I can make sense of that

  88. Steven,

    My comment might be
    “Cool, have you taken up an interest and what did you read?”

    Potentially a fair point. On the other hand, if what I was presenting was apparently overturning our understanding of Korean culture, you might still like to understand whether or not I had actually learned enough to do so.

  89. BBD says:

    Steven

    In ATTP’s comment? Sorry I’m not seeing that there. could you explicate?

    Nit-picking! You know perfectly well what I meant.

  90. BBD says:

    In which Steven tries to create the impression that NL has some kind of valid point by dragging out a re-hash of the original exchange.

  91. Joshua says:

    =>> “I’m less interested in that portion of the dialog and more interested in his actual argument and your response. ”

    Why are you focusing on trivial and unimportant questions about Anders’ rhetoric?

  92. The intention behind the comment of mine that Steven highlight’s is quite simple, I think. I should have known better than to be snarky to Nic Lewis, because it was invariably going to end up being highlighted elsewhere as an indication that I’m not civil (despite saying I would be) and to highlight the irony of Anthony Watts appealling to someone else’s authority, despite typically ignoring it when what the “authority” is saying goes against what he himself believes.

  93. Actually, Nic’s Climate etc post, puts this comment – that Willard highlights – into a slightly different context.

    For the record, whilst this may be true for simulations by most current Earth system models, it is an entirely model dependent result. So please don’t present it as if a fact.

  94. Kirk Brent says:

    First I want to explain the 2 C rise. It refers to the global average temperatures. All the lows and highs around the world are averaged out to show this temperature rise. Some places such as the Arctic has risen 10-15 degrees above the normal temperatures in that region. But when factored in with all of the other temperatures a much lower global average is shown.

    There is a lot of confusion when it comes to figuring out how warm our planet is in 2016. I would like to clear this up by explaining some numbers.
    Numbers Mentioned in the Media
    +0.87 C is the number most often quoted in the media to indicate how much the average temperature has risen globally. In 2014, it was +0.75C. This is as compared to 1951-1980 global average.
    +2C is the “safe limit” identified by an economist in 2005 and eagerly taken up by world governments in 2009. That is a +2C rise above pre-industrial levels (since 1750).
    +1.12C is the amount the global temperature has increased since modern record keeping began (since 1880s).
    +1.32C is the number least discussed by the media and is the amount by which average global temperature has risen since pre-industrial times (since 1750).
    The 0.87C and 2C numbers, quoted most often, are misleading because they are on different scales. 2C refers to temperature rise since 1750 and 0.87C refers to temperature rise above 1951-1980 average.
    Media should be quoting 1.32C and 2C, since they are on the same scale. The urgency of the situation is just not being transmitted by majority of news outlets.
    Numbers Not Mentioned in the Media
    +0.5C to +1C (above 1750 levels) is the absolute upper limit for acceptable warming, as per 1990 UN committee on climate change and actual scientific data (i.e. max 300 ppm of CO2 level). Global warming becomes unstoppable after that.
    +0.6C (+- 0.2C) is the amount of heat still not realized because of a 10+ year lag between emission of CO2 and their full effect. Even if we stop emitting today, global temperatures will keep rising for years.
    +1.2C (+- 0.2C) is the amount of heat that still not realized because of global dimming effect (burning coal cools the planet temporarily). Even if we stop emitting today, global temperatures will skyrocket within months.
    Where we stand
    + 1.32C — of current warming (since 1750)
    + 0.6C — unrealized warming from CO2 coming in the next 10+ years
    + 1.2C — global dimming effect that’s cooling us down for now
    Total: 1.32 + 0.6 + 1.2 = +3.12C (actual warming since 1750)
    +1C is the absolute limit for warming after which changes taking place become self-reinforcing. We’ve surged past that limit at neck breaking speed.
    Conclusion
    If global emissions stop today our global temperatures will increase to at least 3.12C above 1750 levels, at which point we would have entered a runaway state with temperatures rising exponentially until some equilibrium is reached (perhaps 8C above 1750 levels or higher).
    In a runaway climate state, methane and carbon from tundra and ocean seabed will become the main source of green house gases and will eventually lead to extinction of most life on this planet.
    ** Note: This note discusses numbers only. The source of this data is NASA, NOAA, Japanese Meteorological Agency and several climate change papers. All of these numbers can be independently verified. For global dimming see James Hansen’s papers on aerosol effects.

    One has to be careful when talking about numbers. There are companies and governments that would like to confuse the public with numbers.
    James Hansen walked out of the Paris Talks calling it a ‘Fraud’. That is not a loosely based comment.

  95. Kirk,
    Thanks. Yes, I realise that there can be a lot of confusion as to what it’s being measured from.

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