Multi-millenial climate change

I was wanting to post a figure from a recent paper by Clark et al. called Consequences of twenty-first-century policy for multi-millennial climate and sea-level change. The figure is below, and it highlights two related things that I’ve been trying to stress for a while

  • A reasonable fraction (20-30%) of what we emit will remain in the atmosphere for millenia.
  • The resulting climate change will also persist for millenia.

Credit: Clark et al. (2016)

Credit: Clark et al. (2016)


A basic consequence of the above is that – in the absence of some kind of technological fix (which would carry risks of its own) – anthropogenically-driven climate change is irreversible on human timescales.

Hence, given that what we’re doing is likely to irreversibly change our climate for thousands of years, you’d like to think that we’d consider – long and hard – the consequences of continuing to do so. I realise that some are doing exactly this (the author’s of this paper, the IPCC, COP21, for example) but it still feels as though there is a great desire to ignore this, or even dismiss it. I’m not suggesting that deciding what to do is easy, but that’s not a reason to ignore that what we’re doing now may change our climate – potentially in severely negative (for us) ways – for thousands of years.

On that note, there is also the issue of – as Eli notes – the morality of existence. Ray Pierrehumbert (one of the authors of this paper) says

For all we know, we may be the only sentience in the Galaxy, maybe even in the Universe. We may be the only ones able to bear witness to the beauty of our Universe, and it may be our destiny to explore the miracle of sentience down through billions of years of the future,…

That the only known life – sentient or otherwise – in the universe, exists in a thin shell, on a small rocky planet, orbiting a pretty standard star, would seem to be something also worth considering. On the other hand, maybe this is largely irrelevant, at least in some kind of universal morality sense. There is no obvious reason why we’re morally obligated to not do something that risks our existence. At the end of the day, doing it would simply be stupid, and I would hate to be part of a generation that contributed to doing so.

I’ve been trying to think of how to end this post, but I’m somewhat struggling. It’s partly because I’m just back from a trip with the family, so am rather tired, but it’s partly because I find the moral argument difficult. It seems obvious to me that we have some kind of obligation to protect the only planet on which we can live, and that this means more than simply assuming that we can fix anything we might break. Others, however, seem to disagree.

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192 Responses to Multi-millenial climate change

  1. While we sort of knew this, or should by now have known it, it is with a certain kind of denial that I find myself looking away from their shattering implications. Which means that they, like the hockey stick before them, they will probably become the subject of a barrage of invective and pseudoscientific pseudo scepticism. While the IPCC reports naturally analysed a period that is bounded (by the end of the century, which no more arbitrary than any other date), for those big blocks of ice, 2100 is merely a way mark on a progression, which by then will be irreversible (for all but the most optimistic and benign scenarios). Turning back the clock is beyond human ingenuity. That should give even self-proclaimed rational optimists cause to pause for thought. Will it?

  2. which by then will be irreversible

    There have been numerous ice ages ( and intervening inter-glacials ) far more imposing than 2xCO2. Everyone of them reversed. Why would believe anything about this period is irreversible?

  3. Oale says:

    I’d say Arrhenius’ wish of warming the winters of Sweden is pretty much accomplished, or at least it’s on its way, so we might as well stop converting the atmosphere to an inhospitable mess of droughts and crop-killing heat stress it’s been projected to turn if we continue on our merry way. (a hint of sarcasm and some aid to the conspiracy theorists out there, it was actually Sv. Arrhenius who started the grand plot, and all the warmistas are doing his command)

  4. T-rev says:

    >There is no obvious reason why we’re morally obligated to not do something that risks our existence. At the end of the day, doing it would simply be stupid

    You’d think it would be a done deal..but alas no, we trade iphones and flights to bali for a stable biosphere. A new lecture by Kevin Anderson lays out some of the challenges post COP21 in regards energy in a lecture at the LSE.

    In the Q&A at the end he lays out the importance of individual action and his reasoning as to why. I know the thoughts of many are that their emissions profligacy is not the problem, it’s everyone else’s emissions that are. This is a common meme but something I refute and along with voting only for politicians who are support of effective mitigation, is the only way we’ll ever get mitigation. Kevin’s specialty is energy and as he constantly states, we can’t build our way out of this.

  5. T-rev says:

    err… wrong youtube link above somehow 🙂 ? correct one below

  6. TE,
    Seriously? I realise I didn’t say it every time, but I was referring to “human timescales” rather than “geological timescales”.

    There have been numerous ice ages ( and intervening inter-glacials ) far more imposing than 2xCO2. Everyone of them reversed. Why would believe anything about this period is irreversible?

    We’re not only talking about 2xCO2. What makes you think that because previous changes have reversed that the ones we’re imposing will do so too?

  7. TE … you may not have noticed that during the last four ice ages the CO2 concentration peaked at around 300 ppm, it is now over 400 ppm and rising at over 2 ppm per annum. The level of concentration therefore does not fit with what you say and given that the ice age/ interglacial cycles were over 10s of thousands of years, the current rate of rise is unprecedented. The reason and mechanisms for the long recovery times are well understood and revealed in the record. In addition to the most recent paper that ATTP refers to above, there is plenty of material not behind a paywall you can access, such as this News Report from Nature, Mason Inman, 2008:
    http://www.nature.com/climate/2008/0812/full/climate.2008.122.html

  8. Something else to bear in mind is that in our current geological epoch, the roughly steady atmospheric CO2 concentration is about 280 ppm (this is the concentration at which the rate at which it is sequestered into the slow carbon sinks matches the rate it is released by volcanoes). Returning to such a concentration will take a very long time (which is what the upper panel in the figure in the post is showing) since it is set by the rate at which it can be sequestered by the slow carbon sinks. Barring some kind of other catastrophic event (major volcano, asteroid strike) the changes we make to our climate will probably persist for millenia.

  9. Something to bear in mind is the possibility of a hysteresis loop. If we significantly reduce the amount of land ice, for example, returning to something similar to our current state may not simply be the reverse of the path we followed when reducing ice cover.

  10. dikranmarsupial says:

    TE wrote “There have been numerous ice ages ( and intervening inter-glacials ) far more imposing than 2xCO2. Everyone of them reversed. Why would believe anything about this period is irreversible? “

    Those reversals took place over thousands to tens of thousands of years, so in what way is that inconsistent with “The resulting climate change will also persist for millenia.”?

    Personally I am not so worried about whether the climate will eventually reverse, I am not really concerned about whether human beings as a species will survive the climate change we are causing (we almost certainly will). I am more worried by the fact that it is very likely there will be large scale suffering as a result of climate change in a world with 7 billion+ people, many of whom live in areas of the world where agriculture is already only marginally able to support the current local population and with marginal resources for adapting to any change.

  11. izen says:

    In previous glacial cycles CO2 follows the temperature down, sometimes with a ~1kyr lag.
    The hypothesis that anthropogenic doubling will prevent the insolation changes that drove past cooling from operating again is difficult to support.

    Some time ago I read a paper (to which I have lost the link/citation) that put the influence of our present change to the atmosphere at lasting less than 60kyrs. After that glacial cycles, or whatever inherent pattern of inherent variability would be re-established.
    That is 10 times as long as human civilisation has existed, but half as long as modern humans as a distinct biological species have existed.

    The idea that social morality can be extended to inanimate objects, or ‘the Universe’ as a whole is ridiculous. Even extending it to other biological organisms that display some vestige of sentience and intentionality is problematic.

  12. The hypothesis that anthropogenic doubling will prevent the insolation changes that drove past cooling from operating again is difficult to support.

    I’m not quite sure what you mean by this. As you say later in your comment, I had thought that we would essentially be delaying another ice age for tens of thousands of years.

  13. If the sea level rises 3 metres globally over the next 100 yrs or so—which is well within the bounds of possibility at the rate we’re going—and then reverses at the same rate (not possible for reasons given in the OP, but let’s say it can for the sake of argument), does that mean were all back to normal and will soon forget the disruption? I’d suggest the global geopolitical disturbance would echo down the millennia.

    I don’t think many people realise just how necessary a stable global climate is for the continuation of all that we know and love about the civilisation they’re part of.

  14. izen says:

    @-” I had thought that we would essentially be delaying another ice age for tens of thousands of years.”

    That seems to be the conventional view.
    However while the rise in CO2 opposes the cooling trend that is seen after every past interglacial peak, I have not encountered an explanation of how that will prevent the pattern of cooling into the next glacial minima in around 40kyrs.
    At least little beyond ‘hand-waving’.

    Claims that anthropogenic CO2 rise will prevent the next ice-age, and that therefore it is a good/bad thing are dubious, and given the timescale, largely irrelevant. It is six times longer than the history of human civilisation. Only the most extreme pessimist or conservative would expect human civilisation to still be dependent on chemical energy sources and incapable of adaptive measures.

  15. JCH says:

    If our behavior extends out the onset of glaciation by tens of thousands of years, then people are going to perceive that as good thing. That the timescales are absurd for making such a judgment is not going to register. So say at 280 ppm the onset of glaciation was 2000 years out from present, and our behavior to 2100 (we’re going to burn almost everything) will extend the onset to 29,000 years out. Some 9 billion people will have their new energy source and life will be great.

  16. I have not encountered an explanation of how that will prevent the pattern of cooling into the next glacial minima in around 40kyrs.
    At least little beyond ‘hand-waving’.

    I haven’t either and there are still likely to be large changes in regional forcings due to orbital variations. I presume the key issue is whether or not these can be large enough to start the regrowth of NH ice sheets. If the anthropogenic influence is sufficiently large, then this may not be possible until the atmospheric CO2 has been drawn down sufficiently.

    Claims that anthropogenic CO2 rise will prevent the next ice-age, and that therefore it is a good/bad thing are dubious, and given the timescale, largely irrelevant.

    I tend to agree. The main point, in my view, is the illustration that this is likely to be irreversible (without some kind of technological fix) on timescales that are relevant.

  17. Eli Rabett says:

    I have not encountered an explanation of how that will prevent the pattern of cooling into the next glacial minima in around 40kyrs.

    Beer and cows, see Ruddiman

  18. Returning to such a concentration will take a very long time (which is what the upper panel in the figure in the post is showing) since it is set by the rate at which it can be sequestered by the slow carbon sinks. Barring some kind of other catastrophic event (major volcano, asteroid strike) the changes we make to our climate will probably persist for millenia.

    Observed data ( which you chose to censure ) indicates otherwise.
    For the industrial era, the higher absolute atmospheric CO2 concentration goes, the quicker the absolute removal rate from the atmosphere. Understandably, the CO2 models are missing things.

  19. data ( which you chose to censure ) indicates otherwise.

    I have pointed out that I won’t post your figures if you don’t explain them.

    For the industrial era, the higher absolute atmospheric CO2 concentration goes, the quicker the absolute removal rate from the atmosphere.

    Yes, but the bit that you contine to ignore that is that the expectation is that 20 – 30% of what we’ve emitted will remain in the atmosphere for thousands of years. All you’re illustrating is that the rate at which it can be distributed between the fast carbon sinks is quite fast by comparison (hundreds of years). You’re not showing that the removal of everything we’ve emitted will occur on those timescales.

    Understandably, the CO2 models are missing things.

    Indeed, but so are you.

  20. BBD says:

    Observed data […] indicates otherwise.
    For the industrial era, the higher absolute atmospheric CO2 concentration goes, the quicker the absolute removal rate from the atmosphere.

    Rubbish, as always.

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

  21. BBD says:

    No. let’s *see* the data. Let’s *see* just how misleading Turbs is being.

  22. BBD,
    I think TE is simply referring to the fact that if you plot the rate at which CO2 is taken up by the natural sinks, it increases with time (i.e., the difference between how much we’ve emitted and how much the atmospheric concentration increases by, divided by time). This, however, in not way tells us that atmospheric concentrations will return to pre-industrial levels on a timescale of less than thousands of years.

  23. dikranmarsupial says:

    TE writes “For the industrial era, the higher absolute atmospheric CO2 concentration goes, the quicker the absolute removal rate from the atmosphere.”

    Yes, exponential decay processes tend to have that property, and you will find that carbon cycle models also exhibit that property (the same models that show that a full recovery will take thousands of years). So what is your point?

    Note that this “fast response” of the carbon cycle (uptake of CO2 into the oceans as far as the thermocline) only dominates at the start of the recovery, later on it is transport from the thermocline to the deep ocean that is the rate limiting factor, and that is much slower.

  24. I would be careful to make any judgement. It’s only one paper and I I havent read of any paper which establishes that the position in this paper is part of the official consensus.

    I love me some consensus. bring me more consensus please so I know what to think, officially.

    “I’ve been trying to think of how to end this post, but I’m somewhat struggling. It’s partly because I’m just back from a trip with the family, so am rather tired, but it’s partly because I find the moral argument difficult.”

    That’s because their moral argument isnt really a moral argument.

  25. That’s because their moral argument isnt really a moral argument.

    I wasn’t suggesting that it was. I was suggesting that I don’t know what to think of using what they present to make a moral argument.

  26. dikranmarsupial says:

    “I love me some consensus. bring me more consensus please so I know what to think, officially.”

    I think your approach is counterproductive. If you were not able to understand the science for yourself, then aligning yourself with the consensus position would be a sensible and rational thing to do. However (a) that is not the case and (b) nobody is claiming that consensus messaging is the only form of “messaging” – indeed ATTP has made that point pretty clearly (more than once).

  27. dikranmarsupial says:

    (c) there is no “official” consensus, any more than there is an “official” surface temperature dataset (not even BEST ;o), just studies that attempt to determine the scientific consensus on some particular question of interest.

  28. BBD says:

    ATTP

    This, however, in not way tells us that atmospheric concentrations will return to pre-industrial levels on a timescale of less than thousands of years.

    So yet another blatant misrepresentation of the facts by TE in comments here. Another one.

  29. izen says:

    @-Eli Rabett
    “Beer and cows, see Ruddiman”

    The claim that slash n burn agriculture and nomadic pastoralism have already prevented a return to a glacial temperature fall are unconvincing. The influence of human activity on the land carbon cycle is undoubtedly significant. Our influence on the rather larger oceanic component rather less so.

    The idea there is a ‘moral’ argument against causing human extinction, or civilisational collapse because the universe would lose the sole existential sentient insight into gravity waves strikes me as hubristically farcical.

  30. Mal Adapted says:

    Steven Mosher:

    I love me some consensus. bring me more consensus please so I know what to think, officially.

    Perhaps Mr. Mosher meant to type “oafishly”?

  31. The idea there is a ‘moral’ argument against causing human extinction, or civilisational collapse because the universe would lose the sole existential sentient insight into gravity waves strikes me as hubristically farcical.

    Yes, but that doesn’t imply that it wouldn’t still be a stupid thing to do.

  32. dikranmarsupial says:

    If we actually were the only “existential sentient insight into gravity waves”, it wouldn’t be hubris, our gravity wave appreciation would be ne pas ultra and hence our pride would be completely justifiable!

    Personally I’d argue that losing the only species capable of fully appreciating the value of a good forward defensive would be almost as good a moral argument. Not difficult to think of moral arguments that are much stronger.

  33. “The idea there is a ‘moral’ argument against causing human extinction, or civilisational collapse because the universe would lose the sole existential sentient insight into gravity waves strikes me as hubristically farcical.”

    It really doesn’t matter what follows the “because” – it’s a placeholder. Insert the reason of your choice. Consider the converse: There is *NO* moral argument against causing human extinction or the collapse of civilization. Does anyone believe *that*? That there is no moral argument against causing human extinction or the collapse of civilization?

    Well, yes, misanthropes might believe that. Sociopaths might believe that. But other than them?

  34. BBD says:

    The moral argument hinges on the toxic combination of current knowledge of likely outcomes and continuing inaction to prevent them.

  35. Mal Adapted says:

    izen:

    The idea there is a ‘moral’ argument against causing human extinction, or civilisational collapse because the universe would lose the sole existential sentient insight into gravity waves strikes me as hubristically farcical.

    Yep. The mediocrity principlepunctures our inflated opinion of ourselves.

  36. izen says:

    @-oneillsinwisconsin
    “Consider the converse: There is *NO* moral argument against causing human extinction or the collapse of civilization. ”

    The only argument that can be construed as moral against causing human extinction is Benthamite.

    @-BBD
    “The moral argument hinges on the toxic combination of current knowledge of likely outcomes and continuing inaction to prevent them.”

    Yes. Stupidity, and short-term sectional interest trump scientific evidence based policy. As a response notes to this immoral activity.

    http://www.desmogblog.com/2016/02/21/warren-buffett-s-quieter-quest-kill-solar-west

    Transferring the ‘moral’ argument to abstract concepts of Gaia protection from disrupting the ice-ages is a nonsense.

  37. I think most people process ideas like “civilization collapse” or “human extinction” as abstracts outside of themselves. It’s the stuff of Hollywood. Framing future climate change in terms of “human suffering” brings the concept closer to home. Starvation and war are actual real events that we can see today. Continued carbon emissions will produce more of both.

    Even given the FF’s we’ve burned to date we have escalated the amount of human suffering that will be imposed on coming generations. To me, the moral ideal is to find the path that will limit future human suffering to the minimum extent possible.

  38. To me, the moral ideal is to find the path that will limit future human suffering to the minimum extent possible.

    I agree. The real problem seems to be that we seem to be struggling to reach some kind of general agreement as to how to achieve this.

  39. dikranmarsupial says:

    ATTP “The real problem seems to be that we seem to be struggling to reach some kind of general agreement as to how to achieve this.”

    I’m not sure we are at that point yet (as a society). I think the main point of difficulty is still with our discounting rate problem, where limiting future human suffering is still secondary to our own personal comfort. Perhaps I am being too gloomy.

  40. I think the main point of difficulty is still with our discounting rate problem, where limiting future human suffering is still secondary to our own personal comfort.

    Actually, yes, that is also a point, I agree.

  41. Future human suffering is a tough one to price into the marketplace. We’ll be doing well just to get current economic impacts from carbon emissions priced.

  42. izen – The only moral argument for preventing human extinction is Benthamite? What? We’re not talking pleasure, we’re talking existence.

    Murder, genocide, and otherwise wanton killing is typically a no-no in every moral system. I would expect that specicide can be added to the list. I.e., it’s logically rather silly to abhor genocide, but have no view on human extinction. Likewise suicide is frowned upon in many moral systems. *Mass* suicide is an exception?

    Bollocks.

  43. Michael 2 says:

    “There is no obvious reason why we’re morally obligated to not do something that risks our existence.”

    Too many “no” in one sentence to parse reliably. But it doesn’t matter. We are hydrocarbons whose calcium ion channels have managed to not only become self aware but self important. Is there any reason your calcium ion channels produce impulses more worthy than mine?

  44. BBD says:

    M2

    Is there any reason your calcium ion channels produce impulses more worthy than mine?

    How predictable.This isn’t about you.

  45. izen says:

    @-Rob Honeycutt
    ” Framing future climate change in terms of “human suffering” brings the concept closer to home. Starvation and war are actual real events that we can see today.”

    Therefore are actual real moral transgressions we can ascribe to the intentional actions of actual real people.

    @-“Even given the FF’s we’ve burned to date we have escalated the amount of human suffering that will be imposed on coming generations. To me, the moral ideal is to find the path that will limit future human suffering to the minimum extent possible.”

    So one highly moral outcome would be the rapid and painless extinction of ALL future humans capable of suffering…?!

    @-oneillsinwisconsin
    “Murder, genocide, and otherwise wanton killing is typically a no-no in every moral system.”

    Except those where it a moral good to murder, genocide or wantonly kill the enemy, heretic, apostate, or anyone who fails to share your ideology. DAESH and Boko Haram would be the obvious examples, but there are numerous other instances where whole civilisations have felt widespread death is a moral good.
    The MAD doctrine of deterrence that justifies the possession and use of nuclear weapons requires a Nation declare that it is prepared to destroy civilisation if attacked. Most explicitly expressed in the Masada policy advocated by some groups.

    But lets agree that specific instances of murder and genocide are immoral acts that are in conflict with the greatest good for the greatest number.

    @-“I.e., it’s logically rather silly to abhor genocide, but have no view on human extinction.”

    Until you specify the context and details the only moral(?) objection to human extinction is that it contradicts the principle of the greatest good for the greatest number.

  46. Michael Hauber says:

    ‘Hence, given that what we’re doing is likely to irreversibly change our climate for thousands of years, you’d like to think that we’d consider – long and hard – the consequences of continuing to do so.’

    So do we have much of a handle on what these consequences might be and what it might mean for our current decision making? If things are very bad in the short term, then the long term probably doesn’t matter? If things are fine in the short term, then can it be expected to get worse in the long term? One of the delayer arguments in climate change is ‘but it was much hotter in X geological period’, which is usually responded to with ‘but its the rate of change that matters’. In the long term the rate of change is going to go down.

    A moderate scenario may be that things will be unpleasant but not catastrophic 100 years from now. We’ll still be doing ok as a civilization, and if technology keep advancing and population vs food supply doesn’t bite hard we’ll be better of than now. But there will be many negative consequences of climate change and we’ll be wishing that we’d done more to reduce climate change and resenting our short sighted previous generations. In addition we’ll be facing further centuries of future consequences. The rate of change will slow down, and consequences will accumulate – eg. sea level will keep submerging additional land, but at a slower rate. Some consequences may at least partially reverse if they are linked to the rate of change, for instance altered circulation patterns such as changing polar vortexes or ENSO behaviour. Over longer time periods we may be more able to take advantage of beneficial consequences. For instance the possible improvement in agricultural potential in the very cold parts of the climate may take time to realise due to poor soils (which may improve over time as nature does its thing), and the necessity of building up infrastructure etc.

    Perhaps the most concerning is the heat limit for human survival of roughly 35 degrees wet bulb temperature. If we look at century time frames the chance of breaching this limit over large areas seems to be limited to the worst case scenarios. But in the longer term with irreversible climate change long slow feedbacks and the long slow heat uptake of the ocean could see a long slow creep towards this limit in even the more optimistic scenarios?

  47. Andrew dodds says:

    Hmm.

    If humans are extinct, human suffering stops, hence in order to minimise suffering we should kill everyone. That’s probably not a good line of thought to follow.

  48. Izen… “So one highly moral outcome would be the rapid and painless extinction of ALL future humans capable of suffering…?!”

    That’s a rather outrageous leap of logic clearly designed to avoid the entire point.

  49. Here’s another fun one.

    Go to the RCP historical data, and compare emissions, including land use emissions:

    http://www.pik-potsdam.de/~mmalte/rcps/data/20THCENTURY_EMISSIONS.DAT
    http://www.pik-potsdam.de/~mmalte/rcps/data/20THCENTURY_MIDYEAR_CONCENTRATIONS.DAT

    You may find that for the period 1765 through 2005,

    CO2 increased from 278.1ppm to 378.8ppm = 100.8 ppm

    Accumulated Emissions from Land Use 152.8 ppm
    Accumulated Emissions from Fossil Fuels 320.7ppm
    Total Accumulated Emissions 473.5 ppm

    Minus Accumulated Atmospheric Concentration of 100.8ppm

    Meaning the amount taken up was 372.8 ppm, three times the amount that accumulated in the atmosphere and leading to serious questions about the paper!

    Perhaps the land use in the RCP is, as Hansen believed, hooey because regrowth tends to match the CO2 released from crop clearing. If so, Uptake was still twice as large as atmospheric accumulation.

    The historical data is quite at odds with millenial scale persistence.

  50. TE,
    Are you sure the units are ppm?

  51. In fact, the units are almost certainly not ppm. Do you want to look again TE?

  52. Ditto for Andrew dodds.

    …But if you guys want to play that game, what is this method you propose that could be used that would produce complete human extinction without actually increasing human suffering in the process? Outside of our sun going supernova I can’t think of one. Nor do I believe you can come up with one that doesn’t venture into a pre-teenager’s game of “what if.”

  53. Yes, I goofed and failed to convert from GT to ppm

    CO2 increased from 278.1ppm to 378.8ppm] = 100.8 ppm

    Accumulated Land Use 72.1 ppm plus Fossil Fuels 151.3ppm = 223.4 ppm

    Meaning the amount taken up was 122.6 ppm

    Even so, uptake exceeds atmospheric accumulation for this period, and if Land Use is really zero, is still almost all of fossil fuel emissions for 240 years.

  54. TE,

    Even so, uptake exceeds atmospheric accumulation for this period

    Yes, it is well accepted that the increase in atmospheric CO2 is equivalent to about 45% of our emissions.

    if Land Use is really zero, is still almost all of fossil fuel emissions for 240 years.

    And if pigs could fly? Also, what? If LU is zero, the uptake goes down. The atmospheric increase is known.

  55. dikranmarsupial says:

    ” and if Land Use is really zero,”

    so there has been no deforestation then or increase in agricultural land to support the increasing population, or increase in the size of cities since 1750 etc? We all goof from time to time, but most of us learn not to respond by doubling down.

  56. izen says:

    @-Rob Honeycutt
    “That’s a rather outrageous leap of logic clearly designed to avoid the entire point.”

    It is an outrageous leap of logic, but the design was to illustrate by reductio ad absurdum the enormous difficulty of making a coherent MORAL argument about actions directed at an unknowable future.
    Generalised principles, even Benthamite utility, run into all sorts of problems and internal contradictions that look immoral without a concrete context.

    It is easy to make the claim that there is some sort of moral imperative in preventing disruption of the ice-age cycles, or avoiding societal collapse, but I have not seen any coherent moral argument that persuades me such claims are anything more than posturing to claim the moral high ground.

  57. angech says:

    ATTP said
    “it highlights two related things that I’ve been trying to stress for a while
    A reasonable fraction (20-30%) of what we emit will remain in the atmosphere for millennia.
    The resulting climate change will also persist for millennia”.
    The article
    The millennial atmospheric lifetime of anthropogenic CO2
    David Archer & Victor Brovkin
    “The CO2 in the atmosphere through this time will not consist of the exact same CO2 molecules emitted from fossil fuel combustion, because of the copious exchange of carbon with the ocean and the land surface. However, the CO2 concentration in the air remains higher than it would have been,because of the larger inventory of CO2 in the atmosphere/ocean/land carbon cycle.”
    , fossil fuel CO2 has to wait for the”overturning circulation of the ocean, which takes centuries or a millennium.
    Of the 9 Gton C/year carbon release from fossil fuels and deforestation from the year
    2000 to 2006, 5 Gton C/year is taken up naturally, half by the ocean and half into the
    terrestrial biosphere
    One might conclude from these numbers that the uptake time for CO2 must be only a few years, but this would be a misconception. The rate of natural CO2 uptake in any given year is not determined by the CO2 emissions in that particular year, but rather by the excess of CO2 in the atmosphere that has accumulated overthe past century. The lifetime of the CO2 can be gauged by the amount of time that the CO2 has been waiting, which is longer than just a few years.”
    Obviously as a skeptic I [and most skeptics] took the wrong [literal] view that your view “it was the 20-30 % of what we emit that remains in the atmosphere” actually meant “the 20-30 % of what we emit that remains in the atmosphere”.

  58. angech,

    Obviously as a skeptic I [and most skeptics] took the wrong [literal] view that your view “it was the 20-30 % of what we emit that remains in the atmosphere” actually meant “the 20-30 % of what we emit that remains in the atmosphere”.

    I don’t get your point. If we emit 1000GtC, then something like 200 – 300GtC will remain in the atmosphere for thousands of years. To convert to ppm, divide by 2.13, so the atmospheric concentration will be increased by something between 93 and 140 ppm (373 – 420 ppm). Of course, it will not be the same molecules, necessarily, since there is a continuous exchange between the atmosphere, oceans and biosphere, so maybe one should really say “an amount equivalent to 20 – 30% of our emissions” but it gets somewhat tedious to continually add extra complications to blog posts, when people who’ve engaged in this topic for quite some time should understand this subtlety.

  59. BBD says:

    izen

    It is easy to make the claim that there is some sort of moral imperative in preventing disruption of the ice-age cycles, or avoiding societal collapse, but I have not seen any coherent moral argument that persuades me such claims are anything more than posturing to claim the moral high ground.

    We know that there is an increasingly high likelihood of very bad outcomes the longer we delay mitigation. We know that the consequences will probably include human megadeaths, untold human suffering and mass extinctions.

    As I see it, the moral argument is simple: self-serving in the present while knowingly ignoring the future consequences is immoral.

  60. angech says:

    Ray Pierrehumbert (one of the authors of this paper) says
    “For all we know, we may be the only sentience in the Galaxy, maybe even in the Universe. We may be the only ones able to bear witness to the beauty of our Universe, and it may be our destiny to explore the miracle of sentience down through billions of years of the future,… ”
    Ray and Roy, strange bedfellows!

  61. Ray and Roy, strange bedfellows!

    You may need to elaborate. Do you mean Roy Spencer?

  62. dikranmarsupial says:

    The simplest moral argument stems directly from the “Golden Rule” (do unto others…). Would we want others to cause environmental problems for us so that they can enjoy a relatively comfortable lifestyle? If the answer to this question is “no” then there is a moral argument why we should not cause environmental problems for others so that we can enjoy a relatively comfortable lifestyle. Unless of course someone wants to argue that the golden rule is not a reasonable basis for deciding a moral course of (in-)action.

  63. angech says:

    and Then There’s Physics says:
    “I don’t get your point.”
    If I said ” if I breathed out 100 molecules of CO2, 20-30 of them would remain in the atmosphere for the next thousand years” your argument would be that’s right?
    Correct.
    If I point out that everything that respires CO2 puts 20-30% into the atmosphere for the next thousand years your argument would be that’s right?
    Correct.
    If I accept your logic, by the same token what is the problem with putting a bit more in for the same thousand years? 95% of that rise is due to the other natural causes as nature is causing 95% of the rise.

  64. angech,
    Sorry, but that’s just nonsense. The 20-30% refers to the amount that will remain in excess of what was there before we started emitting – i.e., it adds to what was there before we started emitting. Our breathing/respiration is carbon neutral. Burning fossil fuels is not. It adds CO2 into the system that has been strored as fossil for hundreds of thousands, or millions, of years.

    If I accept your logic, by the same token what is the problem with putting a bit more in for the same thousand years? 95% of that rise is due to the other natural causes as nature is causing 95% of the rise.

    Because this is utter nonsense. Nature is NOT causing atmospheric CO2 to rise. We are. Without the emission of CO2 through the burning of fossil fuels, atmospheric CO2 would NOT be rising (apart from small perturbations about the pre-industrial level). This is so basic, that I really don’t know how else to explain this.

  65. dikranmarsupial says:

    angtech wrote “If I said ” if I breathed out 100 molecules of CO2, 20-30 of them would remain in the atmosphere for the next thousand years”

    You would be wrong as you would be confusing residence time and adjustment time.

    “If I point out that everything that respires CO2 puts 20-30% into the atmosphere for the next thousand years your argument would be that’s right?”

    no you would be ignoring the fact the C in the CO2 comes from photosynthesis, which takes the CO2 out of the atmosphere.

    ATTP wrote “but it gets somewhat tedious to continually add extra complications to blog posts, when people who’ve engaged in this topic for quite some time should understand this subtlety.”

    Indeed.

  66. dikranmarsupial says:

    @angtech do read my paper on the carbon cycle, I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.

  67. BBD says:

    @ dikran

    The simplest moral argument stems directly from the “Golden Rule” (do unto others…).

    Yes. Although I shy away from explicitly Christian references simply because it can create the (false) impression that I am arguing from a religious perspective rather than a humanist one.

  68. dikranmarsupial says:

    BBD indeed the golden rule can be found in many religious and secular settings; nobody has a monopoly on sound ethical foundations! ;o)

  69. Chubbs says:

    Figure 4 is sobering. We are currently in the steepest portion of the emissions vs committed sea level rise curve. In 2000, committed sea level rise was “only” 1.7 meters (1.2 to 2.2 m uncertainty range). But, our current emissions are increasing committed sea level rise by roughly 5 meters every 20 years according to the study modeling projection.

  70. Michael 2 says:

    BBD writes “Although I shy away from explicitly Christian references simply because it can create the (false) impression that I am arguing from a religious perspective rather than a humanist one”

    Morality is religion; religion is morality. Having a god is optional. Humanism simply elevates man, or a man, to the status of moral authority. But you still have an authority, someone that says what is right and wrong. The obvious problem is some other man says some other things are right and wrong. This is true in “religion” as well.

  71. Pete Best says:

    oh thank the lord its not an issue any more because in the long run the ice age cometh and hence the world will cool. Personally how can one person here or maybe a few think that climate scientists have got it wrong that if we continue emitting as we are (BAU) that we will hit 500-1000 ppmv of Co2 and for a short amount of time and then the biosphere will suck it all up leaving us with normal co2 levels within a 1000 years or so which is before an ice age was slated to begin anyway.

    In actual fact what happens in the intervening 1000 years is the question I would ask? I would as James Hansen states, that 1000 years is as good as infinite and bad for us. Therefore I would ask the question regarding what kind of global warming fixer are you. Technological optimist or we need to account for our own actions when emitting Co2?

    My take is that everyone currently is a techno fix optimist, you know electric cars, renewable energy, biofuel airplanes and ships, some kind of co2 free argricuture etc but there are a few that realise that this techno utopia is unlikely to occur and that we need to curtail our individual emissions but mass acceptance of this appears to be a long way off.

  72. ” and if Land Use is really zero,”
    so there has been no deforestation then or increase in agricultural land to support the increasing population, or increase in the size of cities since 1750 etc?

    That’s what Hansen says, not me, I’m just considering that as a possibility.

    If the historical land use data are accurate, then
    the amount taken up has exceeded the amount left in the atmosphere, meaning
    CO2 lifetime is closer to a century than millenia.

    If the historical land use data are really zero, then
    the amount taken up has not exceeded the amount left in the atmosphere, but is still a subtantial portion, still leaving CO2 lifetime is closer to a century than millenia.

  73. still leaving CO2 lifetime is closer to a century than millenia.

    No, it doesn’t. Are you being intentionally deceptive?

  74. Izen… “It is easy to make the claim that there is some sort of moral imperative in preventing disruption of the ice-age cycles, or avoiding societal collapse, but I have not seen any coherent moral argument that persuades me such claims are anything more than posturing to claim the moral high ground.”

    Your interpretation was an inherently amoral one by almost any cultural standard, thus the pointlessness of your reductio ad absurdum. Perhaps you’re not seeing any coherent moral arguments that persuade you because you’re not interested in the morality inherent in various pathways.

  75. angech… Others have given very good responses, but let me add one more.

    IF nature were the source of the current rise in CO2 levels, what is the mechanism in nature that would cause this. (Lower chart, red line.)

  76. Michael 2 says:

    Rob Honeycutt writes: “Your interpretation was an inherently amoral one by almost any cultural standard”

    … and then there’s physics! If you want morality you came to the wrong place.

  77. M2… “Morality is religion; religion is morality.”

    Ah, no… Morality is certainly a social construct. But morality can and does exist in the absence of religion. Moral behavior is observed in other species.

  78. Brandon Gates says:

    M2,

    Morality is religion; religion is morality. Having a god is optional.

    God(s) either exist or not. If not exist, clearly we’ve made the whole thing up. If exist, given the variety and mutual exclusivity of defunct and extant religions, clearly vast numbers of us have made the whole thing up.

    In short, I agree that god(s) are optional when it comes to creating moral and ethical codes, but offer that such codes being necessarily “religious” stretches the definition of that word past breaking.

    Humanism simply elevates man, or a man, to the status of moral authority.

    Not necessarily; it only entails that people or a person can hold moral opinions without appealing to some other (putative) elevated entity — belief in which is a decision in and of itself. IOW, morality still comes down to personal decision regardless.

    But you still have an authority, someone that says what is right and wrong.

    I consider myself the final authority on what I think is right and wrong.

    The obvious problem is some other man says some other things are right and wrong. This is true in “religion” as well.

    I agree with that. However, I am wondering what you consider the difference between religion and “religion” to be?

  79. izen says:

    @-Rob Honeycutt
    “Perhaps you’re not seeing any coherent moral arguments that persuade you because you’re not interested in the morality inherent in various pathways.”

    I am fascinated by the claims of morality that are ascribed to various pathways.
    I have just not seen any substantiation of those claims.

    The discussion of tit-for-tat (Golden rule) up-thread is one moral argument, but it is clearly inapplicable to ice-age disruption or the requirement to preserve the sentient awareness of gravity waves. I specified what I think are good/bad moral actions in a previous post and link.

  80. At this stage of the Industrial Revolution, I fear the moral onus falls chiefly on Sir Joseph Banks– the environmental consequences of the global homogenization of the biosphere by shipping invasives by the botanic garden full around the world for 250 years can never be undone.

  81. BBD says:

    izen

    The discussion of tit-for-tat (Golden rule) up-thread is one moral argument,

    An eye for an eye is not the Golden rule.

  82. Brandon Gates says:

    Quid pro quo can have a sense consistent with treating others how one wishes to be treated.

  83. Brandon Gates says:

    izen,

    The discussion of tit-for-tat (Golden rule) up-thread is one moral argument, but it is clearly inapplicable to ice-age disruption or the requirement to preserve the sentient awareness of gravity waves.

    I think preserving sentient awareness of anything is arguably moral, so long as others wish their own sentience to be preserved. Ice-age non-disruption is less obviously arguable, but again, what people wish to be factors into my moral evaluations.

  84. BBD says:

    The Golden Rule is not quid pro quo. It doesn’t require reciprocity.

  85. izen says:

    @-BBD
    “The Golden Rule is not quid pro quo. It doesn’t require reciprocity.”

    It may not require reciprocity, but the purpose of the rule is to at the very least encourage reciprocity. The goal is altruism.

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v428/n6983/full/nature02414.html

  86. BBD says:

    If it doesn’t require reciprocity it’s not tit-for-tat or quid pro quo. The aim of the golden rule is not necessarily to encourage reciprocity. It is to avoid (minimise) negative consequences by *avoiding* inappropriate reciprocity. It is the opposite of the Old Testament eye for an eye. It is turn the other cheek.

    Can we please concede points when we are mistaken?

  87. Michael 2 says:

    Thank you for your reply.

    Brandon Gates wrote “God(s) either exist or not.”

    Yes. However, it could exist for me and not you if my definition is not your definition. Neither do I rule out the possibility of many such things; a multi-dimensional fabric of such things, of which human beings are included on that fabric.

    “If not exist, clearly we’ve made the whole thing up.”

    That appears to be particularly true for atheists that go to some length to define a God and then denounce their own creation.

    “but offer that such codes being necessarily ‘religious’ stretches the definition of that word past breaking.”

    Maybe for you. I served in the US Navy for 20 years and encountered a great many religions during that time (and since); such that my definition is very broad. Religion includes atheism (per the US Supreme Court and the UK as well which has a religion code for atheism). Confucianism is almost nothing but those “codes” and is still a religion (to me, anyway).

    Right and wrong are morals; morality must be defined; if there’s an authority then it is a type of religion. If there is not an authority then it is anarchy (group) or narcissism (personal).

    “[Humanism] entails that people or a person can hold moral opinions without appealing to some other (putative) elevated entity”

    That’s just narcissism. As you point out at the first, all ideas of right and wrong either orginate with you (each person) or with some other person that you accept as an authority. God is not the authority; he’s not here. Your authority is whoever signs your paychecks, whoever you belief. Now it may be that who you believe also has someone that he believes, and it can be a linear chain or it can turn into a circle where nobody knows or remembers where an idea came from.

    It cannot be an “ism” unless it is a shared concept with an Authority that defines what it means.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanism : “At about the same time, the word ‘humanism’ as a philosophy centred on humankind (as opposed to institutionalised religion) was also being used in Germany by the so-called Left Hegelians, Arnold Ruge, and Karl Marx, “

    So. Humanism has several authorities that define the meaning of the word and provide the dogma. It was created to oppose “institutionalized religion” and thus must provide all of the services provided by a religion, and occupy the same mental and semantic space.

    “belief in which is a decision in and of itself. IOW, morality still comes down to personal decision regardless.”

    Welcome to the modern world of meaningless words.

    “I consider myself the final authority on what I think is right and wrong.”

    No doubt 😉

    But while you are the final authority, did you invent, ex nihilo, every one of your social rules? Probably not.

    “I am wondering what you consider the difference between religion and ‘religion’ to be?”

    Unquoted it is what I mean by the word, which isn’t much; quoted it is a reflection of what I think you mean by the word, which can vary from also not much to a highly developed and pedantic sense of what is religion.

    Here on this blog you have elements of right and wrong thinking and behavior; also demonstrations of social control techniques — name, shame, and excommunication (banning). As such, it sometimes more closely resembles a religion blog than mere science exposition.

    There’s a presumption that (1) people want to be moral so (2) I will tell them how to be moral as an indirect way to (3) tell other people what to do.

  88. John Hartz says:

    Perhaps when all is said and done, homo sapiens will be remembered positively for creating AI.

  89. Brandon Gates says:

    BBD,

    Good point; in its purest sense I agree. In actual practise I think most people expect good to come of doing good (Karma, one good turn deserves another, etc.) and censure or other negative consequences for behaving otherwise (eye for eye, incarceration, adjudicated restitution, loss of good reputation, etc.).

    Perhaps I’m cynical, but “true” altruism was an idea that my evolutionary biology prof. pretty thoroughly “debunked” for me back in the day. Eventually I got cozier with the idea that my own moral code was firmly rooted in self-interest even though it clashed with the notion of benevolent selflessness I was taught in Sunday School.

  90. dikranmarsupial says:

    TE Did you read the paper I mentioned?

    “That’s what Hansen says, not me”

    citation please, I suspect you have misunderstood Hansen.

    If the historical land use data are accurate, then the amount taken up has exceeded the amount left in the atmosphere, meaning CO2 lifetime is closer to a century than millenia.

    No, that is not correct, I have already explained why once and directed you to my paper which contains an explanation why and references to more advanced material.

  91. Dikran,
    I think TE is referring to this paper, in particular Figure 3 (which TE often presents without explaining properly). In the paper it says

    An informative presentation of CO2 observations is the ratio of annual CO2 increase in the air divided by annual fossil fuel CO2 emissions (Keeling et. al 1973), the ‘airborne fraction’ (figure 3, right scale). An alternative definition of airborne fraction includes in the denominator of this ratio an estimated net anthropogenic CO2 source from changes in land use, but this latter term is much more uncertain than the two terms involved in the Keeling et al (1973) definition.

    So, he ignores LU emissions, but he doesn’t suggest that they’re zero, simply uncertain.

    Just for clarity, I should add that figure 3 shows airborne fraction decreasing from about 0.6 in 1960 to about 0.45 now. This, however, ignores LU emissions and it’s almost certain that LU emissions were a bigger fraction of total emissions in the 1960s than they are now. This apparent drop in airborne fraction is, therefore, not a good representation of what has probably happened.

  92. dikranmarsupial says:

    BBD wrote “An eye for an eye is not the Golden rule.”

    Indeed, if you put out somebody elses eye would you want them to put out yours in revenge, or for them to forgive you (or some action between the two)? IIRC correctly the “eye for an eye” is about not escalating a conflict by taking more than an eye in revenge.

    Brandon wrote “Perhaps I’m cynical, but “true” altruism was an idea that my evolutionary biology prof. pretty thoroughly “debunked” for me back in the day.”

    The advantage of being rational and sentient is that we don’t have to do things for the same evolutionary reasons we acquired them.

  93. dikranmarsupial says:

    ATTP Ah, so it seems that Hansen did not actually say what TE claimed. It isn’t terribly surprising that LU emissions have a higher uncertainty, but I rather doubt the error bars come close to including zero as TE suggests!

  94. Michael 2 says:

    BBD:

    The essential point about the Golden Rule is that it is pro-active where tit-for-tat is re-active.

    The Boy Scout slogan is “do a good turn daily.” Reciprocity would be nice but that’s not its purpose, it isn’t even implied as it is in the Golden Rule.

    The Golden Rule and turn the other cheek work together to make society possible but that’s not what they are for: The first denoting your behavior toward others and the second your response to minor offenses from others.

    Either of these concepts are personal, what I do for one other person, what I don’t do in response to one other person. I could try harder but I cannot think of a duty to society in Christianity. That sort of thing falls into the “render unto Caesar” category. Society will set its rules for society, the church will set rules relevant to the kingdom of (God/heaven). The reasoning seems obvious; the purpose of religion is to obtain the keys of heaven rather than create earthly societies. Consequently it is a stretch to try to invoke religious concepts to a distinctly social problem; and by extension, to use the words of religion (morality) to do likewise.

  95. Nathan Ditum says:

    @Turbulent Eddie

    The IPCC would argue that if you put a large pulse concentration of CO2 into the atmosphere then that CO2 would not be removed from the atmosphere at a constant rate. The IPCC have an interesting graph showing the assumed removal of CO2 from the atmosphere in 3 stages over 100,000 years (AR5 WG1 Figure TS 19) . The graph shows that if 100 gigatonnes were added to the atmopshere then 40% were remain in the atmosphere after 100 years (the uptake would be from land and ocean invasion), 20% would remain after 1000 years (this uptake would come from ocean invasion only) and the rest would stay in the atmosphere almost indefinitely (apparently because of CaCO3 reaction; which I assume they mean CaCO3 sedimentation). In AR5 the IPCC also give an estimate for the total amount of CO2 emitted as 2,000 gigatonnes, or 128 ppmv. Since the CO2 concentration currently stands at about 400 ppmv and assuming that is all anthropogenic (not the original molecules) then the sinks have absorbed around 48%. If you assume a constant rate of removal from the atmosphere then you will get a shorter life-time. For example Ferdinand Engelbeen calculates a life-time for anthropogenic CO2 of around 60 years. He does this by assuming the system is out of equilibrium by 120 ppmv and then dividing that by the current removal rate which is assumed to be around 2 ppmv. However this ignores the fact that the removal would not be at a constant rate of 2 ppmv. In fact, that would be impossible, because as more CO2 is dissolved into the oceans the partial pressure of CO2 in the atmosphere decreases and CO2 would then be forced down to the oceans at an increasingly slower rate.

  96. Nathan Ditum says:

    That’s 2 ppmv per year by the way.

  97. Michael 2 says:

    Nathan Ditum writes “The IPCC would argue that if you put a large pulse concentration of CO2 into the atmosphere then that CO2 would not be removed from the atmosphere at a constant rate.”

    When was the IPCC planning on making that argument?

    It is a simple enough concept. It is basically the same thing as the RC time constant in electronics (discharging a capacitor through a resistor for instance). We’ll all be dead before anyone knows which calculation was correct so there’s probably no harm in guessing anywhere from 60 years to 100,000 years and both are probably correct since RC time constants basically have an infinitely long tail.

  98. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    Russell Seitz says:

    At this stage of the Industrial Revolution, I fear the moral onus falls chiefly on Sir Joseph Banks– the environmental consequences of the global homogenization of the biosphere by shipping invasives by the botanic garden full around the world for 250 years can never be undone.

    Banks? 250 years? Plants? Pffft.

    Humans and their symbionts are the archetypal invasives – I blame homo erectus for ever leaving the Olduvai Gorge.

    One species to rule them all.

  99. WebHubTelescope says:

    M2 said

    “and both are probably correct since RC time constants basically have an infinitely long tail.”

    This is an example of why it is often pointless to discuss stuff with people that have no intuitive concept of physics, or who would rather parade around strawman physics rather than real physics.

  100. Michael 2 says:

    WebHubTelescope wrote “This is an example of why it is often pointless to discuss stuff with people that have no intuitive concept of physics”

    Exactly. Just stop. Go to the citizens of the world, explain to them that you need a trillion dollars and they won’t understand the explanation anyway. It’s “physics”!

  101. dikranmarsupial says:

    “When was the IPCC planning on making that argument? “

    Page 544-5 of the AR5 WG1 report, FAQ 6.2 “What happens to carbon dioxide after it is emitted into the atmosphere”. Of course you ought to be able to find similar statements in previous WG1 reports (figure 1.2 on page 9 of the FAR WG1 report). The best way of finding out what the IPCC argue is to go and read about it in the WG1 reports. They also give you some pointers to the literature to explain why that is the case.

  102. BBD says:

    M2

    Exactly. Just stop. Go to the citizens of the world, explain to them that you need a trillion dollars and they won’t understand the explanation anyway. It’s “physics”!

    Now, imagine how much easier would all be if there wasn’t a vociferous and tireless claque filling the public discourse with bollocks, lies and confusion.

  103. Nathan Ditum says:

    @Micheal

    “both are probably correct”

    Ferdinand’s 60 year calculation is an estimate on how long it would take to return to a value close to the pre-industrial equilibrium concentration of 280 ppmv. Like I said, he simply takes 120 ppmv and divides it by the annual removal rate of 2 ppmv. According to that calculation by the end of 60 years we should expect all anthropogenic CO2, around 120 ppmv, to have been removed. That’s definitely not the same as the IPCC’s Bern model which assumes CO2 will remain well-above pre-industrial levels thousands of years from now. They both can’t be correct. (That 2,000 gigatonnes above should be equal to 256 ppmv, not 128 ppmv).

  104. dikranmarsupial says:

    “It is a simple enough concept. It is basically the same thing as the RC time constant in electronics”

    no, this is not correct, an overly simplistic model of the carbon cycle that treats the oceans as being homogenous, for example the one in my paper, is basically the same thing as the RC constant in electronics (I started out as an electronic engineer). However the ocean is heavily stratified and won’t act as a single homogenous reservoir, and the long tail you get from an RC circuit is not the same as that from an adequate carbon cycle model that models the oceans more realistically. If you read my paper, you will find there is a section that briefly explains why an “RC circuit” type model is inadequate and gives references to papers that explain it in more detail.

  105. WebHubTelescope says:

    M2 said:
    “Exactly. Just stop. Go to the citizens of the world, explain to them that you need a trillion dollars and they won’t understand the explanation anyway. It’s “physics”!”

    The problem is that you claimed that an RC time-constant has an “infinitely long tail”. I suggest that you just stop with your nonsense, unless you want to fall deeper into a rabbit-hole.

    Dikran has got it more right, in the fact that it isn’t an RC model but aligns with the solution to the diffusion equation. This formulation has the fat-tail that prevents the CO2 from being sequestered quickly and completely.

  106. Brandon Gates says:

    dikranmarsupial,

    The advantage of being rational and sentient is that we don’t have to do things for the same evolutionary reasons we acquired them.

    I can’t help but note your implicit argument that rational sentience is an evolutionary advantage. In the context of AGW, the moral argument for protection of future generations by reducing CO2 emissions is, to my eyes, a clear cut example of the biological urge to preserve one’s own genetic lineage. Same for mitigation sceptics who argue that “drill baby drill” is more economically advantageous because if we don’t, someone else will. I would, of course, argue that the latter group are irrational, if not delusional, which is maladaptive.

    As I see it, the advantage of rational sentience is the ability to examine which of several conflicting primal urges best fit the question at hand over reflexively reacting to negative stimuli sub-optimally. A disadvantage of rational sentience is when post hoc rationalization leads to justification of a poor knee-jerk decision rather than learning from the mistake, thus tending to reinforce a bad heuristic instead of tending to weaken or purge it:

    http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/2013/11/14/post-hoc-rationalisation-reasoning-our-intuition-and-changing-our-minds/

    To the question many people ask about politics — Why doesn’t the other side listen to reason? — [psychologist Jonathan] Haidt replies: We were never designed to listen to reason. When you ask people moral questions, time their responses and scan their brains, their answers and brain activation patterns indicate that they reach conclusions quickly and produce reasons later only to justify what they’ve decided. […] The problem isn’t that people don’t reason. They do reason. But their arguments aim to support their conclusions, not yours. Reason doesn’t work like a judge or teacher, impartially weighing evidence or guiding us to wisdom. It works more like a lawyer or press secretary, justifying our acts and judgments to others.

    Emphasis mine because I think it’s quite true. For evidence, I cite that I’m almost certainly doing it RIGHT NOW.

  107. Russell Seitz says:

    …and Then There’s Physics says:
    February 22, 2016 at 7:20 am

    We’re not only talking about 2xCO2. What makes you think that because previous changes have reversed that the ones we’re imposing will do so too?”

    I expect a Business as Usual biogeochemical carbonate cycle. Eli points to beer & Cows on the radiative forcing side, but OTOH, it’s raining clams and forams coastwise .

  108. dikranmarsupial says:

    “I can’t help but note your implicit argument that rational sentience is an evolutionary advantage.”

    No, I only meant it was an advantage in the sense that we don’t have to do things for the evolutionary reasons we did them in the past, but that we can carry on doing them for other, hopefully better reasons, hence evolutionary biology doesn’t necessarily tell you anything much about what altruism means to humans. I’d argue that you can’t have true altruism without sentience as otherwise there is an implicit selfish evolutionary reason behind it (i.e. that we want to make the world a better place four ourselves and our descendents so my genes can flourish).

    ” In the context of AGW, the moral argument for protection of future generations by reducing CO2 emissions is, to my eyes, a clear cut example of the biological urge to preserve one’s own genetic lineage.”

    I disagree, I suspect there are plenty of people who care about climate change who don’t have children and intend not to have children, in which case their genetic lineage is obviously not a factor. I have a child, but I don’t think my genetic lineage is particularly threatened by climate change; if I was Bangladeshi, I might take a different view.

    “As I see it, the advantage of rational sentience is the ability to examine which of several conflicting primal urges best fit the question at hand over reflexively reacting to negative stimuli sub-optimally.”

    I would hope that we do more than examine conflicting primal urges; there ought to be a bit more to us than that!

  109. Eli Rabett says:

    The deep blue sea and it’s carbonate cycles. This does not include the final stage, weathering of stones.

    Also see here for an introduction to the fast equilibration btw the upper ocean and the atmosphere and biosphere

  110. Andrew Dodds says:

    Of course, to a geologist, ALL the carbon cycles are rapid. It’s just that anything taking <10ma is rapid..

    The problem with out intelligence is that evolution has simply not caught up with the near instant transition from 'Living in groups of up to 150 people with stone age technology' – where our reasoning works very well thank you, as long as you don't run out of mammoths – to 'Living in a technological civilization of billions'. With thousands of nuclear weapons lying around. Done well to survive so far.

  111. Brandon Gates says:

    M2,

    Yes. However, it could exist for me and not you if my definition is not your definition.

    Sure. If I may coin a corollary to one of Clarke’s laws: Any sufficiently advanced sentient being is indistinguishable from God.

    That appears to be particularly true for atheists that go to some length to define a God and then denounce their own creation.

    And theists who only hew to parts of holy writ they (and/or their accepted authoritative interpreters) condone.

    I served in the US Navy for 20 years and encountered a great many religions during that time (and since); such that my definition is very broad.

    I noticed. Not to diminish from your experiences, I suggest that when a word comes to mean anything, it loses meaning.

    Religion includes atheism (per the US Supreme Court and the UK as well which has a religion code for atheism).

    Appealing to an administrative convenience seems a stretch. Is it not true that “none” or “undeclared” are acceptable answers?

    I think a better argument is that no labelled ideology is free from peer pressure to conform to a shared group identity, dogmatic thinking, etc. In my experience, neither I or atheists are generally any exception.

    Right and wrong are morals; morality must be defined; if there’s an authority then it is a type of religion.

    Again I think that’s too broad. Ostensibly, laws are codified ethics enforced by authorities. In republican democracies, all citizens are supposed to have at least some say in what becomes law, who makes, interprets and enforces them.

    Contrast charismatic dictators who prevail on the ability of a strong and ruthless leader who intentionally develops a cult of personality to the point of self-deification. History is replete with examples — Moses, Mohammed, Joseph Smith, Jr. (far more capably succeeded by Brigham Young); practically every pre-industrial western Monarch, Egyptian Pharaoh, Arab Sheikh, etc. And then there’s the unholy trinity of Stalin, Pol Pot and Hitler.

    If there is not an authority then it is anarchy (group) or narcissism (personal).

    Heh. In my view, anarchists are simply narcissists who have fooled themselves into thinking that their group organization doesn’t constitute governance. I’m sort of straw-manning in jest here, but not fully.

    I still wouldn’t argue that, say, anarcho-syndicalist communes necessarily constitute a religion … more just attempts to be an ultimate expression of a direct democracy.

    That’s just narcissism.

    You say that like it’s a bad thing.

    As you point out at the first, all ideas of right and wrong either orginate with you (each person) or with some other person that you accept as an authority.

    Or someone whose learning, reasoned arguments and apparent wisdom about things I respect — a concept which I don’t associate with the label “authority” even though I understand that such is a perfectly acceptable sense of the word.

    God is not the authority; he’s not here.

    Speaking of inventing Gods for others, THAT really depends on whom one asks.

    Your authority is whoever signs your paychecks, whoever you belief.

    Yes to the former, not necessarily to the latter.

    Now it may be that who you believe also has someone that he believes, and it can be a linear chain or it can turn into a circle where nobody knows or remembers where an idea came from.

    That I do believe, but also question the relevance. That my ultimate decision to adhere to a given principle or reject it renders moot where it came from. I’m not a fan of the genetic fallacy.

    It cannot be an “ism” unless it is a shared concept with an Authority that defines what it means.

    It can be a label self-applied to beliefs and attitudes consistent with other self-expressed ideals. Or arrived at by mutual consent of multiple parties.

    Humanism has several authorities that define the meaning of the word and provide the dogma.

    That you can find several examples which support your argument doesn’t make it universally true. That the examples you provided are not monolithic is one reason why I tend to shy away from pigeon-holing my own beliefs and attitudes by using a label to describe them.

    It was created to oppose “institutionalized religion” and thus must provide all of the services provided by a religion, and occupy the same mental and semantic space.

    Not necessarily all. We being social animals does result in a tendency for our institutions to provide some common functions; feeling of community, mutual support, reinforcement of shared ideals, sense of superiority, refuge from uncomfortable and/or (perceived) dangerous dissimilarity, etc. I don’t consider those mechanisms the sole purview of religion. Rather, I see religion as an extension of those … natural … instincts common to most humans; one of which IS undeniably subjugation to authority (as you use the term) as a strategy for alleviating the alternative of doing all the thinking for ourselves.

    I can say for myself that abandoning once-held beliefs in deity leaves a pretty big hole.

    “belief in which is a decision in and of itself. IOW, morality still comes down to personal decision regardless.”

    Welcome to the modern world of meaningless words.

    Touché. I parry with; that two people hold different and mutually exclusive moral principles on a particular issue does not diminish from the definition of the word moral itself. It only means that a given act (or inaction) can be considered moral by one, immoral by another and neutral by someone else.

    But while you are the final authority, did you invent, ex nihilo, every one of your social rules? Probably not.

    No, of course not. Number one on the list IS the Golden Rule. The other two aren’t particularly original either:

    2) Evil is violating the will of another.
    3) One’s first moral duty is to oneself.

    Unquoted it is what I mean by the word, which isn’t much; quoted it is a reflection of what I think you mean by the word, which can vary from also not much to a highly developed and pedantic sense of what is religion.

    More or less what I thought you were driving at with the “scare quotes”. I’ll let a dictionary speak for me:

    noun: religion

    the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.
    “ideas about the relationship between science and religion”

    synonyms: faith, belief, worship, creed; sect, church, cult, denomination
    “the freedom to practice their own religion”

    sect, church, cult, denomination
    “the freedom to practice their own religion”

    a particular system of faith and worship.

    plural noun: religions
    “the world’s great religions”

    a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance.
    “consumerism is the new religion”

    I typically only use the noun form in the first sense listed. The adverb form, “religiously” (something done regularly and/or without fail) I use more freely. When I say things like, “X is against my religion”, I mean it ironically.

    In online “debates”, when one side is using “religious” to describe the other side’s position, I interpret it as “your argument is irrational idiocy”.

    Here on this blog you have elements of right and wrong thinking and behavior; also demonstrations of social control techniques — name, shame, and excommunication (banning). As such, it sometimes more closely resembles a religion blog than mere science exposition.

    I think the implicit expectation for all scientists to always say things “scientifically” is ridiculous to the point of folly. Further, why shouldn’t Anders do as he pleases on his OWN BLOG? Isn’t what you’ve just done an example of the social control techniques of naming and shaming? Are you somehow exempt from the same restrictions you would apparently impose on him? If so, why?

    Rhetorical questions all; there’s no need to answer. Which is not to say that answers would be unwelcome, especially if prejudice is interfering with the objectivity of my implicit inferences … something which is all too likely.

    There’s a presumption that (1) people want to be moral so (2) I will tell them how to be moral as an indirect way to (3) tell other people what to do.

    I think I’ll end on what you will likely see as an appeal to authority:

    “When you vote, you are exercising political authority, you’re using force. And force, my friends, is violence. The supreme authority from which all other authorities are derived.” ― Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers

    Many self-described liberals were really annoyed by that book, which I find annoying … not least because disavowing things like the above quote is a gross strategic error in my view.

    As for how Anders would respond to your charge I will leave to him if he has not already done so.

  112. As for how Anders would respond to your charge I will leave to him if he has not already done so.

    Sorry, I don’t always read all of M2’s comments.

  113. Brandon Gates says:

    Anders,

    I probably could have written that better. It was my way of saying that I don’t think much of him trying to bait me into being your apologist. I have no moral or ethical issue with what you say or how you run your blog, but getting into what your “presumptions” are or are not is for you to do if you choose, not me.

  114. Brandon Gates says:

    dikranmarsupial,

    I’d argue that you can’t have true altruism without sentience as otherwise there is an implicit selfish evolutionary reason behind it (i.e. that we want to make the world a better place four ourselves and our descendents so my genes can flourish).

    As I consider sentience a requisite for the formation of ideals, I agree with that argument. Part of what I’m disputing is the undercurrent of “I’m being the least selfish and therefore more moral” argument I so often read in (into?) these type of discussions.

    I disagree, I suspect there are plenty of people who care about climate change who don’t have children and intend not to have children, in which case their genetic lineage is obviously not a factor.

    Count me as a deliberately childless pro-decarbonization activist. The genetic component may not be immediately obvious, however I find it hard to ignore that I share 25% of my own alleles with my seven nephews. [1] One of the lectures I remember specifically addressed female individuals (I forget now which species, but it wasn’t human and may not have even been a primate) who apparently did not mate (it was argued) so as to be able to support the offspring of her sister(s). Which fascinated me, and obviously stuck.

    Look, I have a bias in this particular segment of the argument and think I have a fairly good handle on where it comes from. Please don’t take my tendency to offer counter-point as absolute disagreement.

    I have a child, but I don’t think my genetic lineage is particularly threatened by climate change; if I was Bangladeshi, I might take a different view.

    My own view would probably be even stronger on my point if I were a Bangladeshi father myself. As a US citizen whose closest relatives are also in the US, I expect them and their progeny to have a better time of it than most of the rest of the world based on relative economic strength and resilience alone. [2] Still, I wouldn’t discount the genetic motivation behind concern for ones children/nieces/nephews/cousins in less patriarchal societies only on the basis that it’s (putatively) expressed as differing cultural norms.

    I would hope that we do more than examine conflicting primal urges; there ought to be a bit more to us than that!

    Speaking of cultural norms, I would hope so too. 🙂

    —————

    [1] OTOH, I find it hard to remember that none of my sibs are full ones genetically speaking, so the proper maths work out to 12.5%.

    [2] All bets are off if Trump wins the general election. I’m convinced he’d be hazardous to everyone’s health irrespective of climate concerns.

  115. Brandon Gates says:

    M2,

    Go to the citizens of the world, explain to them that you need a trillion dollars and they won’t understand the explanation anyway. It’s “physics”!

    It’s arithmetic: $143 per head, or $30.56 per metric tonne of CO2 which works out to about $0.27 per gallon of gasoline if I didn’t screw up the unit conversions (19.64 lbs CO2/gallon gasoline). Rule of thumb in the US is that the average person uses 1 gallon of gasoline per day, works out to $98.55/year.

    Pro-rata on all CO2 emissions per capita:

    East Asia & Pacific        179
    Europe & Central Asia      230
    Latin America & Caribbean   90
    Middle East & North Africa 182
    North America              511
    South Asia                  43
    Sub-Saharan Africa          25
                              ----
    World                     $143

    Source: world population and per-capita CO2 emissions as of 2011 from http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EN.ATM.CO2E.PC

    So, North Americans could expect to pay $43/month if the worldwide mandate was $1 trillion/year. Some might consider that too regressive for (in particular) Sub-Sahran Africans to bear, so let’s say that N. America were to kindly pay their carbon tax for them: $577/year or $48/month. 2013 per capita income in the US was $53,750 (PPP basis) so we’re talking a little over one percent. Less if all we do is pull our own weight.

    If you think a trillion greenbacks/year will do it, I’ll take that deal. Doesn’t look at all economy-busting to me — eat out one less time per month (out of 20 on average) and it’s covered.

    Let’s put Obama’s proposed $10/bbl oil tax in perspective. The EIA says in 2014 that the US used 6.63 billion bbl of crude / 318.9 million people * $10 = $208/person year. Or, as the yield is about 19 gallons per 42 gallons of oil in a barrel, that works out to a $0.57/gallon tax at the pump … or about $60/metric tonne CO2.

  116. Brandon Gates says:

    PS, that last bit of math neglected to take into account the ~12 gallons of diesel fuel that come from the same barrel of oil, and that diesel has the energy equivalent of 0.88 gallons of gasoline. So multiply $0.57/gallon gasoline tax by 0.56 and the answer is $0.32/gallon gasoline for a $10/bbl tax. I really should also account for heavy fuel oil and petrochemicals which (I think) account for about 25% of the balance of a 42 gal barrel, but I’ve plumb run out of backs of envelopes.

  117. Michael 2 says:

    Brandon Gates writes “So, North Americans could expect to pay $43/month”

    And calls it physics. Like I said: First comes the morality play then comes the demand.

    At any rate, you neglected to factor the multiplier effect, the marginal propensity to consume and it appears you have also not considered the price flexibility of demand. People cannot change quickly their energy habits. I already squeeze as much as I reasonably can out of energy sources. So, every dollar you take from me is one less dollar for someone else; you are taking food out of someone’s mouth. Where are you putting it? Where exactly is that trillion dollars going?

    I appreciate your candor. That is a rare thing in these conversations.

  118. Michael 2 says:

    Oops, small correction needed. Brandon Gates calls it arithmetic. It was WebHubTelescope that called it physics. Neither is a satisfactory explanation. WHT suggests his knowledge of physics is what provokes his belief system, Brandon Gates uses arithmetic to decide how much I should pay; neither persuade me that I should actually do so for any reason other than it’s “moral” and good luck getting a consensus on what that means and why it matters (not that there is no meaning; just that without a universal SOA, Source of Authority, your definition is as good or as bad as mine).

  119. BBD says:

    M2

    neither persuade me

    That’s because you are a denier, M2. I say this not in the isolated context of this thread, but the much wider one of all our previous conversations here and elsewhere.

    With no justification whatsoever, you place far too high a value on your own *opinion* – and physics does not operate on the basis of your (benighted) opinions.

  120. dikranmarsupial says:

    Brandon wrote “Part of what I’m disputing is the undercurrent of “I’m being the least selfish and therefore more moral” argument I so often read in (into?) these type of discussions.

    The undercurrent wasn’t put there by me. Morality is not as simple as selflessness, but the fact that the golden rule is a component of most moral and religious codes suggests that it is part of it.

  121. Brandon Gates says:

    M2,

    And calls it physics. Like I said: First comes the morality play then comes the demand.

    And the problem is? I can tell you what I’ve read about the physics if you insist. It’s also something you could learn about yourself — nobody hooked me up to one of these …

    … for me to glean what little I think I understand about how the inaptly-named “greenhouse” effect works.

    You could also simply take climatologists at their word because they presumably know more about what they’re doing than I do. You know, like most non-scientists do about most fiendishly complex sciences.

    At any rate, you neglected to factor the multiplier effect, the marginal propensity to consume and it appears you have also not considered the price flexibility of demand.

    Not explicitly no. Didn’t feel like digging out the macro texts and going through the brain-damage of rigorous calcs (and research).

    People cannot change quickly their energy habits.

    Obama’s plan calls for a 5-year phase in. WTI crude currently trades around $30/bbl. From 2005-09, the same commodity …

    … went from the $20-30 range to just over $140/bbl, an increase of between 366 and 600%. Again being lazy and ignoring compounding, that’s on the order of 70-120% per annum, all thanks to the free market.

    Assuming WTI trades in the $30 realm for the next 5 years, and again using being lazy about compounding (esp. because the difference is an order of magnitude or more), Obama’s tax works out to 33%/5 = 6.6%. One nifty feature of an absolute fixed tax/bbl is that if WTI goes to $100, the tax rate drops in percentage terms from 33% to 10%. Then you can (and should) bitch at the market for hiking your pump price 233% on top of Obama’s 10%. The way shale extraction is going, I don’t see it happening though. And by Jove, I just don’t see that paying 40-60 bucks for a barrel of oil for the forseeable future (inclusive of the $10 tax) is going to send us back to the Stone Age if $140 didn’t do it. Especially when that runup was followed by the mother of all bond market snafus in the form of the subprime mortgage meltdown.

    On that note, WTI plummeting from $140 to $40 in response inside of a year might give some indication of the price elasticity of demand, and further, just how far Big Oil literally has you (and me) bent over the barrel. Not exactly how I get my kicks, but hey, different strokes for different folks.

    I already squeeze as much as I reasonably can out of energy sources.

    Were you starving between 2005-09?

    I didn’t think so. You’ll find a way not to if properly motivated. And seriously, you’re not going to starve for want of 1% of your take-home pay.

    So, every dollar you take from me is one less dollar for someone else; you are taking food out of someone’s mouth.

    You see my morality play with a guilt trip. What’s the raise?

    Taking the plan at face value, the revenues aren’t to be stuffed in shoeboxes under the bed, but put into play on R&D, infrastructure improvements, etc. The Whitehouse blurb [1] doesn’t mention a multiplier, but I doubt it’s zero. Fair to say less than 1 over the next 5 years. After that, who knows. If Obama has an idea he isn’t saying so far as I know.

    Where are you putting it? Where exactly is that trillion dollars going?

    Why don’t you look it up yourself???

    For the record, I make it $66.3 billion/year based on 2014 consumption for Obama’s oil tax proposal. The trillion dollars is your number pulled from who knows where, so I’ve got no answer for you except another question: The Iraq war, which was supposed to pay for itself, stands at $1.7 trillion with some estimates going as high as $6 trillion over the next four decades counting interest. Did you get your money’s worth out of that boondoggle at the gas pump?

    I appreciate your candor. That is a rare thing in these conversations.

    Thanks … I guess. I’m not exactly sure what I wrote in previous posts which someone on “my side” of this argument hasn’t already said.

    Oops, small correction needed. Brandon Gates calls it arithmetic. It was WebHubTelescope that called it physics. Neither is a satisfactory explanation.

    It’s nobody’s duty here, or anywhere, to spoon feed it to you. I presume that you’re a voting, tax-paying citizen. Educate yourself, or not. Fobbing that responsiblity off on someone else is not a satisfactory excuse to be unconvinced.

    —————

    [1] https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/02/04/fact-sheet-president-obamas-21st-century-clean-transportation-system

  122. Brandon Gates says:

    dirkanmarsupial,

    The undercurrent wasn’t put there by me.

    Granted, but it’s an undercurrent I think is there. I wanted to speak to it, so I did. He who hath ears, let him hear.

    Morality is not as simple as selflessness, but the fact that the golden rule is a component of most moral and religious codes suggests that it is part of it.

    My moral code is anchored by self-interest. (How can one care about others if one doesn’t care about oneself?) I define evil as violating the will of another. Third pillar is the Golden Rule. I think the principles are simple, application to real-world problems can be complex and murky.

    What I’m crystal clear on is that me leaving the environment in worse shape than I found it is a disservice to future generations, and I cannot abide by that. What’s murky is how much my inaction would cost them. Prudence tells me that letting them find out empirically probably isn’t a good idea. Bottom line; diversions into genetic motivations or possibility of being the sole sentience in the universe — while interesting to me as a topic of discussion — really isn’t required of me to do that math.

  123. Brandon Gates says:

    M2,

    Errata:

    From 2005-09, the same commodity went from the $20-30 range to just over $140/bbl, an increase of between 366 and 600%. Again being lazy and ignoring compounding, that’s on the order of 70-120% per annum, all thanks to the free market.

    Eyeballing plots is known to get me into trouble. Interval s/b 2000-2009 for that price range, or if the same interval, the price movement was $50 to over $140. Percentages adjust accordingly. Point still stands that a 33% tax on oil spread out over 5 years isn’t going to implode the economy.

  124. dikranmarsupial says:

    Brandon wrote “My moral code is anchored by self-interest. (How can one care about others if one doesn’t care about oneself?) I define evil as violating the will of another. ”

    I’d argue that the two are mutually inconsistent to a substantial degree (unless you only avoid violating the will of others where it doesn’t go against your self-interest, even considering the will of another is at least moderating your self-interest). I don’t think that is a particularly good definition of evil, as it means that it would be evil to oppose the will of another who seeks to do something evil.

    I agree with the “How can one care about others if one doesn’t care about oneself?”, and you will find the same in many moral codes e.g. “: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”. The golden rule does not imply complete selflessness, just non-hypocrisy.

  125. Michael 2 says:

    dikranmarsupial wrote: “However the ocean is heavily stratified and won’t act as a single homogenous reservoir, and the long tail you get from an RC circuit is not the same as that from an adequate carbon cycle model that models the oceans more realistically.”

    Agreed. Many things are going on. My point, which you either missed or are ignoring, is that to simply dismiss 99.7 percent of the Earth’s population as too stupid to understand the physics but you expect them to understand your demands is very likely to fail to achieve whatever ultimate goals you have in mind.

    I believe it is possible, and desirable, to explain points through some type of decomposition and comparison with common experience held by your audience. That’s a bit more work so examine your motives to see if it is worth the trouble.

    To assume a strictly linear removal of CO2 from the atmosphere seems unreasonably simple and it will intersect the X-axis whereas an RC time constant never does. If you are trying to convey that you’ll never actually grab the very last molecule of CO2 then any of several ways exists to successfully convey the idea without requiring your audience to be physics majors. Many metaphors exist: Air leaking from a tire/tyre being an example.

    Calling a capacitor discharged after 5 RC time constants is simply a convention, a decision to end the long tail at some point of diminishing usefulness. It would be infinite except for quantum effects.

    It is why I can argue for 60 years or 100,000 years (neither of which is actually my estimate) depending on where one arbitrarily ends the long tail.

  126. Andrew dodds says:

    M2

    Well, not in this case. We already see variations of the order 5-10 ppm in the historical record, so it is reasonable to say that by the time we are within 10ppm of historical, we are within normal variation.

    Brandon

    I’ve mentioned before – UK fuel duty works out at around $150 a barrel, which has failed to collapse the economy. It’s just resulted in people paying attention to fuel economy when buying cars, and the fleet fuel economy gradually improving. Just don’t mention the diesels…

  127. dikranmarsupial says:

    M2 Agreed. Many things are going on. My point, which you either missed or are ignoring, is that to simply dismiss 99.7 percent of the Earth’s population as too stupid to understand the physics but you expect them to understand your demands is very likely to fail to achieve whatever ultimate goals you have in mind.”

    If I thought 99.7% of the worlds population were too stupid to understand the physics, I wouldn’t have bothered writing an accessible introduction to the basics, would I? The only goal I really have in mind is that I want the public to understand the science so that they can make an informed decision on a matter of practical importance.

    Did you read the paper?

    “I believe it is possible, and desirable, to explain points through some type of decomposition and comparison with common experience held by your audience.”

    Like RC circuits? LOL! As it happens, if you read my paper, you will find that I explain most of it with everyday analogies that are likely to be understood by the general public in addition to the differential equations. It looks to me like you didn’t read the paper.

    “To assume a strictly linear removal of CO2 from the atmosphere seems unreasonably simple and it will intersect the X-axis whereas an RC time constant never does.”

    Nobody is claiming that the removal is linear, it is approximately a mixture of exponentials with different time constants. That doesn’t intersect the X-axis either, and is consistent with the fact that the ocean is stratified, unlike a simple RC circuit model.

    “If you are trying to convey that you’ll never actually grab the very last molecule of CO2 then any of several ways exists to successfully convey the idea without requiring your audience to be physics majors. Many metaphors exist: Air leaking from a tire/tyre being an example.”

    Again that doesn’t work because a tyre is a single homogenous reservoir, so it only models the initial phase of the uptake. Now if you connected two tyres with a very thin pipe and opened the valve on one of them, that would be a better model. You would get a quick release of air as the first tyre deflated, but then a slower release because the air in the second tyre had to go through the thin pipe to the first before it could escape. Nobody is expecting the audience to be a physics major, but it does help if you yourself understand the issues before you try to explain the physics.

    “Calling a capacitor discharged after 5 RC time constants is simply a convention, a decision to end the long tail at some point of diminishing usefulness. It would be infinite except for quantum effects.”

    Again, a single capacitor is a single homogenous reservoir (this time of electrons) and so cannot be used as a means of explaining anything but the initial fast response of the carbon cycle. I don’t know how many times this has been explained to you, but it is the key point you are missing.

    “It is why I can argue for 60 years or 100,000 years (neither of which is actually my estimate) depending on where one arbitrarily ends the long tail.”

    No, you are still missing the point, we are not arbitrarily changing the cut-off point on the long tail, the point is that the rate constant of the decay is not constant, because e.g. the oceans are stratified and so the carbon cycle does not act as a single homogenous reservoir.

    Have you read my paper, “yes” or “no”?

  128. Michael 2 says:

    dikranmarsupial writes: “Have you read my paper, “yes” or “no”?”

    No. I seem to have missed where you provided an invitation to do so. I will review your comments and see if I can find a link and then review it.

    I had actually considered the metaphor you suggest, two tires linked by a tube such that as one deflates the other inflates. Two capacitors with different charges (voltage) connected through a resistor is exactly the same model and you can even vary the capacitances to more accurately model different holding capacities. You can add some other reactive components (an inductor for instance) to represent lagging reaction.

    “the point is that the rate constant of the decay is not constant”

    It isn’t even linear — it is buffered (the sea is, anyway, thus to a small extent so is atmosphere) and thus will seem to not react for a while; or react in unexpected ways.

  129. Michael 2 says:

    dikranmarsupial — I see the problem. Links are not conspicuously present in the emailed copies of comments added to this blog. That is where I read the comments and sometimes a bit of formatting vanishes in the text emails, as for instance:

    “@angtech do read my paper on the carbon cycle, I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.”

    It won’t be apparent that there’s a link in that text. A small suggestion is to actually declare the link like this:

    http://theoval.cmp.uea.ac.uk/publications/pdf/ef2011a.pdf

    which is safer/better for people to copy and paste. It is generally unwise to “click on links” that could go almost anywhere, hello cryptovirus or some such thing.

    Comments about your paper:

    and so the long term rise is essentially independent of the residence time

    That is very well explained. Claiming that any particular CO2 molecule will remain airborne for 100,000 years is seen by many (including me) as absurd; here you explain that’s not your argument anyway. I suspect you are arguing that you have added more CO2 to the *system* that is shared among reservoirs.

    Were I to continue with the capacitors metaphor, or a resonant tank circuit, if I add more energy then the system has more energy — it may exist in this reservoir (capacitor) or that one (another capacitor or the magnetic field of an inductor) but it will take a relatively long time for that injection of energy to dissipate. Where superconductors are used and nothing bleeds a magnetic field, the extra energy can last forever (see “storage rings”).

    Figures b and d on page 12 look a lot like RC time constants, so it is clear that you understand the principle I have illustrated using RC time constant, and use it yourself using a different metaphor. The similarity is due perhaps to the idea that capacitors are never really discharged; they seek equilibrium between their plates but the entire system still has many electrons, the mere presence of which is still functional (as for instance in an electret or “flash memory” cells).

    I’m not going to prove the differentials but they seem reasonably correct and relatively simple; your graphs appear reasonable and your explanations and simulation seems effective. When and if I get more time I may plot the differentials for my own education and experience.

    Perhaps most significantly I do not detect political bias or advocacy. I salute you for staying focused on a topic and presenting it well.

  130. WebHubTelescope says:

    M2 said:

    “to simply dismiss 99.7 percent of the Earth’s population as too stupid to understand the physics”

    In this case the target is not 99.7% of the population, but YOU!

    “I had actually considered the metaphor you suggest, two tires linked by a tube such that as one deflates the other inflates. Two capacitors with different charges (voltage) connected through a resistor is exactly the same model and you can even vary the capacitances to more accurately model different holding capacities. You can add some other reactive components (an inductor for instance) to represent lagging reaction.”

    To create a mathematical abstraction for diffusion one sets up a sequence of slabs that transfer (matter, heat, whatever) between one another through a process of a random walk. The solution to that abstraction is the solution to the diffusion equation.

    This works for CO2 and it works for diffusion of heat in to the ocean. First-order RC response formulations work for neither. You seem to have a belief that your abstraction works but that is because you don’t deeply understand the statistical physics involved.

  131. dikranmarsupial says:

    Michael2 you still appear to be missing the point that a single exponential decay can only model the fastest carbon cycle response, which is uptake from the atmosphere into the thermocline. Once the ocean to the thermocline has equilibriated with the atmosphere, the rate of uptake slows as it can only proceed at the rate at which carbon can be transferred from the thermocline to the deep ocean. That is why the 60 year uptake is unphysical, and why the carbon cycle models tell us that a substantial fraction will stay in the atmosphere for very much longer. This is why I point out in my paper that such simple models are useful for understanding some aspects of the carbon cycle (such as the difference between residence time and adjustment time), but can’t give useful quantative predictions of what would happen if we were to top emitting fossil fuels today. The important part is the discussion in section “Limitations of the One Box Model”, IIRC references 29 and 30 give better models. HTH.

  132. Michael 2 says:

    Andrew Dodds writes “UK fuel duty works out at around $150 a barrel, which has failed to collapse the economy.”

    I wonder what exactly you would consider a collapsed economy. Obviously it isn’t going to collapse everywhere all at once; or maybe it isn’t obvious. Perhaps UK steel mills is not by itself evidence of an enonomy starting to collapse.

    Anyway, y’all are creative so if you try just a little harder you’ll figure out how to collapse your economy and then I have little doubt the United States will quickly do likewise. Australia had a pretty good start on it a few years ago.

  133. Brandon Gates says:

    Anyway, y’all are creative

    Oblivious.

  134. Brandon Gates says:

    dikranmarsupial,

    I’d argue that the two are mutually inconsistent to a substantial degree (unless you only avoid violating the will of others where it doesn’t go against your self-interest, even considering the will of another is at least moderating your self-interest). I don’t think that is a particularly good definition of evil, as it means that it would be evil to oppose the will of another who seeks to do something evil.

    Indeed. I could write a 4th rule: it is good to vanquish evil. But that doesn’t remove the inconsistency. More the way I see it is that the party who first wilfully violates my definitions tends to forfeit the injunction against violating their will to persist in doing so. Having an odd number of core principles serves as a tie-breaker of sorts, especially the third — moral duty to oneself.

    The mutual inconsistency actually works for me as recognition of the real world where moral quandaries abound and someone is going to suffer some harm regardless of which way the balance tips. The emphasis on will is also intentional because I believe that most people ultimately create their own moral codes — regardless of how much they’ve borrowed from some Authority — according to how they wish Good and Evil to be defined, or more broadly, how they want the world to work with and for them.

    If you can think of a better, but similarly pithy definition for evil, I’d be interested to read it. My first attempts tried to use “harm”, but that concept wants definition and suddenly I found myself writing paragraphs (as is my wont) when what I really wanted was a handful or fewer of bullet points. They all converged on harm being something that one would not want done to them, or others they cared about, so violation of their will became the generalization. And as people are largely self-defining, it saved me the trouble — and inherent tyranny — of doing it for them.

    All of which I think is pleasingly fitting for sentient, intelligent, emotional social animals such as ourselves: moral behaviour is simply being respectful of others wishes for themselves except in cases where they are not giving others, or self, the same consideration. All bets are off when their disrespect of others is writ very large.

    I agree with the “How can one care about others if one doesn’t care about oneself?”, and you will find the same in many moral codes e.g. “: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”. The golden rule does not imply complete selflessness, just non-hypocrisy.

    I think that’s well put, and may be consistent with my view of how bad actors forfeit more benevolent consideration.

  135. Eli Rabett says:

    this one for the single exponential decay not

    and this one for the longer delay

    should be simple enough for michael

  136. Eli,
    Very nice. The figure in post illustrates what happens if you consider the different parts of the carbon cycle.

  137. dikranmarsupial says:

    Brandon wrote “If you can think of a better, but similarly pithy definition for evil” it is a mistake to think that such things have straightforward (or pithy) definitions, they don’t. We live in a more complicated world than that and at the end of the day we have to use our individual judgement. It is a bit like defining science, most of us know it when we see it, but it is not so straightforward to write down a simple definition that captures everything that it should, whilst rejecting everything else. There are useful guidelines, e.g. falsificationism, but to think that they are sufficient or even reliable is overly simplistic.

  138. Michael 2 says:

    WebHubTelescope “In this case the target is not 99.7% of the population, but YOU!”

    I feel blessed, maybe even unworthy to have all these PhD’s focused solely on me.

    “You seem to have a belief that your abstraction works but that is because you don’t deeply understand the statistical physics involved.”

    Yes, I do not “deeply understand the statistical physics involved” and if you are relying on that to extract trillions of dollars from global economies, well, you are doomed.

    It seems you do not understand electronics. Eli’s top chart can be represented exactly by three capacitors and two resistors. Does it accurately represent the system? No. But it is useful as an approximation of some of the physics involved.

  139. WebHubTelescope says:

    Michael #2 said

    “It seems you do not understand electronics. Eli’s top chart can be represented exactly by three capacitors and two resistors. Does it accurately represent the system? No. But it is useful as an approximation of some of the physics involved.”

    I don’t think that IBM Watson would have hired me unless I could work out diffusion formulations for the semiconductor fabrication process that was required to produce the integrated circuits which were then used to construct the computers and/or cell phones that you could compose your drivel on 🙂

    So, what you are describing is an inadequate toy model for what is actually happening for a CO2 molecule that is randomly walking through oceanic and atmospheric media until it finds a sequestering resting place.

  140. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Eli’s top chart can be represented exactly by three capacitors and two resistors. Does it accurately represent the system? No. But it is useful as an approximation of some of the physics involved.”

    It is however the second diagram that explains why the 60 year decay estimate is incorrect and the actual removal of CO2 from the atmosphere actually will take thousands of years. As we have been trying to explain, it is not the case that we can’t “argue for 60 years or 100,000 years … depending on where one arbitrarily ends the long tail.” because the difference in estimate is not dependent on where one arbitrarily ends the long tail; it is because of more realistic physical modelling of the processes involved (mainly transfer of carbon between the surface and deep ocean).

  141. smamarver says:

    There are a number of man-made contributory factors that may have had specific impacts on the atmospheric heating, e.g. local warming in the cities (due to housing, roads, and other resultant factors), smoke and dust over long distances or deforestation of huge forest areas. Each of the above examples may have had temporary or long lasting implications, but none of them is a major source for the strong warming or cooling trends during the last 150 – 170 years. However, two major contributors (shipping and naval war) have been given little or no attention at all until now. Although the surface of the oceans is gigantic, their structure can be still influenced by certain factors. I found more on the subject on http://www.1ocean-1climate.com and I think it is a topic that should be payed more attention to.

  142. angech says:

    Rob Honeycutt says: February 23, 2016 at 7:34 pm
    “”angech…IF nature were the source of the current rise in CO2 levels, what is the mechanism in nature that would cause this. (Lower chart, red line.)”
    Two comments Rob,
    First the baseline of this graph is 11,000 years. The changes at the end occur over perhaps 50 years.
    I assume you are fully aware that there may have been many previous rises in temperature and CO2 in 11.000 years of this short length of time that would not be able to show up in a chart like this.
    I assume you are aware of the reason are are being just a tiny bit disingenuous.
    If not, it is that in graphs of this length of time they are smoothed out and the only time that such changes are not smoothed out are at the start and end of such a graph.
    You will not see such changes unless they occurred over hundreds of years.
    The current changes would not be visible as a blip in a thousand years if it is just a short term natural variation.

    Second comment,
    What are the mechanisms [plural] in nature that could cause this.
    Again you know what natural mechanisms could cause this.
    To reiterate but a few.
    Large areas of superficial methane deposits may have leaked extra methane into the air causing CO2 rise.
    Large undersea volcanoes may have been more active and more CO2 producing than suspected.
    Extra ocean heat could have released more CO2 from the sea.
    Extra algal and vegetation growth in the seas could have led to more sea material breaking down and releasing more CO2.
    Scientists could be over recording both temp and CO2 rises [I guess scientists count as a mechanism of nature]. Certainly satellite records do not show the temperature rise you show at the end of your graph.
    Lots of other but less likely causes as you know.

  143. angech,
    But we know that we have emitted more than the amount by which atmospheric CO2 has risen. If you really are arguing for a significant natural contribution, you’re suggesting that somehow it would have risen in the absence of our emissions, which doesn’t really make sense. If this were the case, you’d expect the increase in atmospheric CO2 to be greater than the amount we’ve emitted. The fact that there are past epochs where there was a non-anthropogenic rise in atmospheric CO2 does not somehow suggest the current one might not be anthropogenic.

  144. Looks like angtech didn’t read my paper then.

  145. I’m really late to the party, I point out that you can’t spell “millennial”.

  146. Bugger, and – embarrassingly – I think I even checked.

  147. angech says:

    dikranmarsupial says: February 28, 2016 at 12:36 pm
    Looks like angtech didn’t read my paper then. [reading it now!]
    “The argument presented in ES09 is essentially that anthropogenic emissions cannot be
    the cause of the observed rise in atmospheric CO2 as the residence time is short, of the order of
    only 4-15 years, and hence rather than accumulate in the atmosphere, anthropogenic emissions
    are rapidly taken up by the oceans and terrestrial biota. The error in this argument lies not in the
    premise, it is widely accepted (and indeed clearly stated in the reports published by the IPCC2,3)
    that the residence time (RT) is only about 5 years;”
    The error arises due to a confusion of residence time with the adjustment time,
    That is why I think ATTP should modify or explain this comment better.
    “A reasonable fraction (20-30%) of what we emit will remain in the atmosphere for millenia.”
    It does not parse correctly.
    I know he knows what it means but the average reader would take home a completely different meaning.
    ATTP I’m not really are arguing for a significant natural contribution.
    Rob asked ” what is/are the mechanism/s in nature that would cause this.
    My view has always been that we do not and possibly cannot know all the other feedbacks attending a rise in CO2 or temperature which have kept our atmosphere in a reasonable balance for life for close to 3 billion years.

  148. BBD says:

    I’m really late to the party, I point out that you can’t spell “millennial”.

    But you have the unfair advantage of having been trained to spell ‘Connolley’ all your life, something most of us cannot reliably do.

  149. Andrew Dodds says:

    Meta: Why is it that a significant proportion of the skeptic faction seem unable to write comments with proper line endings and paragraphs?

  150. dikranmarsupial says:

    angtech “I know he knows what it means but the average reader would take home a completely different meaning.”

    No, the fate of individual molecules is irrelevant, the average reader will take home the correct meaning which is that it will take thousands of years for CO2 levels to get back to pre-industrial levels.

  151. What I maybe should have said (as I’ve already pointed out) was that “an increase in atmospheric CO2, equivalent to 20-30% of our total emissions, will remain in the atmosphere for thousands of years”. However, as Dikran points out, the average reader is likely to interpret what I said in that way.

  152. MartinM says:

    IMO, what you said is perfectly accurate, residence time notwithstanding. It’s a Ship of Theseus thing.

  153. dikranmarsupial says:

    “My view has always been that we do not and possibly cannot know all the other feedbacks attending a rise in CO2 or temperature which have kept our atmosphere in a reasonable balance for life for close to 3 billion years.”

    However we don’t need to know that to know that the natural environment has been a net carbon sink every year for at least the last fifty and hence has been opposing the rise in atmospheric CO2, not causing it.

  154. We also have this, from here, which I think isn’t stressed enough

    Sediment cores from the deep ocean reveal a climate event 55 million years ago that appears to be analogous to the potential global warming climate event in the future. Isotopes of carbon preserved in CaCO3 shells reveal an abrupt release of carbon to the atmosphere-ocean system, which took about 150 thousand years to recover.

  155. BBD says:

    Perhaps my fault, although I bang on about the PETM a fair bit. The problem is constraining when the major carbon release *stopped* and the recovery began.

  156. Michael 2 says:

    “average reader will take home the correct meaning”

    Who here is an average reader?

  157. Michael 2 says:

    Andrew Dodds wrote “Why is it that a significant proportion of the skeptic faction seem unable to write comments with proper line endings and paragraphs?”

    For the same reason that a significant proportion of the skeptic faction is male, drives automobiles, watches television, eats pizza. This will also be true of the unskeptical (sheep) faction.

    Whether skeptics are unique in this regard seems doubtful although I could suggest a mechanism: Whatever causes a person to be naturally skeptical will likely include skepticism of all persons claiming authority, including in this context school teachers. As for the non-skeptics, their excuse is probably ordinary lack of skill.

  158. Eli Rabett says:

    Accepting an expert consensus is more a function of lack of time than skill. At worst, even for the most skeptical, the expert consensus should be the prior, unless you are pushing a political peanut.

  159. BBD says:

    Meta: Why is it that a significant proportion of the skeptic faction seem unable to write comments with proper line endings and paragraphs?

    Or HTML formatting of any kind whatsoever?

    Just stupid, I suppose. Although sadly, not quite stupid enough to prevent them from using a computer.

  160. snarkrates says:

    Note, the denialosphere is not populated by skeptics. Skeptics also train their skepticism on their own positions. The most charitable description of the denialati is “selectively gullible.”

  161. Michael 2 says:

    WebHubTelescope wrote “I don’t think that IBM Watson would have hired me unless I could work out diffusion formulations for the semiconductor fabrication process that was required to produce the integrated circuits which were then used to construct the computers and/or cell phones that you could compose your drivel on :)”

    Thank you for your part in making it easier to write. I started my writing career on a manual typewriter. My skill is writing. For instance, I rewrite your sentence to remove ambiguity, uncertainty and trailing prepositions.

    “IBM hired me to produce diffusion formulations for the semiconductor fabrication process used to produce the integrated circuits found in computers on which you compose drivel.”

    “So, what you are describing is an inadequate toy model for what is actually happening for a CO2 molecule that is randomly walking through oceanic and atmospheric media until it finds a sequestering resting place.”

    Adequacy is in the eye of the beholder. During my Navy career I was judged, and I judged others, on (1) correct use of the English language and (2) effective use of the English language. The distinction is meaningful.

    So it is with the physics of climate science. The only correct model *is* the Earth and its atmosphere. Everything else is a “toy” of varying sophistication.

  162. Michael 2 says:

    BBD wrote “imagine how much easier would all be if there wasn’t a vociferous and tireless claque filling the public discourse …”

    Claque: A group of people who pre-arrange among themselves to express strong support for an idea, so as to give the false impression of a wider consensus.

  163. anoilman says:

    Michael 2: You claimed that you spent 14 years configuring Cisco Routers. Dude. That’s production work for technicians. Its 14 years of menial labor, and you think you can judge others with that qualification?

    It doesn’t matter if you can type or use language nicely in a blog. It just doesn’t. But if you really want to entertain yourself, please go get mad and deal with some Engrish.
    http://www.engrish.com/

    I make plenty of typos by the way. The ones that really get on my nerves are the ones where I forget to put the word ‘not’ in there somewhere. It just comes out wrong, like… “Michael 2, Everything you say is true.” It just doesn’t sound right.

  164. BBD says:

    M2

    Claque: A group of people who pre-arrange among themselves to express strong support for an idea, so as to give the false impression of a wider consensus.

    It was pre-arranged. It is a claque promoting a false claim of disagreement among scientists. It is funded and directed by the fossil fuel industry. See the American Petroleum Institute memo from 1998 when the claque is deciding how it will lie to the public to distort public policy for its own ends.

    Just a word of warming, M2. I’m getting a wee bit sick of people like you denying that organised denial exists in the face of overwhelming evidence that it does.

    So don’t.

  165. dikranmarsupial says:

    Michael2 Rather ironically, your rewriting of WebHubTelescope’s statement does not correctly preserve its intended meaning. Perhaps we should get back to discussing the science of the carbon cycle?

  166. dikranmarsupial says:

    Michael2 wrote “The only correct model *is* the Earth and its atmosphere.” No, the Earth and its atmosphere is reality, not a model. A model is a simplified representation of reality.

    As the OED would define it “A simplified or idealized description or conception of a particular system, situation, or process, often in mathematical terms, that is put forward as a basis for theoretical or empirical understanding, or for calculations, predictions, etc.; a conceptual or mental representation of something. “

  167. John Hartz says:

    Michael 2: If you want to opine about manmade climate change with credibility, you would do well to use the commonly accepted definitions used by the scientific community rather than your own personal opinion. For example…

    Climate model

    spectrum or hierarchy

    A numerical representation of the climate system based on the physical, chemical and biological properties of its components, their interactions and feedback processes, and accounting for all or some of its known properties. The climate system can be represented by models of varying complexity, that is, for any one component or combination of components a spectrum or hierarchy of models can be identified, differing in such aspects as the number of spatial dimensions, the extent to which physical, chemical or biological processes are explicitly represented, or the level at which empirical parametrizations are involved. Coupled Atmosphere-Ocean General Circulation Models (AOGCMs) provide a representation of the climate system that is near the most comprehensive end of the spectrum currently available. There is an evolution towards more complex models with interactive chemistry and biology (see Chapter 8). Climate models are applied as a research tool to study and simulate the climate, and for operational purposes, including monthly, seasonal and interannual climate predictions.

    Definition courtesy of IPCC AR4.

    All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

  168. Michael 2 says:

    John Hartz wrote “Michael 2: If you want to opine about manmade climate change with credibility, you would do well to use the commonly accepted definitions used by the scientific community”

    At which point I would be every bit as effective as you have been.

  169. Michael 2 says:

    dikranmarsupial wrote “The Earth and its atmosphere is reality, not a model. A model is a simplified representation of reality.”

    That is why I inserted correct model of the Earth. Now that you have simplified it, how can you be sure it is correct?

    But I’ve been influenced by Douglas Adams who, you may remember, wrote a story about the Earth being a giant computer to answer the question of Life, the Universe and Everything. If you are supremely literate you’ll remember the answer.

  170. Michael 2 says:

    Symmetry strikes again! Anyway, thank you for introducing me to the word “claque”.

    BBD writes [with some additions by me]: “It is a claque promoting a false claim of [disagreement, agreement] among scientists. It is funded and directed by the [fossil fuel industry, Greenpeace et al]. See the [American Petroleum Institute memo from 1998, Greenpeace articles on polar bears] when the claque is deciding how it will [lie, lie(*)] to the public to distort public policy for its own ends.”

    * http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/the-polar-bear-more-than-a-poster-child/

    “Just a word of warming, M2. I’m getting a wee bit sick of people like you denying that organised denial exists in the face of overwhelming evidence that it does.”

    I could use a word of warming. 😉

    Anyway, there is no people like me and I have not denied the existence of organized denial. It is abundantly evident everywhere I look. Truth is a singularity; lies are abundant. Odds are anything you hear or read is a lie.

  171. whimcycle says:

    (And the planet is Somebody Else’s Problem?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Last_Chance_to_See)

  172. John Hartz says:

    Michael 2: Exactly what have you accomplished with your posts on this thread?

  173. Michael 2 says:

    anoilman wrote “you think you can judge others with that qualification?” [Cisco router experience]

    People judge others because they wish to do so. Having a relevant qualification probably leads to more correct judgment but is not necessary for the act of judgment to proceed.

    “It doesn’t matter if you can type or use language nicely in a blog. It just doesn’t.”

    On a blog the quality of your writing is the first thing others notice and the only thing self-evident. Once I get to know you then your writing becomes mostly irrelevant.

  174. anoilman says:

    John Hartz: He successfully pushed a lot of buttons, stirred up a lot of negative argumentation, and made it look like there could indeed be substantial discussion in this field, all by complaining about writing.

    He does that a lot, and he never does anything substantial with any information, and he pretty much ignores everything offered. That’s obvious. You can tell because he never looks up anything he claims to be a fact before he prattles on about it. It provides us with needlessly simple material to respond to. Its sad really.

    For instance here’s a follow up question to M2 who claimed there might be something wrong with models because you can’t see them. Many people promptly offered him source code since its freely available. “Michael 2: Have you read any of the source code for climate models that you previously claimed were hidden and no one had access to?”

    I’ll bet dollars to donuts that he hasn’t bothered looking at any of it between then and now. I believe him to be a very very dishonest player. Its the worst kind of person for a democracy.

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/06/15/can-we-trust-climate-models/#comment-23919

  175. angech says:

    Michael 2 says:
    ” a story about the Earth being a giant computer to answer the question of Life, the Universe and Everything. If you are supremely literate you’ll remember the answer.”
    Reading the quadrology at the moment, Interestingly the second book suggests the computer got the answer, 42? wrong.
    ATTP “an increase in atmospheric CO2, equivalent to 20-30% of our total emissions, will remain in the atmosphere for thousands of years”. is much better than
    “A reasonable fraction (20-30%) of what we emit will remain in the atmosphere for millenia.”
    Thank you.. and yes Spencer.
    Brandon Gates says:
    ” If I may coin a corollary to one of Clarke’s laws: Any sufficiently advanced sentient being is indistinguishable from God.”
    Something wrong there, Is it that that sentient being still believes in a god or that like the turtles there is always at least one more sufficiently advanced sentient being to make him not god?
    Andrew Dodds says:
    ” Why is it that a significant proportion of the warmist faction seem obsessed with “comments with proper line endings and paragraphs?”
    dikranmarsupial says: there is no “official” surface temperature dataset”
    dikranmarsupial says: ” simplest moral argument stems directly from the “Golden Rule” (do unto others…)” and follows it. Impressed.

  176. John Hartz says:

    anoilman:

    In other words, Michael2 is just another run-of-the-mill, climate denier drone spreading poppycock.

  177. Michael 2 says:

    anoilman writes: “I believe him to be a very very dishonest player.”

    Misrepresent me much?

    The comment you link to reads: “If I do not hold a model in my hands (ie, have access to it), then I can only speculate what it actually does, and then I can challenge my speculation.”

    “Michael 2: Have you read any of the source code for climate models that you previously claimed were hidden and no one had access to?”

    How is such a thing possible? Phil Jones refused FOI requests. As to reading source code for easily available models, yes; but I didn’t get much out of it and quickly abandoned further attempts. I’m not sure what I expected to find. It was PJ’s refusal that made it interesting.

    As to the other models, I think the burden is not on me to figure out what dozens of different models are doing, but on their authors to convince the public (and me) that their model is better than anyone else’s. Once there’s a model with some skill then I am more willing to invest some time studying it.

  178. “Thank you for your part in making it easier to write. I started my writing career on a manual typewriter. My skill is writing. For instance, I rewrite your sentence to remove ambiguity, uncertainty and trailing prepositions.”

    Trailing prepositions? WTF?

    Gosh. Well, this started in the 18th century, specifically with Lowth. Although even for Lowth it was a rule of rhetoric rather than proper usage. The idea was simple. Some, like Dryden and Gibbon, argued that the English language should adhere to the same rules as Latin. In Latin one cannot end a sentence with a proposition. Therefore, some prescriptivist grammarians argued that one shouldn’t end English sentences with prepositions (forgetting of course our linguistic germanic roots ). What is really funny is that Mike made a wonderful blunder in “correcting” an ‘on which” construction. In English, there are couple constructions that we use when showing that this 18th century rule was wrong: the “on which” construction is a classic. This is a point on which I must insist. As a hint I’ll direct him to German words with separable prefixes. If he has any questions, I’ll be sure to follow up. hehe.

  179. dikranmarsupial says:

    Michael2 wrote “That is why I inserted correct model of the Earth. Now that you have simplified it, how can you be sure it is correct? ”

    No Michael, it is still not a model, it is reality. But as you have been influenced by Douglas Adams, a duplicate Earth created by Magrathea (an analogy I have used before) would be the best possible model of the Earth’s climate. Would it give the exact same climate as we observe on the Earth? No, for at least two reasons, perhaps you could give some thought as to what they may be.

  180. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Michael 2: Have you read any of the source code for climate models that you previously claimed were hidden and no one had access to?”

    How is such a thing possible? Phil Jones refused FOI requests”

    Michael2 you do know that Phil Jones is not a climate modeller, don’t you (and therefore has no climate model source code to give you, unlike GISS for example)?

  181. John Hartz says:

    Michael2:

    As to the other models, I think the burden is not on me to figure out what dozens of different models are doing, but on their authors to convince the public (and me) that their model is better than anyone else’s. Once there’s a model with some skill then I am more willing to invest some time studying it.

    Self-righteous indignation poppycock!

  182. BBD says:

    M2

    You attempt to establish a false equivalence between Greenpeace (correct about the existential threat to polar bears) and the API – organised denial by vested interests.

    By doing this you *are* desperately trying to minimise the significance of the fact that organised denial by vested interest exists. Just as I knew you would.

    Oilman is correct. You are a dishonest player.

  183. Michael 2 says:

    My first ever response from Steven Mosher! The air is thin up here.

    The thing about knowing something of just about everything is also being a little wrong about nearly everything. That, coupled with your desire to correct others, leads to good conversations where I learn much. Thank you.

  184. anoilman says:

    No M2, I’m not misrepresenting you. Perhaps you’re confused by Douglas Adams, since I’m not talking about the ‘simulated online’ you. I’m talking about the real you. Like you didn’t bother looking for source code you couldn’t understand in the first place.

    14 years of configuring CISCO routers would hardly prepare you reviewing millions of lines of simulation code, and the requisite physics needed to understand it. I doubt you could review it and I’m not saying that as a dig, its just not what you do.

    Many parts of that code would have been built by specialists in their own right. As you know, many specialists in those fields will come along and review the results and even the code since they know how it should behave in certain scenarios.

    Most of the world you live in is dependent on algorithms you don’t understand. For instance, you’re using this one right now, but I bet you don’t know where it is;
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hungarian_algorithm

  185. Michael 2 says:

    anoilman “No M2, I’m not misrepresenting you.”

    Sure you are. I am not here. You can only write about M2. Out of the many skills I have announced here, I suspect you are choosing one of my least relevant skills relevant to studying climate models. It is a strawman argument that suits your purposes and it is a misrepresentation, whether of *me* or M2.

    “14 years of configuring CISCO routers would hardly prepare you reviewing millions of lines of simulation code”

    Trivially true; it is a strawman argument for I have not claimed that Cisco certification is the pathway to understanding climate models.

    “and the requisite physics needed to understand it. I doubt you could review it and I’m not saying that as a dig, its just not what you do.”

    It is a dig; you aren’t here to praise M2. As to understanding physics, you are exactly correct but you mistake or misrepresent my purpose. My intention was to study the physics by studying the program. Deep inside, the computer can do only one thing: Add or subtract. That’s it. It has either adders or subtractors. Multiplication is a process of adding and shifting.

    All of physics, so far as I know, can be represented mathematically. All of mathematics, so far as I know, can be represented either symbolically or numerically. If numerical, then it can be represented with a computer program.

    The simplest models can be represented in Microsoft Excel. They are least likely to accurately capture all processes BUT are also easy as a first approximation to understand the authors choices and parameters.

    “Many parts of that code would have been built by specialists in their own right. As you know, many specialists in those fields will come along and review the results and even the code since they know how it should behave in certain scenarios.”

    Yes. My current interest in studying models is considerably reduced as compared to 7 years ago because I recognize that a skillful model is going to be extremely complex.

    “Most of the world you live in is dependent on algorithms you don’t understand.”

    No doubt.

    “For instance, you’re using this one right now, but I bet you don’t know where it is;”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hungarian_algorithm

    Correct. I have now studied it and it appears the most likely application is in cellular communications (heterogenous networks).

  186. anoilman says:

    M2: I doubt its used for cellular networks. It solves discrete optimization problems. Its used for optimum component placement with circuit boards, and silicon. Its essentially used to design all electronics.

    I pick on your experience because its not conducive to advanced physics, its not conducive advanced math/differential equations, chemistry, logic etc. The list goes on. Your manor of speaking is that of a novice. What text books have you purchased to study climate science? I’ve picked up 3. (In truth its going slowly but I find it interesting.)

    I’d really like to harp on the fact that you can’t be bothered to understand or even look anything up before typing;
    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/06/15/can-we-trust-climate-models/#comment-23919
    “If I do not hold a model in my hands (ie, have access to it), then I can only speculate what it actually does, and then I can challenge my speculation. Sort of like playing solitaire.”

    While others are able to look things up and see for themselves;
    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/06/15/can-we-trust-climate-models/#comment-23989
    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/06/15/can-we-trust-climate-models/#comment-24023

    And here you are… thanking me for using google. How quaint.
    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/06/15/can-we-trust-climate-models/#comment-24034

    The way I see it, a lack of education isn’t a barrier. The inability to learn is.

  187. “Your manor of speaking is that of a novice. “

    grammar sailor may go after you here 😉

  188. Marco says:

    Unsurprisingly, M2 fails to apologize for his inappropriate complaint about Phil Jones and access to GCM code.

  189. BBD says:

    Or suggesting that Greenpeace and the American Petroleum Institute are effectively equivalent.

  190. anoilman says:

    Paul, I are and engineer..

  191. Pingback: Le Hansen noveau est arrive – Stoat

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