Watt about a 10th Anniversary?

When I started blogging about climate science, I mainly focussed on addressing what was said on Anthony Watt’s blog, Watts Up With That (WUWT) (and often started my post titles with the word “Watt”, as I’ve done again – for old time’s sake – here). I did it for a bit less than a year and then changed the name of the blog and have largely ignored WUWT for the last couple of years. I, therefore, almost missed – a couple of days ago – the 10th Anniversary of Anthony starting his blog.

In his post, Anthony thanks various people, including some who have not been very nice to him. I’m included in the latter list which, given that I’ve largely ignored his blog for the last couple of years, is maybe a little odd (although, that might be why). I have to say, though, that I’m mostly pleased with the company with which I’m associated. Also, if some people have been rather unkind to Anthony, the manner in which he has chosen to thank them might illustrate why. If his online persona is a fair reflection of his character, then he would appear to not be a very nice person.

What I found remarkable was Roger Pielke Sr posting a comment in which he says:

Congratulations! You have significantly and positively contributed to climate science. All the best for the next ten years!!!

I was sufficiently amazed that I emailed Roger to ask him how he could possibly regard the above as true. Apparently we simply disagree and Anthony has apparently done some very good work. I have yet to discover what this really is and, even if he has done some really good work, I still find it hard to believe that his contribution to climate science has been significant and positive. I would guess that his contribution to climate science itself is negligible; most climate scientists are probably unaware of what he says and does. On the other hand, his contribution to public understanding of climate science may well be significant, but it’s almost certainly not positive. That anyone who publicly argues for improved dialogue, and criticises the conduct of others, can regard Anthony’s contribution as significant and positive is utterly bizarre.

However, rather than ending there, I thought I would mention a recent article of Roger’s that he highlighted in our brief email exchange. It’s about Land’s complex role in climate change. It argues that land use changes can play a significant role in climate change and that, by focussing on global emissions, we’re not paying enough attention to this issue. I don’t know enough about the specifics to really say much about whether what is suggested is reasonable, or not. However, it mostly seems okay; I can well believe that there are anthropogenic factors – other than our emissions – that are influencing climate change.

What’s confusing, though, is that I thought a lot of this was being considered. The IPCC radiative forcing estimates certainly include albedo changes due to land use. Many of the negative emission ideas relate to changes in land use. I’m aware of people who consider the role of forests and de-forestation. There are also many studies that consider the urban heat island effect and how it might exacerbate heatwaves in cities. So, I’m not quite sure what aspect of this is being ignored, or what aspect should be focussed on more than it is now.

I suspect that one issue is that we don’t need to develop global agreements in order to deal with regional issues. Countries/regions are able to do so without developing global treaties and can do so without calling meetings that involve most of the countries in the world. So, I suspect that we simply don’t hear as much about things that happen on a local level as we do about things that are global. Dealing with emission reductions is almost certainly going to require some kind global approach, while dealing with regional factors does not.

Also, it seems that some of the regional factors that Roger mentions in the article are also related to global warming (sea level rise, precipitation,….). It seems to me that we really need both a regional and a global approach and, as far as I’m aware, this is indeed what is being considered (adaptation is more regional than global, while emission reductions is more global than regional). It is, of course, possible that there are regional issues about which we’re not giving due consideration. Alternatively, maybe it’s simply that people aren’t taking things that Roger regards as important, seriously enough. If so, it might be worth considering that it’s difficult to take seriously someone who thinks Anthony Watt’s contribution to climate science is significant and positive.

Links:

Sou has a post about Anthony Watt’s 10th Anniversary. In fact, I’m surprised that Anthony didn’t thank Sou as Sou has done far more for him than I have.

Russell also has a post describing how Anthony has embraced unrelenting pig-headedness, a box of rocks, and an invisible rabbit.

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88 Responses to Watt about a 10th Anniversary?

  1. “(and then there’s Physics, who has proven that one can have a degree in Astronomy, and still be dumber than a box of rocks when it comes to climate)”

    says Anthony, who has repeatedly promulgated articles arguing that the rise in atmospheric CO2 is not due to anthopogenic emissions (and hence fails carbon cycle 101) – oh the irony! LOL ;o)

    ISTR an article claiming that the Greenland ice sheet was only thousand or so years old that Anthony deleted out of embarrassment was a hoot as well! I was one of those that posted a comment to explain why the article was very very obviously nonsense.

  2. I’m slightly impressed that he deleted that article. Better than leaving it there, promoting something clearly wrong. Of course, it might be hard to notice amongst all the other posts that promote things that are wrong.

  3. I’m not so sure, the comments thread had some useful stuff in it, it would have been better to leave it there so that others wouldn’t be mislead by the argument that Anthony was republishing. The funny thing about the cause of the rise in atmospheric CO2 is that even after all this time Anthony still can’t come to a conclusion about it (and neither can Prof. Curry), despite the strength of the evidence to show that it is almost entirely (or entirely depending on how you define “cause”) anthropogenic in nature.

  4. russellseitz says:

    My post title does not celebrate Watts’ pigheadedness:
    It was the celebrated hog-caller who referred to the “unrelenting pig-headedness ” of Nick Stokes.

  5. Russell,
    Indeed, you’re correct. I was trying to find a way to describe your post and was just being lazy.

    Edit: I’ve corrected my description of Russell’s post.

  6. To Antony’s credit, I ought to point out that he did post an article stating that it was wrong, rather than silently deleting it, but it would have been better if the reasons it was wrong were left on the blog as a debunking.

  7. russellseitz says:

    Thanks for pointing out Roger Sr’s 2016 Physics Today piece on land use and radiative forcing,

    It oddly fails to cite either my 2013 Earth’s Future essay on the subject, or what published earlier on it in, wait for it , Physics Today.

  8. Russell,
    Thanks. I think I had seen those before, but had forgotten.

  9. Eli Rabett says:

    Bunnies have to remember that Watts is Pielke Sr’s frankenstein. Watts surface station thing grew out of Roger Sr. with Sr. providing the model and Willard Tony the enthusiasm and the web site.

  10. russellseitz says:

    Radiative forcing ?

    What radiative forcing ?

  11. Eli Rabett says:

    Russell, have you forgotten that it’s Pielke’s all the way down?

  12. Marco says:

    I think the highlight of Watt’s intelligence was his series on the different temperature records and their anomalies, showing he just didn’t get the latter concept at all.

  13. russellseitz says:

    Is Eli consturing Pielke the Younger to be a Poe perpetrated by Pielke the Youngest?

    The world wants to know.

  14. Willard says:

    > maybe it’s simply that people aren’t taking things that [Senior] regards as important, seriously enough.

    I doubt it.

  15. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: You wrote:

    I suspect that one issue is that we don’t need to develop global agreements in order to deal with regional issues. Countries/regions are able to do so without developing global treaties and can do so without calling meetings that involve most of the countries in the world. So, I suspect that we simply don’t hear as much about things that happen on a local level as we do about things that are global. Dealing with emission reductions is almost certainly going to require some kind global approach, while dealing with regional factors does not.

    An excellent resource for information about a myriad of climate initiiatives being undertaken throughout the world is the Climate Action webpage of the UN Climate Change Newsroom website of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

  16. Eli Rabett says:

    FWIW land use change is Roger Sr.’ version of Curry’s natural variability. He’s been on about it for ages.

  17. izen says:

    A 10 year anniversary would seem like a good time to review the first post, and any highlights from that first year. I haven’t looked to see if they are available on the WUWT site. I was not an active poster at WUWT in the first year, but from what I remember of the early years I doubt such a retrospective look would reveal anything that could be claimed was a significant or positive contribution to science.

    WUWT has never been directed at the science or scientists.Its reporting of the climate issues was not intended to convince or influence scientists, but to cater to the rejectionist faction. The closest it came to science was the surface station project and the attempt to raise the issue of UHI and land changes as the source of a data bias. Perhaps that is the reason for the enthusiasm of Peilke snr. But it was cargo cult science. With no consistent criteria for measuring the quality of weather station siting, and no attempt at historical context regarding station moves, TOBs or how much the local area has changes, the ‘data’ collected by the surface station project became a collection of anecdotes and snapshots. With an obvious selection bias. It is good public outreach, engendering a sense of involvement in the ’cause’. But useless as science as the product in the form of no published papers indicates.

    WUWT has never addressed the science in a way that would be persuasive to the scientific community with an interest in the subject. It has always preached to its own believers. Does even Lief post there anymore ?

    There is another anniversary I see is being celebrated by the ‘skeptical’ crowd. It is 10 years since Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth. There is much crowing over all the apocalyptic predictions that have failed to materialise.
    Not that the WUWT crowd have any better record of accurate prediction. That imminent ice-age cooling so often invoked is conspicuous by its absence.

  18. Marco says:

    izen: It’s Pielke and Leif, not Peilke and Lief. And yes, Leif Svalgaard still comments at WUWT.

  19. Fergus Brown says:

    RP 1 has been doing noble works (practical and theoretical) on forestry protection for many years, evidence perhaps that even people you don’t necessarily like much can do good things for good reasons. AIUI part of his original breach with the IPCC was related to their reluctance to give sufficient weight to LULCC in their calculations.
    If you understand him to have a long-standing passion and commitment to the practical and ethical implications of deforestation, and some knowledge of Physics (don’t forget, he does have an AGU Medal), then his determination to fight a particular corner might make more sense.
    Not that I can honestly square this with his approval of certain others, or his apparent willingness to be considered amongst the ‘dark side’, but one might put that down to a certain maverick strain.
    Also note that his suggestion that OHC is an important metric has since been taken up more commonly elsewhere.
    What am I trying to say? Sometimes otherwise decent people can be dicks about something, and vice versa. Some people are more complex than that, RP1 probably is, AW probably isn’t.

  20. Fergus,
    Indeed, I’m well aware that Roger has done a lot of work that would probably be regarded as noble/good. As far as his knowledge of physics is concerned, we have once written a post together.

    Some people are more complex than that, RP1 probably is, AW probably isn’t.

    Indeed. I actually feel somewhat sorry for AW. All he will be remembered for is a blog that will probably go down as contributing more to scientific misinformation than any other site. Roger, however, will be remembered as someone who won an AGU medal and had what is, unquestionably, an impressive academic record. AW should maybe consider that he is being played.

  21. I should point out that having done good work (and winning awards etc.) does not entitle a scientist to evade direct questions about the statistical evidence for their own hypotheses, as Prof. Pielke Sr did, starting here. That ought to be surprising for a scientist of his stature, but it happened nevertheless.

  22. For context, Prof Pielke had earlier “explained” scientific method to us:

    “There has been a development over the last 10-15 years or so in the scientific peer reviewed literature that is short circuiting the scientific method.

    The scientific method involves developing a hypothesis and then seeking to refute it. If all attempts to discredit the hypothesis fails, we start to accept the proposed theory as being an accurate description of how the real world works.

    A useful summary of the scientific method is given on the website sciencebuddies.org where they list six steps

    1. Ask a Question
    2. Do Background Research
    3. Construct a Hypothesis
    4. Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment
    5. Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion
    6. Communicate Your Results”

    After doing so, you can’t get away with not being willing to talk about steps 4 and 5 after having already promulgated the conclusions.

  23. Willard says:

    > A 10 year anniversary would seem like a good time to review the first post, and any highlights from that first year.

    Good idea.

    Start here:

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2006/11/

    The Online Taxman Cometh
    November 30, 2006

    Corporate Weaselism
    November 29, 2006

    Watts Up with power hogs?
    November 28, 2006

    HiTech LoTech – Hurricane Strength Nails
    November 27, 2006

    Greenhouse gas stablizes on its own – scientists confused
    November 26, 2006

    Nuclear power in your basement
    November 23, 2006

    Turkey
    November 23, 2006

    Watts Up in Upper Park Weather?
    November 19, 2006

    Watts Up with PS3?
    November 18, 2006

    Welcome to: Watts Up With That?
    November 17, 2006

    Yes, Virginia, Willard Tony’s first post after his welcome message was to tell the world about his impressions on the Play Station 3. He was underwhelmed, of course. So we can say that so far Willard Tony’s is Play Station 3 to Play Station 4. And since it fits his most important work, here’s my gift:

  24. Willard says:

    It took Willard Tony one month more to find But Galileo than his renowned Anonymous Coward.

  25. Willard says:

    We have a winner:

    You know you’ve reached critical mass in an argument when you start having editorial cartoons drawn about you.

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2007/02/26/critical-mass/

    Both Muslims and the IPCC would agree.

  26. Willard,
    But the end of that post is even more significant:

    In any event, by the end of the year 2017, ten plus years from now, we’ll know for sure who’s right. I think it will start to be cooler due to the solar cycle starting to dampen.

  27. I say, 97% again? Obvious groupthink going on! ;o)

  28. Fergus,

    Haven’t we all

    A badge of honour 🙂 I was actually at UCLAN a couple of weeks ago.

  29. Fergus Brown says:

    Dikran, yes, 97% before anyone else noticed… possibly 😉
    ATTP: erm, the UCLAN thing… never graduated 😦 . Did graduate from Warwick and KCL in previous incarnations, though.

  30. 2. Do Background Research
    3. Construct a Hypothesis
    4. Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment
    5. Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion
    6. Communicate Your Results”

    This starts out OK, but as a nonscientist associated with a lot of scientific work, I’d say 4, 5, and 6 need fleshing out, and opine that this is part of the problem. For example, if you are lucky enough to be able to do a proper test with “an” experiment, the very least requirement is that others be able to duplicate your work and get a result that confirms or even enhances your work. The sample needs to be large enough and the possibility of bias has to be allowed for. That’s what the 97% have done, and then some. Then, analyzing the data, should the sample and variables be sufficiently broad to avoid bias, might lead to more than “a” conclusion. At this point, communication should still, despite the constraints of publication and competition, be provisional on its self-contained limitations and others’ ability to evaluate your work.

    Pielke Sr., if he is normal, is also constrained by nonscientific influences, such as family loyalty, influence from his son who has exceptional access to his modes of thought, resentment of insults, some of which are inappropriate, political preferences, and the whole gamut of being human.

    Perhaps I should self-censor here to avoid getting anyone else too far off topic, but since it is related to social non-logical reasons why people do stuff, I’ll give it a shot. I probably covered myself with mud earlier in my efforts to enter the swamp of religion, and then abandoned the field, even more annoying. The point I was trying to make was that in our polarized deaf-to-others-ideas-prone society, reaching out to people within the context that is their normal, such as religion and social groups, can sometimes be more persuasive than calling them idiots. Having spent some of my wayward earlier life overdoing the seeker bit, I came to know that the core teachings of Christianity include compassion, stewardship, nonviolence, and such, and believe it’s worth pointing that the current crop of haters have mauled their central text.

  31. This is an interesting comment by Roger on Judith’s most recent post.

    This is among your very best posts! Fits with my front row seat on how climate science has sunk into political advocacy and exclusion/ostracism/vilification for those (such as myself) who do not follow their party line.

    I was tempted to ask if his high regard for WUWT happened after being ostracised by the community, or before, but I doubt that would have achieved much, so didn’t.

  32. verytallguy says:

    AT,

    the one below is sadly rather typical of Judith’s

    The Gavins, Mikes, Kevins are the cancer. Who the surgeon might be is yet the question.

    Under a post titled “The real war on science”

    Written by a climate scientist.

  33. vtg,
    Indeed. Not even the slightest consideration of the possibility that what they have faced is partly of their own making; it’s all the fault of some other group of people who mostly disagree with them.

  34. “The sample needs to be large enough”

    indeed, that was essentially the point I was trying to discuss with Prof. Pielke.

    “climate science has sunk into political advocacy”

    what, like not being willing to admit that ones hypothesis does not enjoy statistically significant support from the observations? ;o)

  35. Joshua says:

    Their war on science is fake, our war on science is the “real” war on science.

    Oh, and don’t forget,…

    –snip–

    But two huge threats to science are peculiar to the Left—and they’re getting worse.

    The first threat is confirmation bias, the well-documented tendency of people to seek out and accept information that confirms their beliefs and prejudices.

    –snip–

    It just gets harder and harder to wrap my mind around just how far vast is the universe of irony. Every time when I think we’ve approached the farthest extent of that universe, we just blow right past it.

    Here we have a post written by a climate scientist in order to complain about the biasing effect of a politicization of climate science, in which she openly embraces an analysis that presents a completely politicized picture of science, without even a cursory attempt to present objectively collected and analyzed evidence in support. .

    Where is the scientific evidence in support of a claim that confirmation bias is “peculiar to the left?”

  36. Joshua says:

    Thanks for liberating my comment from comment prison. Just curious…any idea why that comment doesn’t appear on the “recent posts” list? Never seen that before.

  37. Joshua says:

    Heh. So now it shows up. Nevermind.

  38. I did release it. The same thing happened to me on CE, so maybe wordpress is doing some strange things.

    I agree with you about the irony of the whole argument being presented. What’s more, there are all these claims that people need to be challenged in order to properly test there hypotheses. What Judith (and Roger Sr) seem to be unwilling to acknowledge is that maybe their own experiences in the scientific community is exactly that. They seem certain that the problems they’ve encountered is because the community has become politicised and has a tendency to ostracise those who don’t toe the party line.

  39. JCH says:

    Professor Curry has become, in Feynman’s terminology, at best, a Uri Geller. The stadium wave is the spoon. Her “science” said it was going to bend down. Physics has bent it up.

  40. Joshua says:

    Since all of my comments at CE automatically go into moderation, what usually happens there is that my comment won’t show up in the “recent post” list because my comments don’t get liberated from prison until well after tens of other comments have been made (meaning they are no longer “recent”). But that wasn’t what happened here.

    Anyway…

    It was interesting that Judith wouldn’t post my comments pointing out that there was no evidence presented to support one of the main arguments of her post, that confirmation bias is “peculiar to the left.” Almost every commenter in the thread passes right by that claim with nary a hitch in their step (notable our friends, Paul and Jim), and yet I would bet that not a single one of them can point to any scientific evidence that supports such a claim.

    I couldn’t quite follow the first part of your 2:58 comment.

    As for this part:

    ==> They seem certain that the problems they’ve encountered is because the community has become politicised and has a tendency to ostracise those who don’t toe the party line. ==>

    I would imagine that there is some truth to that…

    …but on the other hand and adding even further to the irony, Judith promotes the work of people who decry a “victim culture” on the left but refuses to be accountable for any responsibility that she might have for why she’s been treated with disdain including embracing highly politicized articles that claim that confirmation bias is “peculiar to the left” without presenting any evidence to support that claim.

  41. I couldn’t quite follow the first part of your 2:58 comment.

    I was really just meaning that part of their message is that we should be willing to be challenged, but they themselves appear to object to the manner in which they have been challenged.

  42. Mal Adapted says:

    OP:

    I suspect that one issue is that we don’t need to develop global agreements in order to deal with regional issues. Countries/regions are able to do so without developing global treaties and can do so without calling meetings that involve most of the countries in the world. So, I suspect that we simply don’t hear as much about things that happen on a local level as we do about things that are global. Dealing with emission reductions is almost certainly going to require some kind global approach, while dealing with regional factors does not.

    The late Elinor Ostrom won the Nobel Prize in Economics for her work on cooperative regional and local solutions to problems of the Commons. In A Polycentric Approach for Coping with Climate Change, she acknowledged the global scope of the problem, but argued:

    Efforts to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions are a classic collective action problem that is best addressed at multiple scales and levels. Given the slowness and conflict involved in achieving a global solution to climate change, recognizing the potential for building a more effective way of reducing green house gas emissions at multiple levels is an important step forward. A polycentric approach has the main advantage of encouraging experimental efforts at multiple levels, leading to the development of methods for assessing the benefits and costs of particular strategies adopted in one type of ecosystem and compared to results obtained in other ecosystems.

    The take-home message is “think globally, act locally”.

  43. russellseitz says:

    Joshua complains of Judy:

    Here we have a post written by a climate scientist in order to complain about the biasing effect of a politicization of climate science, in which she openly embraces an analysis that presents a completely politicized picture of science, without even a cursory attempt to present objectively collected and analyzed evidence in support. .

    Where is the scientific evidence in support of a claim that confirmation bias is “peculiar to the left?”

    Try this for a start:

    https://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2016/11/be-careful-what-you-wish-for.html

  44. izen says:

    @-Joshua
    “Where is the scientific evidence in support of a claim that confirmation bias is “peculiar to the left?”

    Difficult to find.
    Much easier is actual, real distortions of science research because of a type of comfirmation bias. Many surveys find the most common cause of that bias is not a peculiarity of the left, but the result of commercial interests and pressures.

    These are not hypothetical cases of group-think to preserve funding, but the surpression of negative results, the careful selection of research topic and scope alng with the over-hyping of any positive outcomes.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2867979/
    “Many cases involved the withholding of study data by manufacturers and regulatory agencies or the active attempt by manufacturers to suppress publication. The ascertained effects of reporting bias included the overestimation of efficacy and the underestimation of safety risks of interventions.”

    Or the classic case where business has manipulated the science for over 50 years to minimise the long term dangers of deriving energy from breaking the carbon – hydrogen bond.

    http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2012/10/sugar-industry-lies-campaign

  45. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: If you were you to post an OP about Judith Curry would the comment thread soon arc to a discussion of AW? 🙂

  46. lorcanbonda says:

    Without getting into a lot of this, I think you misunderstand Pielke’s perspective on Land Use and Land Cover changes.

    ATTP writes,

    “It argues that land use changes can play a significant role in climate change and that, by focussing on global emissions, we’re not paying enough attention to this issue. I don’t know enough about the specifics to really say much about whether what is suggested is reasonable, or not. However, it mostly seems okay; I can well believe that there are anthropogenic factors – other than our emissions – that are influencing climate change.

    “What’s confusing, though, is that I thought a lot of this was being considered. The IPCC radiative forcing estimates certainly include albedo changes due to land use. Many of the negative emission ideas relate to changes in land use. I’m aware of people who consider the role of forests and de-forestation.”

    Pielke is not referring to temperatures, he is referring to some of the other questions in climate. For instance, there has been a lot of work over the past few years which suggests that most precipitation variations are due to LULLC rather than temperature. Indirectly, the changes in precipitation and cloud cover have an effect on radiative forcing, but that is not the primary point he is raising.

    Here is an example of such a paper:

    http://www.hydrol-earth-syst-sci.net/20/1765/2016/hess-20-1765-2016.pdf

    “…it is demonstrated that part of the changes in moderate rainfall events and temperature have been caused by land-use/land-cover change (LULCC), which is mostly anthropogenic. Model simulations show that the increase in seasonal mean and extreme temperature over central India coincides with the region of decrease in forest and increase in crop cover. Our results also show that LULCC alone causes warming in the extremes of daily mean and maximum temperatures by a maximum of 1–1.2 C, which is comparable with the observed increasing trend in the extremes. Decrease in forest cover and simultaneous increase in crops not only reduces the evapotranspiration over land and large-scale convective instability, but also contributes toward decrease in moisture convergence through reduced surface roughness.”

    Other sources have suggested that the increase in irrigation has added a substantial amount of water to the atmosphere through evaporation.

  47. Joshua says:

    Izen –

    Indeed. It’s a work of beauty to see these evidence-free assertions of an association between “liberals” and bias that are completely blind to the confirmation bias contained therein.

    I suspect it never even occurs to them that their beliefs about the “other” may, just possibly, be influenced by their own biases. That kind of obstinance and self-dealing is a sight to behold. To top it off, they genuflect to Feynman’s “the easiest person to fool….” as they do so.

  48. izen says:

    @-Locanbonda
    “Other sources have suggested that the increase in irrigation has added a substantial amount of water to the atmosphere through evaporation.”

    Citation?
    It is a patently ridiculous suggestion when 70% of the surface is oceans.
    I suspect there has been rather more water surface exposed for evaporation, by Arctic ice melt than human irrigation.

  49. BBD says:

    Other sources have suggested that the increase in irrigation has added a substantial amount of water to the atmosphere through evaporation.

    Wasn’t that source John Christy? And didn’t this get laughed out of court? Or am I rewriting history here?

  50. lorcanbonda says:

    My source for that is Roger Pielke’s article. That’s what we’re talking about, right?

    http://scitation.aip.org/content/aip/magazine/physicstoday/article/69/11/10.1063/PT.3.3364#f6 — he is talking about local precipitation effects within continents.

    If it has been “laughed out of court”, I would like to read that citation.

  51. BBD says:

    If it has been “laughed out of court”, I would like to read that citation.

    Why don’t you remind us what the WV forcing from agriculture is estimated to be in W/m^2?

  52. BBD says:

    My source for that is Roger Pielke’s article. That’s what we’re talking about, right?

    No, you said “other sources”. I think it was John Christy but if you disagree, then which “other source(s)” are you referring to?

  53. My understanding is that you can indeed have micro-climates that are influenced by urbanisation, or by forest cover, but I have yet to see any strong evidence that changes in these regions can have any substabtial impact on a global scale. That’s not an argument against taking some of thee changes seriously, but I still suspect that these can be mostly dealt with at a regional level. Also, we do still need to consider the overall global impacts which can only really be dealt with by considering global emission reductions.

  54. izen says:

    @-lorcanbonda
    “My source for that is Roger Pielke’s article. That’s what we’re talking about, right?”

    He has no data showing increase in irrigation has added a substantial amount of water to the atmosphere through evaporation. He claims that irrigation can dramatically alter a region’s water balance, and references a forum paper on river flood resilience (?)

    I always find it interesting when half the references at the end of a paper reference the author’s own work, and others, work which with perfect circularity cites the authors as ITS source. (ref10)

    Boucher and others have papers on the LOCAL effect of irrigation. Which is to slightly cool the irrigated region.
    At least until you run out of fresh water to irrigate with.

    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/WorldOfChange/aral_sea.php

  55. lorcanbonda says:

    My understanding is that you can indeed have micro-climates that are influenced by urbanisation, or by forest cover, but I have yet to see any strong evidence that changes in these regions can have any substantial impact on a global scale.

    I don’t believe Pielke or anybody discusses precipitation on a global scale. It is always about local effects (drought or flooding) which are different from the expected levels. These local effects are summarized into broad statements (we may have more drought or more flooding), but the effects are still specific to locations.

    A two-dimensional global average of surface temperature trends is therefore an imperfect metric to diagnose global warming. It’s also inadequate to characterize the many facets of climate change. … Arguably, the aspects of climate that most affect us and our environment at local and regional scales are those that influence weather patterns—droughts, floods, tropical cyclones, heat waves, and so forth. … Regional weather patterns are, in part, a function of land cover. — Pielke, Sr. et al

    He has no data showing increase in irrigation has added a substantial amount of water to the atmosphere through evaporation. He claims that irrigation can dramatically alter a region’s water balance, and references a forum paper on river flood resilience.

    The paper he references is from Faisal Hossain, et al., https://pielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/r-380.pdf, Faisal Hossain, in turn, references several of Pielke’s papers.

    Yes, he is talking about basin moisture balance and the relationship with precipitation.

    The irrigation of semiarid land can dramatically alter a region’s water balance. Due to the combined effects of evaporation and transpiration, collectively termed evapotranspiration, increases in ground moisture tend to raise humidity in the overlying atmosphere. Such increases in humidity can mean the difference between a mild shower and a torrential downpour. — Pielke, Sr., et al

    This is consistent with the source on India that I referenced — http://www.hydrol-earth-syst-sci.net/20/1765/2016/hess-20-1765-2016.pdf

    Decrease in forest cover and simultaneous increase in crops not only reduces the Evapotranspiration over land and large-scale convective instability, but also contributes toward decrease in moisture convergence through reduced surface roughness. These factors act together in reducing significantly the moderate rainfall events and the amount of rainfall in that category over central India. — Halder, et al

    Halder also concludes that there will be an indirect effect on temperature, but he does not link it directly to radiative forcing calculations. His paper is more concerned with the reduction in forest and the increase in cropland. I don’t believe he discusses irrigation.

    All that being said, I don’t believe the statement is consistent with Pielke’s perspective —

    “Boucher and others have papers on the LOCAL effect of irrigation. Which is to slightly cool the irrigated region.”

    Pielke is mostly referring to the additive effects of changes in land use. Irrigation is one of those changes. It is consistent with cooling the local temperature, but he is not discussing temperature.

    “Deforestation, dryland farming, irrigated agriculture, overgrazing, and other alterations to the natural landscape can disrupt Earth’s natural balances and change weather patterns.”

    My answer for focusing on this question is basic — if we focus solely on CO2, then growing fuels is a good idea. Based on Pielke’s papers, biofuels is likely the worst response to climate change.

  56. Willard says:

    > I always find it interesting when half the references at the end of a paper reference the author’s own work

    This is commonly known as Pielkes all the way down.

    Is there any Senior contribution that does not follow this law?

  57. Willard says:

    > I don’t believe Pielke or anybody discusses precipitation on a global scale.

    The trick is to omit any mention of scale, like here:

    The human climate forcings that have been ignored, or are insufficiently presented in the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] and CCSP [US Climate Change Science Program] reports include

    • The influence of human-caused aerosols on regional (and global) radiative heating
    The effect of aerosols on clouds and precipitation
    • The influence of aerosol deposition (e.g. soot; nitrogen) on climate
    • The effect of land cover/ land use on climate
    • The biogeochemical effect of added atmospheric CO2

    Notice how it doesn’t mention that precipitation should be studied because of its impact on climate, which is a global thing.

    Notice how scale and relevance is mentioned for the other things.

    Also notice that it’s an oral testimony.

    It’s not science, but it’s important.

  58. izen says:

    @-lorcanbonda
    “- if we focus solely on CO2, then growing fuels is a good idea.”

    Why?
    At best it is carbon neutral, it removes no carbon from the cycle and probably reduces soil sequestration.

    It competes with food production.

    If it replaces rain forest it probably does have a global climate impact.
    http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v5/n1/full/nclimate2430.html

    There is not enough productive agricultural land available to enable biofuels to be produced on a scale to ever be much more than a minor peripheral greenwash.

    @-
    • The effect of land cover/ land use on climate

    The problem with raising this as an ‘issue’ is that the primary causative pathway is the reverse. Climate determines land use.

  59. lorcanbonda says:

    @-lorcanbonda
    “- if we focus solely on CO2, then growing fuels is a good idea.”

    Why?
    At best it is carbon neutral, it removes no carbon from the cycle and probably reduces soil sequestration.

    It’s a hypothetical statement. Many people suggest biofuels as a solution to climate change. I’ve seen estimates by as much as 50% of fuel replacement should be biofuels. The reason why some people make this claim is because of the carbon cycle. I disagree with the claim, so don’t expect me to defend it.

    If it replaces rain forest it probably does have a global climate impact.
    http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v5/n1/full/nclimate2430.html

    And, of course, this is already happening. We use corn to make ethanol for fuel. We use so much corn to make fuel that we have to import corn for food. Much of these imports come from Brazil. Ironically, Brazil doesn’t even use corn to make ethanol — they use sugar.

    The problem with raising this as an ‘issue’ is that the primary causative pathway is the reverse. Climate determines land use.

    That’s partly true. We also grow food to meet population needs.

    There are a number of reasons to raise it as an issue. Two of the most important — 1) Sustainable farming techniques are pretty well understood, but they can be developed further. Nobody is criticizing India for trying to feed their people, but Syria has shown us the worst type of destructive farming. In addition, we can plan and respond to precipitation changes such as has been seen in India; and 2) biofuels are not a good solution to climate change. Nobody is talking about the elimination of corn-based ethanol, but maybe we should be.

  60. Willard says:

    In his review of a paper entitled Variations in annual global precipitation (1979–2004), based on the Global Precipitation Climatology Project 2.5° analysis, Senior concludes:

    The study also raises questions on the extent to which water vapor content has increased globally, if the global averaged precipitation has not changed significantly. A positive atmospheric water vapor feedback, in response to an increase in the radiative warming of the well-mixed greenhouse gases, is at the foundation of the IPCC perspective on global warming.

    https://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2006/04/03/new-global-precip-papers-trend-is-zero-or-positive/

    I don’t think we can say that Senior never raised concerns about precipitation on a global scale.

  61. Fergus Brown says:

    Lorcanbonda: ‘Nobody is talking about the elimination of corn-based ethanol, but maybe we should be.’
    I thought biofuel was a dumb idea several years ago and said so, I still think the same. Also, converting rainforest to palm oil plantations stinks in a hundred ways.
    It is too easy to overlook a quite important point which RP is pushing, just because he is RP: Deforestation is very bad news for all of us, especially rainforest and especially because of CC. In this respect, governments are more the problem than the solution, since cash crops generate divertable wealth whereas static forests do not. What’s the point in addressing the problems of CC if we meantime wreck the biosphere, and why fight for the biosphere if we persist in FF use? These aren’t separate problems, they are part of the same problem.

  62. These aren’t separate problems, they are part of the same problem.

    I agree, and I’ve felt that this is largely recognised. Of course, it doesn’t mean that governments are doing the right thing, but I don’t think an argument for global emission reductions is somehow an argument against doing something about deforestation. I think RP’s argument would be stronger if it wasn’t presented as if it is somehow either or.

  63. Andrew Dodds says:

    Interestingly, if you do the numbers* (within an order of magnitude or so), you can see that you could replace coal by simply afforesting ALL the suitable land in the world and managing it for firewood.

    Food might be an issue.

  64. Fergus Brown says:

    I’m tempted to continue finessing, but it isn’t really needed here. Arguably, RP might have had a valid point when the AR2 was produced, but IMO much (if not all) of his discontent is better addressed in the AR5 , and he could consider the possibility that yes, people did notice what he said and did something about it (in terms of the reporting and emphasis).
    There’s a temptation to see a touch of the Lomborgian in some of this, too, but I for one am convinced that BL got it wrong. What drives RP these days is much harder to fathom. Ironically, I suspect that if he got some kind of position in the new administration he could actually become a voice for reason, if he chose to.

  65. IMO much (if not all) of his discontent is better addressed in the AR5 , and he could consider the possibility that yes, people did notice what he said and did something about it

    Yes, this was my impression too.

    if he got some kind of position in the new administration he could actually become a voice for reason, if he chose to.

    I suspect it’s gone beyond that, but would be happy to be proven wrong.

  66. lorcanbonda says:

    I think what drives RP is the same thing that has always driven him — weather. This has always been his area of study. The evidence suggests that the anthropogenic causes of weather variations (independent of natural cycles) is land use & land cover changes.

    There are other reasons to discuss climate change, but weather is RP’s focus.

    Even many of these answers to this post rely on ‘temperature’ rather than ‘climate’. It’s not hard to find answers which say “Of course land-use has an effect on temperature, but it is small relative to emissions” or similar sentiments.

    RP isn’t talking about temperature, he’s talking about precipitation. We don’t have a world-wide index for precipitation, which makes it difficult to discuss on a global scale.

  67. lorcanbonda,
    What you say may be true, but none of it really jusitifies RP running around complaining about people supposedly not taking seriously enough what he thinks is important and doesn’t really excuse his claim that AW has made significant and positive contributions to climate science.

  68. Willard says:

    > We don’t have a world-wide index for precipitation […]

    In a previous comment I was quoting Senior reviewing a study on the Global Precipitation Climatology Project.

    Here is a description of the project:

    The 1DD product provides precipitation estimates on a 1-degree grid over the entire globe at 1-day (daily) for the period October 1996 – present.

    https://climatedataguide.ucar.edu/climate-data/gpcp-daily-global-precipitation-climatology-project

    It might be time to pay due diligence to the empty counterfactual that starts with if we focus solely on CO2.

  69. Willard says:

    > We use so much corn to make fuel that we have to import corn for food.

    I thought the United States was an exporter:

    In the 2014/2015 crop marketing year, (Sept. 1- Aug. 31) the United States grew nearly 14.2 billion bushels (360 million metric tons) of corn and roughly 13 percent of production was exported to more than 100 different countries.

    http://www.grains.org/buyingselling/corn

  70. From The Wall Street Journal, April 12, 2016

    Even as record harvests have left the U.S. awash in corn, imports of the crucial animal feed are surging. It is happening because moves in currencies, ocean shipping fees and railroad rates have combined to produce an unexpected result: Bringing in corn from places like Brazil and Argentina can be cheaper for poultry and livestock producers in the U.S. Southeast than buying it from the Midwest.

    Food for cows and chickens.

  71. Willard says:

    Food for humans too:

    [T]he world’s largest producer of corn has been forced to import organic, non-GMO corn from other countries—an agricultural irony that not only touches upon our growing mistrust of modified crops, but our reliance on animal protein.

    https://munchies.vice.com/en/articles/the-us-is-the-worlds-largest-producer-of-corn-so-why-are-we-importing-more

  72. BBD says:

    We don’t have a world-wide index for precipitation, which makes it difficult to discuss on a global scale.

    Donat et al. (2013) Updated analyses of temperature and precipitation extreme indices since the beginning of the twentieth century: The HadEX2 dataset:

    Precipitation indices also showed widespread and significant trends, but the changes
    were much more spatially heterogeneous compared with temperature changes. However,
    results indicated more areas with significant increasing trends in extreme precipitation
    amounts, intensity, and frequency than areas with decreasing trends.

  73. Hyperactive Hydrologist says:

    I have just been reading a paper on observed heavy precipitation and how data is starting to become available that allows us to confirm theory and model predictions. Headlines are that heavy precipitation frequency is increasing and can now be observed in many regions of the world. This is consistent with model results however, the models have a tenancy to under-predict heavy precipitation particularly the lower resolution GCMs. The paper is very interesting and I would definitely recommend it.

    “Environmental phenomena are often observed first, and then explained quantitatively. The complexity of processes, the range of scales involved, and the lack of first principles make it challenging to predict conditions beyond the ones observed. Here we use the intensification of heavy precipitation as a counterexample, where seemingly complex and potentially computationally intractable processes manifest themselves to first order in simple ways: heavy precipitation intensification is now emerging in the observed record across many regions of the world, confirming both theory and model predictions made decades ago. As the anthropogenic climate signal strengthens, there will be more opportunities to test climate predictions for other variables against observations and across a hierarchy of different models and theoretical concepts.”

    http://iacweb.ethz.ch/staff/fischer/download/etc/fischer_knutti_16.pdf

  74. >> We use so much corn to make fuel that we have to import corn for food.

    Food for cows and chickens. Non-GMO for finiicky consumers.

    So, while it turns out the US does import corn and other grains, it does not *have* to — it chooses to for reasons other than scarcity. The US remains a net exporter and imports have little or nothing to do with corn as a biofuel.

  75. JCH says:

    To feed corn on the cob to Americans requires a shockingly low number of acres. There is a separate system for raising corn for direct human consumption.

  76. lorcanbonda says:

    The impact of corn isn’t rocket science. Corn imports, exports, and production is a worldwide shell game — 40% of US corn goes to ethanol, 36% goes to animal feed, Most of the rest is exported aside from a small percentage which goes to manufacture corn syrup. And, we import corn for animal feed and personal consumption.

    We live in an interconnected world where food production flows between nations. In some cases, we convert soybean fields to corn in order to gain more government subsidies for ethanol. The resulting higher prices in soybeans leads to more soybean production in Brazil — so you don’t need to look for direct imports or exports to make the case that corn-based ethanol is depleting the rainforest.

    The two major corn producers in the world are US and China. Japan, EU, and Mexico are the largest importers. The US diverts 147,000 MT of corn to make ethanol. The total corn imports of all of the nations in the entire world is 108,000 MT. In other words, any new farmland which has been converted to corn in the world is converted to make ethanol for the United States. You just don’t see it in a simple glance at export figures.

  77. Willard says:

    > You just don’t see it in a simple glance at export figures.

    Yet the export figures suffice to disprove that the US of A uses so much corn to make fuel that it has to import corn for food. The citations provided above also shows that they import corn because (a) it’s cheaper and (b) it doesn’t produce enough organic corn.

    What tends to be forgotten is that an important part goes to High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS):

    In 1997, corn used to produce HFCS broke through the 500-million bushel level and reached as high as 552 million bushels in 1999. Similar to production trends, however, since 2010 HFCS has accounted for between 475 and 520 million bushels. Sweeteners had accounted for as much as 10 percent os U.S. corn production in the past. Declining production and increasing corn production due in part to increasing ethanol production has resulted in the sweeteners accounting for about 6 percent of the U.S. corn crop.

    Also note that if what we want is to feed people, we might as well bypass feed stock altogether:

    MONTREAL — From one ecologist’s perspective, the American system of farming grain-fed livestock consumes resources far out of proportion to the yield, accelerates soil erosion, affects world food supply and will be changing in the future.

    “If all the grain currently fed to livestock in the United States were consumed directly by people, the number of people who could be fed would be nearly 800 million,” David Pimentel, professor of ecology in Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, reported at the July 24-26 meeting of the Canadian Society of Animal Science in Montreal. Or, if those grains were exported, it would boost the U.S. trade balance by $80 billion a year, Pimentel estimated.

    Since it’s easier to blame ethanol than the meat industry, we see ethanol bashing.

    To borrow a counterfactual earlier used in the thread, if we focus solely on ethanol, chances are we’ll get played the Lomborgian way.

    ***

    Also note that soybean, just like every grain produced on American soil, is also subsidized.

  78. Willard says:

    Seems that ethanol and animal feed go hand in hand:

    Ethanol plants make more than fuel. They generate highly nutritious animal feed. 1/3 of every bushel processed by a plant is used to make animal feed. Ethanol uses only the starch in the grain. Protein, fat and fiber components are made into animal feed, such as distillers grains. In 2015, the industry produced an estimated 40 million metric tons of feed. That’s the equivalent of producing nearly 50 billion quarter-pound hamburger patties – or seven patties for every person on the planet!

    http://ethanolrfa.org/consumers/why-is-ethanol-important/

    Three cheers for seven patties!

    ***

    > These aren’t separate problems, they are part of the same problem.

    Specifying that problem would be nice.

    It’s worth money.

  79. Fergus Brown says:

    “…Specifying that problem would be nice…”
    Broadly, the Tragedy of the Commons and the Negative Commons, alongside the apparent demise of the Imperative of Responsibility (cf. Hans Jonas).
    I haven’t worked out yet how to cash in on this; any suggestions?

  80. JCH says:

    Gasoline engines need an oxygenate. Environmental concerns (oddly manufactured by right-wing talk radio) knocked off MTBE, so now it’s ethanol. A percentage (less than 10%) of every gallon of gasoline has to contain ethanol.

  81. Willard says:

    > Broadly, the Tragedy of the Commons and the Negative Commons, alongside the apparent demise of the Imperative of Responsibility (cf. Hans Jonas).

    I don’t think this qualifies as a specification.

    Even specifying the first item is not trivial:

    Articulating solutions to the tragedy of the commons is one of the main problems of political philosophy.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy_of_the_commons#Solutions

    Such specification can grant you a chair at Harvard or better. Being able to offer a general solution may get you a Nobel prize, and probly a Millenium Prize too. Many corporations that depend upon modeling resource allocation may offer you a seven figure salary if you come up with an algorithmic way to tackle that kind of thing.

  82. russellseitz says:

    ATTP: “My understanding is that you can indeed have micro-climates that are influenced by urbanisation, or by forest cover, but I have yet to see any strong evidence that changes in these regions can have any substabtial impact on a global scale.”

    While cities & towns cover ~ 1% of the US , a somewhat larger areas are respetively covered by asphalt and water reservoirs, both of minimal albedo, whose dark surfaces represent areal radiatve forcings an order of magnitude ( or more ) larger than greenhouse gases.

    While these and othee land use changes total only a fraction of atmospheric climate forcing , their human impact may ecxdceed it, as overhalf the population is urban, and subject to local and regional albedo-based warming several times larger than presently arises from global atmospheric forcing.

    I think this makes the utilitarian case for local and regional albedo mitigation, because high population density mean low per capita public expenditure in brightening surfaces to reduce solar heat uptake.

  83. Fergus Brown says:

    @Willard; In that case, I might put some mental effort into it :). Thanks for the feedback.

  84. Eli Rabett says:

    Yep, that’s why roofs in urban areas are now white or aluminized. Been there, done that

    https://www.google.com/maps/@38.9059875,-77.0223215,806m/data=!3m1!1e3

  85. DS says:

    Who cares if he is a “not nice” person. It is totally irrelevant. This is science.

  86. DS,
    Actually this is a blog, as is his (and describing his as “science” would be a bit silly).

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