Nine years

WordPress has reminded me that I started this blog 9 years ago today. I feel that I should commemorate that in some way, but I’m not sure how, or really what to say.

As you can tell, the blog has been somewhat quiet, even though I do write posts everyone now and again, mostly when I feel that I have something to say. I don’t suspect this is going to change anytime soon.

I had a quick look at the blog stats, and there have been 1261 posts, of which I’ve written 1191. That seems a reasonable legacy, even if not everyone agrees 🙂

Anyway, it’s been an interesting 9 years, during which I’ve learned a lot, even if I have ended up slightly more confused about some things than I was when I started. Hope it’s also been of interest to some others.

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28 Responses to Nine years

  1. Willard says:

    Could be the perfect last post. But then… you would not reach 10 years!

  2. Jon Kirwan says:

    Broadening out this retrospective, I’m reminded of a quote from Ambassador Kosh, a character from the Babylon 5 series:

    The avalanche has already started, it is too late for the pebbles to vote.

    Getting back to this blog, I very much appreciate being exposed to some of the minds here. They have provided me, more quickly than much else I’ve experienced, quicker up-ramps in understanding of the larger issues, questions, and some useful thoughts to acquire. So thanks for all the work here!

  3. Magma says:

    Congratulations on the milestone and that (surprisingly) large number of posts, which included a significant proportion that I found both interesting and educational, not to mention the lively discussions under them.

    As for things quieting down, my impression is that climate change denial is dwindling down to a bitter rump of dead-enders, deeply ignorant contrarians, and fossil fuel disinformation campaigners. As I may have written once, getting into disputes about science with them is like shooting deeply stupid fish in a very small barrel.

    But it’s still nice to have forums to informally discuss new developments in climate or other sciences.

  4. RickA says:

    I enjoy your site. Mostly a lurker, but I have commented from time to time. I think you should keep it going, even if you only post occasionally.

  5. Windchaser says:

    What have you ended up *more* confused about?

    PS – Kudos to 9 years. Thanks for all the great discussion! It’s been educational.

  6. Windchaser,
    Mostly things like how best to communicate these complex issues, how we should try to solve these kind of problems, etc. I’m much less confused about the science, but more confused about the implications 🙂

  7. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    Thanks for your efforts. Anyone who has read, has learned. Except those wgo have no intent to learn.

    My guess is that if you searched blogs by prevalence of “that’s a good point” (or something akin to that), this one would rank quite highly.

    Think about the implications of that if I’m right.

  8. Bob Loblaw says:

    Nine more years. Nine more years. Nine more years.

    Activity just to fill space is not a feature. Activity that is worth reading is…

  9. wmconnolley says:

    I was going to complain that you’ve done this already but that turns out to be which was a year ago… doesn’t time fly!

  10. To be fair, I did also comment on things being rather quiet in that post too 🙂

  11. David B Benson says:

    Very helpful.

    Please keep it going.

  12. Dave_Geologist says:

    Congratulations ATTP. I wasn’t with you for the full term, but I was a lurker for several years before registering.

    A timely reminder from my news feed that we’re in a better place than we might have been, but not as good a place as we could have been. Note that although Paris is in the title, it’s not out-of-date. The new bit is that they’ve modelled the COP 2021 commitments, which at least in words put flesh on the bones of the Paris pledges. It roughly fits with what has been my perception for a while: that 1.5°C long since sailed, and a 50/50 chance of 2°C is the best we can hope for. It’s good to see that at least that’s still doable.

    Net-zero commitments could limit warming to below 2°C (if both near- and long-term 2021 firm and conditional commitments are fully implemented – in practice I think some negative emissions stuff is pie-in-the-sky and need to be substituted).

    Realization of Paris Agreement pledges may limit warming just below 2 °C (5%–95% range 1.4–2.8 °C).

    Non-paywalled read-only version.

  13. Chubbs says:

    Congratulations. As Dave_G says some good, some bad in the past 9 years. Easier to see the effects of climate change, but also easier to see a non-fossil world.

  14. mrkenfabian says:

    Thanks for the efforts, always worth a read. This is a site I visit regularly, for the posts and for the commentary, which includes people who are well informed and informative.

  15. anoilman says:

    That was 9 years well spent in my opinion;

  16. Mal Adapted says:

    Most of you know that RC is considering doing away with comments because the signal-to-noise ratio has fallen in the last couple of years. That leaves ATTP as a bastion of intelligent comments on intelligent posts. Here’s to nine more years!

  17. Mal,
    Interesting, I hadn’t seen that. I can see that blogs have changed so that comments may no longer be worth what they once were. The strong moderation that I had help with many years ago may have helped to keep the signal here greater than the noise, but I do find it more difficult to engage in comment discussions than I used to (mostly because I’m just busier).

    I think I would find it difficult to not have comments. I’m not a fan of just broadcasting for the benefit of others. I like that people can comment, both to correct/criticise what I’ve written, but also to expand on the general topic. I partly see blog posts as a way to spur some discussion, rather than as my fully fledged views that I regard as worth making public.

    On a related topic, I realise that people can use social media however they like, but I sometimes find myself irritated by those who have a reasonable, but modest, number of followers, but follow very few people themselves. It makes it seem that they regard themselves as having important things to say, but can’t bothered to listen to what others have to say. This may, of course, be unfair and there are going to be situations in which it’s entirely reasonable.

  18. TYSON MCGUFFIN says:

    Back in 2014 you wrote about The Holocene conundrum. It now seems that the mystery may have been solved ( I’d be interested to hear (read) your thoughts.

  19. Dave_Geologist says:

    I’ll respond Tyson, but cheekily not by re-reading it because I read it when I downloaded it at the time of publication 😉 . There is a Discussion and Reply which covers some of the potential issues. It’s a good reply, while acknowledging that there are still some uncertainties. Much of the discussion was about sea ice feedbacks, and concern that it may not have been captured by their sped-up model (but even before I read the reply I was thinking “but isn’t sea-ice a fast feedback?”). The others were speculative and a bit Uncertainty-Monsterish. They also clarify the sort of missing feedback that matters: one that’s out of phase with insolation. I’d have been thinking something to do with clouds, because sea-ice is in phase (more insolation = more warming = less sea-ice = lower albedo = more warming). I’ve linked to all three plus a New and Views review (read-only non-paywalled links where available, for those who don’t have Nature access).

    There’s additional evidence of proxy seasonality in that two proxies nominally measuring the same thing diverge during the “HCO”, so either one must be wrong or they’re not measuring the same thing. Seasonality in maximum growth rate is an obvious candidate for them to be measuring different seasons. That affects others BTW, for example leaf stomata as a CO2 proxy only applies to season(s) when the leaves were growing. And fire scarring of tree rings only records the fires that the tree survived. I had a tree in my garden where the tree pruners told me it had been diseased or stressed almost to death but recovered, but was missing a year’s cambium. Had I not had it cut down and removed, it would presumably have been missing a ring.

    Seasonal origin of the thermal maxima at the Holocene and the last interglacial

    Palaeoclimate puzzle explained by seasonal variation

    Non-trivial role of internal climate feedback on interglacial temperature evolution

    Reply to: Non-trivial role of internal climate feedback on interglacial temperature evolution

  20. Dave_Geologist says:

    The Bova et al. paper has 62 citations already, some of which refer to other seasonal proxies.

    This one (paywalled) covers the conflicting proxies and finds that they mostly don’t conflict,

    However, significant disparities between SST estimates derived from the two proxies exist for some time periods, particularly during glacial and interglacial extrema. [IOW don’t trust them during the HCO.] This comparison suggests that treating estimates from these proxies as equivalent in studies that focus on short time windows (e.g. a few thousand to tens-of-thousands of years), particularly in investigations that seek to characterize glacial or interglacial extrema, could be potentially problematic. [Two strikes against the HCO…]

    … We attribute the discrepancies between the two SST records to two main causes: seasonal leakages of cold water across the Subtropical Front during glacial extrema and differential seasonality of maximum alkenone and foraminiferal production.

    The first point was mentioned in the Discussion, but Bova et al. restricted their study to places where contamination by intruding cold water was not expected. The second point supports Bova et al..

    I see this sort of “anomaly” as the climate version of the Creationist God Of The Gaps. Unfortunately for Gappists, Science Moves On, and Gaps Get Closed.

    As gaps get closed, bugs become features. For example we want to know about past seasonality (and, per the above, repositioning of water masses in past climates), and if you’re a palaeoecologist interested in lake communities driven by summer temperatures, summer temperature records are hunky-dory.

    There was already understanding of the issue before Bova et al., which indicates that theirs was not an ad-hoc solution but an attempt to fix a known seasonality issue. Assessing divergent SST behavior during the last 21 ka derived from alkenones and G. ruber-Mg/Ca in the equatorial Pacific.

    Equatorial Pacific SST reconstructions derived from Mg/Ca ratios in planktonic foraminifera Globigerinoides ruber and from alkenone-producing coccolithophorids record different trends throughout the Holocene and the last deglaciation. We set forth the hypothesis that their diverging behavior may be related to different seasonal sensitivities which result from the annually varying production rates of alkenone-producing coccolithophorids and of G. ruber. Using a series of transient paleoclimate model simulations forced with the time-varying forcing history over the last 21 ka, a good qualitative agreement is found between simulated boreal winter temperatures and alkenone-SST reconstructions as well as between simulated boreal summer temperatures and reconstructed Mg/Ca-based SST variations.

  21. Dave_Geologist says:

    I followed up on some of those recent references and found one which gives a different interpretation, with a modelled explanation for a genuine HCO (although not one that gives succour to AGW deniers because it’s one that we know for sure has been going in the opposite direction during recent warming). They posit that models don’t give enough weight to post-glacial expansion of Northern Hemisphere vegetation. That drives warming by a combination of reduced albedo, and less dust so less aerosols. We know which way forest cover has been going these last few decades and indeed millennia… and lots of grassland has been replaced by high-albedo cereal crops which drive dusty conditions rather than anchoring dust in the soil.

    Northern Hemisphere vegetation change drives a Holocene thermal maximum (open access).

    I fancy a holistic interpretation would combine that with Ruddiman’s Early Anthropocene hypothesis in a way that would give some people we know apoplexy 😉 . Gotta get rid of all that post-glacial vegetation, don’t we? It’s not only uz wot dunnit, it was our Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age ancestors.

  22. Dave,
    Thanks for the responses.

    I haven’t had a good look at the paper, but – IIRC – it was fairly well received.

  23. TYSON MCGUFFIN says:

    My layman’s interpretation is:

    The question was (from 2014’s The Holocene Temperature Conundrum): Since “Marine and terrestrial proxy records suggest global cooling during the Late Holocene, following the peak warming of the Holocene Thermal Maximum (∼10 to 6 ka) until the rapid warming induced by increasing anthropogenic greenhouses gases.” How can global annual mean temperatures decrease against the global warming forcing of rising CO2 levels and the retreating ice sheet?

    Answer in the recent paper: by filtering out the seasonal signal in the proxy data you are left with the annual mean signal (Figures 2 and 3). The authors believe this is the true annual mean. It shows warming in the Holocene which is consistent with model results.


  24. izen says:

    “How can global annual mean temperatures decrease against the global warming forcing of rising CO2 levels and the retreating ice sheet?”

    The Greenland ice sheet retreated during the Holocene Thermal Maximum (∼10 to 6 ka), but has since gained ice until recently. Nearly half of the thickness of ice currently on Greenland is from post 8ky precipitation.

    By the way ATTP, congratulations on nine years.

  25. Dave_Geologist says:

    I’d add, izen, that the Bova paper says there was no Holocene Thermal Maximum. Just a change in seasonality due to orbital changes, which looked like a maximum because the favoured proxy was sensitive to summer temperatures and increased seasonality meant warmer summers but cooler winters and the same annual average. The Thompson paper says that, assuming there was a maximum, we can model it as due to post-glacial vegetation changes. I’ve posted before that it took thousands of years for deglaciated Canada to progress through lichen to scrub to open willow woodland to spruce forest to the climax pine forest. All that time the albedo was changing, generally getting darker, whatever CO2 and Greenland were doing (and Greenland is tiny anyway on a global-albedo scale). Likewise, the mammoth steppe didn’t disappear overnight. Those are one-off changes. You can only forest a steppe once. After that the forcing is static.

  26. Dave_Geologist says:

    IIRC the HTM/HCO which was linked to the growth in NW Scotland of forests subsequently drowned in peat is a dead parrot. Recent studies (oxygen isotopes I think) showed that it was no warmer overall, the main difference is that it got wetter post-HCO. Reduced seasonality would have exacerbated that (waterlogged roots all year round, not drying out in the summer growing season).

  27. anoilman says:

    I thought you all might like to watch this. Oil prices will remain high.

    My experience with oil has lead me to believe that oil companies have been losing money for a long time. While that’s less sexy than blaming environmentalists, its still a real concern. It costs a lot more to extract unconventional oil, and this has resulted in real world losses.

    Anyways, Wendover is putting that exact financial argument for why oil prices are high. Its not shortages.. it’s just that drilling will cost more money, while driving down prices. It just makes them less profitable. Oil companies in the states have 9000 drilling permits that they just aren’t using.

  28. angech says:

    Just noticed.
    Thanks for the 9 years and I hope many more to come.
    Over a thousand posts is quite a good effort.
    You provide a wonderful up to date view and overview of where the current climate debate (?) is at plus interesting non climate topics at times.
    Along with controversy.
    The regular posters provide a repository of knowledge and critical comment from a number of different scientific and social fields.
    You could change, but if you did change, it would not be you.
    Keep going as you are.

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