The Green Inquisition

From Project Syndicate

by Bjørn Lomborg

COPENHAGEN – When it comes to global warming, extreme scare stories abound. Al Gore, for example, famously claimed that a whopping six meters (20 feet) of sea-level rise would flood major cities around the world.

Gore’s scientific advisor, Jim Hansen from NASA, has even topped his protégé. Hansen suggests that there will eventually be sea-level rises of 24 meters (80 feet), with a six-meter rise happening just this century. Little wonder that fellow environmentalist Bill McKibben states that “we are engaging in a reckless drive-by drowning of much of the rest of the planet and much of the rest of creation.”

Given all the warnings, here is a slightly inconvenient truth: over the past two years, the global sea level hasn’t increased. It has slightly decreased . Since 1992, satellites orbiting the planet have measured the global sea level every 10 days with an amazing degree of accuracy – 3-4 millimeters (0.2 inches). For two years, sea levels have declined. (All of the data are available at sealevel.colorado.edu.)

This doesn’t mean that global warming is not true. As we emit more CO2, over time the temperature will moderately increase, causing the sea to warm and expand somewhat. Thus, the sea-level rise is expected to pick up again. This is what the United Nations climate panel is telling us; the best models indicate a sea-level rise over this century of 18 to 59 centimeters (7-24 inches), with the typical estimate at 30 centimeters (one foot). This is not terrifying or even particularly scary – 30 centimeters is how much the sea rose over the last 150 years.

Simply put, we’re being force-fed vastly over-hyped scare stories. Proclaiming six meters of sea-level rise over this century contradicts thousands of UN scientists, and requires the sea-level rise to accelerate roughly 40-fold from today. Imagine how climate alarmists would play up the story if we actually saw an increase in the sea-level rise.

Increasingly, alarmists claim that we should not be allowed to hear such facts. In June, Hansen proclaimed that people who spread “disinformation” about global warming – CEOs, politicians, in fact anyone who doesn’t follow Hansen’s narrow definition of the “truth” – should literally be tried for crimes against humanity.

It is depressing to see a scientist – even a highly politicized one – calling for a latter-day Inquisition. Such a blatant attempt to curtail scientific inquiry and stifle free speech seems inexcusable.

But it is perhaps also a symptom of a broader problem. It is hard to keep up the climate panic as reality diverges from the alarmist predictions more than ever before: the global temperature has not risen over the past ten years, it has declined precipitously in the last year and a half, and studies show that it might not rise again before the middle of the next decade. With a global recession looming and high oil and food prices undermining the living standards of the Western middle class, it is becoming ever harder to sell the high-cost, inefficient Kyoto-style solution of drastic carbon cuts.

A much sounder approach than Kyoto and its successor would be to invest more in research and development of zero-carbon energy technologies – a cheaper, more effective way to truly solve the climate problem.

Hansen is not alone in trying to blame others for his message’s becoming harder to sell. Canada’s top environmentalist, David Suzuki, stated earlier this year that politicians “complicit in climate change” should be thrown in jail. Campaigner Mark Lynas envisions Nuremberg-style “international criminal tribunals” against those who dare to challenge the climate dogma. Clearly, this column places me at risk of incarceration by Hansen & Co.

But the globe’s real problem is not a series of inconvenient facts. It is that we have blocked out sensible solutions through an alarmist panic, leading to bad policies.

Consider one of the most significant steps taken to respond to climate change. Adopted because of the climate panic, bio-fuels were supposed to reduce CO2 emissions. Hansen described them as part of a “brighter future for the planet.” But using bio-fuels to combat climate change must rate as one of the poorest global “solutions” to any great challenge in recent times.

Bio-fuels essentially take food from mouths and puts it into cars. The grain required to fill the tank of an SUV with ethanol is enough to feed one African for a year. Thirty percent of this year’s corn production in the United States will be burned up on America’s highways. This has been possible only through subsidies that globally will total $15 billion this year alone.

Because increased demand for bio-fuels leads to cutting down carbon-rich forests, a 2008 Science study showed that the net effect of using them is not to cut CO2 emissions, but to double them. The rush towards bio-fuels has also strongly contributed to rising food prices, which have tipped another roughly 30 million people into starvation.

Because of climate panic, our attempts to mitigate climate change have provoked an unmitigated disaster. We will waste hundreds of billions of dollars, worsen global warming, and dramatically increase starvation.

We have to stop being scared silly, stop pursuing stupid policies, and start investing in smart long-term R&D. Accusations of “crimes against humanity” must cease. Indeed, the real offense is the alarmism that closes minds to the best ways to respond to climate change.

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101 thoughts on “The Green Inquisition

  1. Given all the warnings, here is a slightly inconvenient truth: over the past two years, the global sea level hasn’t increased. It has slightly decreased .

    You know as well as I – the instruments were faulty or miscalibrated. Trust me, the adjustments ARE coming.

  2. Hmm, let’s see, Argos shows the oceans either not warming or ‘slight cooling’ and sea levels dropped the last two years…. coincidence?

    Wonder if it’s ‘Thermal Contraction’? Plus, cooler oceans can absorb more CO2, which could set up a negative feedback cycle.

    I was interested in Freeman Dyson’s estimate of 12 years for CO2 residence in the atmosphere. This is significantly shorter than the IPCC estimate of 200 years (at least I think that’s their estimate and the one used in GCMs I believe). If its 7 or 12 rather than 200 it would significantly impact model outcome.

  3. The Lomborg article says that satellite accuracy since 1992 has been 3-4mm. I seem to remember that Jason altimetry accuracy was about 3.5cm, not mm as quoted in the article, and that they were hoping to get to 2.5cm or 25mm accuracy with the new Jason satellite. Am I incorrect?

  4. Maybe if Hansen, et al, gained control of things, any skepticism of any aspect of the AGW theology will be classified as mental illness, thus justifying involuntary commitment to caring facilities until we “recovered.”

    It would be for our own good……….and for the greater good.

  5. I just checked the NASA website about the Jason satellite accuracy, and it appears to be 4cm, and I believe they eventually got to 35mm. What’s always confused me is how statements re: a rate of sea level rise of 3.0-3.5cm per year the last few years can be made when the satellite accuracy is 10 times greater. I must be missing something. Do multiple runs by a satellite tend to reduce the probability of error? How would we know for sure?

  6. A smart and level-headed look at the problem.

    Al Gore’s looney tunes idea that the entire infrastructure on which our society is based can be converted in ten years will never get off the ground. The guy needs to get a grip.

    A century ago Mr. Ford unveiled his Model T and it took decades for that innovation to transform the American landscape. A century before that, illumination was with candles and oil lamps {kerosene lamps didn’t appear until mid-19th century}. Any change to the current infrastructure can only happen when two things happen — the actual cost of energy supplies rise too high and the real cost of alternatives drop so that they become competitive. And I qualify these two conditions {actual & real} to make it clear that for such a change to happen successfully there should be no efforts at government manipulation to inflate costs of present technology or subsidies to create a false impression of value to a new energy source. Who knows what type of technological breakthroughs will occur over the next century.

    Despite the fine writing in this article, there are still references to models which make me cringe. I wish I could now find a written critique of the problem with models that was written from the perspective of someone in the arena of microchip manufacture. The point was raised that in the manufacture of microchips (a closed system with limited known variables), the best they could get from models was about a 50% predictive capability. They then went on to question the value of a model for an open system with a huge number of variables, many still unknown. Right now, when I see someone refer to what a model predicts will happen in an open system, my response is, “You haven’t got a clue!”

  7. Peter, two years of dropping sea levels is very spectacular considerinfg the very clear trend hgas been going on since the last ice-age.

  8. Lomborg is an economist, not a scientist. He believes in AGW but suggests a rational approach to dealing with it. Among AGW’ers he’s like the designated driver in a room full of drunks.

  9. Re Jason’s accuracy: I do not know whether or not this is the case for Jason, but offer it for your consideration.

    Scientists make a distinction between accuracy and precision. Accuracy is a measure of how close the value is to the “true” value, precision is related to the repeatability of measurements. Thus it is quite possible to have an accuracy of 3.5 cm and a precision of 3.5 mm. If this is the case, then annual comparisons on the order of 3.5 mm are valid. Again, I do not know if this is indeed the case.

  10. I agree with Pierre. Someone should do a YouTube video where a “Dr. Evil” like parody is made of Hansen. Hansen’s career will be reduced to a parody in short order.

  11. I have been a fan of Bjørn Lomborg since I read his book, “The Skeptical Environmentalist”. I found it a great book and I highly recommend it!

    What led me to the book originally, was the incredible number of negative reviews that were published. Reading them, you could tell the reviewers either didn’t understand the book, or were too fearful of the message that they had to quash it.

    Instead, I found it written such that it was easily understandable as well as easily verifiable. He also proposes what should be obvious to everyone. Let’s think about how best to respond to the problems of the modern world – without the hysterics.

    MikeEE

  12. Great points!

    0.0100% CO2 has absolutely zero (0) effects on you or me. How the hell can 0.0100% CO2 have “significant” effects on a planet?

    It’s a trace gas folks. When is America going to wake up? We need to drill AND create renewable energy. Stop with the scare tactics.

  13. Lake Superior was down 19 inches last summer. I wonder if 19 inches * 31,700 sq. miles ( 82,100 sq. km) of Lake Superior’s area adds up to in mm of sea level? Since the recent claim was that some of the sea level rise was held up in dams constructed during the last century, one has to wonder what kind of an impact a drop in the Great Lakes would have. Just sayin. Of course it recoverd that loss this year, I think, due to very heavy winter precipitation. Maybe that is the source of some of the rise and drop?

  14. By the way, just to be clear. Lake Superior dropped due to Global Warming and rose due to weather. If you call BS, I suggest you google up the news on both events.

  15. I’m looking at Jason-1 data that shows an orbit precision of 2cm after orbit stabilization, but don’t see any discussion linking precision/accuracy together. I’m still confused why, with such relatively big precision/accuracy errors, how can the science world make statements that sea level is rising significantly over the traditional sea level rise of 1.0-1.8mm per year? Does sea level rise in conjunction with Hansen’s rises?

  16. Jeff B. (10:13:31) :

    “I agree with Pierre. Someone should do a YouTube video where a “Dr. Evil” like parody is made of Hansen. Hansen’s career will be reduced to a parody in short order.”

    If I may suggest a slight rewrite: Hansen’s career would, in short order, become broadly recognized as the parody it has become .

  17. I hate to be a pest, but it looks like my day. If I understand the precision/accuracy argument for the Jason satellite correctly, it means that, if the satellite tells me that 2+2=5 every time, it has great precision even though the answer is never accurate. Doesn’t seem too valid to me. I don’t see how the precision argument helps when you’re talking about a sea level accuracy of 35mm, and the annual change that you’re measuring is 10 times less.

  18. Peter

    The Colorado graph clearly shows todays sea level to be BELOW the highest sea-level back in 2002/2003.

    As the earth has cooled, sea level rise stopped and has retreated.

    Thats science.

    Hate-filled attacks on Lomborg for pointing it out makes you look like an inquisitor.

    See level dropping is an “Inconvenient Truth”.

  19. Well, re sea level, wikipedia says it’s risen 120 meters since the last glaciation. That would make it about 400 feet. I’m not sure that’s accurate.

    In any case for the past 6 ice ages the fall and rise of sea level has been around 400 feet. A few months ago I read a series of pdf’s by a geologist in California, McClenney, I think, where he talked about this and said the sea still has a ways to go. He had photos of highstands still visible in California, and even accounting for uplift, showed the sea to be much higher than now during those times in the past 600,000 years. (the evidence prior to that has been erased.)

    So the sea has risen since its last low point, probably hasn’t reached its high point before the next ice age and will continue to rise. I cannot imagine that the rate of rise has been absolutely constant over the past thousands of years and would expect the rate to fluctuate in the future.

    Back to wikipedia, if I were the conspiratorial type, I would posit that the claim sea level has already risen 400 feet is to be able to make the claim that any further rise would be ‘unnatural’ and our own fault. I’ll leave it to others to investigate or not. :-)

  20. Ron McCarley #22

    Here is a simple example of precision and accuracy. I once had a mercury thermometer with a glass bulb glued to a cardboard backing that contained the temperature scale. One day the bulb fell off and I glued it back on. But I screwed the position, so that when the tempurature was 70 degrees, my thermometer showed 75 degrees. If the temp rose to 70.5 degrees, my thermometer showed 75.5 degrees. In other words the precision was still quite good and I could easily detect a change in tempurature of only one half of a degree, but the accuracy was quite poor, since the individual readings were off by 5 degrees.

    In this case the problem was simply poor calibration, but in a complex instrument there can be many effects that may compromise accuracy without affecting precision.

  21. Ron McCarley, I think that I might be able to point out the difference to something that I have to do in my work (machining). Having measured, say, a hole, I read it as being 1.000″ in diameter, but my vernier had been recently dropped, so I have an uncertain error. However, if I machine a dowel to 1.000″, using the same, possibly inaccurate, vernier, then, because the vernier measures the item precisely, if wrongly, the dowel will fit. Accuracy, on the other hand has been lost, because there may be an error in the vernier, but I don’t know what it is.
    Similarly, the Jason data may only be known to within 3.5 cm, but if the error is relatively constant, then, if the reading tomorrow is 3.6cm, then I can assume the level has gone up from the previous level by a very small amount, I just don’t know exactly what either levels are, just that day two is up by 0.1cm.

    I think.

  22. Countering the water being held back in dams, is the water that has been drained from the world’s aquifers over the last century. That has to account for some of the sea level rise.

  23. Ron,

    It’s not that the answer is wrong, ala 2+2=5. It’s more like, sea level = 100M +/- 2.5cm. Then we take the same reading 100 times, and all readings are within 2.5mm of each other.

  24. Re: Charles Price answer: The NASA site claims a pecision of 20mm and an accuracy of 35mm for the Jason satellite. It is unknown to me if they’re incorporating one into the other, but either one is much larger than the 3-3.5mm they claim for sea level rise for the past few years. I guess I get the difference between the two terms, but both seem to be way off from what they’re measuring.

  25. Hansen has become your classic, story-book mad scientist.

    Where are the giant robots? There are supposed to be giant robots!

    Therefore, he’s not a mad scientist. Or not a scientist.

  26. Functional efficiency would be far less important than making sure recycling centers would be in place to deal with any wind-powered robots disabled by the hero.

  27. I give up! I’m outnumbered. I’m going to assume that the orbital precision of 20mm doesn’t affect the measurement precision of the Jason satellite, and that even though the accuracy of the satellite is 35mm, its precision is on the order of 2-3mm. Anyway, I’m happy that sea level is dropping. It seems like it should have been with Argo temp numbers the way they are.

  28. Peter — re sea levels Lomborg is merely pointing out that the prediction of drastic rising of the levels isn’t happening lately.

    “It’s incredibly disingenuous to use two years of data to claim that sea levels aren’t rising.”

    Too many of your persuasion miss the point of this and similar observations; e.g. recent temp coolings relative to what came before. You and yours point out that the long term trend is what matters, as if skeptics are somehow too stupid to fathom the obvious.

    On the other hand, what’s repeated in movies and the media and so forth is some 6 feet of sea level rise by 2100, and a bit of quick arithmetic says that the **average** ought to be 18.3 mm per year. Bear in mind that was based on 6 FEET; imagine if I expanded the average annual rise to the actual 6 METER claim. …Hint: bigger number…

    Lomborg is merely pointing out that we’re not seeing this, and backs it up with a small factoid to underscore the point, which from what I could tell, one has to work quite hard at to miss.

  29. – Ron McCarley –

    Forget the references to verniers etc as these are misleading. Accuracy is an indicator of the ability of an instrument to accurately measure across it’s field of view. If a rectangular field of view then the accuracy of being able to measure the same object in various places ought not exceed the 35mm figure stated. That is, the absolute spread of derived measurements has to be inside this number. The actual performance will generally follow the toolmaker’s rule, which essentially is that the precision of the instrument ought to be 10x smaller than what’s being measured.

    What the vernier argument posited and what you think are similar in that the accuracy isn’t equivalent to the absolute calibration. This is a separate thing. The accuracy refers to the ability to get the correct measurement even if an object is not perfectly aligned in the instrument centre.

    As for the precision, this number is generally a figure representing the absolute (guaranteed) 3 sigma repeatability. If 20 mm then what this means is that 99.7% of measurements will fall in the 20 mm range of actual. And again this is using the same toolmaker’s rule.

    The upshot here is that assuming accuracy/precision is as stated that the numbers aren’t bad and the instrument is doing what is claimed.

    Does this help?

  30. Peter: “The long term trend is quite clear.”

    The trend you link is 0,2 m every 100 years, and this is the normal sea level rise of the last 200 years. Also a sea level rise which the earth normally has occured since the beginning of the interglacial period 8000 years ago. (Before that the sea level rise was more like 200 cm every 100 years, constantly for 1000s of years.)

    So what was your point?

    [Personal attack deleted~Charles the Moderator]

  31. I think someone should really invite Hansen to Wallowa County (pack long johns). It is 26.5 degrees colder than last year, 8.6 degrees colder than last month, and currently raining on all the baled hay still sitting in fields. Last week we had 32 degree frost on the ground. Looks like we will be getting frost on pumpkin BLOOMS way before we get frost on the pumpkin! Just sayin. Scare tactics? If Hansen wants to be scared, let him try some of our still snow bound mountain trails.

  32. “This doesn’t mean that global warming is not true. As we emit more CO2, over time the temperature will moderately increase, causing the sea to warm and expand somewhat.”

    C02 is absorbing most of what it can absorb, and it is about as powerful as a mouse pushing a huge boulder uphill compared to the sun’s influence and that of cosmic rays. A strong mouse? Yes, but still a mouse.

    The idea that temperature will moderately increase is a theory, not a fact. To learn more from a true expert on sea levels look at the work of Morner.

  33. “Countering the water being held back in dams, is the water that has been drained from the world’s aquifers over the last century.”

    You don’t understand the game. You only count in one direction.

  34. Peter. When it comes to sea level rise, it is of course not correct to mention a few years as a trend or sea level rise as something with relevance to long term mean values. Josh Willis in the Argo project, which measured the sea temperature, suggested that the sea level rise the last 4 years indicated that the temperature instruments had some error.

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=88520025

    That’s stupid, I think.

    Btw it seems actually as the sea level rise periodically has slowed down about every 11th year and actually during solar minimum. (I think Jennifer Marohasy mentioned this in a post):

    Changes in clouds, precipitation and the atmosphere’s water vapor content may very well be an off set from the average (normal) sea level rise.

    Finally: Criticize Lomborg for what he’s saying, not with comments he’s no scientist and that others has claimd he has errors (the site you linked for those errors I found extremely weak). Lomborg is an adjunct professor at Copenhagen Business School and no one has claimed he is anything else.

    What is Peter?

    Please back down from the personal attacks, not just try to get around the proscription~Charles the moderator.

  35. MarkW, water withdrawn from the ground is often surplus water that would flow into an ocean or sea eventually. The use of that water short of mining the stuff (dropping the water table) may effect ocean levels but only while human make temporary use of it. Afterwards it either infiltrates back into the ground or is exposed to evaporation where it goes back into the water cycle.

    Well, except that cache of water balloons my son has behind the rear fence.

  36. AnonyMoose:
    “Hansen has become your classic, story-book mad scientist.”

    For any of you that read Moby Dick, you know that Hansen’s psychological profile is almost perfectly described by Melville in the character of Captain Ahab.

    It appears that Roy Spencer has just testified before the US Senate committee on environment. So at last they have had an opportunity to hear from someone not obsessed with killing the great white whale of global warming. And they have also been presented with an alternative cause for the warming that has been observed. This is going to have Hansen steaming and screaming. He will probably call for Spencer to be arrested and tried.

    Here is Spencer’s testimony:

    http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=e12b56cb-4c7b-4c21-bd4a-7afbc4ee72f3

  37. Ron McCarley (09:05:30) (and other times),

    FWIW: I went and asked the Jason people about their measurement accuracy and they pointed me to:

    http://ilrs.gsfc.nasa.gov/science_analysis/docs/Luthcke_Jason_1cm_POD_published_p399_s.pdf

    I haven’t completely read it but it has the following statement a:bout the orbit measurement accuracy. I think (but am not yet sure) that the Z axis is altitude.

    In the Z direction, the average of the mean ECF offset is at the 1-mm level with standard deviation of less than 4 mm and a ∼120-day periodicity

    Don’t confuse orbital accuracy budget with precision. Think of accuracy as the known absolute altitude and the standard deviation (its repeatability, if you will) is the precision. Another way of putting it: don’t confuse measurement precision with the ‘true’ value confidence interval. Charles Price and Tony Edwards gave fairly good explanations.

  38. Nils Axel Morner wrote a piece a few years ago in which he recounted the ‘handling’ of satellite data on sea level rise. The first ten years of data (1992 – 2002) showed zero trend up or down, which did not agree with the tide gauges preferred by the IPCC (Hong Kong, for example, where ground subsidence was occurring). So, the following year (2003) the satellite data was corrected by adding a 2.3 mm/year increase to the essentially flat raw data. Dr. Morner was, to say the least, apoplectic.

    Based on satellite and tide gauge data, I’d say the recent (2 decades) annual sea level rise is 0 mm, +/- 5 mm.

  39. Senator Boxer saw fit to point out during the hearing that Dr. Spencer is the “official climatologist” of the Excellence in Broadcasting Network, in an attempt to discredit his testimony.

  40. Yorick

    The 19 inch drop in Lake Superior is equivalent to a change of 0.00186 inches (0.0472 millimeters) in the world’s oceans.

    The oceans cover some 140 million square miles. It takes a lot of water to change the sea levels.

    King Canute learned, if he didn’t already know, he could not stop the seas.

    http://www.viking.no/e/people/e-knud.htm

    However, in his acceptance speech, Obama claimed he would stop the sea rising.

    Maybe the sea is already obeying Obama, even before his election.

  41. One more time. I get the accuracy/precision argument. But I’m looking at the Wikipedia article on sea level rise (dangerous, I know) that says the Topex/Poseidon/Jason-1 altimeters have accuracies of 20-40mm, and a NASA JPL site on “Ocean Surface Topography From Space” (click on technology) that says ocean height measurements are “good to 4-5 centimeters” and that by “averaging the few-hundred thousand measurements collected by the satellite in the time it takes to cover the global oceans (10 days), global mean sea level can be determined with a precision of several millimeters.” That sounds to me like NASA is assuming their errors will average out, which isn’t precision we’re talking about.

  42. Peter opened these comments with the classic alarmist two-step:

    If there is a long-term trend of sea level rise however tiny, then you are not allowed to express public doubt about the notion that this (small) trend is consistent with a 30 meter rise. There was warming in the 20th century therefore, you may not openly doubt that it will be 6 degrees higher by the end of the 21st.

    By the way, Peter can go. The rest of you are under arrest–nobody expects the Climate Inquisition!! (Apologies to Monty Python)

  43. “Anyway, I’m happy that sea level is dropping. It seems like it should have been with Argo temp numbers the way they are.”

    Basically, this just shows that sea level, sea temperature, and surface temperature data are all backing each other up. Some systems have more latent response than others, but at this point they are all moving in the same direction. One can argue that we don’t have enough data to call a change in trend from the predicted AGW trend, and I would buy that if the warmers were able to explain what we have seen in terms of natural variability. But it appears that they are completely unable to do this. Their best attempt was to try to explain the past decade of no warming using ENSO. But when we look at an ENSO adjusted chart for the last decade, the data is still virtually flat, as shown here:

    http://reallyrealclimate.blogspot.com/2008/07/gavin-schmidt-enso-adjustment-for.html

  44. Sir,

    “Proclaiming six meters of sea-level rise over this century contradicts thousands of UN scientists”

    is not an accurate statement. There are no thousands of UN scientist who have been forecasting sea level rises. This is confusing the total number of scientists who have been asked for an opinion on anyone matter with the number who has had an opinion on sea level rise. The true number is probably less than ten, and certainly less than a hundred.

  45. How do we stop this? Look, I don’t have a degree in anything but I can clearly see that a majority of the GW scare is just that, a scare tactic. The truly sad thing is that its working! There’s a sort of mass hysteria going on right now, and ladies and gents its mob mentality in the entire world at the moment. Who do we call, how do we get the truth out? How do we put a stop to people who have so much publicity, and whose publicity is exactly the “big world changing story” that most news agencies covet?

    Its not nearly as exciting to say, hey, were crappin where we eat, we should probably stop that. Its certainly not as exciting to say were experiencing a natural cycle in Earth’s temperature. Sorry folks, its hard to predict cause of an infinite number of variables but for the most part, if the sun isn’t kicking up a fuss, we should be seeing lowered temps and if a big volcano doesn’t erupt during this time we should get through it just like we always do. The truth is, no matter how fine your model is, it can only be made to be accurate in the past. That’s only because all the variables must be known for true accuracy.

    Another big thing here is this.. we need to not create a new disaster scenario to replace the old one. It doesn’t help to spout the ice age commeth either. We can predict sure, and even be right a majority of the time but anyone who stands up and picks the worst possible scenario for any planetary event is probably a little too alarmist to be of actual help. Mankind’s one true fault seems to be believing they have more control over things than they actually do.. I believe that’s called hubris. But again I ask. How do we pull the world’s view back to center before a true man made catastrophe happens?

  46. “It is hard to keep up the climate panic as reality diverges from the alarmist predictions more than ever before: the global temperature has not risen over the past ten years, it has declined precipitously in the last year and a half, and studies show that it might not rise again before the middle of the next decade.” That being true, I would think that it would at least warrant some skepticism in Mr. Lomborg’s mind as to just how valid the argument is that “As we emit more CO2, over time the temperature will moderately increase”. His belief in the UN IPCC seems odd – doesn’t he realize that its goals are primarily political in nature, not scientific?

  47. Re: David Segesta (10:01:44) :

    “Lomborg is an economist, not a scientist.”

    I don’t know about ordinary graduate programs in economics, but in schools of agricultural and resource economics, there’s a healthy dose of scientific methodology courses or seminars that students take. Besides that, in my graduate program in resource economics, I had graduate level courses in the chemistry of water quality and environmental science. So don’t assume that an economist, and especially an environmental economist, cannot be a scientist too.

  48. Sea levels appeared to have fluctuated considerably in the 1st millennium AD, although I’m finding it difficult to track down much documentation for this. In East Anglia in the UK, there is quite a bit of land on the coast which was underwater in Roman times but emerged gradually when sea levels fell. Over the centuries since, sea levels seem to have very slowly crept up again, but never to that previous high. Bearing in mind the last couple of thousand years, the current behaviour of the oceans doesn’t seem out of the ordinary. Sometimes sea levels go up a little, sometimes they go down.

  49. So the sea has risen since its last low point, probably hasn’t reached its high point before the next ice age and will continue to rise.

    That is not the only possible cause of the well-documented and IMO conclusive geomorphological evidence that sea levels were higher in previous inter-glacials than the current one.

    It could be that there is a cooling trend in inter-glacials, ie each inter-glacial is cooler than the previous one. The ice core data supports this conclusion.

    Of course this conclusion destroys any and all tipping point arguments.

    And since no one seems to have pointed out the error in the first post, I will.

    It’s incredibly disingenuous to use two years of data to claim that sea levels aren’t rising. The long term trend is quite clear. 2004 & 2005 were lower than 2006, for example. This is absurd.

    Sea levels rises are primarily caused by thermal expansion of the oceans. There is no lag in this effect. It is immediate and there is no equivalent of weather noise.

    Given sufficiently accurate measurements and assuming no net evaporation/inflowing, a sea level change from one day to the next is proof of the oceans warming or cooling over that day.

    What is absurd, is you applying the weather noise argument to sea levels and demonstrating your complete ignorance of the basic physics involved.

  50. Yorick’s comments on the Lake Superior Basin dropping one year due to global warming and then bouncing back due to greater winter precipitation is way off base (Weather overpowering global warming). I have been vacationing in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for 30 years, since I was a kid. We camped and often visited the same lakes, streams and waterfalls year after year.

    It’s true that last year, Lake Superior’s lake levels were down, but it was drought that caused this, not Global Warming. And it wasn’t winter precipitation that caused the lake level to rise as much of the snowfall in the area is due to evaporation off the lake. Because of this, it requires precipitation to come in from other areas, usually via the phenomenon called the Alberta Clipper. Bob Henson describes how Alberta Clippers tend to happen more often during La Nina years which leads to the precipitation that delivered more precipitation to Lake Superior this past year.

    Source: http://www.weathernotebook.org/transcripts/2000/02/15.html
    ” You’ll likely see more clippers than usual during La Nina years, like this one. That’s when the jet stream often dives south across the Great Lakes. This year, the Lakes were one of only a few spots in the nation where people actually saw a white Christmas, thanks to the Alberta Clippers.”

    Lastly, most of the water in the region that is yanked for water supplies generally end up going right back into the watershed. The exception is that Duluth drains water from the Mississippi River basin and dumps that into Lake Superior and Chicago drains water from Lake Michigan and dumps that into the Mississippi River basin. These two transactions are considered a wash.

    Good blogs to keep up with on Great Lakes weather and Lake Levels are Karl Bohnak’s as Chief Meterologist out of Marquette and Craig James from Grand Rapids.

    Karl Bohnak: http://www.wluctv6.com/news/news_story.aspx?id=142343
    Craig James: http://blogs.woodtv.com/category/wood-tv8-blogs/craig-james/

  51. Dr Morner, Professor at the University of Stockholm and pre-eminent sea level specialist (I learnt about his work on this blog from Old Man Winter and Paminator) pointed out -quite correctly, I think – that the greatest rate of sea level rise rise that took place since the last Ice Age was about 1 meter/century. The number passes sanity check because warming at the end of the last Ice age started about 19,000 years ago and sea level rise was still going on about 7000 years ago. That means that the estimated total sea level rise of about 100 meters since the last Ice age took about 12,000 years to complete, or about 0.8meters/century on average. Even if you assume a factor of 2x uncertainty in the estimate and willing to discount Dr. Morner’s expertise, it is hard to accept Dr. Hansen’s 6m/century estimate as being even close to being credible.

  52. “Sea levels rises are primarily caused by thermal expansion of the oceans. There is no lag in this effect. It is immediate and there is no equivalent of weather noise.”

    Agreed. And this further puts the lie to the proposal that it is the deep oceans, below where we are measuring, that are heating up. The expansion factor doesn’t care where the heating is happening, if the net effect is that the ocean is warming, then the sea level will rise.

  53. John B — “Yorick’s comments on the Lake Superior Basin dropping one year due to global warming and then bouncing back due to greater winter precipitation is way off base… “

    It’s called “humour.”

  54. Avfuktare Krypgrund

    “Sir,

    “Proclaiming six meters of sea-level rise over this century contradicts thousands of UN scientists”

    is not an accurate statement. There are no thousands of UN scientist”

    But this is exactly what the AGW crowd does when it claims the multitude of scientists involved in the IPCC report agree with what it says.

    MikeEE

  55. Not only is the water dissapearing from the sea, it looks like it is going from wetlands too, if you believe the BBC

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7513638.stm

    I would have thought that a more plausible explanation would either be land management or the natual layering of sediments building up appearing to make the land “drier”

  56. On the subjects of “accuracy” and “precision”…..

    Suppose you you have a piece of wood that is actually actually 4 feet long.

    (Don’t ask how we know that, just accept for the moment that itis exactly 4 feet long.) [In every case "it" refers to the board.]

    You pick up ruler A, measure it, and are informed that it is 4.00 feet long.

    You pick up ruler B, measure it, and are informed that it is 4.001 feet long.

    Ruler A is the more accurate, Ruler B is the more precise.

  57. F. Y. I. : Roughly 97% of earth’s water is in the oceans; 2% is in icecaps and glaciers; and 1% is in lake, rivers, and swamps.

  58. Most of you missed the point: we can measure sea level to a fraction of a millimeter in the same way as we can measure land temperature to a fraction of a degree. GISS data proves that. The sea level data just needs a little ‘adjustment’. Six meters over a century? Piece of cake.

    IMAO, any sea level rise is just due to population growth. More people, pressing down on the land, causes the oceans to rise.

  59. Tilo Reber: “Agreed [that “[s]ea levels rises are primarily caused by thermal expansion of the oceans” for changes in two years].”

    Isn’t there a possibility that very short time fluctuation in sea level is caused by changes in water vapor content of the atmosphere. The change in sea level within can vary between, say, 0 and 10 mm mm over 2 years. See Holgates data:

    http://www.worldclimatereport.com/index.php/2007/02/09/shocking-facts-about-sea-level-rise/

    The difference 10 mm, how much rain is that? Locally one or a few hours of precipitation? How large are fluctuations in the atmospheres relative humidity (e.g. in the solar cycle)?

    -
    Btw, I agree we don’t have a deep ocean heat problem, but I’m not sure it’s proven by a few years immediate sea level changes… I guess sea level changes from temperature change may take a few years to become larger than sea level changes from fluctuations in atmospheric water vapor, but I’m no scientist in this field and an oceanograph should comment this.

    Of course over one or a few decades the sea level rise has to be caused by thermal expansion.

  60. Magnus:
    “Isn’t there a possibility that very short time fluctuation in sea level is caused by changes in water vapor content of the atmosphere.”

    Hmm- a three year fluctuation in water vapor content of the atmosphere? What would cause such a fluctuation?

    Since the temperature trend has been down over the last few years, I would think that the atmosphere would hold less water, not more.

  61. Since the temperature trend has been down over the last few years, I would think that the atmosphere would hold less water, not more.

    At all but lowest altitudes, that is true. At low altitude there has been an increse, but that’s come in the form of cloud cover which has increased albedo. This is the negative feedback that Spencer speaks of.

  62. “Isn’t there a possibility that very short time fluctuation in sea level is caused by changes in water vapor content of the atmosphere?”

    Answer: Absolutely, positively, unambiguously NO!

  63. Isn’t there a possibility that very short time fluctuation in sea level is caused by changes in water vapor content of the atmosphere.

    How much more warming would that much more water vapor in the atmosphere cause? Some, if it were a gas. Cooling, if it were high clouds. Little, if it rained out over land (or Lake Superior) and hasn’t returned to the ocean.

  64. So, the following year (2003) the satellite data was corrected by adding a 2.3 mm/year increase to the essentially flat raw data. Dr. Morner was, to say the least, apoplectic.

    AAAARGH!

    I had heard about Axe’s complaints, but I put them on the back burner–on account of the satellite record!

    I want to see the raw data!

  65. Ron McCarley (13:41:29) : That sounds to me like NASA is assuming their errors will average out, which isn’t precision we’re talking about.

    They are but the situation is far more complicated than the wiki article suggests. It’s possible whoever wrote the wiki article was in the dark about the process. The link I provided is probably the best account of what’s actually involved. Many measurements are taken from various sources to arrive at an altitude measurement (actually an estimate).

    One last time then I’ll drop it, Hopefully, it isn’t even more confusing.

    The altitude accuracy refers to the absolute (or ‘true’) altitude value. The number should be expressed as a confidence interval which, in this case, is around +/- 25mm. All that can be said about the ‘true’ altitude is that it lies somewhere within that interval.

    We also know that when we produce the estimate, we get the same number: approximately +/- 4mm (I think that was the number). That is the measurement precision. There is an uncertainty in how close the measurement is to the ‘true’ altitude value but if we could nail it down so that it is also the ‘true’ value, we would always be within 4mm of it. Even if we never nail it down, the answer we get doesn’t vary by more than the precision.

    When you take the difference between measurements made by the same instrument, the delta value has the same precision as the measurement itself (times 2). The accuracy of the delta is also equal to the precision (times 2).

    Let’s take your 2+2=5 example. Suppose every time we calculate it we get values ranging from 4.998-5.002? That’s a precision of +/- 0.002 whatevers but the accuracy is perhaps +/- 2 whatevers. Now suppose I take measurements on two different days with day one giving measurements 4.998-5.002 and day two giving 5.998-6.002. I know that the difference is 1 +/- 0.004. I know it to this level despite having an accuracy uncertainty that is orders of magnitude larger. See?

  66. Tilo Reber: “Hmm- a three year fluctuation in water vapor content of the atmosphere? What would cause such a fluctuation?”

    First. The Holgates data shows that over a 3 years period, say, between 1996 and 1999, as well over several other 3 years periods, there was virtually no sea level increse at all, or even a sea level decrease! Only about 5 years before and after this there was twice as high sea level rise than average. So we got very fast changes in a short time perspective, almost correlating with the sunspot cycle. Empirically we also had no sea level rise during the hot El Nino in the late 90th, but on the other hand large amounts of water was “thrown” up into the air/atmosphere.

    How can you think that this fluctuation in water vapor content of the atmosphere don’t affect the sea level? This fluctuation in absolute value is relatively small without impact over decades.

    I did give you suggestions why the vater wapor content of the atmosphere changes, so I don’t think I shall answer your question and repeat it. Read my suggestions instead and, please, tell me why they are wrong. (However I repeat my suggestions in this answer…)

    “Since the temperature trend has been down over the last few years, I would think that the atmosphere would hold less water, not more.”

    No. Due to results from the Aqua satellite the atmosphere hold less water when it’s warm (which btw shall falsifies the climate models):

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23411799-7583,00.html

    If the Aqua satellite is correct, which we can assume, the short term fluctiation (with a period of a decade), in which sometimes the sea level even gets lower (how do you explain this with your warming hypothesis alone?), is at least partly explained, since we also have a proved (even by IPCC approved) temperature fluctuation over the sunspot cycle.

    Finally:
    Declining sea level in a short period of time should be impossible if the temperature of the atmosphere each year during a sunspot cycle (= during a “sea level fluctiation cycle”) is above an equilibrium which has made the sea level over time constantly risen since the early 19th century.

    How do you explain sea level rise in the cold 60th, but not 1985 or 1998? And also, how do you explain that in the 60th we had twice as large sea level rise than average, which occured — just like now a days and before then — every about 11th year.

    Thus, there is a need for another explanation for the short period sea level fluctuations, and since the atmosphere contains so much water, and that the water content of the atmosphere is proved to vary (the oposite way than you think) my suggested hypothesis isn’t that bad! But your suggestion, that only the temperature of the atmosthere makes the sea level fluctuates, is falsified by my paragraphs above. I think you understand that.

  67. [Tiny little correction: “But your suggestion, that only the temperature of the oceans (which I guess you assume is affected by variations in the atmostheric temperature) makes the sea level fluctuates, is falsified by … paragraph above.”.]

  68. Economists study math. Lots of math. Perhaps more than most scientists.
    They most certainly study statistics more than most scientists.

  69. OK, I’m getting raked over the coals because of the distinction between accuracy/precision. But my original point is getting lost, that although I am happy to see sea level decline, Hansen/Gore/alarmists have made much about sea level rise accelerating and dooming ocean properties much faster. This question, as I understand it, is the most pressing question in the global warming debate. Lomborg says SLR is now declining, but the alarmists have been chanting a “rising” song for years. But I’ve read that there is a discrepancy between measured levels of tidal gauges and satellites, and there’s even been suggestions of calibration problems with the satellites. Then someone said yesterday that Morner was upset that a correction factor had been added to satellite readings to get to a higher sea level rise number. My point is that the whole satellite measurement may be off (or maybe the numbers are getting cooked?), even if they happen to show what appears to be some sort of precision every time. Tidal gauges have been showing, as I understand it, SLR on the order of 1.0-1.8mm/yr depending on who you believe, but 3.3mm for the past few years from the satellites seems suspicious. I wonder if they want everyone to believe that some fantasized Antarctica and Greenland melting are really doing it to us. It just seems to me that something as serious as the “hockey stick” fiasco may be going on here.

  70. Lake Superior was down 19 inches last summer. I wonder if 19 inches * 31,700 sq. miles ( 82,100 sq. km) of Lake Superior’s area adds up to in mm of sea level?

    The area of the oceans is 335,258,000 sq km.
    (http://www.worldatlas.com/aatlas/infopage/oceans.htm)

    So 19 inches of water on Lake Superior, if spread out over the oceans would amount to .0046 inches or about .12mm.

    BTW Lake Superior’s level is controlled by gates on the St. Marys River at Sault Ste. Marie. http://www.great-lakes.net/lakes/ref/supfact.html

  71. Why would anyone listen to Bjorn Lomborg?

    Lomborg deliberately takes comments made by James Hansen, David Suzuki, and Mark Lynas out of context in order to bolster his laughable claims of an Inquisition. He is also quite deceptive in his characterizations of sea-level rise in reference to statements by Gore and Hansen.

    This is typical Lomborg- a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. He is relying on the same rhetorical device of imagined persecution that creationists and other junk science purveyors use.

    His statement regarding the IPCC AR4′s projections of sea-level rise are the most telling. It is impossible to tell whether he didn’t actually read the report, he doesn’t understand it, or he is deliberately lying about what it says, but the plain fact is that his interpretation of it is garbage.

    REPLY: Why would anyone listen to Al Gore or James Hansen? They both make claims that are proven untrue, and Hansen calls for the trials of people that are on the other side of the debate.

  72. thingsbreak. What is wrong about Lomborgs interpretation of sea level data? A decline in sea level rise is much more likely than an increase, and among the reasons for this is growin glaciers and cooling. (Note: This isn’t rhetoric.)

    Also you don’t have to call Lomborg a creationist type. I’m sure Hansen alredy has called sceptics flat earth society people (Gore has) and things like that. You are just too predictable in your invectives towards a man which can see- and has described problems of the alarmistic viewes on global warming.

    I think you can either accept rational pro and con argumentation or choose to avoid them and find yourself among the losing global warmers who refuse rational debates.

    I find you, using words as laughable and with no facts, profoundly rhetorical.

    (This is maybe too provokative?)

  73. Why would anyone listen to Al Gore or James Hansen?

    I wouldn’t listen to Gore, presumably some would because he has been getting briefed on the issue for 20+ years. Why would anyone listen to James Hansen?? Is this a joke? Sometimes the comments section of this site feels like a parallel universe. James Hansen is an incredibly respected and highly-awarded scientist heading one of the top scientific institutions in the world. That might be a reason why those agreeable to arguments from authority would want to listen to him.

    They both make claims that are proven untrue

    I’m not particularly interested in Gore, but please tell what statements that have been proven untrue Hansen has made.

    Hansen calls for the trials of people that are on the other side of the debate.

    This is patently false. Read the link. Hansen isn’t saying anything about those who disagree with the mainstream view, he specifically was talking about those, like in the tobacco industry, that engaged in deliberate disinformation campaigns to protect their profits at the public’s expense.

    Not even close to those simply “on the other side”.

    REPLY: Let’s see, for Hansen, sea level rise hasn’t met his projections, it is in fact falling, and he’s randomly adjusting a century worth of station data, using a single data point in 1995 from satellite night imagery, where no adjustment is required, for starters.

    As for your defense of Hansen’s call for show trials that “they aren’t on the other side of the debate” that is just bogusly disengenuous. Your reference to tobacco is more emotional than fact.

    I’m glad to see you won’t listen to Gore, but Hansen fails the smell test on several levels, he is no longer a scientist, but has now made himself into a political activist on par with Gore. They BOTH should be ignored. A political activist should not be the gatekeeper of data.

  74. thingsbreak–

    Lomborg’s books are carefully crafted, detailed and meticulously footnoted. The notion that Lomborg has merely tossed off a few opinion pieces could only come from someone who hasn’t bothered to do any research. Lomborg’s approach is always substantive and original.

    Lomborg’s first book did not deny AGW but pointed out the obvious facts (a) that the science and data only support a lukewarmist outcome not a Hansenesque catastrophe and (b) draconian political assaults on the energy economy are environmentally counterproductive–there are better choices. For that he was hounded and attempts were made to strip his professional credentials. He speaks of the Inquisition first hand.

    His characterization of sea level rise in AR4 is exactly right. (You know, it’s actually on line!! http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/ar4-syr.htm. )
    Gore did say 20 feet. It’s even in Wikipedia which never permits AGW skeptics a say so it must be True.
    And Hansen expressly says we are heading to conditions that will see a rise over 20 meters. His article comparing the present to a past period when sea levels were that is here: http://environment.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=mg19526141.600&feedId=climate-change_rss20

    Lomborg is right on all points…so..let’s arrest him!! The bastard.

  75. What is wrong about Lomborgs interpretation of sea level data?

    Which set? The satellite or IPCC projections?

    A decline in sea level rise is much more likely than an increase, and among the reasons for this is growin glaciers and cooling. (Note: This isn’t rhetoric.)

    If it “isn’t rhetoric”, presumably you are basing this on something other than bare assertion, and I’d appreciate knowing what.

    Also you don’t have to call Lomborg a creationist type.

    I didn’t call him a “creationist-type”, I said he was employing the same faux persecution tactic as creationists and provided a supporting example. I kind provide many more.

    I’m sure Hansen alredy has called sceptics flat earth society people (Gore has) and things like that.

    How sure are you?

    You are just too predictable in your invectives towards a man which can see- and has described problems of the alarmistic viewes on global warming.

    Lomborg is a waste of time. If someone wants to legitimately undertake some scientific or economic work to argue against IPCC findings, GREAT! Penning op-ed screeds that are blatantly misrepresenting other people’s statements doesn’t advance a thing and only provides ammunition for those that are blindly following the mainstream. Attacking things Hansen, Suzuki, Lynas et al. didn’t even say doesn’t illustrate “problems of the alarmistic viewes[sic']“- good science does.

    I think you can either accept rational pro and con argumentation or choose to avoid them and find yourself among the losing global warmers who refuse rational debates.

    There was nothing rational about Lomborg’s op-ed. I’ve seen rational arguments against policy-making in response to climate change, and this was far, far from it. I don’t understand “warmers who refuse rational debates”. Neither science nor policy are settled by debate. They are settled by accumulation of available evidence.

    I find you, using words as laughable and with no facts, profoundly rhetorical.

    I rebutted Lomborg’s assertions where applicable. There isn’t much I could have done with it, given that it was overwhelmingly an excercise in rhetoric itself (albeit a poor one).

    (This is maybe too provokative?)

    You’re welcome to your opinions.

  76. Let’s see, for Hansen, sea level rise hasn’t met his projections

    Citation?

    he’s randomly adjusting a century worth of station data, using a single data point in 1995 from satellite night imagery, where no adjustment is required, for starters.

    That’s a criticism of methodology not “a claim he made that was proven false.”

    As for your defense of Hansen’s call for show trials that “they aren’t on the other side of the debate” that is just bogusly disengenuous.

    How so? I read his statement in full, in context, and it was plainly clear that he was not talking about skeptics, or for example people on this site:

    Special interests have blocked transition to our renewable energy future. Instead of moving heavily into renewable energies, fossil companies choose to spread doubt about global warming, as tobacco companies discredited the smoking-cancer link. Methods are sophisticated, including disguised funding to shape school textbook discussions.

    CEOs of fossil energy companies know what they are doing and are aware of long-term consequences of continued business as usual. In my opinion, these CEOs should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature.

    Your reference to tobacco is more emotional than fact.

    First, that wasn’t my reference. Secondly, do I really need to reference all the common players (Seitz, Milloy, AEI, Cato, CEI, Heritage Foundation, Marshall Institute, etc.)?

    but Hansen fails the smell test on several levels

    Parallel universe.

    .he is no longer a scientist

    Really? He seems to be doing a lot more science than Lomborg et al. are these days…

    A political activist should not be the gatekeeper of data.

    Whether you like it or not, James Hansen is not some discredited political activist to 99.99% of people on Earth. He is the head of GISS, an award-winning, publishing scientist, and someone who is in no way required to keep his personal opinions to himself outside of his workplace.

    If you’ve ever spoken to Dick Lindzen or seen him in action, you’ll see that he has no problem throwing his Sloan title around while making completely unscientific claims about worldwide conspiracies about government regulation of carbon emissions. And yet I’ve never seen a single complaint about that despite all of the antipathy mustered against Hansen for far less.

    REPLY: We aren’t talking about Dick Lindzen , no diversions. Hansen has been proven wrong on adjustments, take a look at Climate Audit or one of John Goetz posts here. Hansen has been on stage with Gore on invitation, for a rally, and he lobbies state governments to not build new power plants, that’s political activism. He can’t have it both ways, being a gatekeeper of data and political activist for a cause using that data is a conlfict of interest.

  77. Both of these were Hansen’s, I dropped some html somewhere:

    Special interests have blocked transition to our renewable energy future. Instead of moving heavily into renewable energies, fossil companies choose to spread doubt about global warming, as tobacco companies discredited the smoking-cancer link. Methods are sophisticated, including disguised funding to shape school textbook discussions.

    CEOs of fossil energy companies know what they are doing and are aware of long-term consequences of continued business as usual. In my opinion, these CEOs should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature.

    REPLY: Hansen- “In my opinion” nobody else is calling for such, thus Hansen is an outlier. Look at BP, big alternate energy program. Hansen’s appeal as an emotional activist is a conflict of interest to his role as scientist, where he is keeper of the data used to push the agenda he supports.

  78. For anyone interested in the sea level debate and how satellites estimate sea level rise, there’s a very readable discussion (although slightly dated) by John L. Daly in 2001 pertaining to satellite altimeters, the mechanisms and problems of measurement. As I said previously, I’m happy that Lomborg is reporting a decrease in SLR in this post, but I’m concerned about the previous years where alarmists have been claiming runaway SLR that threatens our coasts. His article at http://www.john-daly.com/altimetry/topex.htm puts all the problems of satellite measurement into perspective, especially for the rank amateurs out there like me. It’s entitled “TOPEX-Poseidon Radar Altimetry: Averaging the Averages”. If you read this, you will gain a better appreciation of why the divergence in readings between satellite and tidal gauges over the past few years might be occurring.

  79. We aren’t talking about Dick Lindzen , no diversions.

    He seems like a useful counterexample to me. If Hansen is “guilty” of being a political activist, and therefore not a scientist, I fail to see how Lindzen isn’t guilty of the same. To ignore one and not the other is nothing more than a double standard based upon which side of the argument one prefers. I don’t see the problem with what either are doing.

    Hansen has been proven wrong on adjustments, take a look at Climate Audit or one of John Goetz posts here.

    You said made statements that have been proven false. I am looking for an example. [Reply: Look them up yourself]

    Hansen has been on stage with Gore on invitation, for a rally, and he lobbies state governments to not build new power plants, that’s political activism.

    And he quite clearly states that he is speaking as a citizen when he does so. I’ve read several of the letters where he does so.

    He can’t have it both ways

    According to who?

    being a gatekeeper of data and political activist for a cause using that data is a conlfict of interest.

    If someone can prove misconduct on his part, so be it. Until then he is doing nothing wrong.

    Hansen- “In my opinion” nobody else is calling for such, thus Hansen is an outlier.

    Did read Lomborg’s Op-Ed before reprinting it? His entire point is that there is a vast “Green Inquisition” calling for the same. [Of course, once one actually tracks down the statements being made, none of them refer to skeptics and all of them refer to those and only those who are deliberately and knowingly engaging in actions or inactions detrimental to the public welfare.]

    Look at BP, big alternate energy program.

    Assuming BP’s CEO(s) didn’t engage in deliberate disinformation campaigns, Hansen’s comment doesn’t apply, nor to any other person who wasn’t doing the things Hansen explicitly names.

    Hansen’s appeal as an emotional activist is a conflict of interest to his role as scientist

    You keep saying this, but I’m not sure why. I am unaware of any requirement of any scientific body that Hansen is a member of that requires him to censor himself in his personal life.

    he is keeper of the data used to push the agenda he supports.

    Do you honestly believe that if A) Hansen wasn’t the ostensible caretaker of GISTEMP that it would not show similar warming to the HadCRUT or NCDC anomalies? or B) That if Hansen was not the ostensible caretaker of GISTEMP but knew exactly what he does now he would not hold the same opinions about CO2e goals we need to reach?

    REPLY: Yes Hansen is not an ostensible caretaker of data. He uses the data to push the agenda, that’s not only a conflict of interest, but I believe a lapse in professional ethics.

    I never said “censor”, you did.

    “And he quite clearly states that he is speaking as a citizen when he does so.” Your argument about “private citizen” is absolute rubbish. Just because Hansen says “I’m speaking as private citizen” somehow negates his publicly funded research? Truly you are gullible if you believe that.

    Once you become a public figure, you can’t just take off one hat and put on another at will when speaking about the issue that made you a public figure. If Hansen had no connection to global warming research he would never have been invited by Gore or be lobbying the Iowa legislature. He can’t just “be” a private citizen lobbying on GW after using public research money to elevate himself to international celebrity on the GW issue.

    If Hansen was invited someplace to speak about something he does as a hobby in his private life, coin collecting for example, then he’d be a “private citizen” in that venue. Being invited to speak at a political activism rally about fruits of your AGW research from a publicly funded government position, does not entitle him to be a “private citizen” in that capacity just because he says so. Your argument is deeply flawed.

    Show me where Richard Lindzen has gone on stage, spoke about AGW, and said I’m a “private citizen not speaking as a learned scientist”. Show me where Lindzen has lobbied state legislatures with private letters with his home address, rather than his university one, and said “I’m speaking as private citizen only”.

  80. The preface of Lomborg’s book is illuminating. He is a self styled left wing Greenpeace Activist. He ran across Julian Simon’s statements about how a free market would deal with shortages and that the Earth was in a lot better shape than Lomborg’s Greenpeace fellow travelers were saying. (See the famous wager between Julian Simon and Paul Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon-Ehrlich_wager ).

    Mr. Lomborg went back to Denmark determined to prove that Simon was wrong (“We expected to show that Simon’s talk was simple American right-wing propaganda”.) Since he was a statistics professor, in 1997 he put his graduate students on evaluating the same statistics that Simon had used.

    A funny thing happened when they did a serious evaluation of the data.

    For the most part, Mr. Lomborg’s students proved that Julian Simon was right.

    I suspect that it came as quite a shock to Mr. Lomborg when he realized that his basic understanding of the environment was based on half truths, innuendos and out and out lies. It takes someone of exceptional character to realize that magnitude of error in his basic beliefs and to stand up in dissent. With his long time and strong associations with the Greenpeace movement, his book could also be compared to a “thesis nailed to the church door”.

    Mr. Lomborg has been branded a heretic and suffers all the fury of the True Believers.

    I think that Mr. Lomborg still has a few holdovers of liberal “conventional wisdom” (e.g. everybody knows that nuclear power is bad and AGW really does exist). But he has been honest enough evaluate the data, such as it is, and to reject the hysteria of the activists. As an economist, he evaluates courses of action based on the data and estimate their costs and benefits so that the most beneficial one can be chosen.

    Makes sense to me.

    Regards,

    Steamboat Jack

  81. MikeEE ,

    “But this is exactly what the AGW crowd does when it claims the multitude of scientists involved in the IPCC report agree with what it says.”

    Yes, true. Lomborg is a scientist, known for changing his mind when he realizes he is wrong, and hence I found it worthwhile to notice him to the fact that very few people have commented on sea level rise within the IPCC process.

  82. Right now agriculture doesn’t have time to debate this issue. We are all figuring out how to change what we plant, recoup losses, stave off bank foreclosures, etc to make up for the two short COLD growing seasons (2007 and now 08) that have wrecked havoc with crops from apples to wheat and everything in-between. I used to say that you should buy wine now (if you can find anything from 07) from the upper states. I now have to include California. The two short growing seasons combined with other natural disasters has pretty much devastated two years of farming. With global warming, agriculture was doing damn good! But over the past two years we haven’t had *&@*^*(%^ global warming anymore, we have had COLD weather! And now our crops are not going to provide many of us with any kind of living anymore! Sorry. It just gets me mad.

    We have had an eerily white haze most of the day right down to the ground and it is colder than last month and 20 degrees colder than last year! We are at 70 blankety-blank degrees in the middle of the @#$%&* afternoon here in Enterprise, Oregon!

  83. Pam,

    Though I think global cooling may be necessary to reset the craziness going on, I sympathize with your problems. Perhaps a brief cool spell will be all that is necessary.

  84. Bjorn Lomborg:
    > Because increased demand for bio-fuels leads to cutting down
    > carbon-rich forests, a 2008 Science study showed that the net
    > effect of using them is not to cut CO2 emissions, but to double
    > them. The rush towards bio-fuels has also strongly contributed
    > to rising food prices, which have tipped another roughly 30
    > million people into starvation.

    The U.S. & European ethanol biofuels programs shouldn’t have been implemented. Brazil pulled it off using sugar cane but also ran into large problems with the program in the 1980′s. Other cellulosic sources of ethanol are feasible without impacting crop allocation or forest stocks. Cattails can grow in brackish water (they are halophytic) & a good pickup truck load of cattails can yield 40 gallons of ethanol within a day. The practicality of large-scale production, however, is questionable in my mind.

    One benefit of biodiesel is that it is low in soot & sulfate emissions. Jatropha has been touted as the least expensive of biofuel (biodiesel) sources and presumably grows well even on marginal land. But although drought-resistant, jatropha could just as well divert croplands as well.

    There are other better-suited oil xeriscape oilseeds however, including the colocynth vine from the Middle East/N. Africa and the NW Mexican ‘Caribe’ (Cnidoscolus angustidens Torr.). Although their oil content is half of jatrophas, the risk of cropland diversion is much lower using oily desert plants like like colocynth and caribe. http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/proceedings1999/v4-257.html

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6WH9-45GMGVW-36&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=9c5492c74df5bf130337b06bb4d09ab6

    Soils can be amended using terra prete (agrichar) which lends to a net CO2 uptake.

    Run straight veg. oil in your car w/out preprocessing:

    http://www.reuk.co.uk/Vegetable-Oil-Two-Tank-Conversion.htm

    Jatropha problems in PHillipines:

    http://opinion.inquirer.net/inquireropinion/talkofthetown/view_article.php?article_id=87461

    Jatropha data:

    http://www.reuk.co.uk/Jatropha-for-Biodiesel-Figures.htm

  85. We have had an eerily white haze most of the day right down to the ground and it is colder than last month and 20 degrees colder than last year! We are at 70 blankety-blank degrees in the middle of the @#$%&* afternoon here in Enterprise, Oregon!

    Same thing here in Seattle, Pam. The radio weatherfolks are happily proclaiming “We might hit 70 today!” We should be in the high 80s, nearing 90 at the hottest part of the day.

  86. thingsbreak: I rebutted your claims about Hansen’s vituperative polemics. Hansen has called for trials of energy execs. Hansen is more than just a research scientist, his work is funded via NASA/GISS. AFAIK that makes him a public employee and should be enjoined from making such statements in public fora.

    It’s not b/c Hansen’s science is wrong, but b/c Hansen’s rhetoric is invidious and divisive by nature. Such desultory Philippics won’t help your cause, now will it? In fact such statements only serve to exemplify the zealotry and desperation of which the skeptics accuse environmentalists.

    http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/2008/TwentyYearsLater_20080623.pdf

    “CEOs of fossil energy companies know what they are doing and are aware of long-term consequences of continued business as usual. In my opinion, these CEOs should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature.”

    AND

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-james-hansen/twenty-years-later-tippin_b_108766.html

    “…CEOs of fossil energy companies know what they are doing and are aware of long-term consequences of continued business as usual. In my opinion, these CEOs should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature. If their campaigns continue and “succeed” in confusing the public, I anticipate testifying against relevant CEOs in future public trials.

    Conviction of ExxonMobil and Peabody Coal CEOs will be no consolation, if we pass on a runaway climate to our children…”

    Hansen means it when he says “crime” and “conviction.” And if we don’t pass a runaway climate to our children, would trial & conviction of CEOs console us? What of the current and future coal & oil magnates in China, India or Africa?

  87. thingsbreak:

    The question remains simply: What is the climate sensitivity to CO2?

    With average solar irradiance clearly trended to dim by a net of -0.2 to -0.3 degr. C. by 2025 (Solanki, Hathaway, others) & the additional offsets offered from soot & ozone mitigation (another -0.3 degrC) we may widen the window of opportunity against any serious risk of AGW.

    So if climate sensitivity is high then an accelerated program of CO2 mitigation is paramount. If climate sensitivity falls below 2.5 degrees C., then a protracted program in due course is warranted. If it falls below 1.2 degrC, then other pressing priorities should be addressed first.

    The quandary is this: How serious is the risk & how costly the remediation? Is it even feasible to reduce CO2 emissions in the USA by 80% by 2050, when that target would bring per capita CO2 emissions to below 18th Century levels? If the first 50% of remediation cost might prove acceptable, each remaining decrement of remediation might prove more and more costly to hit the final 80% target. Consider that cost overhead that could go to other greenhouse agents such as soot & ozone which already have feasible and cost-effective remedies in hand.

    William Nordhaus projects expensive early remediation in “A Question of Balance: Weighing the Options on Global Warming Policies” as does Bjorn Lomborg. Nordhaus projects that if we front-load remediation costs too much we’ll end up forcing opportunity costs to an unsustainable level. A Kyoto cost backlash is already being seen in Japan & Europe (esp. Britain), exemplifying how the feasibility of energy transformation is limited at this point in time.

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/21494

    As for a “green inquisition,” have we forgotten Robert Kennedy Jr.’s notorious statements about the treasons of the skeptic politicians or industrial apologists? Or Joe Romm’s call for Dr. Jeff Marque’s dismissal from the APS newsletter? Or ACORE President Michael T. Eckhart’s threats to ruin Dr. Marlo Lewis’ career? Or Al Gore’s description of AGW skeptics as flat-earthers?

    It looks completely like a green inquisition to me, and the angry rhetoric its agitprop. This kind of bellicose rhetoric does nothing to convince skeptics that AGW is a threat, instead it sends up warning flags that behind the polemics lies an insidious agenda that has nothing to do with either global warming or the environment.

    Or will James Hansen testify at the trial for the Chinese communists who – assuming CO2 is such a danger – knew full well the climate impact of burning so much coal? Under the aegis of the Kyoto-based UNEP UNFCCC CDM programs, China and other nations can sell carbon credits for efficient coal power. But if our coal execs build new efficient plants, they’re guilty of something?

    CO2 is not our original sin, I reject the constant claims that everything causes global warming and global warming causes everything. And given the choice between empowering the Earths multitudes with cheap energy as opposed to a world ruled by authoritarian ecocrats so absolutist they decry even efficient and small autos like the Tata as a bane (even though it’s a huge step up from 2-stroke trike scooters), I think people would rather rule in a self-made climate hell than serve in a green heaven of self-righteous and pious zealots.

  88. It’s not b/c Hansen’s science is wrong, but b/c Hansen’s rhetoric is invidious and divisive by nature.

    I think his science IS wrong if it tells him that a runaway greenhouse effect can occur. If it was going to occur it would have long ago and the Earth would never have recovered.

  89. leebert

    it is my assertion that there is no way “green biofuel” can replace oil as the primary soucrce of energy.

    ask yourself how much does it cost to grow, and what the net fuel produced from the factory ( not net harvest) is per acre. Then assume we need the current acres now to grow food, not fuel.

    are there enough empty non used plantable acres to provide the quantities of fuel required? is there enough fertilizer to grow them?

    I have followed palm oil prices for years. they simply track the changes in the price of biofuel which in trun tracks the price of oil fuel.

    I dont think you can grow enough stuff on enough empty land to produce the fuel. And if you deforest the land to provide empty land to grow biofuel, then you remove the sink for c02 that the forest provided and you dont reduce co2 at all.

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