The Unbearable Complexity of Climate

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Figure 1. The Experimental Setup

I keep reading statements in various places about how it is indisputable “simple physics” that if we increase amount of atmospheric CO2, it will inevitably warm the planet. Here’s a typical example:

In the hyperbolic language that has infested the debate, researchers have been accused of everything from ditching the scientific method to participating in a vast conspiracy. But the basic concepts of the greenhouse effect is a matter of simple physics and chemistry, and have been part of the scientific dialog for roughly a century.

Here’s another:

The important thing is that we know how greenhouse gases affect climate. It has even been predicted hundred years ago by Arrhenius. It is simple physics.

Unfortunately, while the physics is simple, the climate is far from simple. It is one of the more complex systems that we have ever studied. The climate is a tera-watt scale planetary sized heat engine. It is driven by both terrestrial and extra-terrestrial forcings, a number of which are unknown, and many of which are poorly understood and/or difficult to measure. It is inherently chaotic and turbulent, two conditions for which we have few mathematical tools.

The climate is comprised of five major subsystems — atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere. All of these subsystems are imperfectly understood. Each of these subsystems has its own known and unknown internal and external forcings, feedbacks, resonances, and cyclical variations. In addition, each subsystem affects all of the other subsystems through a variety of known and unknown forcings and feedbacks.

Then there is the problem of scale. Climate has crucially important processes at physical scales from the molecular to the planetary, and at temporal scales from milliseconds to millennia.

As a result of this almost unimaginable complexity, simple physics is simply inadequate to predict the effect of a change in one of the hundreds and hundreds of things that affect the climate. I will give two examples of why “simple physics” doesn’t work with the climate — a river, and a block of steel. I’ll start with a thought experiment with the block of steel.

Suppose that I want to find out about how temperature affects solids. I take a 75 kg block of steel, and I put the bottom end of it in a bucket of hot water. I duct tape a thermometer to the top end in the best experimental fashion, and I start recording how the temperature change with time. At first, nothing happens. So I wait. And soon, the temperature of the other end of the block of steel starts rising. Hey, simple physics, right?

To verify my results, I try the experiment with a block of copper. I get the same result, the end of the block that’s not in the hot water soon begins to warm up. I try it with a block of glass, same thing. My tentative conclusion is that simple physics says that if you heat one end of a solid, the other end will eventually heat up as well.

So I look around for a final test. Not seeing anything obvious, I have a flash of insight. I weigh about 75 kg. So I sit with my feet in the bucket of hot water, put the thermometer in my mouth, and wait for my head to heat up. This experimental setup is shown in Figure 1 above.

After all, simple physics is my guideline, I know what’s going to happen, I just have to wait.

And wait … and wait …

As our thought experiment shows, simple physics may simply not work when applied to a complex system. The problem is that there are feedback mechanisms that negate the effect of the hot water on my cold toes. My body has a preferential temperature which is not set by the external forcings.

For a more nuanced view of what is happening, let’s consider the second example, a river. Again, a thought experiment.

I take a sheet of plywood, and I cover it with some earth. I tilt it up so it slopes from one edge to the other. For our thought experiment, we’ll imagine that this is a hill that goes down to the ocean.

I place a steel ball at the top edge of the earth-covered plywood, and I watch what happens. It rolls, as simple physics predicts, straight down to the lower edge. I try it with a wooden ball, and get the same result. I figure maybe it’s because of the shape of the object.

So I make a small wooden sled, and put it on the plywood. Again, it slides straight down to the ocean. I try it with a miniature steel shed, same result. It goes directly downhill to the ocean as well. Simple physics, understood by Isaac Newton.

As a final test, I take a hose and I start running some water down from the top edge of my hill to make a model river. To my surprise, although the model river starts straight down the hill, it soon starts to wander. Before long, it has formed a meandering stream, which changes its course with time. Sections of the river form long loops, the channel changes, loops are cut off, new channels form, and after while we get something like this:

Figure 2. Meanders, oxbow bends, and oxbow lakes in a river system. Note the old channels where the river used to run.

The most amazing part is that the process never stops. No matter how long we run the river experiment, the channel continues to change. What’s going on here?

Well, the first thing that we can conclude is that, just as in our experiment with the steel block, simple physics simply doesn’t work in this situation. Simple physics says that things roll straight downhill, and clearly, that ain’t happening here … it is obvious we need better tools to analyze the flow of the river.

Are there mathematical tools that we can use to understand this system? Yes, but they are not simple. The breakthrough came in the 1990’s, with the discovery by Adrian Bejan of the Constructal Law. The Constructal Law applies to all flow systems which are far from equilibrium, like a river or the climate.

It turns out that these types of flow systems are not passive systems which can take up any configuration. Instead, they actively strive to maximize some aspect of the system. For the river, as for the climate, the system strives to maximize the sum of the energy moved and the energy lost through turbulence. See the discussion of these principles here, herehere, and here. There is also a website devoted to various applications of the Constructal Law here.

There are several conclusions that we can make from the application of the Constructal Law to flow systems:

1. Any flow system far from equilibrium is not free to take up any form as the climate models assume. Instead, it has a preferential state which it works actively to achieve.

2. This preferential state, however, is never achieved. Instead, the system constantly overshoots and undershoots that state, and does not settle down to one final form. The system never stops modifying its internal aspects to move towards the preferential state.

3. The results of changes in such a flow system are often counterintuitive. For example, suppose we want to shorten the river. Simple physics says it should be easy. So we cut through an oxbow bend, and it makes the river shorter … but only for a little while. Soon the river readjusts, and some other part of the river becomes longer. The length of the river is actively maintained by the system. Contrary to our simplistic assumptions, the length of the river is not changed by our actions.

So that’s the problem with “simple physics” and the climate. For example, simple physics predicts a simple linear relationship between the climate forcings and the temperature. People seriously believe that a change of X in the forcings will lead inevitably to a chance of A * X in the temperature. This is called the “climate sensitivity”, and is a fundamental assumption in the climate models. The IPCC says that if CO2 doubles, we will get a rise of around 3C in the global temperature. However, there is absolutely no evidence to support that claim, only computer models. But the models assume this relationship, so they cannot be used to establish the relationship.

However, as rivers clearly show, there is no such simple relationship in a flow system far from equilibrium. We can’t cut through an oxbow to shorten the river, it just lengthens elsewhere to maintain the same total length. Instead of being affected by a change in the forcings, the system sets its own preferential operating conditions (e.g. length, temperature, etc.) based on the natural constraints and flow possibilities and other parameters of the system.

Final conclusion? Because climate is a flow system far from equilibrium, it is ruled by the Constructal Law. As a result, there is no physics-based reason to assume that increasing CO2 will make any difference to the global temperature, and the Constructal Law gives us reason to think that it may make no difference at all. In any case, regardless of Arrhenius, the “simple physics” relationship between CO2 and global temperature is something that we cannot simply assume to be true.


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622 Responses to The Unbearable Complexity of Climate

  1. Thank you, Willis, for the well-written comments.

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel

  2. Jeff L says:

    The simple physics are still part of the overall description of the system (in both cases), but the key is they are only PART, not the entirety of the description of the system.

    Willis, the stream equilibrium analog is interesting. For anyone who doubts the description provided, check the geological literature – there is tons of geological research of both modern & ancient fluvial systems which support the basic description provided.

    Now the critical data which we haven’t seen is with forcings in the climate “flow” system – is there data that could be used to support this hypothesis that it behaves in an analogous way to the stream model (has an equilibrium independent of forcings). And if this is true, over what time scales is it true? Willis, if you could expand on that with some data, it could provide a fairly powerful argument.

  3. smallz79 says:

    Wow that is the best explaination so far. I have read many good explainations, but this one is simple, easy to understand and follow along with (including the thought experiments).

  4. Charles Higley says:

    An excellent treatment. I will read it to my physics students – next year!

  5. gtrip says:

    Where do the proles fit in?

  6. _Jim says:


    3. The results of changes in such a flow system are often counterintuitive. For example, suppose we want to shorten the river. Simple physics says it should be easy. So we cut through an oxbow bend, and it makes the river shorter … but only for a little while.

    So far, it has worked in downtown Battle Creek; however, it should be mentioned that the banks of said river are now made of concrete ;) … that was >30 years ago.

    Battle Creek and the ‘plains’ it and surrounding communities exist in are an area that was effectively evened out over geological time (after the glaciers) by the ‘meandering river’ and oxbow lake (and swamp) effect.
    .
    .

  7. u.k.(us) says:

    chaos, the bane of models.

  8. Gorky says:

    I carried out a similar thought experiment last week:
    Suppose we did not know that water boiled at 100C, and we were engaged in predicting the long-term surface level in a tank which we were also heating. Based on measured trends we would confidently expect the depth of water to go on increasing in a linear fashion as we warmed it and it expanded. We would be correct only until boiling started! Then we would have a period of turmoil, followed by a steadly FALL in the level due to the loss of water as it boiled off as steam.
    When you get complicated and REAL, it’s what you don’t know and didn’t think of that stuffs things up!
    Hmm – that boiling WAS a tipping point though!!

  9. Smokey says:

    gtrip (20:00:23) :

    “Where do the proles fit in?”

    Everyone has a job in the new world order. The job of the proles is to pay the freight.

  10. Doug in Seattle says:

    Are there any researchers looking at climate as a system governed by a Constructal Law?

  11. Phil's Dad says:

    I’m not sure cutting out / bypassing an oxbow would have no effect on the length but I do buy that it would have an unpredictable effect as a result of a change in pressure both upstream and down. I think your point is better made by saying that if we fiddle with things it will have unforeseen/unpredictable consequences, that we will need to adapt to, rather than none; and that similarly we can not attribute current consequences to past simple actions.

  12. Dave Worley says:

    A wonderfully simple illustration of the difficulty of modeling fluid dynamics.

  13. RhudsonL says:

    forgot to include the racism

  14. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Doug in Seattle (20:06:24) : edit

    Are there any researchers looking at climate as a system governed by a Constructal Law?

    Bejan himself, in the final of the four links above (here). Other than Bejan, I’m not aware of any, but there may be some.

  15. Theo Goodwin says:

    Very good work, Mr. Eschenbach.

    I do not know how many times that someone has told me that they will explain the theory of global warming and then they describe the relevant properties of the CO2 molecule? Excuse, me! That is no theory of global warming. Much…much more is needed, as you show.

    For example, can global warming advocates predict where the offending CO2 particles are found? I take it they are not randomly distributed between Earth and Heaven. (Even that would be a hypothesis of sorts.) They do collect somewhere up there, don’t they? Well, do they heat up? So, can global warming advocates predict, on a given day, where to find a warm spot in the atmosphere (or higher) that is caused by the offending CO2 molecules. No warming advocate has given me a positive response. Yet they refuse to take their inability to make such predictions as maybe counting against their theory. (Though some folks have said the failure to find such a warm spot somewhere over tropical South America is a major problem – but they are not climategaters.)

    By contrast, Svensmark’s theory about the formation of clouds that contribute to cooling actually predicts where the clouds will be found and explains the causes of the cloud formation. Now, there we have a theory that can be used and tested.

  16. jorgekafkazar says:

    gtrip (20:00:23) : “Where do the proles fit in?”

    north prole at the top, south prole at the bottom.

  17. JAC says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong … but in addition to the climate being a complex system, by itself, CO2 can only warm the planet by a limited amount due to the fact that additional warming reduces logarithmically in response to additional CO2. For a “catastrophic” temperature change additional positive feedback mechanisms are required that increase the climate system’s sensitivity to CO2.

    My point is, that even simple physics says that CO2 has a limited warming effect, and that additional complexity (i.e. positive feedback mechanisms) must be introduced to get the sort of warming predicted by climate models. Is this correct?

  18. gtrip says:

    _Jim (20:01:03) :
    So far, it has worked in downtown Battle Creek; however, it should be mentioned that the banks of said river are now made of concrete ;) … that was >30 years ago.

    Battle Creek and the ‘plains’ it and surrounding communities exist in are an area that was effectively evened out over geological time (after the glaciers) by the ‘meandering river’ and oxbow lake (and swamp) effect.

    So what? I don’t know what you are saying. There is nothing wrong with routing a river through a city by using concrete. The concrete banks may not last forever, but they will serve their purpose for as long as they can. And your city will be able to crank out corn flakes for the good of the nation until they collapse.

  19. Unfortunately, while the physics is simple, the climate is far from simple
    That is because the Earth basically is cold without being too cold. Heat it up enough [say to 10,000 degrees] or cool it a couple hundred degrees, and simple physics takes over. In the regime of liquid water is where things get complicated.

  20. magicjava says:

    SHOUTS “WIKI TRYING TO DELETE CLIMATEGATE ARTICLE! PLZ HELP!”

    http://magicjava.blogspot.com/2009/12/wikipedia-now-trying-to-delete.html

  21. John F. Hultquist says:

    All this ‘simple physics’ makes me think of the simple formula for the area of a circle. Area is equal to pi times the radius squared. Many people have used this simple formula. Not many can derive it or prove that it is true.

    But the simple GHG idea is even more difficult. When someone says it is simple, just say “Prove it.” Ask them if the process works for CO2 why doesn’t it work for O2 or N2, both of which are major components of the atmosphere. Yes, some people do know what is going on but most have no idea, especially those out in the snow chanting ‘turn off the heat.” And if it is simple physics, why must there be some unknown ‘forcing’ to make it work. Do most of the people know about this or have any idea how quickly simple physics gets astoundingly complex?

    As for Willis’s example the concepts for meandering rivers have been shown for years in earth science classes, thus providing such a demand that the “stream table” has been commercialized:

    http://wardsci.com/category.asp?c=890&bhcd2=1261975346

    and an interesting example:

    http://scienceblogs.com/highlyallochthonous/2009/10/how_to_build_a_meandering_rive.php

    For many years Washington State University in Pullman had a RR-boxcar size one inside a building. Maybe they still do.

  22. par5 says:

    “The important thing is that we know how greenhouse gases affect climate. It has even been predicted hundred years ago by Arrhenius. It is simple physics.”

    And every time I here James Hansen say this, I giggle uncontrolably. Arrhenius also concluded that the sun was made of coal, and that the earth was less than ten thousand years old.

  23. par5 says:

    “2. This preferential state, however, is never achieved. Instead, the system constantly overshoots and undershoots that state, and does not settle down to one final form. The system never stops modifying its internal aspects to move towards the preferential state.”

    Like a sign wave.

  24. Dennis Wingo says:

    The important thing is that we know how greenhouse gases affect climate. It has even been predicted hundred years ago by Arrhenius. It is simple physics.

    This whole Arrhenius thing has always bothered me. His calculations were done before either Einstein or Plank’s work and without the foundation in quantum mechanics it is impossible to understand the absorption and emission of infrared radiation. I have been laboring through several of the papers that form the foundation that are used by the AGW community and have found that many of them do not say what it is claimed that they say. The best work in this area was actually done in the fifties and sixties and yet little of it has been applied to this modern era of computer analysis of the effect of CO2.

  25. par5 says:

    Oops, make that ‘sine’ wave.

    ..need sleep…

  26. Glenn says:

    “So I sit with my feet in the bucket of hot water, put the thermometer in my mouth, and wait for my head to heat up.”

    More than anyone needed to know, Willis. :-)

  27. Ron House says:

    Thank you Willis!!!!

    This is one of the best and most insightful articles I have seen anywhere.

  28. crosspatch says:

    And it is no wonder that California schools are eliminating science labs. After all, you can get all the ‘science’ you need from the Acadamy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Just follow the Oscar!

  29. Galen Haugh says:

    One infrequently-discussed component that adds to the heat balance is the mid-oceanic spreading centers. Recently a news item announced that for the first time, an oceanic eruption was filmed in progress. Yet that process has been going on continuously along the spreading centers for millions if not billions of years. The geometry looks like this:

    http://www.uwgb.edu/dutchs/PLATETEC/SpreadCtrs.HTM

    It involves heat sources from the upper mantle called the asthenosphere.

    Most ocean basins have spreading centers–the largest runs most of the length of the Pacific and there are others as well; together they total 40,000 miles in length. A picture of it is shown here:

    A lot of hydrothermal activity goes on at these spreading centers. The process involves downward migration of ocean water through the broken basalt along the flanks of the spreading centers and expulsion of that water as heated, mineral-rich hydrothermal fluids adjacent to the spreading axis in a continuous flow. It is estimated that a volume equal to the world’s entire ocean goes through this process every 8 million years or so. That’s a very long time, but then again, that’s a huge volume of water, especially considering the amount of heat it carries out of the earth’s crust.

    Just another complicating factor contributing to the ocean’s heat balance and, somehow, to earth’s climate.

  30. Roger Sowell says:

    Several problems with this. First, rivers are non-steady-state, that is, they wax from high flow (Spring runoff), then ebb to low flow (late summer). The shape of a river is created much more by the high flow events than other flow regimes. Anyone who has lived near a river knows this.

    Second, climate is also non-steady-state, as is well-known.

    Third, it is puzzling that climate is described as a flow. While it is true that some portions of the earth do flow (atmosphere via winds, and vertically via thermals, also ocean currents and icebergs, etc), as a whole the earth is not flowing anywhere. It is much more reasonable to view the earth as a heat transfer system, with heat input and heat output with very minor amounts of heat accumulations or loss, and having several heat transfer systems. Having some experience with design and control of heat transfer systems, including those at steady state and non-steady state, my conclusion is that Constructal Law has nothing to do with it.

    The points made about the climate systems being complex and not understood are excellent, however. As Anthony pointed out in another (and recent) post, NOAA missed the 3-month prediction for temperatures in the USA for Oct-Nov-Dec 2009. They not only missed, they got it entirely wrong and by a large amount in the wrong direction. In short, they could not have been more wrong. And they used some sort of predictive model for this.

  31. u.k.(us) says:

    it was a nice physics/geology lesson, too bad the AGWs required the co2 explanation at the end.

  32. gtrip says:

    Any Fahrenheit 451 intellectuals here? It’s quite telling. State of Play readers? Orwellians?

    Don’t you all find it ironic that Orwell and Bradbury used totalitarianism as their protagonists as the world is now falling further and further into the very grasp of control that they preached Socialism would protect us from?

    Don’t let yourselves get caught up into what Bradbury called the family; A circle of people connected via the internet that think that they know each other.

    Sometimes, one has to just make things right. Or you don’t.

  33. Noaaprogrammer says:

    Apparently Constructal Law also applies to the understanding of, and further applications of Constructal Law itself – as in the words of Adrian Bejan who discovered it: “Good ideas flow fast and far and keep on flowing. – [but] – Government policy toward supporting research is wrongheaded.”

  34. tom says:

    Dear Mr. Eschenbach,
    I have read your article with a great deal of interest. It brought up some interesting arguments, which I think are right at a certain level, but it misses the point on a very different, but equally important level. The complexity of the climate is undoubtedly great and it is not inconceivable that we will never achieve a total comprehensive understanding of it. But lack of total understanding does not mean that we can not derive some understanding from interaction of some of the basic variables. I give you an example from two other comparably complex system. One is the human body and the other is the free market economy. While we know that the chemical processes used by the body to digest food involves an incredible complex series of chemical reaction involving the food, chemicals and enzymes generated by our bodies and other organisms that live in our digestive system. While these processes are incredible complex and our understanding of them is by no means complete we can predict with a relatively high degree of confidence that overeating will lead to obesity and starvation will lead health problems and possibly death. Similarly, a free market economy is incredibly complex, but it nevertheless responds positively to low interest rates and negatively to high interest rates.
    The problem with using basic physics like CO2 being a greenhouse gas and such it causes global warming is not the fact that it cannot be applied because the climate is too complex. The problem with CO2 caused global warming that the numbers do not support it. Doubling of CO2 may cause a 1 degree C temperature increase (no feedback case), or somewhere between
    0.5 to less than 1degree C if the feedback is negative. Since these were not scary enough scenarios, positive feedback was postulated by the proponents of AGW, to predict catastrophic warming. The problem with positive feedback is twofold. It implies an unstable runaway climate, which is not supported by paleoclimatic data, secondly there is absolutely no empirical evidence that it exists at all. Excellent scientists like Dr.Lindzen and Dr Spencer did a lot of work to show that in fact the climate feedback is negative. While their scientific work is excellent, there is one problem with their work. They fight against an unproven hypothesis. Rather like an accused has to prove his innocence in a court of law rather than the accuser has to prove the guilt of the accused. It would more effective for the sceptics to demand rigorous proof from AGW supporters to demonstrate that the climate system operates with positive feedback.

  35. Holt says:

    If you told everyone on Capitol Hill the climate was governed by a Constructal Law they would greet you with a blank stare. If you yell, “CO2″ they write you a check. Most take the check.

  36. dcardno says:

    A lot of hydrothermal activity goes on at these spreading centers…

    Well, no wonder – I mean, they are several million degrees, right?

  37. gtrip says:

    Leif Svalgaard (20:40:16) :
    Unfortunately, while the physics is simple, the climate is far from simple
    That is because the Earth basically is cold without being too cold. Heat it up enough [say to 10,000 degrees] or cool it a couple hundred degrees, and simple physics takes over. In the regime of liquid water is where things get complicated.

    And it will still work without any human input, and stop working without any input. Aren’t there crops to plant somewhere?

  38. With all the complex non-linear feedbacks in the climate system I would expect that the default position to start from would be that it is chaotic. With the temperature reconstructions of the last million years you would also expect the climate community to start from the position that climate is chaotic.

    Chaotic, most people know but not everyone, means that the system is not random it is deterministic, but very small changes in initial conditions cause totally different outcomes. Therefore, chaotic systems under certain circumstances are impossible to model.

    The visible climate community has talked itself and its followers into the view that weather is chaotic, but because climate is the average of weather it isn’t chaotic.

    This I don’t understand.

    There is a lot of *certainty* over at realclimate.org on this subject. “Climate is not chaotic” is the mantra.

    I’d like to understand this better. Willis has given a nice analogy which just demonstrates how easy it is to form a conclusion about a system based on limited understanding of the processes in that system.

    Anyone know of less certain people than realclimate who look into the subject of climate as chaotic and any papers on it?

    http://scienceofdoom.com

    REPLY: “weather” is known to be chaotic. Climate is a long term collection of weather events, so it stands to reason that it is also chaotic, but on a longer, slower time scale. – Anthony

  39. gtrip says:

    jorgekafkazar (20:31:08) :
    gtrip (20:00:23) : “Where do the proles fit in?”

    north prole at the top, south prole at the bottom.

    I thought those things cost money.

  40. kadaka says:

    Cut off an oxbow, reduce the resistance by shortening the path, get a more energetic water flow. Then come the surges, like with seasonal flooding. When the water goes to leave the banks of the river, it goes to flood-prone areas that have wetter softer ground to start with (due to decreased drainage). The energetic rushing water will cut a new channel, and what caused the river to be where it is (water flowing downhill, rivers being at the lowest points of the terrain) will lead the new channel to reconnect with the river.

    Then at the start of the new branch there will be a drop in water speed, as there are now two paths for the water to go. With the drop in speed, sediments being carried along in the water will tend to be dropped off right there, and since the new branch goes off at an angle the sediments will land at the straight part rather than make the turn. Eventually the build-up will keep choking off the straight part, leading to more energetic water in the branch so it will cut a deeper channel for itself resulting in more water volume through it, until finally the straight part no longer exists.

    Does that sound like a proper description of the process?

  41. LomaAlta says:

    Jim Hansen is not going to be happy with you.

  42. gtrip says:

    crosspatch (20:56:39) : – Ever thought of going radical? In a good way, I mean.

  43. Glenn says:

    dcardno (21:14:33) :

    A lot of hydrothermal activity goes on at these spreading centers…

    “Well, no wonder – I mean, they are several million degrees, right?”

    Those two thoughts put together by certain “right” persons would likely cause *their* heads to heat up.

  44. Glenn says:

    gtrip (21:27:39) :

    jorgekafkazar (20:31:08) :
    gtrip (20:00:23) : “Where do the proles fit in?”

    “north prole at the top, south prole at the bottom.

    I thought those things cost money.”

    Depends on your proint of view.

  45. kevoka says:

    Maybe I have not read enough of the literature, but I continue to miss two other discussions about the other two key elements of the the simple physics:

    The relationship between Temperature, Pressure and Volume. If the temperature of a gas goes up, either the volume will increase (unconstrained boundaries), and/or the pressure increases (constrained boundaries). The only boundary constraint on the gases in earth atmosphere is gravity.

    The other limiting boundary is the Earths magnetic field. It does not constrain the gases, but it protects them from the solar wind. If they were to expand beyond the outer edges of the magnetic field, they would simply blow away.

    I have yet to find any discussion on how the volume of the atmosphere would/should expand (perhaps beyond the magnetic field), due rising temperatures, or the atmospheric pressure would increase.

    Last I looked we are still using 101,325 Pa as the standard pressure at sea level. If we are dumping Billions and Billions of tons of C02 into the air, should this not go up just a bit? Who should I call to get this adjusted? Would Al Gore know?

  46. Noaaprogrammer says:

    Considering the hydrothermal activity between the oceans and the Earth’s interior, one would think that over time, the molton core would eventually cool and solidify. However as the Earth accretes interstellar matter, it increases its mass (I forget how many tons a year it is), but with increased mass comes an increase in gravitational pressure on the interior – albeit a very very small percent increase.

    How would the increase in Earth’s mass and consequent increase in core pressure and heat over 8 million years compare with the dissipation of the Earth’s interior heat over the same time? Is it enough to keep it more or less in balance until heat death takes over?

  47. jt says:

    People keep making the point that Climate is Chaotic as if that meant Climate is unpredictable on any scale. However, there are kinds of chaotic systems which operate around “attractors” so that they repeat their configurations in quasi-periodic fashion. I would be interested in comments from mathematically knowledgeable persons about whether such kinds of chaos have been found, or are likely to be found, in the systems which generate climate, and, if so, what kinds of quasi-periodicity have been found or are expected.

  48. savethesharks says:

    Brilliant essay, Willis. Thank you.

    We have oceans that behave in chaos…and an atmosphere that does the same.

    THe river analogy in the article….the meanders, oxbows *omega blocks*, and former channels….etc…..could very well be describing the Jet Stream.

    And though one certainly can’t take sediment measurements for this type of river, it IS a river and it meanders nonetheless, its changing path in the means leaving clues in the climate records…

    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  49. J.Hansford says:

    Yep, good stuff Willis. I will use that bar of iron or copper in hot water, then substituted for a human body, when in causual conversation with AGW proponents… Makes a good rough analogy for people caught up on the CO2’s properties are thus, therefore heating must be a given.

    It’ll make them think about complexity…. Which is the arguement of the skeptics and their support of Natural variation of the climate system.

  50. joshua corning says:

    Why are we calling climate chaotic?

    In the first example Willis showed that human’s like all mammals regulate their own temperatures. I assume we do not call the regulation of internal temperature by mammals chaotic.

    Why does the climate have to be chaotic? Can’t it just be complex and self regulating?

  51. Les Francis says:

    Physics.

    According to the laws of physics and aerodynamics, it is impossible for the humble bumblebee to fly

  52. Andy Y says:

    Roger Sowell, ummm…. a heat transfer system IS a flow system. Come on man, that’s simple thermodynamics. So whatever criticisms you thought you were levying against Willis are completely unfounded and dumb. Additionally, no where in the entire commentary did he mention anything about steady state, so why you’re bringing that up is even more bewildering.

  53. churn says:

    A stream or river will also maintain the same cross-sectional area. Make a change on one bank and either the bottom or the opposite bank will adjust accordingly to return to the original cross-sectional area. All this takes time and if the flow changes then this adds another layer of complexity.

  54. Willis Eschenbach says:

    scienceofdoom (21:25:35)

    With all the complex non-linear feedbacks in the climate system I would expect that the default position to start from would be that it is chaotic. With the temperature reconstructions of the last million years you would also expect the climate community to start from the position that climate is chaotic.

    Chaotic, most people know but not everyone, means that the system is not random it is deterministic, but very small changes in initial conditions cause totally different outcomes. Therefore, chaotic systems under certain circumstances are impossible to model.

    The visible climate community has talked itself and its followers into the view that weather is chaotic, but because climate is the average of weather it isn’t chaotic.

    This I don’t understand.

    There is a lot of *certainty* over at realclimate.org on this subject. “Climate is not chaotic” is the mantra.

    I’d like to understand this better. Willis has given a nice analogy which just demonstrates how easy it is to form a conclusion about a system based on limited understanding of the processes in that system.

    Anyone know of less certain people than realclimate who look into the subject of climate as chaotic and any papers on it?

    As with many subjects, Steve McIntyre is there before us, and in this case, Mandelbrot is there before RealClimate …

    http://climateaudit.org/2005/10/09/weather-and-climatology-mandelbrots-view/

    The takeaway message is that both weather and climate are chaotic, despite RC’s claims to the contrary.

    w.

  55. Louis Hissink says:

    “A lot of hydrothermal activity goes on at these spreading centers. The process involves downward migration of ocean water through the broken basalt along the flanks of the spreading centers and expulsion of that water as heated, mineral-rich hydrothermal fluids adjacent to the spreading axis in a continuous flow.”

    Er, no, the water cycle as envisaged by standard plate tectonics theory requires the suspension of gravity for starters, (less dense matter cannot descend into more dense matter), and it is more likely that the water coming out of the spreading ridges comes from the asthenosphere itself. Remember that igenous quartz crystals of the milky white color contain water in their crystal lattices – quartz without water is transparent – like a wine glass or the glass thermometer Willis used in his personalised experiment.

    This raises the interesting possibility that rising sealevels might be due to degassing of the athenosphere and extraction of ground water by humanity causing land subsidence in the case of some areas in California. And this isn’t in any climate model.

    Actually while WIllis’ concise description is spot on, he neglected to mention the role electricty plays in earth and solar dynamics, and when you add this component to the physics of climate, the whole argument for CO2 raising temperatures becomes farcical.

  56. Methow Ken says:

    Excellent.

  57. Larry says:

    Dennis Wingo (20:52:57) :

    “This whole Arrhenius thing has always bothered me. His calculations were done before either Einstein or Plank’s work and without the foundation in quantum mechanics it is impossible to understand the absorption and emission of infrared radiation. I have been laboring through several of the papers that form the foundation that are used by the AGW community and have found that many of them do not say what it is claimed that they say. The best work in this area was actually done in the fifties and sixties and yet little of it has been applied to this modern era of computer analysis of the effect of CO2.”

    Dennis, you’re not the only one who found out that Arrhenius didn’t say what some of the AGW community claim he said:

    “Authors trace back their origins to the works of Fourier [37,38] (1824), Tyndall [39-43] (1861) and Arrhenius [44,46] (1896). A careful analysis of the original papers shows that Fourier’s and Tyndall’s works did not really include the concept of the atmospheric greenhouse eff ect, whereas Arrhenius’s work fundamentally di ffers from the versions of today.”

    Quoted from Gerlich and Tscheuschner, Falsification of the Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects Within the Framework of Physics, P. 13, electronic version of an article published in International Journal of Modern Physics B, Vol. 23, No. 3 (2009) 275-364.

    I haven’t read the whole paper (mainly because I don’t think I’ll understand it all), but these two German physicists are onto something.

  58. Larry says:

    By the way, Willis, an excellent presentation. Very understandable for poor dumb laymen like me. Thanks very much.

  59. dunbrokin says:

    It is the same in economics and politics….people seem to lack the ability to think about a problem in any depht…..they get to the first step and cannot go any further…real world analysis takes joined up thinking beyond this first stage….

    For examples of this in economics and politics see Thomas Sowell “Knowledge and Decisions” and his “Applied Economics”.

  60. Louis Hissink says:

    We have a rule of thumb in exploration geophysics – when the system becomes non-linear, all bets are off.

  61. Clive says:

    Willis,

    Thanks so much. I liked the “steel” block/human body comparison. Well done.

    Thank you,

    Clive

  62. Richard Patton says:

    scienceofdoom (21:25:35) asked about whether climate is chaotic.

    McIntyre posted the following regarding this question:

    http://climateaudit.org/2005/10/09/weather-and-climatology-mandelbrots-view/

  63. D.King says:

    We live on a liquid metallic ball,
    covered by dirt and rock that moves,
    surrounded by water,
    encapsulated in a gas sphere,
    spinning at over 1000 miles per hour, and wobbling,
    hurtling around a sun, in a spinning galaxy, in an
    expanding universe.
    Simple physics!

    P.S. I forgot CO2

  64. Richard says:

    tom (21:09:47) : “..lack of total understanding does not mean that we can not derive some understanding from interaction of some of the basic variables.” No I agree with you there. Without going into the human body and sticking to climate and climate models we do understand that doubling of CO2 will cause the Earth to warm at equilibrium by about 1C, in a simple non-chaotic system, with no feedbacks.

    “Doubling of CO2 may cause a 1 degree C temperature increase (no feedback case), or somewhere between 0.5 to less than 1degree C if the feedback is negative.”

    What about the scenario that if the feedback is negative (and complex and not even fully known, such as cosmic rays, interplanetary dust, interstellar dust) doubling of CO2 can be accompanied by a cooling?

    Consider this –
    1. Anthropogenic “forcing” (warming) ~ 1.6 W/m2
    2. Clouds (poorly understood) cooling ~ 30 W / m2

    Get that “poorly understood” bit wrong and it will dwarf Anthropogenic 1.6 _ thats just one factor among many.

    3. Climate has cyclical variations at temporal scales from decades, to centuries to millennia. We could look at smaller timescales and misinterpret whats happening on longer timescales.
    Invariably in our climatic history the Earth has cooled while CO2 was rising and continued to rise. This shows that other negative factors seem to be larger than CO2 forcing

  65. Gary Hladik says:

    tom (21:09:47) : “But lack of total understanding does not mean that we can not derive some understanding from interaction of some of the basic variables. I give you an example from two other comparably complex system.”

    First, out of curiosity, how does one compare or rank the complexity of complex systems? Intuitively I would expect the earth’s climate system to be far more complex than a single human body, since as Willis pointed out, the entire biosphere (including countless human/non-human biological systems) is only one of several components.

    Second, living creatures and market systems, of which we have multiple instances, would seem to be far easier to experiment on than the Earth itself, of which we have only one. It’s true we’re “experimenting” on the planet by adding various gasses and particles to the atmosphere and messing with its surface, but it’s hardly being done in a scientifically controlled way, and there are multiple “natural” experiments going on at the same time.

  66. photon without a Higgs says:

    “As a scientist I do not have much faith in predictions. Science is organized unpredictability. The best scientists like to arrange things in an experiment to be as unpredictable as possible, and then they do the experiment to see what will happen. You might say that if something is predictable then it is not science. When I make predictions, I am not speaking as a scientist. I am speaking as a story-teller, and my predictions are science-fiction rather than science.”

    from Freeman Dyson

    http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/dysonf07/dysonf07_index.html

  67. Mike Borgelt says:

    Leif Svalgaard (20:40:16) :

    “Unfortunately, while the physics is simple, the climate is far from simple
    That is because the Earth basically is cold without being too cold. Heat it up enough [say to 10,000 degrees] or cool it a couple hundred degrees, and simple physics takes over.”

    Oh you mean like a star or the sun? Simple physics, totally predictable????

  68. Mike G says:

    JAC (20:35:19) :

    “Correct me if I’m wrong … but in addition to the climate being a complex system, by itself, CO2 can only warm the planet by a limited amount due to the fact that additional warming reduces logarithmically in response to additional CO2. For a “catastrophic” temperature change additional positive feedback mechanisms are required that increase the climate system’s sensitivity to CO2.

    My point is, that even simple physics says that CO2 has a limited warming effect, and that additional complexity (i.e. positive feedback mechanisms) must be introduced to get the sort of warming predicted by climate models. Is this correct?”

    That’s what I’ve read here and other places. And, the magnitude of the imagined positive feedback component the warmists are counting on is almost completely developed in the area of science that has become questionable as a result of climate-gate. To me, this is the main significance of climate-gate. It’s why they are trying so hard to dismiss this and hoping nobody starts connecting the fact that all of the evidence for the positive feedbacks are tied to the “value added” temperature data and the very questionable proxy studies.

  69. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Louis Hissink (22:15:02)


    Actually while WIllis’ concise description is spot on, he neglected to mention the role electric[i]ty plays in earth and solar dynamics, and when you add this component to the physics of climate, the whole argument for CO2 raising temperatures becomes farcical.

    Louis, you are right. I figured if I did more than mention the extra-terrestrial aspects of climate forcings, people would figure I was talking about space aliens … so while I did not include them other than in passing, please consider them to be subsumed under the heading of my statement that:

    It is driven by both terrestrial and extra-terrestrial forcings, a number of which are unknown, and many of which are poorly understood and/or difficult to measure.

    Among these poorly understood aspects are, as Louis points out, the many interactions between electricity and the climate. To start with we have the huge role that electricity plays in thunderstorms. This is greatly expanded and complicated by the electromagnetic interaction of solar dynamics (solar magnetism, solar wind, and CMEs) with the ionosphere and through that to the lower levels of the atmosphere. And likely other places as yet un-dreamed of.

    Like I said, unbearable complexity …

  70. Greg says:

    Re: Chaos

    Check out this book, by Glick: http://www.amazon.com/Chaos-Making-Science-James-Gleick/dp/0143113453/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1261982801&sr=8-1

    By the way, human physiological processes are chaotic, at least in part.

    As far as the simple physics goes, how about we include the following into our simple physics to get a more complete picture:

    – Solar viariation
    – Sunspots
    – Other external factors, such as cosmic rays influencing cloud formation.
    – Variations in planetary tilt and orbital distance from sun (Milankovitch cycles)
    – The Greenhouse Effect, primarily water vapor driven.
    – Various other greenhouse gases, of which CO2 might be the least important.
    – Cyclical variations of winds and currents
    – Heat and CO2 content of the oceans
    – Ice albedo from poles and glaciers.
    – Light absorbtion and reflection as land areas change color due to climate change and land use.
    – Clouds
    – CO2 scrubbing by forests
    – Volcanoes and other geothermal activity
    – Heat added to the ocean from underwater geo activity
    – Geology (which changes over the millions of years.)
    – Gravity?
    – Land use leading to regional changes (eg: the heat island effect.)
    – And probably a few other things

    And then we add a little chaos… Yummy mix, hmm?

  71. Bill Tuttle says:

    Les Francis (22:06:09) :
    Physics.
    According to the laws of physics and aerodynamics, it is impossible for the humble bumblebee to fly.

    Or the Hiller 23 helicopter. But no one bothered to inform the bumblebee, and the Hiller was flying successfully for seventeen years before some bright light “proved” that it was physically incapable of hovering, much less flying.

    And learning to hover a Hiller required chaotic control application…

  72. leftymartin says:

    Interesting post. Note that the Constructal Law bears a number of similarities to the Principle of Maximum Entropy Production, which is postulated to operate within the framework of non-equilibrium thermodynamics. As stated by Kleidon and Lorenz (2005), “at the state of Maximum Entropy Production, the atmospheric circulation responds primarily with negative feedbacks to external perturbations”. The principle of Maximum Entropy Production is the tendency of systems in steady state, but held away from equilibrium by an external input of energy, to produce entropy at the maximum possible rate. Expressed another way, “A system will select the path or assemblage of paths out of available paths that minimizes the potential or maximizes the entropy at the fastest rate given the constraints”. According to this principle, negative, not positive, feedbacks to external system perturbations are favoured (e.g. Ozawa et al., 2003). The Constructal Law also seems to infer that a flow system will tend to respond to perturbations (i.e. shortening the stream in your example) with negative feedbacks (i.e. lengthening it somewhere else).

    The founder of the field of geotechnical engineering, Dr. Karl Terzaghi, is reputed to have made a statement that I think captures the silliness of the “simple radiative physics” being used in predicting the response of the complex system that is climate:

    Nature has no contract with mathematics. She has even less of an obligation to laboratory test procedures and results.

    References:

    Kleidon, A. and R. Lorenz (2005). “Entropy production by earth system processes”, in Kleidon, A. and Lorenz, R. (eds.) “Non-Equilibrium Thermodynamics and the Production of Entropy”, Understanding Complex Systems, Springer Complexity, pp. 1-20.

    Ozawa H., Ohmura, A., Lorenz, R.D. and T. Pujol (2003). “The second law of thermodynamics and the global climate system – a review of the maximum entropy production principle”, Rev. Geophys. 41:1018.

  73. Margaret says:

    Thank you Willis, for a very clear explanation as to why increases in CO2 does not inevitably warm the planet. It is too simplistic and assumes that all other sources of heat input, absorption and radiation as well as pressure and volume remain constant over the entire earth. I read a blog which stated that it was obvious that temperature would rise in a garage if CO2 increased. I replied that the earth’s atmosphere is far more complex that a garage.

  74. Mike G says:

    Willis,

    Was “unbearable” a play on the titles of the most recent posts?

  75. What you propose is called independent and impartial thinking, Mr. Eschenbach.
    Now, it may be assumed axiomatically that most scientists are human beings.
    Multiple observations (history) show that human beings, in most cases, are guided by preconceived conclusions.
    Their choice of preconceived conclusions depends on the source of funding.
    Or, as folk wisdom puts it, “He who pays the piper, calls the tune.”
    Depending on the complexity of the financing scheme and of the political situation of the moment, telling your bosses exactly what they want to hear may require some significant thinking.
    That is the kind of thinking our publicly funded scientists (i.e. Dr. Hansen and Prof. Mann) are doing all the time.
    What they do is called “politically correct science.”
    Which means that what you propose (independent and impartial thinking) is entirely politically incorrect, runs against the public (government’s) interests and, as such, should be banned and persecuted.
    You are an enemy of the people, Mr. Eschenbach.

  76. Nigel S says:

    Gerhard Gerlich and Ralf D. Tscheuschner
    Abstract
    The atmospheric greenhouse effect, an idea that authors trace back to the traditional works of Fourier 1824, Tyndall 1861 and Arrhenius 1896 and is still supported in global climatology essentially describes a fictitious mechanism in which a planetary atmosphere acts as a heat pump driven by an environment that is radiatively interacting with but radiatively equilibrated to the atmospheric system. According to the second law of thermodynamics such a planetary machine can never exist. Nevertheless, in almost all texts of global climatology and in a widespread secondary literature it is taken for granted that such mechanism is real and stands on a firm scientific foundation. In this paper the popular conjecture is analyzed and the underlying physical principles are clarified. By showing that (a) there are no common physical laws between the warming phenomenon in glass houses and the fictitious atmospheric greenhouse effects, (b) there are no calculations to determine an average surface temperature of a planet, (c) the frequently mentioned difference of 33 C is a meaningless number calculated wrongly, (d) the formulas of cavity radiation are used inappropriately, (e) the assumption of a radiative balance is unphysical, (f) thermal conductivity and friction must not be set to zero, the atmospheric greenhouse conjecture is falsified

  77. Bill Sticker says:

    Great analogy demonstrating how linear relationships are rarely found in a complex dynamic. Sweetly done Willis.

  78. Doug says:

    You just explained why few geologists are AWG alarmists. It is assumed by some that they are all bought by big oil, but there is more to it than that.

    thanks for the great post.

  79. Stefan says:

    Perhaps the meandering rivers are interesting also because they illustrate:

    – they appear to have a very obvious and striking pattern which is easy to recognise

    – but the particular configuration of that pattern is highly unpredictable

    Maybe this is a point which contributes to people’s sense that, because they can discern patterns in the statistics of weather, that they can therefore predict that weather. Well, we can predict that a river may meander, but anything more than that is really stretching things.

    Perhaps there are certain key variables about the sun which can be used to predict certain aspects of Earth’s weather — perhaps — but we can only know by real world testing. Computer models are worse than useless, they are positively harmful; a huge distraction. Imagine they were used to model meandering rivers. The computer could draw always the same configuration. It would look real, because it meanders, but the real life river would meander in a completely different configuration. So then the modellers try an “ensemble” of models. Well that could give you an infinite number of possible configurations, in other words, no answer at all! So the modellers decide that certain categories of configurations are just far too unrealistic in their professional opinions. Whatever is left is the carefully researched peer reviewed and consistent prediction. Meanwhile the real river runs off in a different configuration. Scientists act “surprised”.

    But the greater worry is perhaps that NGOs worldwide and the UN seem to belive that they can manipulate the world populations’ development along the lines of “simple physics”.

    Like, educated women have fewer children so let’s educate women in underdeveloped countries, to help them develop sustainably.

  80. RR says:

    How is it that alarmists can quote “simple physics” to prove AGW, when CO2 only makes up .003 parts of the atmosphere? What law of physics explains how .003 parts of a fluid can warm the other 99.997 parts? Seems like a serious case of the tail wagging the dog to me!

  81. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Mike G (23:04:04) : edit

    Willis,

    Was “unbearable” a play on the titles of the most recent posts?

    Naw, it was a play on “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” by Milan Kundera. Per Wikipedia:

    Challenging Friedrich Nietzsche’s concept of eternal recurrence (the universe and its events have already occurred and will recur ad infinitum), the story’s thematic meditations posit the alternative that each person has only one life to live, and that which occurs in that life, occurs only once shall never occur again — thus the “lightness” of being; whereas eternal recurrence is the “heaviness” threatening the meaning of said life.

    “Thematic meditations” … dang, wish I’d said that …

    So my title is a symbolic rebellion against the heaviness of the claim that all parts of climate are related by linear equations … or perhaps not, perhaps it’s just poking fun at the unbearable heaviness of the AGW supporters.

    Or maybe it is just a meaningless figo at the universe for making everything so dang complex, or the same said figo at those who insist that complex things are really simple, and who want us to spend billions based on their ludicrous claim …

    You pays your money, you takes your choice. I leave the title interpretation up to you.

    w.

  82. anna v says:

    This is the first time I encounter a “constructural law”. I am auditing a complexity and chaos interuniversity course and I will ask around :). I am all in favor of conservation laws, but need to see the theoretical proof so cannot have an opinion on this.

    Roger Sowell (21:03:31) :

    Several problems with this. First, rivers are non-steady-state, that is, they wax from high flow (Spring runoff), then ebb to low flow (late summer). The shape of a river is created much more by the high flow events than other flow regimes. Anyone who has lived near a river knows this.
    Think again? What area dries out and how much and how hard during low flow should be equally significant to the the high flow effect, imo. All it takes is a tree trunk cutting the flow, and how the tree is snagged depends on how the previous bed dried etc. etc.

  83. Alessandro says:

    Ok, I got it. You, sir, are a fictional character.
    A guy with a penchant for lateral reasoning and exotic scientific theories. Eschenbach as in “Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid”: ESCHEr ‘N’ BACH.
    See? See?

  84. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Nigel S (23:12:24)

    Gerhard Gerlich and Ralf D. Tscheuschner …

    Nigel, while the work of Gerlich and Tscheuschner is interesting, can I ask you to please discuss it on another thread? I personally don’t agree with it for the reasons stated at this link, but that’s neither here nor there. I would just prefer not to have this thread diverted to a totally different subject.

    w.

  85. Paul Vaughan says:

    There’s nothing complex about climate.

    It’s simple:

    (to be continued…)

  86. Richard Patton says:

    jt (21:54:39) : said:

    “People keep making the point that Climate is Chaotic as if that meant Climate is unpredictable on any scale. However, there are kinds of chaotic systems which operate around “attractors” so that they repeat their configurations in quasi-periodic fashion. I would be interested in comments from mathematically knowledgeable persons about whether such kinds of chaos have been found, or are likely to be found, in the systems which generate climate, and, if so, what kinds of quasi-periodicity have been found or are expected.”

    Another way to look at this is that climate is made up of a myriad of self-similar processes. Self-similar processes exhibit Hurst-Kolmogorov (HK) pragmaticity (aka long term persistence (LTP)) and thus have varying means. That is, the average will wander around quite a bit – rather chaotically in fact. The best resource I have found on this is Demetris Koutsoyiannis. Here is one interesting presentation he did on this:

    http://www.itia.ntua.gr/getfile/849/2/documents/2008EGU_HurstClimatePr.pdf

    His general work can be found here: http://www.itia.ntua.gr/dk/

    One of his papers was discussed at climate audit here: http://climateaudit.org/2008/07/29/koutsoyiannis-et-al-2008-on-the-credibility-of-climate-predictions/

  87. Benjamin says:

    Wow! that was a pretty good explanation! (I bet the “consensus” couldn’t do a similar thought experiment to prove that their model and predictions are accurate!)

    And there is irony, here. The truth about falsehood was revealed by simple physics, via what simple physics couldn’t reveal about the truth.

    Or something like that (it’s early, and I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer to begin with, so if that sounded dumb… :-)

  88. tallbloke says:

    gtrip (20:00:23) :

    Where do the proles fit in?

    They get to dig the channels which divert the flow of money into the pockets of the rich.

    Thanks Willis, great post.

  89. gtrip says:

    Beware of becoming what you despise…and that’s all I got to say about that.

  90. Dave vs Hal says:

    A complex system with negative feedbacks maintaining an equilibrium. Sounds suspiciously like the G… word (the earth behaving like a simple organism). Life co-evolved with this planet and it wouldn’t surprise me if some of the feedbacks are biological. Lovelock may one day be pardoned by the church of scepticism.

  91. Michael says:

    I think we’re wearing out the evil doers and the people promoting evil deeds. I just get that feeling.

  92. tallbloke says:

    jt (21:54:39) :

    People keep making the point that Climate is Chaotic as if that meant Climate is unpredictable on any scale. However, there are kinds of chaotic systems which operate around “attractors” so that they repeat their configurations in quasi-periodic fashion. I would be interested in comments from mathematically knowledgeable persons about whether such kinds of chaos have been found, or are likely to be found, in the systems which generate climate, and, if so, what kinds of quasi-periodicity have been found or are expected.

    In the very long term, the Earth seems to oscillate between two attractors which have average temperatures of 9C and 22C. It has oscillated between them about half a dozen times over the last 500M years.

    In the longish term, it has oscillated between around 9C and 15C about 20 timesover the last 2 million years.

    In the medium term it seems to have oscillated between around 11C and 14C around 5 times over the last 7 thousand years.

    What will it do next?

    Place bets now. :-)

  93. hotrod says:

    Les Francis (22:06:09) :
    Physics.
    According to the laws of physics and aerodynamics, it is impossible for the humble bumblebee to fly.

    NO you should have phrased it as :

    Blockquote>According to (our understanding of) the laws of physics and aerodynamics, it is impossible for the humble bumblebee to fly.

    It is not the laws of physics which are wrong the bumble bee did in fact fly, it was our lack of understanding of insect flight and how aerodynamic processes change in very small flight environments. Many insects use vortex generation to create lift not conventional airfoil lift generated by flow over a surface.

    The problem of how the butterfly or bumble bee flies is a good example of how chaotic things get when you move outside of the domain your models have skill in. We can adequately model aerodynamic forces on conventionally constructed planes operating in well understood aerodynamic environments. When we push the envelope as we did passing into supersonic flight we had to learn some new rules to add to our formula.

    There is no reason to think that the same applies when you go from a weather model which is competent at 3 days but is marginally competent at 10 days and totally worthless beyond 30 days. If the “climate models” cannot given the weather information existing in 2008 give a competent prediction for the the winter climate in 2009 why should we expect they can predict climate in 2109.

    Larry

  94. tallbloke says:

    Dave vs Hal (23:57:26) :

    A complex system with negative feedbacks maintaining an equilibrium. Sounds suspiciously like the G… word (the earth behaving like a simple organism). Life co-evolved with this planet and it wouldn’t surprise me if some of the feedbacks are biological. Lovelock may one day be pardoned by the church of scepticism.

    Everyone interested in climate should read Lovelock’s first book. They might be pleasantly surprised as well as better informed.

  95. gtrip says:

    [please never post offensive tripe, such as that, again. ~ ctm]

  96. Lindsay H says:

    I see Nature is cerating some new jobs for a new publication Nature Climate Change and are looking for a Chief Editor & Associate Chief Editor

    http://www.nature.com/naturejobs/science/jobs/122965-Chief-Editor-and-Associate-Editors-Nature-Climate-Change

    Lets hope that some well rounded individuals with a working knowledge of WUWT gets the job and brings a good dose of scepticism to the new Mag.

    Pigs might fly of course

  97. Steve Hempell says:

    Willis

    “The IPCC says that if CO2 doubles, we will get a rise of around 3C in the global temperature. However, there is absolutely no evidence to support that claim, only computer models.”

    According to this guy they are dead on – maybe even a bit more sensitive. Paleogeology (is there such a word?) seems to indicate it more and more. Care to comment?

    http://www.agu.org/meetings/fm09/lectures/lecture_videos/A23A.shtml

  98. pft says:

    The article is right on. Climate is incredibly complex and we understand so little.

    I believe Arrhenius main point coming out of the LIA was that a reduction in CO2 could bring about ice age temperatures.

    Chemical methods used to measure CO2 in his day showed CO2 levels higher than today, but this may be due to an urban effect. Funny how nobody seems to measure CO2 in the cities to explain the UHI. I expect the results would be mnuch higher than MLO, located near a volcano and the largest COs source from the upwelling waters in the Pacific. So how do they reconcile the minimal weighting they give the UHI if results are 500 ppm or more.

    I read one paper recently, not online though, where it was hypothesized that without mans CO2 we might be entering another ice age.

    Models are only as accurate as the underlying assumptions, parameters and understanding of the science. Without validation, they are nothing more than fancy curve fitters who can only predict the past by tweaking the parameters, but not dependable enough to rely on for the future. Even the past they have trouble with, hence their best attempts to whitewash the MWP and LIA and send it down the memory hole.

    Nigel S (23:12:24)

    That papers online as a pdf file somewhere.

  99. RR asked “How is it that alarmists can quote “simple physics” to prove AGW, when CO2 only makes up .003 parts of the atmosphere? What law of physics explains how .003 parts of a fluid can warm the other 99.997 parts? Seems like a serious case of the tail wagging the dog to me!”

    Take a look at http://scienceofdoom.com/2009/11/28/co2-an-insignificant-trace-gas-part-one/ – the follow up post will be out shortly.

    In brief, the argument from incredulity isn’t much help in working out the properties of molecules.

    The fact that CO2 is only 0.04% of the atmosphere isn’t what determines how much radiation it absorbs. The wavelengths of long wave radiation – the earth radiates longwave – that each and every gas in the atmosphere absorbs and re-emits is incontrovertible physics. The very same absorption that is measured in the lab can be seen at the top of the atmosphere by satellite measurement.

    It might seem like “the tail wagging the dog”, but CO2 absorbs radiation at 4.26, 7.52 and 14.99μm. Water vapor and methane gases absorb at other frequencies.

    Can a tiny amount of cyanide kill someone? Can a tiny spark cause a big explosion? Can a gas which is 0.04% of the atmosphere cause 25% of the “greenhouse effect”?

    Yes.

  100. gtrip says:

    tallbloke (00:03:27) :

    Shouldn’t it be Talk Bloke? You think that fighting windmills is the right path?

  101. Peter Melia says:

    If you google “Constructal Law”, and go to Wikipedia, you come across an “allometric law of cruising speed vs body mass”. This shows that the bigger a thing, the faster it can comfortably fly (=cruise). Now, speed record attemptists (?) routinely reduce mass to the minimum achievable, to go faster, but this new law says the opposite. Horse racing authorities routinely load up faster horses in order to make them go slower. Have they got it wrong?
    This is not, of course connected with climate change, but it is Christmas after all.
    Peter Melia

  102. tallbloke says:

    Paul Vaughan (23:40:54) :

    http://www.sfu.ca/~plv/QBO_fGLAAM_fLOD.png

    Interesting Hiccup in the early-mid ’70’s Paul.

  103. joshua corning says:

    Sounds suspiciously like the G… word (the earth behaving like a simple organism).

    Does the fact that Venus has the same atmospheric temperature on its dark side that it has on it sunward side sound like a rock at the bottom of canyon or an adaptive self correcting system?

    Does such a distinction even matter?

    Also it would seem we run into the anthropic principle here as well. Sure it seems kind of odd that our atmosphere might behave like an organism. Of course if it our planet did not act that way, with an adaptive atmosphere that actively preserves a steady state of mild temperatures over multiple millennia, then it would not be able to evolve life on it to begin with. If the earth’s climate were fragile we would not exist.

  104. Nigel S says:

    Willis Eschenbach (23:38:55) :

    Nigel S (23:12:24)

    Gerhard Gerlich and Ralf D. Tscheuschner

    First thank you Willis for all your intersting articles and for standing up to the bullying elsewhere.

    My cut and paste (sorry I was repairing my keyboard after spilling wine on it) was a comment on the ‘indisputable “simple physics”‘ when the settled assumptions are (I believe) wrong. I think Gerlich and Tscheuschner are right when they talk about a perpetual motion machine in the standard radiative balance calculations but I can see that I shall have to get out my thermodynamics text books and notes.

  105. Lindsay H says:

    new scientist had a recent piece on

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18301-five-laws-of-human-nature.html

    and I had to laugh at the thought of Parkinson & the Copenhaen conference!!

    “Parkinson also came up with the “law of triviality”, which states that the amount of time an organisation spends discussing an issue is inversely proportional to its importance. He argued that nobody dares to expound on important issues in case they’re wrong – but everyone is happy to opine at length about the trivial.”

    40000 trivialists at copenhagen!

    “This in turn may be a result of Sayre’s law, which states that in any dispute, the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the stakes at issue.”

    and dont the NGO”s know it!

    Parkinson also proposed a coefficient of inefficiency, which attempts to define the maximum size a committee can reach before it becomes unable to make decisions. His suggestion that it lay “somewhere 19.9 and 22.4″ has stood the test of time: more recent research suggests that committees cannot include many more than 20 members before becoming utterly hapless.

  106. tom wrote:

    “…we can predict with a relatively high degree of confidence that overeating will lead to obesity and starvation will lead health problems and possibly death.”

    This counter analogy does not support AGW theory.

    Reducing food intake to reduce obesity is akin to reducing CO2 to reduce global warming. But reducing food intake does not reduce obesity. Calorie restriction diets are very well known to fail quite miserably except during a short period of extremely uncomfortable food rationing known as hunger. The vast majority of people cannot cope long and once they end the diet their obesity and metabolic tendency towards it tends to get worse than before. Rationing CO2 is likely to have a similarly bad long term effect on society when enough people who lack energy start experiencing food rationing otherwise known as starvation. In both cases the best answer for most is not passive restriction of intake but the build up of lost muscle mass, one being physical exercise and the other being nuclear power and then fusion energy.

  107. Thanks to Willis and Richard Patton for alerting me to the ClimateAudit discussion which I have taken a look at (and the discussion that followed).

    Is there more out there on this topic? I’d expect that some mathematically included people have analyzed the available proxies – temperature at least – across different time periods and formed some tentative conclusions.

  108. gtrip says:

    Does nobody here want to make history?……….I thought not.

  109. Lindsay H says:

    scienceofdoom (21:25:35) :
    “—Chaotic, most people know but not everyone, means that the system is not random it is deterministic, but very small changes in initial conditions cause totally different outcomes. Therefore, chaotic systems under certain circumstances are impossible to model.

    http://scienceofdoom.com

    REPLY: “weather” is known to be chaotic. Climate is a long term collection of weather events, so it stands to reason that it is also chaotic, but on a longer, slower time scale. – Anthony”

    Not sure I entirely agree with Anthony : I think a more accurate statement might be that Climate is Stochastic rather than Chaotic.

  110. gtrip says:

    Man, I wish I had a bucket of cheerys.

  111. jerry says:

    A micro-scale chaotic system does not mean that a macro-scale chaotic system is as well.

    There are many examples of this in nature. Fluid flow is a good example. The flow can become chaotic over a certain Reynold’s number, but the macro flow is entirely predictable – if inefficient. bumble-bee flight springs to mind.

    The example of the river meander is the classic. The meanders are chaotic, but the mean of the meanders is highly predictable – the total river length becomes pi x crowflight length (?) and the gradient is continuously refined to a well known curve.

    I’m also not sure that larger scale weather is chaotic either. The numerical models do a pretty good job now – out to a week.

  112. Louis Hissink says:

    Willis Eschenbach (22:50:25) :

    Willis, yo, realised that hence my raising of it separately.

    I am not sure most here actually understand the difficulties using the scientific method on chaotic systems either, because in order to make measurements, the thing being observed needs to be somewhat predictable within a useable time-frame.

    Take a dust devil – a small scale cyclonic peturbation of air which darts about unpredictably on the Earth’s surface. While I look in awe at these things when out in the field doing my day job (basically drilling holes into geophysical targets for minerals), trying to work out how to get a measurement of it’s electrical properties is night well impossible – the dang thing won’t stand still, for a start.

    So empirically chaotic systems are inherently difficult to collect data from except in a more remote genalised way. Hence doing empirical science on these system seems fraught with almost unsolvable difficulties.

    Dust devils – these things, from the Plasma Model, are small electrical powered cyclonic perturbations the Earth’s electric field, and become visible from the dust sucked off the land surface. But how do you then take measurements of an object that behaves chaotically, and refuses to stand still? And scaling up to a tornado, well, an added complexity appears in that while taking physical measurements of a phenomenon that, because of scaling factors, becomes a little more predictable in movement, becomes extremely hazardous to life, especially the scientist making the observations. (And given the paranoia over work place safety these days, what professional scientist would be permitted to do such foolish things such as measure the electric field of a tornado).

    Climate science seems to have found itself in a conceptual cul-de-sac in which as in situ meaurements seem impossible, progress is then diverted into the deductive method based on “consensual” assumptions and quickly develops into a dogma.

    After all, climate sensitivity has yet to be empirically verified.

    Incidentally a greenhouse effect is theory of last resort for a science that ignores the role of electricity in the operation of the cosmos, (and solar system). I’m not diminishing the role of water in this process, just the idea that other “gases” are needed to explain the observations in the absence of electricity. Add electricity and the need for a green house gas becomes irrelevant.

  113. Allan M R MacRae says:

    Hi tallbloke (00:03:27) :

    See the 15fps AIRS data animation of global CO2 at

    [video src="http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a000000/a003500/a003562/carbonDioxideSequence2002_2008_at15fps.mp4" /]

    It is difficult to see the impact of humanity in this impressive display of nature’s power.

    Still, annual CO2 concentration keeps increasing at ~1.5ppm/year – even as CO2 fluctuates by up to 16ppm/year in its natural seasonal sawtooth pattern. This 1.5ppm/year could be a manmade component (or not).

    I pointed out two years ago that that global CO2 lags temperature by about 9 months in a cycle time of ~3-6 years.

    We also know that CO2 lags temperatrue by ~800 years in a cycle time of ~100,000 years

    There may be other intermediate cycles as well – Ernst Beck postulates one.

    A fine puzzle for someone to sort out.

    Veizer and Shaviv may have already done so.

    Best wishes to all for the Holidays!

  114. John Doe says:

    The modelers admit that climate is chaotic. You can read it from e.g. IPCC AR4GW1 chapter 8. Google brings up this http://climateprediction.net/content/modelling-climate.
    Their solution to the chaotic behavior of the climate is to use models ensembles where small variations are in the initial state and parameters are done to produce a distribution of projections. OK, so for, but it is impossible to know what trajectory the reality takes. The distribution of the projections is actually created by the programmers/scientists who decide what variations they will use. Statistical measures like ensemble mean and distribution cannot be used in their traditional way to give probable values and confidence intervals.

    Modelers admit that there is a lot that we don’t know, but the climate politicians don’t. Our job is now to bring the message of the scientists to those who make political decisions.

  115. Juraj V. says:

    For me, the simplest falsification of the whole CO2 theory is Arctic. Arctic has dry and cold air, so the “greenhouse effect” should be strengthened by increase of CO2 much more than in warmer latitudes. Also, at low temps. the absorption-emission is much more effective.
    But real arctic temperatures show no net increase since 40ties, except regular ups and downs, tied to AMO. Even 1860s are similar to present. What more, the curve heads down again.

  116. Stefan says:

    “The constructal way of distributing the system’s imperfection is to put the more resistive regime at the smallest scale of the system.”

    Does this mean that, instead of trying to figure out subtle feedbacks, we ought to start by looking at where the biggest energy flows are?

    With the river, the length and the volume of water are its key things, and then there is some optimal path which it can meander around but never achieve.

    What are the biggest and main energy flows of the planet, and what would their ideal configuration be? Are ice ages simply one variation of its architecture?

    I am not a scientist (IANAS) but it is intuitively fascinating.

  117. Mike Borgelt says:

    Isn’t this something like Miskolsczi’s theory? There’s a maximum value for the warming by all greenhouse gases based on the energy input into the system?

  118. Pippa Biggs says:

    Thanks for a very interesting article. I take your main point that the climate is hugely complex; however, I fail to grasp the parallels between flow models of river systems and modelling the climate, other than that nature is very complex & continues to defy our best attempts to understand it!

    In this case, Larry/Hotrod is exactly right – simply because our understanding is limited and our best models fail to “explain” climate change, does that mean we should sit around and wait until our understanding of science catches up with reality? Or are we better off planning for the worst case scenario and taking personal initiatives to try and limit the damage we are doing to the planet, which is visible on many levels?

    Personally, I am basing my behaviour on my personal observations (the European glaciers are melting fast and most will be gone within 100 years – as are the glaciers in the National Park near Seattle). The seasons are totally mixed up now, with temperatures bouncing around + or – 10 degrees from one day to the next. The planet has never suffered the burden of 6.8 billion human inhabitants before, so whatever ‘natural’ equilibrium systems operated in the past (forests as carbon sinks, algal blooms, ocean reserves, polar ice – the theories differ etc.) are very likely to be interfered with by man’s activities.

    I understand that you have huge unspoilt areas and nature reserves in the USA, so you may be less likely to believe in real & tangible climate change in the States. But in hot & crowded Europe, we see it all around us – from the lack of bumble bees in summer to the dramatic collapse of natural populations of chamois, marmottes and forests. I do not want to sit and wait for the consequences – I should like to try to take whatever small action I can on a personal level to try and play my part & make my contribution to preserving an Earth worth living in for the next generation! And wait until scientists can catch up… and wait… and wait…

  119. Mike McMillan says:

    Les Francis (22:06:09) :
    … According to the laws of physics and aerodynamics, it is impossible for the humble bumblebee to fly

    Bill Tuttle (22:51:30) :
    Or the Hiller 23 helicopter. But no one bothered to inform the bumblebee, and the Hiller was flying successfully for seventeen years before some bright light “proved” that it was physically incapable of hovering, much less flying.
    And learning to hover a Hiller required chaotic control application…

    The aerodynamic lift that keeps the bumblebee flying isn’t generated in the same manner as your typical airplane, where the higher speed flow over the top of the wing lowers the pressure there.

    The rapid forward and aft beats of the insect’s wing produced very localized turbulent eddies that do the lifting. Can’t comment on the Hiller, but anything with that many moving parts shouldn’t be flying. Not in civilized society, anyway.

    Those turbulent eddies would fall in the chaotic category, even though they are regular enough to dependably get billions of bugs airborne. Sort of quantum aerodynamics.

    A major part of the AGW political problem is the ~30 year definition of climate, when the full cycle runs twice that. Right about the time in the 70’s when we were worrying about the coming ice age, the warming phase was starting. Now that we’re worrying about the world overheating, and we’ve entered the cooling phase. It doesn’t help to have GISS and CRU sexing up the numbers, either.

  120. Willis, I suspect this presentation is imprecise in this respect: it implicitly assumes small changes in CO2 concentration. If you were to add a lot of CO2, say doubling or trebling the concentration of CO2, then I’m willing to bet there would be a substantial observed warming. This would be like, in your river analogy, to substantially increasing the flow of water or some how significantly increasing the gradient.

  121. Baa Humbug says:

    If as RealClimate claims, climate is NOT chaotic, then it should be easier to understand and predict. Despite over 20yrs of intensive research by “thousands” of scientists backed by billions of dollars, and sattelites, and super dooper computers, they are no where near being able to predict anything. Not climate, not even weather any more than 3 or 4 days out.

    But if they were to remove their heads out of their rears, and really studied the large external forces which drive our climate, they may stand a chance to predict the smaller forces we call weather.
    They don’t even have to predict all weather, just the less than 1% portion of weather we call extreme.

    Afterall, climate isn’t going to hurt us, it’s the smaller forces climate creates (cyclones, flooding rains, extended periods of drought etc) we call extreme weather that hurts us and costs us in economic terms.
    So these wags can’t predict anything to do with climate a month out, a year out, yet we are to believe they can predict 100 years out.
    Gimme a break

  122. jbrodhead says:

    Don’t forget, the complexity includes LIFE – a dynamic response system in itself. Oceans are full of plant and animal life. Vegitation covers significant areas of land masses.

    Life is that force which disobeys physics and seems to find a way, in spite of…

  123. jbrodhead says:

    Seems I skipped past some similar discussion, about life…
    I do not apologize for the “G..” word. You cannot prove there is no God.

  124. Alexander Vissers says:

    From most comment posts one might conclude that the discussion is about physics. It is not. It’s about ethics, and as we all know when ethics and politics meet, guess who prevails.

    The initial quotes in this post are all telling: researchers are not criticised for research on the basic greenhouse gas qualities of CO2 (undisputed) but e.g. for research on pre-historic (as far as thermometrie goes) temperature trends (Climategate). They are criticised for drawing conclusions with fargoing consequences based on an insolid scientific basis, keeping data away from the public.

    “The important thing is, that we know how greenhouse gasses affect climate” is an ill faith comment; the important thing is that we do not have a clue how changes in antropogenic CO2 exhaust affect climate, that we still do not understand the heat balance in the oceans that we have only recently started to collect usefull data on ocean temperatures at different dephts. Data is sparse, insufficient, wanting and inconclusive whereas polar bears are quite abundant.

    Meanwhile, do not spill fuell, the science on the limitation of terrestrial oil reserves is settled.

  125. Thomas J. Arnold. says:

    Smokey (20:04:30) :

    “Where do the proles fit in?”

    “Everyone has a job in the new world order. The job of the proles is to pay the freight.”

    Pithy and to the point and I totally agree.
    We are as ever……. merely cannon fodder.

  126. vukcevic says:

    Paul Vaughan (23:40:54) :
    “There’s nothing complex about climate.”

    Hi Paul
    I posted these two charts on the ‘fluffy interstellar cloud’ thread:

  127. Mooloo says:

    In the first example Willis showed that human’s like all mammals regulate their own temperatures. I assume we do not call the regulation of internal temperature by mammals chaotic.

    Of course we do, when measured in the short term, if we don’t know exactly what the body is doing and why but only rely on temperature. A body temperature rises and falls all the time, with eating and sleeping and exercise and excitement all affecting it. Only if it is greatly out of the unusual for a long period of time do we raise an eyebrow.

    It is surely the same with the earth. We know sometimes why it is hotter or colder (el nino, pinatubo) and we don’t know sometimes. The arguments over climate change surely are:
    — are we at an unusual point?
    — is this a short or long term rise?
    — can we reliably predict the cause?

    With a chemistry degree my argument is that saying “climate change is simple physics” is the same as saying “medicine is simple chemistry”.

  128. Geoff Sherrington says:

    Re Tom

    You say “chemical reaction involving the food, chemicals and enzymes generated by our bodies and other organisms that live in our digestive system. While these processes are incredible (sic) complex and our understanding of them is by no means complete we can predict with a relatively high degree of confidence that overeating will lead to obesity and starvation will lead health problems and possibly death.”

    This does not subtract from the arguments posed by Willis. It adds support to them. You are merely stating some boundary conditions.

    Our understanding of human nutrition is so poor that we have people making a mint from nebulous things called “anti-oxidants” and overdoses of potentially harmful goods like many vitamins and diluted potions of no sense at all used in homeopathy. In the pure examples from Willis, there is no diversionary thread of exploitation and humbuggery, yet the point is made absolutely clearly.

    It was a delight to read the lead article. I envisage those towering masses of clouds rising much higher than the bizjet at 50,000 feet, replete with turbulence and heat transfer that has a low probability of a proper model.

  129. Counter analogies to AGW alarmism are nice to ponder. Positive feedback analogies exist too.

    Rev your parked car right up to the red line. It will likely survive as long as then temperature light doesn’t come on. Rev it up just a bit more and boom, your radiator vents and the engine dies. AGW alarmists claim the earth’s temperature light has been ominously flickering for thousands of years, despite clear evidence of hot spikes over the last 10K years that dwarf the controversial Medieval and Roman humps (http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/lanser_holocene_figure5.png). There’s nothing special about CO2 in AGW theory. They seem to claim that no temperature rise of any cause can be a mild one.

    It’s curious since Tipping Point theory does resemble a chaos theory. Non-linear positive feedback is required since simple positive feedback is a ridiculous idea, since if any temperature increase is amplified then logically that amplified rise will itself be amplified since an amplified rise in temperature is just like any other increase in temperature. It’s confusing.

    The only support I can imagine for it is the evident ice core fact that CO2 has been rising sharply for the last 10K years on its own, so really did start out at its naturally maximum value when the Industrial Revolution kicked in, so former hot spikes did not occur when CO2 was yet very high. I guess that’s why more recent warm periods are so important to the debate.

  130. Turboblocke says:

    WE says, “The IPCC says that if CO2 doubles, we will get a rise of around 3C in the global temperature. However, there is absolutely no evidence to support that claim, only computer models.”

    No: there’s data from the instrumental record, current data, volcanic eruptions, the last glacial minimum and proxy data.

    Here’s a link to some papers:http://agwobserver.wordpress.com/2009/11/05/papers-on-climate-sensitivity-estimates/

  131. Paul Hildebrandt says:

    Roger Sowell (21:03:31) :

    Third, it is puzzling that climate is described as a flow. While it is true that some portions of the earth do flow (atmosphere via winds, and vertically via thermals, also ocean currents and icebergs, etc), as a whole the earth is not flowing anywhere.

    Actually, the earth is flowing, and has been since Day 1. It’s called Plate Tectonics. Although not flowing at incredible speeds, the continents and oceanic basins are moving on a conveyor belt of sorts. Also, if you want to break it down even further, colliding continents are pushed up, oceanic basins are subducted down, rock is eroded and flows downstream as sediment, mass earth movements, and even in the atmosphere as dust. So, I would reevaluate your statement in light of the above.

    Louis Hissink (22:15:02) :

    “A lot of hydrothermal activity goes on at these spreading centers. The process involves downward migration of ocean water through the broken basalt along the flanks of the spreading centers and expulsion of that water as heated, mineral-rich hydrothermal fluids adjacent to the spreading axis in a continuous flow.”

    Er, no, the water cycle as envisaged by standard plate tectonics theory requires the suspension of gravity for starters, (less dense matter cannot descend into more dense matter), and it is more likely that the water coming out of the spreading ridges comes from the asthenosphere itself. Remember that igenous quartz crystals of the milky white color contain water in their crystal lattices – quartz without water is transparent – like a wine glass or the glass thermometer Willis used in his personalised experiment.

    Not quite true. The subducting basalt and sediment (sediments are also subducted, although not in the same quantities as basalt) are normally rich in hydrous minerals and clays. During the transition from basalt to eclogite, these hydrous materials break down, producing copious quantities of water, which at such great pressure and temperature exists as a supercritical fluid. The supercritical water, which is hot and more buoyant than the surrounding rock, rises into the overlying mantle where it lowers the melting temperature of the mantle rock to the point of actual melting, generating magma.

  132. Rhys Jaggar says:

    Will you explain all this to:

    1. The carbon credit traders and their trading platform providers;
    2. The MSM’s funders;
    3. Politicians who need to control people by blaming them;
    4. Scientists whose publication record is mostly asserting things you have described as incorrect here;
    5. Education ministers the world over who think dynamic system engineering concepts should never be taught at school.

    Many thanks for a very interesting article.

    Happy New Year to all WUWT staff.

  133. Alan says:

    @ScienceofDoom

    It is true that if you have a very simple chaotic system like the logistic map, the long run behaviour / average is predictable – called the invariant density. But that assumes that the parameters of the system are constant. If you start twiddling with the parameters, then the long run average is also unpredictable ! So not only is the weather chaotic, but if you have all these parameters changing such as CO2, solar flux, and god knows what else, then the climate itself has no long run average either.

  134. Marcus says:

    Roger Sowell

    “Having some experience with design and control of heat transfer systems, including those at steady state and non-steady state, my conclusion is that Constructal Law has nothing to do with it.”

    When the only tool you have is a hammer, every job looks like a nail!

  135. Julian in Wales says:

    Thank you, I will store a copy of this article because it puts across a complex scientific message in language that I and my friends can easily cope with.

    I really useful service for those that want to understand the science behind the sceptics case against the hysterical outpouring in the media that the world is heating up because of C02 emissions, but do not always have the scientific and mathematical where-with-all to fully understand many of the posting on this site.

  136. Patrik says:

    Wow! This is the best problem description on climate research I’ve ever comeback across!
    Should be made an article in all major news papers around the globe! Thanks Will!

  137. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Steve Hempell (00:18:06) : edit

    Willis

    “The IPCC says that if CO2 doubles, we will get a rise of around 3C in the global temperature. However, there is absolutely no evidence to support that claim, only computer models.”

    According to this guy they are dead on – maybe even a bit more sensitive. Paleogeology (is there such a word?) seems to indicate it more and more. Care to comment?

    http://www.agu.org/meetings/fm09/lectures/lecture_videos/A23A.shtml

    Sure. To start with, he claims that the solution to the “Faint Early Sun” paradox is a higher level of GHGs. I discuss this question here, and come to a very different conclusion. He also makes a curious claim at 8:35, which is that increasing the temperature decreases the CO2, and decreasing the temperature increases the CO2 …

    Next, he shows a slide at 20:15, and claims that it shows causation in that some of the CO2 indicators show low CO2 when there is more glaciation. However, it leaves out some glacial episodes. It also disagrees with his theory from 8:35, which is that low temperatures lead to high CO2 and vice versa. He seems to have forgotten that theory. Finally, the ice retreats before the CO2 rises, not after … why is that?

    Next he manages to talk about the Permian Extinction with only a scarce mention of acid rain … while extensive vulcanism increases CO2, there’s lots of other nastier stuff including sulfuric acid coming out of volcanoes. Why don’t they get mentioned?

    More later, it’s 3:30 AM, why am I still awake?

  138. Bill Tuttle says:

    Mike McMillan (02:07:43) :
    Can’t comment on the Hiller, but anything with that many moving parts shouldn’t be flying. Not in civilized society, anyway.

    My instructor’s theory was that the OH-23’s vibrations were so annoying that the earth rejected it.

  139. Sordnay says:

    “People seriously believe that a change of X in the forcings will lead inevitably to a chance of A * X in the temperature.”
    I think I do find a correlation between CO2 and Temperature:

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/esrl-co2/mean:24/derivative/scale:7.7/offset:-0.853/mean:12/plot/hadcrut3vgl/mean:1/from:1959.8

    Of course it’s adjusted by the slope and offset to be similar, in fact to match the linear trend between 1965 to the end, as for the first years there’s a big discrepancy.
    There are other areas with high error, between both trends, as around 1993 (Pinatubo effects?) but I think they look quite similar.

  140. henry says:

    Greg (22:51:14) :

    “As far as the simple physics goes, how about we include the following into our simple physics to get a more complete picture:

    (list followed)”

    Something else that struck me was a thought about lightning; If passage of lightning causes molecules to un-bond or re-bond (creation of ozone), what effect would it have on CO2?

    If increased atmospheric temps are going to cause more severe weather (with increased lightning), would this increased electrical activity break down CO2 as well?

    Anybody know experiments have been done concerning this?

    This could be one of Nature’s “tricks” to reduce pollutants in the atmosphere.

  141. OK. I get what is being said here. This is a very good piece and the reason I read this site is because although most of the time I don’t agree, it’s thought-provoking.

    But the part about the climate of planet earth not being in equilibrium? How do we know that? Isn’t the case being made by the AGW side that it IS in balance and that the additional CO2 is throwing it out of balance resulting in the behavior described?

    “Final conclusion? Because climate is a flow system far from equilibrium, it is ruled by the Constructal Law. As a result, there is no physics-based reason to assume that increasing CO2 will make any difference to the global temperature”

    Quite a conclusion! I am not seeing how the piece actually links the well-described and very interesting Contructal Law, but it doesn’t really link this law to climate. The conclusion simply doesn’t follow.

    Enquiring AGW but open-minded people- like me- want to know how this thinking pieces together. It’s too important.

    Thanks.

  142. Stefan says:

    Pippa Biggs wrote:
    The planet has never suffered the burden of 6.8 billion human inhabitants before, so whatever ‘natural’ equilibrium systems operated in the past (forests as carbon sinks, algal blooms, ocean reserves, polar ice – the theories differ etc.) are very likely to be interfered with by man’s activities.

    Pippa, I don’t get the distinction between “man” and “nature”. Do we say that giraffes “interfere” with trees on the savannah? That grazing animals interfer with plants? We are nature. Humans are nature. Nature made us. We happen to be conscious of that fact, but our somewhat rudimentary intelligence doesn’t change that fact.

    Now in nature, if a species hits limits, then that species’ numbers get reduced. But they could also be reduced by disease. By lots of things.

    So the question is, what are you trying to conserve, really? You say you want to preserve an Earth worth living in. Well if changes in climate worry you, then I’m guessing you’d like a comfortable Earth, a pleasant habitat. Well again this is where I don’t understand the picture. Most of our comfortable lives are the result of material advances as we prigressed out of poverty and feudal societies. We are modern, fairly free, democracies with free time because of labour saving machines. Even ancient tribal societies were either matriarchal or patriarchal based on whether the type of plough they used was light enough to be handled by a woman bearing children. So again, I don’t get the picture. Our life quality and that of our children is a question of powerful technology. Doing a bit if conservation isn’t going to make any difference when another few billion people are born. Only technology of a greater power than we have ever seen can provide for the existing poor of the world.

  143. Allan M says:

    It has been understood for a long time that a small difference in input values can result in large differences in output values (LORENZ, Edward N. 1963. Deterministic nonperiodic flow. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences 20: 130-141.). Lorenz maintained that it is impossible to know the initial state values with enough accuracy to predict the outcome. However, I would ask if, in a continuous system, is there even an initial state at all? Or is it just our convenience? The modern approach is just ‘buy a bigger computer,’ but this doesn’t work, as the derived values diverge with each iteration. All that happens is that we get the wrong answers faster.

    This was also discovered decades earlier by Henri Poincaré (1854-1912) (Les Méthodes nouvelles de la mécanique céleste, 3 vol. (1892, 1893, 1899; “The New Methods of Celestial Mechanics”), who also substituded approximations to speed his calculations, and got some wild results. Lorenz probably didn’t know of Poincaré’s work, as it wasn’t translated into English until the 1970’s, when it became useful to NASA. Established science (and math)? Maybe some were ahead of Arrhenius.

    ————

    gtrip (20:00:23) :

    Where do the proles fit in?

    I’ve noticed that when we disagree with them we cease to be the proletariat, and become the ‘brainwashed masses!’

    jorgekafkazar (20:31:08) :

    north prole at the top, south prole at the bottom.

    Good one. Come back Chico Marx, all is forgiven.

    Taxes? I got a brother lives in Taxes.

    No, Ravelli, taxes is about dollars.

    Yeh. That’s where he lives – Dollars, Taxes.

  144. TonyB says:

    Willis

    Nice article.

    The oldest coherent reference to the CO2 theory that I have seen was in an 1912 article where it described co2 as a ‘girdle’ encircling the earth. The greater the concentration the thicker the ‘girdle’ would become. However it said that excess heat was still able to disperse into space.

    I wondered if there were any figures showing what % of heat ‘escapes’ into space at say 380ppm compared to 280ppm?

    Tonyb

  145. magicjava says:

    WIKI HAS DELETED CLIMATEGATE PAGE! DELETION UNDER REVIEW FOR SHENANNIGANS! PLZ HELP SAVE CLIMATEGATE PAGE!

    http://magicjava.blogspot.com/2009/12/climategate-page-deleted-from-wikipedia.html

  146. henry says:

    Re; above comment.

    From Wikipedia:

    “Ozone may be formed from O2 by electrical discharges and by action of high energy electromagnetic radiation.”

    So again, would CO2 break down cause ozone creation?

    Also, then, are the new hybrids/electric cars better? Low CO2 emissions, but increased ozone creation from the electric motors?

    Also from Wikipedia:

    “Although ozone was present at ground level before the Industrial Revolution, peak concentrations are now far higher than the pre-industrial levels, and even background concentrations well away from sources of pollution are substantially higher.

    This increase in ozone is of further concern because ozone present in the upper troposphere acts as a greenhouse gas, absorbing some of the infrared energy emitted by the earth. Quantifying the greenhouse gas potency of ozone is difficult because it is not present in uniform concentrations across the globe.

    However, the most widely accepted scientific assessments relating to climate change (e.g. the IPCC Third Assessment Report) suggest that the radiative forcing of tropospheric ozone is about 25% that of carbon dioxide.”

    So SOME of the Global Warming is caused by increased OZONE. No call to regulate that, though.

  147. Vincent says:

    Pippa Biggs,

    “I do not want to sit and wait for the consequences – I should like to try to take whatever small action I can on a personal level to try and play my part & make my contribution to preserving an Earth worth living in for the next generation!”

    Even if such action comprises burning down rainforests to grow palm oil for biodiesel? And even if such action has, by IPCC’s own figures, a negligible effect on global temperatures?

  148. P Wilson says:

    Fine exposition, Willis.

    All I have to say is that the “consensus” and the IPCC make it up as they go along. One aspect is fairly certain: Climate change has very little towards nothing to do with c02, yet it is the most dominant parameter of AGW. As R Lindzen maintains: its a framed up culprit (c02) since it goes after people, puts the blame on them and so people are likewise framed up, so as to be punished, taxed and fined.

    In other words, since the ideology isn’t accountable neither are the statisticians – I don’t like to call them scientists – and politicians behind the ideology. Its like a throwback to the 1930’s when communism and fascist ideologies put the blame on man as the great fault of civilisation, so people ought to be bent to the ideologies of political extremes to save them and civilisation.

    That seems to be the way its developing as an ideology

  149. jamesafalk says:

    In reading this post I immediately thought of my area of specialty- economics- and my belief that most economics vastly under-models the complexity of emergent and chaotic systems, and operates at a level of mathematics that comforts those that seek certainty but annoys those that seek truth.

    I’m about to go looking, but does anyone have Constructal Law application in the field of economics?

  150. rbateman says:

    The Unbearable Complexity of Climate.
    Exceeded only by the Unbearably Absurd Linear Climate Predictions of the IPCC and their list of clueless subscribers of the models.
    If ever there was a clear choice of agencies to cut funding for, the subscribers have recently stuck out like a sore thumb.

  151. P Wilson says:

    to be clear: Climate is now the great menace or boon, as the case may be, since civilisation has exhausted every other conceivable ideology and political creed.

    It seems people en masse need a cause and a doom scenario that can be fought for, whether imaginary or not, although the purpose is generaly considered to be finer than the reality behind it.

  152. Galen Haugh says:

    Originally I stated:

    “A lot of hydrothermal activity goes on at these spreading centers. The process involves downward migration of ocean water through the broken basalt along the flanks of the spreading centers and expulsion of that water as heated, mineral-rich hydrothermal fluids adjacent to the spreading axis in a continuous flow.”

    Which got this response:

    Louis Hissink (22:15:02) :

    “Er, no, the water cycle as envisaged by standard plate tectonics theory requires the suspension of gravity for starters, (less dense matter cannot descend into more dense matter), and it is more likely that the water coming out of the spreading ridges comes from the asthenosphere itself. Remember that igenous quartz crystals of the milky white color contain water in their crystal lattices – quartz without water is transparent – like a wine glass or the glass thermometer Willis used in his personalised experiment…”

    So my responses are:

    Response: Any theory that requires “suspension of gravity for starters” is a non-starter; it obviously doesn’t apply to the real world. Basalt formed and cooled at the spreading ridges is highly fractured and very porous (remember columnar basalt?)—the seawater in which it finds itself is heavier than this same water that is heated by contact with the hot or molten basalt, which sets up major convective cells involving seawater.

    Response: If “it is more likely that the water coming out of the spreading ridges comes from the asthenosphere itself”, the volume of the ocean would double in about 8 million years, which flat out doesn’t happen.

    Response to: “Remember that igenous quartz crystals of the milky white color contain water in their crystal lattices”. Problem with that argument is that mid-oceanic ridge basalt (MORB) contains precious little quartz (they are unsaturated with respect to SiO2), so it cannot be invoked as a transfer mechanism.

    That there is some virgin water from the asthenosphere added to the ocean is not argued, but seawater water takes the dominant role in transferring copious amounts of heat (and minerals) from MORB to the overlying oceans. As long as the spreading center is found in the ocean, the system is innundated with seawater at fairly high pressures.

    What virgin water is introduced from the asthenosphere at the spreading centers is balanced with that consumed as the oceanic plate is taken back into the asthenosphere along subduction zones; much of the incorporated water is expelled in the subduction process because the ocean volume has remained fairly steady for much of earth’s history.

    And sorry to disappoint Al Gore—but there are no naturally-occurring temperatures approaching millions of degrees anywhere in the earth. That’s another fantasy he entertains, apparently.

  153. Deadman says:

    Might not the five major subsystems, “atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere” be better described as “atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere” because (a) there are important large bodies of water which are not marine and (b) it sounds niftier?

  154. anna v says:

    Richard Patton (23:40:56) :

    Tsonis et al, a paper discussed here, made an analogue neural net of the climate assuming deterministic chaos, and gave predictions using the ocean and air current cycles. Their model foresees a cooling/stasis.

  155. Deadman says:

    Les Francis (et al.):

    According to the laws of physics and aerodynamics, it is impossible for the humble bumblebee to fly

    but see: http://www.news.cornell.edu/releases/March00/APS_Wang.hrs.html:

    The computer-modeling accomplishment – which is expected to aid the future design of tiny insect-like flying machines and should dispel the longstanding myth that “bumblebees cannot fly, according to conventional aerodynamics” – was announced by Cornell University physicist Z. Jane Wang today (March 20) at the Minneapolis meeting of the American Physical Society (APS).

  156. Dave vs Hal says:

    Louis Hissink (01:18:22) :
    re. dust devils and electricity, I don’t see the connection?
    I would have thought a dust devil is an air vortex induced by a rapidly ascending parcel of warm air, caused by localised heating of ground layer air by the sun. Commonly seen in rangelands.

  157. Dave UK says:

    Great explanation Willis.
    I am boned up on the political arguements about AGW but not the science so much.
    I would suggest like myself that everyone who reads WUWT writes to your local/national newspapers letters section and express your doubts about AGW.
    I get published quite a lot.
    Nobody wants bad news and that is all the ‘Warmists’ have got to offer.
    We sceptics however, have good news for the majority to hear.
    Get writing.

  158. DirkH says:

    Recently (DEC 09), Gavin Schmidt has even ramped up his estimates of CO2’s climate sensitivity. Because they can’t explain the Pliocene warm period any other way.

    http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v3/n1/abs/ngeo706.html

    This is a risky bet on their part. If current climate doesn’t get really warm real soon now, their models will break even harder than they did in the past. Now if you’re a politician funding them toying around there and the results get ever more unbelievable how long will you go on footing their bill?

  159. JonesII says:

    magicjava (20:46:54) :
    The Illuminati fighting to death in favor of “settled science”?
    Wikipedia Woes –
    Pending Crisis as Editors Leave in Droves

    http://www.thunderbolts.info/thunderblogs/davesmith_au.htm

    I think the solution would be to allow articles from dissenting authors on a same topic.

  160. B. Kindseth says:

    You did an excellent job of explaining the complexity of the world’s climate system. This is probably why the AGW advocates use computer climate models. Nature is messy. It doesn’t always behave as one expects. When the unexpected happens, one needs to re-evaluate ones hypothesis and go where the data leads. Computer models, once fully debugged, are clean. With them, you define the rules. There are no surprises. Computer models are great investigative tools, but there is no way one can consider the output from climate models evidence.

    The IPCC not only presents the results of climate models as evidence, but states, “The fact that climate models are only able to reproduce observed global mean temperature changes over the 20th century when they include anthropogenic forcing, and that they fail to do so when they exclude anthropogenic forcing, is evidence for the influence of humans on global climate.” (IPCC-Working Group 1, The Physical Basis of Climate Change, 9.4.1.2, p684). ). The IPCC is actually saying that the absence of evidence of natural causes of the climate change is actually “evidence for the influence of humans on global climate.” This logical contortion is best described in Wikipedia, “The argument from ignorance, also known as argumentum ad ignorantiam (“appeal to ignorance”), argument by lack of imagination, or negative evidence, is a logical fallacy in which it is claimed that a premise is true only because it has not been proven false, or is false only because it has not been proven true.”

    In a Climategate email in April of this year, Steve Colman, professor of Geological Science at the University of Minnesota Duluth, told scores of climate scientists “most people seem to accept that past history is the only way to assess what the climate can actually do (e.g., how fast it can change). However, I think that the fact that reconstructed history provides the only calibration or test of models (beyond verification of modern simulations) is under-appreciated.” (From a post by Terence Corcoran) In light of the Climategate emails, “under-appreciated” is probably one of the greatest understatements in scientific history. The foundation on which the climate models were built has suddenly turned to quicksand.

    Can the evidence of anthropogenic global warming be any weaker? It is not evidence of a cause, but the evidence of absence, manufactured by computer models calibrated to questionable data.

  161. Jeff Kooistra says:

    Great post. It’s still “simple physics” — simple NON-LINEAR physics. And simple should never be confused with easy in physics. Nothing is as relative in physics as the word “simple.”

    Jeffery D. Kooistra

  162. JonesII says:

    Mathematically simple: If you remove CO2, at the beginning you remove money from peoples´wallets, then you remove people…

  163. Bill Illis says:

    Great article Willis.

    Let’s look at the climate over the last 350,000 years; the last three ice ages. It doesn’t follow the forcings.

    It doesn’t match 3.0C per doubling, it doesn’t match the 100,000 year orbital cycle and it doesn’t match the high-latitude summer solar insolation Milankovitch Cycles either. It is mostly chaotic ice-albedo-feedback driving the climate.

  164. JonesII says:

    Instead of removing CO2 from the atmosphere it would be advisable to remove ideology from science.

  165. JonesII says:

    Geoff Sherrington (03:02:33) : …and here we are dealing with earth´s nutrition and excretion process.

  166. Jim says:

    This is something that has bugged me a lot also. If it were a matter of just one equation, there would be no argument and no money spent on climate models. I tried to leave a comment on Lubos’ web site about this in response to someone who trotted out the Arrhenius equation for the 1000th time , but didn’t have a proper account.

  167. SAGWH says:

    Thermostat Effect ?

  168. JonesII says:

    Knowledge it is neither esoteric nor hidden, it is out there for those who don´t reject it. Trouble is that ideology makes them “believe”, and behind passionate ideology there is some grade of psychological instability, to say the least, and consequently, biased perception of reality.
    In the millions of years of man´s existence on earth can you imagine that a complete explanation of cosmos has not been achieved?.
    Just cool it down and you will see the light! :-)

  169. wakeupmaggy says:

    This explanation of the complexity is exactly what I’ve been wishing for, thanks.

    I enjoy the chaos pendulums on YouTube, one in particular that has “Synchronisation of 5 coupled metronomes done in Lancaster University” titled Synchronization.

    These thought experiments above make me think of trying to synchronize hundreds of metronomes while the size of the soda cans underneath gradually changes, or attempting the same thing floating on water subject to random wave action.

  170. John Cooke says:

    Mike Borgelt (22:47:50) :

    Leif Svalgaard (20:40:16) :

    “Unfortunately, while the physics is simple, the climate is far from simple
    That is because the Earth basically is cold without being too cold. Heat it up enough [say to 10,000 degrees] or cool it a couple hundred degrees, and simple physics takes over.”

    Oh you mean like a star or the sun? Simple physics, totally predictable????

    Mike: well, if there were no magnetic fields a star or the Sun would be nice and easy. My third year undergraduate students used to be able to produce decent models of quite realistic stars on an old BBC microcomputer in the 1980s; the global properties (ignoring magnetic fields) are not too difficult since the physics is not too complicated.

    Introduce magnetic fields though and then you can get all sorts of complicated stuff, as we see with sunspots, flares, coronal loops, and so on. Another complex (and not too well understood) system; in the case of stars it’s the magnetic field that clobbers the simple models.

    Great post, Willis.

  171. Hmmm says:

    Now we finally know what Willis was talkin’ ’bout.

  172. hareynolds says:

    Just sitting here in Houston, ready to start another relatively complex CFD (computational fludi dynamics) model (likely ~5 MM hexhedral cells, yikes) when I read this post.

    Brilliant stuff.
    Anybody can teach advanced concepts to highly qualified grad students (my materials prof, ex-Chalk River Nuke guy, who wrote on the blackboard (!) with his left hand, and in the next motion erased with his right, comes to mind)
    I find that it takes the brighest minds to clearly explain complex concepts to the Rest Of Us.

    OTOH I wouldn’t expect less from Science Blog of the Year.
    This one gets forwarded to all the usual suspects.

  173. This is one of the goofiest posts I’ve ever read on this topic.

    First, the ‘author’ demonstrates how all solids are not alike in conducting heat (everyone who has had basic physics understands this). Then the ‘author’ goes on to show how humans (who are over 90% water and have active temperature adjustment mechanisms) don’t seem to follow the same principle. Doh!

    Then he tries to confuse us about gravity and meandering streams. Erosion and deposition are indeed simple processes, but we are not supposed to think about them lest the ‘author’ fails to get his point across.

    Based on these poorest of premises, the ‘author’ attempts a distant but failed leap at a conclusion that there is absolutely no way that the climate can be modeled in any shape or form.

    Such is the fodder for little minds, but having both experience in physics and computer modeling, I find such a conclusion to be arm-waving at best, desperate denialism at worst.

    [Reply: You are welcome to submit your own article explaining how well computer climate models work. ~dbstealey, mod.]

  174. AdderW says:

    Les Francis (22:06:09) :

    Physics.

    According to the laws of physics and aerodynamics, it is impossible for the humble bumblebee to fly

    That is a statement from 1934 by the French entomologist August Magnan and of course he was wrong, which is obvious…he just couldn’t explain how the bumblebee flaps it’s wings

  175. wakeupmaggy says:

    Paul Hildebrandt (03:06:23) :
    Actually, the earth is flowing, and has been since Day 1. It’s called Plate Tectonics. Although not flowing at incredible speeds, the continents and oceanic basins are moving on a conveyor belt of sorts.

    For simple entertainment I keep this page open:

    http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsww/

    while I wait for other pages to load. Day after day I watch the earth unzip itself. They even have animations week by week. Over time, one can get a sense of the real dynamism of the crust. And of course, you can haul off to the tsunami warning center to see if the oceans are going to respond.

    History Channel “How the Earth was Made” is just spectacular, no mention of AGW at all and they don’t even call it the “Planet”, which is a key word I’ve grown suspicious of.

    Investors Business Daily is calling for Five Decades of Cooling! http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article.aspx?id=516286
    If the markets respond to reality this thing is over.

  176. Dr. Terry Mudder says:

    RE: THE FIVE STAGES OF DEATH

    The five stages of death are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. After Copenhagen where we found change is not about our climate but what is in our pockets, the latest rhetoric suggests we have entered the bargaining phase. Depression and acceptance will eventually follow.

  177. kwik says:

    It is very unfortunate that Michael Crichton is now deceased.

    Rest in Peace.

    I’m sure that if he had lived now, Climategate would have been of interest to him.

    He does however still have a web-site on climate, and I found it most amusing reading his speech on Yellowstone National Park.

    Since this is somewhat outdated, he comments on IPCC report from 2001. Im sure they havent changed their mind since then?

    At the lower part of the page;

    “long term prediction of future climate states is not possible”..

    Must be very sad for the AGW’ers that even IPCC dont speak “newspeak” anymore….

    Here;

    http://www.michaelcrichton.net/speech-ourenvironmentalfuture.html

  178. Aaron Edwards says:

    To scienceofdoom:

    The atmosphere is not an explosive mixture and CO2 is not a poison like cyanide!

    Recall that CO2 is non combustible. Far from being a bomb or a pollutant, it is first and foremost an essential component to the very complex fabric of life on the planet.

    What a silly way to attempt to clarify your argument. Nothing more than another oversimplification by “Warmanistas” who mix scientific sounding metaphors to strike fear in the minds of children.

    Try to remember that adults populate this blog. No one here is ignorant of nor doubts the radiative properties CO2. However, we do say that the climate is far too complex and the knowledge of its behavior too poorly understood to say with certainty that 0.04% CO2 in the atmosphere will destroy the earth as you assert.

  179. Jeff L says:

    Willis, in the spirit of further testing your hypothesis, I have some more comments for you.

    In thinking about it some more overnight, there is more to think about for this analog because there are “forcings” which will change the equilibrium of the system – for example, if the slope of the system were changed via tectonics or change in base level (such as sea level change) or a change in bedload carried by the stream, the stream will find a new equilibrium state. Of course, other forcing – such as a man-made intervention short cut of a meander loop will not.

    So, with that in mind, is CO2 like the short cut or is it like a change in base level? An in either case, what evidence can you present to support that? An interesting implication is also that even if CO2 acts like a base level change, it simply means a new equilibrium will be established & that no “tipping points” exist – ie – we will not have any runaway greenhouse warming. I would say the geological record supports this given much higher CO2 concentrations in the geologic past

  180. type check says:

    Two typos:
    “a chance of A”
    “miniature steel shed”

  181. nanny_govt_sucks says:

    Tom said:

    Similarly, a free market economy is incredibly complex, but it nevertheless responds positively to low interest rates and negatively to high interest rates.

    Perhaps you can explain how high interest rates which induce people to save which makes more capital available is a “negative”? Perhaps you can explain how low interest rates which induce people to spend and makes less capital available is a “positive”?

    In actuality, both of these scenarios are neither positive or negative, as long as it is a free society that determines the interest rate.

  182. Mike M says:

    Meandering rivers is a great analogy. We should challenge James Hansen to write a computer model to predict river meandering! With fewer variables, it HAS to be simpler than predicting climate so, if he’s successful at predicting that, then and only then will I begin to take any notice of his climate models that cannot even predict the price of carbon credits let alone the climate. It seems that CO2 is the only thing that alarmist climate models are based upon. Their algorithm might as well boil down to Td = k(C-350) where Td is the change in global temperature, C is concentration of CO2, 350 is an arbitrary concentration value that these arrogant fools think they have the authority to declare as being the ‘correct amount’ of CO2 and k is as large as they think they can get away with. Simple physics, meet simple arithmetic.

  183. Mark Young says:

    jorgekafkazar (20:31:08) :

    “gtrip (20:00:23) : “Where do the proles fit in?”

    north prole at the top, south prole at the bottom.”

    Very nice!

    LOL!

    Mark

  184. Johnny56 says:

    Government policy of supporting research is wrongheaded.
    When an institution is formed out of the need to solve a problem,
    if the problem is solved there no longer is a need for the institution.
    This is observable in the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton’s “fight”
    against racism. Attempts to provide “social justice” are in reality
    nothing more than fanning racial flames.
    Same with climate science institutions funded by government money. Solve the problem by administering the “fixes” and no more need for climate institutions.

  185. Sheridan says:

    The main problem I have with Arrhenius result is, what was the spectrum used for the calculations. Without the knowledge of quantum mechanics it is impossible to know that that absorption forms, what is, a lifetime broadened point spectrum (vibrational-rotational point spectrum to be specific) and if (and this is a big if, I know) the lifetime of the rotational modes is long enough then, beacuse those modes are rather dense, the results would be dominated by the spectral resolution of the apparatus used to measure the CO2 IR spectrum.

    The reason for this is that if the spectrum form separated modes (long lifetime), the atmosphere absorbs photons with energies at and very close to those modes. For simplicity, we can consider this energy to be completely absorbed by the atmosphere (IRL, this energy is emitted at roughly 70-80 K lower tempereture in the upper atmosphere). Photons with energies between the modes are simply radiated through the atmosphere.

    If, however, one is ignorant of the physics and measures the spectrum with insufficient resolution then one will come to the conclusion that all photons throughout the entire vibrational mode are absorbed and emitted at a lower temperature in the upper atmosphere. This way, one will arrive at an entirely different result.

  186. Bruce Cobb says:

    Dave vs Hal (23:57:26) :

    A complex system with negative feedbacks maintaining an equilibrium. Sounds suspiciously like the G… word (the earth behaving like a simple organism). Life co-evolved with this planet and it wouldn’t surprise me if some of the feedbacks are biological. Lovelock may one day be pardoned by the church of scepticism.

    First, your “church of scepticism” is a rather hilarious example of projection. Lovelock is correct that the earth’s climate is self-regulating to a large extent, the oceans probably being the largest of the self-regulating mechanisms. Where he went wrong with his “Gaia” theory was that he seemed to think the climate was somehow in a delicate balance, which was easily perturbed by man. Under Gaia theory, man is viewed as an outside, and negative force throwing the earth’s fragile climate system out of whack. While there is no doubt man can and does affect the environment in negative ways, pollution being the best example, and he can also affect micro climates with his cities and UHI effect, as well as through deforestation, causing drying among other things, his overall effect on climate, particularly through his use of “fossil fuels” is actually relatively small. Whatever slight amount of warming effect we have is a good thing, since it is cooling that is destructive to life. The Warmist movement, with its fixation on a completely beneficial gas, C02, has actually taken man’s eyes off the prize, environmentally speaking.

  187. Bridget H-S says:

    Thanks Willis – I’m glad I read that, it was most illuminating (especially as I thought you were sitting with your feet in a bucket smoking a cigarette). Also all the comments and further expansion of arguments. I am not a scientist (more of an artist, p*** or otherwise) and find a lot of this hard to follow but I persevere as I think it is important to try to understand. Supposedly I am intelligent but it is worrying that AGWs can sway the general populace so easily and now that we have got into this mess, given the extent that commerce is now involved in the big business alongside it, I wonder how we can ever get out of this shambles without another financial meltdown. Nothing is simple, is it?

  188. Don says:

    Some of it IS simple physics. If you take the radiation spectrum of the planet and overlay it with the absorption spectrum of CO2 you will find that the CO2 only absorbs a very small amount of the radiation no matter what the concentration. Perhaps we have seen the maximum since the CO2 concentration keeps on going up but the planet temperature has not. The computer models that predict “tipping points” require “forcing” mechanisms which have not been demonstrated. For example warming may increase the water vapor content of the atmosphere which would increase the greenhouse warning. However, if the water vapor produces clouds that will reduce the amount of solar radiation getting to the ground giving cooling. As was said by someone “sometimes you know what you don’t know and sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know.”

  189. Jim says:

    ************
    sustainableloudoun (05:38:25) :

    This is one of the goofiest posts I’ve ever read on this topic.

    First, the ‘author’ demonstrates how all solids are not alike in conducting heat (everyone who has had basic physics understands this). Then the ‘author’ goes on to show how humans (who are over 90% water and have active temperature adjustment mechanisms) don’t seem to follow the same principle. Doh!

    Then he tries to confuse us about gravity and meandering streams. Erosion and deposition are indeed simple processes, but we are not supposed to think about them lest the ‘author’ fails to get his point across.

    Based on these poorest of premises, the ‘author’ attempts a distant but failed leap at a conclusion that there is absolutely no way that the climate can be modeled in any shape or form.
    **********************

    You seem to be extremely upset over a few simple but illuminating analogies.

    Also, AFAIK, no one has produced a climate model that works, so you would be hard pressed to prove the climate can be meaningfully modeled. What evidence do you have that it can be modeled? Especially given the current level of computer technology, it might be 50 more years before a successful model could be constructed – maybe longer – if ever.

  190. A C Osborn says:

    Pippa Biggs, the European Glaciers have been retreating overall since the last Ice Age and no one denies that the Human Race has a large impact on wild life.
    But do you also believe that Polar Bears ar more endangered now (pop. 25,0000 than in 1950 (pop 5,000) as shown on UK TV.
    So based on the Non Science of Man Made Global Warming, just what is it you are going to rush out and do instead of sitting still waiting for scientists to come up with a definitve answer.
    Why not copy all those SO CONCERNED MMDW proponents, fly in private jets, drive bigger limousines, take a dozen “advisors” with you when you go to meetings?

  191. DirkH says:

    Care about the environment? How about buying a carbon certificate and retire it?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/25/science/earth/25gift.html?_r=1&hpw

    found on

    http://planetgore.nationalreview.com/

    The crazy abound while the sane are ostracized. I guess this is only temporary, though.

  192. JonesII says:

    Dr. Terry Mudder (05:43:48) Thanks Doc. Just your advice missing. Could it be something like this?: “Just let it go, cry. cry a lot, it will release all the stress caused by that damned “climate gate” and then by copenhagen…

  193. Ed Zuiderwijk says:

    I respectfully beg to differ: also the physics is not “simple”. For instance, try to find a basic (not “simple”) model of the atmosphere which incorporates both radiation transport and heat transport by convection in a self-consistent manner. It ain’t there, and that is the “simple” truth.

  194. lichanos says:

    If it were just “basic physics,” enormous computer models would not be required to make “credible” predictions – an envelope and pencil would suffice.

  195. Kevin says:

    Great post!

  196. DirkH says:

    “Sheridan (06:34:58) :

    The main problem I have with Arrhenius result is…”

    Sheridan, there’s an institute in Davos that allegedly managed to measure the IR radiation send back by CO2 . The researcher is Claus Fröhlich .
    Found an article (in German) here:

    http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/print/d-52485438.html

    By now i haven’t found the results on the web but if you search for Fröhlich on WUWT you get some hits. Mostly, a tiny amount of CO2 already suffices for near saturation of the absorption bands of CO2, causing the known 33 degree C greenhouse effect. How much of a difference further increases of CO2 make is AFAIK still subject of controvery.

  197. JAE says:

    Willis says:

    “We can’t cut through an oxbow to shorten the river, it just lengthens elsewhere to maintain the same total length. Instead of being affected by a change in the forcings, the system sets its own preferential operating conditions (e.g. length, temperature, etc.) based on the natural constraints and flow possibilities and other parameters of the system.”

    Oh, yeah? You haven’t studied the US Corps of Engineers!

    Seriously, a great little essay, Willis!

  198. Mark_K says:

    To verify my results, I try the experiment with a block of copper. I get the same result, the end of the block that’s not in the hot water soon begins to warm up. I try it with a block of glass, same thing. My tentative conclusion is that simple physics says that if you heat one end of a solid, the other end will eventually heat up as well.

    So I look around for a final test. Not seeing anything obvious, I have a flash of insight. I weigh about 75 kg. So I sit with my feet in the bucket of hot water, put the thermometer in my mouth, and wait for my head to heat up. This experimental setup is shown in Figure 1 above.

    Cute, but poor a poor test of your hypothesis since your body is not a solid.

  199. Peter says:

    @ jorgekafkazar (20:31:08) :

    “gtrip (20:00:23) : ‘Where do the proles fit in?’

    jorgekafkazar: north prole at the top, south prole at the bottom.”

    Don’t forget about the ozone prole hovering over the South prole

  200. Anders L. says:

    “It turns out that these types of flow systems are not passive systems which can take up any configuration. Instead, they actively strive to maximize some aspect of the system.”

    Natural systems do not “actively strive” to achieve anything.

    ” As a result, there is no physics-based reason to assume that increasing CO2 will make any difference to the global temperature, and the Constructal Law gives us reason to think that it may make no difference at all.”

    In that case, I think it is wise to stick to old-fashioned math and physics for the time being.

    As far as I am concerned, “constructal law” is just a longer word for “God”. And I don’t believe in God.

  201. Phil. says:

    [Reply: You are welcome to submit your own article explaining how well computer climate models work. ~dbstealey, mod.]

    My friend’s computer model was used to design all the wings of Boeing aircraft since the 767 in the 70’s, which is as relevant as Willis’s analogies! Water flowing downhill tries to get there as fast as possible which would mean following a brachistochrone and this is supposed to tell us something about the response of the climate to CO2? (By the way Willis a response of 3º to a doubling of [CO2] is not a “simple linear relationship”, it’s logarithmic).

  202. DirkH says:

    “Dave vs Hal (23:57:26) :

    A complex system with negative feedbacks maintaining an equilibrium. Sounds suspiciously like the G… word (the earth behaving like a simple organism). Life co-evolved with this planet and it wouldn’t surprise me if some of the feedbacks are biological. [...]”

    Of course. A very interesting area here is Phytoplankton. Imagine all the oceans full of gazillion algae. With thousands of different species. All of the time they’re mutating, evolving and adapting. Some species become more plentiful, others rarer. So the composition of the entirety of the phytoplancton changes all the time. What would you expect, that it adapts toward any change very quickly or not?

    It would be fascinating to incorporate this into a computer model. Oh, and clouds.

  203. Pat Moffitt says:

    Willis- I thought the article quite good. The scientist in me forces me to play Devil’s Advocate. If we increase the sediment load to a river- the river responds by seeking a new equilibrium state-basically the river channel widens in response to the new load. Increasing sediment load causes wider river channels- it does not cause channels to evolve a narrower cross section. (Ths is another area of flawed models- if I recall the best models with perfect input of sediment load, hydraulic inputs,geology etc can predict a natural river channel’s width to about +/_ 50%)
    Why could a claim not be made using this analogy (replace CO2 for sediment) that increasing CO2 will produce undefined changes in the climate system but always in the direction of higher temperatures? I know the reasons why- I’m just looking at the applicability of using the analogy in some future debate.

  204. Pascvaks says:

    Humans need “simple” answers to deal with the challanges of life, AGW was a simple answer. Now what?

  205. Dave F says:

    Somewhat O/T, but it has previously occurred to me that the MWP may be related to the current warming through cities and roads absorbing IR from the sun and releasing it more slowly than the ground or plants (using photosynthesis) that were there previously. Is it not also the ‘developing’ world that is warming the fastest? What are they developing? Is there a figure for land use forcing?

  206. Bulldust says:

    Not sure if this has been posted before but it is a year old, so this might be a repeat:

    I just got a copy of his latest book (“Chill”) and this is what prompted me to look him up on the intarwebs. I am 50 mins into the video so far and thoroughly enjoying his presentation.

  207. Jeff Id says:

    Very nice and well written Willis. You’ve done a great job explaining this.

    If we assume the CO2 heat capture is the only active element changed in the climate system (i.e. no chemical change effects) then the problem is, how does the atmosphere respond to increased energy input.

    Of all things I’m sure of, the climate scientist community has oversimplified the feedback mechanisms far too much. The moisture/cloud feedback is simply not understood and it is absolutely key to the right solution.

  208. Lazarus Long says:

    “The results of changes in such a flow system are often counterintuitive. For example, suppose we want to shorten the river. Simple physics says it should be easy. So we cut through an oxbow bend, and it makes the river shorter … but only for a little while.”

    I don’t know, U. S. Grant tried to do that on the Mississippi River during the Vickburg campaign, to little result.

    On the plus side, it confused the heck out of the Rebs.

  209. alex verlinden says:

    Willis,

    your first example is a nice and simple image and serves as a really good answer to the BBC’s lord King experiment … a bottle and an alka seltzer is a simple experiment, but how is someone going to calculate your thermometer’s temperature when not only the thermal resistance of your body is impossible to calculate theoretically, but also a unknown amount of positive and negative feedbacks are into play … and moreover, in this problem you are able to do a lot of empirical work … you have the possibility of immobilising yourself for a day, use an extremely sensitive thermometer, and take some readings … how are we going to do an identical experiment with the whole world ?

    I remember (vaguely) the “meandering river” from my hydraulics exam (1978) … it was a 5 page calculation that was considered rather difficult to reproduce … but even if complicated, that is small change compared to “calculating” the temperature of the globe 50 years into the future … as you said: “The Unbearable Complexity of Climate”

  210. TJA says:

    Chris Mooney “Discovers” that he is mentioned in the climategate emails after assuring us that there was “nothing to see there.”

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2009/12/28/my-cameo-in-the-climategate-emails/

  211. Spector says:

    At ground level, I believe that most of the greenhouse effect of added carbon dioxide is mitigated by overkill as existing carbon dioxide and water vapor in the atmosphere are already absorbing 100% of most of those radiation wavelengths that would otherwise be affected by the added CO2.

    I also wonder if convection might not be the major heat transfer mechanism in the lower atmosphere, below the tropopause. It is my understanding that well over 90 percent of the total mass of the atmosphere is contained below the tropopause. A continued convective heat transfer from the lower atmosphere can only be supported by an equal flow of radiant heat energy from the cloud tops. Perhaps this process is well understood, but with all the doubts that have been raised on the state of the science, I am not so sure.

  212. JonesII says:

    BTW: Breaking news: More complexity..

    Can anybody tell me what is it happening down there in the south pacific?

  213. tomt says:

    Charlie Martin (02:09:30) : You can be willing to bet whatever you want, but the direct effect that CO2 has on temps is known to be logarithmic. That is why even the alarmists talk about a doubling of CO2 talking about smaller increases is to small to bother with. The issue is what are the feedback effects from a doubling of CO2 and what other effects that aren’t well understood are also at play.

  214. alex verlinden says:

    Larry (22:15:42) :

    thanks for the link …

    even if this might be OT, and even if reading or verifying the paper is difficult for us (or better: me), the summary says a lot, if not all, and basically what I would say to anybody trying to quantify or calculate anything as complex as the world’s climate: utterly impossible, and therefore a lot of bollocks !

  215. Syl says:

    Charlie Martin (02:09:30) :

    “Willis, I suspect this presentation is imprecise in this respect: it implicitly assumes small changes in CO2 concentration. If you were to add a lot of CO2, say doubling or trebling the concentration of CO2, then I’m willing to bet there would be a substantial observed warming. This would be like, in your river analogy, to substantially increasing the flow of water or some how significantly increasing the gradient.”

    But don’t forget the logarithmic nature of CO2. As of now we are 108/280 the distance to a doubling which means that the amount of temperature change so far should be closer to half than 1/3 of the expected amount (maybe more-I don’t remember what Lindzen said exactly). If the rise due to CO2 so far is even 0.5C then the full doubling should be no more than 1.1C. It will be the same for the next doubling which would be 560PPM additional CO2, not merely 280 more.

    So we could reach 1120 PPM with a temp rise of only about 2.2C.

    Maybe. :)

  216. Hank Henry says:

    I suppose that the specific mechanism of meander formation has to do with the way water cuts the outer curves of a streambank together with something about the way silt moves and deposits in a stream whose current varies. If you think about the way the earth’s heat is moved by things like the gulf stream together with the greater cooling that happens at higher latitudes, one can see how fluctuations in the gulf stream could make for nonlinear oscillating behavior that make models poor predictors of future conditions. It seems akin to the age old “three body problem” of celestial mechanics. In addition to the gulf stream example: variations in clouds, snow cover, land forms, turbulence, wind patterns, and occasional large volcanoes suggest themselves as things that add tremendous complexity to the earth system. It makes one wonder what amount of computer power would be required to produce an adequate model of the earth’s surface. I know that Bill Gray has said that while weather models which use momentum fields will produce credible weather forecasts a few days in advance, when you try to use more realistic energy fields the problem escalates in complexity because you now are in the realm of factors which are squared. I daresay that because earth has continents mixed with oceans, together with an atmosphere, and temperatures that vary across the freezing point of water; the earth’s climate is much more complex and variable than many other planets.

  217. tom t says:

    Some of you might assume that this is not a subject for peer reviewed literature and as written in the post it wouldn’t be. But the the subject is. The earth is a non-equilibrium thermodynamic system and as such the complexities make taking about it in terms of simple concepts such as global average temperature almost meaningless.

    http://www.reference-global.com/doi/abs/10.1515/JNETDY.2007.001

  218. CodeTech says:

    sustainableloudoun (05:38:25) :

    First, the ‘author’ demonstrates how all solids are not alike in conducting heat (everyone who has had basic physics understands this). Then the ‘author’ goes on to show how humans (who are over 90% water and have active temperature adjustment mechanisms) don’t seem to follow the same principle. Doh!

    At the risk of repeating the obvious, the point the author was making is that your “simple physics” models don’t work on a planetary atmosphere, because it has “active temperature adjustment mechanisms”. See? You only had to make a tiny leap of creativity.

    Then he tries to confuse us about gravity and meandering streams. Erosion and deposition are indeed simple processes, but we are not supposed to think about them lest the ‘author’ fails to get his point across.

    Based on these poorest of premises, the ‘author’ attempts a distant but failed leap at a conclusion that there is absolutely no way that the climate can be modeled in any shape or form.

    One more rather tiny leap of creativity, unfortunately this one requires that you have at least a nodding acquaintance with the concept of “chaos”.

    Such is the fodder for little minds, but having both experience in physics and computer modeling, I find such a conclusion to be arm-waving at best, desperate denialism at worst.

    You were doing so well, then you fell into name calling and belittling. BTW, “denialism” is not actually a word.

  219. Syl says:

    A thoughtful and thought provoking piece. Thank you.

    I agree that there is nothing that really shows the climate sensitivity to CO2. When I’ve read some of the analyses of the past concerning CO2, temperature, and climate sensitivity, what I’m left with is a lot of assumptions and the desire to have someone knowledgeable check the statistics. And any paper that uses a climate model to derive a sensitivity conclusion I regard with a gigantic grain of skepticism–again because of assumptions.

  220. Syl says:

    Lindsay H (00:15:30) :

    “I see Nature is [creating] some new jobs for a new publication Nature Climate Change and are looking for a Chief Editor & Associate Chief Editor”

    My initial reaction to this is that the prestigious publication ‘Nature’ wishes to distance itself from the climate change controversy and not have climate change issues interspersed in its flagship magazine. Let the chips fall where they may, but in an offshoot pub. And they may cover their arses by saying the volume of Climate Change papers has simply gotten too large and is crowding out other science.

  221. Invariant says:

    Congratulations Willis,

    This is the best article I have read here at WUWT. And I agree, it’s particularly annoying to read trivial (but naïve) arguments by so called experts that do not appreciate the complexity of our climate!

  222. David Jones says:

    gtrip (21:08:08)

    Don’t let yourselves get caught up into what Bradbury called the family; A circle of people connected via the internet that think that they know each other

    Sometimes known as “The Team” !!

  223. JonesII says:

    CO2 is dead and its graveyard is at Copenhagen. It is just a ghost (which, as you all know means Gas).

  224. David Segesta says:

    Very interesting article. It sounds like Chaos Theory. Is that the same thing? Its strange that we don’t hear more about it in climate discussion. Earth’s climate is certainly complex enough to qualify.

  225. hotrod says:

    lichanos (06:55:47) :

    If it were just “basic physics,” enormous computer models would not be required to make “credible” predictions – an envelope and pencil would suffice.

    That is the point where you hand the person a pad of paper and a pencil and say:

    “Oh could you please write that simple formula down so I can predict next weeks weather?”

    Larry

  226. Roger Sowell says:

    @Andy Y (22:11:04) :
    “Roger Sowell, ummm…. a heat transfer system IS a flow system. Come on man, that’s simple thermodynamics. So whatever criticisms you thought you were levying against Willis are completely unfounded and dumb. Additionally, no where in the entire commentary did he mention anything about steady state, so why you’re bringing that up is even more bewildering.”

    The heat does indeed flow…the molecules do not in conductive heat transfer. In convective heat transfer, both heat and molecules flow. In radiative heat transfer only the heat flows. Simple thermodynamics. A river flows. Usually. The point, as you missed it, is that the earth does not flow. It orbits, it revolves, it wobbles a bit, but no flowing. Simple orbital mechanics.

    As to steady state, it was implied in the article.

    @anna v

    “Several problems with this. First, rivers are non-steady-state, that is, they wax from high flow (Spring runoff), then ebb to low flow (late summer). The shape of a river is created much more by the high flow events than other flow regimes. Anyone who has lived near a river knows this. ”

    Think again? What area dries out and how much and how hard during low flow should be equally significant to the the high flow effect, imo. All it takes is a tree trunk cutting the flow, and how the tree is snagged depends on how the previous bed dried etc. etc.”

    The high flow effects are orders of magnitude greater than the low flow, silting or deposition effects. Deposition creates soft areas that are readily eroded (pose virtually zero resistance) during flood flow. We mine ancient river beds for sand, gravel, and clays. The rivers did a fine job of separating the larger particles from the smaller ones.

    As an aside, during high flow periods of the Colorado river through the Grand Canyon, one can hear giant boulders smashing into the riverbed as they are carried along by the flow.

    @Paul Hildebrandt (03:06:23) :

    “Actually, the earth is flowing, and has been since Day 1. It’s called Plate Tectonics. Although not flowing at incredible speeds, the continents and oceanic basins are moving on a conveyor belt of sorts. Also, if you want to break it down even further, colliding continents are pushed up, oceanic basins are subducted down, rock is eroded and flows downstream as sediment, mass earth movements, and even in the atmosphere as dust. So, I would reevaluate your statement in light of the above. “

    Plate tectonics indeed move the continental plates, but they end up on the earth, no flowing. What plate tectonics do over long periods, in relation to climate changing, is create mountains that change the wind patterns, form glaciers (if the mountains are sufficiently high e.g. Himalayas), create river basins, create earthquakes and tsunamis, and have an effect on ocean currents. Plate tectonics are not fast events as you mentioned. Mountain building is very slow, while a volcanic eruption is very quick.

    @Marcus (03:22:41) :

    “When the only tool you have is a hammer, every job looks like a nail!”

    When one is a master builder with a complete set of tools, it is rather easy to choose the right tool for the job.

  227. kadaka says:

    nanny_govt_sucks (06:01:34) :

    Perhaps you can explain how high interest rates which induce people to save which makes more capital available is a “negative”? Perhaps you can explain how low interest rates which induce people to spend and makes less capital available is a “positive”?

    How about I take a shot at it?

    Money is the circulating fluid in the financial system. For a healthy economy we want the money circulating as fast as possible, with the caveat being that with too much flow the system gets leaky, unstable, money gets lost and diverted to somewhere else than where it should be (credit defaults prevent money from returning to lenders, etc).

    When interest rates are low, people are more willing to borrow, that’s the important thing. As long as the supply is there, that is other people are willing to lend (invest), then the flow increases, which is normally positive (see caveat). The interest paid on savings may be low, but then people with money to invest find other places than banks to put their money into the system while searching for greater returns (more flow). Companies have money to start up, to expand, the economy grows.

    When interest rates are up, the flow is restricted. People are less likely to borrow, thus less money is circulating in the system, there is a reduced flow rate. The economy suffers. If a particular industry has an expected rate of return of 8%, and the banks are paying 9%, people would rather put their money in the bank. So the industry does not get money it could use to expand operations, to grow, and if it hits a tough spot where it needs to borrow money to survive, then it may die because the money is not there. As interest rates go up the economy slows in growth, stagnates, and can even shrink. Thus high interest rates are a negative.

    Depending on what imbalances are affecting the system, like politics and taxes and world events that affect investor confidence, there might not always be a straightforward high-negative low-positive relationship. There are a chaotic elements involved, and a lot more complexity. But overall the relationship holds.

  228. Invariant says:

    scienceofdoom (21:25:35): Anyone know of less certain people than realclimate who look into the subject of climate as chaotic and any papers on it?

    REPLY: “weather” is known to be chaotic. Climate is a long term collection of weather events, so it stands to reason that it is also chaotic, but on a longer, slower time scale. – Anthony

    Exactly! To argue that the climate is chaotic on short timescales only is clearly nonsense and violates the well documented¹ inverse power law scale invariance in our climate that indicates long-range correlations. Lorenz (1963) conclusion concerning the atmosphere that “prediction of the sufficiently distant future is impossible by any method” remains unrefuted.

    ¹Chaotic Climate Dynamics (2007) Dr. Selvam, Indian Institute of Tropical Metrology.

  229. Henry chance says:

    Thar she blows

    If we boil and burn up as predicted, the need for new bridges is over.

  230. Bart says:

    Anders L. (07:13:06) :

    “Natural systems do not “actively strive” to achieve anything.”

    I’ll notify Dr. Clausius immediately.

    leftymartin (22:55:00) :

    This is excellent reinforcement of my own inchoate thoughts, to wit: The Earth must be in an operational regime which is difficult to get out of, else it would have gotten out of it long ago. Such a state is reached when there is active resistance, i.e., negative feedback, keeping it there.

    tom (21:09:47) :

    “…overeating will lead to obesity and starvation will lead health problems and possibly death… a free market economy … responds positively to low interest rates and negatively to high interest rates.”

    What will the effect of weight be if you raise your caloric intake 3%, i.e., in a 2000 calorie diet, by 60 calories (about the content of an apple)? How about if you lower interest rates by 3% of, say, 6%, i.e., by 0.18% in absolute terms?

  231. Johnny56 says:

    When we start to delve deep into the physical thermal
    properties of the different metal cubes the author used
    in his analogy we loose the basic point.
    That seem to be an intentional diversion of his point by
    some here.
    It’s not important that a block of, say, aluminum would
    heat up at a different rate than a block of iron.
    But that they BOTH heat up. And a human body doesn’t.
    The body is dynamic while the blocks of metal are static.
    That, I believe , is the point.

    The path of a falling snowflake could be precisely predicted
    using mathmatics but the data set to do that would be astronomically huge. The same with the climate.
    The interaction of variables upon all other variables,
    even if all are known (giggle here), produce the same krazy-large data sets.
    So then we use “proxy” data sets where static data is used
    in place of actual dynamic data. (more giggling here).
    Science teadhes humility in that the more you know, the more
    aware of your are of your own ignorance.

  232. David Jones says:

    P Wilson (04:17:57)

    Its like a throwback to the 1930’s when communism and fascist ideologies put the blame on man as the great fault of civilisation, so people ought to be bent to the ideologies of political extremes to save them and civilisation.

    That seems to be the way its developing as an ideology

    Firstly, It seems to me to be the otherway around. It’s the communists that got into the political lobbying groups masquarding as “charities” e.g Greenpeace, WWF, etc. that are pushing this.

    Secondly; IMO Communism and Fascism are pretty much twins. Mussolini was Secretary of the Italian Socialist Party before he became a Fascist. The Nazi group was named the National Socialist Party. In UK the British Union of Fascists was form by Oswald Moseley, who was a Cabinet Member in a Labour Government. They are of a muchness.

  233. crosspatch says:

    Apparently they are having some problems in Ireland with burst water pipes and water mains. This is one of those circumstances where temperatures a few degrees below normal costs millions of dollars but temperatures a few degrees above normal are tolerated without problem.

    Cooling is worse than warming.

  234. P Gosselin says:

    JonesII
    The hypothesis is dead, but don’t expect governments and treehuggers to stop playing the music. Like the band on the Titanic, they’re gonna keep on playing while the ship sinks.

  235. Dave F says:

    sustainableloudoun (05:38:25) :

    “First, the ‘author’…”
    “Then the ‘author’…”
    “…lest the ‘author’…”
    “…the ‘author’…”

    Ok, which is it? Are you alleging that the author of this article is someone other than listed, that the article has no author, or that you are incredibly incompetent at the use of apostrophes to ‘denote sarcasm’? See what I did there?

  236. Galen Haugh says:

    I’ve said knowledge is like a circle: As the diameter of your knowledge increases, the circumfrence of your ignorance enlarges that much more.

  237. George E. Smith says:

    “”” John F. Hultquist (20:46:58) :

    All this ‘simple physics’ makes me think of the simple formula for the area of a circle. Area is equal to pi times the radius squared. Many people have used this simple formula. Not many can derive it or prove that it is true.

    But the simple GHG idea is even more difficult. When someone says it is simple, just say “Prove it.” Ask them if the process works for CO2 why doesn’t it work for O2 or N2, both of which are major components of the atmosphere. Yes, some people do know what is going on but most have no idea, especially those out in the snow chanting ‘turn off the heat.” And if it is simple physics, why must there be some unknown ‘forcing’ to make it work. Do most of the people know about this or have any idea how quickly simple physics gets astoundingly complex?

    As for Willis’s example the concepts for meandering rivers have been shown for years in earth science classes, thus providing such a demand that the “stream table” has been commercialized:

    http://wardsci.com/category.asp?c=890&bhcd2=1261975346

    and an interesting example:

    http://scienceblogs.com/highlyallochthonous/2009/10/how_to_build_a_meandering_rive.php

    For many years Washington State University in Pullman had a RR-boxcar size one inside a building. Maybe they still do. “””

    Well proving the area of a circle, is fairly trivial if one is skilled in the integral calculus; but not so simple if that more advanced level of mathematics is prohibited. But then not so difficult either if one is good at geometry.

    Simply divide the circle up into a large number of pi sections (pun intended); might as well make them all the same, and make the number of them very large. So the total circumference of the circle is still 2.pi.r, one may almost say by definition of pi; well one definition.
    So now you take every other pi section and reverse it, and they all pack together into a rectangular block, with somewhat scalloped long sides, which is why we make the number large. Each long side contains half the circumference of the circle, so that is pi.r, and the short side of the block is simply the radius r , and simple geometry tells us the area is now r x pi.r, or pi.r^2. qed.
    And if you don’t like that definition of pi, then you can always use:-
    pi = -sqrt(-1).Ln(-1); which although correct, is not calculable.

    As for having a RR box car inside a building; you should visit “The House on the Rock.” which is out in the boonies in Wisconsin. Why the rock is there is about as mysterious as why Ayre’s rock exists in Australia. Now the house on the rock is more like the house IN the rock; well it’s hard to decide which parts of the house are in the rock and which parts of the rock are in the house.
    But more importantly; around the base of the rock, there are extraneous buildings; some quite sizeable. The one that comes to mind contains three simply giant pipe organs, all of which can be played simultaneously from one of a handful of equally impressive consoles; one of which contains about 21 keyboards, not counting the pedal board. Down on the floor, sort of in the middle of the building, there is a giant triple expansion steam engine, out of some ancient steamship. But the piece(s) de resistance, are the dioramas on the inside walls of the building; some of them quite large; as in complete railway locomotive engines just stuck on the wall of the building as if hanging on a thumbtack. The original owner of the house on the rock, one might say was the archetypical nut case.

  238. huh? says:

    Phil. (07:21:49) :

    “Water flowing downhill tries to get there as fast as possible which would mean following a brachistochrone and this is supposed to tell us something about the response of the climate to CO2?”

    Phil, since you seem to know so much about everything, can you please explain why cutting through an oxbow is not a stable approach to making a river’s path shorter? Or is the whole claim about the river wrong?

    I await your enlightening response.

  239. Tony Carey says:

    From: Ganymede 6642
    That the physics of climate change is uncertain is already well summarised by the IPCC in its 2007 report (The Physical Science Basis). The table on page 32 of the Technical Summary gives a 90% confidence interval for the global mean radiative forcing of all anthropogenic agents of 0.6 – 2.4 watts per square metre.
    This whole post is therefore somewhat redundant.

  240. _Jim says:


    gtrip (20:36:13) :

    So what? I don’t know what you are saying.

    a) Did you miss the smile/wink emicon? (Yes)

    b) Re-read the comment in context of my original post.

    c) Are you unaware of geological processes which level otherwise uneven/sculpted areas near rivers left over from the glacial era? (I think so.)

    I offered Battle Creek as an example since it was an area I had observed/studied this ‘effect’.
    .
    .

  241. George E. Smith says:

    As for meandering rivers; the same system works quite well whether the river water is poured over the land or over the ocean. Giant rivers meander all over the oceans, and given how cheesy the ocean is compared to the Grand Canyon rocks, they switch course someone more readily.

    That alone, makes monitoring the earth’s temperature, by measuring the ocean water temperatures, an exercise in futility. Return in your taxpayer grant fed survey ship, next year to the same GPS co-ordinates, and you will likely be in quite different water from what you were in last year.

    And if you succeed in somehow extracting an average temperature; it will tell you exactly nothing about how and where those ocean rivers will wander to next.

  242. Galen Haugh says:

    To Roger Sowell:

    But the main components of climate/weather are the atmosphere and the oceans. They flow on a rigorous and constant basis and transport huge amounts of heat in all directions on the globe.

    Add to these the main driver–energy from the sun in various forms, which can also be considered a flow.

  243. J.Peden says:

    If “it’s simple physics”, why not make a greenhouse at the Earth’s surface, fill it with N2 and O2 only and a pool of H2O large enough to saturate the enclosed atmosphere, freeze over, and so on, then measure the temp. each hour x 24 and say that’s the temp. for that place on Earth “unforced” by CO2, for each hour?

    Because the Oceans do the same thing for the Earth’s “Greenhouse” in regard to water vapor.

    Then add some differing amounts of CO2 and repeat. Repeat for every “grid cell”, and viola we have just figured out everything we need to know about water vapor’s effect and CO2’s effect on temperatures. And about what the temperature of each grid cell “should” be.

    I don’t even want to think about what’s wrong with my simple physics experiment, but my problem with the ghg effect is that I have no idea why, if the effect is supposed to work the way Climate Scientists say it works, water vapor hasn’t already produced it’s maximal ghg effect, reached its own tipping point, and why CO2 would do anything at all to change the effect of water vapor, which should have already burned up the Planet.

    In the TAR section on ghgs water vapor ~”is not discussed”. I still can’t believe it actually said that and might have to check it again, except that I didn’t get a screen shot, so things might have been “adjusted”.

  244. P Gosselin says:

    RECORD COLD WATCH FOR UK
    Our reader UK mates here at WUWT may want to cozy up with your lassies in the days ahead.
    Joe Bastradi forecasts snowy weather for the UK in the days ahead, followed by an Arctic blast. That means clear nights in combination with snow cover could send the mercury a falling.

    http://www.accuweather.com/world-bastardi-europe-blog.asp?partner=accuweather

    Plato at CA posted the following: Met Office slap-down

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/topics/weather/6901002/Warnings-of-more-snow-for-Britain-as-predictions-of-mild-winter-fall-flat.html

    The accuracy of the Met Office is truly astounding. I’m just so amazed that one could miss the barn so often. This is comedy.

  245. George E. Smith says:

    “”” Roger Sowell (09:11:34) :

    @Andy Y (22:11:04) :
    “Roger Sowell, ummmThe heat does indeed flow…the molecules do not in conductive heat transfer. In convective heat transfer, both heat and molecules flow. In radiative heat transfer only the heat flows. Simple thermodynamics. “””

    Well not so fast Roger. I agree with you that in convection, both “heat” and molecules flow, while in conduction, only heat “flows”.
    But in radiation, there is no “heat” to begin with, and there is no transfer of heat with the flow of the photons; energy yes, but heat no, since there is no molecular matter involved in the transport of photons.

  246. ThinkingBeing says:

    This article is ridiculously disingenuous. To start, it implies that climate science applies “simple physics” with no consideration for complexity, like a child thinking that anything that is brown is chocolate. It’s not true, and you know it. You belittle all of climate science by acting like scientists are oh so silly and foolish to not see the obvious that you and yours can see.

    In particular, it is a flat out lie that the models assume a relationship that results in a 3C change. They “assume” a large and complex system of physical relationships, and are allowed to randomly run their course in thousands of different iterations, but in the end the 3C pops out at the end, no matter what… much like the water, no matter how it meanders down the slope, winds up at the bottom in the end.

    Your Constructal Law analogies are improperly applied. The climate models do behave just as you describe, just as does the real climate. In fact, your Constructal Law analogy is a perfect argument for why deniers should stop already with the “the climate is cooling” rant. Any “cooling” you see in a short time span is just the meandering of a system that is never nicely in equilibrium.

    Third, it is arguable as to whether Constructal Law actually applies to the climate. It may, but there are differences. It may apply to weather patterns, to air flows and water circulation, but not necessarily to heat exchange as a whole. In particular, Constructal Law applies to more structured systems than the climate, not less. A river flowing through a landscape, or a tree growing or a traffic pattern is in no way as complex and multidimensional as a climate system.

    Fourth, your river analogy is more properly applied by changing a relevant factor between two runs, such as the slope of the sled, or the rate of water being poured. Those factors would most certainly result in certain predictable changes (more force to overcome friction results in less meandering, or at least faster changes in the direction of flow). In fact, if the rate of flow is increased enough, Constructal Law will cease to apply. The water would cut straight through and down without enough friction or cohesive substance to deflect it.

    Fifth, and this to me is the big point… the entire argument does come down to climate sensitivity. Deniers think there is going to be some magical, impossible to predict negative feedback that forces the climate to stay right where you want it to, within a 1C range. This is, in fact, equivalent to your river analogy. Deniers think that the river must flow straight downhill, that even if a pebble slightly alters the river’s course, the water will overcome it because it wants to flow straight downhill. It can’t possibly vary by more than 1C.

    The question is… how stable is the climate? You want to believe that it will stay within one degree of a norm, and it will do anything and everything possible to stay there. You can’t offer an actual mechanism, with proof, that it will happen. You just keep saying it will. But experience and science says the opposite… the climate won’t run away, but the range within which it will vary is larger than you and yours are willing to admit (funny how you’ll argue that the MWP exists and was warmer than today, but that at the same time the climate is too insensitive to vary by 3C due to CO2).

    Really, to properly use your river analogy, what climate scientists are saying is that, despite all of the perturbations the flow may assume, it will try to head downhill and eventually reach the bottom. The statement that “CO2 will raise temperatures by 0.5C, which will increase water vapor and thereby raise temperatures in total to 3C” is equivalent to the sled/river statement that “the water will reach the bottom eventually, no matter what else goes on.”

    The denier position is equivalent to saying that the system is so convoluted and unpredictable that the water will find a way to pool and stop on the way, or even work it’s way back up, so it never reaches the bottom, because equilibrium states that the water “wants to stay where it is.”

    So, no, your Constructal Law analogies are bogus. They may apply to climate science, but not in the way that you’ve presented them. You’ve done a very artful job of confusing a lot of people into thinking what they already want to believe, and what you want them to believe.

    The final, ultimate question is, can an artificial change in the basic parameters of the system due to an unexpected external influence, i.e. a 0.5C forcing due to CO2 with a cumulative 3C forcing due to water vapor, have a noticeable influence before the system stabilizes in a new equilibrium? Constructal theory says nothing one way or the other about whether that value is or is not a reasonable prediction, because it applies to how the system works within some degree of equilibrium, not how two systems will compare when the parameters that influence that equilibrium are changed (i.e. more CO2, or a different tilt to the earth, or any other factor that has a sudden unexpected change on climate equilibrium).

    In fact, Paleoclimatology tells us that 3C is quite within the range of variations one might expect, and possibly even a low estimate.

    The bottom line is that deniers want to believe that we will be saved by magic, that somewhere Mother Nature has a secret negative feedback waiting to save us from ourselves. “Alarmists” don’t want to trust to magic.

    The real bottom line? Your statement that “…there is no physics-based reason to assume that increasing CO2 will make any difference to the global temperature, and the Constructal Law gives us reason to think that it may make no difference at all.” is a flat out lie. The physics based reason is very simple to understand and would require an act of God to alter, and deniers only offer magic as their main argument that it is wrong.

  247. Olen says:

    Good idea to present the evidence in some articles in terms the public can easily read and understand.

  248. P Gosselin says:

    I think Joe Bastardi ought to have a guest post here at WUWT.
    Read the link I provided above.
    It’s going to be 2 weeks of hell for warmists! My favourite Joe qoate:
    “…but just as climategate woke some up to what some of us already knew, now the weather is piling on.”

    Joe, thanks for making my day!

    REPLY: Joe’s work contract for AccuWeather Inc prevents him from doing this I think .-A

  249. Dave Johnson says:

    An excellent article Mr Eschenbach, one that even I could easily grasp

  250. Clive says:

    Oooh .. a wee bit edgy today are we TB? Good heavens.

    Time for some popcorn and sit back and watch the show. ☺

    This is gonna be good.

  251. RJ says:

    Par5: “Arrhenius also concluded that the sun was made of coal, and that the earth was less than ten thousand years old.”

    Can Par5 or anyone else provide a reference for this? Does anyone here doubt or dispute the claim?

  252. Galen Haugh says:

    ThinkingBeing (10:02:11) :

    So you’re saying these “models” of yours can forecast anything when they can’t even backcast anything?

    Amazing. Now THAT’s magic!

  253. Back2bat says:

    Whatever happened to Gaia?
    Can it be she’s not?
    Or did she leave the kitchen
    when it got too hot?

    I never believed in Gaia
    but she kept the pagans quiet.
    Now, a little heat or cold
    and they start to riot.

  254. _Jim says:


    Louis Hissink (01:18:22) :
    ..
    Take a dust devil – a small scale cyclonic peturbation of air which darts about unpredictably on the Earth’s surface. While I look in awe at these things when out in the field doing my day job (basically drilling holes into geophysical targets for minerals), trying to work out how to get a measurement of it’s electrical properties is night well impossible – the dang thing won’t stand still, for a start.
    =

    The device you seek to accomplish this is an electrometer; a device capable of measuring a static (non-changing) electric field at a distance.

    An exposition of the method and some studies:

    Measurement of Atmospheric Electricity During
    Different Meteorological Conditions

    Build one: RIDICULOUSLY SENSITIVE ELECTRIC CHARGE DETECTOR

    .
    .

  255. Invariant says:

    leftymartin (22:55:00): at the state of Maximum Entropy Production

    Exactly! The Principles of Maximum Entropy Production is equivalent to the Principle of Minimum Energy Dissipation¹ and is frequently seen in physics, chemistry and biology:

    http://www.rsbs.anu.edu.au/ResearchGroups/EBG/profiles/Roderick_Dewar/Martyushev%20and%20Seleznev%202006%20Phys%20Rep.pdf

    ¹1968 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Lars Onsager (1931) http://www.csee.wvu.edu/~xinl/library/papers/physics/Onsager1931.pdf

  256. George E. Smith says:

    “”” Phil. (07:21:49) :

    [Reply: You are welcome to submit your own article explaining how well computer climate models work. ~dbstealey, mod.]

    My friend’s computer model was used to design all the wings of Boeing aircraft since the 767 in the 70’s, which is as relevant as Willis’s analogies! Water flowing downhill tries to get there as fast as possible which would mean following a brachistochrone and this is supposed to tell us something about the response of the climate to CO2? (By the way Willis a response of 3º to a doubling of [CO2] is not a “simple linear relationship”, it’s logarithmic). “””

    Well it seems to me that geologic history suggests that Total range of CO2 concentration in earth’s atmosphere is about 26:1 from about 7000 ppm down to about 270, which is less than five doublings; so if the temperature goes as the logarithm of the CO2, then that would be less than a 15 deg C change in temperature over all geological time.

    I’m not aware of any change in earth’s mean temperature since the Cambrian
    amounting to anything like 15 degrees C; nor of any parallel plots showing them tracking logarithmically; nor of any physical cause and effect process, that would relate them logarithmically. The records of human history would not seem to cover even a single octave of such a logarithmic relationship; not even a half of an octave.

    On the other hand for the very small changes in CO2 that are closely monitored these days, at places like Mauna Loa, the logarithm of the CO2 change would seem to be very little different from unity; and given that Ln(1+x) is approximately x, that would seem to make the relationship at least as close to linear, as it is to logarithmic.

    May I suggest Phil, that the presumed logarithmic connection between CO2 abundance in the atmosphere, and global mean temperature, is more a figment of the presumption of the reality of the concept of “climate sensitivity”, than it is of any operating physics.

    The relationship is evidently logarithmic, because the inventor of “Climate sensitivity” (izzat Steven Schneider of Stanford?) said so; and given that the “radiative forcing” (hate that word) due to CO2 trapping of surface emitted LWIR radiation, must vary by over an order of magnitude simply due to the temperature change from place to place on the earth’s surface; it would seem to me that the “Climate Sensitivity” is hardly deserving of the same Fundamental Physical Constant status, of say the Fine Structure Constant.

  257. _Jim says:


    Mike M (06:10:48) :

    Meandering rivers is a great analogy. We should challenge James Hansen to write a computer model to predict river meandering! With fewer variables, it HAS to be simpler than predicting climate …

    IF it weren’t for the repeated deposition/movement of sediments, the blocking of normal ‘flow’ by ice jams leading to the opening of new ‘bends’ in the river … a cinch!
    .
    .

  258. shellback says:

    That sulphur smell!
    Maxwells Demon flitting about?

  259. crosspatch says:

    I would say that Bastardi is a more fun read than Masters over at Weather Underground who seems to bang the AGW drum at every opportunity.

  260. Andy Y says:

    Phil. (07:21:49) So what if you can model the air flow past a wing on a Boeing 767. Still doesn’t apply to a computer model for the climate system does it? And Willis’ point on the downhill flow of the stream is that it’s ever changing and difficult to study with a simple “model”.

    Roger Sowell: You didn’t dispute anything I said. You simply attempted to change narrow the definition of flow. But even then you’re wrong. All molecules “move” when heat is transferred by any method. Does an entire block of metal move? No, but the surface molecules move a bit and so do each successive layer of molecules as the heat is transferred through it. And regarding the Earth. The oceans move, the air moves, the ground moves, the earth rotates, revolves, and wobbles but that isn’t flow to you because the earth itself doesn’t really change size and shape like a liquid? Then you further attempt to say that because plate tectonics have a long time scale that they don’t count? Seriously? That’s your defense?

  261. grumpy old man says:

    ThinkingBeing (10:02:11) :
    The analogies aren’t perfect, but they are sufficient to show that shining some lights on two bottles, one containing air, and another mostly CO2 doesn’t prove global warming is caused by CO2. The “deniers” are just trying to get the “zealots” off their soap boxes and back to real scientific discussion.

  262. vukcevic says:

    (21:25:35)
    REPLY: “weather” is known to be chaotic. Climate is a long term collection of weather events, so it stands to reason that it is also chaotic, but on a longer, slower time scale. – Anthony

    Or perhaps:
    Take weather as a white noise input to an amplitude limiter , followed by a band-pass filter (the global atmosphere), low-pass filter (oceans), these two in parallel of course, fed into an op-amp with a variable long delay feedback loop (global ocean conveyor belt as in here:

    http://www.anl.gov/Media_Center/Frontiers/2003/images/d8ee2.jpg)

    add one year seasons’ sine-wave modulator, inject a bit of DC (90 minus latitude), and hay presto you may get something that looks like climate, whatever that might be.

  263. DocMartyn says:

    Kacser and Burns, in 1973, examined the control of fluxes in their formalized Metabolic control Analysis. A similar mathematical approach can be applied to heat fluxes in the oceans and atmosphere. Before this time many biochemists had believed that they could take rate constants, measured at or near equilibrium, and apply them to systems that had thermodynamics of an irreversible nature. Needless to say, no kineticist would every attempt to model an irreversible thermodynamic pathways using equilibrium thermodynamic models, unlike Climate Scientists, we have learned to describe quasi-steady states as quasi-steady states and not as stanp-shots of an equilibrium. The classical energy flux diagrams used by the Climate people:-

    are similar to the late 60’s and early 70’s descriptions of metabolic fluxes, with ‘KEY’ rate liming steps and saturating concentrations of substrates. That world has gone, and was gone when undergraduates were taught in the early 80’s.

  264. J.Peden says:

    ThinkingBeing (10:02:11) :

    Ok, if what you just said is correct, why hasn’t water vapor alone already done the same thing? Why does CO2 do what water vapor couldn’t do? If water vapor alone couldn’t do what CO2 does, why would water vapor help CO2?

  265. John in GA says:

    Oversimplifying the subject makes it easier to spoon-feed to the MSM and schoolchildren: “CO2 is a greenhouse gas. Greenhouse gases trap heat. The more CO2 there is in the atmosphere, the hotter the planet will get.” There you have it. The entire planet’s climate system neatly summed up in three sentences, and ready for an elementary school lesson plan on global warming. No need to muddle it up with variables like ocean currents, solar cycles, water vapor, and other things that are hard to explain. It’s a simple system, explained by elementary physics, and omnipotent Man controls the whole thing. And the whole theory is backed up by something as infallible as computer software, so there’s no sense questioning it.

  266. George E. Smith says:

    Meanwhile, back at the JAXA ice coverage plot, we finally made it to 12E6 squ km about on Christmas Day I think; and right now it looks like we are ahead of both 2008 and 2007, so 14E6 by spring equinox seems likely. We might even have some multiyear ice left too.

  267. Jimmy Haigh says:

    Galen Haugh (09:40:25) :

    “I’ve said knowledge is like a circle: As the diameter of your knowledge increases, the circumference of your ignorance enlarges that much more.”

    I like that. I’ve always said that the more you learn, the more you realise how little you know.

    But then again I’m not as smart as your average climate scientist – they had the science settled long ago.

  268. rantingcynic says:

    I find it hard to believe that people don’t see something is happening.

  269. vukcevic says:

    Sorry! Link got corrupted by the bracket at the end. Here it is again:

    http://www.anl.gov/Media_Center/Frontiers/2003/d8ee2.html

  270. JP says:

    George Smith,
    You did a nice pithy summary of CO2 as a climate forcing agent; however, you did leave out one thing. That one of the signatures of CO2 induced AGW is a mid-tropespheric tropical hot spot. The lack of one even bothers Gavin Schmidt.

  271. Jim says:

    ****
    ThinkingBeing (10:02:11) :
    ****
    I get the “being” part. But I’m not seeing much thinking.

  272. Alex says:

    Quote from Willis, the author:

    “I take a sheet of plywood, and I cover it with some earth. I tilt it up so it slopes from one edge to the other. For our thought experiment, we’ll imagine that this is a hill that goes down to the ocean.

    I place a steel ball at the top edge of the earth-covered plywood, and I watch what happens. It rolls, as simple physics predicts, straight down to the lower edge. I try it with a wooden ball, and get the same result. I figure maybe it’s because of the shape of the object.

    So I make a small wooden sled, and put it on the plywood. Again, it slides straight down to the ocean. I try it with a miniature steel shed, same result. It goes directly downhill to the ocean as well. Simple physics, understood by Isaac Newton.

    As a final test, I take a hose and I start running some water down from the top edge of my hill to make a model river. To my surprise, although the model river starts straight down the hill, it soon starts to wander. Before long, it has formed a meandering stream, which changes its course with time.”

    End of quote.

    Would that it were so.

    Is it so? I doubt it.

    The behaviour of balls, sledges, etc. on a rough but displaceable terrain is erractic, as is the initial behaviour of a stream of water on such a terrain. My guess is that in reality it will only be the stream of water that finds the shortest path from top to bottom, and it does so once it has displaced the soil. The meandering effect requires not water but an unstable suspension of material in water. The meandering effect would occur if one was to flow such a suspension over a clean board providing the flow was slow enough, but a flow of water alone would tend to clean a path with the steepest gradient.

    Perhaps it would be better, and clearer, to leave the soil off the board to begin with, and compare balls, etc., with the flow of a suspension of silt in water. Then the balls would behaviour in a simple fashion and the suspension in the desired complex fashion.

    Please take this in the friendly way it is intended.

    Alex

  273. Invariant says:

    ThinkingBeing (10:02:11) :

    How do you know that climate models are useful when they only reproduce the observations they are based on? Most commercial simulators need to show that they can do accurate predictions before they are taken seriously. For example nuclear engineering simulators cannot be used before they demonstrate over and over again that they are able to reproduce unknown or future observations.

  274. MrAce says:

    “REPLY: “weather” is known to be chaotic. Climate is a long term collection of weather events, so it stands to reason that it is also chaotic, but on a longer, slower time scale. – Anthony”

    Averages in chaotic systems can be pretty stable. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:LogisticMap_BifurcationDiagram.png

    My guess is that the averages in our climate will be pretty stable too, when the forcings are unchanged. Forcings being: solar radiation, albedo, greenhous gasses, ocean currents, vegetation etc.

  275. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Onwards with Alley’s work that I was discussing last night. He claims at around 25:00 that the tropical temperature a hundred million years ago was as much as 42C … sorry, I don’t buy that. However, he says that it is supported by models … that I buy.

    He also gives estimates of CO2 for that time, many of which have no error bars. I thought this was going to be a scientific lecture. No error bars = no science in my book.

    It also leads to an insane sensitivity. CO2 was about two doublings higher than it is today, and tropical temperatures went up 8 – 15 C, which is a sensitivity of up to 8C per doubling … I don’t believe that even on a good day with a following wind. He doesn’t even comment on it.

    At around 31:00 he says that recent reanalyses of problem areas (warm times with low CO2 and vice versa) have shown that hey, guess what? Turns out that either the warmth or the CO2 was wrongly measured. I am always very suspicious of this kind of “confirmation”. I would find his argument more persuasive if these kinds of miraculous things weren’t happening.

    As an example of the kinds of problems I’m talking about, take a look at the slide at 31:50. Now answer this question: what was the CO2 level 55 million years ago? There are a variety of estimates shown, from a number of sources. These estimates range from a low of zero (yes, zero) to a high of 3,700 ppmv (about ten times today’s levels). Most of the observational estimates are way outside the range of model estimates.

    Now, given those numbers, any statement I might make about CO2 and temperature can find support. His only comment on this is “they have a lot of range” … yeah, well no kidding. The range is large enough to support any possible claim that you could possibly make.

    The same happens at 32:00, where we have a large amount of pretty well correlated data that don’t show temperature varying with CO2. But in 2007 a new measurement (leaf stomata) is added which is way different from all of the previous measurements, and since it happens to very vaguely resemble the temperature, the day is saved … again, too “deus ex machina” for me.

    At about 37:00 he deals with the recent ice ages. He says that we can’t explain the magnitude of the changes without CO2. How do we know that? IT’S PHYSICS, he shouts, that’s how we know it. And how do we know that IT’S PHYSICS?

    Why, the climate models tell us so …

    At that point I couldn’t stand it any longer, and I turned it off. You’ll have to tell me how it comes out. My conclusion is that if you believe temperature change is mostly from CO2, you will interpret data that gives possible CO2 values from zero to 3700 ppmv as supporting your cause. And if you check this “observational data” with models that believe warming is mostly from CO2, they will tell you that it is mostly from CO2 … be still my beating heart.

  276. RJ says:

    “I find it hard to believe that people don’t see something is happening.”

    There’s something happening here
    What it is ain’t exactly clear
    there’s a man with a hockey stick over there
    tellin’ me I got to beware

  277. Good article Willis, good discussion from all. We geologists have been taking the climate guys to task for years about oversimplification and treating dynamic systems as static. This comes from the profession that has proven mastery in the creation of oversimplified models. dennis

  278. Hank Henry says:

    ThinkingBeing makes a fair point. Nothing in the example of the meandering stream negates the basic principal that water still seeks the lowest level. I suppose the basic principal that he would like skeptics to confront is that because of basic principals of physical chemistry there must be a degree of warming from any increase in a so called “greenhouse gas.” I personally agree that this is where the rubber meets the road; namely, the degree of warming to expect from a doubling of CO2. I also believe that most of the direst predictions result from speculations about positive feedbacks such as increases in methane from melting permafrost and reduced albedo due to lessened snow cover. I can speculate too though. Perhaps there is a homeostatic “iris effect” at work where warmer temperature makes for more clouds and more clouds make for less sunlight and less sunlight makes for less insolation – resulting in a cooling effect. Frankly I don’t know and I’m wondering if anyone else really does have a firm grasp in a quantitative way of the positive and negative feedbacks. There’s just too much human imagination at play when you get into the topic of the feedbacks.

  279. Spector says:

    I believe there is a big difference between the public perception of the effect of increasing CO2, as presented by the popular media and films like “An Inconvenient Truth” and that understood by climate scientists — even those who believe this poses a dangerous problem. I believe the activist public perception is that CO2 is a linear climate forcing climate factor and we absolutely must hold the line at 350 ppm to prevent a global catastrophe.

    From what I have seen, the scientists readily admit that the basic forcing factor is logarithmic. They may argue over the amount, 1, 3, or 6 degrees Celsius each time the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is doubled and whether this effect will be enhanced by positive feedback or diminished by natural compensation, but the logarithmic relation is readily admitted. Reports of recent studies that I have seen on the web seem to suggest the effect is closer to the low end of the range.

    [As I type this, I am hearing a ‘Please save the magnificent polar bears from extinction, stop global warming now.’ TV spot appeal.]

  280. Harry Eagar says:

    I take exception to one part, where W.E. says climate is chaotic.

    Edward Lorenz (in the Danz Lectures) said he didn’t know whether it was or not.

    In one sense, it is antichaotic. If a mathematically chaotic system can show big changes in output for tiny changes in input, then that does not describe Earth climate, which seems to show small changes in outputs even for large changes in inputs.

    Considering the range of temperatures that are possible, the range of those ever achieved is tiny.

  281. crosspatch says:

    An official of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) in Delhi said: “It looked a little uncertain on Saturday, but Sunday’s further fall seems to have sealed the deal, with the minimum temperature likely to be around 10 degrees Celsius by Wednesday. It could turn out to be the coldest Calcutta winter ever.”

    Has Al been to India lately?

  282. JonesII says:

    P Gosselin (09:32:46) : Try not to laugh: Bolivian president Evo Morales and his partners, Hugo Chavez, etc. are calling for a new and urgent International Climate Conference of the “peoples of the earth”….

    http://www.erbol.com.bo/noticia.php?identificador=2147483922037

    (in spanish but you can use google translator)

  283. Galen Haugh says:

    We’ve seen some pretty good graphs of the Antarctic ice core data, as here:

    http://www.daviesand.com/Choices/Precautionary_Planning/New_Data/

    What they looked at in detail was the temperature variations based on isotopes, CO2 in the entrapped bubbles, and the amount of dust in the ice.

    I’ve seen very few presentations showing the dust component. Why, I don’t know. However, I finally found a graph that included the dust component:

    (I apologize for the wikipedia reference but I believe the graph is valid.)

    One article offered a detailed graph that shows that as climate temperatures get colder, dust goes up.

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v452/n7187/fig_tab/nature06763_F3.html

    Indeed, The Little Ice Age was dusty:

    http://antarcticsun.usap.gov/science/contentHandler.cfm?id=1481

    The interpretation I’ve heard (and I agree with it), is that a warmer climate means less desert from which dust can be blown. This squares with the fact that as temperatures rise and CO2 increases, plant life flourishes and deserts are turned into vegetation-supporting ecosystems. The above reference states: “We propose that the observed 25-fold increase in glacial dust flux over all eight glacial periods can be attributed to a strengthening of South American dust sources, together with a longer lifetime for atmospheric dust particles in the upper troposphere resulting from a reduced hydrological cycle during the ice ages.”

    This is quite different from what the AGWers are saying. They’re telling us that deserts will increase as temperatures increase. Well, as a geologist I tend to believe the past is the key to the future, and if warmer periods contribute less dust (less deserts) to the ice layers while colder periods show more dust (more deserts), I have a hard time getting all worried about increased CO2.

    Why are they countering geologic history?

    At the same time, studies of China over the past 20 years have seen a 25% increase in foodstuff production because of increased CO2. Plants tend to need less water when CO2 increases, so there is an overall “greening” of China and this greening is more pronounced in the more arid parts of that country.

    And this “greening” isn’t limited to China—it is happening over most of the world. And that’s a good thing.

  284. niphredilflower says:

    Wow what a marterpiece, I think this article should be essential reading for anyone of influence.

    Amazing that something that seems so obvious – i.e. the complexity and caotic behaviour of the climate, should be so amazingly overlooked and ridiculed.

    I’m a flat earther cos I know its more complex than that… amazing.

    Nice aricle

  285. Glenn says:

    RJ (10:20:33) :

    Par5: “Arrhenius also concluded that the sun was made of coal, and that the earth was less than ten thousand years old.”

    “Can Par5 or anyone else provide a reference for this? Does anyone here doubt or dispute the claim?”

    Neither, but closer to not doubting the possibility. Arrhenius said some pretty bizarre things, such as Venus being 117F and plants growing.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=xd2-nYXa-HUC&pg=PA130&lpg=PA130&dq=Arrhenius+Only+low+forms+of+life+are+therefore+represented&source=bl&ots=f1VqW13kRf&sig=ye9_JCY7EnIdK53TsGthi-P0i_c&hl=en&ei=Ifs4S9WqNJDMsgOPmKjWAw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CAwQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=Arrhenius%20Only%20low%20forms%20of%20life%20are%20therefore%20represented&f=false

  286. Galen Haugh says:

    May I add that at 150 ppm CO2, plants stop uptake. That means we die because they die. Note that CO2 levels during glacial periods got down to 180 ppm, so the earth’s plants were barely able to breathe. Now at 200 ppm CO2, plants do better, but they do much better at 1000 ppm. Maybe it’s from living in the frigid north, but I wouldn’t mind having a wetter climate with plants growing luxuriously all around. It sure beats shoveling all that white stuff.

  287. Willis Eschenbach says:

    scienceofdoom (00:24:46)

    RR asked “How is it that alarmists can quote “simple physics” to prove AGW, when CO2 only makes up .003 parts of the atmosphere? What law of physics explains how .003 parts of a fluid can warm the other 99.997 parts? Seems like a serious case of the tail wagging the dog to me!”

    Take a look at http://scienceofdoom.com/2009/11/28/co2-an-insignificant-trace-gas-part-one/ – the follow up post will be out shortly.

    In brief, the argument from incredulity isn’t much help in working out the properties of molecules.

    The fact that CO2 is only 0.04% of the atmosphere isn’t what determines how much radiation it absorbs. The wavelengths of long wave radiation – the earth radiates longwave – that each and every gas in the atmosphere absorbs and re-emits is incontrovertible physics. The very same absorption that is measured in the lab can be seen at the top of the atmosphere by satellite measurement.

    It might seem like “the tail wagging the dog”, but CO2 absorbs radiation at 4.26, 7.52 and 14.99μm. Water vapor and methane gases absorb at other frequencies.

    Can a tiny amount of cyanide kill someone? Can a tiny spark cause a big explosion? Can a gas which is 0.04% of the atmosphere cause 25% of the “greenhouse effect”?

    Yes.

    Scienceofdoom, I agree with you … kinda. For me, saying “CO2 is only a tiny x percent of the atmosphere” is the wrong “it’s too small” argument, for the reasons you cite. The correct “it’s too small” argument is this:

    The earth receives around 500 W/m2 of downwelling radiation. Of this, about 170 W/m2 is from solar radiation, and about 330 W/m2 is from longwave “greenhouse” radiation.

    Without the “greenhouse” radiation, the earth would be about 255K. Instead it is about 290K. So 330 W/m2 of GHG radiation gives us a rise of about 35K, or about 0.1 degree per W/m2. This is in good agreement with the Idso estimate of the “climate sensitivity” here, but much lower than the canonical IPCC estimate.

    A doubling of CO2 is estimated (remember we have little experimental data on this) to increase forcing by around 3 W/m2. This will give an estimated 0.3 degrees of warming per doubling.

    But this is the maximum, because as a heat engine like the climate warms up, parasitic losses increase. These parasitic losses (sensible and latent heat losses) reduce the amount of warming from its theoretical value. At present, the Clausius-Clapeyron relationship plus the dependence of evaporation on wind speed means that the majority of increased downwelling radiation goes into latent heat production (evaporation rather than warming). This change in parasitic loss with temperature is another reason that I say a linear relationship between forcing and temperature is very unlikely … but I digress.

    So if there is any warming from CO2, it is likely to be considerably less than 0.3K per doubling … and that’s my “it’s too small” argument.

    Finally, I disagree that CO2 causes 25% of the GHG warming. Clouds cover around 70% of the earth’s surface, and they are basically black bodies in the IR spectrum. This means that where clouds are, they absorb about 100% of outgoing long wave radiation. Since water vapor in the non-cloudy areas absorb a bunch more radiation … doesn’t leave a whole lot for CO2. But that’s a discussion for another time and place, in a thread far away …

  288. Brad Gagnon says:

    Willis your article is the best I have read in 2009. Cheers, to your work.

  289. Willis Eschenbach says:

    jerry (01:07:42)

    A micro-scale chaotic system does not mean that a macro-scale chaotic system is as well.

    There are many examples of this in nature. Fluid flow is a good example. The flow can become chaotic over a certain Reynold’s number, but the macro flow is entirely predictable – if inefficient. bumble-bee flight springs to mind.

    The example of the river meander is the classic. The meanders are chaotic, but the mean of the meanders is highly predictable – the total river length becomes pi x crowflight length (?) and the gradient is continuously refined to a well known curve.

    I’m also not sure that larger scale weather is chaotic either. The numerical models do a pretty good job now – out to a week.

    Didn’t I just cite Mandelbrot’s actual calculations on the subject, or was that on another thread? Hang on … yeah, I did. They’re at:

    http://climateaudit.org/2005/10/09/weather-and-climatology-mandelbrots-view/

    Now, if you find Mandelbrot’s math lacking, show us where. If not, handwaving won’t magically make the math go away.

  290. Dave F says:

    Seeing much in the above conversation about feedbacks, I wondered if H2O vapor has a logarithmic effect like CO2 on temperature. Does it?

  291. Steve Hempell says:

    Willis Eschenbach

    Thanks very much for your comments and the time you took to do them. I viewed that video at approx 1am so was somewhat brain dead. Have copied your comments and will look at the video again.

    Now, if I could get your view on the validity of http://justdata.wordpress.com/. Know I am being pushy on this but would like to put it to bed if it is garbage.

  292. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Turboblocke (03:04:38)

    WE says, “The IPCC says that if CO2 doubles, we will get a rise of around 3C in the global temperature. However, there is absolutely no evidence to support that claim, only computer models.”

    No: there’s data from the instrumental record, current data, volcanic eruptions, the last glacial minimum and proxy data.

    Here’s a link to some papers:http://agwobserver.wordpress.com/2009/11/05/papers-on-climate-sensitivity-estimates/

    Turboblocks, the word “model” occurs no less than 99 times on that page. Not in the papers themselves. Just on the page.

    Yes, there is observational evidence about the “climate sensitivity”, see the Idso paper I cited above. However, I don’t find any observational evidence that supports the value given by the IPCC. Might be some, it’s a big world out there, but I don’t know of any.

    If you have a paper that shows observational data supporting the idea that the IPCC is right, cite chapter and verse. I don’t have time to dig and sift through your papers looking for your claimed evidence.

  293. Robin says:

    Thanks Willis. It is so encouraging and refreshing to see someone explain clearly the workings of Complex Adaptive Systems and far from Equilibrium non-linear states. I am not a scientist but have done a lot of work with Complexity Theory in the Social Sciences. Your piece here comfirms that there is one key number missing in the whole AGW debale and that is THE magnitude of CLIMATE SENSITIVITY to CO2. i.e. What is the effcect of a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere? We are told anything from 0.6C to 6.0C. (A huge variation). Unless and until this is settled, then there is no way the science can be settled.

    It is noteworthy that one of the original pioneers of chaos theory was Edward Lorenz, who was also a pioneer of climate models.

    He discovered what is known as the ‘Strange attractor’, which I htink you hint at in your post. ‘The strange attractor’ depicts systems that are stable, confined, and yet never do exactly the same thing twice, like schools and weather systems and the climate. They never repeat their trajectory or behaviour exactly. Each event, each interaction, each end-state, each process is never precisely identical to any other. The most famous strange attractor is the ‘Lorenz attractor’, whose publication in 1963 marked the start of chaos theory. It is a marvellously shaped series of spirals with two bifurcating wings looking like a butterfly.

    ‘It is this silent swerving from accuracy by an inch that is the uncanny element in everything. It seems a sort of secret treason in the universe’. (G.K.Chesterton)
    ‘We must have a little chaos in us to give birth to a dancing star’. (Friedrich Nietsche)

  294. Allan M says:

    Willis Eschenbach (11:00:03) :

    At that point I couldn’t stand it any longer, and I turned it off. You’ll have to tell me how it comes out. My conclusion is that if you believe temperature change is mostly from CO2, you will interpret data that gives possible CO2 values from zero to 3700 ppmv as supporting your cause. And if you check this “observational data” with models that believe warming is mostly from CO2, they will tell you that it is mostly from CO2 … be still my beating heart.

    I find that the nutters always have proof; the rest of us just have evidence.

    ——–
    rantingcynic (10:42:27) :

    I find it hard to believe that people don’t see something is happening.

    Good grief, we mustn’t allow anything to happen; something might go wrong; a cat’s astrophe even.

    If nothing is happening we may have to rethink the Third Law of Thermodynamics!

  295. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Michael Spencer (03:51:28)

    OK. I get what is being said here. This is a very good piece and the reason I read this site is because although most of the time I don’t agree, it’s thought-provoking.

    But the part about the climate of planet earth not being in equilibrium? How do we know that? Isn’t the case being made by the AGW side that it IS in balance and that the additional CO2 is throwing it out of balance resulting in the behavior described?

    “Final conclusion? Because climate is a flow system far from equilibrium, it is ruled by the Constructal Law. As a result, there is no physics-based reason to assume that increasing CO2 will make any difference to the global temperature”

    Quite a conclusion! I am not seeing how the piece actually links the well-described and very interesting Contructal Law, but it doesn’t really link this law to climate. The conclusion simply doesn’t follow.

    Enquiring AGW but open-minded people- like me- want to know how this thinking pieces together. It’s too important.

    Thanks.

    For those who agree with Michael, please re-read the analysis of global climate by Bejan cited above. It clearly shows how the “thinking pieces together”.

  296. rbateman says:

    The only evidence I see from the IPCC is that they have signaled the death of the long-range forecast as a useful tool. They have pretty much destroyed all confidence in such.

  297. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Deadman (04:32:47)

    Might not the five major subsystems, “atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere” be better described as “atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere” because (a) there are important large bodies of water which are not marine and (b) it sounds niftier?

    Hey, I’m always up for niftier. Consider it done.

    w.

  298. Clive says:

    Willis .. thanks again.

    This idea is way less technical, but another ” thought” concept I’ve used a couple of times..and been posted here previously. It has to do with the mega volumes of the oceans and simply asks, “How can driving my car and heating my house affect THAT much water?” … from my notes … I calculated how much ocean water there is for every person on earth…

    For the purpose trying to form a mental image of this volume of water it is suitable to say “there are about 200,000,000 cubic meters of sea water per person on earth.” That is equivalent to a lake that measures 10 meters deep by 4,000 meters (4 km) by 5,000 meters (5km).

    A “lake” for a family of five therefore has about 1 billion cubic meters of seawater. This a body of water that is 10 meters deep by 10,000 meters (10 km) by 10,000 meters (10 km).

    It is a lot of water.

    Compared to the sun and clouds, I just can’t see me (or a family) having much of an effect over time.

    Thanks again.

    Clive

  299. JonesII says:

    Chaos is anthropogenic, Order is divine.

  300. Kitefreak says:

    Excellent article.

    The antithesis of the BBC CO2-in-the-bottle b*llocks from Newsnight.

    My dad said he’d seen it and it seemed ‘pretty convincing’. If that’s all people see that’s all they believe. And, unfortunately, that is what most people see – they need a quick, short summary from someone they trust, ah, good old auntie Beeb. It’s a shame, because it takes a roughly similar amount of time to read this as it would to watch that shameless piece of deliberate, calculated AGW propaganda/brainwashing (it was also super-condescending).

    So thank you Willis, for this article. I enjoyed it because I’ve always been fascinated by the flow of rivers – oxbow lakes, river cliffs, gravelly beaches – and how they are caused by the ‘basic physics’, i.e. faster round the outside of the bend and slower round the inside. And how it all moves over geological time, leaving marks on the landscape.

    I’ll print this off and send it to my dad; he doesn’t really use the internet much (he’s 81) but I’ve learned that if he has a bit of paper with words written on it, in his hands, a different message (like one with verifiable facts behind it) can reach his mind, i.e. a message that the mainstream media will never put out. His mind is perfectly capable of dealing with the fact that the climate is a very complex natural system which, will, of sourse, vary over time – that’s natural to an old-timer. But the MSM will never give him that message, just the drum beats of CO2, death train comin’. The carbon footprint is the new soul. Ethical man, Met Office giving seasonal forecasts which are the opposite of the truth, year after year!

    Thank [insert word of choice] for the internet. and the contributions of Willis and many people like him and our host Anthony, along with many other hard-working people in other areas (and I mean to use the plural there) of life where people are trying to sort out the truth from the LIES you get from the MSM.

    Printing it out extends the range of the internet when it comes to spreading the truth. And – in a psychological war – every mind counts…

    Have I taken that too far?

    This short clip on the subject of taking it too far will make you laugh if you can understand the Scots accent (Chewing The Fat).

  301. JonesII says:

    If the observer watches something happening chaotically the observer is aslept.

  302. Hank Henry says:

    Galen Haugh

    I’m with you; between the teeming tropics and the barren north…… I’ll take the former….. snowbirds everywhere agree…. and they aren’t just voting with their hands but with their feet.

  303. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Jeff L (05:54:08), you raise an interesting question:

    Willis, in the spirit of further testing your hypothesis, I have some more comments for you.

    In thinking about it some more overnight, there is more to think about for this analog because there are “forcings” which will change the equilibrium of the system – for example, if the slope of the system were changed via tectonics or change in base level (such as sea level change) or a change in bedload carried by the stream, the stream will find a new equilibrium state. Of course, other forcing – such as a man-made intervention short cut of a meander loop will not.

    So, with that in mind, is CO2 like the short cut or is it like a change in base level? An in either case, what evidence can you present to support that? An interesting implication is also that even if CO2 acts like a base level change, it simply means a new equilibrium will be established & that no “tipping points” exist – ie – we will not have any runaway greenhouse warming. I would say the geological record supports this given much higher CO2 concentrations in the geologic past

    I don’t know if changing CO2 is more like cutting off an oxbend (doesn’t change the river length) or like tipping the stream table (probably changes the river length). My points were different. They were that:

    a) we cannot assume that there is a one-to-one relationship between CO2 and temperature (climate sensitivity),

    b) if a relationship exists, we cannot assume that relationship is linear, and

    c) the Constructal Law says it is extremely probable that the earth has a temperature which is not set by CO2, but by the large-scale physical properties of the system (where the energy enters and leaves the system, location of the continents, emergent processes, etc.).

  304. Tomt, then consider trebling, quadrupling, etc. Somewhere between 390ppm and Venus’ 970,000 ppm there is going to be a pretty significant increase in global average surface temperature. Unless you’re claiming that CO2 doesn’t contribute substantially to Venus’ GAST — which would be quite an extraordinary claim indeed — then we ought, to be precise, say that GAST is insensitive to small changes in CO2 concentration.

  305. Kevin says:

    The word Chaos comes to mind. How about non-linear dynamics?

  306. JonesII says:

    …Everything was OK until those Vikings ruined the party…from Arrhenius to Svensmark, from Alfven to Svalggaard ☺

  307. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Anders L. (07:13:06) : edit

    “It turns out that these types of flow systems are not passive systems which can take up any configuration. Instead, they actively strive to maximize some aspect of the system.”

    Natural systems do not “actively strive” to achieve anything.

    ” As a result, there is no physics-based reason to assume that increasing CO2 will make any difference to the global temperature, and the Constructal Law gives us reason to think that it may make no difference at all.”

    In that case, I think it is wise to stick to old-fashioned math and physics for the time being.

    As far as I am concerned, “constructal law” is just a longer word for “God”. And I don’t believe in God.

    Yeah, I know I was anthromorphosizing, and I thought about cutting it out. However, it is an active system, not a passive system, and it tends toward some idealized state without ever achieving it … so “striving” is not far wrong.

    If you think that the Constructal Law is a longer word for God, I fear you don’t understand the Constructal Law. Do the math, examine the actual physical results. There’s a reason why Bejan is one of the hundred most cited scientists on the planet, and it’s not because he’s a theologian …

  308. Vincent says:

    Tony Carey,

    “That the physics of climate change is uncertain is already well summarised by the IPCC in its 2007 report (The Physical Science Basis).”

    You seem to have missed the point of the article. Although many knowledgeable people such as yourself understand this, Willis is responding to those party bore types who say things like “this is all based on simple well understood physics.” He is simply showing that although a complex process may have simple science within it, it doesn’t mean that the outcome is determined by that simple science.

    “The table on page 32 of the Technical Summary gives a 90% confidence interval for the global mean radiative forcing of all anthropogenic agents of 0.6 – 2.4 watts per square metre.”

    This of course, is palpable nonsense. A confidence interval is a statistical calculation that is derived from some underlying samples. How do you calculate that the confidence interval that the majority of twentieth warming is human caused is 90%? How much consitutes a majority? 51%? 75%? 99%? Then, how do you measure the confidence? You could start with the premise that the worlds temperatures have been flat for 1000 years and the modern warming therefore is something unsual. You would try and work out the probability that this is naturally caused as opposed to man made. Even then, you can’t actually calculate a confidence interval, because there is no actual data to calculate it from. It is just a guess.

    But it gets worse. What if the “hockey stick” model is wrong? What if there turns out be a medieval warm period and a little ice age after all? In that case, the same guesstimates would be forced to come up with a confidence interval more like 50% than 90%.

    The problem therefore with the confidence interval, is that it is no more really than a confidence trick to fool the gullible.

  309. Allan M says:

    scienceofdoom (00:24:46)

    Can a tiny amount of cyanide kill someone? Can a tiny spark cause a big explosion? Can a gas which is 0.04% of the atmosphere cause 25% of the “greenhouse effect”?

    Can a gas which is 0.04% of the atmosphere cause 25% of the “greenhouse effect?”

    From Reid Bryson:

    Q: Could you rank the things that have the most significant impact and where would you put carbon dioxide on the list?

    A: Well let me give you one fact first. In the first 30 feet of the atmosphere, on the average, outward radiation from the Earth, which is what CO2 is supposed to affect, how much [of the reflected energy] is absorbed by water vapor? In the first 30 feet, 80 percent, okay?

    Q: Eighty percent of the heat radiated back from the surface is absorbed in the first 30 feet by water vapor…

    A: And how much is absorbed by carbon dioxide? Eight hundredths of one percent. One one-thousandth as important as water vapor. You can go outside and spit and have the same effect as doubling carbon dioxide.

    Can a tiny spark cause a big explosion?

    Not unless there is some highly inflammable vapour for it to work on.

    Can a tiny ammount of cyanide kill someone?

    These irrelevent biochemical anal ogies are so tiresome. Maybe we can solve the entire “climate crisis” with just a few micrograms of toad wart extract – sort of homeopathic climatology. And if this doesn’t work, I have heard that eye of newt can be very effective, but only when administered by a certified crone.

  310. A C Osborn says:

    Galen Haugh, an obvious “reversal” is did the Dust cause the mini ice ages, not the other way around.
    I thought Volcanic Eruptions caused cooling?

  311. JonesII says:

    Allan M (12:05:52) :
    …And if this doesn’t work, I have heard that eye of newt can be very effective, but only when administered by a certified crone
    May I suggest, instead, two full spoons of Castor Oil, it’s really cathartic!

  312. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Phil. (07:21:49)

    [Reply: You are welcome to submit your own article explaining how well computer climate models work. ~dbstealey, mod.]

    My friend’s computer model was used to design all the wings of Boeing aircraft since the 767 in the 70’s, which is as relevant as Willis’s analogies! Water flowing downhill tries to get there as fast as possible which would mean following a brachistochrone and this is supposed to tell us something about the response of the climate to CO2? (By the way Willis a response of 3º to a doubling of [CO2] is not a “simple linear relationship”, it’s logarithmic).

    Three degrees per doubling, six degrees per two doublings, nine degrees for three doublings … it is linear w.r.t. doubling. As you point out, it is logarithmic w.r.t. the underlying concentration. I guess I missed the part that makes this objection meaningful.

    Next, if water flowing downhill “tries to get there as fast as possible”, it would flow straight downhill like a marble rolling down a tilted floor.

    Finally, the supercomputer used to model the airplane wing is modeling a well-defined and understood static situation (the wing shape is essentially fixed) in a very small space of a few hundred cubic metres. If you think this means that computers can model the poorly understood planetary scale climate system, with all of its known and unknown forcings, subsystems, resonances, and sub-grid phenomena like thunderstorms, you don’t understand computers.

    This is not unusual. People think that computers are able to do many things that they can’t do. As someone who has programmed computers for more than forty years, I can assure you that a model is no better than the understanding of its programmer. We understand the flow of air over a wing pretty well, so we can model it (although even the best model results are still sometimes contradicted by test flights … which is why we still do them, we don’t just say “the computer says it’s wonderful, bring on the passengers” …)

    Since we don’t understand the climate, neither do our models.

  313. phil cartier says:

    ” jt (21:54:39) :

    People keep making the point that Climate is Chaotic as if that meant Climate is unpredictable on any scale……..comments from mathematically knowledgeable persons about whether such kinds of chaos have been found, ”

    I found this paper by Karner on “On nonstationarity and antipersistency in global temperature series”. The mathematics is a bit beyond me, but essentially he is using statistical tests to determine if the data is self-consistent and can be used to infer long term trends. The major conclusion is that the temperature data show that the long term antipersistency means that the data is showing that there is a negative feedback in the global troposphere temperature variability. The opposite conclusion of the IPCC report. There is also discussion that the nonstationarity means that it is unlikely that the data can be used to compare “climate” from different periods.

    In a kind of summary, the conclusion is that we don’t have enough data(satellite temperatures and heat flow data) and the global temperature data shouldn’t be used to make any predictions about future climate, to the extent that temperature is a good measure of climate.

    1) Karner, Journal of Geophysical Research Vol 107, no. 0, XXXX doi:10.1029/2001JD002024,2002

  314. Willis Eschenbach says:

    DirkH (07:25:30)

    “Dave vs Hal (23:57:26) :

    A complex system with negative feedbacks maintaining an equilibrium. Sounds suspiciously like the G… word (the earth behaving like a simple organism). Life co-evolved with this planet and it wouldn’t surprise me if some of the feedbacks are biological. [...]”

    Of course. A very interesting area here is Phytoplankton. Imagine all the oceans full of gazillion algae. With thousands of different species. All of the time they’re mutating, evolving and adapting. Some species become more plentiful, others rarer. So the composition of the entirety of the phytoplancton changes all the time. What would you expect, that it adapts toward any change very quickly or not?

    It would be fascinating to incorporate this into a computer model. Oh, and clouds.

    A good example, made better by the fact that it was recently discovered that when plankton get too warm, they emit a chemical into the air which serves as cloud nuclei, increasing the clouds above the plankton and cooling them down again …

    It is this kind of feedback which is missing from the climate models. Instead, they assume that if things get bad, feedback will make them worse. In general, nature doesn’t work like that, otherwise the world would have gone off the rails millions of years ago.

  315. David L. Hagen says:

    In 1999, 2001, Prof. Emeritus Don Easterbrook of Washington State University gave quantitative global temperature projections based on the Pacific Decadal Oscillation:

    Global cooling should begin soon and last until about 2040, then warm again until about 2070, and cooling again to the end of the century. The total increase in global warming from now to the end of the century should be only about 0.4°C, compared to nearly 11°C (maximum) predicted by the IPCC (Fig. 3)

    See: Figure 3 in CLIMATE CHANGES IN THE COMING CENTURY

    See
    New geologic evidence of past periods of oscillating, abrupt warming, and cooling

    Global climate change, global warming

  316. anna v says:

    jerry (01:07:42) :

    A micro-scale chaotic system does not mean that a macro-scale chaotic system is as well.
    …..
    I’m also not sure that larger scale weather is chaotic either. The numerical models do a pretty good job now – out to a week.

    We are talking of deterministic chaos here, no? That is chaotic behavior of an ensemble of variables that individually are controlled and are part of solutions of highly non linear equations, no?

    Numerical models, the gridded globe, and the many approximations assumed within the grid boxes, and the imposed boundary conditions are good enough for a week , you say?

    This is understandable: inherent in these numerical approximations is the linear approximation to the highly nonlinear solutions of the real equations that control weather. A linear approximation is as if a perturbative solution could apply, which, due to the non linearity of the putative solutions to the differential equations that enter the problem will be good enough for a number of steps through time, until the nonlinearity kicks in with a vengeance. You say a week, I say sometimes not even a day, depending on which non linearity has dominated.
    And this is about weather.

    When one takes this gridded numerical model and goes into steps of years in order to simulate climate the situation is exponentially worse as far as the approximations of nonlinear solutions go: a lot of averages in the grid boxes and boundaries are assumed, and those of course are really again the first order term of some highly non linear solution of the equations entering the problem. So, after fitting the n ( where n is a large number) parameters of the models walking them to future times inevitably will fail after a number of steps, because again the higher order terms will kick in and the real world will diverge from the virtual one of the model, inevitably.

    It is only the study of climate with the tools of deterministic chaos, as Tsonis et al have started doing a while ago, that one can have any future for modeling climate rationally.

    When I first waded in trying to understand this mess, I was asking of why analogue computers were not designed for the climate problem. The rational of analogue computing was that they could solve differential equations very fast. The neural net technique of Tsonis et al is an analogue of the variables entering the problem, but on a digital system which is much slower. I still have the question.

  317. Mark T says:

    Willis Eschenbach (12:16:44) :

    Well said.

    Catching Phil. in the silly logarithmic booboo was priceless. :)

    Mark

  318. pwl says:

    “The natural state of the world for the last few million years is ice ages with intermittent warm periods lasting you know typically 10,000 years which we’re in now, year 10,000 now so logically there is an ice age due.” – Piers Corbyn

    http://pathstoknowledge.net/2009/12/28/long-term-weather-forecasting-with-piers-corbyn

  319. Phil M. says:

    Phil. (07:21:49) :
    My friend’s computer model was used to design all the wings of Boeing aircraft since the 767 in the 70’s

    Your friend could surely help you with a better understanding on the limitations of models.

    <>

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/UnboundedEducation/message/1064?l=1

  320. Willis Eschenbach says:

    ThinkingBeing (10:02:11)

    The real bottom line? Your statement that “…there is no physics-based reason to assume that increasing CO2 will make any difference to the global temperature, and the Constructal Law gives us reason to think that it may make no difference at all.” is a flat out lie. The physics based reason is very simple to understand and would require an act of God to alter, and deniers only offer magic as their main argument that it is wrong.

    I won’t and don’t discuss science with anyone who calls me a liar. I may very well be wrong, I’ve been wrong many times before, but I am an honest man. Please take your slimy accusations elsewhere, all you have revealed here is the paucity of your arguments.

  321. Phil M. says:

    sorry, errant tag in there.

    From Aviation Week and Space Technolgy
    Design Issues Starting To Plague 787

    Jun 28, 2009

    The concern over the unexpected wing stress failure centers not on the test results themselves, but on the fact that Boeing’s computer-aided design did not predict them. The design software is not suspect; the data and models that were fed into it are.

  322. Willis Eschenbach says:

    rantingcynic (10:42:27)

    I find it hard to believe that people don’t see something is happening.

    Something is happening, the climate is changing … just as it has changed for the recorded history of the earth.

    The question is not whether something is happening. It is whether CO2 is the secret global thermostat that adjusts the earth’s temperature … which is a much harder question to answer. In particular, it cannot be answered by “simple physics”.

  323. old construction worker says:

    Our atmosphere / oceans / land doesn’t act like a modern “Heat Pump”. It acts more like an “Old swamp Cooler” and “Gravity Furnace” running at the same time. The “Old swamp Cooler” is trying to cool down the kitchen because of the wood burning stove and the “Gravity Furnace” is trying to heat up the glassed in porch after someone failed to close the outside door.
    Then some sale person comes along trying to sell me a CO2 thermostat system to control both “Old swamp Cooler” and “Gravity Furnace” by either pumping or extracting CO2 in or out of the house. They’re pitchen and I ain’t buyin.

  324. Invariant says:

    Harry Eagar (11:09:30): Edward Lorenz (in the Danz Lectures) said he didn’t know whether it was or not.

    This does not really matter. What matters is that our understanding of the climate involves mathematical equations, namely the Navier-Stokes equations, are known to be chaotic in nature.

    The Navier-Stokes equations for fluid flow are at the heart of climate models.

    http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/print/26946

    To be frank, we can never prove that anything is chaotic. The reason is that we can never observe anything with the sufficient accuracy. In a strict mathematical sense, chaos is, as beauty, in the eye of the beholder.

    However, we can suspect that weather and climate is chaotic by the power scale invariance that is characteristic for both our climate and the Navier-Stokes equations that is our understanding of it.

  325. Willis Eschenbach says:

    JP (10:44:16)

    George Smith,
    You did a nice pithy summary of CO2 as a climate forcing agent; however, you did leave out one thing. That one of the signatures of CO2 induced AGW is a mid-tropespheric tropical hot spot. The lack of one even bothers Gavin Schmidt.

    See my WUWT post on this subject here.

  326. Bart says:

    ThinkingBeing (10:02:11) :
    “You belittle all of climate science by acting like scientists are oh so silly and foolish to not see the obvious that you and yours can see.”

    The point of the post is to provide a basis by which non-technically oriented people may grasp that complex systems behave in anti-intuitive ways. It is not that the climate scientists do not understand that they are dealing with a complex system, it is that they are selling it to lay people as being simple and straightforward, when it is not.

    Was that really so difficult for you to understand?

  327. MrAce says:

    @Allan M (12:05:52) :
    “Q: Eighty percent of the heat radiated back from the surface is absorbed in the first 30 feet by water vapor…”

    The greenhouse effect is determined by the temperature difference of the earth and the gas emitting the infrared radiation to outer space. The first 30 feet of the earth has about the same temperature as the earth, so it radiates at the same intensity. No greenhouse effect there.
    The temprature of the highest gas in the atmosphere absorbing a certain frequency of infrared determines the actual radiation to outer space for that frequency. Since CO2 is located high in the atmosphere where it is colder, it radiates less intense then the earth, thus resulting in an greenhouse effect.

  328. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Hank Henry (11:03:07)

    ThinkingBeing makes a fair point. Nothing in the example of the meandering stream negates the basic principal that water still seeks the lowest level. I suppose the basic principal that he would like skeptics to confront is that because of basic principals of physical chemistry there must be a degree of warming from any increase in a so called “greenhouse gas. …

    Not so. Consider a pan of water. There is a basic principle that if we turn up the heat under the pan, there “must be a degree of warming” of the water. Which works well up to a point, that point being the boiling point of water. At that point, all of the heat is going into evaporation, and despite the simplistic claim that “there must be a degree of warming”, the water doesn’t warm.

    Now, this is exactly what happens with the oceans. There is no part of the ocean on the planet which is much warmer than 30C. Why not? Same reason. At a certain point, the increased energy input to the ocean (from any forcing, solar, CO2 whatever) just increases the evaporation and the clouds and the thunderstorms, so the ocean doesn’t get any warmer. See my post on this subject here.

    I say again, “simple physics” doesn’t apply to complex systems.

  329. a jones says:

    Ref Anna V

    Hear hear.

    Could not agree more about the failure of such modelling, which is why of course unless you impose constraints which don’t exist in the real world, the model collapses into a puddle by slamming over to its limits quite quickly: from what I understand usually about 3 to 6 months. No matter the thing is useless even if you could estimate the probability of the reliability of the forecast, which effectually you cannot, It would still be useless in terms of predicting outcomes in the longer term, that is years.

    As recent studies have shown, the various models simply don’t work. Their predictive power measured against each other turns out to be zero. You would do as well if not better with my beautiful ancient tarot cards, which I got back from the restorer just before Christmas. And don’t even ask how much he charged.

    As to use of analogue computing about which I know something it would do a much better job than digital techniques because of its speed, with a suitable set up you could compare in a year not millions of runs but billions and tens of billions of them.

    Moreover you would have a much better idea of the sensitivity of the model to slight changes than digital machines can offer. And technically there would be no problem today of building such a machine.

    But I am far from sure in the end it would get you anywhere. There is so much we do not know about the climate system and its complexities that I for one cannot see how it can be modelled at the moment.

    We simply do not understand enough about the great natural forces that drive the climate. Perhaps we never will.

    But of this I am certain, those who proclaim that they can predict the climate and endorse the AGW effect exhibit an astonishing mixture of arrogance and ignorance.

    Kindest Regards

  330. Invariant says:

    Harry Eagar (11:09:30): Edward Lorenz (in the Danz Lectures) said he didn’t know whether it was or not.

    This does not really matter. What matters is that our understanding of the climate involves mathematical equations, namely the Navier-Stokes equations, which are known to be chaotic. The reason this is important is that climate models may then be unable to predict our climate.

    The Navier-Stokes equations for fluid flow are at the heart of climate models.

    http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/print/26946

    To be frank, we can never prove that anything is chaotic. The reason is that we can never observe anything with the sufficient accuracy. In a strict mathematical sense, chaos is, as beauty, in the eye of the beholder.

    However, we can suspect that weather and climate is chaotic by the inverse power law scale invariance that is characteristic for both our climate and the Navier-Stokes equations that is our understanding of it.

  331. Lazarus Long says:

    “This article is ridiculously disingenuous. To start, it implies that climate science applies “simple physics” with no consideration for complexity, like a child thinking that anything that is brown is chocolate. It’s not true, and you know it. You belittle all of climate science by acting like scientists are oh so silly and foolish to not see the obvious that you and yours can see.”

    Saying “The Science Is Settled” is a wee bit simplistic, is it not? Not to say ridiculously disingenuous.

    Oh, and a lie.

  332. cthulhu says:

    [snip - no valid email address "a@a.com" not valid - see policy page]

  333. PD says:

    I’ll go one better (more simple) than this. What is the definition of global temperature? If one postulates global warming one needs to know what global temperature is. I remember a couple years back when I became quite suspicious of Global warming when Al Gore wouldn’t shut his yap about it that I tried to ask this question on a different board and was referred to as a mass murderer for trying to define terms. I had hoped for a discussion of different temperature data sets, the understanding that these data sets are only a small sample of the Earth’s temperature at any one time, the limitiations, precision and accuracy of the data, how the methodology for sampling temperature may have altered over years, decades, centuries. Never got that far of course, but even saying one knows global temperature with any degree of accuracy needs to be demonstrated. From there can one determine with any confidence, given changes in methodology, past trends in temperature. From there can one make predictive models of temperature change (and have they been confirmed!!) especially on the scale of decades and centuries, as this seems to be the idea underlying much of “the sky is falling, the sky is falling … give us your money” political discourse of late. If one ever confirmed that future temperature trends were accurately being predicted, would one have any confidence that they understood the underlying causes and from there the necessary changes (ie the “give us your money” part). Funny that the solution proffered to a postulated future trend in global temperature, is an attempt at man-made global cooling.

    Finally, one should recognize when surrogates are being used in place of actual temperature readings, i.e. tree ring data might reflect not just temperature but for instance CO2 concentration, coral reefs, local predator populations, ice cover, ocean salinity and ice particulate content etc, etc.

    I would think given the complexity of the climate the last thing anyone would want is some global treaty to attempt anthropogenic climate change.

  334. cthulhu says:

    [snip - no valid email address "a@a.com" not valid]

  335. cthulhu says:

    “The question is not whether something is happening. It is whether CO2 is the secret global thermostat that adjusts the earth’s temperature … which is a much harder question to answer. In particular, it cannot be answered by “simple physics”.”

    Of course not, that’s why we have GCMs. If it could be answered by simple physics then GCMs would be unnecessary.

    Simple physics alone show significant warming from a doubling of co2. The point there being that co2 caused warming isn’t just some myth invented by politicians, it has a physical basis, it’s a result that requires detail to dismiss – even if that can be done. A scientist would ask why a 3.7wm-2 radiative imbalance caused by a doubling of co2 would result in no increase in temperature?

    If we want to get no warming from a doubling of co2 we require the forcing to be completely offset by an increase in albedo, possibly by reducing sunlight reaching the Earth. But such an increase in albedo and reduction in absorbed sunlight is a climate change causedin itself. Either way doubling co2 causes significant climate change. There’s no way of getting around this and it’s why co2 is such an issue.

  336. lgl says:

    Willis

    So if there is any warming from CO2, it is likely to be considerably less than 0.3K per doubling … and that’s my “it’s too small” argument.

    What’s wrong with these calculations then?

    http://www.sciencebits.com/OnClimateSensitivity

  337. MrAce says:

    @Willis Eschenbach (12:52:28) :
    How come the thermostat in your article could not prevent the glacial – interglacial temperature difference of about 6C

  338. DirkH says:

    “PD (13:10:58) :

    I would think given the complexity of the climate the last thing anyone would want is some global treaty to attempt anthropogenic climate change.”

    Governments want a global treaty so that they can print carbon permits and auction them off. It’s a new kind of money.

  339. David Jay says:

    AdderW (05:40:27) :

    Les Francis (22:06:09) :

    Physics.

    According to the laws of physics and aerodynamics, it is impossible for the humble bumblebee to fly

    That is a statement from 1934 by the French entomologist August Magnan and of course he was wrong, which is obvious…he just couldn’t explain how the bumblebee flaps it’s wings

    Okay, but how do you explain the Hiller???

  340. Spen says:

    Dave UK

    Which planet are you on. The media thrives on bad news and alarmism – plane crashes, end of the world etc. Don’t try and confuse them with boring facts. Thats why they are slowly going out of business.

  341. ShrNfr says:

    Sadly, people do not understand greenhouses. The energy comes in through the windows of the greenhouse, gets absorbed by what is in it and the stuff radiates according to Plank’s Law. What does not happen in a greenhouse is convection of the heated air in the greenhouse to the cooler air outside the greenhouse. The use of the word greenhouse in relation to IR absorbent materials is close to a fraud. People have walked into their various gardening store greenhouses and then think that CO2, etc. work the same way. Nothing could be further from the truth. To call CO2, CH4, etc. greenhouse gasses is a perversion of the meaning of greenhouse so that the AGW folks can sell the concept to people with the brains of a slime mold, i.e. other AGW folks. That is not to say that CO2 cannot cause lower atmospheric warming. But the propaganda minster Mr. Al Goebbels has repeated the untruth so often that trying to explain what is really going on with the equations of radiative transfer, convection, and all the rest. And that is even before we get to things like the AMO, PDO, volcanoes, sunspots and so forth.

    Personally I would love to see Gorge hauled up on a RICO and reduced to penury.

  342. DirkH says:

    “cthulhu (13:21:16) :
    [...]
    Of course not, that’s why we have GCMs. If it could be answered by simple physics then GCMs would be unnecessary.
    [...]If we want to get no warming from a doubling of co2 we require the forcing to be completely offset by an increase in albedo, possibly by reducing sunlight reaching the Earth. But such an increase in albedo and reduction in absorbed sunlight is a climate change causedin itself. ”

    1.) Current GCMs don’t include clouds.
    2.) Clouds change the albedo, see Willis’ post:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/06/14/the-thermostat-hypothesis/

    –> The current GCM’s are useless to explain the energy balance.

    There are more reasons why AGW is all a wacked mockery of science but this suffices to discard the GCM’s. It’s a pity. So much work and all for nothing.

  343. DirkH says:

    “DirkH (13:47:16) :
    It’s a pity. So much work and all for nothing.”

    And i’m NOT being sarcastic here. I’m a computer programmer and i love a good simulation. I really hoped these guys were on to something.

  344. ThinkingBeing says:

    J.Peden (10:40:05) :

    “Ok, if what you just said is correct, why hasn’t water vapor alone already done the same thing? Why does CO2 do what water vapor couldn’t do? If water vapor alone couldn’t do what CO2 does, why would water vapor help CO2?”

    The answer to these questions are available to anyone that bothers to do a little research, and has the basic scientific education to understand what they read. If you don’t know the answers to these questions, you disqualify yourself from the right to debate the issue.

    Galen Haugh (10:21:59) :

    “So you’re saying these “models” of yours can forecast anything when they can’t even backcast anything?”

    No, I never said any such thing and you know it. First, they can’t forecast anything, but they can reliably forecast an increase in temperatures due to CO2. Secondly, they can “backcast” things, and doing so is one technique used to validate the models.

    Jim (10:46:21) :

    “I get the “being” part. But I’m not seeing much thinking.”

    Ah, pointless, empty insults. Perfect.

    Invariant (10:48:01) :

    “How do you know that climate models are useful when they only reproduce the observations they are based on?”

    This statement is false, hence the question is meaningless. The models do not “only reproduce the observations they are based on.” The models incorporate known complex physical (and sometimes statistical) relationships in an attempt to confirm the correctness of the underlying physical model, and then to project the general outcomes of specific parametric changes. But I’m not going to argue the validity of the models on these pages with anyone here. This is the land of zealots who have already made up their minds, then, with their minds closed, have chosen to very heroically label themselves as “skeptics.” So there’s no way to educate them, and no point in trying.

    Hank Henry (11:03:07) :

    “I also believe that most of the direst predictions result from speculations about positive feedbacks such as increases in methane from melting permafrost and reduced albedo due to lessened snow cover.”

    This is not true. The predictions come from the very simple fact that an increase in CO2 will raise temperatures 0.5C, and an increase of 0.5C in temperature will increase the amount of moisture in the atmosphere in a way that will increase temperatures by another 3C (which no, does not further increase temperatures… the effects are not simple and additive, and the 3C already takes into account any such progression). Changes in surface albedo and the such are things that are NOT included in the 3C, and as such are an area of additional difficulty if they should kick in.

    “I can speculate too though. Perhaps there is a homeostatic “iris effect” at work where warmer temperature makes for more clouds and more clouds make for less sunlight and less sunlight makes for less insolation – resulting in a cooling effect.”

    And this is the magic I was talking about. Speculation, because you’d like it to be so. Lindzen has been saying this for decades without being able to prove it would happen. It would be nice, but it’s a hope and a prayer, not science.

    Willis Eschenbach (12:37:06) :

    “I won’t and don’t discuss science with anyone who calls me a liar. I may very well be wrong, I’ve been wrong many times before, but I am an honest man. Please take your slimy accusations elsewhere, all you have revealed here is the paucity of your arguments.”

    And I have no interest in discussing science with you, not because you may be wrong, but because I believe that you are purposely misleading people. This analogy, and many others, are gravely flawed, and I believe you know it, but you have a personal agenda aimed at sewing confusion about climate science and global warming, and you pursue it with pseudo science that impresses the willfully ignorant.

    As to revealing the “paucity of my arguments”… how so? I’m wrong simply because you say I’m wrong? Hooray for you. Well done.

    Willis Eschenbach (12:52:28) :

    “Now, this is exactly what happens with the oceans. There is no part of the ocean on the planet which is much warmer than 30C. Why not? Same reason. At a certain point, the increased energy input to the ocean (from any forcing, solar, CO2 whatever) just increases the evaporation and the clouds and the thunderstorms, so the ocean doesn’t get any warmer. See my post on this subject here.

    I say again, “simple physics” doesn’t apply to complex systems.”

    Please provide links to your posts on this, but off the top of my head, your argument above is silly. The ocean is no where close to absorbing all of the heat it is capable of absorbing, but it has absorbed an incredible amount of additional heat in the last twenty years. Comparing the oceans to a pot of water that has reached boiling point? Are you serious? This is such a weak understanding of physics and science that I am now appalled that I ever bothered to post a comment on your post. It’s beneath me.

    And again, it’s not “simple physics,” it’s applicable physics and science. Your constant attempts to label it as simple just to make climate scientists sound childish is, itself, further proof of how disingenuous you are.

  345. Louis Hissink says:

    Hmm,

    The behaviour of a small dust devil is chaotic but scale it up to a hurricane sized object that moves slowly wrt to an observer and the behaviour becomes non chaotic, and somewhat predictable.

    And if you use the equations of Lorentz and Maxwell to model an hurricane, then, like a spiral galaxy, the modeling works (Peratt’s particle-in-cell mtehod). But use solar powered thermal drivers then you have the mess associated with chaotic behaviour associated with the Navier-Stokes equations. And of course the obvious fact that during night time the solar driver disappears, raising the question of how a hurricane could maintain its state.

  346. Allan M says:

    MrAce (12:47:32) :

    @Allan M (12:05:52) :
    “Q: Eighty percent of the heat radiated back from the surface is absorbed in the first 30 feet by water vapor…”

    I was merely quoting “the Father of Climatology.” But, sadly, you can’t take it up with him anymore.

    The greenhouse effect is determined by the temperature difference of the earth and the gas emitting the infrared radiation to outer space. The first 30 feet of the earth has about the same temperature as the earth (Why?), so it radiates at the same intensity. No greenhouse effect there.
    The temperature of the highest gas in the atmosphere absorbing a certain frequency of infrared determines the actual radiation to outer space for that frequency. Since CO2 is located high in the atmosphere where it is colder, it radiates less intense then the earth, thus resulting in an greenhouse effect.

    Since CO2 is located high in the atmosphere…

    And everywhere else too.

    Having been a visitor to this site for several years now, I have come across most of the arguments.

  347. Brian says:

    This is an excellent post. I will highlight a further example where “simple physics” doesn’t suffice, from my own work at Sandia National Labs. You might think that “simple physics” are involved in running a huge current through a small cylindrical array of wires, causing them to vaporize and collapse into eachother. (This collapse produces x-rays which are used for fusion generation)

    “Oh, that’s simple attraction of current-carrying wires. Any set of parallel wires you run current through will attract!” Yes, but that does not accurately represent what’s going on *in this case*. Back in reality, the wires have a measurable thickness, and varying density, so the outer parts of a wire vaporize before the inner parts, and some sections vaporize faster than others. Different parts of the plasma move toward the center at different speeds and reach the center at different times, and various turbulent phenomena occur in the plasma to break the simple symmetry and reduce the final effect. None of that is noticed by a “simple physics” analysis, but is necessary for the practical purposes.

    Simple physics is simply useless for anything but introductory education.

  348. Allan M says:

    Further to (13:55:07)

    MrAce (12:47:32)

    Always, always, always the radiative explanations. Like a band that can only play one tune.

  349. Spector says:

    If you want to get a good picture of CO2 and water vapor absorption issues, check out WWUT article dated: 21 06 2008, Title: “A Window on Water Vapor and Planetary Temperature – Part 2″

    Note that for the Earth’s escaping energy transfer analysis these graphs would be better plotted as a function of frequency rather than wavelength and limited to the range of 6 to 20 microns (15 to 50 THz).

    As the width of the carbon dioxide band increases, the temperature must increase to force more heat through the narrowed open window. The heat flow is proportional to the fourth power of the absolute temperature. We are not considering the parallel effect of convective heat transfer. We are not attempting to account for changes in cloud cover. This is not a simple problem.

  350. DirkH says:

    “MrAce (12:47:32) :
    [...]
    Since CO2 is located high in the atmosphere where it is colder, it radiates less intense then the earth”

    Are you sure you understand the concept of absorption and reradiation?

  351. Vincent says:

    cthulhu,

    “Simple physics alone show significant warming from a doubling of co2.”

    If by simple physics you are referring to the Stefan-Boltzman equation then I’m sorry, but your statement is just plain wrong: simple physics alone show an INSIGNIFICANT warming – just 1.2C.

    This can be seen by doing the calculation F = sigma.T^4 and substituting 288K for the pre doubling temperature and the known insolation for F, then adding 3.7 to that and solving for dT.

    No, the fact is the simple physics gives a putatively low sensitivity, which is why the models depend on the multipliers of positive feedbacks to give sensitivites that are significant.

  352. ThinkingBeing says:

    Bart (12:44:34) :

    “The point of the post is to provide a basis by which non-technically oriented people may grasp that complex systems behave in anti-intuitive ways. It is not that the climate scientists do not understand that they are dealing with a complex system, it is that they are selling it to lay people as being simple and straightforward, when it is not.

    Was that really so difficult for you to understand?”

    No, the point I see in this article is to explain that complex systems behave in anti-intuitive ways, and then to imply that climate scientists don’t understand this, something that you have clearly fallen for.

    Climate scientists are not “selling” anything. That’s the skeptic party line and is silly. Climate scientists are doing science. If you can’t understand the science, that’s your problem. If you can’t understand the science, and then have the gall to take a side in the debate, then that’s just wrong.

    But I’ve never seen anyone, anywhere, on the warming side of the debate claim that it was simple or straightforward. If anything, it’s the constant denier arguments that try to oversimplify things. That’s merely a convenient (for you) misrepresentation of things to try to score points.

    I myself have studied the climate science in detail, and there is absolutely not a single aspect of it that I would label as simple, and I don’t believe I’ve ever seen any of the climate scientists, or anyone outside of the denialsphere, label it as such.

    As far as your pejorative question, “…was it really so difficult?” When you understand the science as well as I do you will earn the right to ask that question, and to cop that attitude. Until then, please keep studying.

  353. RJ says:

    ThinkingBeing: “Secondly, they can “backcast” things, and doing so is one technique used to validate the models.”

    Can you please point me to an article or study that demonstrates the backcast capability of models?

  354. Mike M says:

    cthulhu: “If we want to get no warming from a doubling of co2 we require the forcing to be completely offset by an increase in albedo, possibly by reducing sunlight reaching the Earth. But such an increase in albedo and reduction in absorbed sunlight is a climate change causedin itself. Either way doubling co2 causes significant climate change. There’s no way of getting around this and it’s why co2 is such an issue.”

    “Such an issue”. Sorry, what you just described is hardly anything approaching the doom and gloom predictions used to justify massive climate research funding and ‘solutions’ that would clearly bring our economy to a screeching halt. So now that ‘global warming’ is apparently no longer the issue with our PUNY addition of CO2 as you seem willing to concede, then the extent of our culpability for your ‘significant’ ‘climate change’ would amount to ~5% more rainfall in tropical rain forests than there would have been without any humans around, (or without any termites or volcanoes around, etc.). Oh my! That’s a disaster! The tree frogs might get too wet!

    The population at large was scared into believing that our climate was headed for some kind of ‘tipping point’, runaway global warming that was going bring disease, droughts, floods, pestilence, starvation, mass migrations and terminal acne but look what reality is bringing us since those dire predictions were made while CO2 just kept rising- nothing of the sort. Reality appears to be a very stable climate with strong negative feedbacks that were not anywhere near adequately represented in the models used to scare everybody thus making them …. WRONG!

    Here’s my equation: More CO2 = more plant life = more animal life = GOOD!

  355. Richard Sharpe says:

    Willis says:

    A good example, made better by the fact that it was recently discovered that when plankton get too warm, they emit a chemical into the air which serves as cloud nuclei, increasing the clouds above the plankton and cooling them down again …

    See Dimethylsulfide Emission: Climate Control by Marine Algae? for more info.

  356. DocMartyn says:

    “MrAce.
    Since CO2 is located high in the atmosphere where it is colder, it radiates less intense then the earth, thus resulting in an greenhouse effect.”

    So the warm CO2 molecules emit a broad emission spectrum and the cold CO2 molecules can only absorb a very narrow set of wavelengths. The colder the ones at the top, the less of the spectra of the warmer ones they can absorb.

  357. Joel says:

    ThinkingBeing:

    “Climate scientists are not “selling” anything. That’s the skeptic party line and is silly. Climate scientists are doing science. If you can’t understand the science, that’s your problem. If you can’t understand the science, and then have the gall to take a side in the debate, then that’s just wrong.”

    I think you’re being totally naive with this statement. If anything, we’ve learned that many in the “inner circle” of the climate science community have been more involved with propaganda and nudging numbers in ways to prove their specific points — they act much more like eco-activists than objective scientists.

  358. Jim says:

    *******
    ThinkingBeing (13:50:32) :

    No, I never said any such thing and you know it. First, they can’t forecast anything, but they can reliably forecast an increase in temperatures due to CO2. Secondly, they can “backcast” things, and doing so is one technique used to validate the models.
    ***************
    You have absolutely no proof that GCM correctly model the climate. If you believe they backcast temperature for example, the proxy-generated temperatures have been shown to be flawed as have even the instrumental records. Your precious models didn’t even forecast the recent flatness of temperature for the past several years. Your supercilious attitude 1) does not mean you are of a superior intelligence and 2) does not prove your case. You appear to be nothing more than a windbag.

  359. “…I am now appalled that I ever bothered to post a comment on your post. It’s beneath me.”

    Rather like the virgin in the back seat of the VW, ThinkingBeing refuses at very great length.

  360. cthulhu says:

    Re DirkH (13:47:16) :

    “1.) Current GCMs don’t include clouds”

    Wrong

  361. cthulhu says:

    re Vincent (14:10:23) :

    1C warming is not insignificant! It’s more than the total warming over the entire 20th century! If co2 causes that much warming then it certainly will be the dominant driver of climate on these timescales.

  362. Mike M says:

    ThinkingBeing (14:16:13) : “Climate scientists are not “selling” anything.”
    —–

    Yeah, a very large number of them have just been sucking away on over 30 billion of our tax dollars for the last 20 years so we shouldn’t be all that surprised that they claim that there’s still a ‘problem’ that requires their continued services. Pull the plug on climate research and the ‘problem’ will disappear overnight.

    http://joannenova.com.au/2009/07/massive-climate-funding-exposed/

  363. DirkH says:

    “ThinkingBeing (14:16:13) :
    [...]
    Climate scientists are not “selling” anything. That’s the skeptic party line and is silly.”

    Google Hansen Storms Of My Grandchildren if you want to see your argument swiftly obliterated, thank you for your time, it was fun to talk to you.

  364. maksimovich says:

    Louis Hissink (13:53:15) :

    : But use solar powered thermal drivers then you have the mess associated with chaotic behaviour associated with the Navier-Stokes equations. And of course the obvious fact that during night time the solar driver disappears, raising the question of how a hurricane could maintain its state.

    Condensation eg

    Condensation-induced dynamic gas fluxes in a mixture of condensable
    and non-condensable gases
    A.M. Makarieva ∗, V.G. Gorshkov

    Physics Letters A 373 (2009) 2801–2804

    It is shown that condensation of water vapor produces dynamic instability of atmospheric air and induces air circulation that is characterized by observable air velocities and persists independently of the magnitude of horizontal temperature gradients.

    Condensation-induced kinematics and dynamics of cyclones, hurricanes
    and tornadoes
    A.M. Makarieva ∗, V.G. Gorshkov
    Physics Letters A 373 (2009) 4201–4205

    A universal equation is obtained for air pressure and wind velocity in cyclones, hurricanes and tornadoes as dependent on the distance from the center of the considered wind pattern driven by water vapor condensation. The obtained theoretical estimates of the horizontal profiles of air pressure and wind velocity, eye and wind wall radius in hurricanes and tornadoes and maximum values of the radial, tangential and vertical velocity components are in good agreement with empirical evidence.

    Introduction

    In this Letter we describe how dynamic fluxes are generated
    in a gas mixture containing a condensable gas in the presence of
    a vertical temperature gradient in the gravitational field. We will
    consider water vapor as condensable gas to retain the physical
    linkage to the terrestrial atmosphere. Condensation leads to disappearance
    of water vapor from the gas phase, which produces drop
    of local air pressure and creates a wind-inducing pressure gradient
    force that is proportional in magnitude to the amount of water vapor
    that undergoes condensation. In the presence of a sufficiently
    large vertical temperature gradient the vertical distribution of saturated
    partial pressure pH2O departs significantly from the static
    equilibrium; at any height pH2O is over five times larger than the
    weight of water vapor column above this height [1]. For this reason
    practically all water vapor ascending in the atmosphere undergoes
    condensation. The volume-specific store of potential energy available
    for conversion into kinetic energy of air movement can thus
    be estimated as the value of partial pressure pH2O of saturated water
    vapor to a good approximation.

  365. evanmjones says:

    Climate scientists are not “selling” anything. That’s the skeptic party line and is silly. Climate scientists are doing science. If you can’t understand the science, that’s your problem. If you can’t understand the science, and then have the gall to take a side in the debate, then that’s just wrong.

    I must object to this.

    I am not saying that pro-AGW climate scientists do not genuinely think they are right. But to say that there is no “selling” going on is in direct contradiction with the clearest of evidence. It is the most blatant, in-your-face sales job I have ever been subjected to in all my life.

    Furthermore, laymen, “non-expert” as well as “expert” (those on the receiving end of the extraordinarily intense sales pitch), which include not only nearly all common voters but nearly all legislators as well, are the ones who will decide policy. They will take a side in this debate whether you consider it “just wrong” or not.

    It is the responsibility of the climate scientists (and many other practitioners of related disciplines), to be our “expert witnesses”. And to do that they must first scrupulously follow the rules of scientific method, with an emphasis on full disclosure of data and open method/source. Second, they must explain to the lay public their conclusions, clearly and concisely, including a dispassionate assessment of certainty/uncertainty. After that, policy is out of the hands of the “experts” — and the vote of a Hansen or a Lindzen counts no more than your vote or mine, nor should it.

    Yes, common citizens should try to become informed, but the primary onus of the explanation is upon the experts. And the experts need to be playing it straight.

    Scientists too often forget that they are no more competent to determine policy than legislators/voters are to determine science.

  366. cthulhu says:

    Re Mike M (14:20:33) :

    “Reality appears to be a very stable climate with strong negative feedbacks ”

    No model has ever shown strong negative feedbacks, and the history of Earth’s climate defies it. If there were strong negative feedbacks in climate, the climate would barely change at all.

    And don’t put words in my mouth – I never said ‘global warming’ was no longer an issue. In fact I think such conclusion is reckless given the state of the science.

  367. Jack Simmons says:

    Oh this brought back happy memories.

    Years ago a friend purchased a book for me entitled “Ideas and Opinions” by Albert Einstein.

    I immediately read it cover to cover.

    One of the articles I found fascinating was the chapter entitled “The Cause of the Formation of Meanders in the Courses of Rivers and of the So-Called Bayer’s Law”. This article was first read to the Prussian Academy, January 7, 1926. Published in the German periodical, Die Naturwissenschaften, Vol. 14, 1926.

    You may read a portion of this paper at http://www.searchanddiscovery.net/documents/Einstein/albert.htm

    At the time I first read the article I was impressed by the notion Einstein worked on a lot of interesting questions. Who would have guessed a seemingly mundane matter as the meanders of streams would attract the attention of Einstein?

    As the article points out, meandering of streams is not a matter of simple physics. It is a challenging enough matter to have attracted Einstein.

    I think about the source of meandering streams everytime I fish the North Platte River by Walden Colorado. I take advantage of the oxbows to entice brown trout with drifting nymphs.

  368. jae says:

    ThinkingBeing (13:50:32) :

    Wow, considering the disparaging language in your posts, you must be very angry and unsure of yourself.

    Anyway,

    “No, I never said any such thing and you know it. First, they can’t forecast anything, but they can reliably forecast an increase in temperatures due to CO2. Secondly, they can “backcast” things, and doing so is one technique used to validate the models.”

    Er, the CO2 levels have continued to increase but warming hasn’t for about 15 years, now. NONE of the models show any such thing. Why?

  369. DirkH says:

    Can we now refer to him as TrollingBeing ?

  370. Glenn says:

    ThinkingBeing (14:16:13) :
    “Climate scientists are not “selling” anything. That’s the skeptic party line and is silly. Climate scientists are doing science.”

    Even when they work for an oil company?
    Or when they offer conflicting conclusions, they aren’t “real” scientists?

  371. AdderW says:

    Any actual news on what is stirring in the world of the IPCC, Mann and the disciples of the Warming Cult? Any public flogging, hanging, stepping downs or the like?

  372. Invariant says:

    ThinkingBeing (14:16:13): I myself have studied the climate science in detail, and there is absolutely not a single aspect of it that I would label as simple, and I don’t believe I’ve ever seen any of the climate scientists, or anyone outside of the denialsphere, label it as such.

    Indeed. I agree. Still simulating the climate may be impossible. How do we know that it is not impossible?

  373. Mike G says:

    It doesn’t take a climate scientist to see there is something funny coming out of CRU, GISS, etc. I doesn’t take an oil-money-funded conspiracy to get people to want to understand what happens to the raw data. An example is the pitifully small, if any, UHI corrections one can see by looking at what data is made available. Heck, I’ve driven through Dallas and had the thermometer on the dash go from 94 degrees 10 miles east to 104 degrees downtown and back to 94 degrees ten miles north. I have access to real time data from a frequently calibrated met tower at a nuclear power plant and I compare that to what GISS says about the temperature in a small city 15 miles away. Guess what? The city’s temperature compares more closely to the temperature of the intake air on the aux building roof than to the temperature at the met tower a thousand feet away in a green field. And that aux building, with a black tar roof, is nestled nicely amongst cooling towers rejecting about 4000 MW to the atmosphere.

    Seeing these kinds of things and being curious causes you go to various websites and start trying to square what some scientists are saying with the realities you’re observing and you find out you’re being equated with a mass-murderer just for being curious, without ever having taken a dime from big oil.

    Then you see where they say we have to get rid of the MWP and poof it’s gone. Then you see were the temperatures in the 30’s have to be lowered and poof, they’re lowered. Then you see something like the adjustments made to the Darwin temperature record and you see zealots come on here and defend that. Then you see zealots talking about the ice being nearly gone and you start looking around and find that it’s pretty much just like it always was.

    Some things the scientists ought to ask themselves: Climate might be sensitive to this and that but how sensitive are economies to the remedies. How many billions will die if climate panic triggers global economic collapse (which it won’t because 1/2 of the world is China and India and they aren’t buying the snake oil)? Who’s going to fund a scientist’s life work in a post-industrial world?

  374. Mooloo says:

    Since CO2 is located high in the atmosphere where it is colder, it radiates less intense then the earth, thus resulting in an greenhouse effect.

    I have seen this a few times, and I have a major problem with it.

    If a CO2 molecule receives a quantum of radiation in a particular band, say 1400 nm, then it has to re-radiate that at the same band, or absorb part of the energy by going to a higher state and re-radiating out at a less energetic band. It might then lose that energy state and radiate out the new band. In the long run though every Joule in is emitted. Basically 1400 nm in, means 1400 nm out, albeit split into two pieces in some cases.

    But this is true of the gas at any temperature. The alleged “cold” CO2 does nothing hot CO2 doesn’t do. So the temperature of the outer layer makes no difference to the way energy is released.

    I can also understand that the temperature of the CO2 might affect which radiation it will absorb. If the cold CO2 is blocking an extra band not otherwise covered by the atmosphere, it will add a greenhouse layer not previously present. While this may be what people mean, it sure isn’t what they say is happening.

    So the temperature of the band at which the CO2 is emitting to space seems to me to be entirely irrelevant.

    For every extra “cold” CO2 molecule in the outer atmosphere, there is one less O2 molecule there. It’s not like the addition of CO2 affects the effective outer temperature that the earth is radiating at.

    I would appreciate a fuller explanation please.

  375. MrAce says:

    @Allan M (13:55:07) :
    “The first 30 feet of the earth has about the same temperature as the earth (Why?)”
    You can measure that can’t you?

    “Since CO2 is located high in the atmosphere…
    And everywhere else too.”
    The CO2 that is located lower does radiate too, but part of its radiation is absorbed by the CO2 above it. So the higher the gas the more of its radiation can escape to space. On average most of the radiation from CO2 to outer space comes from the CO2 higher in the atmosphere.

    This in contrast to water vapor, that is mostly found in the lower part of the troposphere.

  376. Spector says:

    For my previous message read WUWT for WWUT. BTW, I believe transparent gasses are not black bodies so they can only emit black-body thermal radiation at wavelengths they also absorb. This is why I believe that convective heat transfer must continue as thermal radiation from the cloud-tops.

  377. Dave F says:

    ThinkingBeing (13:50:32) :

    The predictions come from the very simple fact that an increase in CO2 will raise temperatures 0.5C, and an increase of 0.5C in temperature will increase the amount of moisture in the atmosphere in a way that will increase temperatures by another 3C (which no, does not further increase temperatures… the effects are not simple and additive, and the 3C already takes into account any such progression).

    Raise temperatures 0.5C from a temperature of what? What is the temperature that will cause 3C worth of water vapor to be added to the air?

  378. Jim Arndt says:

    Don’t feed the trolls
    ThinkingBeing
    Simplifying complex systems with a monotonic rebuttal.

  379. Jim Masterson says:

    >>
    Les Francis (22:06:09) :

    Physics.

    According to the laws of physics and aerodynamics, it is impossible for the humble bumblebee to fly
    <<

    This is way off topic, but there has been considerable advancement of knowledge in this area, and many papers published about it. Basically two things are different for insects: 1) there’s a scaling difference (the air looks more viscous to an insect than to larger animals and, of course, human airfoils), and 2) insects operate their airfoils differently than either birds or humans.

    The primary thing insects do is to operate their airfoils nearly at stall. They increase their angle-of-attack until the airfoil stalls, then they quickly lower the angle-of-attack to regain the airfoil’s boundary layer. The process repeats. This technique allows for smaller airfoils. We don’t usually operate our airfoils at stall.

    It’s interesting that about 325 million years ago, there were dragonflies with wingspans of up to 70 centimeters (28 inches). These insects’ wings lacked some of the modern features of current dragonflies; even so, they probably couldn’t fly in today’s atmosphere–too thin. Apparently the ancient atmospheres were thicker (likely due to far more CO2).

    Jim

  380. CodeTech says:

    ThinkingBeing:
    Please provide links to your posts on this, but off the top of my head, your argument above is silly. The ocean is no where close to absorbing all of the heat it is capable of absorbing, but it has absorbed an incredible amount of additional heat in the last twenty years. Comparing the oceans to a pot of water that has reached boiling point? Are you serious? This is such a weak understanding of physics and science that I am now appalled that I ever bothered to post a comment on your post. It’s beneath me.

    Excuse me?

    Where, then, is this heat?

    After this tripe, dude, there is no point even insulting you. You’ve managed to do that yourself quite effectively.

  381. Bart says:

    ThinkingBeing (14:16:13) :

    “No, the point I see in this article is to explain that complex systems behave in anti-intuitive ways, and then to imply that climate scientists don’t understand this, something that you have clearly fallen for.”

    There is pharmacological help available for sufferers of paranoia. No, the great majority of those in the general population who “believe” in CAGW, and believe they have a basis for doing so, have been swayed by the claims from the climate science community that it is all very simple, is based on 100 year old “science”, yada, yada. They are convinced because they see the CO2 is rising, and CO2 can trap heat, and that is as far as they go.

    “If you can’t understand the science…”

    Why do you feel a need to make such insults? Do you feel it will win people over to your side? Or, does it just give you a release to vent your frustration?

    “I myself have studied the climate science in detail…”

    Yeah, I know. We’ve sparred before. You hang out at Tamino’s place and believe sarcasm and ridicule put you on an elevated plane, where effort and real understanding are not required. I recall I slammed you pretty hard when you tried to pass off a Tamino rant as being definitive proof that Spencer had made a silly error in his analysis of the relationship between SST and CO2 concentration, and it was pretty obvious that Tamino himself had made a silly error.

    Here’s a ticket for the clue bus: You are not as technically adept as you think you are, and there are people posting here who know more than you do.

  382. ThinkingBeing says:

    RJ (14:18:54) :

    “Can you please point me to an article or study that demonstrates the backcast capability of models?”

    Implying what, that I was lying? Do your own work. Use google. Read. Learn. Stop parroting things without thinking. This information is readily available, in abundance. I’m not going to hold your hand.

    Joel (14:24:21) :

    “I think you’re being totally naive with this statement. If anything, we’ve learned that many in the “inner circle” of the climate science community have been more involved with propaganda and nudging numbers in ways to prove their specific points — they act much more like eco-activists than objective scientists.”

    This is laughable. I read a lot of the “Climategate” (silly, sales-pitch name) stuff in detail, down to reading the actual computer code referenced. I’ve also read most of the papers. I never once found anything that suggested anything other than human beings doing a difficult job and getting frustrated because it’s so easy for people that want to obfuscate things to accomplish their goal (like this post!!!!).

    There is no “inner circle.” There is very little propaganda as compared to that of the denialsphere. And there was no nudging of numbers at all. You are being easily and willfully mislead, because it plays into what you want to believe. As such, I can’t help you.

    You won’t believe any of this, and I’m not going to try to convince you. Believe what you want, but don’t call me naive. I understand it, and the ramifications of everything involved, more than enough for my own satisfaction.

  383. MrAce says:

    @DocMartyn (14:21:22) :
    “So the warm CO2 molecules emit a broad emission spectrum and the cold CO2 molecules can only absorb a very narrow set of wavelengths. The colder the ones at the top, the less of the spectra of the warmer ones they can absorb.”

    The spectrum CO2 gass can absorb and radiate is the independent of temperature. The intensity of the radiation depends on the temperature. The higher the temperature the more intense the radiation. So the colder at the top the less is radiated out. If it were warmer at the top then at the ground, greenhouse gasses would have a cooling effect.

  384. Peter says:

    ThinkingBeing:

    “The predictions come from the very simple fact that …….. an increase of 0.5C in temperature will increase the amount of moisture in the atmosphere in a way that will increase temperatures by another 3C”

    If it’s such a simple fact, then you’ll no doubt have absolutely no difficulty explaining it to us.

  385. DirkH says:

    O/T but not as much as that troll:
    Found a german article about Kirkby’s CLOUD-9 experiment at CERN in Die Welt.

    http://www.welt.de/wissenschaft/weltraum/article5304764/Sonnenwind-gibt-Antworten-zum-Klimawandel.html

    It’s a conservative news outlet but as mainstream as it gets! Title in english:
    “Solar Wind answers questions re climate change.”

  386. realitycheck says:

    Re: scienceofdoom (21:25:35) :

    “The visible climate community has talked itself and its followers into the view that weather is chaotic, but because climate is the average of weather it isn’t chaotic.

    This I don’t understand.”

    Its not a case of understanding – this view is just plain wrong.

    Before, I elaborate however, it is important to differentiate between a CHAOTIC system and a COMPLEX system.

    Chaotic systems are typically very simple non-linear systems doing simple things in a deterministic fashion (we can easily write down the governing set of equations for chaotic systems). The non-linearity means that the system is extremely sensitive to initial conditions. If we know the initial conditions of such a system exactly, then they are 100% predictable. If we are off by an infinitesimally small amount, however, the evolution of the system will quickly become unpredictable (the classic “butterfly effect” of Lorenz). Now, one property of chaotic systems is that they are scale independent or “fractal”- examine a chaotic system from 10,000 ft or through a microscope – you can’t tell the difference. Therefore, “zooming out” or waiting around for a long time and recording the systems “average” behavior won’t help, the properties of that average will exhibit the same chaos that it did at the finer scale.

    The Weather and Climate however, are a classic example of a COMPLEX system. A complex system contains multitudes of highly inter-dependent non-linear mechanisms, each of which (in isolation) often exhibits chaotic behavior. Importantly, you cannot write down an equation which describes the behavior of a complex system. Similarly, it is extremely difficult to observe the entire complex system and figure out what each of the inter-dependent mechanism are or how they are related to one another or the system as a whole.

    One behavior of such systems, however, are very interesting. They exhibit something called “emergence” or “self-organization”. For periods of time, the system can “settle” down and appear to favor one type of behavior, only to go through a phase transition and do something else for a while.

    A trivial analog is the human body (a complex system): It is capable of crawling, walking or running (amongst other things). Yet, even by fully understanding how a head, trunk, or leg works you will never understand crawling, walking or running or why it switches from one behavior to another.

  387. Bart says:

    ThinkingBeing (15:08:16) :

    “You won’t believe any of this, and I’m not going to try to convince you. Believe what you want, but don’t call me naive. I understand it, and the ramifications of everything involved, more than enough for my own satisfaction.”

    I’m an eternal optimist, so I read that as “he’s leaving”. Whatever will we do without the ThinkingBeing’s enlightened abuse? “You’re stupid, and I know all, or I would if I put any effort into it, which you obviously haven’t.” You have to admit, it’s a pretty compelling argument.

  388. Peter says:

    ThinkingBeing:

    “But I’m not going to argue the validity of the models on these pages with anyone here. This is the land of zealots who have already made up their minds, then, with their minds closed, have chosen to very heroically label themselves as “skeptics.” So there’s no way to educate them, and no point in trying.”

    So what exactly are you trying to achieve here then?

  389. Glenn says:

    Peter (15:18:31) :

    ThinkingBeing:

    “The predictions come from the very simple fact that …….. an increase of 0.5C in temperature will increase the amount of moisture in the atmosphere in a way that will increase temperatures by another 3C”

    “If it’s such a simple fact, then you’ll no doubt have absolutely no difficulty explaining it to us.”

    And why global temperature anomaly is not 6C hotter than claimed.

  390. Eric (skeptic) says:

    ThinkingBeing (15:08:16) states “The predictions come from the very simple fact that an increase in CO2 will raise temperatures 0.5C, and an increase of 0.5C in temperature will increase the amount of moisture in the atmosphere in a way that will increase temperatures by another 3C (which no, does not further increase temperatures… the effects are not simple and additive, and the 3C already takes into account any such progression)”

    I just thought I would repeat your simplistic model in case anyone missed it.

  391. JimInIndy says:

    Apologies, if redundant, but I read, skimmed, read, skimmed, and saw no criticism of the linear nature of warmists’ GCM math methods.
    Weather and climate are chaotic, as W.E. has illustrated.
    Linear math CAN NOT simulate a chaotic system. The “scientists” who are relying on the GCMs to prove their points are either math-ignorant or deliberately deceptive.
    No, I’m not a mathematician. Just 40 years of computer system & model design, management, and audit of methodology and data integrity. These “models” produce intended results, no more and no less.

  392. Just The Facts says:

    Here’s a great example of what we are up against, in the form of a vacuous blog rebuttal to the article above. “His argument? Well, rivers don’t run straight to the sea; they meander. Ergo, water doesn’t run downhill in a complex system. Consequently, no global warming. In another place he argues that humans are not metal, therefore, no global warming.”:

    http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2009/12/28/the-unbearable-lightness-of-climate-denialist-thought/

    Here’s another thread on the same site where Anthony commented to set the record straight:

    http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2009/12/27/anthony-watts-dont-bother-me-with-the-sarcastic-facts/-with-the-sarcastic-facts/#comment-94928

    REPLY: Yes it is a hilarious read over there, but IMHO he’s best left ignored. All of this bluster and posturing is just an attempt to draw attention to his blog. The strategy is that if he says ridiculous and inflammatory things, he’ll get some attention. My advice is to simply ignore him, he’s unreachable. – Anthony

  393. John M says:

    I understand it, and the ramifications of everything involved, more than enough for my own satisfaction.

    THE GREAT OZ HAS SPOKEN!

  394. Invariant says:

    Bart (15:23:37): Whatever will we do without the ThinkingBeing’s enlightened abuse?

    I found his comments were interesting. After all we have to admit that his point of view is, thanks to MSM, is the predominant viewpoint out there. I wish he would answer my question:

    “Still simulating the climate may be impossible. How do we know that it is not impossible?”

    Surely many honest, skilled and hard working climate scientists outside the inner circle know 10x or possibly 100x more about climate and climate models than anyone else. Still simulating the climate may be impossible. Do we have any indications that simulating the climate is at all possible?

  395. MichaelL says:

    ThinkingBeing
    “I myself have studied the climate science in detail…”

    You’ve watched An Inconvenient Truth 3 times or 4 times?
    The experts – IPCC say…
    ClimateGate does not exist…

    You should rename yourself “AlmostBeing”

  396. Galen Haugh says:

    Glenn (15:28:45) :

    Peter (15:18:31) :

    ThinkingBeing:

    “The predictions come from the very simple fact that …….. an increase of 0.5C in temperature will increase the amount of moisture in the atmosphere in a way that will increase temperatures by another 3C”

    “If it’s such a simple fact, then you’ll no doubt have absolutely no difficulty explaining it to us.”

    And why global temperature anomaly is not 6C hotter than claimed

    ——————–

    Maybe it already IS 6C hotter…. just not hotter than the starting point claimed. I.e., we know CO2 is a GHG, but there’s already a built-in 6C component we’ve already benefitted from but that started lower down on the temp scale. Each increment doesn’t give us another 6C boost ’cause it’s a lognormal relationship. If it induced runaway warming, partygoers would soon find themselves driven out of their night club from the heat because of all that moist, CO2-rich air they’ve been exhaling all night.

    (Is alcohol a GHG?)

  397. George E. Smith says:

    “”” JP (10:44:16) :

    George Smith,
    You did a nice pithy summary of CO2 as a climate forcing agent; however, you did leave out one thing. That one of the signatures of CO2 induced AGW is a mid-tropespheric tropical hot spot. The lack of one even bothers Gavin Schmidt. “””

    Well actually, I left out a whole bunch of things; so a computer generated mid troposphere hot spot; was not singled out for special exclusion.

    My whole point is that as near as I can fathom, the logarithmic relationship between CO2 abundance in the atmosphere, and the mean global surface temperature; or lower troposphere if you prefer; is one that is simply dictated out of the blue by Schneider’s expostion of the concept of “climate sensitivity.” Maybe the silliest idea I’ve heard of in a long time. But no Physics that I’m aware of would set up such a logarithmic relationship, and we most certainly don’t have a long enough (ratio wise) set of accurately measured data to even suggest that it is any more logarithmic than it is linear; heck we don’t even have any believable evidence that they are related at all ; other than some empirical data that suggests that global temperature changes are followed eventually by CO2 abundance changes.

    We know for example that the decay time of the charge on a capacitance shorted out by a resistance; follows the logarithm of the charge ratio; and it follows it as accurately as can be measured, from the highest charged Voltages, down to the final noise level. That is a real logarithmic relationship.

    CO2 and global temperature have not been show to do any such thing. The life of a sample of a radioactive isotope has been shown to follow the logartithm of the ratio of the amount remaining to the original amount; accurately within the statistics of such processes, once again down to the limits of detectability; that too is reasonably a logarithmic relationship.

    We can’t show a logarithmic relationship between CO2 abundance in the atmosphere, and mean global surface or lower troposphere temperature, for even a single doubling of the CO2, let alone some orders of magnitude range.

    So let us please drop this logarithmic silliness; which is every bit as silly as the concept of a “climate sensitivity”.

    I’m sorry for all the climate science students who were taught this in school; but don’t blame me for simply pointing out the fallacy of that idea.

  398. Paul Vaughan says:

    Paul Vaughan (23:40:54) ” http://www.sfu.ca/~plv/QBO_fGLAAM_fLOD.png

    tallbloke (00:25:12) “Interesting Hiccup in the early-mid ’70’s”

    The ’73 hiccup can be traced to a hard phase-opposition of SOI & QBO (or f(aa) & QBO, if you prefer a geomagnetic angle, which I suspect you might).

    What I’ve presented here so far is just the tip of the iceberg. With the results I have, I know exactly what calculations need to be done to help the world see the multiway spatiotemporal phase-relations. I need a team of programmers with expertise from different fields, including GIS (geographic information systems).

    What is getting lost in the lust for “global” variables is the spatial phase-relations. The correlations can be shown to drift in space, causing *apparent breakdown in temporal phase-relations.

  399. Paul B says:

    One of the mysteries, to me at least, of the entire debate is why the ‘experts’ are even bothering to use air temperatures to determine whether or not we are heating or not. Isn’t it the energy budget (heat) of the entire earth that is important in the big picture? Don’t you really want to know whether the earth is gaining or losing energy to space?

    By using air temperature as a proxy for an energy budget you are using the very low specific heat and chaotic sensory regime of air to ascertain the inner workings of the relatively enormous dense, high specific heat of the planet which is also chaotic.

    It’s like waving a thermometer over your baby’s butt to see if he has a temp isn’t it? The first rule of measuring anything is to remove the potential variables that introduce error. By using air temps you are using the worst possible indicator aren’t you?

  400. RJ says:

    Thinkingbeing(15:08:16):

    “RJ (14:18:54) :

    “Can you please point me to an article or study that demonstrates the backcast capability of models?”

    TB:”Implying what, that I was lying? Do your own work. Use google. Read. Learn. Stop parroting things without thinking. This information is readily available, in abundance. I’m not going to hold your hand.”

    “lying”? Sheesh! Of course I went to google first. Nothing I’ve found supports accuracy of backcasts. My request was polite, yours condescending and weirdly macho.

    Your claim of backcast reliability was almost a throw-away line made with great confidence. Surely, in the time it took you to insult me, you could have referenced a study done on the accuracy of backcasts.

    I am sincerely looking at both sides of climate change, folks with your attitude do nothing to inspire confidence in the science supporting AGW. Yeah, yeah I know, you don’t care what inspires my confidence. Then why are you here?

    Give me a link, please.

  401. JER0ME says:

    kevoka (21:43:23) :

    Last I looked we are still using 101,325 Pa as the standard pressure at sea level. If we are dumping Billions and Billions of tons of C02 into the air, should this not go up just a bit? Who should I call to get this adjusted? Would Al Gore know?

    Not sure if that is sarcastic or not, but if not, adding 0.01% or even 0.02% to the atmosphere will not change pressure in any measurable way. The minute to minute fluctuations of pressure and humidity would mask that.

    Hang on … perhaps it won’t change the heat trapping properties either? There’s a thought.

    In fact:
    Global climatologists claim that the Earth’s natural greenhouse effect keeps the Earth 33C warmer than it would be without the trace gases in the atmosphere. About 80 per cent of this warming is attributed to water vapor and 20 per cent to the 0.03 volume per cent CO2. If such an extreme effect existed, it would show up even in a laboratory experiment involving concentrated CO2 as a thermal conductivity anomaly. It would manifest itself as a new kind of `super insulation’ violating the conventional heat conduction equation. However, for CO2 such anomalous heat transport properties never have been observed.

    Falsification Of The Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects Within The Frame Of Physics:

    http://www.schmanck.de/0707.1161v4.pdf

  402. Mooloo says:

    The spectrum CO2 gass can absorb and radiate is the independent of temperature. The intensity of the radiation depends on the temperature. The higher the temperature the more intense the radiation. So the colder at the top the less is radiated out. If it were warmer at the top then at the ground, greenhouse gasses would have a cooling effect.

    Surely this is wrong, not to say contradictory. If cold CO2 has the same absorption band as warm CO2 (which I would expect) how does it suddenly become less transparent? It is either absorbing more energy and radiating it back (i.e. greenhouse effect) or it is absorbing the same amount. Its temperature is irrelevant unless it implies less transparency.

    I don’t see why a cold CO2 molecule in the upper atmosphere radiates out less energy than an equally cold O2 molecule. A black box is not dependent on its make-up after all. If having extra CO2 makes the upper atmosphere colder it would it make any difference, but I don’t see how that would work.

    This “extra layer of cold CO2″ sounds likely total techno-waffle to me.

  403. Paul Vaughan says:

    vukcevic (02:43:56) ” http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/LOD-GMF.gif http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/SSN-GMF.gif

    vukcevic, is it the same 90N GMF curve in both plots? (i.e. one is the negative of the other?)

  404. Bart says:

    Paul B (16:12:17)

    I believe you are beating on Pielke, Sr.’s hobby horse there.

  405. Michael Maxwell says:

    “In the space of one hundred and seventy-six years the Lower Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles. That is an average of a trifle over one mile and a third per year. Therefore, any calm person, who is not blind or idiotic, can see that in the Old Oolitic Silurian Period, just a million years ago next November, the Lower Mississippi River was upwards of one million three hundred thousand miles long, and stuck out over the Gulf of Mexico like a fishing-rod. And by the same token any person can see that seven hundred and forty-two years from now the Lower Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long, and Cairo and New Orleans will have joined their streets together, and be plodding comfortably along under a single mayor and a mutual board of aldermen. There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.”
    – Life on the Mississippi

  406. Frank K. says:

    ohn M (15:31:51) :
    ThinkingBeing :
    I understand it, and the ramifications of everything involved, more than enough for my own satisfaction.

    THE GREAT OZ HAS SPOKEN!

    LOL!

    Wow – this thread really went nuts! I suppose Mr. T-B is off to do a numerical stability analysis of his GCM so that he can prove to us commoners that the highly coupled, non-linear system of PDEs that comprise the average climate model is well-posed…LOL

  407. George E. Smith says:

    “”” Mooloo (16:37:20) :

    The spectrum CO2 gass can absorb and radiate is the independent of temperature. The intensity of the radiation depends on the temperature. The higher the temperature the more intense the radiation. So the colder at the top the less is radiated out. If it were warmer at the top then at the ground, greenhouse gasses would have a cooling effect.

    Surely this is wrong, not to say contradictory. If cold CO2 has the same absorption band as warm CO2 (which I would expect) how does it suddenly become less transparent? It is either absorbing more energy and radiating it back (i.e. greenhouse effect) or it is absorbing the same amount. Its temperature is irrelevant unless it implies less transparency.

    I don’t see why a cold CO2 molecule in the upper atmosphere radiates out less energy than an equally cold O2 molecule. A black box is not dependent on its make-up after all. If having extra CO2 makes the upper atmosphere colder it would it make any difference, but I don’t see how that would work.

    This “extra layer of cold CO2″ sounds likely total techno-waffle to me. “””

    Actually, cold CO2 does not have the same absorption band as warmer CO2, so there is a difference. The hotter the CO2 molecule is, the greater its random molecular motion is (i.e. more “heat”) That higher velocity molecular motion, means a greater Doppler effect, which will shift the wavelength range of LWIR which the CO2 can efficiently absorb, so hotter the CO2 is, the wider range of wavelenghts it can intercept, or conversely, the less effective colder CO2 becomes. Also the colder CO2 is generally at higher altitudes, where the atmospheric pressure, and density is lower, so there is a longer mean free path between molecular collisions, and once again the “pressure broadening” of the absorption spectrum is narrower at lower densities.

    So at higher altitudes, CO2 will absorb less of the radiation spectrum, so more of it will escape.

    The energy of the excited CO2 molecule will usually be lost in collisions with nitrogen or oxygen molecules, and it is they that will generally re-emit thermal radiation due to the air temperature. And the colder the air temperature and the lower its density, the less energy is emitted as LWIR in all directions, both up and down. The up radiation will tend to encounter even colder less dense CO2 and so be absorbed even less, allowing more to escape, while the downward LWIR will run into denser warmer CO2, so be more likely to be re-absorbed.

    Since the probablitity of downward radiation, and upward should be about equal, the downward faces a greater probability of re-absorption by another CO2 molecule, compared to the upward, and the re-emission from the lower atmosphere due to that secondary absorption, will once again be split into about half up, and half down. The result is the up path is favored over the down path as far as transmission, so escape to space is facilitated, while the probability of reaching the surface is reduced.

  408. Anticlimactic says:

    Another simplistic science idea is that global warming is heating up the oceans and damaging coral reefs, etc. It isn’t! I have read that a one degree rise in air temperature will take 150 years to warm the oceans by one degree. I do not know the source so I can not say what scientific basis there is to it, but it sounds right. [I do remember the original article - it was written by someone who firmly believed in global warming and then realised he had been 'mislead'. He was really, really unhappy at being conned!]

    A question I have is about the distribution of CO2 : CO2 is heavy! I recently watched a program about a volcanic lake where a rock slide released huge quantities of CO2 trapped in the sediment, which then rolled down the side of the volcano and suffocated 2000 people to death. There are gulleys in South America where any animals which enter die – the gulleys have filled with CO2 from a nearby volcano and created a bizarre death trap.

    Every molecule of CO2 is trying to fall to sea-level. Does the concentration of CO2 vary with height, or does the mixing of the wind keep the mix even? A greenhouse is only useful if the glass is above you, not on the ground!

  409. rbateman says:

    So, are we adding molecules to the atmosphere, or are we just changing the type of molecules in the atmosphere?

  410. Keith Minto says:

    Paul B (16:12:17) :

    By using air temps you are using the worst possible indicator aren’t you?…………

    For climate studies this is possibly true, and a good scientific competition would be to ask for a listing of the worst to the least temperature indicators, now that would help to qualify temperature measurement.
    The problem is to extrapolate what was designed as a human related measurement (Stevenson screens 1.2 above ground level) system into a climate model. As has been discussed here many times, this is a major problem. Some have suggested caves, others ocean temp, but what depth is ‘stable’, what about upwelling currents?. Bucket readings from the surface seem to be the most stable and correlate well with satellite readings and again there is disagreement with engine intake readings preferred.
    Buried earth sensors have been mentioned. I use a natural gas instant water heater and, out of curiosity, a few tears ago I measured the cold water input temperature range. It went from 11degrees C in winter to 19degrees C in summer. These buried pipes are measuring water flowing through the ground surrounding the pipe and are not restricted to one area of ground(I kept the water flowing until the temp stabilised) and may be one answer.

  411. Glenn says:

    Michael Maxwell (17:01:36) :

    “In the space of one hundred and seventy-six years the Lower Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles. That…”

    Major coup post on Twain. Could it be there was some small semblance of sarcasm in his manner?

  412. phlogiston says:

    Fantastic article Willis, much needed education! The acceptance of non-equilibrium chaos dynamics in climate is a paradigm shift no less significant than astronomers accepting the earth rotated around the sun (not vice versa).

    “The IPCC says that if CO2 doubles, we will get a rise of around 3C in the global temperature.”

    Lets go briefly to an analogy that I like, the Ordovician era, 450 odd million years ago. Here atmospheric CO2 concentration was 8-20 times higher then the present level. According to the IPCC this would mean 12-30 degrees C (K) of warming. This would have killed all life except maybe some microbes; however the reality was a temperature difference of only one or two degrees compared to the present. And a global climate which allowed life to thrive and radiate, with among other things the first evolution of corals – the very organisms supposedly threatened by tiny increases in CO2 now. (Utter nonsense.) The funniest part is that the Ordovician ended not in IPCC-compliant run-away warming but in an extremely severe “snowball earth” ice age with glaciers over the present-day Sahara. What was CO2 greenhouse warming doing during this era? It is hard to imaging a more comprehensive failure of a scientific hypothesis than that of CO2 greenhouse warming (and attendant coral-killing ocean acidification) in the Ordovician era.

    As Willis has explained, non-equilibrium dynamics and the Constructal Law instead show the earth’s climate system to enforce a certain climate regime as an attractor with considerable robustness to so-called “forcings” which really don’t do much forcing at all, but rather participate in a sort of dance.

  413. philincalifornia says:

    CodeTech (15:04:41) :
    ThinkingBeing:
    Please provide links to your posts on this, but off the top of my head, your argument above is silly. The ocean is no where close to absorbing all of the heat it is capable of absorbing, but it has absorbed an incredible amount of additional heat in the last twenty years. Comparing the oceans to a pot of water that has reached boiling point? Are you serious? This is such a weak understanding of physics and science that I am now appalled that I ever bothered to post a comment on your post. It’s beneath me.

    Excuse me?

    Where, then, is this heat?
    ————–

    It’s in Jim Hansen’s sock drawer.

  414. Harold Vance says:

    Paul B (16:12:17) :

    The “experts” are using air temperatures as measured at airports, a fact that is easily documented with a cursory scan of the stations listed in the current GHCN v2 mean file. These sites, the airports, are contaminated with UHI, especially those in areas with consistently high humidity.

    Furthermore, as airports become larger and as cities grow, the contamination steadily increases over time. No physicist in his/her right mind is going to argue these points.

    Water vapor is a much “stronger” greenhouse gas than CO2. Nights are going to be significantly warmer near huge runways in areas with lots of moisture in the air.

    Assuming that air temperature is even a valid way to gauge climate change, there are substantial issues with regard to the actual collection of the air temps.

    Of course, the Team scientists all believe that their adjustments can properly eliminate the UHI signal, but every adjustment increases uncertainty so the final product is more uncertain. The adjustments also provide an opportunity (I’d call it an open barn door) for the more unscrupulous Team members a chance to make mischief with the data. Bodge the data, hide the decline.

    For the record, I would no more trust Phil Jones and his ilk any farther than I could spit.

  415. Galen Haugh says:

    I found this in the Physics Factbook:

    “So even though surface waters can be a comfortable 20 degrees Celsius (good for swimming in!), the majority of our ocean water has a temperature between 0-3 degrees Celsius (32-37.5 degrees Fahrenheit).”

    So if the ocean is close to absorbing all of the heat it is capable of absorbing, we’re in BIG trouble! However, ocean water can absorb heat (and still stay in the ocean) until it starts to boil, which is around 100C, depending on salinity. I think we have a long, long way to go before the oceans are anywhere near their maximum heat capacity.

    Another example of some people being educated but never learning to think. No wonder they’re called sheeple.

  416. Phil. says:

    Mooloo (16:37:20) :
    Surely this is wrong, not to say contradictory. If cold CO2 has the same absorption band as warm CO2 (which I would expect) how does it suddenly become less transparent? It is either absorbing more energy and radiating it back (i.e. greenhouse effect) or it is absorbing the same amount. Its temperature is irrelevant unless it implies less transparency.

    The absorption depends on temperature broadening the absorption lines, the colder the CO2 the narrower the lines (and since there is pressure broadening too, at high altitudes the lines are narrower due to that too).
    The temperature is very relevant.

    I don’t see why a cold CO2 molecule in the upper atmosphere radiates out less energy than an equally cold O2 molecule.

    The O2 molecules don’t radiate at all in the IR.

  417. Aligner says:

    ThinkingBeing:

    Climate scientists are doing science.

    In your opinion maybe. So far all we have to show for the tens of billions of public funding wasted on this nonsense is a hypothesis that doesn’t hold up. There is no observable correlation between CO2 concentration and global temperature in the atmosphere, directly or indirectly. Climate scientists are doing politics.

    First you need to define what a “Climate Scientist” is. What’s wrong with traditional disciplines, where has this sorry term come from all of a sudden? The main proponents seem to be a mixture of second rate mathematicians, wannabe philosophers with some left-leaning political agenda and the odd divinity student. A PhD of itself means nothing, I see no real scientists amongst this motley bunch at all. The correct term for them is “Climate Propagandists”.

    The first thing all of them sign up to is wholesale displacement of time honoured, normal scientific principles by vague, dangerous philosophical nonsense put about by the likes of Mike Hulme. You might as well believe in fairy stories. This isn’t science at all, it’s an exercise in self-delusion with a view to imposing pseudo-intellectual tyranny. The word for that is bull$hit.

    The whole scam is now just a self-perpetuating celebrity cult with all the hallmarks of indoctrination and massive media hysteria. Just the sort of thing politicians (and NGOs that live in their wake) latch onto until it inevitably turns sour. But take care, this enormous overripe fruit salad has a long way to fall and will make a much bigger mess than a few polar bears with no parachute.

  418. DABbio says:

    1. Very well put.

    2. I wish that we could get rid of the term “forcings.” It prejudges the case. Why not revert to the term used in the rest of science: factors?

  419. DABbio says:

    Or “variables” would be better. You know, the putatively independent and dependent varieties, which variety, if either, remaining to be determined by experiment?

  420. Phil. says:

    huh? (09:44:58) :
    Phil. (07:21:49) :

    “Water flowing downhill tries to get there as fast as possible which would mean following a brachistochrone and this is supposed to tell us something about the response of the climate to CO2?”

    Phil, since you seem to know so much about everything, can you please explain why cutting through an oxbow is not a stable approach to making a river’s path shorter? Or is the whole claim about the river wrong?

    In making the path shorter you slow down the rate of flow so any further perturbation which tends to increase the length will increase the flow rate and so the path will lengthen again. The Bernoullis, Newton, Liebniz and l’Hôpital had it worked out about 3 centuries ago.

    I await your enlightening response.

  421. Hank Henry says:

    ON UNCERTAINTY
    ThinkingBeing: I accept the point that H2O is itself a greenhouse gas, I can’t think though that H20 in the atmosphere in the form of clouds doesn’t have some proportion of cooling effect. I am satisfied that we agree that whatever one calls climate sensitivity (with or without fast feedbacks and with or without slow feedbacks) the system won’t be fully modeled until all factors and feedbacks are imagined, studied and accounted for. I have to add here that negative feedbacks should be wished and hoped for if we are truly alarmed that global warming is a dire condition. Is the proposition that warmer global temperatures would result in an increase in cloud cover such an outlandish a proposition? It seems like a topic ripe for study. I’m quite confident that the IPCC and other large scale studies of the climate question discuss the difficulties clouds present to modelers. I also note that Kevin Trenberth feels that uncertainty due to clouds is important enough to discuss in his emails. It is the context for his famous statement that “it’s a travesty that we can’t” [account for the lack of warming].

    “The CERES data are unfortunately wonting [sic] and so too are the cloud data.” – Kevin Trenberth, communication as public official.

    “The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008
    shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate.” – Kevin Trenberth.

  422. Bruce Cobb says:

    [snip - juvenile missive]

  423. Phil. says:

    George E. Smith (10:30:42) :
    On the other hand for the very small changes in CO2 that are closely monitored these days, at places like Mauna Loa, the logarithm of the CO2 change would seem to be very little different from unity; and given that Ln(1+x) is approximately x, that would seem to make the relationship at least as close to linear, as it is to logarithmic.

    Yes George that’s true for small x such as a few years growth, it’s far from true when we’re talking about doubling (x=1)

    May I suggest Phil, that the presumed logarithmic connection between CO2 abundance in the atmosphere, and global mean temperature, is more a figment of the presumption of the reality of the concept of “climate sensitivity”, than it is of any operating physics.

    You can suggest it but you’d be wrong. The log dependence arises from line broadening (see Voigt profile), it’s a well known phenomenon in spectroscopy.

    The relationship is evidently logarithmic, because the inventor of “Climate sensitivity” (izzat Steven Schneider of Stanford?) said so;

    Nope, see above.
    Happy New Year George.

  424. David Ball says:

    Judging by the anti-aircraft fire (albeit very weak and emotional A.A. fire), I would have to surmise that Mr. Eschenbach is right over the target.

  425. David Ball says:

    Phil is intentionally leaving out many factors involved in the analogy. Soil density variations, incline variations, soil composition, water viscosity, are to name a few factors that make W.E.’s analogy spot on. It seems that Phil thinks we have dominion over all things natural. I am afraid that reality is not that simple. The hubris does not help your arguments. We have a great deal to learn about the world around us. Full stop.

  426. Willis Eschenbach says:

    cthulhu (13:21:16)

    “The question is not whether something is happening. It is whether CO2 is the secret global thermostat that adjusts the earth’s temperature … which is a much harder question to answer. In particular, it cannot be answered by “simple physics”.”

    Of course not, that’s why we have GCMs. If it could be answered by simple physics then GCMs would be unnecessary.

    Simple physics alone show significant warming from a doubling of co2. The point there being that co2 caused warming isn’t just some myth invented by politicians, it has a physical basis, it’s a result that requires detail to dismiss – even if that can be done. A scientist would ask why a 3.7wm-2 radiative imbalance caused by a doubling of co2 would result in no increase in temperature?

    If we want to get no warming from a doubling of co2 we require the forcing to be completely offset by an increase in albedo, possibly by reducing sunlight reaching the Earth. But such an increase in albedo and reduction in absorbed sunlight is a climate change causedin itself. Either way doubling co2 causes significant climate change. There’s no way of getting around this and it’s why co2 is such an issue.

    You miss my point. Many people, including you, think that we can determine that CO2 can cause global warming by “simple physics”. You say:

    Simple physics alone show significant warming from a doubling of co2.

    Yes, and simple physics alone shows significant warming of my head if you heat up my feet. That’s my point, that “simple physics alone” cannot show us anything at all about the effect of CO2.

  427. Phil. says:

    Willis Eschenbach (11:26:02) :
    Finally, I disagree that CO2 causes 25% of the GHG warming. Clouds cover around 70% of the earth’s surface, and they are basically black bodies in the IR spectrum. This means that where clouds are, they absorb about 100% of outgoing long wave radiation. Since water vapor in the non-cloudy areas absorb a bunch more radiation … doesn’t leave a whole lot for CO2.

    And of course the tops of those clouds radiate black body radiation (IR) upwards into the drier air where the CO2 is waiting to absorb it!

  428. Willis Eschenbach says:

    lgl (13:21:42)

    Willis

    So if there is any warming from CO2, it is likely to be considerably less than 0.3K per doubling … and that’s my “it’s too small” argument.

    What’s wrong with these calculations then?

    http://www.sciencebits.com/OnClimateSensitivity

    I don’t see any particular problem with the figures you cite, other than the problems that they cite:

    But there are also several major drawbacks:

    Using paleoclimatic data to reconstruct past climate variations (radiative budget and temperature) is tricky.

    We cannot separate the effects of different components in the climate system (e.g., we cannot single out and quantify just the effect of clouds for example, since we measure the overall sensitivity).

    We cannot distinguish between different climate forcing, since we implicitly assume a one to one relation between radiative forcing and global temperature change.

    It is very hard to analyze regional variations.

  429. Willis Eschenbach says:

    MrAce (13:24:25)

    @Willis Eschenbach (12:52:28) :
    How come the thermostat in your article could not prevent the glacial – interglacial temperature difference of about 6C

    Because of the slow changes of the Milankovich cycles. These change the insolation in an odd way, that seems to lead to a bi-stable state of glaciation and interglacials. However, in between these shifts, the temperature is quite stable.

    I note also that the change (6C) is ± 1%, and the change during both the glacial and interglacial times is much less than that. This implies a thermostat mechanism of some kind. Bear in mind that a very small change in global average cloud cover would result in a large temperature change, so something is keeping us in between the ditches. It may not be the mechanism I postulate, but if not, what is your alternate explanation?

    Thanks,

    w.

  430. Bill H says:

    I see that the radical beleiver is unprepared to accept anything short of total submission…

    [quote]ThinkingBeing (10:02:11) :

    The real bottom line? Your statement that “…there is no physics-based reason to assume that increasing CO2 will make any difference to the global temperature, and the Constructal Law gives us reason to think that it may make no difference at all.” is a flat out lie. The physics based reason is very simple to understand and would require an act of God to alter, and deniers only offer magic as their main argument that it is wrong.
    [/quote]

    After reading your post through and thinking through the mess I have come to the conclusion you are unwilling to explore other potentials or so fully vested that it might not be worth the time to respond.

    Physics assumes that there are specific parameters and specific reactions to other chemicals/substances. Each reaction is known and can therefore be factored in mathematical terms. (perfect scientific world)

    As I understand this, CO2 is the basis for all global warming as put forth by the believers. (man caused to boot)

    The problem comes when the effect of multiple systems, chemicals, substances, heat, cooling, radiation, concentrations, and oscillations change how those original two chemicals react. the majority of these are chaotic by nature and are poorly understood and poorly defined. Therefore any program used to generate climate models will be as accurate as the weakest link of data. Garbage In = Garbage Out… Current Climate Models are garbage. In reviewing several of these they can not predict greater than a day out with any factor of certainty let alone 1 or 100 years…

    As for CO2 there is not any certainty that an increase of 400ppm would generate a 3 Deg C rise in temp. This is not explained in physics. Simply put, in a complex system the chaotic factors can enhance or reduce the reaction. Without understanding the reaction = reaction +or- buffers..
    THERE IS NO CERTAINTY!

    You call Willis a liar yet you fail to understand the basics of flow dynamics.

    CO2 maximum change potential is 1.6 w/m2
    Cloud/Water vapor change potential is 30.0 w/m2

    You all keep looking at a minor player and ignore the gorilla in the room.. a simple cloud cover increase of 3% would affect the earth by 3 w/m2.. twice that of CO2 at 800ppm.

  431. Willis Eschenbach says:

    ThinkingBeing (13:50:32), you came in to my thread and called me a liar. Now you are back again. What part of “piss off and play somewhere else, your manners suck, you are not welcome here” don’t you understand?

    You don’t know me. You don’t know my motives. You don’t know my intentions. You don’t have a clue why I do what I do. And yet you call me a liar? I write what I believe to be true. It might not be true, I have been wrong before many times, but I believe it is true.

    I was half minded to to let you just ramble on when you returned. But after I asked you not to run off at the mouth with baseless nasty assumptions about my motives, when you come back you call me a liar again, saying I’m “purposely misleading people”. Dude, you’ve lost the plot. Insulting people just gets your vote cancelled.

    Go away. I’m not interested. You may have good ideas. You may be 100% right in what you say. I don’t care. Your manners are not suitable for decent company. Go play somewhere else.

    Perhaps next time you want your ideas to get a fair hearing, you will cease your vile accusations and not make baseless scurrilous assumptions about people you have never met. As I said before, I don’t discuss science with people who call me a liar. Is that clear?

    Sheesh … it’s like he’s been taking lessons from the authors of the CRU emails, thinking that they are the Miss Manners of scientific courtesy or something …

  432. Bernd Felsche says:

    Thanks Willis,

    Thought-provoking and entertaining article. It highlights thatwe should not over-simplify to explain science. SImplifications may be mistaken for science.

    The tendency for systems to dissipate energy as soon as possible is part of the entropic school of thought with which I’ve been afflicted.

    In the example of cutting a stream meander, the short-cut leaves the stream with more energy further downstream; while the upstream entropy gradient increases. If all were known of the conditions, then one could predict how meanders would change, both downstream and upstream. But we can never know all; and in many cases not nearly enough to be sufficiently predictive. The only thing we can predict is that the flow will change.

    The interesting queston that it brings to mind is how far downstream (and UPstream) one has to be before no change will be noticed. i.e. what is the nett influence.

    That is, of course, assuming the necessarily ridiculous that all other things remain equal!

  433. Phil. says:

    Willis Eschenbach (12:16:44) :
    Phil. (07:21:49)

    “My friend’s computer model was used to design all the wings of Boeing aircraft since the 767 in the 70’s, which is as relevant as Willis’s analogies! Water flowing downhill tries to get there as fast as possible which would mean following a brachistochrone and this is supposed to tell us something about the response of the climate to CO2? (By the way Willis a response of 3º to a doubling of [CO2] is not a “simple linear relationship”, it’s logarithmic).”

    Three degrees per doubling, six degrees per two doublings, nine degrees for three doublings … it is linear w.r.t. doubling. As you point out, it is logarithmic w.r.t. the underlying concentration. I guess I missed the part that makes this objection meaningful.

    Your reference to a “simple linear relationship” which was not correct, the response to forcing isn’t linear, your smart ass comments notwithstanding.

    Next, if water flowing downhill “tries to get there as fast as possible”, it would flow straight downhill like a marble rolling down a tilted floor.

    No it wouldn’t, it would follow a brachistochrone (an inverted cycloid) as shown by the Bernoullis, Newton, Liebniz and l’Hôpital before 1700 (anticipated by Galileo about 50 years previously). That’s why it meanders, it’s quicker!

    Finally, the supercomputer used to model the airplane wing is modeling a well-defined and understood static situation (the wing shape is essentially fixed) in a very small space of a few hundred cubic metres.

    Actually Tony did it on a laptop and the wing shape wasn’t constant it was varied, that’s how he optimized the wing profile.

    If you think this means that computers can model the poorly understood planetary scale climate system, with all of its known and unknown forcings, subsystems, resonances, and sub-grid phenomena like thunderstorms, you don’t understand computers.

    As pointed out it’s as relevant as your nonsense analogy, which apparently you didn’t understand.

    This is not unusual. People think that computers are able to do many things that they can’t do. As someone who has programmed computers for more than forty years, I can assure you that a model is no better than the understanding of its programmer. We understand the flow of air over a wing pretty well, so we can model it (although even the best model results are still sometimes contradicted by test flights … which is why we still do them, we don’t just say “the computer says it’s wonderful, bring on the passengers” …)

    Well in Tony’s case he was a bit more than a programmer he was also a Fellow of The Royal Aeronautical Society, Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics etc. (Both he and I have been programming computers for longer than you apparently so you needn’t worry about our inexperience.)

  434. Willis Eschenbach says:

    cthulhu (14:32:17)

    Re DirkH (13:47:16) :

    “1.) Current GCMs don’t include clouds”

    Wrong

    While the GCMs include clouds, they don’t include them properly, and they know it. Most modelers will admit that the achilles heel of the models are the cloud parameterizations.

    And they don’t include the most important clouds, thunderstorms, because they are way smaller than the grid size.

  435. Eric says:

    >>” Phil. (07:21:49) :
    [Reply: You are welcome to submit your own article explaining how well computer climate models work. ~dbstealey, mod.]

    My friend’s computer model was used to design all the wings of Boeing aircraft since the 767 in the 70’s, which is as relevant as Willis’s analogies! Water flowing downhill tries to get there as fast as possible which would mean following a brachistochrone and this is supposed to tell us something about the response of the climate to CO2? (By the way Willis a response of 3º to a doubling of [CO2] is not a “simple linear relationship”, it’s logarithmic).”

    Phil, if your friend programs Boeing’s computer models then he can tell you about the absurdity of comparing the complexity of air moving across a single aircraft wing to the planetary climate system.

    The point of CAD and stochastic engineering models is exactly the opposite of what you suggest — it’s that even modeling so seemingly simple and commonplace a phenomenon as airflow across a wing takes gargantuan amounts of ever-expanding computing power, matched only by the ever-expanding computer code that drives it.

    If modeling the wings of Boeing aircraft were as simple as you’d have us believe, Boeing wouldn’t be constantly upgrading its computing infrastructure as processing technology progresses. And even with the biggest, superest-duperest supercomputers on the planet, Boeing still goes through multiple physical prototypes before finding one that’ll work well in the real world.

    The incredibly arduous and complicated effort of modeling Boeing wings demonstrates the silliness of believing that the climatic conditions of the entire planet from surface to atmosphere can be accurately captured by presently extant computer codes and CPUs.

    And the claim that it can is one of the surest signs to me that much climate modeling has turned away from science and towards becoming a surrogate for the Oracle at Delphi.

  436. Roger Knights says:

    DABbio (18:50:11) :

    2. I wish that we could get rid of the term “forcings.” It prejudges the case. Why not revert to the term used in the rest of science: factors?

    DABbio (18:53:53) :

    Or “variables” would be better.

    About six (?) months ago someone here asked why the standard scientific term “drivers” had been abandoned in favor of “forcings”?

    I think this choice of more emphatic diction is a “fingerprint” of a “snow job.”

  437. sHx says:

    ThinkingBeing (13:50:32) : But I’m not going to argue the validity of the models on these pages with anyone here. This is the land of zealots who have already made up their minds, then, with their minds closed, have chosen to very heroically label themselves as “skeptics.” So there’s no way to educate them, and no point in trying.

    I am a layman and I am fairly new to the AGW debate. For more than ten years I suffered cognitive dissonance because my loyalty to Green politics conflicted with what I learned about science as a student in History and Philosophy of Science lectures at the University of NSW (e.g, the supremacy of geocentric model of the universe for nearly two thousand years). Not only did I resist expressing an opinion on climate change, but I also switched the TV channels or the pages of the newspaper each time a story about AGW appeared. Nevertheless, I was exposed to the pro-AGW views in the mainstream media 10 to 1, compared to the skeptical views.

    When I finally decided to dip my toe into the debate approximately six months ago to try to learn more about the issue, what struck me first and foremost was the cultish certainty and devotion to the cause of the pro-AGW crowd. The AGW movement smacked everything that one would expect from a frantic, dogmatic and apocalyptic frantic religious crusade. By contrast, the skeptical websites offered a generous diversity of opinion ranging from loonies who claim a left-wing conspiracy to those who accept all the tenets of the AGW movement except the one urging immediate radical transformation of the world economy. The pro-AGW theory crowd belittled, ridiculed, patronised, sullied the names of, etc, anyone who dared to question their arguments. I found the skeptics much more welcoming, calm, confident and reasonable. For example, it is worthy of note that WUWT and Climate Audit provides permanent links on their webpages to the leading pro-AGW blog, Real Climate, despite the fact that the RC hasn’t reciprocated the nicety.

    Simply speaking, I don’t need anybody to tell me who the real zealots are in this debate. I know it already. The real zealots in this debate are those who would seek to insulate their readers and followers from the views contrary to their belief.

  438. anna v says:

    a jones (12:53:45) :

    As to use of analogue computing about which I know something it would do a much better job than digital techniques because of its speed, with a suitable set up you could compare in a year not millions of runs but billions and tens of billions of them.

    Moreover you would have a much better idea of the sensitivity of the model to slight changes than digital machines can offer. And technically there would be no problem today of building such a machine.

    But I am far from sure in the end it would get you anywhere. There is so much we do not know about the climate system and its complexities that I for one cannot see how it can be modelled at the moment.

    We simply do not understand enough about the great natural forces that drive the climate. Perhaps we never will.

    Human exploration never gives up :). Have a walk through https://pantherfile.uwm.edu/aatsonis/www/
    where you will find the link to the paper that was discussed here in wattsup http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/03/16/synchronized-chaos-and-climate-change/ a while ago. They are really setting up an analogue on a digital computer, and they are having some success as their paper shows.

    I agree that it is extremely ambitious to be aiming at making an analogue of the differential equations entering the climate, but do not forget that they have already done the logical diagrams when they made the GCModels. I am sure, since the weather predictions do have some success, that if those differential equations were entered in an analogue where the problem of non linearity becomes moot the results would be better than in the existing GCMs.

  439. Bill Parsons says:

    Thanks for the thought-provoking article, Willis.

    I walk a few times a week near a river that flows along former volcanic beds. It’s easy to imagine the earlier volcanism, and the potential sources of it, in the front range of the Rocky Mountains about 10 miles off to the west. The evidence of this action is in the exposed areas of ancient riverbed where the water has left dark lava fins exposed, slick with algae. They are narrow, and we can jump from fin to fin in order to cross the river.

    Ask most people if this popular river walk and the parallel bike-path are straight or meandering and they’ll say straight. But that’s because they only see it from close-up and too fast to look. A top-down, Google-World-view shows the tree-lined course of the river, whose meanders increase as it works its way further out from the foothills. Clear Creek wasn’t always in its present bed.

    The footpaths wind along the creek’s side, sometimes diverging and leading away. At some distance from the creek, and vertically above it some 15 or 20 feet, we come on our walks to long stretches of cobblestones. In one area, the piles of cobbles are thick. They are multi-form, but mostly ovate and perfectly round, pale brown in color, with reddish hues of granite and schist, mostly fist-sized and smaller.

    How many years does it take for flowing water to scour and smash a jagged piece of granite into roundness? How many more years, after this artery was occluded and it’s path shifted to the north, til it cut its present ox-bow course several feet below the high and dry plain where we are standing?

  440. anna v says:

    MrAce (12:47:32) :

    @Allan M (12:05:52) :
    “Q: Eighty percent of the heat radiated back from the surface is absorbed in the first 30 feet by water vapor…”

    The greenhouse effect is determined by the temperature difference of the earth and the gas emitting the infrared radiation to outer space. The first 30 feet of the earth has about the same temperature as the earth, so it radiates at the same intensity.

    Oh, dear. This must be wrong.

    All this radiation flim flam. The only connection between radiation and temperature comes from the formula Flux=constant*T^4

    1) the earth is not a black body, and at a temperature T will radiate as grayconstant1*T^4 ( integrated and averaged over the whole globe of course, more luck)

    2)The air is not a black body and will radiate as grayconstant2*T^4 from a thickness of 30 meters. You will have better luck to get one average gray constant for the air layer than for the ground.

    The radiation spectra will be different too.

    In any case, in no way the radiation of the air above the ground and the ground can be the same even if the temperature is the same.

  441. Geoff Sherrington says:

    Sheridan (06:34:58) :

    Measurement of IR spectrum – early days

    So far as I can recall from classes in the 1960s, IR intensity was measured by a spherical glass bolometer whose internal pressure increased with extra IR. As such, it would have no spectral response apaty from the naturals pectrum less that absorbed by the glass (which even then might have adsed to the pressure). But that is from memory.

  442. Bill Parsons says:

    Hmm. A bit more philosophical than usual. Must be the unbearable lightness of those beans.

  443. Keith Minto says:

    Surely a river would follow the path of least resistance with water energy and river shape supplied by the degree of slope. There is silt deposition on the the inner curves that forces a broadening of the loop structure with time. The length of the river therefore increases with time, it is not trying to be ‘efficient’, block its path and a dam will form, overflow, and the same least resistance principle continues. This continues until sea level is reached.
    Given time a Grand Canyon can result.
    I think that Willis was showing with his examples that the atmosphere is not a pure physical heat transfer system but a complex biophysical system that, like humans, shows homoeostasis within boundaries that at the moment are uncertain.
    Now, where have I heard of that concept before ?

  444. par5 says:

    RE: RJ (10:20:33) :

    Par5: “Arrhenius also concluded that the sun was made of coal, and that the earth was less than ten thousand years old.”

    Can Par5 or anyone else provide a reference for this? Does anyone here doubt or dispute the claim?

    In the 1800’s, the ‘consensus’ was that the sun was made of coal- and this was proved by spectronomy. Because spectronomy was an infant science (like climatology), there were still a few bugs to work out. Scientists held that because the sun and coal burn the same color, they must be the same material. So if the sun is made of coal, then the earth could not be more than 10,000 yrs old- otherwise the sun would be too large and the earth would burn up. I’m pretty sure it was Rutherford (1904/1907?) who first posited that the sun was driven by nuclear decay. This is a perfect example of why ‘concensus’ should not be used in science. Science does not vote for truth. Arrhenius did not have the technology we have today, so he could not have known the radiative effects of CO2 with any certainty.

  445. par5 says:

    Willis- Great job on another great post. 445 comments and rising. My favorite bird is the silly ‘drinking bird’ (the one with the tophat). Get a small glass of water, then push his beak into it. Almost magically, the bird starts bobbing upright and then down again- as if he is really drinking the water. I think you can still buy them through the Edmunds catalog. Anyway, how’s Foghorn doing?

  446. M. Simon says:

    Or consider the simple statement in steady state economics.

    “Raising taxes will increase revenue”.

    Maybe. Depends where on the Laffer Curve you are. The higher the tax rate the harder humans will work to avoid them. Something about maximizing income.

    At low tax rates increasing production gets you the biggest gain. At high taxes the effort is better spent in reducing the tax burden.

  447. MikeF says:

    Phil said:

    “My friend’s computer model was used to design all the wings of Boeing aircraft since the 767 in the 70’s, which is as relevant as …
    Actually Tony did it on a laptop and the wing shape wasn’t constant it was varied, that’s how he optimized the wing profile.
    ….
    Well in Tony’s case he was a bit more than a programmer he was also a Fellow of The Royal Aeronautical Society, Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics etc. (Both he and I have been programming computers for longer than you apparently so you needn’t worry about our inexperience.)

    Wow, your friend Tony must be really good with computers if he had laptop in 70s…

    And you know what? My dad can beat up your dad any time.

  448. Phil. says:

    Allan M (12:05:52) :

    From Reid Bryson:

    Q: Could you rank the things that have the most significant impact and where would you put carbon dioxide on the list?

    A: Well let me give you one fact first. In the first 30 feet of the atmosphere, on the average, outward radiation from the Earth, which is what CO2 is supposed to affect, how much [of the reflected energy] is absorbed by water vapor? In the first 30 feet, 80 percent, okay?</em?

    Complete nonsense, not even close (never mind the bizarre comment in brackets [of the reflected energy])

  449. M. Simon says:

    Models:

    There are not 15 models for electric motors. There are not even two. There is one. And every one who has to deal with electric motors uses the same models.

    Why is that? Electric motors are well understood and the constraints are definite.

  450. dk says:

    So to step back and look at it from above, how does funneling truckloads of money (taxes) to a government (the most inefficient form of “business” ever created) going to make the weather patterns more “stable”, predictable and perfectly adjusted to suit the polar caps and glaciers?

    Answer: It won’t. But, many people in the right circles will become filthy rich and powerful off of misinformation and deception, and that creates a very efficient government.

  451. Phil. says:

    MikeF (22:33:56) :
    Wow, your friend Tony must be really good with computers if he had laptop in 70s…

    You appear to be having difficulty with the word “since”, get a dictionary!

    And you know what? My dad can beat up your dad any time.

    Moderator I hope you’ll remove this remark because my father is dead.

    Reply: Oh come on Phil. My father is also deceased and I wouldn’t be remotely offended by that phrase, which is a common expression referring to attempts to “one up” one’s opponent. I’ve used it myself in everyday conversation. ~ charles the moderator.

  452. anna v says:

    Phil. (18:31:33) :

    Mooloo (16:37:20) :
    Surely this is wrong, not to say contradictory. If cold CO2 has the same absorption band as warm CO2 (which I would expect) how does it suddenly become less transparent? It is either absorbing more energy and radiating it back (i.e. greenhouse effect) or it is absorbing the same amount. Its temperature is irrelevant unless it implies less transparency.

    The absorption depends on temperature broadening the absorption lines, the colder the CO2 the narrower the lines (and since there is pressure broadening too, at high altitudes the lines are narrower due to that too).
    The temperature is very relevant.

    I don’t see why a cold CO2 molecule in the upper atmosphere radiates out less energy than an equally cold O2 molecule.

    The O2 molecules don’t radiate at all in the IR.

    Maybe you should rephrase the last line?

    http://www.opticsinfobase.org/ao/abstract.cfm?URI=ao-35-31-6115

    Abstract

    A linear InGaAs array was used in an interference filter spectral imager to monitor the twilight decay of the O2 Infrared Atmospheric (0–1) band in the twilight airglow. The interference filter was centered at 1.582 μm and had a bandwidth (full width at half-maximum) of 1.0 nm. The imaging lens was a simple doublet, and a Fresnel lens was used for smearing any possible sky inhomogeneities. Spectra measured over Toronto in October 1994 show that the sensitivity and spectral discrimination against the contaminating OH spectrum are potentially sufficient to infer meaningful rotational temperatures. The improvements that would result from an area InGaAs array are discussed.

    the google search for O2 infrared brought out over 86.000.000 links.
    the above is the first one.

    I was puzzled with your statement: how could any molecule not have an infrared spectrum. Tom Vogt, where are you when you are needed?

  453. anna v says:

    After this O2 business I will quote my swallow story once more.

    Half knowledge is not a desirable state.

    The Swallow

    When God created the swallow, a migrating bird that winters in Africa, He started to show him how to build his nest. He showed how to make small mud balls with his tongue and how to gradually build up the nest; but He was interrupted just before reaching the point where He started to show the swallow how the nest should get covered and have a roof. The swallow, half paying attention flexing its wings and ready to fly off swiftly after juicy flies and mosquitoes said “OK, OK, I know, I know” and flew away.

    That is why swallows’ nests are only half built and they have to be under a roof or an outcropping. The swallow never had the patience to listen to the end of the demonstration.

    Ever since a child I have often found myself in the swallow’s position, which is why my father would repeat the tale to me equally often.

  454. Mooloo says:

    George E. Smith: thank you for your answer. That’s what I expected from my chemistry background. That doesn’t suggest any way that extra “cold” CO2 up high is going to make any difference.

    Phil: thank you also, although you seem to have missed the point. If cold CO2 has narrower bands, then it is less efficient than hot CO2 and will be a less effective greenhouse gas. Is that what you meant to say?

    Anna V: I was wondering about O2 not having an IR absorption band. It jarred against my expectation. Thank-you also then for finding that link. As CO2 has three atoms I would expect it to have a wider absorption than O2, but not much wider as it is linearly symmetric (and the free electron nature of O2 will affect things).

    So what is the mechanism that the AGW crowd allege makes all the difference then? I might go to Real Climate and have a dabble! (Assumed name, naturally.)

    This graph helps: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Atmospheric_Transmission.png
    (apologies for using wikipedia)

  455. Bart says:

    Phil. (20:34:18) :

    Next, if water flowing downhill “tries to get there as fast as possible”, it would flow straight downhill like a marble rolling down a tilted floor.

    No it wouldn’t, it would follow a brachistochrone (an inverted cycloid) as shown by the Bernoullis, Newton, Liebniz and l’Hôpital before 1700 (anticipated by Galileo about 50 years previously).

    Only if it first scoops out the inverted cycloid in the ground. Lateral motion is not affected by gravity, hence there is no reason to expect a ‘sideways brachistochrone’, which is an oxymoron.

  456. Bill Tuttle says:

    ThinkingBeing (13:50:32) :
    But I’m not going to argue the validity of the models on these pages with anyone here. This is the land of zealots who have already made up their minds, then, with their minds closed, have chosen to very heroically label themselves as “skeptics.” So there’s no way to educate them, and no point in trying.

    That’s a pretty close-minded attitude, hoss. One of the reasons I come here is for the articles — such as this one — which *are* educating me without hammering me with “You Won’t Understand It — Just Trust Me” talking points.

    David Jay (13:34:42) :
    Okay, but how do you explain the Hiller???

    Ooooh — maybe Tee-Bee knows of a model that can explain it…

  457. Bart says:

    cthulhu (14:32:17)

    Re DirkH (13:47:16) :

    “1.) Current GCMs don’t include clouds”

    Wrong

    They include kluges. They do not include “clouds”. From the IPCC:

    Recent studies reaffirm that the spread of climate sensitivity
    estimates among models arises primarily from inter-model
    differences in cloud feedbacks. The shortwave impact of
    changes in boundary-layer clouds, and to a lesser extent midlevel
    clouds, constitutes the largest contributor to inter-model
    differences in global cloud feedbacks. The relatively poor
    simulation of these clouds in the present climate is a reason
    for some concern. The response to global warming of deep
    convective clouds is also a substantial source of uncertainty
    in projections since current models predict different responses
    of these clouds. Observationally based evaluation of cloud
    feedbacks indicates that climate models exhibit different
    strengths and weaknesses, and it is not yet possible to determine
    which estimates of the climate change cloud feedbacks are the
    most reliable.

    The ultimate source of most such
    errors is that many important small-scale processes cannot be
    represented explicitly in models, and so must be included in
    approximate form as they interact with larger-scale features.
    This is partly due to limitations in computing power, but also
    results from limitations in scientific understanding or in the
    availability of detailed observations of some physical processes.
    Significant uncertainties, in particular, are associated with the
    representation of clouds, and in the resulting cloud responses
    to climate change.

    Many of the important processes that determine a model’s
    response to changes in radiative forcing are not resolved by the model’s grid. Instead, sub-grid scale parametrizations are
    used to parametrize the unresolved processes, such as cloud
    formation and the mixing due to oceanic eddies.

    Cloud parametrizations are based
    on physical theories that aim to describe the statistics of
    the cloud field (e.g., the fractional cloudiness or the areaaveraged
    precipitation rate) without describing the individual
    cloud elements. In an increasing number of climate models,
    microphysical parametrizations that represent such processes
    as cloud particle and raindrop formation are used to predict the
    distributions of liquid and ice clouds.

  458. nanny_govt_sucks says:

    Kadaka,

    If a particular industry has an expected rate of return of 8%, and the banks are paying 9%, people would rather put their money in the bank.

    I think that is a free society’s way of saying that the industry is no longer viable. High interest rates will clean up a lot of the inefficient and non-viable industries, making more capital available for the efficient and viable ones. Again, not necessarily “positive” nor “negative”, but a necessary part of an efficient economy.

  459. gtrip says:

    take a sheet of plywood, and I cover it with some SAND.

    And then do your experiment.

    I have read most of the replies, and most are in some sort of awe from this discovery. I have read and reread the article. And I have concluded that this is junk science at it’s worst. C’mon man! A river will plot its course by the path of least resistance. Place a boulder in the middle of the river and it will change course. Hell, the river itself could place the boulder there and it will still change course.

    I would guess that without any obstructions the river would flow straight. Maybe a little influence by the Coriolis effect but that’s all.

    And I am quit disturbed by Oliver K. Manuel’s praise. Especially since it was the first. Something is not smelling right in Denmark.

  460. gtrip says:

    _Jim (09:50:24) :

    You are right, I misunderstood your original comment. When WUWT allows these types of articles and I get a whiff of someone agreeing with them, I over react. My sincere apology to you.

  461. MikeF says:

    Phil. (23:08:08) :
    MikeF (22:33:56) :

    Wow, your friend Tony must be really good with computers if he had laptop in 70s…

    You appear to be having difficulty with the word “since”, get a dictionary!

    And you know what? My dad can beat up your dad any time.

    Moderator I hope you’ll remove this remark because my father is dead.

    Phil,
    I am sorry that my choice of words have offended you. Please accept my sincere apology.
    You must admit, however, that your listing of you friend’s accomplishments and other appeals to authority sounded very much like bragging that little kids do about their fathers.
    If you want people to take your references to your friend seriously you should use his full name and cite papers he had published. And stop assuming that you are the authority on computer programming, without proof that sounds really childish.

    Regarding your “since” statement – he did design wings in 70s, right? So, what did he use then? Since it couldn’t have been a laptop, what was it? Was it a slide rule? Or was it a computer? Maybe computer with “super” added to it? As in “supercomputer”? Person of your experience with computers must be aware that modern laptops are much more powerful than 70’s supercomputers, right?

    And why is it when I read your posts I reminded of a time when I was in kindergarden myself (pretty long ago, unfortunately)?

  462. Spector says:

    You might want to take a look at an article by Dr. Tim Ball in the Canadian Free Press, Monday, December 28, 2009, Titled: “Time to Revisit Falsified Science of CO2″

  463. Tenuc says:

    jt (21:54:39) :
    People keep making the point that Climate is Chaotic as if that meant Climate is unpredictable on any scale. However, there are kinds of chaotic systems which operate around “attractors” so that they repeat their configurations in quasi-periodic fashion. I would be interested in comments from mathematically knowledgeable persons about whether such kinds of chaos have been found, or are likely to be found, in the systems which generate climate, and, if so, what kinds of quasi-periodicity have been found or are expected.

    It is beyond doubt that climate is driven by processes which exhibit deterministic chaos. GCM’s have no useful predictive power beyond 10 days. It is a complete myth that by averaging the climate outputs, such as temperature, it is possible to get good long-term predictions of what the future will be.

    Linear statistical methods have little use when dealing with deterministic chaos, and new tools need to be developed if science is to progress.

  464. gtrip says:

    Spector (00:38:11) :
    You might want to take a look at an article by Dr. Tim Ball

    Yes, I might, if I had a link….

  465. MikeF says:

    gtrip:

    http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/18343

    Took me about 5 sec of copy name-paste to search engine box- wait for results.

    You are welcome.

  466. gnsent says:

    The earths climate is governed by a multitude of events, including volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.Remember Krakatoa,how that affected the earths climate for generations. Any day an earthquake or volcanic eruption could alter the climate of earth,affecting all living things.Predicting what will happen is not accurate and never will be,as the earth is in a constant flux.In a hundred years anything may be happening with our climate,through our fault or not!
    Learn to live with climate per se,if you dont like it,find another planet to live on!

  467. toyotawhizguy says:

    Thank you Mr. Eschenbach for an interesting article, and for your explanation of the Constructal Law. Early settlers used Constructal Law by setting free a domesticated Bovine, and wherever it wandered, that determined the route of the road to be built. :-)

    Quote by Mr. Eschenbach: “As a result, there is no physics-based reason to assume that increasing CO2 will make any difference to the global temperature, and the Constructal Law gives us reason to think that it may make no difference at all.”

    Heat transfer via the mechanism of radiation occurs at the speed of light, and this is the only mechanism available to the earth system to ultimately remove its heat, excepting expulsion of small amounts of helium, hydrogen, and the occasional man-made spacecraft. Sunlight in the visible and UV ranges does little to heat the atmosphere, thus virtually all broad band IR radiation emitted by the earth system comes from the surface of the earth itself. Since an increase in CO2 merely lowers the elevation above ground level for which it extinguishes in those few narrow bands of IR absorption, I’ll play devil’s advocate here, by suggesting that there may be a grand total of a 0.01 to 0.02 deg C rise in the global average temperature for a doubling of CO2.

  468. MrAce says:

    @Mooloo (14:50:21) :
    A molecule absorbing a foton will warm up, a molecule emitting a foton will cool down. To be in equilibrium, the molecule has to emit the same amount of energy as it is absorbing.

    The same is true for the earth as a whole. In equilibrium the amount of radiation from the sun must be the same as the amount of radiation the earth radiates to outerspace. If there are no greenhouse gasses the earth itself will do this radiation. If there are greenhouse gasses, they will absorb some of the radiation from the earth and radiate some back to the earth and some to outer space. Since now the greenhouse gasses are doing part of the radiating to space and these gasses are colder, the earth as a whole will radiate less. To get back to equilibrium the earth will warm until it radiates the same amount of energy it is receiving.

  469. gtrip says:

    MikeF (01:27:54) :

    You are assuming that all readers use the same web browsing capabilities that you have; now aren’t you?

    I am aware of how to find the articles that people post. Courtesy would dictate providing a link to an article that you want people to read. It’s kind of like saying thank you.

  470. Spector says:

    I see no reference here on link insertion. Some site managers do not appreciate unauthorized insertion of live links in posts….

  471. Mooloo says:

    Since now the greenhouse gasses are doing part of the radiating to space and these gasses are colder, the earth as a whole will radiate less. To get back to equilibrium the earth will warm until it radiates the same amount of energy it is receiving.

    This is cart before horse. Actually, as far as I can tell, it’s nonsense.

    “These gases are colder” relates to what? There is more CO2 in the outer atmosphere, yes. But the outer atmosphere black box radiates out at the same rate regardless of what gas it is made up of. So what other mechanism is at work then?

    I understand that more CO2 might create a greater greenhouse effect. I think it’s untrue because CO2 is at saturation, but I can see how it might be true. But that isn’t being claimed. Instead we are told more cold CO2 means less radiation by some other method.

    You appear to want it both ways. It is cooler, so it is radiating less. So it has to get warmer to radiate more. But more CO2 makes it cooler, so it radiates less. So it has to get warmer. Which makes it cooler. … Which, IMNSHO, is a nonsense. I can understand if you argue the upper atmosphere is warming in order to once again reach equilibrium, but instead I am told the opposite.

    I want a practical explanation of why adding CO2 to the upper atmosphere makes it radiate less. Not to be told that it does, but to be given a mechanism. Why does cold CO2 radiate less than cold O2?

  472. M. Simon says:

    Or are we better off planning for the worst case scenario

    The worst case scenario is an ice age. The boffins have yet to figure out how to grow crops under ice.

  473. gtrip says:

    equilibrium = science fiction.

  474. Spector says:

    RE: Mooloo (02:20:07) : “I understand that more CO2 might create a greater greenhouse effect. I think it’s untrue because CO2 is at saturation…”

    The situation is something like asking a painter to come in day after day and paint a black stripe down the left two inches of your kitchen window. Each time he does this there will be a little slop-over and the painted area will gradually increase at an ever decreasing rate.

  475. jeez says:

    gtrip.

    It is obvious that you have never studied the geology of rivers as the forces which control the meandering of streams are indeed quite complex.

    The difference in the velocity between the inner and outer banks of the oxbow generates differential erosion of the banks causing the stream to meander. While my explanation is simple, modeling all the factors involved would not be. This includes modeling turbulent flow, eddys, erosion, and I’m sure many other factors of which I am unaware.

    It is not analogous to a plywood board covered in sand. The scale of the phenomena is very significant to the effect generated.

    Willis’s post is informative and his analogy is valid. Your simplistic attempt at finding fault is simply uninformed and ignorant of the factors involved.

    jeez aka charles the moderator

    BTW, I don’t like the G. P Bear posts either, but it is just a matter of taste.

  476. Willis Eschenbach says:

    gtrip (00:23:13)

    take a sheet of plywood, and I cover it with some SAND.

    And then do your experiment.

    I have read most of the replies, and most are in some sort of awe from this discovery. I have read and reread the article. And I have concluded that this is junk science at it’s worst. C’mon man! A river will plot its course by the path of least resistance. Place a boulder in the middle of the river and it will change course. Hell, the river itself could place the boulder there and it will still change course.

    I would guess that without any obstructions the river would flow straight. Maybe a little influence by the Coriolis effect but that’s all.

    And I am quit disturbed by Oliver K. Manuel’s praise. Especially since it was the first. Something is not smelling right in Denmark.

    gtrip, let me suggest that you do some research before being so quick to judge and condemn. Whether in sand or soil, rivers meander and wander.

    I’m glad to hear that your guess is that without any obstructions the river would flow straight down the hill. Unfortunately, it is well known and accepted science that your guess is wrong. You might Google “stream table” for some information on the subject before deriding it all as “junk science”. Despite your claim, it has long been known that a river does not “plot its course by the path of least resistance”. Nature is often counter-intuitive, what seems obvious “simple physics” is often not so. Like the man said:

    “The world is not just more complex than we imagine, it is more complex than we can imagine”
    Attributed to J. B. S. Haldane

    Take a look at the photo in Fig. 2., and tell me what “obstructions” could cause that succession of changes and oxbows and places where the river used to flow. Do you truly think that the river is making those endless changes, forming loops and cutting them off, shifting from place to place and never settling down in one channel even after thousands of years because of “obstructions”, or as a result of following the path of least resistance? If those were true, the river would pick one channel and be done with it … but the evidence of all the historical channels shows that that is not the case.

    I also strongly suggest that you read the information I linked to about the Constructal Law. While you may think it is also “junk science”, Bejan is one of the 100 most cited scientists on the planet … and I doubt that’s because people think he is peddling junk science.

    My best to you, good to see you thinking about these questions, keep an open mind,

    w.

  477. chrisschoneveld says:

    I also feel a bit uneasy about the analogy of the meandering river and climate.

    Despite the impossibility to model the exact path by which water will flow down hill, one came safely presume that the water will finally end up at the same spot: a more or less well established end point that is defined by the position of the mouth of the river.

    The climate modellers may argue that with a certain amount of CO2 increase the atmospheric response cannot be predicted in detail in terms of place, time and severity (in the same way we cannot predict the exact course of a meandering river) yet the final end point will be a temperature increase of say 3 degrees with a doubling of CO2.

    Any analogue can thus be attacked or twisted around. I would rather stick to the direct arguments (for which there are many) for questioning the validity of climate models.

  478. Allan M says:

    Phil. (22:39:51) :

    Allan M (12:05:52) :

    From Reid Bryson:

    Q: Could you rank the things that have the most significant impact and where would you put carbon dioxide on the list?

    A: Well let me give you one fact first. In the first 30 feet of the atmosphere, on the average, outward radiation from the Earth, which is what CO2 is supposed to affect, how much [of the reflected energy] is absorbed by water vapor? In the first 30 feet, 80 percent, okay?</em?

    Complete nonsense, not even close (never mind the bizarre comment in brackets [of the reflected energy])

    Well, you can cite your aeronautic friend: I was was just quoting from an interview with Dr. Reid Bryson, the “Father of Climatology,” and at the time, the most cited scientist in the literature. The fact of it being a transcript of an interview explains the square brackets.

    I know some don’t like ‘arguments from authority,’ unless it suits their case, but, as I say, I wasn’t arguing, merely citing.

    Incidentally, Bryson got seriously caught up in the global cooling scare in the ’70’s; you know, the one that never happened. And it seems that he learnt his lesson with regard to panic and certainty.

    See: Wisconsin Energy Cooperative News; archives, may 2007.

  479. Mike M says:

    cthulhu (14:38:10) : “No model has ever shown strong negative feedbacks, and the history of Earth’s climate defies it. If there were strong negative feedbacks in climate, the climate would barely change at all.

    Well, looking at the temperature history, it actually did ‘barely change at all’.

    To me, staying within 10C over hundreds of millions of years is a picture of abject stability. Will you admit that despite wild changes in CO2 in earth’s past there is zero long term corrrelation to temperature or will you dispute the data?

    Something seems to be regulating temperature far more effectively than CO2 is able to force it and not only CO2 – continents moving all over the place, vast lava flows and volcano activity, ELE asteroid impacts, etc. Everyone reading this post knows that the current climate models used to scare everyone wouldn’t have a SNOW BALL’S CHANCE of duplicating the above temperature record WRT even CO2 alone and, I repeat, that renders them .. GARBAGE!

  480. MrAce says:

    Mooloo (02:20:07) :
    “These gases are colder” relates to what? There is more CO2 in the outer atmosphere, yes. But the outer atmosphere black box radiates out at the same rate regardless of what gas it is made up of. So what other mechanism is at work then?”
    Gasses are not blackbodies and will only radiate/absorb certain spectra. O2 is not active in the infrared, so it does not radiate/absorb infrared light. CO2 does radiate/absorb infrared light, that is why it is called a greenhouse gas.
    The temperature of the high CO2 is colder than the temperature of the surface because of the pressure difference (lower pressure means colder).

  481. Thanks a lot Willis for taking so much time to explain the flow system climate.
    Here you show the earth as a heat engine . Can I just compare it too a worlpool driven by solar energy? It starts in the tropics with heating up the surface and evaporation, then convection, turning latent heat into energy mass (liquid water) a long the top of the source of the streamflow. In big thunderstorms, the clouds shoot up and lift the upper boundery level called “tropopause” even higher. From there the stream (through advection) flows towards the pole where the tropopause is much deeper. Maybe we could compare the average width of the global stream with the average height of the tropopause. The major gradient could be defined as coming from the high tropopause “peaks” over the tropics to the low troposphere “basin” over the poles, where excess heat can easily escape. If the average tropopause is higher, global temperature as one of the functions of the global energy balance is higher too (see Scientists Find “Fingerprint” of Human Activities in Recent Tropopause Height Changes. Of course I got convinced – partly by your articles – that this is not true but what Roy Spencer claims here:

    “What you find in the AR4 report is artfully constructed prose about how patterns of warming are “consistent with” that expected from manmade greenhouse gases. But “consistent with” is not “proof of”.

    and

    The AR4 authors are careful to refer to “natural external factors” that have been ruled out as potential causes…

    and

    and <…a natural decrease in cloud cover would have had the same effect. It would lead to increased solar warming of the ocean, followed by warming and humidifying of the global atmosphere and an acceleration of the hydrologic cycle. Just as the overshooting of water in a worlpool is followed by a quick acceleration of the water flow and a temporary collapse of that same bubble.

  482. M. Simon says:

    I have several times in my career translated serious numerical modeling code from Fortran to modern languages and thus had to deal with the issues of validating the results. In the real world mistakes cost money and sometimes lives. Most recently I translated some aerodynamics code for a New Space company. I spent weeks doing nothing but validating and checking to be sure the output was reasonably trustworthy for questions within the realm of interest. When Rand told me the CRU model code did not even handle numeric overflows I was speechless.

    Let me explain. Computers represent numbers in binary. Any signed representation (ie one that handles plus and minus) will use some formatting trick to differentiate the two. The problem is, if a positive number gets incremented to be one bit too big… it may suddenly become a negative number. Regardless of what does happen, any calculation using the value after an overflow might as well be a random number generator. The results are totally, utterly worthless. There is not a chance in hell that the output will be meaningful.

    There are ways of dealing with this sort of thing but I will not go into that sort of techno-detail here. My goal is simply to point out that if the statements I heard are true, I must cease to believe the validity of any output from CRU and CRU related models.

    http://www.samizdata.net/blog/archives/2009/12/a_few_thoughts.html

  483. toyotawhizguy says:

    ThinkingBeing: “Any “cooling” you see in a short time span is just the meandering of a system that is never nicely in equilibrium.”

    Substituting the word “warming” for “cooling” in your statement:

    “Any “warming” you see in a short time span is just the meandering of a system that is never nicely in equilibrium.”

    Wouldn’t that be an equivalent statement?
    For the cooling that occurred during the period c. 1945 – 1978, the AGW crowd claims that was anthropogenic, but this time it is due to nature. AGW proponents can’t have it both ways.
    Compared to billions of years of earth climate, the mere 160 years or so that man has been directly measuring the earth climate system temperatures represents only a few drops of water in the pool. Prior to that, we have only anecdotal reports and proxy data. Even ice core temperature data are a type of proxy data, since they are not measured in “real time”. Proxy data are not only non-global in scope (i.e. sparse), they are unreliable since they have to be interpreted, interpolated, extrapolated (!), correlated, adjusted, and then adjusted again. If the proxy data don’t support the hypothesis, it gets discarded, at least by some (alleged) scientists.
    And based on a few billion years of earth history, wouldn’t say 10,000 years qualify as a “short time span”?

  484. Hank Henry says:

    I wish ThinkingBeing hadn’t been driven off. I am puzzled by fast feedbacks. It would be interesting to see how that calculation works. It would also be interesting to see if he really knows how the calculation works or if he’s “talking through his hat.”

  485. M. Simon says:

    Mr Ace says: The temperature of the high CO2 is colder than the temperature of the surface because of the pressure difference (lower pressure means colder).

    You were doing well until you got to this point. You can have a low pressure gas with very high temperatures. It is done all the time in plasma physics.

    Temperature is a measure of the average energy of the atoms/molecules in a gas. Density then determines total energy.

  486. Stefan says:

    @climatepatrol

    Thanks for that link. Earlier I was wondering “where are the main flows?” and in my ignorance I had no idea there was already lucid article about it!

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/06/14/the-thermostat-hypothesis/

  487. Pascvaks says:

    Weather (and Climate) equals mass times the speed of light squared.

    Sometimes, when the microscopes are focused on a speck on a gnat’s wing, its difficult to see the gnat, the piece of bark it is resting on, the limb the bark is attached to, the trunk the limb is attached to, the tree the trunk is attached to, the trees surrounding the tree we’re looking at, or the whole snow covered forrest. I admit to being a pygmy in a land of giants. I am always amazed at the levels of knowledge that generally pour forth on WUWT. Now that the majority of travelers on Spaceship Earth have been disillusioned by the abortion that was Copenhagen, who are we to follow? Who will pick up the standard of humanity and shout “Follow Me!”, another group of charlitans, or someone with the guts to say: “At this point in time we don’t know enough about the weather to say what’s happening, so don’t worry, we’ll get back to you when we really have something solid.”?

  488. Phil. says:

    anna v (23:15:45) :
    I was puzzled with your statement: how could any molecule not have an infrared spectrum. Tom Vogt, where are you when you are needed?

    Because homonuclear diatomics (like O2) don’t have a dipole! The reference you gave to forbidden transitions caused by photodissociation giving rise to highly vibrationally excited O2 (including triplet states) in a near vacuum (~100km altitude) isn’t relevant to the atmosphere.

  489. old construction worker says:

    I’m selling “Space Blankets”. No refunds.

  490. SandyInDerby says:

    MikeF (22:33:56) :
    I remember them (first portable PCs) we knew them as lugables. Osbornes and Compaqs as I recall. Round about the same time as the first 64K DRAM (that’s 65,536 bits) were available commercially. I think we were only just changing from worrying about being frozen to being fried. About 1981 or just after.

    You’ve made me ancient just thinking about it!!

  491. Phil. says:

    MikeF (00:38:07) :
    Phil,
    I am sorry that my choice of words have offended you. Please accept my sincere apology.

    Thank you I appreciate it.

    You must admit, however, that your listing of you friend’s accomplishments and other appeals to authority sounded very much like bragging that little kids do about their fathers.

    It wasn’t intended as an appeal to authority just a counterpoint to Willis’s argument by weird analogy.

    If you want people to take your references to your friend seriously you should use his full name and cite papers he had published.

    Anyone interested in following up could easily do so based on what I’ve already said but as said above that wasn’t the point.

    And stop assuming that you are the authority on computer programming, without proof that sounds really childish.

    Actually that was Willis: “This is not unusual. People think that computers are able to do many things that they can’t do. As someone who has programmed computers for more than forty years, I can assure you that a model is no better than the understanding of its programmer.”

    Regarding your “since” statement – he did design wings in 70s, right? So, what did he use then? Since it couldn’t have been a laptop, what was it? Was it a slide rule? Or was it a computer? Maybe computer with “super” added to it? As in “supercomputer”?

    As I recall it was a ‘mini’ in the lab which progressed to a ‘super mini’ (a Stardent?), it certainly wasn’t a ‘Cray’. The most impressive demonstration was when giving a lecture he would set up a laptop to optimize a wing during a lecture and have the computations show up live on a screen and finish in less than an hour.

    Person of your experience with computers must be aware that modern laptops are much more powerful than 70’s supercomputers, right?

    Of course, the first computer I used was all of 4k, somewhat later I did a lot of work in the 70s with the PDP8, one of which is now apparently on display in the Smithsonian!

    And why is it when I read your posts I reminded of a time when I was in kindergarden myself (pretty long ago, unfortunately)?

    I’ve no idea.

  492. MikeF says:

    gtrip said:
    I have read most of the replies, and most are in some sort of awe from this discovery. I have read and reread the article. And I have concluded that this is junk science at it’s worst. C’mon man! A river will plot its course by the path of least resistance. Place a boulder in the middle of the river and it will change course. Hell, the river itself could place the boulder there and it will still change course.

    I would guess that without any obstructions the river would flow straight. Maybe a little influence by the Coriolis effect but that’s all.

    Let’s do simple thought experiment. Assume that you want to make river’s life easier by taking some of it’s resistance out. Let’s cut a bypass through one of the existing loops. This should be less “resistive” to the river then going the long way, agree? Not only would it make river shorter, you would line the new canal with nice slippery concrete so it flows easier. Well, as it turns out, the river will create extra loop elsewhere and maintain its length. It looks like it is not “interested” in least resistance as much as in maintaining its “status quo”.
    This would falsify your “least resistance” argument, no?
    Ok, what I did was pretty simplistic, but it is lot less simplistic than what you did.
    Now, I am willing to admit that my “proof” is not really bulletproof. It might be possible to come to conclusion that particular length that is being maintained IS a path of least resistance after calculating “resistance” very carefully (and I’d imagine that some people would just redefine “path of least resistance” as a path that river takes), but it would only confirm the main premise of Willis’s post – there is nothing simple in many processes that actually happen in nature and “simple physics” is not the way to describe them.

  493. Bart says:

    Mike M (03:39:56) :

    cthulhu (14:38:10) : “No model has ever shown strong negative feedbacks, and the history of Earth’s climate defies it. If there were strong negative feedbacks in climate, the climate would barely change at all.“

    He needs to define “barely”. Also, strong negative feedback can be manifested in both gain and bandwidth. Bandwidth determines how fast the loop will respond to changes, gain how well. E.g., a PID loop can have very high gain at low frequencies yet low bandwidth. It will compensate low frequency disturbances very well. High frequency, not so well. In addition, if the loop is nonlinear, the gain and bandwidth depend on the operating condition.

    Hank Henry (05:50:38) :

    It would also be interesting to see if he really knows how the calculation works or if he’s “talking through his hat.”

    I vote “hat”. Check out Tamino’s blog, if you can stomach it. That’s where he gets all his information.

  494. M. Simon says:

    Willis Eschenbach (12:37:06) :,

    I get the same kind of thing from warmists all the time. My response is similar to yours. And I have made some monumental errors that are in fact documented on the ‘net. When I was convinced of my error I said so – out loud and in many places.

    BTW in one of the places where I was wrong I had the opportunity to erase the record. My side and theirs. I didn’t touch a letter let alone a word. Why? Because my integrity is worth way more than hiding the evidence of my fallibility.

  495. M. Simon says:

    In addition, if the loop is nonlinear, the gain and bandwidth depend on the operating condition.

    We see this effect in operational amplifiers all the time. The bandwidth for small signals is much larger than the large signal bandwidth. Which is why spec sheets show the results (scope traces) for small signals and large signals.

    And that is for supposedly linear amplifiers (constant gain).

  496. Hi Willis – Couldn’t agree more: Climate the mother of all nonlinear systems; “simple physics,” a prescription for error. Some observations:

    1. Your 1st example inspired – substitute CO2 input for heating, and you’re off and running. Question is what are the negative feedbacks that induce climatal homeostasis? Lindzen says clouds /iris; fertilization effect (increased primary production), another.

    2. Impt. to distinguish between homeostasis ( your 1st example) and chaos. Both require nonlinearity, but homeostasis can obtain in equilibrium systems – think Michaelis-Menton kinetics. In the case of mammalian body temperature, sweating, increased peripheral blood flow, etc., responsible for so-called “thermo-neutral” region. Of course, if animal subjected to too much heating, these mechanisms swamped: core temperature rises; animal dies. Implication for climate is that too much CO2 input could similarly exceed regulatory capacity, in which case, see below, one expects abolition of intrinsic variability (see below). Question then becomes, “when does this happen?”

    3. Boundedness of terrestrial climate – at least since snowball earth (assuming Proterozoic glaciation as extensive as it’s cracked up to be) – plus climatic variability on wide range of time scales, suggests climate determined by presence of both positive and negative feedback – necessary, but not sufficient condition for chaos.

    4. Sensitivity to initial conditions a consequence of chaotic topology – chaotic sets organized about infinite numbers of non-stable periodic orbits (saddle cycles) – i.e., every point on a chaotic set arbitrarily close to such a cycle. Climatal periodicities ranging from annual to millennial cycles therefore a “fingerprint” of chaos. Likewise, shifting periodicities – for example, switch from 100 ky to 40 ky glaciation cycles.

    5. The conventional interpretation of climate as an equilibrium system subject to “forcings” bogus. By a theorem of Takens, any observable of a chaotic system also chaotic. Climate sensitivity in principle computable from the state of the system. If the latter chaotic, so also is sensitivity.

    Some of these ideas developed at length in “A Surfeit of Cycles” recently published in Energy and Envt – available at http://bill.srnr.arizona.edu/mss/Surfeit.pdf.

    Best wishes.

  497. Marc says:

    First, it is possible to ignore constructal law and threat it as noise. But then, you have to know what kind of noise you will get. Then you know if you have to make a 1-year average or a 10-years, 100-years average in order to remove noise. At this point, it seems most alarmists believe a 10-years average is all you need, while skeptics believe a 1000-years average migth not be enough. My conclusion, the science is not there.

    Second, it is interesting to notice that all greenhouse effect gases could cool the temperature as much as they could warm it. In fact, if our sun was a red dwarf, those gases would absorb a lot of infra-red rays coming from the star before they get to the ground. So the planet might cool because of greenhouse gases. In conclusion, maybe we should have the best data about the output of the sun at several frequencies, because the sun’s output is responsible for most of the climate.

  498. The total human contribution to atmospheric CO2 is between 6 and 7%. If you cut out ALL human beings, ALL their factories, ALL their cows and ALL their transportation systems the effect would be trivial. Global warming would continue regardless. Aims of controlling the global temperature rise to below 2% are like King Canute telling the ocean to recede.

    It’s depressing that the views of qualified scientists and engineers are lost in the clamour of people who know little or no science, such as show-biz personalities.

  499. Steve Milesworthy says:

    The “basic physics” argument is used to try and persuade people that the arguments such as “how can 0.03% of the atmosphere be important?” and “how can puny man have such an impact?” have an answer. Of course it doesn’t prove that it *will* have an impact.

    But pointing out that believing the same causes always lead to the same effects is a logical fallacy doesn’t prove that it won’t have an impact either. My head doesn’t get warm if I put my feet in warm water because I sweat or radiate more. The evidence for the earth sweating or radiating more is currently thin.

  500. Bart says:

    Hank Henry (05:50:38) :

    Someone pointed to this page on another thread, which may be what you are looking for in regard to what they mean by “fast” and “slow” feedbacks (see step 5).

  501. Mark T says:

    M. Simon (05:13:33) :

    Computers represent numbers in binary. Any signed representation (ie one that handles plus and minus) will use some formatting trick to differentiate the two.

    Um, not really. If the numbers are integers, they are likely twos complement. No “formatting trick” necessary. They add and subtract just like any other numbers, that is their feature. For 32-bit signed integers, the range of possible values is +2^31-1 to -2^31. For 64-bit signed integers, the range of possible values is +2^63-1 to -2^63. Quite large.

    If, however, the numbers are in floating point – a likely assumption, then there is a bit defined in the field to represent positive and negative. The floating point unit handles all floating point numbers. The standard is defined by IEEE 754, which describes the format though I would not refer to it as a trick. For the sake of brevity, I’ll just point out that the range 32-bit numbers is about +/-10^38 and of 64-bit floating point numbers is +/-10^308.

    The problem is, if a positive number gets incremented to be one bit too big… it may suddenly become a negative number. Regardless of what does happen, any calculation using the value after an overflow might as well be a random number generator.

    While this may be true, it realistically only applies to integer mathematics. An overflow in a single precision (32-bit) floating point is unlikely since the value would need to be quite large. In double precision (64-bit), an overflow is much more unlikely and would clearly indicate some other problem (why would you need any number as large as 10^308?). In either case, it should not result in a change from positive to negative (it depends on how the sign bit is handled when the overflow bit is set).

    Technically, most computers also have mechanisms to deal with overflow, so it is impossible to say what will happen without knowing their specific processor. There might not be a rollover from positive to negative, but as I noted, that’s probably immaterial anyway.

    Mark

  502. RJ says:

    Par5: “In the 1800’s, the ‘consensus’ was that the sun was made of coal….. if the sun is made of coal, then the earth could not be more than 10,000 yrs old…”

    Thanks for your reply. I will continue to try to find a reference as to Arrhenius’ own thoughts on these things. As you know, he lived until 1927 and studied and taught in a variety of scientific areas. As early as the 1860s Kelvin offered “proof” of a much older earth. Primitive, but at least moved thinking into the 10s of million years range.

    An amusing item from the wiki entry on Arrhenius: “For the rest of his life, he would be a member of the Nobel Committee on Physics and a de facto member of the Nobel Committee on Chemistry. He used his positions to arrange prizes for his friends (Jacobus van’t Hoff, Wilhelm Ostwald, Theodore Richards) and to attempt to deny them to his enemies (Paul Ehrlich, Walther Nernst).”

    Sound familiar?

    Sorry for straying so far OT.

  503. Mark T says:

    M. Simon (10:11:58) :

    In addition, if the loop is nonlinear, the gain and bandwidth depend on the operating condition.

    We see this effect in operational amplifiers all the time. The bandwidth for small signals is much larger than the large signal bandwidth.

    True, but for a different reason. Op-amps have a fixed gain-bandwidth product so a larger gain factor necessarily implies lower frequency operation. What Bart is referring to is a slightly different effect.

    Mark

  504. MrAce says:

    M. Simon (06:16:10) :
    “‘The temperature of the high CO2 is colder than the temperature of the surface because of the pressure difference (lower pressure means colder).’
    You were doing well until you got to this point. You can have a low pressure gas with very high temperatures. It is done all the time in plasma physics.”

    Off course it is possible that a low pressure gas is hot, but in our troposphere this is not the case. You can read more about this here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troposphere#Temperature

  505. blueice2hotsea says:

    Thank you Willis. It is clear that we ought to regard climate science more as non-trivial and/or theoretically impossible to understand than as settled science.

  506. Larry says:

    Just some food for thought, hopefully not OT: if all a river did was “follow the path of least resistance” and was not a complex system striving to maintain some form of equilibrium, the Army Corps of Engineers would not be having so much trouble, historically, with its levees on the Mississippi River.

  507. Spector says:

    Since most TV and print news spots on global warming always show smokestacks spewing copious clouds of condensing water vapor into the atmosphere, perhaps the next thing King Canute might try would be controlling anthropogenic H2O…

  508. Robin says:

    sHx said on The Unbearable Complexity of Climate
    December 27, 2009 at 7:42 pm
    ‘”ThinkingBeing (13:50:32) : But I’m not going to argue the validity of the models on these pages with anyone here. This is the land of zealots who have already made up their minds, then, with their minds closed, have chosen to very heroically label themselves as “skeptics.” So there’s no way to educate them, and no point in trying.” I am a layman and I am fairly new to the AGW debate.’

    I couldn’t agree more. I too am a layman (in climate science) and as an intelligent sceptic on AGW (and a number of other issues) I appreciate the chance to scrutinise all sides of an argument and weigh up the arguments and the science in an open-minded way. I have been teaching students to do this all my life. It has been a true delight over the past year to be a regular visitor to WUWT and to listen in to some truly magnificent socratic dialogues and hear some real experts share their knowledge and expertise with such grace and generosity.

    It was a shock when ‘ThinkingBeing’ showed up like a hired attack-dog and displayed his arrogance and blinkered approach. See above for just a small example.

    It is clear that the earth’s climate must be studied in the context of deterministic chaotic systems. It is a quintessentially Complex Adaptive System and the positive and negtative feedbacks need to be taken into consideration. Its key controlling parameter must surely be the heat of the sun. GHG’s may play a role but very much on the margins.

    Furthermore, the climategate scandal and other ways in which the science has been manipulated (let’s put it no stronger than that) over the decades, will come to represent one of the great crises in science and its established modus operandi in modern times. WUWT has provided a refuge for those driven out of the MSM and the now tainted peer-review world.

    Thanks again to Anthony and all at WUWT for providing such a wonderful resource to all and sundry, whether expert or novice – and a tone of openness and seriousness of enquiry. You are a true “city on a hill”.

  509. Rereke Whakaaro says:

    Allan M R MacRae (01:31:52) :

    “See the 15fps AIRS data animation of global CO2 at
    http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a000000/a003500/a003562/carbonDioxideSequence2002_2008_at15fps.mp4

    This demonstration looked plain wrong to me, but I couldn’t figure it out. It has take me a couple of days (and two sleeps) to get it.

    The color coding used to depict the CO2 level, is the opposite of the convention used to depict the frequency spectrum, where infrared is low, and ultraviolet is high.

    Somebody has decided to depict the scale in reverse to subliminally suggest that more CO2 will be hot (red), and less will be cold (violet).

    I guess following engineering conventions was not politically acceptable … (sigh)

  510. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Steve Milesworthy (10:40:31), you raise a valid point, viz:

    The “basic physics” argument is used to try and persuade people that the arguments such as “how can 0.03% of the atmosphere be important?” and “how can puny man have such an impact?” have an answer. Of course it doesn’t prove that it *will* have an impact.

    But pointing out that believing the same causes always lead to the same effects is a logical fallacy doesn’t prove that it won’t have an impact either. My head doesn’t get warm if I put my feet in warm water because I sweat or radiate more. The evidence for the earth sweating or radiating more is currently thin.

    See my article on WUWT here for some evidence about how the earth responds to changing forcings. The reason that the evidence is thin is that people have bought into the “simple physics” mantra, so nobody is looking for evidence because “the science is settled™ ” …

  511. DirkH says:

    “Robin (11:47:17) :
    [...]
    It was a shock when ‘ThinkingBeing’ showed up like a hired attack-dog and displayed his arrogance and blinkered approach. See above for just a small example.”

    You’re not on forums a lot it seems ;-)

  512. Robin says:

    DirkH said on The Unbearable Complexity of Climate
    December 27, 2009 at 7:42 pm
    “Robin (11:47:17) :
    [...]
    It was a shock when ‘ThinkingBeing’ showed up like a hired attack-dog and displayed his arrogance and blinkered approach. See above for just a small example.”
    You’re not on forums a lot it seems ;-)”

    ‘Spose not. Thanks for the advice, but he got the treatment he deserved and hopefully won’t show up here again. All heat and no light…

  513. Rereke Whakaaro says:

    Pippa Biggs (02:07:43) :

    Folks who specialize in risk management will tell you that planning for “the worst case scenario” is probably the worst thing you can do. It leads to all sorts of distortions of thinking.

    The worst case scenario for a building may be a threat to its structural integrity, from fire, earthquake, terrorist attack, et al. So all of the thought goes into how you can evacuate a large number of people in the shortest possible time, without panic.

    It is good to know how to do those things, but there is an inbuilt assumption that planning for the worst case will also include all of the other possible scenarios, most of which will be more likely. Knowing how to evacuate a building does not really protect you from the risk of somebody, on the floor above, turning on a sprinkler system directly over your computer room, for example.

    It is better to plan for a set of the “most probable scenarios”, than a single worst case.

    I see a lot of the discussions around the IPCC framework being centered around a doubling of CO2. But I do not see much explanation of why an arbitrary doubling is considered likely, or even plausible. I therefore assume that a doubling is a worst case proposed by somebody as a discussion point, at some time in the misty past.

    Of course, worst case scenarios do have an effect of frightening little children and politicians, so they do have some merit in conditioning the next generation to accept the current belief system for the future, and in mobilizing political action (and funding) now.

    The world has been this hot before, and CO2 levels have been this high before, and the planet as survived and even prospered. But, as you rightly point out, there is a major difference in the relative size of the human population, and that is the real elephant in the room.

    If you follow the worst case scenario logic to its conclusion, and you genuinely feel strongly enough about doing what you can to save the planet, then one conscious choice you will need to face, is whether or not you should have children.

  514. Mooloo says:

    Despite the impossibility to model the exact path by which water will flow down hill, one came safely presume that the water will finally end up at the same spot:

    And one would presume entirely wrongly. The Waikato river changed which coast it flowed out of some time back, although that may have been something external.

    The limans on the Black Sea are a large scale obvious example of rivers changing course without external pressure.

    In general large rivers flowing out across flat land form large deltas, and the main channel will change dramatically over time. Have a look at the course of the Volga or Nile some time.

  515. Mooloo says:

    Gasses are not blackbodies and will only radiate/absorb certain spectra. O2 is not active in the infrared, so it does not radiate/absorb infrared light. CO2 does radiate/absorb infrared light, that is why it is called a greenhouse gas.
    The temperature of the high CO2 is colder than the temperature of the surface because of the pressure difference (lower pressure means colder).

    This still does not answer the question MrAce.

    Why is cold CO2 somehow more effective as a greenhouse gas than warm CO2? Why does it, allegedly, matter that CO2 is in the outer atmosphere?

    That is the allegation: that CO2 in the outer atmosphere is cold, and therefore radiates away less heat. Note, not absorbs more heat to radiate back as a greenhouse gas, but actually radiates out less heat – at least that what they seem to be saying, which is why I am confused.

    They keep citing that radiation is to the fourth power with temperature, which seems to have nothing at all to do with the greenhouse effect.

  516. Mooloo says:

    Because homonuclear diatomics (like O2) don’t have a dipole!

    You can quickly turn up papers like: “Near-infrared absorption spectroscopy of oxygen and nitrogen gas mixtures” and “Fine structure of the Infrared Atmospheric Oxygen Bands”. These suggest Oxygen does absorb in the IR.

    I think it might be because Oxygen does have a magnetic dipole. There being two unpaired electrons.

    And where there is atmospheric oxygen there is ozone, which also absorbs in the IR.

  517. zakpaulus says:

    excellent analogies which can be used to communicate the problems of modern climate research to the common folk!

  518. tallbloke says:

    The physics based reason is very simple to understand and would require an act of God to alter

    What was that you were saying back at the start Willis? :-)

  519. Bart says:

    Rereke Whakaaro (13:34:01) :

    “But I do not see much explanation of why an arbitrary doubling is considered likely, or even plausible.”

    What I am going to tell you may seem fantastic, but this is their thinking, as best I have been able to ascertain. Naturally produced CO2 is readily absorbed by the ocean, but the ocean does not like anthropogenic CO2 and refuses to absorb it as readily. This, despite that fact that the two molecules, except for some slight differences in isotopic distribution, are identical. It’s all dressed up in some unseemly gobbledy-goop about “buffer factors” but, in essence, what it means is that anthropogenic and natural CO2 absorption dynamics can be decoupled, and while natural CO2 is rapidly absorbed into the oceans, absorption of anthropogenic CO2 has a much longer time constant.

    As a result, when they dump all of the available carbon reservoir into the atmosphere in a short time relative to the hypothesized anthropogenic time constant, it accumulates in the atmosphere, easily leading to a doubling or even quadrupling atmospheric concentration (and, don’t be thinking that the idea of all that CO2 going into the atmosphere and not the ocean is in any way contradictory of the claim that anthropogenic CO2 is also leading to acidification of the ocean – it’s magical CO2 which can be in both places at once!).

    It’s insane. But, the skeptic camp did not get into gear fast enough to prevent it from becoming established dogma and, it is very difficult to turn the tide when the argument (that the feedback mechanisms must treat both natural and anthropogenic CO2 the same, and this necessarily contradicts the claim that the rise in CO2 is purely anthropogenic) is subtle, and CO2 levels have inarguably been rising coincident with industrialization. So, the skeptic camp tends to focus on lower hanging fruit, such as the effect of clouds, which even the IPCC admits is an Achilles heel in the climate models.

  520. kadaka says:

    nanny_govt_sucks (00:17:10) :

    Kadaka,

    If a particular industry has an expected rate of return of 8%, and the banks are paying 9%, people would rather put their money in the bank.

    I think that is a free society’s way of saying that the industry is no longer viable. High interest rates will clean up a lot of the inefficient and non-viable industries, making more capital available for the efficient and viable ones. Again, not necessarily “positive” nor “negative”, but a necessary part of an efficient economy.

    Nah. High interest rates limit capital. If an industry historically has a certain profit margin, and the banks are charging too high of an interest rate for both the loan interest to be paid and sufficient profit to be generated, then it costs more to access that source of capital funding than it is worth. Essentially that capital is non-existent.

    Industry already has a very good means of becoming more efficient, they have to generate profits for investors. People will put their money where they will get the best return, limited by the amount of risk they are willing to accept.

    When you speak about cleaning out inefficient and non-viable industries, remember that “cleaning out” involves jobs being lost. Then to pay for the assorted welfare-type spending to help those unemployed, taxes get raised, which lowers profit margins, which makes other industries fall into the “inefficient and non-viable” category, which leads to… Nations can also resort to deficit spending and issuing debt, which then sucks up investment money that could have been placed in banks or invested in industry.

    And don’t think other more-efficient more-viable ones will spring up to replace the industries that are lost and to hire those workers. I have seen how America was supposed to transform from a manufacturing-based economy to a services-based one. But with a world economy, services could be found cheaper elsewhere. Our standard of living still seems high, because we are receiving dirt-cheap imports from China and other places. Yet there has been a great decline, a loss of wealth.

    And as we keep finding out, we can still have the absolute most efficient operations in the world, without a cent to squeeze out anywhere, and still with our taxes, regulations, and expected wages, we cannot compete in the world market with those whose operations are amazingly inefficient but those three things are so low they can still always beat us on price.

    By the way, with your “free society” efficient economics, how are you feeling about your morals? Because, in effect when not in reality, our standard of living is being maintained by slavery. American politicians don’t complain about human rights abuses and treatment of workers in China and other places, because we need the cheap goods. We have also gotten rid of several “inefficient and non-viable” industries and now depend on those other countries for our supplies.

    High interest rates lead to (virtual) slavery. Think about that.

  521. DirkH says:

    “Bart (15:26:14) :
    [...]
    What I am going to tell you may seem fantastic, but this is their thinking, as best I have been able to ascertain. ”

    I just found this wiki , it explains the dogmatic position:

    http://www.waterencyclopedia.com/Bi-Ca/Carbon-Dioxide-in-the-Ocean-and-Atmosphere.html

    And guess what you don’t find in that wiki? The word Segalstad.
    They’re all crazy. They just ignore everything that doesn’t fit. They don’t even need to mention the contrary opinion. All across the entire pseudoscience. They’re all whacked.

  522. Dave F says:

    Mooloo (14:16:48) :

    I believe, and could be wrong, that is actually cold CO2 will transfer the radiation energy, not heat per se, away at a slower rate. Of course, if there is or has been an effect, I would expect it to happen when the CO2 begins absorbing the extra IR (when added to the atmosphere), and I don’t see any reason to believe otherwise. That is why current weather observations are a problem for model-thumping believers.

    Of course, if CO2 loses energy in lower atmosphere collisions, then I also don’t see how extra energy makes it to the upper atmosphere. I would think that the hotter CO2 have more of a tendency to rise and the cooler CO2 would have more of a tendency to sink, generally. So I don’t really see how it would make much difference.

  523. Spector says:

    RE: Mooloo (14:16:48) :
    “Why is cold CO2 somehow more effective as a greenhouse gas than warm CO2? Why does it, allegedly, matter that CO2 is in the outer atmosphere?”

    I expect that CO2 is much less of a greenhouse gas in the upper atmosphere, above the tropopause, because a CO2 absorption-band photon is much more likely to escape through the remaining thin atmosphere. I believe that well over 90 percent of the mass of the atmosphere is below the tropopause.

    As convection stops at the tropopause, I would expect that most heat must escape the Earth from that point on as radiation from cloud-tops or from the ground.

  524. Geoff Sherrington says:

    Mr Ace

    You say “The temperature of the high CO2 is colder than the temperature of the surface because of the pressure difference (lower pressure means colder).”

    Why is the temperature ot which low satellites commonly orbit about 1,200 deg C?

    You are getting confused by the ability of very dilute gases to make an object like a thermometer “feel” hot. The temperature of a multi-molecular gas is determined by the rapidity of motion about its bonds.

  525. Dr A Burns says:

    ThinkingBeing,

    Here’s a simple question for you.

    Exactly what is the evidence that man’s CO2 is causing global warming ?

    Please also give a page number reference to the latest IPCC report where this evidence is presented.

    You can invent theories to claim that the world will warm by 0.5 degrees (based on the negative feedback that we see in natural systems) or 3 degrees (based on unstable positive feedbacks) because of a doubling of CO2. You can also invent theories that the world will cool towards another ice age because of low solar activity. It is easy to build models around whatever theory you have, to get the results you want. However, without evidence, the popular theory of man’s CO2 causing global warming is nothing more than political propaganda.

  526. Geoff Sherrington says:

    Re Bart 12:44:34

    You say “If anything, it’s the constant denier arguments that try to oversimplify things.”

    I do not think that your comment sits well with climate modellers who demand ever increasing teraflops when they cannot (a) pose the main questions properly and (b) insert quit points when they realise that an approach is taking them nowhere.

  527. Willis Eschenbach says:

    kadaka (15:31:20)

    nanny_govt_sucks (00:17:10) :

    Kadaka,

    If a particular industry has an expected rate of return of 8%, and the banks are paying 9%, people would rather put their money in the bank.

    While this is fascinating to some, economics is way out of place on this thread. Could I please ask you to discuss it on a thread whose subject is economics?

    Many thanks,

    w.

  528. Bart says:

    DirkH (16:14:55) :

    Typical. Note that they push the standard line:

    “Atmospheric concentrations of CO2 were constant because the carbon being removed from the atmosphere in some places exactly matched the CO2 being added to the atmosphere in other places.”

    The untutored say “oh, so it balances, and the anthropogenic contributions accumulate independently.” But, this is not how dynamic systems work. A balance never exists in nature for any length of time by happenstance. Balances are established because there are two forces of equal strength opposing one another, and any additional push from either side will result in increased resistance from the other side. The equilibrium can shift, but it does not just skate away.

  529. Bart says:

    Geoff Sherrington (16:52:49) :

    You got the wrong guy. That was ThinkingBeing (14:16:13). He was directing his ad hom at moi.

  530. Bart says:

    I hate it when I forget to close the tag. Moderator, can you substitute this?

    DirkH (16:14:55) :

    Typical. Note that they push the standard line:

    “Atmospheric concentrations of CO2 were constant because the carbon being removed from the atmosphere in some places exactly matched the CO2 being added to the atmosphere in other places.”

    The untutored say “oh, so it balances, and the anthropogenic contributions accumulate independently.” But, this is not how dynamic systems work. A balance never exists in nature for any length of time by happenstance. Balances are established because there are two forces of equal strength opposing one another, and any additional push from either side will result in increased resistance from the other side. The equilibrium can shift, but it does not just skate away.

  531. kadaka says:

    @Willis Eschenbach (17:15:08) :

    No problem, I was done anyway. Just a quick sideline discussion.

    PS: Good article.

  532. Willis Eschenbach says:

    kadaka (17:53:20) :

    @Willis Eschenbach (17:15:08) :

    No problem, I was done anyway. Just a quick sideline discussion.

    PS: Good article.

    Thanks, kadaka. Much appreciated.

    w.

  533. par5 says:

    RE: RJ (10:56:19) :

    Yes, you are correct in your points presented. I doubt that he died believing the sun was made of coal, but he more than likely grew up being taught this. The point is that knowledge changes over time. I remember being told (by the scientists) about mass starvation by the year 2000. And don’t forget that back in Arrhenius’ time the concensus was that man would never step foot on the moon. It wasn’t their fault, it was just the way they saw things at that time. He altered the sensitivity of CO2 several times as he became more knowledgable, but his methods were still lacking. That is why I giggle every time someone references him- and Wiki. Keep fighting the good fight.

  534. ThinkingBeing says:

    Willis Eschenbach (20:27:57) :

    “You don’t know me. You don’t know my motives. You don’t know my intentions. You don’t have a clue why I do what I do. And yet you call me a liar? I write what I believe to be true. It might not be true, I have been wrong before many times, but I believe it is true.”

    You know what, you are right on this. I made the assumption that like many [snip-don't use that word again. ~ ctm] you knew exactly what you were doing, in my mind artfully misrepresenting the facts, and that you were doing it purposefully.

    I can see that you honestly do believe in what you said. I was wrong to call your post disingenuous, and for that I apologize.

    I would point out, however, that any number of people here heaped a whole lot more abuse on me, and most of them with rather uneducated and downright silly comments. This also lead me to misinterpret at least one poster’s honest question (about model backcasting) as abusive, rhetorical sarcasm.

    It’s sort of a problem with the whole debate… there are too many people that are ready to accuse instead of discuss, and I fell into that trap, then fell in deeper when other people attacked me.

    But, on the other side of the coin… if you are going to create a pet theory of your own (in this case, implying that all climate scientists are silly to think that they can even attempt to understand and model the climate because it’s just too complicated), you are going to need a thicker skin. You can’t be all happy because your buddies told you how wonderful your post was, and then get all bent out of shape because one person contested it.

    And I’ll point out that for all of the detailed points I made, your only response was to get all in a huff about my calling you a liar. You immediately wanted to take your ball and go home.

    But… I did make my points, and would certainly, publicly retract the implication that your post was purposely disingenuous. That was unfair, and untrue, and for that I apologize.

  535. Peter says:

    Wow, this is one of the most befuddled posts that I’ve read for a long time. The prefix “pseudo” comes to mind. Do you really understand constructal mechanics? Do you understand climate modelling at all, or do you simply disagree with results that don’t sit well with you? Silly stuff.

  536. Rereke Whakaaro says:

    ThinkingBeing (21:37:38) :

    Without evidence,
    Without proof,
    There is no truth,
    There is no reality,
    There is only opinion and perception.

  537. John Doe says:

    Dr Pielke found an interesting scientific point of the model ensembles http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2009/12/consistent-with-fallacy-how-not-to.html. He added 50 new arbitrary models to the IPCC’s ensemble of models and discusses about its impact on the confidence on the models.

    He is about to say aloud that traditional statistics does not apply to computer model runs and chaotic systems.

  538. anna v says:

    Peter (22:30:50) :

    Wow, this is one of the most befuddled posts that I’ve read for a long time. The prefix “pseudo” comes to mind. Do you really understand constructal mechanics? Do you understand climate modelling at all, or do you simply disagree with results that don’t sit well with you? Silly stuff.

    Silly is as silly does.

    You have not demonstrated your understanding of constructal mechanics, you denigrate and you presume, following to the letter your sentence before last.

    Come to think of it, since you are an expert on climate modeling, I would be interested in your debunking my precis on climate models given in anna v (12:22:47) : , in this thread.

  539. Bart says:

    ThinkingBeing (21:37:38) :

    “I would point out, however, that any number of people here heaped a whole lot more abuse on me, and most of them with rather uneducated and downright silly comments.”

    Gimme a break. You deserved it and then some. You came in spouting irrelevant nonsense and calling everyone “deniers” and “liars”. The very screen name “ThinkingBeing” is an implied insult, and a joke on you. And, you even finish your little plea for pity by piling on more abuse.

    You have nothing of interest to say. You only parrot the lines you learned by rote elsewhere, which have already been debunked in this forum in other threads. If you want to engage in the discussion and learn something, then first get a new screen name. Then, engage constructively and earnestly on the topics under discussion. Otherwise, do not feign injury when you are treated as you treat others. It’s disgusting.

  540. CodeTech says:

    Ah Bart, it’s good to see you being so kind and gentle to TB… he can’t really help it, you know. He’s been programmed rather effectively.

    Rolling back, you mentioned:

    A balance never exists in nature for any length of time by happenstance. Balances are established because there are two forces of equal strength opposing one another, and any additional push from either side will result in increased resistance from the other side. The equilibrium can shift, but it does not just skate away.

    And life changes that even more.

    If there was a giant excess of CO2, and I mean actually gigantic and harmful as opposed to a few ppm, the oceans and land are teeming with wee creatures whose numbers would swell enormously. Their entire purpose for existing is to consume vast quantities of CO2, they are most likely responsible for Earth even having free O2 in the first place. Once the CO2 levels were reduced, the creatures would either die off or fail to reproduce. If there was a reduction in O2, other micro and macro organisms leap into action to balance things out.

    Just as a cold or flu or herpes virus in the human body is capable of incredible feats of multiplying, and our body’s immune system is capable of rising to the occasion, there is no “plan” or “mechanism” behind it. It just “is”. The planet is as it is because of life, life is as it is because of the planet.

    Nature abhors 3 things: a vacuum, an equilibrium, and a straight line. There are no such things as stable populations, climate, weather, etc. ALL of these things will oscillate around some arbitrary level. And NO trends continue up, up and away in a straight line.

    And, regarding TB, an apology with ill grace is not much of an apology at all.

  541. Dr A Burns says:

    ThinkingBeing,

    You seemed to have missed my last post … or is it too difficult a question for a simple alarmist ?
    ———————-
    Dr A Burns (16:49:12) :
    ThinkingBeing,

    Here’s a simple question for you.

    Exactly what is the evidence that man’s CO2 is causing global warming ?

    You can invent theories to claim that the world will warm by 0.5 degrees (based on the negative feedback that we see in natural systems) or 3 degrees (based on unstable positive feedbacks) because of a doubling of CO2. You can also invent theories that the world will cool towards another ice age because of low solar activity. It is easy to build models around whatever theory you have, to get the results you want. However, without evidence, the popular theory of man’s CO2 causing global warming is nothing more than political propaganda.

    ———————-

  542. Willis Eschenbach says:

    ThinkingBeing (21:37:38)

    Willis Eschenbach (20:27:57) :

    “You don’t know me. You don’t know my motives. You don’t know my intentions. You don’t have a clue why I do what I do. And yet you call me a liar? I write what I believe to be true. It might not be true, I have been wrong before many times, but I believe it is true.”

    You know what, you are right on this. I made the assumption that like many [snip-don't use that word again. ~ ctm] you knew exactly what you were doing, in my mind artfully misrepresenting the facts, and that you were doing it purposefully.

    I can see that you honestly do believe in what you said. I was wrong to call your post disingenuous, and for that I apologize.

    I would point out, however, that any number of people here heaped a whole lot more abuse on me, and most of them with rather uneducated and downright silly comments. This also lead me to misinterpret at least one poster’s honest question (about model backcasting) as abusive, rhetorical sarcasm.

    Bro’, you walk into a man’s house, the first thing you do is accuse him of being a liar, and you are surprised when people abuse you in a variety of interesting ways? Where have you been living? How can that possibly be a surprise to you?

    It’s sort of a problem with the whole debate… there are too many people that are ready to accuse instead of discuss, and I fell into that trap, then fell in deeper when other people attacked me.

    Again I say … what did you expect when you call a man a liar? Bouquets of flowers and hugs all ’round?

    But, on the other side of the coin… if you are going to create a pet theory of your own (in this case, implying that all climate scientists are silly to think that they can even attempt to understand and model the climate because it’s just too complicated), you are going to need a thicker skin. You can’t be all happy because your buddies told you how wonderful your post was, and then get all bent out of shape because one person contested it.

    First, I said nothing about “all climate scientists”, that’s your fantasy. You may note that I always quote what I am responding to, so there is no question what I’m discussing and I know that I am not misrepresenting what you said.

    I was objecting to a popular argument, of which I cited two examples, the argument being that “simple physics” proves that CO2 has to make the climate warmer. I did not say that the climate was too complicated to understand, I said we understand it poorly and that climate is far too complicated for “simple physics” to be a reliable guide to its actions. And whether it is theoretically possible to model the climate I don’t know, but I’ve been programming computers for forty-five years now, and I do know that the current generation of models are pathetic. They miss a host of phenomena for a variety of reasons, and simply put in convenient numbers for the others. Their poor performance is understandable, because a computer model can never be greater than the programmer’s understanding of the climate, and we don’t understand the climate very well. All the models show is that if the programmer assumes that CO2 will warm the planet, guess what?

    But that’s not the issue, that you think my ideas are wrong or that you don’t seem to have understood what I was saying. That happens all the time. That’s science. The issue, since you still seem to have missed it, is not that you contested my theory. That’s why I post on the web, so that my ideas can be attacked and perhaps even demolished. That’s the scientific process. Science is a blood sport, people trying to demolish each others’ claims, and I revel in it. I have no problem with being proven wrong or with admitting when I am wrong. I don’t like it, but it’s part of the scientific process.

    The issue was that you came in and first thing out of the box you called me a liar. I say again … where did you grow up? Because I grew up on a cattle ranch. The cowboys were generally poor, they didn’t have much but their honor, which they burnished and guarded. Calling one of them a liar was the worst thing that you could possibly do. Now, I guess where you grew up calling a man a liar was not a deadly insult as it was where I grew up, what we called “fighting words” and would not let stand unchallenged even when we were young kids. So regardless how you missed this in your education, you should know that to many people out here, calling a man a liar is not something to do without both proof and provocation.

    Nor is this a new idea that is unique to me or the time and place I grew up. Google “the Lie Direct”. In Shakespeare’s time that was the name for what you did, and it was something that would likely end in someone’s death. Here’s Shakespeare’s humorous view of it, from “As You Like It”:

    TOUCHSTONE
    Upon a lie seven times removed:–bear your body more
    seeming, Audrey:–as thus, sir. I did dislike the
    cut of a certain courtier’s beard: he sent me word,
    if I said his beard was not cut well, he was in the
    mind it was: this is called the Retort Courteous.
    If I sent him word again ‘it was not well cut,’ he
    would send me word, he cut it to please himself:
    this is called the Quip Modest. If again ‘it was
    not well cut,’ he disabled my judgment: this is
    called the Reply Churlish. If again ‘it was not
    well cut,’ he would answer, I spake not true: this
    is called the Reproof Valiant. If again ‘it was not
    well cut,’ he would say I lied: this is called the
    Counter-cheque Quarrelsome: and so to the Lie
    Circumstantial and the Lie Direct.

    JAQUES
    And how oft did you say his beard was not well cut?

    TOUCHSTONE
    I durst go no further than the Lie Circumstantial,
    nor he durst not give me the Lie Direct; and so we
    measured swords and parted.

    JAQUES
    Can you nominate in order now the degrees of the lie?

    TOUCHSTONE
    O sir, we quarrel in print, by the book; as you have
    books for good manners: I will name you the degrees.
    The first, the Retort Courteous; the second, the
    Quip Modest; the third, the Reply Churlish; the
    fourth, the Reproof Valiant; the fifth, the
    Countercheque Quarrelsome; the sixth, the Lie with
    Circumstance; the seventh, the Lie Direct. All
    these you may avoid but the Lie Direct; and you may
    avoid that too, with an If. I knew when seven
    justices could not take up a quarrel, but when the
    parties were met themselves, one of them thought but
    of an If, as, ‘If you said so, then I said so;’ and
    they shook hands and swore brothers. Your If is the
    only peacemaker; much virtue in If.

    But despite Shakespeare’s light treatment, it is not a laughing matter. The importance and the mortal nature of giving someone the Lie Direct was later enshrined in the Code Duello (Code of Duels) of 1777, viz:

    Rule 4. When the lie direct is the first offense, the aggressor must either beg pardon in express terms; exchange two shots previous to apology; or three shots followed up by explanation; or fire on till a severe hit be received by one party or the other.

    As you can see, for men who care about their honor, there is no greater insult, and there are still many people who live by that principle.

    And I’ll point out that for all of the detailed points I made, your only response was to get all in a huff about my calling you a liar. You immediately wanted to take your ball and go home.

    You must be joking. You came in to my thread, and the very first thing you did was to give me the Lie Direct. So I told you to go away, that you had execrable manners and you weren’t welcome. Ignoring that, you came right back and called me a liar again! I couldn’t believe it, my eyeballs popped out and my blood was sorely angrified.

    Now you want to pass it off as a childish game, saying that I wanted to “take my ball and go home” … NOT. To the contrary, I wasn’t going anywhere — I wanted you to take your lack of honor and your unbelievable insults and go home.

    And now you come back to say inter alia that I didn’t address your “detailed points”? Can a man truly be that dense? Get real, my friend. When you go to someone’s home and call him a liar not once but twice, you take what you get, and on my planet it is very unlikely to be a discussion of detailed scientific points. Stand up and be a man, stop complaining about the reception you got here, you brought it on your own head. As I have often learned to my own sorrow, my momma was right when she used to say, “Son, if you scorch around, you’ll get burned.”

    But… I did make my points, and would certainly, publicly retract the implication that your post was purposely disingenuous. That was unfair, and untrue, and for that I apologize.

    No, you did not “[imply] that [my] post was purposely disingenuous”. That’s the Lie Circumstantial or even less. You flat-out called me a liar, the Lie Direct, and so even your apology lacks backbone. You don’t even say “I retract it”, you say you “would certainly … retract it.”

    However, it seems these nuances were not part of your education either, and you are not to blame for that. I accept your apology, and I am impressed that you came back to offer it, but this is all I’m going to say to you on this thread. I do not wish you ill, I just wish you would go away and think about the whole episode and perhaps even learn something from it. For me, you have worn out your welcome on this thread.

    However, all is not lost, in the longer view I see this as just another part of life’s rich pageant. Come back when I put up a new post on a new subject, after my blood pressure retreats from the four-digit zone. Next time, to avoid misunderstandings, quote the things I say that you disagree with and tell us why, and we’ll see how it goes from there.

    In hopes of a more irenic and fruitful discussion on the next thread, I offer you my best wishes,

    w.

  543. Louis Hissink says:

    John Doe (22:46:42) :

    “He is about to say aloud that traditional statistics does not apply to computer model runs and chaotic systems.”

    Spot on.

    In my area of science (geology) it is properly called “geomathematics” as defined by Fritz Achterberg decades ago in his similarly titled text.

    Statistics are summaries of measurements taken from discrete objects (billard balls, human individuals, manufactured bolts, nuts, etc). In this case N is always an integer.

    Apply this methodology to other areas introduces problems, and in geoscience we call it the sample volume variance effect (Koch and Link, 1972) or sample support, where N is no longer an integer but a real number.

    Extended to aggregation of temperature data within a grid cell (defined by units of latitude and longitude) one is confronted with the physical meaning of an average temperature of a 2-D spherical surface.

    You have to be brain dead, or a otherwise a social scientist, to consider such a nonsense seriously (maybe depends on what one is smoking).

    It’s why I have always rejected the wacky idea of greenhouse gases – physically they can’t exist, and statistically it’s a bigger nonsense as well.

  544. par5 says:

    RE: Willis Eschenbach (00:40:49) :

    Willis, you are a saint.

  545. Louis Hissink says:

    Willis

    Jeez, seems you and I eat beef :-), pardner.

  546. Dr A Burns says:

    Willis,

    Alarmists seem to have started flinging the term “liar” at honest sceptic scientists of late, in retaliation for the lies, fraud and deception revealed by ClimateGate. I think it is just a sign of panic, given the complete absence of any science whatsoever to support their nonsense.

  547. Willis Eschenbach says:

    par5 (01:01:51)

    RE: Willis Eschenbach (00:40:49) :

    Willis, you are a saint.

    I greatly appreciate the compliment, but no, I’m just a poor fool whose intentions are good, and who is unbearably tired of the reprehensible actions of those who seek to defend the consensus. As such, I would be less than honest if I emulated those actions myself.

    Plus, when your age begins with the number “6”, unless you are six years old you should have achieved some kind of tolerance for the hasty actions both of yourself and others … it has been said that until you make the hundred most common mistakes in a field, you can’t consider yourself an expert in that field.

    If that is true, then I am assuredly an expert in the field of screwing things up by saying the wrong thing at the wrong time …

    When I was younger I once went to my white-haired father and told him about some particularly foolish thing I had done. He did not condemn me for my idiocy. He said “Do you see my head of white hair?” I said I did. “Every white hair used to be black and they turned white, one by one,” he said. “And each one was turned white as a result of me making a mistake that was just as foolish as this mistake of yours.”

    So I could do no less than that with respect to ThinkingBeing’s mistakes …

    My regards to everyone,

    w.

  548. CodeTech says:

    I’m still waiting for “ThinkingBeing” to tell us where all the heat went that the oceans have been “absorbing” for twenty years.

    Something tells me I’ll never see the answer to that… sigh.

  549. Hank Henry says:

    Bart- Thanks for that link on fast and slow feedbacks. It looks like something I will want to work through and try to digest. It seems that “climate sensitivity” is shorthand for something quite complicated: like … the climate’s upward temperature sensitivity (expressed as a number) to increased CO2 in the atmosphere with numerous associated aftereffects including, paradoxically, an upward temperature sensitivity to upward temperature (via water vapor). Since the Supreme Court decision on Mass. v EPA specifically addresses the question of uncertainty, I am always interested in things that seem a little iffy.

  550. Steve Milesworthy says:

    Willis,

    See my article on WUWT here for some evidence about how the earth responds to changing forcings. The reason that the evidence is thin is that people have bought into the “simple physics” mantra, so nobody is looking for evidence because “the science is settled™ ” …

    Even you admit in the article you linked to that the temperature in the past half a billion years varied by +/-9 Celsius, or by +/- 3 Celsius in the Holocene period. And 20 or so Dansgaard-Oeschger events also point to a lack of thermostat on relatively short timescales.

    But you are moving the debate away from your claim in this post that somehow because not all possibilities have been examined we ought to assume that a significant impact to earth’s radiation balance has no effect.

    In your examples, the failure of the zeroth order predictions to come about teach us about the system. And certainly it is possible that the past dynamic nature of the climate will somehow be different this time.

    So far though, most of the metrics, adjusted and unadjusted, satellite and ground based, proxy and observation, point towards a warming that is in line with the zeroth order predictions of the theory as encapsulated by the model projections. So while it is indeed a travesty that we don’t have the observation systems in place to detect the detailed effects of short term climate variability, a bit of evidence for any sort of thermostat or iris cannot be relied on.

  551. anna v says:

    Steve Milesworthy (06:08:31) :

    So far though, most of the metrics, adjusted and unadjusted, satellite and ground based, proxy and observation, point towards a warming that is in line with the zeroth order predictions of the theory as encapsulated by the model projections.

    Wrong.
    Once the projections of the models get away from the time period where the n ( where n is a large number) parameters of the models were adjusted to fit, they fail miserably. And as Von Neuman is supposed to have said: “with 4 parameters, I can fit an elephant, with five I can make him fly”.

    I have explained as simply as I could in my anna v (12:22:47) : on this thread why zero order and first order predictions are meaningless when one deals with highly non linear solutions of many coupled differential equations.

    I can also give you chapter and verse from the AR4 chapter 8 where supposedly the physics justification is given, where , away from the temperature versus time plots which diverges after about 2000, all other plots, even against the concurrent data, are nonsense and show random fits: some models fit some parts and others other, and by the spaghetti trick they try to fool the observer’s eyed that the models more or less project OK. It is all a large parascientific fraud, in my not so humble opinion, and future scientists will be laughing their heads off ; if our civilization manages to survive the AGW destructive mania and produce any science in the future stone age envisaged for all of us.

  552. Robin says:

    Willis, I have thought long and hard about your thought experiments complexity and simple science. They are very helpful in explaining the elements of Complex Adaptive Systems to the layman. I do, however, have a question/observation and hope you can comment on it. I come at this as a layman.

    In the case of the flow of water down the earth-covered slope, you rightly say that it will meander and find its own preferred state or rate of flow, pressure, and trajectory down the slope. If you make a direct cutting through one of the bends the meander will readjust itself and lengthen in order to keep to its preferred equilibrium or state, so long as other variables remain the same.

    However, if you change the key variable, namely the rate of flow (which I don’t think you mentioned), then the shape of the river will change. It will presumably shorten if you increase the rate of flow and lengthen if you decrease the rate of flow. Am I right? If you increase the rate of flow sufficiently then surely it will cease to meander and instead will burst its way through to a much more direct (even straight) path. This is what happens when rivers flood in real life situations. Heavy rains increase the rate of flow and eventually the water will find the line of least resistance to a new phase space or ‘attractor’.

    There are other variables that can be changed. Instead of earth you could use very fine sand or ice or whatever… Each would change the state and behaviour of the system.

    Your point is well made that if you scale this up in the complexity stakes to something as hugely complex and adaptive as the Earth’s climate you get something very profoundly unpredictable and adaptive. But even here we find over long enough time periods various cyclical patterns that repeat. I suppose my question or observation is that there are variables in the Earth’s climate that could flip the climate into a ‘bifurcation’ or change of ‘attractor’. This must have happened with the ice ages and in theory this could happen in a warming phase, if for example the sun for some reason got much hotter.

    In other words the science of complex systems is necessarily complex and non-linear, but at some ‘far from equilibrium states’ the cause of a bifurcation or radical change of behaviour can be something quite simple.

    Take the classical example of a snow slope on a mountain. Snow falls and the snow cover builds up, but it is in equilibrium. It is safe to ski on. But as time passes more snow falls and the slope moves away from equilibrium to more and more unstable states. Eventually it takes (in theory at least) just one too many snow flake to make the whole slope avalanche. There is a catastrophic event – a bifurcation and millions of tons of snow crash down the mountain side sweeping everything in its path. This lasts only a few minutes, but there is created a new equilibrium. The slope is once more stable.

    This transition can happen to your meandering stream if the rate of flow increases too much. It can happen on a snow slope. And it happens to the climate on varying timescales.

    I do not believe for a minute that moderate increases of CO2 in the atmosphere have any chance of creating such a bifurcation – what the alarmists call runaway global warming where we all get fried.

    I will go and read the material on the Constructal Laws again to make sure I have understood this correctly.

  553. Hank Henry says:

    CodeTech: see http://fora.tv/2009/12/17/FORAtv_Exclusive_Interview_with_Lord_Monckton_at_COP15
    Starting at 3:00 on the video. I can’t find the David H. Douglas, Robert Knox that he references though…. ThinkingBeing: Is that something you would know how to find for us?

  554. Steve Milesworthy says:

    [i]anna v (06:53:50) :

    Steve Milesworthy (06:08:31) :

    So far though, most of the metrics, adjusted and unadjusted, satellite and ground based, proxy and observation, point towards a warming that is in line with the zeroth order predictions of the theory as encapsulated by the model projections.

    Wrong.
    Once the projections of the models get away from the time period where the n ( where n is a large number) parameters of the models were adjusted to fit, they fail miserably. And as Von Neuman is supposed to have said: “with 4 parameters, I can fit an elephant, with five I can make him fly”.

    I have explained as simply as I could in my anna v (12:22:47) : on this thread why zero order and first order predictions are meaningless when one deals with highly non linear solutions of many coupled differential equations.[/i]

    You are demanding too much. The projections were that it would warm. It has warmed. Zero order prediction has been met. The warming is not monotonic and is perhaps a bit less than expected by a bit more than half the models. That is inconvenient, but not out of line with previous unforced variability of the climate.

    So asking “what are the negative feedbacks that are cancelling out the warming?”, as implied by this post, is jumping the gun somewhat.

    (By the way, model parameters are not tuned after the model is made ready for doing the warming projections; models are tuned to match a stable climatology. Aerosols and solar might have been tuned a bit to get the unfeasibly good matches between a lot of the models and 20th Century temperatures, but that doesn’t say much about whether the model physics is right or wrong.).

  555. Roger Knights says:

    Anna V:

    Perhaps Peter was responding only to the post by TB above him?

  556. Bart says:

    Willis Eschenbach (03:19:50) :

    ” … it has been said that until you make the hundred most common mistakes in a field, you can’t consider yourself an expert in that field.”

    In other words, you have internalized a negative feedback loop, in which you perform a task, measure the result, and make corrections based on the observed error. In the forward loop is a neural network (your brain) which serves as an internal model for the real world. After many cycles through the loop, the neural network is programmed so that you may anticipate the actions of the real world, resulting in progressively smaller error signals which require less corrective action.

    If your feedback gain is zero, you are like “ThinkingBeing”, whose dynamics are open loop, running on external inputs without corrective action from observations of the real world.

    It is apparent that some of the climate scientists have positive feedback gains, in which observations are interpreted in such a way as to drive their neural nets to diverge ever farther from reality. Eventually, those loops will reach a saturation threshold, followed by full system crash.

  557. MikeF says:

    Steve Milesworthy (09:30:31) :
    You are demanding too much. The projections were that it would warm. It has warmed. Zero order prediction has been met. The warming is not monotonic and is perhaps a bit less than expected by a bit more than half the models. That is inconvenient, but not out of line with previous unforced variability of the climate.

    That is also wrong.
    There had been no warming for last 15 years. There was small cooling for last 10. The models had been falsified, by your own argument, even for zero-order predictions.

  558. CodeTech says:

    ThinkingBeing:

    http://www.argo.ucsd.edu/

    The oceans are cooling. That’s some mighty amazing absorbing power.

  559. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Steve Milesworthy (06:08:31)

    Willis,

    See my article on WUWT here for some evidence about how the earth responds to changing forcings. The reason that the evidence is thin is that people have bought into the “simple physics” mantra, so nobody is looking for evidence because “the science is settled™ ” …

    Even you admit in the article you linked to that the temperature in the past half a billion years varied by +/-9 Celsius, or by +/- 3 Celsius in the Holocene period. And 20 or so Dansgaard-Oeschger events also point to a lack of thermostat on relatively short timescales.

    I find the opposite, that the D-O events indicate that there is a thermostat. Otherwise, the thermometer would have just kept going. Consider the complexity of the climate system. If I were to try to build a planetary climate system that depends on the average cloud cover not varying more than a percent or so on average, I’d find it very very difficult to even imagine doing so without some kind of feedback system, without some kind of governor.

    But you are moving the debate away from your claim in this post that somehow because not all possibilities have been examined we ought to assume that a significant impact to earth’s radiation balance has no effect.

    I’m not “moving the debate”, I’m answering people’s questions, including yours. And the reason I quote people is to avoid misconceptions. What I actually said was:

    Because climate is a flow system far from equilibrium, it is ruled by the Constructal Law. As a result, there is no physics-based reason to assume that increasing CO2 will make any difference to the global temperature, and the Constructal Law gives us reason to think that it may make no difference at all. In any case, regardless of Arrhenius, the “simple physics” relationship between CO2 and global temperature is something that we cannot simply assume to be true.

    I did not say we “ought to assume” CO2 has no effect, I said that the Constructal Law gives us reason to think CO2 may have no effect. This is a very different claim than the one you are fighting against.

    The earth has seen some astounding changes in forcings. Meteor strikes, millennium long volcanic eruptions, changes in ocean chemistry, huge forest fires, and a 25% increase in solar energy have not changed the temperature by more than a few percent. How do you explain this without some kind of thermostatic mechanism? And since the Constructal Law says that every flow system has such a mechanism, that every flow system actively tends towards a preferred state, why should we assume that the climate is somehow unique and different?

    In your examples, the failure of the zeroth order predictions to come about teach us about the system. And certainly it is possible that the past dynamic nature of the climate will somehow be different this time.

    So far though, most of the metrics, adjusted and unadjusted, satellite and ground based, proxy and observation, point towards a warming that is in line with the zeroth order predictions of the theory as encapsulated by the model projections. So while it is indeed a travesty that we don’t have the observation systems in place to detect the detailed effects of short term climate variability, a bit of evidence for any sort of thermostat or iris cannot be relied on.

    1. What is “the zeroth order prediction” when it is at home?

    2. What exactly are the “metrics, adjusted and unadjusted, satellite and ground based, proxy and observation” that point to warming “as encapsulated by the model predictions”? We have seen no significant warming since 1995. The proxy metrics are all over the place, and are all too often carefully picked to show a particular result. The satellite observations show that neither the tropics nor the southern hemisphere have warmed significantly since the beginning of the satellite record. The Arctic has warmed (although it is no warmer than in the 1930s) and the Antarctic has cooled (current sea ice is the highest on record). So which metrics are you talking about?

    Remember that the issue is not whether the earth is warming during this part of the millennium. There is good agreement that the planet has been warming since about 1650. The issue is whether CO2 is causing that warming. Since it has been going on since 1650 …

    From 1900 to 1940 the CO2 didn’t rise much, and the temperature went up by about 0.4C. This rise was about a tenth of a degree per decade. From 1940 to 2000, the CO2 went up a lot, and the temperature went up by about 0.2C … this is about a third of rate of rise in the earlier part of the century. You seem to think this is an indictment of CO2, but for the life of me I can’t make the numbers support that.

    And since the model predictions extend from the floor to the ceiling (and that’s just the carefully selected results that didn’t end up on the cutting room floor), the fact that current temperatures are between the floor and the ceiling is meaningless. We are constantly being reassured that no significant warming since 1995 is consistent with the models … which should tell you something.

  560. J.Peden says:

    Louis Hissink (00:45:25) :

    You have to be brain dead, or a otherwise a social scientist, to consider such a nonsense seriously…

    Too funny! Because it’s true. My god, I still have no idea what the Climate Scientists are measuring, for the most part, except that it’s how they do it. Then in the case of the non-satellite surface temperatures, they don’t even bother to check the thermometers!

  561. anna v says:

    Roger Knights (09:36:14) :

    Anna V:

    Perhaps Peter was responding only to the post by TB above him?

    I do not think so. TB is all pro modeling and so is Peter, unless his english sentence structure is bad.

    Peter (22:30:50) :

    Wow, this is one of the most befuddled posts that I’ve read for a long time. The prefix “pseudo” comes to mind. Do you really understand constructal mechanics? Do you understand climate modelling at all, or do you simply disagree with results that don’t sit well with you? Silly stuff.

  562. anna v says:

    Roger Knights (09:36:14) :

    You made me check a previous threads, and there exists a Peter who is not a friend of AGW. If it is the same one, he should please quote the post he is replying to, to avoid misunderstandings next time.

  563. ThinkingBeing says:

    CodeTech (10:23:49) :

    “The oceans are cooling. That’s some mighty amazing absorbing power.”

    On the link *you* provided, I presume you meant for me to find this page…

    http://www.argo.ucsd.edu/global_change_analysis.html

    …with this graph…

    …and this quote…

    “Over the past 50 years, the oceans have absorbed more than 80% of the total heat added to the air/sea/land/cryosphere climate system (Levitus et al, 2005). As the dominant reservoir for heat, the oceans are critical for measuring the radiation imbalance of the planet and the surface layer of the oceans plays the role of thermostat and heat source/sink for the lower atmosphere.”

    …which rather clearly (to me) shows and states a rather undeniable and large uptake in heat by the oceans.

  564. J.Peden says:

    “Willis Eschenbach (00:40:49) ”

    Man, I think everyone ought to read that one! Tremendous and entertaining deconstruction of what many of us thought from a long time ago didn’t need to even be explained or revisited. But it does!

    It’s about as bad as you having to explain to me why – when you have just said you are reaching for the sugar, have so far always reached for the sugar only, and now appear to certainly be doing so – your real intent is not to kill me, as it “has been all along”. “You never ever really wanted the sugar anyway.”

    The big question will be whether “ThinkingBeing” will have even understood what Willis just said, or act like s/he does in the future. There are just so many ways for people to get out of understanding an author’s intent and what a discussion is all about right from the start, if it’s going to get anywhere.

    The ultimate escape for some seems to be “this whole interaction really didn’t happen at all”, or “You can’t make me!”, or “Well, my subjective understanding and use of words is just as good as yours”, blah blah blah.

    I’ve thought of it as a problem needing total regression back to the womb or even to conception for a solution. But we’ll see.

  565. Smokey says:

    ThinkingBeing (11:43:16),

    From your ARGO link:

    “Domingues et al (2008) and Levitus et al (2009) have recently estimated the multi-decadal upper ocean heat content…”

    So that is a computer model based estimate. Models are not evidence, and neither are the papers referenced above. Raw observations, properly recorded, are evidence.

    As any thinking being should know, government grants are not handed out to those showing actual raw data proving that the ocean is cooling: click1, click2 [the peak is the el nino].

    Grants are shoveled into the pockets of alarmists. That’s why there is such a discrepancy between the models and reality: click.

    If you want birds, throw out bird seed. If you want alarmism, throw out grant money.

  566. CodeTech says:

    Thanks Smokey…

    Actually, let me point out more of the obvious: if ARGO was showing that the oceans were heating, it would be the ONLY thing we heard about, night and day. When the results were first coming in, they seemed ready to announce that heating was happening, but it isn’t.

    The result? Even many well-read people who follow the debate-that-isn’t-a-debate are unaware of ARGO.

    It seems obvious to me that ARGO was intended to be a flagship (no pun intended) vehicle for alarmists. The site is laced with AGW alarmism language, but somehow manages to not actually give you the data. Instead you have to go searching. Because the data doesn’t support the hypothesis that the entire project was supposed to be supporting. Not even close. Not even the right sign.

    So anyway, where’s all the heat? Is it in the “pipeline”?

  567. ThinkingBeing says:

    ThinkingBeing (11:43:16),

    “So that is a computer model based estimate. Models are not evidence, and neither are the papers referenced above. Raw observations, properly recorded, are evidence.”

    Um, no, it’s not from models, it’s from actual data. Why would you think it’s from models? Because he used the word “estimated”? Yesterday’s temperature you see on a weather map is estimated by taking an average from nearby cities. That doesn’t mean it came from a computer model.

    CodeTech (12:24:42) :

    “Actually, let me point out more of the obvious: if ARGO was showing that the oceans were heating, it would be the ONLY thing we heard about, night and day. When the results were first coming in, they seemed ready to announce that heating was happening, but it isn’t.”

    Um, no, there’s no reason to go trumpeting it. It’s just data. This whole thing is only perceived as a contest by the den… oops, sorry, I don’t want Mr. 1984 to edit me… This whole thing is only perceived as a contest by the people that believe in grand conspiracies and hoaxes and economic but not physical disasters.

    For everyone else, there’s no need to go on and on about the ARGO data because it just provides confirmation for what other readings have been showing for a while. It’s no big deal.

    Okay, I am totally done here. People here are plain and simply willfully ignorant. They call themselves skeptics, which implies having an open mind, but on the contrary, their minds are completely shut down. It’s a waste of energy.

    REPLY: Thanks Rob for playing, too bad that you are taking your ball and heading home. -A

  568. Willis Eschenbach says:

    ThinkingBeing, I thought my last post was crystal clear. However, it appears you are either unimaginably stupid, or you are pretending to be unimaginably stupid. Let me make this completely evident to you, so there can be no mistake.

    GO AWAY!

    DO NOT POST ON THIS THREAD AGAIN!

    YOU ARE NOT WELCOME HERE!

    TAKE YOUR ARROGANT ATTITUDE ELSEWHERE!

    Is that clear now?

    Everyone else, if he is unable to decipher the message above, DO NOT FEED THE TROLL. Let him blather on, but do not answer him. Let him wallow in his own idiocy, but please don’t reply to him.

    w.

  569. Keith Minto says:

    On Constructal Law
    “For a flow system to persist in time (to survive) it must evolve in such a way that it provides easier and easier access to the currents that flow through it”. -Adrian Bejan

    i.e. flow follows the path of least resistance……still trying to get my head around what exactly is ‘new’ about CL.

  570. Ed Darrell says:

    Here’s a great example of what we are up against, in the form of a vacuous blog rebuttal to the article above. “His argument? Well, rivers don’t run straight to the sea; they meander. Ergo, water doesn’t run downhill in a complex system. Consequently, no global warming. In another place he argues that humans are not metal, therefore, no global warming.”:

    http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2009/12/28/the-unbearable-lightness-of-climate-denialist-thought/

    And yet, here in this thread Eschenbach argues that we cannot say water flows downhill, because rivers meander — never mind that the water flows downhill even with the meander. Worse is his assumption that because there may be a complex system of couplings between sunlight striking CO2 in the air and warming ultimately, that we cannot say that the well-known physics which works 100% of the time, every time (even better than Will Farrell’s cologne), works 100% of the time. Sure there are complications along the way — but the heat has to go somewhere. Pretending it doesn’t isn’t science, but foolishness. If Eschenbach can make a case that the heat reradiates into space, he might have a case. But in order to do that, he’s got to admit that the heat gets in in the first place. Once it’s in our Earth-bound system, it must go somewhere.

    Eschenbach says blithely:

    1. Any flow system far from equilibrium is not free to take up any form as the climate models assume. Instead, it has a preferential state which it works actively to achieve.

    2. This preferential state, however, is never achieved. Instead, the system constantly overshoots and undershoots that state, and does not settle down to one final form. The system never stops modifying its internal aspects to move towards the preferential state.

    So what? He’s still not accounted for the energy input, and once it’s there, it causes warming. That systems rarely move in a linear way isn’t news, and it doesn’t negate the physics.

    Water flows downhill. Heat put into a system must go somewhere, it doesn’t vanish like a ghost.

    Here’s another thread on the same site where Anthony commented to set the record straight:

    http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2009/12/27/anthony-watts-dont-bother-me-with-the-sarcastic-facts/-with-the-sarcastic-facts/#comment-94928

    REPLY: Yes it is a hilarious read over there, but IMHO he’s best left ignored. All of this bluster and posturing is just an attempt to draw attention to his blog. The strategy is that if he says ridiculous and inflammatory things, he’ll get some attention. My advice is to simply ignore him, he’s unreachable. – Anthony

    If Al Gore said “my advice is to ignore Anthony Watts, he’s unreachable,” what would Anthony’s response be?

    Watts hopes you’ll ignore my little education blog, and you probably will. Still, when people make really stupid statements like Eschenbach has here, I feel compelled to speak out. Anthony often feels compelled to censor my remarks, suggesting to me that I’m right more often than not. Ben Franklin said that truth wins in a fair fight, which is why we have evidence rules in federal courts, and why Anthony cannot stand my posts here, and why he hopes you won’t read my posts at my blog.

    It’s a free nation. The Constitution protects your right to remain ignorant. Wave the flag. You don’t have a right to insist I swallow whopping tales, however, and I’ll do what I can to make sure the fight is fair. Franklin was right.

    REPLY: Like I said folks, my best suggestion is to ignore this guy. His whole reason for existence is fomenting arguments. Nothing you can say will have any effect. Been there, done that, waste of time. – Anthony

  571. a jones says:

    W.

    Please don’t get so upset abut trolls, they are always around. And best ignored.

    For instance on another thread there is one who avers the wines of the MWP were very poor. How he might know that bemuses me. The same troll also forgets that by then England imported all its wine because the kings of England had vast possessions in France: and indeed claimed and contested the throne of France. How do we know of these imports? we have their edicts and import records at various ports.

    Likewise the same troll avers that the Romans imported their wine into England, they did not. How do we know because we have many import and tariff records of those days from the original Imperial Roman sources. So the Romans established viniculture in England with considerable numbers of vineyards to avoid the import duty.

    These matters are in the written record but trolls never bother with any hard evidence that contradicts their point of view.

    So just ignore them for the arrogant fanatical ignoramuses they are.

    Kindest Regards

  572. kadaka says:

    Mr. Eschenbach, you’re being too kind. Many of those mistakes, too many, you can do ten times or more before you teach yourself to automatically check for them. It actually gets harder near the end of the list, since as you become more aware of the mistakes you can do, you realize how many times you did the end ones without even realizing it.

  573. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Keith Minto (14:37:42), you point out an interesting distinction:

    On Constructal Law

    “For a flow system to persist in time (to survive) it must evolve in such a way that it provides easier and easier access to the currents that flow through it”. -Adrian Bejan

    i.e. flow follows the path of least resistance……still trying to get my head around what exactly is ‘new’ about CL.

    Keith, what Bejan said does not mean that the flow follows the “path of least resistance”. This is because the flows are not all in the channel.

    Consider a river as an example. In addition to the flow in the channel, there is a large and unceasing flow to and from the subterranean water table surrounding the river, as well as surface flows over the same area.

    So as always, things are more complex than they seem. The system is evolving to maximize the flow to/from the water table/surrounding land, while at the same time evolving to maximize the flow from the top of the hill to the ocean. This “double maximization”, where the system is not maximizing one variable (e.g. “least resistance”) but two, is a distinguishing characteristic of the constructal analysis.

    w.

  574. Willis Eschenbach says:

    kadaka (15:16:28) : edit

    Mr. Eschenbach, you’re being too kind. Many of those mistakes, too many, you can do ten times or more before you teach yourself to automatically check for them. It actually gets harder near the end of the list, since as you become more aware of the mistakes you can do, you realize how many times you did the end ones without even realizing it.

    I agree wholeheartedly. You see these white hairs on my head? …

  575. Bart says:

    OK, maybe I’m feeding the troll but, assuming he has packed up and moved along, I did want to point out the chutzpah in his last post:

    “They call themselves skeptics, which implies having an open mind, but on the contrary, their minds are completely shut down.”

    He says this after saying of this link, “Um, no, it’s not from models, it’s from actual data.” But, the site explicitly says it is: “using best-known corrections to systematic errors”. Where did those corrections come from, if not a model? He should call himself “ObtuseBeing”. I don’t know about the rest of you, but the single word “corrections” has become enough to convince me that the data I am about to view was very likely pulled from some dank orifice somewhere.

    Then, he completely ignores the contradictory direct evidence from Smokey (12:07:57) culled from the same site. And, then he takes his ball and goes home (yay!).

    I’ve come across the troll named Ed Darrell elsewhere, too. I am convinced he is not a real person, but a random phrase generator.

  576. Bart says:

    “…data I am about to view were very likely…”

    I rewrote the sentence several times to get in in a form I liked, the subject and verb agreed in the penultimate case, and I missed it in the last scrub. Just don’t want some troll suggesting my seeming lack of command of the English language is evidence of overall intellectual deficiency.

  577. phlogiston says:

    Willis Eschenbach (19:59:09)

    Your earlier reply to MrAce:
    “Because of the slow changes of the Milankovich cycles. These change the insolation in an odd way, that seems to lead to a bi-stable state of glaciation and interglacials…

    This implies a thermostat mechanism of some kind. … It may not be the mechanism I postulate, but if not, what is your alternate explanation?”

    Your own article answers this question. In describing the Constructal law you state that: “Any flow system far from equilibrium is not free to take up any form as the climate models assume. Instead, it has a preferential state which it works actively to achieve.” As I’m sure you are aware, the preferential state you refer to is known as an “attractor” or sometimes “strange attractor” in the study of non-equilibrium pattern formation at the boundary of chaos. Why strange? Because the system is attracted to a certain small region of the phase space of the system without there being any obvious reason why. A system can have more than one strange attractor. Sometimes the metaphor of landscape is used to describe attractors, a landscape of mountains, ridges and valleys, with height representing the inverse of probability or improbability (a.k.a. Richard Dawkins’ “climbing mount improbable”) so that peaks are the least probable states and valleys the most probable states. Major valleys are the attractors according to this analogy. The phase space of a system (multidimensional set of all possible states) can have several attractors. However if these valleys are separated by high mountains or ridges, movement from one valley to another is difficult. But such a transition can be facilitated by a high “mountain pass” or what is geometrically called a saddle.

    Once one gets a feel for these systems it becomes of course obvious that, in the earth’s climate, the glacial and integlacial states are strange attractors. As you point out, cyclically varying perturbations such as Milankovitch cycles, and other possible influences such as solar and oceanic cyclical phenomena, periodically push the system from one valley to the other. This situation pertains while the earth is in a glacial phase, which of course has been only for a fraction of its history. Tectonic movement placing a lot of land surface near one or both poles seems to tip the climate into sometimes a continuous ice age of tens of millions of years (single dominant attractor) or as in the present time a bistable state flipping between glacial and interglacial (two attractors with an accessible route from one to the other).

    Once one is attuned to the nature of such system you can recognise them everywhere in the natural world. It then becomes frustrating that others cant see what is happening. A good book for a general and very accessible introduction to such systems is “Deep Simplicity” by John Gribben, Random House, NY.

    The recognition of non-equilibrium pattern formation at the boundary of chaos has the potential to give new insight to many scientific disciplines where systems are highly complex, notably biology. However scientific research has historically focused on systems that are of an equilibrium nature and “linear”, perhaps simply because the familiar tools of mathematical analysis give more fruitful results in such systems (ironically the exceptional linear, equilibrium systems have acted as chaotic “attractors” for scientists).

    But the response of science to the real world reality of non-linear non-equlilbrium pattern dynamics, with its associated unfamiliar phenomena of attractors, limit cycles etc, should not be to (a) ignore them and look for something else to study, or (b) try pointlessly to study them with linear equilibrium type analytical tools, but to start to develop a new set of analytical tools and approaches based on the actual extent to which such systems can be analysed or at least informatively observed.

  578. RACookPE1978 says:

    A river is always a bit tricky to use as a role-playing model because it is itself so powerful:

    The river-earth boundary both guides the flow (as the banks restrict the river to the previous path) but the flowing water carves and gouges only one side of the bank.

    The water flow scoops away dirt and mud “easily” on the outside of a curve (looking downriver) but deposits it on the slower inside part of the curve downstream a little (but variable) distance. Change the water flow with an upstream snow melt, large storm or flood from a tributary, and the downstream stretches of the river change yet again.

    But this formula is itself too simple: Add a higher hill on side, and the bank won’t erode. Put a rock formation or upthrust fault across the path, and it will either cut through the weaker rock keeping the same notch at the same location as the land rises over millions of years, or flow around it for thousands of years.

    For these reasons, I prefer your “pour water down a flat plate” comparison better. Good job, and thank you.

    …—…

    More generally,

    Wanting to control Western civilization and – more important in the short term – western economic growth and money, and the liberal/environmental/socialist/hate-capitalism movement cannot afford the time to study or understand the “randomness” and subtle causes affecting the climate.

    They “need” – immediately and urgently to impose their “solution” (tax carbon and send the money to the UN) because they have sold themselves on that “faith” … But they have never had the “science” behind them, and cannot afford to let any one else have the time or podium to tell the truth.

    They cannot afford to let others (skeptics and realists of any degree) speak freely, because the imperial “consensus” is their strength. Well, that and a docile, muzzled, subservient, liberal mainstream press “corpse.”

  579. Smokey says:

    Willis,

    Maybe this will work on those two guys: click

  580. Dr A Burns says:

    ThinkingBeing,

    On my 3rd repetition, we can only come to the conclusion that you are avoiding the question because you, like the IPCC and the rest of the world’s alarmists, are unable to answer it:

    “Exactly what is the evidence that man’s CO2 is causing global warming ?

    Please also give a page number reference to the latest IPCC report where this evidence is presented.”

    No evidence means AGW is fools’, scammers’ and politicians nonsense. Which category are you ThinkingBeing ?

  581. J.Peden says:

    Everyone else, if he is unable to decipher the message above, DO NOT FEED THE TROLL. Let him blather on, but do not answer him. Let him wallow in his own idiocy, but please don’t reply to him.

    Yeah, for me it’s almost always “one and out” when it comes to trolls, unless they really just perfectly T one up later. Anything longer than a one-liner isn’t worth it though it’s sometimes hard to restrain and resist.

  582. Rereke Whakaaro says:

    MikeF (09:44:14) :

    “Let’s do simple thought experiment. Assume that you want to make river’s life easier by taking some of it’s resistance out. Let’s cut a bypass through one of the existing loops. This should be less “resistive” to the river then going the long way, agree? Not only would it make river shorter, you would line the new canal with nice slippery concrete so it flows easier. Well, as it turns out, the river will create extra loop elsewhere and maintain its length. It looks like it is not “interested” in least resistance as much as in maintaining its “status quo”.”

    At one time, I owned a rural property that had a meandering stream running through it. To all appearances, the course of the stream was stable, and had been for some time. At one point, the banks had been lowered and rocks placed in the stream to create a ford. The tracks to and from the ford ran on both sides of the stream.

    We replaced the ford with a small bridge that had concrete abutments, but otherwise made no other changes.

    Within weeks of finishing the bridge, part of the bank, upstream of the bridge started to subside, so we planted a Willow to stabilize it. That worked, except that the opposite bank started to subside, not only upstream of the bridge, but also downstream. We planted two more Willows, and then several more, … you get the picture.

    Finally, the course of the stream shifted significantly in a heavy rain storm, and we were left with a bridge to nowhere, and a whole lot of stranded willows.

    There is a message here: don’t mess with nature unless you are absolutely sure that it’s broke.

  583. Keith Minto says:

    Willis,
    Just a few general thoughts on Constructal Law.
    In trying to understand GW, we all come from different disciplines. I come from a biological background and can see and reason with your argument about climate ‘complexity’.

    Adrian Bejan is a mechanical engineer was using designs from nature (trees, lungs) to formulate CL primarily for efficient cooling system designs for microprocessors.

    Where we each come from in our training does not matter,it is how far we travel but it does color our view of the workings of the climate system. I am a bit of a Lovelockian in that I see the land/sea biota as a regulating factor in climate stability. Bejan sees a flow system as one that aims for low resistance and builds nature into his Law.
    Quote….”The effort to improve the performance of an entire system rests on the ability to minimise all internal flow resistances…….. and maximise system performance”…… this leads to “entropy generation is spread optimally”.

    Possibly this is correct but as this is not the place to discuss this at length, I see as a biologist, problems discussing tree shape,lungs and elephants ears in terms of resistance minimisation efficiency only.

    Bejan , a mech. engineer, with heat sinks in mind, sweeps designs from nature into his Constructal Law and fails to see biological complexity that (to me) encompasses much more than resistance minimisation.

    Then again, I lack knowledge of physical engineering.

    Very thoughtful topic, Willis.

  584. Rereke Whakaaro says:

    Willis Eschenbach (00:40:49) :

    Nui mana

    Maori: Much respect

  585. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Keith Minto (20:06:58)

    Willis,
    Just a few general thoughts on Constructal Law.

    Possibly this is correct but as this is not the place to discuss this at length, I see as a biologist, problems discussing tree shape,lungs and elephants ears in terms of resistance minimisation efficiency only.

    Bejan , a mech. engineer, with heat sinks in mind, sweeps designs from nature into his Constructal Law and fails to see biological complexity that (to me) encompasses much more than resistance minimisation.

    Then again, I lack knowledge of physical engineering.

    Very thoughtful topic, Willis.

    Excellent issues, Keith. The Constructal Law (CL) has had great success at deriving ab initio a variety of formulas for things in nature that were previously only known as practical heuristic formulas. These include such things as the relationship between metabolic rate and body size.

    You are correct that such things as “tree shape,lungs and elephants ears” cannot be analyzed using resistance minimization.

    However, it is not correct to say that CL involves “resistance minimization”. As I mentioned above, constructal calculations generally involve a double maximization (or minimization). It is not simply minimizing resistance, or maximizing entropy, or the like.

    Instead, as I mentioned above, it generally involves a double maximization (minimization) of two separate variables. Mathematically solving for both of these simultaneously yields deep insights into the natural phenomena, including the solution of previously unsolvable problems.

    Regards,

    w.

  586. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Rereke Whakaaro (20:43:40) : edit

    Willis Eschenbach (00:40:49) :

    Nui mana

    Maori: Much respect

    As someone who has spent a good chunk of his life living on small South Pacific islands, I can only say “Nui mana” in return.

    w.

  587. Geoff Sherrington says:

    An excellent essay sets one thinking. Would you allow another example to the two you gave at the start? It’s simple.

    Why does the surface atmospheric pressure, being the weight of air above a point, vary? Why has it not settled to give a global equilibrium at each point?

    (If it was not for geometry, there would be no point in Life).

  588. gtrip says:

    Willis Eschenbach (03:16:54) :

    A meandering stream would yes, not have a simple path stream. It is meandering because it doesn’t have the force to cut through an obstical in its path. It is making a path of least resistances. It is just wandering, looking for your equilibrium. But weather and climate does not work that way (except maybe occasionally at the equator).

    I understand the concept, and it may work in a lab setting. But I can’t see how it can be used to show climate and weather changes regarding our earth. The fact is, we can not do anything to forecast the climate right now because we are doing it with a preset thought.

    Anyway, kudos to you for looking for an answer.

  589. gtrip says:

    Willis Eschenbach (03:16:54) :

    Oh, and one more thing regarding the meandering river…..plate tectonics.

  590. CodeTech says:

    Well, I am sorry for troll-feeding, but some outrageous statements need at least a temporary engagement in order to set the record straight for others reading. And personally, I love ARGO. Never before did the alarmists shoot their own theory down so effectively… and no whitewash is more obvious once you point it out to someone.

    Seems to me, as others have pointed out, we ought to be RELIEVED there is no cAGW… instead “we” hide the evidence.

  591. Robin says:

    Willis, now the troll has gone, could you please address my comment of yesterday (08:13:51) in which I reflect on your central thesis that:

    “Because climate is a flow system far from equilibrium… there is no ‘physics-based’ reason to assume that increasing CO2 will make any difference to the global temperature, and … the ‘simple physics’ relationship between CO2 and global temperature is something that we cannot simply assume to be true.”

    Yes right, but it is actually the physics that tells us this as much as complexity theory. In far-from-equilibrium states it is often something simple and physical that finally triggers a bifurcation. e.g. increased flow rate will cause the river to burst its banks, or extra snow on a slope will trigger an avalanche. No matter how complex the system, surely it can be something simple and physical that causes catastrophic change into a new attractor. Yes, there is massive underlying complexity that needs to be understood, but surely the trigger, when it comes, is sometimes down to ‘simple physics’. Of course most of the time the parameters will be within normal tolerances and the river will happily meander, the snow slope will allow happy skiing, and the climate will oscillate in its natural cycles. It is on, or near, the edge of chaos that things get difficult – the river busts its banks, the slope avalanches, the climate lurches into an ice age or warming phase.

    I don’t at all believe that CO2 is a trigger, but there is at least no theoretical reason why it shouldn’t be, at the edge of chaos. I am probably not using the terms correctly, but our arguments must be based on sound theoretical foundations.

  592. Steve Milesworthy says:

    Willis,

    [quote]The earth has seen some astounding changes in forcings. Meteor strikes, millennium long volcanic eruptions, changes in ocean chemistry, huge forest fires, and a 25% increase in solar energy have not changed the temperature by more than a few percent. How do you explain this without some kind of thermostatic mechanism? And since the Constructal Law says that every flow system has such a mechanism, that every flow system actively tends towards a preferred state, why should we assume that the climate is somehow unique and different?[/quote]

    Yet the climate *has* changed, and has remained changed at higher or lower temperatures than now for periods of up to hundreds of millions of years in the past. All that is being argued for now is a meagre 1.5-4.5C in 100 years or so which is well within what has repeatedly happened in the past.

    Yes there is some sort of thermostat. For example, evidence would suggest that high temperatures reduce levels of CO2 in the atmosphere by more rapid rock weathering (CO2 forms carbonic acid in rain which reacts with rocks forming insoluble carbonates which are eventually deposited at the bottom of oceans). Low temperatures allow CO2 to build up through slower rock weathering – including because the rocks are encased in ice and it is too cold for rain that would wash the CO2 out into the rocks. This process won’t work fast enough to prevent AGW.

    I won’t be surprised if constructal law tells us interesting things about the earth’s thermodynamics. I don’t think it will tell us that the earth cannot be warmer or cooler than now any more than I expect it to tell us that mammals larger than an elephant or smaller than a shrew cannot exist due to constraints on their design.

  593. Mark Duigon says:

    I am a hydrologist, and find your examples oversimplified to the point of being useless, especially the meandering of rivers–if the water flowed on plywood (or in concrete channels) and did not carry sediment, they would not form meanders and the forms typical of an alluvial valley. The water, by the way, continues to flow downgradient. “Downhill” is a loose term that has little meaning (especially if ground water is under discussion).

    Actually, “simple physics” is adequate. The difficulty is in recognizing how many “simple physics” terms need to be included, and gathering adequate data on each of the terms. A model can adequately explain a complex system to the degree necessary to understand it and, if appropriate, to recommend action to take. Furthermore, a model can be refined as additional data are obtained–an excellent example is seen in the use of climate models, which have gone well beyond inputting concentrations of carbon dioxide and outputting global temperature. Other terms are input, and the models have been refined as more data and greater understanding have become available.

  594. Steve Keohane says:

    Mark Duigon (07:04:56) : Your perspective is valid, however, the climate models do not work. The modelers insist on incorporating terms for things like forcing for CO2 that are too high, and have no observational/empirical basis. You can refine all day, but if your basic assumptions are wrong, the model will never work.

  595. HankHenry says:

    Mark Dugion- When you say “actually ‘simple physics’ is adequate” I assume you also acknowledge that there is such a thing as the three body (or n-body) problem which makes extreme computational demands on any realistic projection of climate into the future. My understanding is that; yes, “a model can adequately explain a complex system to the degree necessary” – provided you have enough computational power. To me the question becomes how much power is that? Hadley already has at it’s disposal one of the biggest and fastest supercomputers available. I suspect they acknowledge they would like and need even more power.

    My understanding of climate models is that they work great matching existing data as long as the modelers are given enough parameter space. Parameters which may not have any basis in reality.

    “Give me four parameters, and I can fit an elephant. Give me five, and I can wiggle its trunk” – John von Neumann

  596. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Robin (02:54:16)

    Willis, now the troll has gone, could you please address my comment of yesterday (08:13:51) in which I reflect on your central thesis that:

    “Because climate is a flow system far from equilibrium… there is no ‘physics-based’ reason to assume that increasing CO2 will make any difference to the global temperature, and … the ‘simple physics’ relationship between CO2 and global temperature is something that we cannot simply assume to be true.”

    Without the troll the air is cleaner, the sky is bluer, and it’s new years eve. Let’s get to it.

    Yes right, but it is actually the physics that tells us this as much as complexity theory. In far-from-equilibrium states it is often something simple and physical that finally triggers a bifurcation. e.g. increased flow rate will cause the river to burst its banks, or extra snow on a slope will trigger an avalanche. No matter how complex the system, surely it can be something simple and physical that causes catastrophic change into a new attractor. Yes, there is massive underlying complexity that needs to be understood, but surely the trigger, when it comes, is sometimes down to ‘simple physics’. Of course most of the time the parameters will be within normal tolerances and the river will happily meander, the snow slope will allow happy skiing, and the climate will oscillate in its natural cycles. It is on, or near, the edge of chaos that things get difficult – the river busts its banks, the slope avalanches, the climate lurches into an ice age or warming phase.

    You are talking about a system in a state of what is sometimes called “self-organized criticality”. A well-studied example is a pile of sand to which we add a grain of sand at a time. At some point, we add “the straw that broke the camel’s back”, and a landslide (sandslide?) occurs.

    While it is clearly “simple physics” that triggers the actual slide, predicting in advance which grain of sand will be the one to cause the next slide is far from simple physics.

    I don’t at all believe that CO2 is a trigger, but there is at least no theoretical reason why it shouldn’t be, at the edge of chaos. I am probably not using the terms correctly, but our arguments must be based on sound theoretical foundations.

    The whole argument about “tipping points” is common. And while it is true that something tips the earth into and out of ice ages and into and out of Dansgaard-Oeschger events, we have a very hard time determining what that is even in retrospect. And at present we have no hope of doing it prospectively. Why? Because it is as far from “simple physics” as you can get. The difficulty is that every grain of sand is just about identical … so which one will cause the tipping point?

    w.

  597. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Steve Milesworthy (04:41:00)

    Willis,

    The earth has seen some astounding changes in forcings. Meteor strikes, millennium long volcanic eruptions, changes in ocean chemistry, huge forest fires, and a 25% increase in solar energy have not changed the temperature by more than a few percent. How do you explain this without some kind of thermostatic mechanism? And since the Constructal Law says that every flow system has such a mechanism, that every flow system actively tends towards a preferred state, why should we assume that the climate is somehow unique and different?

    Yet the climate *has* changed, and has remained changed at higher or lower temperatures than now for periods of up to hundreds of millions of years in the past. All that is being argued for now is a meagre 1.5-4.5C in 100 years or so which is well within what has repeatedly happened in the past.

    Can the climate shift 1.5 – 4.5C? Certainly, although it seems that it has not reached the high end of that in the last ten thousand years.

    We are so used to the stability of the climate that this doesn’t strike us as odd. We stand around and dispute about the fact that a hugely complex system has seen a temperature change of 0.6C in a century, as if the size of that were what is significan.

    But to me, it is nothing short of amazing that the climate has kept the planet within a range of plus or minus half a freaking degree in a century. You think you could design a system to do that? and Me, if I were trying to design such a system as the planetary climate, I wouldn’t try to keep it in balance using something as sensitive and unpredictable as clouds.

    Yes there is some sort of thermostat. For example, evidence would suggest that high temperatures reduce levels of CO2 in the atmosphere by more rapid rock weathering (CO2 forms carbonic acid in rain which reacts with rocks forming insoluble carbonates which are eventually deposited at the bottom of oceans). Low temperatures allow CO2 to build up through slower rock weathering – including because the rocks are encased in ice and it is too cold for rain that would wash the CO2 out into the rocks. This process won’t work fast enough to prevent AGW.

    You are right that that system works too slowly to keep the temperature stable in the short term. Again I recommend that people look at my article at this link. It details a system which works, not on the millennial timescale, but on the daily timescale.

    I won’t be surprised if constructal law tells us interesting things about the earth’s thermodynamics. I don’t think it will tell us that the earth cannot be warmer or cooler than now any more than I expect it to tell us that mammals larger than an elephant or smaller than a shrew cannot exist due to constraints on their design.

    You miss my point. What I’m trying to get across is that complex systems are not like balls on a billiard table, which move a distance X in direction Y if force Z is applied. That is the foolish assumption upon which the mountain of GCMs are built, that if CO2 goes up by Z, the temperature will move a distance X in direction Y. Complex systems don’t work that way.

    Instead, complex systems spontaneously evolve to maximize or minimize some particular aspects of the system. Because of this they do not move in a predictable direction in response to a given forcing. If you cut through an oxbow, it does not shorten the river.

    I, like you, don’t expect the constructal law to tell us that the temperature of the earth cannot change. However, it certainly tells us that the climate system is not free willy-nilly to take up any temperature at all, because it is constantly adapting to maximize some aspects of the system. This means that there is no magical knob, CO2 or otherwise, that we can twist to reset the temperature.

    And it tells us that there is almost certainly a temperature governing system at work, one good enough to regulate the planetary temperature to within half a degree per century. At the link above I have posted my ideas on how that governing system works. I’m more than happy to have folks either poke holes in my theory or propose their own. But the idea that there is no temperature governing system at all flies in the face of experience, history, and the constructal law.

  598. Adrian Bejan says:

    Thank you all for looking into the Constructal Law and discussing it.

    The latest design-in-nature discovery from the constructal law is the prediction of the “physics phenomenon” of golden-ratio appearances, and the union of it with animal design (locomotion, cognition, getting smarter, pleasure)….

    … all for moving mass currents more easily on earth, just like the design of global climate and circulation.

    See the top box at http://www.constructal.org, and this week’s article in Physics Today and The Guardian, UK :

    http://blogs.physicstoday.org/newspicks/2009/12/why-the-golden-ratio-pleases-t.html

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2009/dec/28/golden-ratio-us-academic/print

  599. Bart says:

    Adrian Bejan (12:19:44) :

    The latest design-in-nature discovery from the constructal law is the prediction of the “physics phenomenon” of golden-ratio appearances…”

    Fascinating. And here, we all thought Dan Brown was making it all up.

    Interesting, now that I think of it, that regular TV is too narrow at 4:3, and widescreen at 16:9 is closer to the GR and seems to be more pleasing to the eye.

  600. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Mark Duigon (07:04:56), thanks for raising interesting objections.

    I am a hydrologist, and find your examples oversimplified to the point of being useless, especially the meandering of rivers–if the water flowed on plywood (or in concrete channels) and did not carry sediment, they would not form meanders and the forms typical of an alluvial valley. The water, by the way, continues to flow downgradient. “Downhill” is a loose term that has little meaning (especially if ground water is under discussion).

    Say what? My example is useless because water in a concrete ditch doesn’t meander?

    Let me get this straight. Your claim is that my example is useless because if conditions were 100% different from what I gave as my example, the results would be different??

    I’m sorry, but that makes no sense.

    But in any case, even pure water flowing down a sheet of glass does not flow straight downhill, it forms meanders … surely as a hydrologist you must be aware of this phenomenon.

    My point is that an active system like a river does not change at random. As the Constructal Law specifies, it is constantly adapting to maximize some aspect of the system. Because of this, “simple physics”, which does not allow for the active adaptation and directed change of the system, is inadequate to predict what will happen in response to a change. See Rereke Whakaaro (19:51:42) above for an example.

    Actually, “simple physics” is adequate. The difficulty is in recognizing how many “simple physics” terms need to be included, and gathering adequate data on each of the terms.

    Well, it seems that we are using a different meaning of “simple physics”. Yes, we can say that self-organized criticality can be described as “simple physics”, and that chaotic systems orbiting around a strange attractor can be described as “simple physics”, and that the systems of the human body can be described as “simple physics” plus “simple chemistry”, and that the Constructal Law is just “simple physics” … but that’s a most curious definition of “simple”.

    My point is that unlike a simple system like billiard balls on a table, complex systems do not respond linearly to forces that impinge on them. Unlike a block of steel, my body does not respond linearly to heating my feet. Unlike a piece of rope, when I cut through a bend in a river, the river readjusts so that it maintains about the same length. I am using that difference as the distinction between “simple physics” and “the physics of complex flow systems”.

    A model can adequately explain a complex system to the degree necessary to understand it and, if appropriate, to recommend action to take. Furthermore, a model can be refined as additional data are obtained–an excellent example is seen in the use of climate models, which have gone well beyond inputting concentrations of carbon dioxide and outputting global temperature. Other terms are input, and the models have been refined as more data and greater understanding have become available.

    The basic rule of models is that all models are wrong, but some models are useful. Like scientists in a host of disciplines, you as a hydrologist employ useful models. (As an aside, many hydrological computer models do not use “simple physics”, but instead use simple heuristics because the simple physics is either unknown or mathematically intractable … but I digress.)

    Because you use useful models in your work, you (like other scientists) are predisposed to assume that climate models are also useful … which is a bridge too far. Tell me the truth — as a hydrologist, could your models predict the change in the average position of a river system a hundred years from now assuming that the river flow slowly increases by say 50% over that time?

    Because that is what you are asking us to believe about the climate models, that they can tell us the average temperature a hundred years from now assuming that CO2 increases by say 50% over that time. Me, I have written (not used, but written) far too many computer models to give that claim the slightest credence.

    The problem is that the climate, as a complex flow system ruled by the constructal law, is constantly adapting to maximize certain aspects of the system. Now if you can point to a single climate model that does that, you’ll have a point. If not …

    Unfortunately, even including that active adaptation process in the model is only a necessary but not sufficient requirement for an accurate model. The claim is often made that despite the dismal failure of weather models in forecasting weather one month ahead, climate models can forecast climate a century ahead. Given that the known problem with forecasting weather is that it is chaotic and our current models can’t handle chaos for … excrement, I am astounded that people believe that climate forecasts will be successful, but there you are.

    I say this because we have no evidence that climate is any less chaotic than weather, and according to no less an authority than Mandelbrot himself, we have evidence that it is just as chaotic as the weather … which bodes extremely ill for any long-range climate forecasting.

    The programmers of the present generation of models make the most bozo linear assumption, which is that increasing CO2 will increase temperature linearly with the log of CO2 … “simple physics”, right? They then program a slew of different models that all embody that “simple physics” assumption. And guess what these models show will happen when CO2 increases? Yep, your guess is right.

    And to add insult to injury, the modelers then claim that the fact that all of the models predict increasing temperature with increasing CO2 is proof that the models are correct, that that agreement between models should increase our confidence in their forecasts … riiiiight.

    So Mark, if you think that current climate models tell us anything more than the assumptions of the programmers writ large, I’ve got bad news for you …

    Thanks for the questions and objections,

    w.

  601. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Adrian Bejan (12:19:44), first, many thanks for your comments on this thread, it is an honor.

    Thank you all for looking into the Constructal Law and discussing it. …

    A question along those lines, if you don’t mind. I have often cited your work on the application of the Constructal Law to global climate (available here).

    Since bifurcations are the essence of chaos, of course my single question above is actually two-fold. First, I had heard through the grapevine that you were doing further work along those lines. Any truth to that, or is it just another ghost of the intartubes?

    Second, is anyone else working along those lines, using the Constructal Law to elucidate many of these climate mysteries?

    All the best to you, your work has been a great inspiration to me which has unlocked many mysteries (and of course, pointed out many new locked mysteries, the unending joy of science).

    w.

  602. u.k.(us) says:

    @ ThinkingBeing (10:02:11) :

    “The bottom line is that deniers want to believe that we will be saved by magic, that somewhere Mother Nature has a secret negative feedback waiting to save us from ourselves. “Alarmists” don’t want to trust to magic.”
    =====================================
    it’s not about beliefs, magic or secrets. it’s about science.
    you might even call it critical “thinking”. guess you’ve stopped.

  603. phlogiston says:

    The central importance of non-equilbrium pattern formation / dynamic chaos (call it what you will) to climate has been an “emergent” theme at WUWT, and Dr Eschenbach’s excellent and concise article advances this further.

    It is indeed to be hoped that Dr Bejan would join others such as Tsonis to develop new analytic and descriptive tools for climate based fundamentally on non-linear theory. They are much needed.

    The chaotic non-linear / non-equilibrium pattern formation aspect of climate is sometimes presented as if it was a side-salad or peripheral issue to climate. But it is the main course. It needs to become the dominant paradigm for real progress in understanding to be made. For the damage done by the AGW movement to begin to be undone.

    The following is an example I have come across in my own research, of how a chaotic nonlinear paradigm radically changes the role and significance of an important system parameter: feedback, negative or positive. (It is repeated here from an earlier post.) Feedbacks are at the centre of the debates about climate dynamics and so-called “forcings”. A chaotic nonlinear (CN) paradigm results in predicted outcomes (yes some of us still believe science should make testable predictions) that are diametrically, 180 degrees, opposed to the predictions of a linear reductionistic-mechanistic (LRM) paradigm.

    How do the CN and LMR paradigms differ in relation to their interpretation of feedbacks?

    Negative feedbacks, in the LRM paradigm, basically oppose any force causing a change with a force reversing the change, so that status quo returns. Anti AGW scientists and commentators like negative feedbacks since they can be expected to oppose AGW.

    Positive feedbacks – again according to LRM – on the other hand result in runaway self-reinforcing change, and are thus popular with the AGW proponents. In fact the basis of the AGW position is arguing how a small CO2 forcing can initiate positive feedbacks with the help of water vapour and other factors.

    In a nutshell: negative feedbacks return the system to status quo, while positive feedback drives sustained unidirectional change. This is the LRM paradigm.

    The CN paradigm is quite different. Here, negative feedback is given another name: friction. Friction is when a forced change sets in motion processes which act to oppose the change. (“Dissipation” and “damping” are also terms with similar meaning.) And in non-linear, non-equilibrium dynamic systems, friction has one major outcome: it stimulates the emergence of pattern formation. A system becomes fruitful with rich emergent patterns when it is far from equilibrium and in the bifurcating non-linear regime and friction is present in the system.

    The literature is replete with experimental studies substantiating this thoroughly well-established theory. (“friction + pattern + formation + non-linear” in Google scholar just yielded 15500 hits). Examples of such systems include:

    The classic Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction,
    Rayleigh-Benaud convection,
    Catalysed CO oxidation on a Pt surface,
    Coastline formation by sea currents on sand,
    The formation of pattern in mammalian trabecular bone,

    And many more. So while negative feedback causes a simple return to status quo (whatever that is) in the LMR paradigm, negative feedback or friction causes the emergence of pattern and structure in the CN paradigm.

    What about positive feedback?

    Positive feedback in the CN paradigm does one thing: it kills emergent pattern. Feedbacks have to be suppressed in order for rich and complex patterns to emerge. The Pt-catalysed oxidation of CO, studied by Matthias Bertram and others shows this clearly [2]. (This is the reaction that happens in your car’s catalytic converter.) The system generates rich and complex geometric spatial patterns, but these collapse into a set of uniform sinusoidal oscillations when the gas pressures are adjusted to increase feedback in the system. Another, biomedical study shows that in the biochemical regulation of bone turnover, inactivation of the gene for OPG which acts against osteoblast-osteoclast coupling (feedback by yet another name) results in a debilitating genetic bone disorder where complex trabecular bone pattern collapses into an abnormal and pathological series of parallel plates [3].

    So while in the LRM paradigm positive feedback is what produces unidirectional sustained change, in the CN paradigm, it reduces complex and pattern-rich structure into simple periodic structure. So it actually opposes sustained change.

    Oscillations by the way are the norm for a planetary ocean and atmosphere system such as ours which is under continuous periodic forcing from the Milankovitch, solar and other cycles, and which in response – as a dynamically chaotic / non-linear system – generates intrinsic oscillations of its own. The type of feedbacks in the system determine the nature of the oscillations. Negative feedbacks (friction or damping) result in complex pattern with for instance log-log power law scales of magnitude. Positive feedback, by contrast, reduces oscillation to a simple wave.

    If you want to see a nice video of emergent pattern in a non-equilibrium system under periodic forcing, please go to:

    http://chaos.ph.utexas.edu/research/vibrated_cornstarch.htm

    and click on the link for “see a movie”.

    Note that by emergent structure in the climate context one can include things like ice ages, El Nino and La Nina ocean current events, Pacific and Atlantic and other oceanic oscillations, the MWP, the LIA, the CWP, and others.

    Richard Lindzen has examined clearly the issue of positive and negative feedbacks in the earth’s radiative balance [1] involving among other things the ERBE satellite measured fluxes at various wavelengths. Lindzen points out that negative feedbacks are generally underestimated, since systems will try to return to equilibrium via negative feedbacks. Basic thermodynamics dictates that applied forces induce opposing forces.

    Thus complexity and rich emergent pattern can be expected as the order of the day.

    [1] Richard S. Lindzen and Yong-Sang Choi, Geophysical Research Letters, July 14, 2009.

    [2] Bertram M et al. Pattern formation on the edge of chaos: Experiments with CO oxidation on a Pt(110) surface under global delayed feedback. Phys. Rev. E 67(3) 036208 (2003)

    [3] Salmon PL. Loss of Chaotic Trabecular Structure in OPG-Deficient Juvenile Pagets Disease Patients Indicates a Chaogenic Role for OPG in Nonlinear Pattern Formation of Trabecular Bone. J. Bone Miner. Res., 2004; 19 (5): 695-702.

  604. Ed Darrell says:

    The programmers of the present generation of models make the most bozo linear assumption, which is that increasing CO2 will increase temperature linearly with the log of CO2 … “simple physics”, right? They then program a slew of different models that all embody that “simple physics” assumption. And guess what these models show will happen when CO2 increases? Yep, your guess is right.

    None of the crude models we used when I was active in air pollution research 30 years ago made such linear assumptions. Since then, every model I’ve looked at has gotten much more complex, especially as computing power has grown.

    Which model is it you claim makes a linear assumption, without qualifications? Got a citation on the description of that model?

    Such a crude model would be at least crudely accurate, however. What confounding operations of science would make it less than crudely accurate?

    REPLY:
    Sorry Ed, but your assumption of a linear model being “crudely accurate” is wrong. The CO2 induced LWIR return response in the atmosphere with increasing concentration is logarithmic, and we are already fairly close to saturation of the effect at 388PPM of CO2 concentration as seen below.

    click for larger image

    Also, observation still doesn’t match the modeling, and falls short for the effect. Now go write an angry/silly post about it dissing me. We love the entertainment here, and we are counting on you to deliver. ;-) HNY!
    – Anthony

  605. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Ed Darrell (19:42:03)

    The programmers of the present generation of models make the most bozo linear assumption, which is that increasing CO2 will increase temperature linearly with the log of CO2 … “simple physics”, right? They then program a slew of different models that all embody that “simple physics” assumption. And guess what these models show will happen when CO2 increases? Yep, your guess is right.

    None of the crude models we used when I was active in air pollution research 30 years ago made such linear assumptions. Since then, every model I’ve looked at has gotten much more complex, especially as computing power has grown.

    Which model is it you claim makes a linear assumption, without qualifications? Got a citation on the description of that model?

    All of the models, as far as I know, are built around the ideas that

    ∆F = α log2(C1/C0)

    and

    ∆T = λ ∆F

    where C1 is current CO2 concentration, C0 is starting CO2 concentration, log2 is the logarithm to the base 2, alpha is the proportionality factor between forcing and CO2 concentration, T is temperature, F is forcing, and lambda is the climate sensitivity.

    In English, this says that the change (∆) in forcing is linearly related to the logarithm of the change in CO2 concentration, and the temperature is linearly related to the change in forcing.

    Substituting we get

    ∆T = λ α log2(C1/C0)

    In other words, as I said above, they assume a linear relationship between the log of CO2 concentration and temperature.

    The IPCC says that the values are

    α = 3.7

    and

    λ = 2 to 4.5, central value of 3

    This gives us (using the central value for lambda)

    ∆T = 11.1 log2(C1/C0)

    In other words, the models posit a linear relationship between log CO2 and temperature, as I said above.

    The IPCC FAR, for example, says:

    Radiative forcing can be related through a linear relationship to the global mean equilibrium temperature change at the surface (ΔTs): ΔTs = λRF, where λ is the climate sensitivity parameter (e.g., Ramaswamy et al., 2001).

    (FAR Chapter 2 p. 133)

    and

    The simple formulae for RF of the LLGHG quoted in Ramaswamy et al. (2001) are still valid. These formulae are based on global RF calculations where clouds, stratospheric adjustment and solar absorption are included, and give an RF of +3.7 W m–2 for a doubling in the CO2 mixing ratio.

    (Ibid p. 140)

    All of this is so widely known, I am curious why you would question it.

    You close by saying:

    Such a crude model would be at least crudely accurate, however. What confounding operations of science would make it less than crudely accurate?

    The modelers do not say that their results are “crudely accurate”. Quite the contrary, they say that they are supernaturally accurate, so accurate that we can use them to forecast the climate 100 years from now (although paradoxically, not accurate enough to forecast for a single decade). Go figure …

    What would make them “less than crudely accurate”? Ummm … well, we could start with the fact that they ignore both the Constructal Law and thunderstorms, both of which are central to the climate question …

  606. Bart says:

    u.k.(us) (16:52:32) :

    “it’s not about beliefs, magic or secrets. it’s about science.
    you might even call it critical “thinking”. guess you’ve stopped.

    Actually, “ThinkingBeing” wants to believe that we will be doomed by magic.

  607. anna v says:

    Willis Eschenbach (21:40:44) :

    A good reply.
    I would add that in addition, all the Navier Stokes solutions etc entering the calculations are also taken to a linear approximation over the grid dimensions in the models, and all the unknowns that are taken as average are also in essence the first term of a linear expansion in other unknown solutions of equations. Linear assumptions are all over the place in the models, when it is well known that in coupled differential equations the solutions are highly non linear.

    Happy New Year and carry on the good fight.

  608. phlogiston says:

    Ed Darrell (19:42:03)

    “None of the crude models we used when I was active in air pollution research 30 years ago made such linear assumptions. Since then, every model I’ve looked at has gotten much more complex, especially as computing power has grown.”

    It is important to clarify the word “complex” and distinguish between “complex” in the specific sense that there is an involvement in spontaneous non-equilibrium / nonlinear pattern formation under well characterised system parameters (with bifurcation leading to emergent e.g. fractal pattern etc.), and on the other hand “complex” in a general sense just meaning “there’s lots of things in it”. A classic example of a system that is complex in the second sense is the “Heath-Robinsonian machine” from fiction – see the link below (not a bad analogy for current general circulation models):

    This latter type of complexity does not in itself guarantee efficiency or correctness of modelled results. The first type of complexity is more appropriate for climate modelling. But one cant just rely on or hope for the accidental appearance of such nonlinear chaos pattern dynamics in a model possessing the Heath-Robinsonian type of complexity. You must create the models based on an understanding of such systems – the Constructal Law might not be a bad place to start.

  609. Phil says:

    phlogiston (19:41:14) : posted a link that appears to be broken regarding a video of vibrated cornstarch, as an example of an

    emergent pattern in a non-equilibrium system under periodic forcing

    Here is another link that hopefully works:

  610. Roger Knights says:

    Mark:

    Cute, but poor a poor test of your hypothesis since your body is not a solid.

    Then Hamlet is wrong:

    O, that this too too solid flesh would melt,
    Thaw and resolve itself into a dew!

  611. Roger Knights says:

    PS: If ones body is not solid, but gaseous or liquid, or some combination thereof, it would make no difference to WE’s hypothesis. Whatever state the body is in, it should transmit heat, if only “simple physics” applies.

  612. Kevin Kilty says:

    Noaaprogrammer (21:45:04) :

    Considering the hydrothermal activity between the oceans and the Earth’s interior, one would think that over time, the molton core would eventually cool and solidify….

    Seems OT, but I’ll take a shot at an answer…Over quite a depth range within the Earth heat transfer from the interior is by conduction. This process is so darned slow that most of the Earth’s original heat from its formation is still in place.There is also heat generated by radioactive decay in the crust (perhaps in the core as well), which is substantial enough to supply all heat flow currently leaving the surface. The core will not solidify any time soon in the geological sense of that term.

    How would the increase in Earth’s mass and consequent increase in core pressure and heat over 8 million years compare with the dissipation of the Earth’s interior heat over the same time?…

    The pressure-volume work done by the added mass is nil compared to the heat flow from the interior, which in turn s nil compared to the solar and LW flux at the surface.

    jt (21:54:39) :

    People keep making the point that Climate is Chaotic as if that meant Climate is unpredictable on any scale. However, there are kinds of chaotic systems which operate around “attractors” so that they repeat their configurations in quasi-periodic fashion. I would be interested in comments from mathematically knowledgeable persons about whether such kinds of chaos have been found, or are likely to be found, in the systems which generate climate, and, if so, what kinds of quasi-periodicity have been found or are expected.

    There are only two obvious short periods of forcing for the climate system, diurnal and annual (in the tropics the annual forcing is actually annual plus twice per year), so if everything were to respond linearly those would be the only periods we would observe in the response. However, we observe all sorts of responses that are somewhat aperiodic, unpredictable, and also have periods unlike this forcing; so may be chaotic. For starters there is El Nino, which has a period between 3 and 7 years, and a host of other long period responses like the PDO. These are good candidates for chaotic orbits around attractors. There is also a variation in the index cycle that appears now and then around 30 days period and is another reasonable candidate.

  613. phlogiston says:

    Phil (11:22:10)

    Thanks for this Phil, it is indeed the same video I linked to earlier. (I copied from an earlier posting and neglected to check if the link was still active.)

  614. Ed Darrell says:

    Sorry Ed, but your assumption of a linear model being “crudely accurate” is wrong. The CO2 induced LWIR return response in the atmosphere with increasing concentration is logarithmic, and we are already fairly close to saturation of the effect at 388PPM of CO2 concentration as seen below.

    Thanks for sort of avoiding the answer, Anthony. I have a real job and had hoped to look up the paper so I could read the research that makes the point. I don’t have all day to spend in the library, nor good access to a research library to track this stuff down.

    As you can see, I’m long out of the research, and some of the jargon fails me. But someone had said the “alarmists” make a “bozo linear assumption.” That’s the piece I’d really like to read.

    Fortunately for WUWC, you’re not government funded. At least that protects you from an FOIA request.

    In the absence of anyone offering any citation that the “alarmists” make a linear assumption, I’ll continue to presume they don’t.

    So, Anthony, you’re arguing that a logarithmic model works better — that makes sense — but the models used for forecasting by the “alarmists,” don’t get it right.

    Can you offer a suggestion of where the “alarmists” published their incorrect model? Can you offer a citation on the model you claim to be correct?

  615. Smokey says:

    Ed Darrell:

    “Can you offer a suggestion of where the “alarmists” published their incorrect model? Can you offer a citation on the model you claim to be correct?”

    “Alarmist bozo linear assumption” [black line]: click [graph by Bill Illis]

  616. Dear Willis,
    Please note that the geometry of rivers’ meanders is discussed in A. Bejan, “Shape and Structure, from Engineering to Nature”, Cambridge University Press, 2000.
    See § (a) Meanders, p. 117, Chap. 6.1 Ducts and rivers.
    Roughly, a river can be modeled as finite-size elastic column in end-to-end compression, and it will develop a resistive bending moment, and the buckling wavelength will be proportional to the river width.

    More articles and news on constructal theory here: http://www.constructal.org
    Twitter: http://twitter.com/constructal

  617. Smokey says:

    Constructal.org Webmaster (23:00:42),

    Very interesting site, thanks for posting. Now I get to do some more reading on a subject that I didn’t even know existed a month ago. Thanks to Willis, too.

    WUWT is a fascinating resource!

  618. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Constructal.org Webmaster (23:00:42)

    Dear Willis,
    Please note that the geometry of rivers’ meanders is discussed in A. Bejan, “Shape and Structure, from Engineering to Nature”, Cambridge University Press, 2000.
    See § (a) Meanders, p. 117, Chap. 6.1 Ducts and rivers.
    Roughly, a river can be modeled as finite-size elastic column in end-to-end compression, and it will develop a resistive bending moment, and the buckling wavelength will be proportional to the river width.

    More articles and news on constructal theory here: http://www.constructal.org
    Twitter: http://twitter.com/constructal

    Many thanks for the links, I linked to your web page above. I have been fighting for some time to get people to start using the Constructal Law when they are attempting to understand climate … it’s taking longer than I thought, but there is incremental progress.

Comments are closed.