NSIDC’s Walt Meier responds to Willis

Dr. Walt  Meier

Dr. Walt Meier

I read Willis Eschenbach’s post last week on Trust and Mistrust where he posed several questions and challenged scientists to respond to the same questions. So, below is my take on these questions. There are a couple points I need to make up front. First, I’m speaking for myself only, not as a representative of the National Snow and Ice Data Center or the University of Colorado. Second, I primarily study sea ice; climate science is a big field and I’m hardly a specialist in the technical details of many climate processes. However, I will provide, as best I can, the current thinking of most scientists working in the various aspects of climate science. Except where explicitly called for, I try to provide only scientific evidence and not my beliefs or personal opinions.

Also, I use the term “climate forcing” throughout. I’m sure this is familiar to most readers, but for clarity: a climate forcing is essentially anything that changes the earth’s global radiation budget (the net amount of radiative energy coming into the earth) and thus “forces” the earth’s climate to change.

Preface Question 1: Do you consider yourself an environmentalist?

Yes. However, I’m no tree-hugger. I don’t believe the environment should be preserved at all costs. I love my creature comforts and I don’t think we can or should ask people to significantly “sacrifice” for the environment. My feeling is that the environment has value and this value needs to be considered in economic and political decisions. In other words, the cost of cutting down a tree in a forest isn’t just the labor and equipment but also the intrinsic value of the tree to provide, among other things: (1) shade/scenery/inspiration for someone talking a walk in the woods, (2) a habitat for creatures living in the forest, (3) a sink for CO2, etc. And I don’t doubt at all that Willis is an environmentalist. However, whether one is an environmentalist or not doesn’t make the scientific evidence more or less valid.

Preface Question 2: What single word would you choose to describe your position on climate science?

Skeptic. This may surprise many people. But any good scientist is a skeptic. We always need to challenge accepted wisdom, we need to continually ask “does this make sense?, does it hold up?, is there another explanation?, is there a better explanation?” – not just of the work of other scientists, but also of our own work. However, a good skeptic also recognizes when there is enough evidence to place confidence in a finding. Almost all new theories have initially been looked upon skeptically by scientists of the time before being accepted – gravity, evolution, plate tectonics, relativity, quantum mechanics, etc.

Question 1. Does the earth have a preferred temperature, which is actively maintained by the climate system?

Willis says that he “believes the answer is yes”. In science “belief” doesn’t have much standing beyond initial hypotheses. Scientists need to look for evidence to support or refute any such initial beliefs. So, does the earth have a preferred temperature? Well, there are certainly some self-regulating mechanisms that can keep temperatures reasonably stable at least over a certain range of climate forcings. However, this question doesn’t seem particularly relevant to the issue of climate change and anthropogenic global warming. The relevant question is: can the earth’s temperature change over a range that could significantly impact modern human society? The evidence shows that the answer to this is yes. Over the course of its history the earth has experienced climatic regimes from the “snowball earth” to a climate where ferns grew near the North Pole. Both of those situations occurred tens or hundreds of millions of years ago; but more recently, the earth has experienced several ice age cycles, and just ~12,000 years ago, the Younger Dryas event led to significant cooling at least in parts of the Northern Hemisphere. So while the earth’s climate may prefer to remain at a certain stable state, it is clear that the earth has responded significantly to changes in climate forcings in the past.

Question 2: Regarding human effects on climate, what is the null hypothesis?

I will agree with Willis here – at one level, the null hypothesis is that any climate changes are natural and without human influence. This isn’t controversial in the climate science community; I think every scientist would agree with this. However, this null hypothesis is fairly narrow in scope. I think there is actually a more fundamental null hypothesis, which I’ll call null hypothesis 2 (NH2): are the factors that controlled earth’s climate in the past the same factors that control it today and will continue to do so into the future? In other words are the processes that have affected climate (i.e., the forcings – the sun, volcanic eruptions, greenhouse gases, etc.) in the past affecting climate today and will they continue to do so in the future? A basic premise of any science with an historical aspect (e.g., geology, evolution, etc.) is that the past is the key to the future.

Question 3: What observations tend to support or reject the null hypothesis?

Let me first address NH2. We have evidence that in the past the sun affected climate. And as expected we see the current climate respond to changes in solar energy. In the past we have evidence that volcanoes affected climate. And as expected we see the climate respond to volcanic eruptions (e.g., Mt. Pinatubo). And in the past we’ve seen climate change with greenhouse gases (GHGs). And as expected we are seeing indications that the climate is being affected by changing concentrations of GHGs, primarily CO2. In fact of the major climate drivers, the one changing most substantially over recent years is the greenhouse gas concentration. So what are the indications that climate is changing in response to forcing today as it has in the past? Here are a few:

1. Increasing concentrations of CO2 and other GHGs in the atmosphere

2. Rising temperatures at and near the surface

3. Cooling temperatures in the stratosphere (An expected effect of CO2-warming, but not other forcings)

4. Rising sea levels

5. Loss of Arctic sea ice, particularly multiyear ice

6. Loss of mass from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets

7. Recession of most mountain glaciers around the globe

8. Poleward expansion of plant and animal species

9. Ocean acidification (a result of some of the added CO2 being absorbed by the ocean)

It is possible that latter 8 points are completely unrelated to point 1, but I think one would be hard-pressed to say that the above argues against NH2.

Of course none of the above says anything about human influence, so let’s now move on to Willis’ null hypothesis, call it null hypothesis 1 (NH1). Willis notes that modern temperatures are within historical bounds before any possible human influence and therefore claims there is no “fingerprint” of human effects on climate. This seems to be a reasonable conclusion at first glance. However, because of NH2, one can’t just naively look at temperature ranges. We need to think about the changes in temperatures in light of changes in forcings because NH2 tells us we should expect the climate to respond in a similar way to forcings as it has in the past. So we need to look at what forcings are causing the temperature changes and then determine whether if humans are responsible for any of those forcings. We’re seeing increasing concentrations of CO2 and other GHGs in the atmosphere. We know that humans are causing an increase in atmospheric GHGs through the burning of fossil fuels and other practices (e.g., deforestation) – see Question 6 below for more detail. NH2 tells us that we should expect warming and indeed we do, though there is a lot of short-term variation in climate that can make it difficult to see the long-term trends.

So we’re left with two possibilities:

1. NH2 is no longer valid. The processes that have governed the earth’s climate throughout its history have suddenly starting working in a very different way than in the past.

Or

2. NH1 is no longer valid. Humans are indeed having an effect on climate.

Both of these things may seem difficult to believe. The question I would ask is: which is more unbelievable?

Question 4: Is the globe warming?

Willis calls this a trick question and makes the point that the question is meaningless with a time scale. He is correct of course that time scale is important. For NH2, the timescale is one in which the effects of changing forcings can been seen in the climate signals (i.e., where the “signal” of the forcings stands out against the short-term climate variations). For NH1, the relevant period is when humans began to possibly have a noticeable impact on climate. Basically we’re looking for an overall warming trend over an interval and at time-scales that one would expect to see the influence of anthropogenic GHGs.

Question 5: Are humans responsible for global warming?

Willis and I agree – the evidence indicates that the answer is yes.

Question 6: How are humans affecting the climate?

Willis mentions two things: land use and black carbon. These are indeed two ways humans are affecting climate. He mentions that our understanding of these two forcings is low. This is true. In fact the uncertainties are of the same order of as the possible effects, which make it quite difficult to tell what the ultimate impact on global climate these will have. However, Willis fails to directly mention the one forcing that we actually have good knowledge about and for which the uncertainties are much smaller (relative to the magnitude of the forcing): greenhouse gases (GHGs). This is because GHGs are, along with the sun and volcanoes, a primary component that regulates the earth’s climate on a global scale. It might be worth reviewing a few things:

1. Greenhouse gases warm the planet. This comes out of pretty basic radiative properties of the gases and has been known for well over 100 years.

2. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. This is has been also been known for well over 100 years. There are other greenhouse gases, e.g., methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, but carbon dioxide is the most widespread and longest-lived in the atmosphere so it is more relevant for long-term climate change.

3. The concentration of CO2 is closely linked with temperature – CO2 and temperature rise or fall largely in concert with each other. This has been observed in ice cores from around the world with some records dating back over 800,000 years. Sometimes the CO2 rise lags the temperature rise, as seems to be the case in some of ice ages, but this simply means that CO2 didn’t initiate the rise (it is clear that solar forcing did) and was a feedback. But regardless, without CO2 you don’t get swings between ice ages and interglacial periods. To paraphrase Richard Alley, a colleague at Penn State: “the climate history of the earth makes no sense unless you consider CO2”.

4. The amount of carbon dioxide (and other GHGs) has been increasing. This has been directly observed for over 50 years now. There is essentially no doubt as to the accuracy of these measurements.

5. The increase in CO2 is due to human emissions. There are two ways we know this. First, we know this simply through accounting – we can estimate how much CO2 is being emitted by our cars, coal plants, etc. and see if matches the observed increase in the atmosphere; indeed it does (after accounting for uptake from the oceans and biomass). Second, the carbon emitted by humans has a distinct chemical signature from natural carbon and we see that it is carbon with that human signature that is increasing and not the natural carbon.

6. Given the above points and NH2, one expects the observed temperature rise is largely due to CO2 and that increasing CO2 concentrations will cause temperatures to continue to rise over the long-term. This was first discussed well over 50 years ago.

If you’re interested in more details, I would recommend the CO2 page here: http://www.aip.org/history/climate/co2.htm, which is a supplement to Spencer Weart’s book, “The Discovery of Global Warming”.

Of course, there are other forcings so we don’t expect an exact match between temperatures and GHGs with a completely steady temperature increase. Periods of relatively cooler temperatures, more sea ice, etc. are still part of the natural variations of the climate system that continue to occur. Such periods may last for months or years. The anthropogenic GHG forcing is in addition to the natural forcings, it doesn’t supersede them. And of course, as with any scientific endeavor, there are uncertainties. We can’t give the precise amount warming one gets from a given amount of CO2 (and other GHGs) with 100% certainty; we make the best estimate we can based on the evidence we have. And that tells us that while there are uncertainties on the effect of GHGs, it is very unlikely the effect is negligible and the global effects are much larger than those of land use changes and soot.

Question 7: How much of the post-1980 temperature change is due to humans?

Here Willis says we get into murky waters and that there is little scientific agreement. And indeed this is true when discussing the factors he’s chosen to focus on: land use and soot. This is because, as mentioned above, the magnitudes of these forcings are small and the uncertainties relatively large. But there is broad scientific agreement that human-emitted CO2 has significantly contributed to the temperature change.

Question 8: Does the evidence from the climate models show that humans are responsible for changes in the climate?

Willis answers by claiming that climate models don’t provide evidence and that evidence is observable and measurable data about the real world. To me evidence is any type of information that helps one draw conclusions about a given question. In legal trials, it is not only hard physical evidence that is admitted, but information such as the state of mind of the defendant, motive, memories of eyewitnesses, etc. Such “evidence” may not have the same veracity as hard physical evidence, such as DNA, but nonetheless it can be useful.

Regardless, let me first say that I’m a data person, so I’ve always been a bit skeptical of models myself. We certainly can’t trust them to provide information with complete confidence. It may surprise some people, but most modelers recognize this. However, note that in my response to question 6 above, I never mention models in discussing the “evidence” for the influence of human-emitted CO2 on climate. So avoiding semantic issues, let me say that climate models are useful (though far from perfect) tools to help us understand the evidence for human and other influence on climate. And as imperfect as they may, they are the best tool we have to predict the future.

Question 9: Are the models capable of projecting climate changes for 100 years?

Based on Willis’ answer to Question 1, I’m surprised at his answer here. If the earth has a preferred temperature, which is actively maintained by the climate system, then it should be quite easy to project climate 100 years into the future. In Question 1, Willis proposed the type of well-behaved system that is well-suited for modeling.

However, Willis claims that such a projection is not possible because climate must be more complex than weather. How can a more complex situation be modeled more easily and accurately than a simpler situation? Let me answer that with a couple more questions:

1. You are given the opportunity to bet on a coin flip. Heads you win a million dollars. Tails you die. You are assured that it is a completely fair and unbiased coin. Would you take the bet? I certainly wouldn’t, as much as it’d be nice to have a million dollars.

2. You are given the opportunity to bet on 10000 coin flips. If heads comes up between 4000 and 6000 times, you win a million dollars. If heads comes up less than 4000 or more than 6000 times, you die. Again, you are assured that the coin is completely fair and unbiased. Would you take this bet? I think I would.

But wait a minute? How is this possible? A single coin flip is far simpler than 10000 coin flips. The answer of course is that what is complex and very uncertain on the small scale can actually be predictable within fairly narrow uncertainty bounds at larger scales. To try to predict the outcome of a single coin flip beyond 50% uncertainty, you would need to model: the initial force of the flip, the precise air conditions (density, etc.), along with a host of other things far too complex to do reasonably because, like the weather, there are many factors and their interactions are too complex. However, none of this information is really needed for the 10000 toss case because the influence of these factors tend to cancel each other out over the 10000 tosses and you’re left with a probabilistic question that is relatively easy to model. In truth, many physical systems are nearly impossible to model on small-scales, but become predictable to acceptable levels at larger scales.

Now of course, weather and climate are different than tossing a coin. Whereas coin flips are governed largely by statistical laws, weather and climate are mostly governed by physical laws. And climate models, as I mentioned above, are far from perfect. The relevant question is whether climate can be predicted at a high enough confidence level to be useful. As mentioned in NH2, we find that climate has largely varied predictably in response to past changes in forcing. This is clearly seen in ice core records that indicate a regular response to the change in solar forcing due to changes in the earth’s orbit (i.e., Milankovitch cycles). If climate were not generally predictable, we would expect the earth’s climate to go off into completely different states with each orbital change. But that doesn’t happen – the earth’s climate responds quite regularly to these cycles. Not perfectly of course – it is a complex system – but close enough that the uncertainties are low enough for us to make reasonable predictions.

It is worth mentioning here that while the general response of climate to forcing is steady and predictable, there is evidence for sudden shifts in climate from one regime to another. This doesn’t invalidate NH2, it merely suggests that there may be thresholds in the climate system that can be crossed where the climate transitions quickly into a new equilibrium. When exactly such a transition may occur is still not well known, which adds uncertainty suggest that impacts could come sooner and be more extreme than models suggest. On the other hand, as Willis mentions there may be stabilizing mechanisms that much such transitions less likely.

Finally, Willis says that climate model results are nothing more than the beliefs and prejudices of the programmers made tangible. But if Willis stands by his answer to Question 1 that the climate stays in preferred states, it should be very easy to create a new climate model, without those biases and prejudices, and show that humans aren’t having a significant effect on climate

Question 10: Are current climate theories capable of explaining the observations?

Willis answers no, but he doesn’t answering the question he poses. He instead discusses the climate sensitivity of to CO2 forcing, i.e., 3.7 Watts per square meters leads to a temperature change between 1.5 C and 4.5 C. These numbers are simply a quantitative estimate of NH2, with an associated uncertainty range. Not being able to narrow that range certainly indicates that we still have more to learn. But it’s important to note that as computing power has increased and as our understanding of the climate has increased over the past several decades that range hasn’t shifted much. It hasn’t gone to up to 6.5-9.5 C or down to -4.5 to -0.5 C. So this is further support for NH2. While perhaps we haven’t been able to narrow things down to the exact house in our neighborhood, we’ve gained increasing confidence that the hypothesis that we’re in the right neighborhood is correct.

But getting back to the question Willis posed. Yes, current climate theories are capable of explaining the observations – if one includes GHGs. Increasing GHGs should result in increasing temperatures and that is what we’ve observed. The match isn’t perfect of course, but nor should it expected to be. In addition to anthropogenic GHG forcing, there are other natural forcings still playing a role and there may things we’re not fully accounting for. For example, Arctic sea ice is declining much faster than most models have projected. Remember, where models are wrong does not necessarily provide comfort – things could ultimately be more extreme than models project (particularly if a threshold is crossed).

Question 11: Is the science settled?

This isn’t a particularly well-posed question, for which Willis is not to blame. What “science” are we talking about? If we’re talking about the exact sensitivity of climate to CO2 (and other GHGs), exactly what will be the temperature rise be in the next 100 years, what will happen to precipitation, what will be the regional and local impacts? Then no, the science is not even close to being settled. But if the question is “is NH2 still valid?”, then yes I would say the science is settled. And as a result, we also can say the science is settled with respect to the question: “have human-emitted GHGs had a discernable effect on climate and can we expect that effect to continue in the future?”

Question 12: Is climate science a physical science?

Willis answers “sort of” and that it is a “very strange science” because he defines climate as the “average of weather over a suitably long period of time” and that “statistics is one of the most important parts of climate science”. Our description of climate does indeed rely on statistics because they are useful tools to capture the processes that are too complex to explicitly examine. This is not unlike a lot of physical sciences, from chemistry to biology to quantum physics, which employ statistical approaches to describe processes that can’t be explicitly measured. But statistics are merely a tool. The guts of climate science are the interactions between elements of the climate system (land, ocean, atmosphere, cryosphere) and their response to forcings. This isn’t really all that different from many physical sciences.

Question 13: Is the current peer-review system inadequate, and if so how can it be improved?

There is always room for improvement and Willis makes some good suggestions in this regard. Speaking only from my experience, the process works reasonably well (though not perfectly), quality papers eventually get published and bad papers that slip through the peer-review process and get published can be addressed by future papers.

Question 14: Regarding climate, what action (if any) should we take at this point?

This is of course an economic and political question, not a scientific question, though the best scientific evidence we have can and should inform the answer. So far there isn’t any scientific evidence that refutes NH2 and we conclude that the processes that influenced climate in the past are doing so today and will continue to do so in the future. From this we conclude that humans are having an impact on climate and that this impact will become more significant in the future as we continue to increase GHGs in the atmosphere. Willis answers no and claims that the risks are too low to apply the precautionary principle. The basis for his answer, in practical terms, is his conclusion that NH2 is no longer valid because while GHGs have been a primary climate forcing throughout earth’s history, they are no longer having an impact. This could of course be true, but to me there doesn’t seem to be much evidence to support this idea. But then again, I’m a skeptic.

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546 Responses to NSIDC’s Walt Meier responds to Willis

  1. But regardless, without CO2 you don’t get swings between ice ages and interglacial periods.
    I have a problem with this statement. Imagine that the orbital changes were much larger, so that the solar insulation would change very much, say a factor of ten. It surely would cause water to freeze and thaw and we get swings. If not, crank up the orbital changes, to a factor of 100 or 1000 or … Comets that come in from the cold outer solar system thaw when the come close to the Sun. So at some point you get swings. Or going the other way, you are saying that if the orbital changes get smaller and smaller, CO2 becomes the ‘gatekeeper’. At which point is that? And what determines where the point is?

  2. AGW-Skeptic99 says:

    It is very pleasant to read a reasoned response to a skeptic’s post that does not include ad hominem attacks on the skeptic for daring to question the AGW GHG believer and/or daring to disagree with his beliefs.

    Maybe this will be the start of a trend that could spread to places like RC?

  3. B. Smith says:

    Dr. Meier,

    Thank you for providing such a well-written response to WE’s article. Your arguments are clearly stated and quite easy for a laymen like myself to follow.

    I certainly hope you can find the time to post here again. WUWT boasts several scientists who take the time to post or comment here regularly and I find them all to be informative and illuminating. I much prefer having an informed opinion based upon the best knowledge we have, rather than the hyperbola and outright bull merde that permeates the media.

  4. Ray Boorman says:

    Walt, I see that you list “rising temperatures” as one of the points in your response to question 3.

    Can you show us the evidence which proves beyond doubt that the historical temperature curves used to make this claim are true, & not simply the result of sloppy work?

    Also, I note that your list of GHG’s does not include water vapour. Why not?

  5. 899 says:

    The remarks were:
    “Also, I use the term “climate forcing” throughout. I’m sure this is familiar to most readers, but for clarity: a climate forcing is essentially anything that changes the earth’s global radiation budget (the net amount of radiative energy coming into the earth) and thus “forces” the earth’s climate to change.”

    Climate forcing …

    If, on some unoccupied planet, the local sun shines and heats the planet’s surface, is that ‘solar heating’ considered to be a ‘forcing?’

    And if, at the end of the solar day for said planet, the source of heat is no longer the local sun, but is instead the planet’s surface re-radiating heat, is that subsequent release of energy a ‘forcing?’

    Finally, for there to NOT be any kind of ‘forcing,’ what would be considered the ‘norm?’

    Now then, in light of the above, how are humans to considered even the slightest bit relevant, when —if the local sun extinguishes— they will have a net ZERO effect on the ‘forcing’, save for their last dying breaths?

    Whenever I read that word ‘forcing,’ I get the impression that there are not a few ‘scientists’ whom are implying that humans are the TOTAL cause of said ‘forcing.’

    It seems to me, if you don’t mind me saying, that all of this brouhaha over ‘AGW’ is, well, a brouhaha!

  6. NewEyes says:

    “So what are the indications that climate is changing in response to forcing today as it has in the past? Here are a few:”

    Ok, that’s where I get out of the boat because I do not believe that “step one” in science, OBSERVATION, is accurate.
    I have come to believe that the reporting of observations is false and that the observations themselves are twisted.

    Can we measure temperature?

  7. G.L. Alston says:

    Second, the carbon emitted by humans has a distinct chemical signature from natural carbon and we see that it is carbon with that human signature that is increasing and not the natural carbon.

    Dr. Meier,

    Since we know oceans absorb and emit, how are we sure that what we’re seeing regarding this isn’t CO2 that was initially emitted in the 1890′s, absorbed during a cooler spell, and re-emitted later? Oceans must emit what they absorbed last, right?

    This question has always vexed me.

    Oh, and this ratio of C12/C13 is still what, 3% I think.

    Thanks

  8. Capn Jack. says:

    Thank you for your response.

    At 14 you shoot yourself in the foot, there is no scientific evidence that refutes NH2, that sir is not a proof.

    I have a theory, my dead uncle actually reincarnated as a moon person on the dark side of the moon, he lives in a cave.

    This must be true because you can’t refute my theory.

    That is why Arnhenius is not a definitive source. IMO.

    Dont they teach logic or the method in science anymore. Climate research is either a science or not.

    The onus on proof belongs purely to the hypothesiser, not the skeptic.

  9. Mooloo says:

    2. You are given the opportunity to bet on 10000 coin flips …

    … you cannot predict the outcome with any certainty, despite knowing the initial conditions perfectly. You can be pretty sure that the answer won’t be 5,000 heads, even though you know that is the “most likely” result.

    Given that in weather/climate that we don’t understand the system )and we can’t measure it well either) any predictions are of many orders of magnitude more variable. In a system where a variation of 1% in absolute values in temperature is catastrophic.

    By giving an example where the expected range varies from 4,000 to 6,000 you are giving a much too wide range compared to the errors of modern climate models.

    I sure as heck would not take your $1,000,000 or death bet on modern climate modelling. And I doubt you would either.

  10. Dave Wendt says:

    Thanks Walt, I commend you for having enough courage of conviction to place your thoughts before an audience who obviously “will just be trying to find something wrong ” with them.

  11. Lonnie Schubert says:

    “The relevant question is: can the earth’s temperature change over a range that could significantly impact modern human society? The evidence shows that the answer to this is yes.”

    To your entire post, but to this statement in particular, please state your evidence. Please site some references for your most general assertions. (They sound like beliefs to me.)

    I have found no evidence that a warmer world will ruin civilization as we know it.

    We primates and the grass-eaters came on the scene in the early Eocene (Google it) when the global average temperature was at least a dozen degrees C higher than today. (http://scotese.com/climate.htm) Biodiversity is so much more than it has ever been before, it hardly seems reasonable to suppose another great extinction could occur with something so trivial as a trace atmospheric gas. (Again, Google it, but this depicts it clearly: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Phanerozoic_Biodiversity.png) That rock is out there in space somewhere. It will find earth some day. One of the megavolcanoes will erupt again. These things could account for the next great extinction, but burning coal cannot.

    My evidence is all around me. Life finds its way. Humans are more adaptable than anything before us (except maybe cockroaches). We will find a way.

    Also, I believe the truth is out there. I am not certain I know it, but I believe what I believe because it works pretty well. I will change my mind as soon as I find better facts. Maybe I sound postnormal, but I think I’m closer to Plato and Socrates than to Silvio and Jerome (http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/02/09/climategate-plausibility-and-the-blogosphere-in-the-post-normal-age/). For me, there is only belief. Facts are just our most repeatable beliefs, the ones that are easiest to find agreement regarding.

    In addition to being skeptical toward AGW and the megagrant-funded research, I view it as a dangerous hoax. Far more of our children will die in dark hospitals that have no power for life-saving machines than will ever die of burnt coal.

  12. STEPHEN PARKER says:

    ” This is of course an economic and political question”. And there you have it. trillions about to be spent needlessly.Unelected officials in europe will spend the money based on thier own beliefs and agenda. Sorry to be so cynical, but if you live in the u.k you cant help it.The rich will benifit hugely from the carbon credit scam.

    O.T. But this up coming general election will see the lowest turnout ever. nobody cares any more. sad

  13. Edmund Burke says:

    “Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. This is has been also been known for well over 100 years. There are other greenhouse gases, e.g., methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, but carbon dioxide is the most widespread and longest-lived in the atmosphere so it is more relevant for long-term climate change.”

    Water vapour doesn’t count then?

  14. geo says:

    I’m happy to have a beer or five with Walt any time, and argue the toss with him re AGW. We have a difference of analysis, but Walt is Good People.

  15. magicjava says:

    The environmental points aside, I wanted say that the folks at the NSIDC do a fantastic job of making data and computer code available to the public. Thank you very much for this and I hope other institutions start to look at the NSIDC as a model worth emulating in this area.

    I also have a couple of questions regarding your products.

    1) Are there any plans to continue the new Daily Global Land Surface Parameters beyond the December, 2008 timeframe where it currently ends? This is a very interesting product and they only way that it could be better is if there were more of it.

    2) Are there any plans to reduce the time lag for the display of Arctic Ice in your easy to use data products? I believe the current lag is 2 or 3 years.

    Thanks again for taking the time to speak here and for providing excellent public access to your data and computer code.

  16. debreuil says:

    Thanks for the article, a good read. One point I don’t understand (maybe there are links with more detail?):

    “Sometimes the CO2 rise lags the temperature rise, as seems to be the case in some of ice ages, but this simply means that CO2 didn’t initiate the rise (it is clear that solar forcing did) and was a feedback. But regardless, without CO2 you don’t get swings between ice ages and interglacial periods.”

    If CO2 lags warming, it doesn’t follow that it is essential to ‘warmth stability’. Without more info it seems that is submitting the conclusion as evidence?

    Also, with the prediction of 1.5 C~4.5 C on CO2 doubling, what part of that is due to side affects vs. directly to CO2? I ask because in AGW literature it is often implied that if you do the classic CO2 experiment of 200 years ago, and extrapolate based on scale, you get results in there. On the other side I read that the direct affect is tiny, and those numbers are based on computer models that include a lot of indirect side affects. I think this is a crucial point, and I’m having a hard time getting down to the bare science on that one.

    Thanks again for helping clarify the discussion.

  17. intrepid_wanders says:

    First of all, welcome Dr. Meier. It is a pleasure to read your posting in the evil blogospace. Though many will disagree, it is an honor to see your skeptic “hat on”.

    While I am still absorbing the body of your comment, my initial disagreement is with the NH2.

    null hypothesis 2 (NH2): are the factors that controlled earth’s climate in the past the same factors that control it today and will continue to do so into the future? In other words are the processes that have affected climate (i.e., the forcings – the sun, volcanic eruptions, greenhouse gases, etc.)

    As you have greenhouse gases in the midst of the bulk of other “forcings”. A huge forcing that is often missed, which correlates better to the GHG is ocean temperature. Since your area of expertise is in ice (and I hope ocean heat content), I am severely disappointed that this was not an area of interest. If, GHG mostly follows the atmospheric temperature, I would think that ‘that’ would cancel or “nullify” the GHG from your hypothesis. Related, YES, but by-product. As for the Isotope fingerprints of the CO2, it is easily convoluted with oceanic released CO2.

    Anyhow, thank you for your time. I will look forward to your future post.

  18. Pamela Gray says:

    Greenhouse gases have not been nearly as influential as the oceanic oscillations and the hydrological/topographical/atmospheric weather system interplay have been on regional climate variations over long time periods. These parameters, without regard to human emissions, have strong mechanism ties and correlation to climate swings.

    In my opinion, they bury the much smaller changes in temperature that greenhouse gases have had.

  19. Mike G says:

    All good points. But how much of the presumed forcing is the result of what seem to be clearly biased global temperature anomoly estimates? I say clearly biased because it is clear to me there is a preference for using temperature stations that are influenced by land use and underestimating the effect of that land use. There also seems to be a clear bias towards estimating vast swaths of the earth’s surface temperature where instruments are lacking with biased records. From a coin flip point of view, most of us would become suspicious if the coin always came up heads. Most of the readers here would be, anyway. But, it seems a lot of AGW proponents don’t see anything out of the ordinary when pretty much all recordered temperatures from past warm periods are adjusted down and more recent temperatures are adjusted up. The corrections seem to alway be in the direction of enhancing the presumed warming.

  20. Ron says:

    First, this is an excellent summary of the current position. I think few participants in this blog would contest the assertions that CO2 and some other gases inwcrease temperature, that the increase in these gases in recent decades has largely been a result of human activity and that, as a direct consequence, temperatures are warmer than would otherwise have been the case.

    Where I take issue is with point 6 of question 6. The rise in temperature from 1910 to 1945 was almost identical, in rate and magnitude, to the late 20th century warming. The assertion that the late 20th century warming was caused by humans is largely based on model studies which show little or no temperature increase without anthropogenic forcing. Looking at the models and their simulation of rate of change of temperature (http://www.climatedata.info/Temperature/Temperature/simulations_assets/wtpt-03a-Rate_of_change_of_temperature.gif) shows they did not repsent the early 20th century temperature or the cooling periods before and after it.

    I belive that modelling of the climate is important but that the evidence shows that models are not yet at stage where their projections can be accpted with confidence.

  21. Roger Carr says:

    Walt Meier has penned a seductive piece here which bids fair to capture my belief and endorsement… so why do I at the same time feel ensnared in a trap which needs escaping from?

    “Sophistry” springs to mind as the answer — yet I at the same time feel Walt is being quite genuine here and does believe what he has written, which does not jell with the accepted meaning of “sophistry”.

    Is Walt simply wrong in some of his beliefs, but so enthusiastically convinced those beliefs are correct that he carries his reader through with his personal enthusiasm?

    Some of his facts I believe are fiction — there is far more uncertainty than he admits to.

    I will read the comments as they appear here with attention and an open mind; but at the moment feel that Walt is a really nice and genuine guy with a truncated vision and understanding of the subject, and that therefore his essay has no real value at all.

  22. Tilo Reber says:

    It seems to me that Dr. Meier is basically wasting our time here. A lot of what he says is well known to all of us and is basically irrelevant to the discussion. He repeats multiple times that the level of CO2 is rising – as though it were an issue under debate. He repeats multipiple times that the temperature is rising – as though that were an issue under debate. Of course all of the other forms of evidence that he offers, like shrinking sea ice, mean nothing in themselves – except that the temperature is rising – which is not being argued.

    The irrational conclusion that he draws is that CO2 is a forcing that raised temperatures in the past. And so if we are adding CO2, then we must be forcing temperature today. But there is no evidence that CO2 was a forcing factor in the past. All that we know is that the level of CO2 went up AFTER the temperature went up. That does not make CO2 a temperature forcing agent. It could very well be that temperature is a CO2 forcing agent. The temperature record is full of examples where CO2 was still rising when temperature completely ignored CO2, changed directions, and started down.

    Yes, lab experiments do show CO2 to be a greenhouse gas. But those lab experiments show us nothing about the feedback that results from having more CO2 in the atmosphere. The feedback numbers that the alarmists need to support their dooms day scenarios are supported only by models and those models are based upon assumptions that are simply false. For example, the assumption that the models adequately understand and cover all of the forcing factors for climate. Several papers have come out recently (Solomon’s – Svenmark’s, Lindzen’s, etc.) that show that we are not even close to understanding the drivers of climate, much less adequately modeling them.

    So please, Dr. Meier, don’t waste our time with arguments about more CO2 and higher temperature. Or if you are going to fall back on that kind of simplicity, then explain why there has been no warming for the past 12 years while at the same time CO2 has been steadily rising and while no other factors of natural variation can be found to explain the suppression of the temperature rise that you would expect from that extra CO2.

  23. Richard Henry Lee says:

    I appreciate Walt Meier’s willingness to answer these questions, but he did not adequately address the issue of the magnitude of GHG forcings. In the answer to Question 7, he resorts to an answer akin to “the science is settled”.

    And he does not include water among the GHG’s he lists, yet water, in its various forms, is responsible for perhaps 90 to 95% of the total GHG forcings. Once must understand the role of clouds and water vapor in order to quantify temperature changes. Yet the models are woefully inadequate when it comes to clouds.

    Richard Lindzen, Roy Spencer and others have shown that there are negative feedbacks with increasing water vapor which the models do not include.

    Finally, Mr. Meier ignores the Urban Heat Island effect on temperature measurements as Anthony has demonstrated here frequently.

  24. Max says:

    In order to suggest that the AGW hypothesis should be accorded confidence, Dr. Meier give us a short list of past “theories” that have (so far) proven true: i.e., “gravity, evolution, plate tectonics, relativity, quantum mechanics.” He fails to note that the vast majority of past theories were in fact found to be false.

    Phlogiston (fire as a material), bleeding as treatment for pneumonia, Ptolemy’s model of the universe, and countless other mistaken hypotheses, were once put forward and even widely accepted. Lord Kelvin’s thermodynamic calculations fixing the age of Earth were authoritative, ingenious, mathematically flawless, and off by billions of years. (He didn’t know about radioactive decay.)

    Only when CO2-driven AGW has been, like gravity or plate tectonics, defined by theoretical calculation which conforms to observed experimental data– and not simply posited by endless, continually “adjusted” exercises in computerized speculation– can we grant Dr. Meier his premise and abandon the null hypothesis. Scientific method is what separates the wheat from the phlogiston.

  25. AlexB says:

    Dr Meier,

    Kudos to you for your excellent response. I disagree with you about the importance of CO2 in regards to what has altered the climate in the past as CO2 trails temperature. Also there are plenty of instances where CO2 has been out of whack with temperature. I therefore do not think that there is sufficient evidence in the paleoclimate record to conclude that CO2 has always driven temperature and so must continue to do so in the future. Also you talk a lot about forcing at the expense I believe of internal variability.

    Anywho thank you for an excellent post however. I can see much common ground in there that I feel people from both sides of the fence could focus on.

  26. Peter of Sydney says:

    All this proves is that the science is NOT IN, and that the AGW debate is alive and well. So, AGW alarmists are just that – alarmists; and must be treated as such. Skeptics are just that – skeptics and must be treated as such. Hence, the AGW thesis is far from proven and must be researched for many years to come before coming to a definitive conclusion. So, any move to “save the planet” must be treated as a fraud or a hoax since they are being peddled under the assumption that the AGW case is proven, which of course as shown above is not.

  27. magicjava says:

    [quote Ron (22:43:01) :]
    First, this is an excellent summary of the current position. I think few participants in this blog would contest the assertions that CO2 and some other gases inwcrease temperature, that the increase in these gases in recent decades has largely been a result of human activity and that, as a direct consequence, temperatures are warmer than would otherwise have been the case.
    [/quote]

    I think there are several folks here who would dispute all of that without disputing that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. I know for certain I’m one of those folks.

  28. BernieL says:

    Meier picks up on a concern I had (a weakness?) with Eschenbach case. This is to do with the prediction of climate in comparison to prediction of the weather.

    I am concerned with Eschenbach’s use of the implications of the ‘chaotic’ nature of the atmosphere to make this point.

    If the atmosphere is a dynamical system then one would expect not equilibrium but stable disequilibrium — which is something different from the equilibrium of a ‘thermostat,’ but yet because ‘stable’ it is not necessarily the basis for alarm (alarm that, say, our C02 emissions perturbation to the system is going to tip us out of equilibrium).

    For me, the revelation in Chaos theory of the possibility of stable disequilibrium was one of those great revealations that come with a new way of looking (like non-euclidiean unbounded finite).

    The butterfly effect implies that you cannot approximate the current state of the system so as to approximate its future state. The butterfly effect does have critical implications for ideas that grid averages measures can approximate a real systems – no matter how small the grid. But this does not mean that the system is not stable (around attractor values), nor that it would be impossible to model it as such – as behaving like a dynamical system. Nor does it rule out tipping points – it might be that there are various stable states in the system (eg glacial and interglacial). We could find the approx bounds of these and the resistence to perturbation for stability in these regions of stability. I agree with Willis if he is saying that, from what we know of the past, the system is remarkably ‘stable’ and so this does suggest that tipping points are not nearby.

    Chaos theory solves problems of stability more than it suggests instability. In a way it started with the problem of the stablity of the solar system, which Newton answered with the ‘hand of god,’ but which Poincare tried to answer another way – and so we got chaos theory – which is not a reason for throwing up hands in disppear – and Mandelbrot was never saying this. It is marvellous to think that the stable disequilibrium of the solar system (causing glacial periods) might be continuous with the stable disequilibrium of the weather system. Surely this is the future of climate science.

  29. the_Butcher says:

    Walt is saying that the Science is settled. The humans are warming the planet, but I wonder why is he not changing job?

    What’s the point being a scientist on something already proven and settled…?

  30. Don Shaw says:

    Walt,
    Thanks for your post. It contributes to a better understanding of the subject matter.
    Based on a quick reading, one comment in particular is especially troubling to me since the Science seems weak in regards to the residence time of CO2 in the Atmosphere. I suspect the science is not settled on this subject, but I am not the expert.

    Your comment:
    “Second, the carbon emitted by humans has a distinct chemical signature from natural carbon and we see that it is carbon with that human signature that is increasing and not the natural carbon.”

    This is totally inconsistent with a recent paper cited below indicating that the portion of man induced CO2 has remained constant:
    “To figure out if the airborne fraction is in fact increasing, Wolfgang Knorr of the department of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol looked through and analyzed atmospheric carbon dioxide and emission data from the past 150 years. He found that there has been no increase in the airborne fraction of carbon dioxide since 1850, or even during the last five decades.”
    See

    http://www.examiner.com/x-6503-Ft-Lauderdale-Science-News-Examiner~y2010m1d2-Airborne-fraction-of-C02-has-not-risen-in-past-150-years-new-research-finds

    Your comments on this referenced paper would be appreciated along with reference to scientific studies that support your claim. I have seen computer studies that support your claim however they are nonsense since the programer made assumptions in the model that were not scientifically validated.

    Your comments are greatly appreciated.
    Again thanks for your posting.

  31. Peter Sørensen says:

    I will go through some of the points:

    1. Increasing concentrations of CO2 and other GHGs in the atmosphere
    —This is obviously true and easily measured.

    2. Rising temperatures at and near the surface
    —This is obviously true but it is very uncertain how much because of urban heat island effects and problems with a low number of surface stations.

    3. Cooling temperatures in the stratosphere (An expected effect of CO2-warming, but not other forcings)
    —I actualy had the impression that precisely this point has been giving the modellers problems, observations of the stratosphere has not shown the predicted temperature drop.

    4. Rising sea levels
    —Sea levels have been rising long before humans could have impacted cllimate, I see no conclusive evidence for an acceleration of the sea level rise. Please post a reference documenting this.

    5. Loss of Arctic sea ice, particularly multiyear ice
    —Obvisously true but this trend has been reversed since 2007 and we do not have a very long time period in witch to judge if this is unusual or not.

    6. Loss of mass from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets
    —Loss of mass from Greenland is probably true but los of antarctic ice is obviously not true, The Antarctic sea ice extend has been growing the last 30 years implying lower temperatures thus making it unlikely that Antarctica is loosing ice.

    7. Recession of most mountain glaciers around the globe
    —Obviously true but this has happend before during the roman and medieval warming periods.

    8. Poleward expansion of plant and animal species
    —Obviously true but againg this has probably also happend during the roman and medieval warming period

    9. Ocean acidification (a result of some of the added CO2 being absorbed by the ocea
    —Obviously true but evidence is not conclusive as to if this is a problem.

  32. John Gorter says:

    Interesting. These points are advanced by Dr Meier as ‘indications’ of climate change:

    1. Increasing concentrations of CO2 and other GHGs in the atmosphere

    2. Rising temperatures at and near the surface

    3. Cooling temperatures in the stratosphere (An expected effect of CO2-warming, but not other forcings)

    4. Rising sea levels

    5. Loss of Arctic sea ice, particularly multiyear ice

    6. Loss of mass from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets

    7. Recession of most mountain glaciers around the globe

    8. Poleward expansion of plant and animal species

    9. Ocean acidification (a result of some of the added CO2 being absorbed by the ocean)

    From my reading here and elsewhere, nearly all, or possibly all, of the indications are contentious, i.e. somebody has disputed them.

    Ciao

    John Gorter

  33. Micajah says:

    I see some others have wondered about the same part that caught my eye. In the answer to Question 6: “Sometimes the CO2 rise lags the temperature rise, as seems to be the case in some of ice ages, but this simply means that CO2 didn’t initiate the rise (it is clear that solar forcing did) and was a feedback. But regardless, without CO2 you don’t get swings between ice ages and interglacial periods.”

    If we are trying to understand the influence of increasing concentrations of CO2, and if the climate/temperature is determined by a complex interplay of several/many factors, teasing out the influence of CO2 with useful precision seems hard to do.

    Since you agree that CO2 increases lagged temperature increases in some of the periods involving the end of an ice age, what leads you to believe that CO2 played such a role that “you don’t get swings between ice ages and interglacial periods” without it?

  34. Anu says:

    Lonnie Schubert (22:19:08) :
    “The relevant question is: can the earth’s temperature change over a range that could significantly impact modern human society? The evidence shows that the answer to this is yes.”

    I have found no evidence that a warmer world will ruin civilization as we know it.

    We primates and the grass-eaters came on the scene in the early Eocene

    Speak for yourself, primate.
    We homo sapiens sapiens came on the scene in the Pleistocene, about 200,000 years ago, in Eastern Africa.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_human_evolution
    It was colder then.

    And the point is not that some humans could adapt to wild climate swings by going back to hunting/gathering – the point is, how much of agriculture-based Civilization could not ? Maybe 500 million people would survive the collapse of Civilization, and start again – yay. Maybe these people will value Science more. If they remember it.

    History/pre-history is full of civilizations that were wiped out by regional-scale climate change. We’ve continually traded-up to larger civilizations that could withstand more regional variability, but that are catastrophically vulnerable to planet-scale climate change:

    Ignorance of climate science was no protection.
    Not even for an Egyptian Pharaoh.

  35. Peter Wilson says:

    “For example, Arctic sea ice is declining much faster than most models have projected.”

    An interesting statement, in view of the well documented recent recovery in Arctic ice extent. I wonder which model it was that predicted less than zero ice loss, for the current levels to be “worse than”.

    “But there is broad scientific agreement that human-emitted CO2 has significantly contributed to the temperature change.”

    This whole article is notable for the absence of any attempt to establish a causal connection, or to answer the many valid objections to such a strong connection. When push comes to shove, appeal to a “broad consensus” is all this really amounts to.

  36. DeNihilist says:

    Dr. Meier, thanx. Very well written and much appreciated.

  37. Jeff (of Colorado) says:

    So we’re left with two possibilities:

    Dr. meier wrote
    “So we’re left with two possibilities:

    1. NH2 is no longer valid. The processes that have governed the earth’s climate throughout its history have suddenly starting working in a very different way than in the past.

    Or

    2. NH1 is no longer valid. Humans are indeed having an effect on climate.

    Both of these things may seem difficult to believe. The question I would ask is: which is more unbelievable?”

    Is this not a false dilemma? Option 1 assumes we know enough about ALL these systems and their interactions that we can identify the human influence. If the error in our understanding is greater than what we are measuring, we are not forced to make this choice.

  38. Richard111 says:

    My new found layman’s knowledge of this subject teaches me that the “normal” climate for this planet is “ice ages”, or is the geological record meaningless?

  39. Jeff (of Colorado) says:

    I apologize for the typos, I’m still learning how to use my iPad.

  40. Cassandra King says:

    A very detailed reply but based on a series of flawed assumptions based on woefully short timelines and reference data from start to finish I fear.
    Atmospheric carbon dioxide cannot cause or influence a runaway global warming indeed carbon dioxide is a product of cyclic warming not the cause and more importantly the vast bulk of atmospheric CO2 is natural, just one big volcanic erruption would negate any effort to limit CO2 output however much we cut at whatever cost.
    This very simple reality has always caused the AGW theory the most anguish and it is why the AGW theorists try their best to hide and ignore it.
    The earth is around 4.5 billion yrs old and at times the CO2 levels have been much higher and yet the earth did not enter a runaway death spiral.
    Occams razor has been hidden in the attic it seems.
    Dr Walt calls himself a sceptic, this seems to be a new and interesting fashion among those who have for so long pushed the AGW/AAM/MMCC theory, the actions of the climate science community however are anything but sceptical as we have seen by the manipulation of the historical temperature record.
    The truth is very very simple and there is ample evidence to support this simple truth. Carbon dioxide has become the key to controlling the energy supply matrix, control the emission of human produced CO2 and you effectively control humanity. This control is very tempting to those with a taste for power and the means to gain that power.
    So much time and money and reputations are invested in the AGW theory it is no surprise that scientists just cannot bear to admit that the theory has fatal flaws.
    The earth warms and the earth cools in known cycles this simple fact seems to escape many scientists, as the earth warms carbon dioxide increases along with the planets biomass.
    The planet has been warmer in the past and it has been colder in the past, there has been less CO2 in the atmosphere and more,sea levels have been higher and lower, there has been more ice at the poles and less, we have all the evidence we need to show that the earths climate moves in cycles and we see the product of these cycles in the geologic record.
    How can a sceptical scientist infer anything whatsover from a thirty year satellite record of the polar caps, I cannot fathom how highly intelligent scientists can lose their sceptisism so easily and place their faith in models so flawed that they cannot predict a week ahead let alone a century(see met office).
    The reality is simple, when a theory loses its simplicity it is time to start looking for another theory isnt it?
    Climate science is tying itself in ever more complicated knots in the vain attempt to justify a theory long past its sell by date, the horse is dead so its time to stop flogging it, at some point as with plate tectonics the scientists involved are going to have to come to terms with the failure of the AGW theory and the sooner the better.
    The tragedy is that so much valualble time and resources is being utterly wasted in the vain attempt to justify a socio political narrative and scientists have the moral duty to kill this narrative dead and make no mistake the AGW narrative deserves to be killed and the sooner the better for humanity.
    BTW & FWIW & IMHO the reliance on a one hundred year old experiment carried out in a greenhouse is not the best of defences I think and the so called ocean acidification theory is about as far from reality it is possible to get, that little chesnut borders on voodoo/astrology/homeopathy IMHO.

  41. Annabelle says:

    Walt, I really don’t follow your logic in Question 3. It seems to be a contorted version of the more familiar “We don’t can’t explain the current warming using our present knowledge of the effects of the known forcings, so therefore it must be caused by anthropogenic CO2″.

    You say there are only two logical possibilities: Abandon NH2 (NH2 is an absurdity, not a genuine hypothesis IMO – why would the climate system suddenly stop responding to forcings as it always has?) or abandon NH1 (Whatever the heck is going on, human CO2 emissions are not causing the current warming to any significant degree).

    I can think of a few other logical possibilities:
    There may be other forcings we are not aware of;
    Our understanding of how the known forcings work may be flawed.

    The day someone explains what caused the warming in the Medieval Warm Period, and explains why the same mechanisms could not be responsible for the present warming – that will be the day I start to take AGW seriously.

  42. Al Gored says:

    Interesting. But then there’s this whopper:

    “Question 13: Is the current peer-review system inadequate, and if so how can it be improved?

    There is always room for improvement and Willis makes some good suggestions in this regard. Speaking only from my experience, the process works reasonably well (though not perfectly), quality papers eventually get published and bad papers that slip through the peer-review process and get published can be addressed by future papers

    ————

    Well, you did qualify this by stating “Speaking only from my experience.”

    Are you careful to not look too far, or too hard? The corruption of this process is rampant, and the glaring example of the CRU-IPCC gang’s corruption of it is just one example. Not just in climate sciences. It is ubiquitous in all the ‘save the world’ mission-oriented crisis ‘sciences.’

    As I am certain that you must know, there are journals whose entire selection process is so corrupted than anything that questions their dogma never even gets to the peer review stage.

    And this begins with professors and sometimes whole faculties whose students do not get their degrees unless they regurgitate the chosen message.

    We now have Lysenkoism uber alles in the enviro-research industrial complex.

    That is why it produces so much junk science. If this were not true, how does one explain how so many obviously ridiculous claims and assertions were not questioned by the ‘scientific’ herd? Most stayed silent because of ‘peer pressure’ and its impacts on their careers and other because they only graduated by agreeing with their prof and actually had no clue at all.

    So, as much as I appreciate your efforts to post here, I must marvel at what is either your apparently sheltered personal experience with peer review, your selective tunnel vision, or your profound naivete on this topic.

  43. Bart says:

    With all due respect:

    ’3. The concentration of CO2 is closely linked with temperature – CO2 and temperature rise or fall largely in concert with each other. This has been observed in ice cores from around the world with some records dating back over 800,000 years. Sometimes the CO2 rise lags the temperature rise, as seems to be the case in some of ice ages, but this simply means that CO2 didn’t initiate the rise (it is clear that solar forcing did) and was a feedback.’

    I kept looking for an “Other times…” after that “Sometimes.” Is it not, in fact, true that we know of no “other times” when CO2 led the increase, unless one begs the question and assumes the current rise is a product of the CO2 increase?

    Continuing on the same point: ‘ But regardless, without CO2 you don’t get swings between ice ages and interglacial periods. To paraphrase Richard Alley, a colleague at Penn State: “the climate history of the earth makes no sense unless you consider CO2”.’

    Link.

    ’6. Given the above points and NH2, one expects the observed temperature rise is largely due to CO2 and that increasing CO2 concentrations will cause temperatures to continue to rise over the long-term.’

    CO2 increases temperature. Temperaures have risen. CO2 caused the increase. Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

    This isn’t a binary AND operation. You must satisfy a host of other requirements before making such a logical leap. In particular, you need to show that the structure of the CO2 increase is also observed in the temperature increase. It isn’t. The curvature for the low frequency content is not the same. There is no significant overlap of higher frequency harmonics.

  44. dp says:

    What I learned:
    Belief = bad
    Agreement = good
    Confidence = good

    But agreement and confidence lead to belief. It would be illogical if they did not. To sum it up it appears this is just more of the consensus argument. And I find the receding arctic ice claim a bit hard to accept. By the end of the article I found myself unmoved. I remain unconvinced.

  45. magicjava says:

    Dr. Meier,

    In regards to the “Precautionary Principle”, I do hope you can take a moment to watch the video below. I don’t claim that it will change your mind, but I do hope that it will show why some of us have serious concerns over the application of such a principle.

    If you watch all the way to the end, you’ll find references to the source material for the video. These references include the New York Times, the Guardian, and Animal Info.

    If you’re as appalled by what you see in this video as I am, I hope that you check those references, look into this to see for yourself what’s happening and how little time we have to stop it, and use your influence to try and put an end to it.

  46. Dear Dr. Meier,

    While we disagree on many details, it is a pleasure to read your words, and sit back and decide what parts of your comments to reply too. Thank you, for deciding to share your thoughts here @ WUWT. I look forward to the exchange between the readers here, and yourself, that is sure to follow.

    Warmest Regards,

    Jack

  47. Mike says:

    I say congratulations to the guy for having the b**s to engage in debate and actually discuss science! If more scientists were like him, maybe we could get somewhere.

    It’s pretty freaky when you consider that this sort of thing is a rare event.

  48. T.C. says:

    My problem is with the repeated position of warmists who state:

    “The amount of carbon dioxide (and other GHGs) has been increasing. This has been directly observed for over 50 years now. There is essentially no doubt as to the accuracy of these measurements.”

    Why start at only 50 years ago with “direct” measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide? Chemists were directly measuring atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from the 1830s onward. It is all documented in a series of peer-reviewed publications by Ernst-Georg Beck (see http://www.biomind.de/realCO2/). In the late 1930′s atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were as high as they are today before plunging to the approximately 320 ppm level during the 1950′s. This is the point that the warmists like to use as the start of a rising carbon dioxide trend – and where warmists like to splice pre-1950s data from glacial cores onto the historical record, making it look like carbon dioxide has never been higher. Why use glacial records when direct measurements are available? Why were atmospheric carbon dioxide levels so high in the late 1930′s when humans were burning only 1/10 the fossil fuels we are currently burning? Why was it that the Great Depression, which actually resulted in about a 30% decrease in the burning of fossil fuels, result in carbon dioxide levels in the late 1930s that are as high as they are today?

    And while I am at it, I have yet to find a single convincing peer-reviewed article that demonstrates that the C12/C13 has anything to do with the ratio of anthropogenic to natural carbon in the air. This ratio hypothesis was invented by Keeling to back-up his reinterpretation of the Calendar fuel curve. It can’t even begin to stand up to the criticism leveled against it using current knowledge. For example see:

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/02/25/the-trouble-with-c12-c13-ratios/

  49. omnologos says:

    At the end of the day, there is only one problem with the climate debate: when people daring to ask any kind of question are immediately labelled as Exxon stooges that need to be marched to a Nuremberg-style trial and then of course to the gallows.

    Funny enough, I suspect if everybody had stuck to Dr Meier’s reasonable tone we would have had a global CO2 emission agreement by now…

  50. Michael says:

    Coal Power Plants are not Polluting, They are Producing Natural By-Priodics.

  51. Mike says:

    As someone who studied formal logic at university level, i would have to point out, though, that Mr Meier proposes a false dichotomy between NH1 and NH2.

    There are other options:

    3) It could be that the effects listed are a mixture of natural and man-made climate change.

    4) Some of the effects may be causes of others. For instance, loss of Arctic ice may be a regular cycle that reduces the albedo effect and therefore causes temperatures to rise and Co2 levels to also rise – I think Nigel Calder proposed this as a theory years ago in “The Weather Machine”

  52. rbateman says:

    Pamela Gray (22:38:22) :

    Aye, Pam. We’re just too puny at this point to totally overwhelm the natural forces. Carbon-based lifeforms and C02 have been hanging around for billions of years, nothing new there.
    Every time I find a place where I can dig into the underlying data, I find nothing to write home about. No Anthropogenic Warming except UHI, and even that can get run over by the Climate Semi. Nothing going on in the Arctic/Antarctic Sea Ice. Nothing going on in Sea Level Rise.

  53. Al Gore's Holy Hologram says:

    Not far from Mauna Loa there has been a volcano, Kilauea, erupting non-stop for over 20 years. I’d like to know what Mauna Loa’s CO2 reading would be like without Kilauea contaminating it.

  54. Lon Hocker says:

    “Question 8: Does the evidence from the climate models show that humans are responsible for changes in the climate?

    Willis answers by claiming that climate models don’t provide evidence and that evidence is observable and measurable data about the real world. To me evidence is any type of information that helps one draw conclusions about a given question.”

    The Models that predicted rising temperatures during the last decade, when none has happened, provide no support for warming proportional to the level of CO2.

    However, there is substantial evidence that warming is proportional to the rate of increase of CO2. These models postulate a feedback mechanism, clouds or thunderstorms, that hold the earth’s temperature constant. The increase that is proportional to the rate of increase of CO2 likely comes from the non-uniformity of CO2 production over the earth’s surface.

    The rate of increase of CO2 has been quite constant for the last decade and a half, and so has the global temperature. To me this is pretty good evidence.

  55. BT says:

    Sorry, I appreciate Dr Meier’s rational stance and willingness to engage, but I still think his responses showed almost everything that is wrong with climate science.

    Where are the NUMBERS? The physical sciences are empirically based; if you don’t have a number with an uncertainty attached you don’t have anything.

    Glaciers…la la la….. sea levels rising…la la la….. loss of mass from Antarctic… (according to whom?)

    It’s all handwavy circumstantial hearsay type government science bureaucratese. I’ve read enough government annual reports to recognise the style straight away. It’s brochure science, not real science. It provides plausible deniability, it sounds convincing to the outsider, but there’s nothing really there. It’s just the usual pile of tired old IPCC superficial argumentation, that’s kept this appalling show on the road all these years.

    I understand that the question set came from a kind of philosophical standpoint, but real scientists think in numbers, they can’t help it. Without numbers, there is nothing to anchor this vapourous would-be science in any sort of framework. So a piece of ice falls off the Antarctic. It really -matters- whether it is the size of a shoe or the size of Sudan. So the sea level is rising. As we all know, it matters when it started rising, and why, and just how much it’s rising now.

    Please, climate scientists, go away and measure some -numbers-! Then put them on a graph next to your theory output and let us decide if the theory is any good. And if you don’t do that, you probably have your reasons.

    So the science is settled, and yet it isn’t settled, and we think humans are responsible for the warming, but we’re not foolish enough to say just how much…. ENOUGH already.

  56. Roger Sowell says:

    Dr. Meier brings an interesting point of view. However, as others earlier stated, it is entirely based on an acceptance of two very wrong points: 1) the Earth’s temperature is increasing, and 2) increasing CO2 causes increased Earth temperatures.

    Regarding point 1, as Chiefio (E.M. Smith – see blog link above on WUWT) has clearly shown, the primary temperature record for the Earth is not only flawed, it was manipulated and is therefore entirely wrong. I also took the time to plot the hadCRUT3 data for 80-plus cities in the USA; nearly all show no warming, a few show drastic cooling, and a few show warming that is attributable to Urban Heat Island. Small towns with long-term records show zero warming, as for instance Abilene, Texas.

    http://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com/2010/02/usa-cities-hadcrut3-temperatures.html

    As to point 2, if CO2 actually causes warming as Dr. Meier states it does, then it must always cause warming. Yet it does not, by the scientists’ own data. For a physical process to have a cause-and-effect relationship, it must be consistent, repeatable, and measureable. CO2 does not have those characteristics with respect to Earth’s temperature. CO2 cannot play favorites, if it is indeed a physical phenomenon. Physics is entirely impartial, and does not care where or when it is applied. It either works, or it does not.

    http://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com/2009/02/chemical-engineer-takes-on-global.html

    Finally, the evidence cited by Dr. Meier is short-termed and not to be relied upon with respect to Arctic ice decreasing. There is ample evidence that the Arctic ice was low many years before satellites began measuring it. Dr. Meier also conveniently does not mention that sea level rise has slowed in recent years (per Colorado.edu’s sealevel website), even though CO2 continues to increase. He also does not mention that coral reefs seem to have coped just fine with sea level rise over the millenia, and with higher ocean acidity from periods when CO2 was much higher than today. In short, a highly selected, cherry-picked bunch of issues form his belief system.

    The fatal flaw, of course, is his basic belief that Earth’s temperature can be measured, has been measured accurately, and shows an increasing trend. None of those three are true.

  57. Oslo says:

    It is a good post. Finally a cool headed warmist!

    However:

    4. Rising sea levels
    (the rate of rise is normal and diminishing)

    5. Loss of Arctic sea ice, particularly multiyear ice
    (first year ice is now “normal. Multiyear ice recovering quickly from a slump)

    6. Loss of mass from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets
    (great uncertainty to what degree (if any) there is mass loss in Antarctica and Greenland. thickness measures are inadequate)

    7. Recession of most mountain glaciers around the globe
    (it is a mixed bag. Norway (where great AGW warming is expected) they are all growing. precipitation trends, soot etc may be big contributors elsewhere)

    8. Poleward expansion of plant and animal species
    (not much sign of such migration here in Norway, which should be a hotbed for such migration)

    So I am still a sceptic.

  58. peeke says:

    Cooling temperatures in the stratosphere (An expected effect of CO2-warming, but not other forcings)

    If you watch the temperature graphs of the stratosphere you see that volcanic eruptions cause cooling of the tropsphere and warming of the stratosphere. That indicates that diminishing amount of aerosols could produce such an effect as well.

  59. Tenuc says:

    Thanks for giving your views, and good to find at least one sceptic still working in main-stream climate science.

    Here’s a few ideas for you to let your sceptical-side chew on:-

    Despite continuous growth in CO2, Phil Jones said there has been no statistically significant global warming for the last 15y.

    Our climate is driven by processes which display deterministic chaos. This means that accurately predicting what will happen beyond a few days is impossible and forecasts get worse the further out you go, not better.

    Because of deterministic chaos, ‘forcing from CO2′ or anything else are not required to initiate ice-ages or climate-optimums. The cause is simple bifurcations in Earth’s non-linear dynamic systems.

    The effects of atmospheric water vapour mitigate provide a strong negative feed-back which help maintain climate oscillations within a narrow range for long periods, Clouds and changes to albedo act as a governor for Earth’s energy balance.

  60. Larry says:

    Thanks, Dr. Meier, for your post. Although I really don’t agree with a whole lot of what you said. But before you saw yourself off the limb with your characterizations of “evidence” keep in mind that in law (and as a lawyer, I would know) there are generally two kinds of evidence: direct evidence, and circumstantial evidence. The latter is closer to what one could conclude about models, because it requires inference to a conclusion.

    The problem with models as a type of circumstantial evidence is the ASSUMPTION – in this case, the number of “free variables” (for want of a better term) that are usually included in a model because we do not know enough about a particular phenomena, or have enough data about a particular phenomena, to achieve a result otherwise. You have heard the old saying about what you do when you assume. You have also heard the other saying about models: garbage in, garbage out. Even in legal trials, to obtain a jury instruction on circumstantial evidence, there must be enough tangible evidence of circumstances that can lead to a justifiable inference, and generally this does not entail the kinds of assumptions that occur in what passes for climate modeling these days.

    Believe it or not, in the law eyewitness testimony is considered direct, physical evidence, because it relates to observed, physical phenomenon or behavior. And of course, it is also true that sometimes what one thinks they observe is not always actually what or who is actually observed (eyewitness testimony is often notoriously unreliable, either because the observer is under stress or because it is difficult to remember clearly what one sees out of the blue, as distinct from scientific observations which are generally far more planned and controlled so they can be accurately observed and registered). I say this because the problems with the climate modeling deal with far more assumption and far less observation; but one must also be careful with what one observes, because data can be observed, but conclusions come from the mind. And far too many large conclusions have been made by climate scientists these days that are really based upon what I consider to be very historically limited data. Regardless of the confidence you have in the proxy methods that science has developed.

    The mind does still play tricks, you know.

  61. Nice one Leif!

    this one is telling also:
    “but more recently, the earth has experienced several ice age cycles, and just ~12,000 years ago, the Younger Dryas event led to significant cooling at least in parts of the Northern Hemisphere”

    I.E. we have not seen any hot rises in climate in over 10s of millions of years,
    but ice ages every 100,000 years!!!!!!!
    just saying that out of one corner of his mouth we are in runaway green house, yet out of the other corner the is no historical proof of runaway GHG effects!
    one more…. bring on the the furns in the arctics cause there is LOTS of land in the Antarctic to live and grow food on, more than compensate for a few islands under water! not going to happen the crust has cooled down…. oh well.

  62. Dodgy Geezer says:

    The glaring thing missing here is any ‘killer’ fact or argument.

    Dr Meier looks at broadly the same data as all of us and decides that it points to human-induced change. It is, as far as I can see, just as reasonable to decide that it doesn’t. There is no way of determining beyond a very hefty helping of doubt.

    This seems to be par for the course – believers have some reasonable points on their side – for instance, ice mass seems to be lower than it was 20 years ago, and they ignore issues like the divergence between models and observation. Skeptics do exactly the same – we see the recent arctic meltback as a weather/sea current blip rather than warming evidence.

    There really is NO convincing evidence either way – we just have not got the data and the knowledge yet. But what has happened is that strongly committed believers in the Climate Science community have been trying to ‘hurry along’ this knowledge – first by subtle amendments to data, more recently by perverting the scientific method to force their view of the data to be the ‘consensus’.

    Originally I suspect they thought this didn’t matter – soon they would have the critical evidence they needed and all they were doing was jumping the gun a little. But now it has all blown up in their faces, and they are now in a deep hole.

    If I were talking to Dr Meier, I would NOT focus on evidence for or against AGW. That is still an open question. Note what Steve McIntyre does. He also does not hold a fixed view for or against AGW. But what he complains about, and what I would ask Dr Meier to comment on, are the activities of Mann, Jones and the IPCC. So long as this sort of thing is tolerated we will never get any climate evidence we can trust, and ALL aspects of science, not just climatology, are now beginning to be tarnished by this appalling politicisation of the scientific method….

  63. MangoChutney says:

    Dr. Meier

    Thank you for contributing – very welcome

    To me, the whole issue of AGW seems to rest on climate sensitivity. AFAIK, calculations, which exclude clouds, suggest climate sensitivity is high, but observational evidence, which includes clouds, suggests climate sensitivity is low.

    Would you or anybody care to comment or correct me?

    /Mango

  64. Boffin says:

    Second, the carbon emitted by humans has a distinct chemical signature from natural carbon and we see that it is carbon with that human signature that is increasing and not the natural carbon.

    I’m guessing that by “chemical signature” Dr. Meier is referring to isotopes. Would someone explain to me how this is so clearly established despite the confounding factor of atomic testing in the 1960s. The amount of C14 in the atmosphere doubled during this period, decreasing thereafter with a half-life on the order of 20 years. Wikipedia has a graph of atmospheric C14 which ends about 1995:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon-14

  65. Don Penman says:

    I am skeptical about the role of co2 in driving climate .Your view seems to be that adding more co2 to the atmosphere will always result in an increase in global temperature other scientists are telling us that co2 has a limited effect on global temperature. when we look back at geological time periods on the earth we are not certain what happened,we have to rely on scientists to make sense of the past and some like you think co2 has had a large effect on climate others believe that it has had a limited effect. Are we simply using what happened in the past to make sense of the climate today or are we using what we believe to be true of the climate today to make sense of past climates.

  66. LightRain says:

    So you can tell the difference between man made CO2 and natural CO2, and only the man made CO2 is rising? But if the man made CO2 is dwarfed by the naturally occurring CO2, the overall effect is minimal, and if not are you proposing a tipping point on CO2 over the natural amount created? In that case the natural CO2 rises and falls all the time, if a Volcano blows do we immediately have a heat wave? How can nature tell the difference between natural and man made CO2?

  67. Tor Hansson says:

    Hello Dr. Meier! Welcome and thank you for contributing to an important discussion..

    By my lay status I am resigned to take your analysis on face value, which I do gladly, as you have posted a well reasoned response to WE.

    What I do miss from the response is any inclusion of the biosphere as a regulator of CO2 levels. We see a strong upsurge in forest and other plant growth—I would guess that phytoplankton is responding in similar ways. Is this influence trivial?

    You also left out any predictions of future temperature rises. (I suppose the issue was not raised by WE.) Do you have any predictions for future temperature anomalies if the world continues to use fossil fuels until they are exhausted? And if you do, how do you back it up?

  68. Another interesting struggle to separate value-laden beliefs from the scientific method, without much more success than Willis had.

    Again we get a Joyce Carol Oates paean to trees. First their “intrinsic values” are compared to the “cost” of cutting them down. This simplification of the forest stewardship task is cartoonish. Then “deforestation” is blamed for increasing atmospheric CO2. What deforestation? The imaginary “million-acre clearcuts” of the prior thread?

    Ours is not a Lovelockian daisy world. Life and the human relationship to life are vastly more complex than simplistic models. Ignoring the complexity is not science. Applying value judgments to a stripped down tinker toy model of the environment IS the problem, not the solution.

    Once the tinker toy model is substituted for the true complexity, it invites us ask tinker toy questions such: “can the earth’s temperature change over a range that could significantly impact modern human society?” which is not the relevant question at all.

    The ONLY relevant question is: can humanity change the climate of the planet in a “beneficial” way? The question is two-fold. Are we capable, either by accident or intent, of changing the climate; and can we solve the value riddle of defining “beneficial”?

    The evidence suggests that neither aspect of the question can be answered satisfactorily.

    We are a sapient species, but not sapient enough to understand vastly complex systems. Nor are we capable of setting aside our value-laden beliefs in order to see with pure scientific clarity.

    It is easy to be a skeptic. It is much more difficult to be a realist.

  69. Frozen man says:

    [/n]But it’s important to note that as computing power has increased and as our understanding of the climate has increased over the past several decades that range hasn’t shifted much. It hasn’t gone to up to 6.5-9.5 C or down to -4.5 to -0.5 C. So this is further support for NH2[/n]

    This statement probes :
    Computer models respond to human hypotheses

  70. Echoing many others, great to see this post and thanks for taking the time to lay everything out. (And accepting that 500 people will be taking you on..)

    For Ray Boorman:

    Also, I note that your list of GHG’s does not include water vapour. Why not?

    This is not a result of thinking water vapor is insignificant. Human activity is changing the amount of various trace gases like CO2, CH4, NO2 etc.

    Water vapor changes in response. So we don’t directly introduce water vapor into the atmosphere.

    Therefore, it has become conventional to talk about the GHGs except water vapor as “forcings” and water vapor as part of the feedback effect.

  71. stephen richards says:

    Willis calls this a trick question and makes the point that the question is meaningless with a time scale. He is correct of course that time scale is important. For NH2, the timescale is one in which the effects of changing forcings can been seen in the climate signals (i.e., where the “signal” of the forcings stands out against the short-term climate variations). For NH1, the relevant period is when humans began to possibly have a noticeable impact on climate. Basically we’re looking for an overall warming trend over an interval and at time-scales that one would expect to see the influence of anthropogenic GHGs

    This still looks to me like ” if the cows are lying down its going to rain”. This is possibly the worst piece of thinking in the whole response.

  72. mikeD says:

    First, welcome Dr. Meier. This is the first thing I’ve read after lurking here for a few months that just utterly compelled me to post a comment. Though NSIDC has taken some ribbing in the skeptic blogs of late, you have come with a response far outside of the norm from what many of us have experienced in the AGW/Climate research circles. We are often attacked on different sites than we post, written off as too dumb to get it, attacked secretly through conspiracies and pr ploys, marginalized and ignored, etc.

    Thank you for taking the time to respond here on WUWT!

    I’ve been browsing NSIDC with great interest of late following the unfolding arctic ice drama. The website is superb imho compared to many other large governmental climate sites. As others have noted it shows that an honest interest in release of data, methods, and algorithms takes place. Presumably to allow others to verify, look for errors or places they could contribute, and justify openly the conclusions. Much of the vital data is released in a very time sensitive manner. Additionally…unlike many of the others who seem to hide margins of errors and such like a cigarette manufacturer hiding the surgeon generals warning in invisible ink between the foil and the box on the inside, the site makes such distinctions pretty obvious.

    This page for example: http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/about_images.html

    prominantly linked to in close proximity to nearly every image.

    on your extent graph your organization makes the standard deviation OBVIOUS

    Besides all that it’s a useful portal with lots of valuable data available from raw numbers to very easy to understand comparitive imagery

    As I understand it you had/have more than a little to do with the nsidc website so thank you and please extend my thanks to the rest of the team. I’ll make another comment post to address a point or two with your actual post but this part just needed to be said.

  73. John Robertson says:

    Dr. Meier is an expert on sea ice.

    However all his arguments here are about CO2 and GHG – an area that he does not appear to be an expert. I find no citations indicating otherwise. In which case his opinion on the effects of concentrations of CO2 and GHG are no better than mine or any other amateur.

    There are many potential factors governing climate that could affect his research area including cosmic radiation, positive and negative feedbacks, ocean currents, duodecadal, and other influences, besides CO2 & GHG.

    He speaks about consensus.

    However I choose to remain skeptical.

  74. Rhys Jaggar says:

    At last an AGWer lays out the theses which must be accepted or refuted to make suitable choices.

    So, skeptics, time to lay out an equally reasoned rebuttal of Dr Meier’s 14 points.

  75. TinyCo2 says:

    Thanks for the thoughtful answers, you are a credit to your science for your willingness to engage with us.

    My response to most of your comments would be ‘are you sure?’ Not because I think you’re wrong but because a week doesn’t seem to go by without some small or large feature of what we ‘know’ about the Earth’s systems being shown to be potentially wrong.

    http://theresilientearth.com/?q=content/ocean-conveyor-belt-confounds-climate-science

    Take the North Atlantic currents. Until recently it was feared that the conveyor was slowing down. One supposes that this was included in the models for Europe and Scandinavia. A slowing conveyor would lead to a cooling in these areas, so when you see warming it must be man made. Except then you find out that the conveyor is actually speeding up. How often is this sort of new information reprogrammed into the models? Is there any public record of what information does or doesn’t get included?

    Individually, each climate forcing element that is wrong might not make much difference, but en masse? Are you confident that modellers would have the guts to shout out ‘sorry, we were wrong about CO2 induced catastrophe, everybody go back to what you were doing’ if the corrections and additions to models stopped them showing CO2 as the baddie? Are they as eager to modify models to include new information that might acquit CO2? Or will they just keep trying to prove that CO2 is the culprit?

    I can’t help feeling that for the tiny fraction of time that we have been accurately (or not) measuring what is happening on the planet, it’s impossible to have a good grasp on how climate works.

    The confusion that surrounds proxies for the last 1000 or so years and Climategate, tells me that there is little drive to reveal inconvenient truths and get to a realistic picture of what is happening. Too much credibility rests on the status quo.

    Those two aspects combined mean that I’m not sure about climate science. I find it hard to grasp why anyone is.

  76. Stephan says:

    Thanks for this posting Dr Meiers. One reply is absolute wrong: Ice caps are melting including multiyear? its going the other way now and has been for 2-3 years in NH. No effect at all in SH ice. 30 years is not close to enough to make any assertions about ice in any case. This is a very weak argument sorry.

  77. Mike Haseler says:

    This is typical climate “scientists” muddled thinking. First the null hypothesis is that the temperature signal is natural. However to avoid using standard statistical tests for this kind of frequency dependent noise, a fake unscientific null hypothesis is invented that the null is that “something hasn’t changed in the climate”. From there the author then proceeds to prove that “something has changed” from which he draws the conclusion that mankind is destroying the planet.

    As for the “climate forcing”, this is still the old-fashioned view that the atmosphere is some static blanket, that it just sits there to be measured. In contrast the atmosphere dynamically changes all the time and those dynamic variations are demonstrably greater the longer the time period and so it always appears to have trends.

    This static model is just crap. Must like trying to understand human behaviour from looking at a corpse.

  78. Adam Soereg says:

    AGW-Skeptic99 (22:04:20) :

    It is very pleasant to read a reasoned response to a skeptic’s post that does not include ad hominem attacks on the skeptic for daring to question the AGW GHG believer and/or daring to disagree with his beliefs.

    Maybe this will be the start of a trend that could spread to places like RC?

    I don’t think so. Dr. Meier’s behaviour is exceptional in the AGW community.

  79. Walt. thank you for contributing, its great to read an “insiders” viewpoint.

    However, I note that despite your employment, you make no mention of the potential contribution over the past 30 years of:

    1. Positive AO
    2. ENSO
    3. Wind and current changes

    I would be interested to read you opinion on these, especially relating to Arctic sea ice retreat (well, up until now of course).

  80. wayne says:

    Walt, thanks for taking the time and being brave enough to post here. You are bound to get a pile of questions. Most questions I have already or will asked by others so I’ll skip those.

    Since you are also a scientist, here are a couple other’s may not ask if you care to answer.

    1) If global energy (temperature) is increasing on Earth, can numerous locations (such as rural areas) on this globe hide from this increased global energy over any long period and show, in fact, no increase in temperature?

    2) Question 3, points 2 and 4-8 can also occur no matter where the increased energy is coming from, if there is any meaningful increase. Point 9 will occur even if there is no meaningful increase in global energy at all from CO2. Can you not see they may be disjoint? Your point 3 is still unproven to me to be singular of cause.

    3) What are you, as a skeptical scientist, going to do if global energy does not follow the rise in atmospheric CO2? At what point will you truly question the consensus or current group-thinking in climate science?

    If you find it hard to answer those questions you might read Dr. Roy Spencer’s (NASA AMSU scientist at UAH) soon to be published paper on the subject of temperature responds across population densities at
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/03/16/spencer-direct-evidence-that-most-u-s-warming-since-1973-could-be-spurious/ . It answered my final question on this entire subject. A stroke of genius if you ask me, but you might not like the implications unless you are truly a scientist capable of skepticism.

  81. Richard S Courtney says:

    Dr Meier:

    Science advances by debate and dispute of available data and interpretations of it. So, I offer my most sincere thanks for your clear and reasoned statement that is free of ad hominem abuse towards those who do not share your views. More of the same from you would be greatly appreciated because several who share your views seem incapable of the proper behaviour you demonstrate in your article. Again, thankyou.

    My main dispute of your case (that you put so well) hinges on your statement that says;

    “Also, I use the term “climate forcing” throughout. I’m sure this is familiar to most readers, but for clarity: a climate forcing is essentially anything that changes the earth’s global radiation budget (the net amount of radiative energy coming into the earth) and thus “forces” the earth’s climate to change.”

    I agree that the basic assumption used in the climate models is that change to climate is driven by change to “climate forcing”, and most notably radiative forcing. But I have repeatedly pointed out that it is very important to recognise that this assumption has not been demonstrated to be correct. Indeed, it is quite possible that there is no force or process causing climate to vary.

    In case you have not seen it, and in hope of your comment on it, I repeat here a brief explanation of why I state that it is quite possible that there is no force or process causing climate to vary.

    The climate system is seeking an equilibrium that it never achieves. The Earth obtains radiant energy from the Sun and radiates that energy back to space. The energy input to the system (from the Sun) may be constant (although some doubt that), but the rotation of the Earth and its orbit around the Sun ensure that the energy input/output is never in perfect equilbrium.

    The climate system is an intermediary in the process of returning (most of) the energy to space (some energy is radiated from the Earth’s surface back to space). And the Northern and Southern hemispheres have different coverage by oceans. Therefore, as the year progresses the modulation of the energy input/output of the system varies. Hence, the system is always seeking equilibrium but never achieves it.

    Such a varying system could be expected to exhibit oscillatory behaviour. And it does. Global temperature increases by 3.8 degC from June to January and falls by 3.8 degC from January to July each year. This annual variation is a factor of 4 larger than the estimated rise of global temperature since the start of the twentieth century which demonstrates that the rise is a small variation when compared to short term natural variation (and data from ice cores and from stomata studies show it is small when compared to long-term natural variations, too).

    Importantly, the length of some oscillations could be harmonic effects which, therefore, have periodicity of several years. Of course, such harmonic oscillation would be a process that – at least in principle – is capable of evaluation.

    However, there may be no process because the climate is a chaotic system. Therefore, the observed oscillations (ENSO, NAO, etc.) could be observation of the system seeking its chaotic attractor(s) in response to its seeking equilibrium in a changing situation.

    Very importantly, there is an apparent ~900 year oscillation that caused the Roman Warm Period (RWP), then the Dark Age Cool Period (DACP), then the Medieval Warm Period (MWP), then the Little Ice Age (LIA), and the present warm period (PWP). All the observed rise of global temperature in the twentieth century could be recovery from the LIA that is similar to the recovery from the DACP to the MWP. And the ~900 year oscillation could be the chaotic climate system seeking its attractor(s). If so, then all global climate models and ‘attribution studies’ utilized by IPCC and CCSP are based on the false premise that there is a force or process causing climate to change when no such force or process exists.

    This possibility of chaotic attractor seeking is very likely true when it is remembered that the variations of global temperature provided by the apparent ~900 year oscillation have similar magnitude to the variation of global temperature that occurs each year.

    But the assumption that climate change is driven by “climate forcings” may be correct. If so, then it is still extremely improbable that – within the foreseeable future – the climate models could be developed to a state whereby they could provide reliable predictions. This is because the climate system is extremely complex. Indeed, the climate system is more complex than the human brain (the climate system has more interacting components – e.g. biological organisms – than the human brain has interacting components – e.g. neurones), and nobody claims to be able to construct a reliable predictive model of the human brain. It is pure hubris to assume that the climate models are sufficient emulations for them to be used as reliable predictors of future climate when they have no demonstrated forecasting skill.

    Hence, I dispute any arguments and/or assertions that estimate “climate forcings” and then tallies them to generate ‘projections’ of climate change.

    And both of the null hypotheses you state remain true according to (Occam’s Razor) unless and until there is some evidence to support the assumption that change to climate is driven by change to “climate forcing”.

    Richard

  82. John R. Walker says:

    It would be interesting to see computer modelling done on a single coin flip to see just how wrong the outcome could be…

  83. John Hooper says:

    Without commenting on the content, I’d like to praise Sr Meier for his reasoned response.

  84. Jim Clarke says:

    I thank Dr. Meier for a reasoned response. It has been a long time since someone I disagree with on AGW did not use the phrase “you are a moron” as their primary argument.

    That said…

    There was nothing new here. Yes we know that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and, all else being equal, increasing CO2 will lead to increasing atmospheric temperatures. There has never really been any debate on that. The debate has always been aout the magnitude of the temperature change and whether or not it precipitates a ‘crisis’.

    The only argument given for the magnitude is that the models haven’t changed much in their predictions over the last 20 years. But those predictions are based on assumptions of positive feedbacks for which there is no physical evidence. Still, the assumptions are the same today as they were 20 years ago, hence the range has not changed much. This is hardly a legitimate argument for the ‘robustness’ of the models. If you put the same garbage in year after year, you will get the same garbage out. That only confirms that you have consistent garbage, not a valid scientific theory.

    In regards to a call for action… A confirmation of a human influence on climate is by no means a confirmation of a crisis requiring immediate cessation of that influence. Too often the word ‘change’ has become synonymous with the word ‘crisis’, which is completely contradictory with nature, where change is the norm, and indeed, a requirement for a healthy biosphere. A specific is neither good or bad unto itself. The impacts of ‘change’ must be quantified to determine the net benefits and detriments. I would propose that this is never done with AGW. Only the detrimental impacts are considered (and usually exaggerated), thus giving a completely inaccurate perception of the need for mitigation. Until the benefits of a warmer world are seriously considered, quantified and entered into the equation, the call for mitigation will be premature, and actions taken will likely do more harm than good.

    Also, the planet has been warming for nearly 200 years now. CO2 has had an influence for just the last quarter of that period. There is nothing in the AGW theory to explain the warming that came before WWII, or the cooling of the LIA or the MWP or the Dark ages cool period or the RWP and so on. In other words, natural climate variation is not contained in the models. There is obviously more going on than GHGs, solar irradiance and volcanoes, but AGW supporters refuse to acknowledge this glaring gap in their knowledge.

    Similarly, it is well shown that ENSO events have a significant impact on global temperatures. While the AGW scientists readily admit this, they refuse to acknowledge the impact of longer duration oceanic cycles on global temperature. All else being equal, these cycles should have a net impact of zero on long term (multi-century) time scales, but there impact may be quite significant for durations of less than 100 years. The 20th century is a perfect example of this. It had two oceanic warming periods and only one cooling period. Global temperatures were in lockstep with the ocean cycles 100% of the time, while temperatures correlated with CO2 only 50% of the time. This indicates that the ocean cycles have a bigger impact than changing CO2, yet the cycles are not even included in the models or considered by the IPCC.

    Then there is the growing evidence for a significant Cosmic Ray Effect on clouds. The CRE is regulated, not by the suns irradiance, which changes little, but by solar activity, which changes significantly over many decades. The sun was very active during the 20th century and may account for a significantly larger percentage of the warming than is currently acknowledged by the IPCC.

    All of these factors, which are simply ignored by Dr. Meier and the AGW community in general, dramatically lower the potential influence of increasing CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere. If these factors are included, than the forcing of a doubling of CO2 appears to be less than one degree C, which is very close to what the lab measurements say it should be. Such a modest warming would hardly be a crisis.

    On the other hand, the proposals for mitigating the rise in CO2, drastically cutting emissions, would precipitate a great deal of hardship on humanity, particularly in the Third World. History shows us that humanity has been particularly successful at generating one crisis after another, often the result of ‘well-intentioned’ actions, well the ‘unprecedented’ climate change of the 20th Century has been virtually undetectable on the ‘crisis meter’.

    AGW supporters are proposing that we run away from the virtual monster of a climate crisis into the arms of the very real monster of over-zealous government and regulation.

    Is anthropogenic climate change a potential crisis? That is the only relevant question and Dr. Meier provides no ‘real’ evidence that it is. Nor has anyone else in the last 20 years.

  85. stumpy says:

    FYI: None of the following are evidence of AGW, they are evidence of warming – regardless of the cause!!!

    1. Increasing concentrations of CO2 and other GHGs in the atmosphere

    2. Rising temperatures at and near the surface

    3. Cooling temperatures in the stratosphere (An expected effect of CO2-warming, but not other forcings)

    4. Rising sea levels

    5. Loss of Arctic sea ice, particularly multiyear ice

    6. Loss of mass from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets

    7. Recession of most mountain glaciers around the globe

    8. Poleward expansion of plant and animal species

    9. Ocean acidification (a result of some of the added CO2 being absorbed by the ocean)

  86. KW says:

    [Pamela Gray (22:38:22) :
    Greenhouse gases have not been nearly as influential as the oceanic oscillations and the hydrological/topographical/atmospheric weather system interplay have been on regional climate variations over long time periods. These parameters, without regard to human emissions, have strong mechanism ties and correlation to climate swings.

    In my opinion, they bury the much smaller changes in temperature that greenhouse gases have had.]

    This.

  87. Contrarian says:

    Walt Meier wrote, “And as expected we are seeing indications that the climate is being affected by changing concentrations of GHGs, primarily CO2.”

    Actually, we are not seeing that. What we are seeing is a slight (<1C) increase in surface temps over the last century, and a fairly substantial increase in atomospheric CO2. The former does not, in of itself, "indicate" that the latter is responsible for the former. The relationship is hypothetical only. That hypothesis is plausible, but plausibility is not confirmation. Plausible hypotheses are refuted by evidence all the time.

    "In fact of the major climate drivers, the one changing most substantially over recent years is the greenhouse gas concentration."

    Not actually true. The drivers that have changed most substantially over recent years (since the mid-70s) have been the changes in the ocean cycles, particularly PDO and AMO.

    Here is one analysis from some folks at U Colorado:

    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/people/gilbert.p.compo/CompoSardeshmukh2007a.pdf

    Here is a summary comparing correlations between PDO+AMO correlations and recent temps with CO2 correlations:

    http://www.appinsys.com/GlobalWarming/PDO_AMO.htm

    If you think any of those overlays are spurious or misdrawn, please point out the errors.

    BTW, your "indicators" 4-8 are not independent; they are all correlates of #2, rising temps, and would occur regardless of the reasons for the rise. #9, ocean acidification, is theoretical only. I know of only one study which attempted to actually measure ocean pH:

    http://pondside.uchicago.edu/ecol-evol/faculty/Wootton/PDFs/Wootton_Pfister_Forester%20PNAS%202008.pdf

    The authors conducted measurements in one location over an 8 year period. They reported a daily variance of 0.24 pH units, and an annual variance of 1-1.5 units. Yet they claim to have discerned an annual CO2-induced acidification rate of 0.045 units — a rate "10 times higher" than the rate predicted by models — and a rate much higher than the theoretical CO2 absorption rate can account for. When the presumed signal is <5% of the annual "normal" variance, and <20% of the "normal" daily variance, and exceeds theory by a factor of 10, one should suspect that what is being counted as a signal is merely noise.

    No one denies the fundamental radiative physics underlying the CAGW hypothesis. It is certainly reasonable to expect increased atmospheric CO2 to have *some* effect on temperatures. But the theoretical increase in IR absorption must traverse an obstacle course of sinks, feedbacks, and confounding factors before it appears in the instrumental temperature record. Until climate models can account for the effects of ocean currents, aerosols, cloud formation and distribution, and land use changes on temps, any conclusions regarding the *net effect* of increased CO2 would be premature.

    And Dr. Meier — I sincerely appreciate your willingness to engage the "rabble" here on WUWT. Dialogue always beats spear-tossing from the bushes.

  88. Jonas B1 says:

    “The concentration of CO2 is closely linked with temperature – CO2 and temperature rise or fall largely in concert with each other. This has been observed in ice cores from around the world with some records dating back over 800,000 years. Sometimes the CO2 rise lags the temperature rise, as seems to be the case in some of ice ages, but this simply means that CO2 didn’t initiate the rise ”

    So far pretty good, but I thought the evidence always shows lagging CO2??

    But jumping to the conclusion that this is evidence of the opposite relationship is simply not logic. The opposite relationship may or may not be true, but the ice core data definately does not support that conclusion.

  89. Gilbert says:

    Hi Doc.

    Thanks for participating. It’s refreshing.

    First I should note that there are certain warming claims with which I agree.

    1. There has been a gradual period of warming over the last 150 years, although the nature and extent is questionable.

    2. There has been a period of co2 increase and that increase is likely due primarily to the burning of fossil fuels.

    3 Co2 is a greenhouse gas and is capable of providing some warming, the extent of which is not fully understood.

    Beyond that we tend to part company.

    a. I don’t think that climate science understands feedback well enough to claim a net positive.

    b. I don’t think warming is a bad thing.

    c. I don’t think increases in CO2 are a bad thing.

    D. I don’t think climate science understands natural forcings well enough to claim that such forcings aren’t sufficient to explain the current changes.

    e. I agree 100% with Leif Svalgaard. I think that the claim that the warming of the interglacials required a CO2 forcing is a circular argument.

    f. etc.

    You noted:

    Periods of relatively cooler temperatures, more sea ice, etc. are still part of the natural variations of the climate system that continue to occur. Such periods may last for months or years.

    This is a case in point. No one knows what is causing the current natural variations, even though they are obviously strong enough to cancel any presumed effect for CO2. And if this is the case, then the claim that natural forcings can’t also explain the most recent period of warming, would seem to be without merit.

    Again, thanks for your friendly participation.

  90. mikeD says:

    With regards to the coin flip analogy it is certainly a layman friendly way of framing the discussion. My concern is that it may be an improper analogy.

    My issues with models and your comparison reside in several categories:

    1. GIGO – quality, consistency, sample size of input data (historical records both instrument and proxy). How can we model the future if we inadequately or erroneously represent the past and present?

    2. Arithmetic precision – nothing is more laughable than seeing numerical input with a 4% margin of error in the 1’s place predict a value after complex interaction with numerous other values with similar margins of error…that is presented to 8 decimal places and is used to represent the end of life as we know it if a 4% change occurs. Since so many inputs and IV’s have such large margins of error I’ll ignore the inherent potential AP pitfalls of base 2 numerical systems used to work with base 10 numbers as they’d be tiny in comparison.

    3. Guesstimates – how many major variables and relationships in forcing are either guessed at or estimated with a relatively large margin of error?

    4. A ^ B * C + D = deltaT – The compounding margin of error that comes when multiple variables are included in an equation. Made worse when adjustments, “quality control”, and statistical methods are applied.

    5. 20% isn’t good enough – you example implies a 20% margin of error. Is that an acceptable margin of error to tax energy into submission? If we are talking the apocalypse at 2 degrees C I’d expect to see at least one 9 of reliable accuracy no?

    Presuming all of the rest worked flawlessly and predicted future climate with 99.9% accuracy, I’d also like to ask the question: is average annual global temperature averaging high and low daily and yearly and then smoothed over a multi-decadal scale truly meaningful in this undeniably important debate?

    It seems to me that different areas are experiencing different changes at different times. Climate trends are not perfectly distributed by 5 degree lat lon “squares” no?

    Say the equatorial area heated by 2 degrees C but the northern latitudes remained constant…would this be as important as the northern latitudes heating by 2 degrees C and the equatorial region staying constant?

    Say the arctic gained 4 degrees C in the winter but cooled 2 degrees C in the summer…would this be as important as gaining just 2 degrees C in the summer and remaining constant in the winter?

    Say the daily low went up by 4 degrees C in the arctic in summer but the daily high remained unchanged…would this be as important as a uniform upwards change of 2 degrees C to both the high and the low?

    Please all forgive my “simpleness[SIC]” in these freshman efforts. It’s a pleasure to be here and I’m trying desperately to gain a thorough understanding of the science as quickly as possible. WUWT seems a great tool for my quest for knowledge as it focuses far more on the science than the politics.

  91. Alan the Brit says:

    A very good post, although I don’t agree with a lot of the reasoning, but nevertheless a good post & hat tip to Dr Mier for his courage & conviction.

    As I understand things, much of this AGW stuff is based upon the theories of Arhenius in 1895. Didn’t Svent Arhenius completely change his mind about CO2 a decade later, & he certainly couldn’t see anything wrong with a warming world?

    Didn’t one Prof P. Jones, curiously exoneraed by a whitewash of 9/14ths of a Commons science Select Committee review, recently agree in an interview with a BBC completely & utterly independent (my left foot) & unshakable (as if) environment correspondent, one Roger Harrabin, that the rates of temperature rise between 1860-1880, 1910-1940, & 1979-2001 were essentially the same? I mean we’re talking hundreths of a degree per decade differences which cannot seriously be significant! He also agreed in the very same interview that there had been no significant global warming since 1995!

    AND what about water vapour? Dr Mier didn’t mention this rather important & largely unknown factor. He also didn’t seem to comment on the apparent global cooling of recent years.

    The alleged global warming tropospheric hotspot doesn’t seem to exist other than in computer models either.

  92. Ian H says:

    An honest statement of opinion which has provoked me to make my own honest statement of opinion which now follows:

    Modern scientists are specialists. Within our own areas we are expert and expect to speak with authority. The flip side of this coin is that we defer to other scientists when they in turn are speaking within their area of expertise. This system is built on trust. You trust results in areas other than your own because you trust that the scientists in that area have done the science properly.

    For me the most serious issue here is a breakdown of that trust. My area of specialisation is not climate science – I am a mathematician. Normally this would mean that when it comes to questions of climate I would defer to the expertise of those who specialise in climate science. However I no longer trust that the science in this area has been done honestly. That is a terrible thing to say, but it is unfortunately true.

    In my judgement a significant fraction of climate scientists have been behaving politically and tilting the science for a long time. And this particular science can be tilted very easily. You choose which data to rely on and which to ignore – a careful selection of starting date is just the start of what can be done. You try several methods of processing the data and choose the one that goes the way you like. You choose the methodology and assumptions likewise. You spin your results (whatever they are) to support the desired conclusion. You hide inconveniences in the statistics (averaging is a great trick – as is switching to `anomalies’ which can be further tweaked by redefining what is normal). You then hide your data, conceal your methods and respond to criticism and question with vituperative polemic.

    In my judgement – and I reserve the right to make such a judgement – this is precisely how many climate scientists have been behaving for quite some time. Not all have been behaving this way, but enough have done so as to have severe consequences and the rest have condoned this behaviour. Each subtly biased result has been used as the foundation for more subtly biased work. As a result the whole field is by now so contaminated with bias that it is hard to find anything to trust.

    Some of the bias is so extreme as to qualify as dishonesty. How can it be honest to carry out a supposed UHI correction by lowering temperatures recorded in rural sites in the past thereby manufacturing warming. In many cases `corrections’ seems to have been made not just arbitrarily but in completely the wrong direction. Error? You tell me. The treatment of land based temperature records is particularly bad, almost as bad as the dishonest Mann hockeystick business with the tree ring proxies. Climate science has built on such foundations. How can I trust any of it?

    Since I don’t trust the experts and am forced to make up my own mind in this area, what do I then choose to believe?

    1. CO_2 has some effect on climate. CO_2 is also effected by climate. Burning fossil fuels is therefore likely to make the planet warmer in the short term (for the next century or so).

    2. I don’t believe the figure quoted for sensitivity to CO_2 at all. This figure is the result of an intricate calculation with many assumptions (particularly relating to the role of clouds), extensive computer models based on still more assumptions, carefully chosen data, and underlying it all the totally broken and massively massaged land temperature record. There are so many places in the calculation where a thumb can be and I suspect has been placed on the scales. The number is bias on bias. Pure fiction.

    3. The recent history of climate includes all that stuff Mann and his cronies tried to take out and deny (he is the real climate denier) – a warm 1930′s, a medieval warm period,a little ice age, a warmer still Roman period (accompanied by a more benign climate in North Africa and the Middle East – the cradle of civilisation currently a dustbowl). Current temperatures are not at all unprecedented. The planet has been a lot hotter than it is now and it hasn’t caused disaster. Far from it.

    4. The world has warmed in the last half of the 20th century. By how much it is hard to say since the land temperature record has been tweaked and is untrustworthy, but satellite measurements (which I tend to trust a lot more) have also showed that it has warmed. Most of this warming has been natural and cyclical with an unknown anthopogenic component on top. Warming has now ceased and is unlikely to continue in the near future. Indeed we may be looking at a cooler climate for a while.

    5. The negative impact of warming has been drastically overstated (the discussion of sea levels has been particularly egregious, as has the amount of scare mongering over everything from droughts to floods to hurricanes) and the positive effects of warming (better plant growth – more clouds => more rain , etc) have been completely ignored.

    6. In the absence of human influence there is absolutely no guarantee that the climate would remain benign. We could easily have another ice age. We are overdue for one. Conversely there is no reason to expect that the human influence on climate will be malign. Natural isn’t necessarily good. Look at Mars.

    7. The proposed drastic controls on greenhouse gas emissions will definitely cause severe economic hardship. We’ll all be a lot poorer. Millions of people will die as a result. Those already killed by the biofuel famine are just the vanguard. The benefits of implementing controls on greenhouse gasses on the other hand are dubious. Adapting to a gradual change in the climate would be a lot easier.

    8. A lot of people are currently using global warming as a convenient excuse to push policies which would otherwise be too unpopular to implement. The head of the IPCC wants us all to become vegetarians. Protectionists want to use it as an excuse to impose trade barriers. Greens want us all to stop using technology and go hug a polar bear. And so on. A lot of people have a lot invested in this theory.

    These beliefs are based on my best assessment of the evidence as I know it. I am well aware that I am not an expert in this area. But the way things are now I actually trust my own unbiased (but admittedly not fully informed) judgement a lot more than I trust `the science’. We’ve all just had a wonderful lesson in why scientists must strive to remain apolitical and unbiased. All the expertise in the world is completely useless if people stop trusting you to speak the truth honestly and keep your thumb off the scales.

  93. cal says:

    The arguments seem well reasoned and it is a pleasant change to have a calm and detailed exposition of an AGW point of view. Thanks for taking the time to explain your position Walt.

    However, whilst I find much to agree with, you eventually come round to discussing CO2 and the assumption that CO2 has a big effect. This assumption appears to be based on three “facts”.

    1. CO2 is a greenhouse gas and CO2 has been inreasing

    2. The earth has warmed in recent years and we cannot find an explanation unelss a large CO2 inflence is included in the model.

    3. CO2 and temperature have been highly correlated, at least for the last million years covered by ice core records.

    I cannot argue with point 1 but, on its own, the theoretical impact of CO2 is small. If you want to claim a large impact you have to prove the reality of the various positive feedback mechanisms that are suppposed to be operating. As far as I know not one of these has, so far, been unambiguously confirmed.

    Point 2 seems to be a non argument. As others have pointed out, the fact that we cannot think of another cause is more likely proof of our ignorance than proof of our wisdom. Also given the uncertainty of the measurements, the lack of a credible historic reference and the use of a horrible dependent variable like average temperature rather than total heat content of the climate system, who would base any argument on such supposed fluctuations.

    Pont 3 is the most damning. As I have pointed out several times and others have argued over the last few days on another thread, the correlation of temperature with CO2 is not what it seems. Whilst no one who can read a graph now argues that CO2 has driven temperatures over the longer term (given that it lags) there is still this argument that it acts as a positive feedback that amplifies the initial excursions caused by the earths orbital and rotational variations (Milankovitch cycles). The problem is that, if one looks closely, one can only see the signature of a negative feedback operating. The fastest rates of warming occur when CO2 is low and the fastest rates of cooling occur when CO2 is high. I would like to see the feedback equation that expresses this relationship as a positive one. Perhaps his colleague Richard Alley might oblige!

    The ice ages are a problem. The level of CO2 is very low because of absorption by the cool oceans and the earths albedo is very high due to ice and snow cover being highly reflective. How does the earth ever recover from such a situation? Yet the fastest rate of warming always seems to occur at the end of these cold episodes when these two supposed major forcings are both well below their long term averages. If we do not know what can drive a >5C change in temperature against all the odds I cannot get excited about a 0.5C change which may not even be real.

  94. John Wright says:

    First of all let me echo Magic Java’s points (22:32:02). Visiting our site has become daily routine.

    That said, I would like to take you up on one point which I think is has bearing on all the rest:

    “1. Greenhouse gases warm the planet. This comes out of pretty basic radiative properties of the gases and has been known for well over 100 years.”

    Greenhouse gases warm the planet? – radiative properties of gases? I don’t think I would be misquoting Hans Schreuder in saying that such a proposition equates to perpetual motion. Surely only the sun warms the planet, plus perhaps the internal magma (although the very existence of permafrost suggests that the earth’s crust is a pretty effective heat shield); yet again one can imagine industry radiating waste heat, but surely not the gases it emits – even water vapour would retain heat in the atmosphere rather than radiate it. But if for the sake of argument, one accepts the hypothesis of greenhouse gases, their role would surely be to prevent or slow down the escape of heat. This of course would lead to heat build-up at the crust and lower atmospheric levels but I still don’t see how greenhouse gases could be said to be radiating heat downwards; to a layman like me, that is abuse of language (in the dictionary, radiate = “emit energy, esp. light or heat, in the form of rays or waves [...]“) The appropriate word word here is surely “reflect”, and it follows from that that there can be no forcing.

  95. Cadae says:

    Great to see a reasoned and clear response .

    I take issue with your answers to question 6, namely Items 1 and 2:

    “1. Greenhouse gases warm the planet. This comes out of pretty basic radiative properties of the gases and has been known for well over 100 years.

    2. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. ”

    In the lab, C02 can be shown to have an upwards impact on temperature due to radiative properties. However – and this is the essential point that is being overlooked – in the huge and complex environment of the earth, CO2 may well NOT have an upward impact on global temperature because it interacts in poorly understood ways with other planetary mechanisms.

    In other words, in your 2 statements, you have assumed your own conclusion and effectively dismissed without proof the real possibility that CO2 may not be causing a rise in global temperature.

  96. John Wright says:

    Misstype: “visiting your site”

  97. Ron House says:

    When they think they can get the whole planet buying religion (global warming kind), they use “skeptic” as an insult against climate realists. But when the house of cards falls apart and people start to understand that “skeptic” is a scientific compliment, they suddenly all claim to be skeptics. The chutzpah is unbelievable. Walt Meier, if your final remark was made in all sincerity, please tell us where to look for your criticisms of the universal misuse of “skeptic” by alarmists prior to, let’s say, 2009 when the population started to wake up.

  98. TFN Johnson says:

    Thanks, excellent contribution, written in the right spirit. Depressing that we still have to note that.

    It’s worth bearing in mind (re comments by Burke and Boorman) that while CO2 concentration has risen c30% since c1970 GHG concentration is onlu up c2%, because H2O is by far the commonest GHG.

    Alleston asks how we know that the rise in CO2 is manmade. The rason is not chemistry (as in the post) but physical. Air contains some CO2 with C14 atoms. These decay with a halflife of c5700 years, so fossil fuel has no C14. I assume the c14 proportion in the COs measured in Hawaii has been falling. There can be no evidence for other manmade CO2 in those records.

    The author omits as one of the forcing agents the sunspot theory. Ironic really, as it looks likely the sun will be spotlass again tomorrow…..
    Herschel noted the association between sunspots and climate centuries ago, but only recently has a plausible mechanism been suggested.

    Finally, ocean currents. These have no source of heat, and are merely fluctuations. The Met Office may be clutching at them as a reason for their ridiculous forecasts being wrong, but they must by now know the awful truth.

  99. Espen says:

    First I would like to thank Walt Meier for posting here. It’s very encouraging to see a prominent scientist take time to engage in dialogue with the “heretics”.

    Like a couple of other posters, I noticed the absence of water vapor among the greenhouse gases. I wonder how good the evidence for CO2 as a necessary feedback mechanism when the earth comes out of ice ages really is. There are other feedback mechanisms as well: First, albedo reduction of course. But what about athmosphere water vapor content? Water vapor, after all, is the most important GHG. Higher temperatures and a speed-up of the thermohaline circulation should bring a lot of vapor into the athmosphere (and we know from the dust in ice cores that the ice ages were very dry).

    I’m worried that the “CO2 as a dominant greenhouse gas” paradigm is so strong that it keeps scientists from even considering explanations that rely mainly on water vapor. I’ve noted in recent articles on “snowball earth” ice ages some 650-750 million years ago that CO2 is part of the explanation, the point being that when continents are concentrated around equator, erosion will bind more CO2. But again: Can’t this be explained without CO2? Won’t less oceans at tropical latitudes mean less ocean evaporation, hence a drier athmosphere?

  100. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Dr. Meier, it is late night here (2:25 AM, I’m a night owl). However, I wanted to take a moment before retiring to thank you for your answers to the questions. I feel that much of the antagonism has been caused by misunderstandings of people’s positions. I applaud your willingness to state your views, and I am impressed by the clarity with which you have done so.

    Tomorrow, when I have more time, I’ll respond to some of the issues you have raised. Until then, my appreciation for your joining the discussion in such a positive manner.

    All the best,

    w.

  101. NickB. says:

    I would like to commend Dr. Meier for joining the conversation. As has been mentioned, the lack of ad homs from someone who seems to, majority speaking, accept the going CO2-based AGW Theory is great to see and I am actually a little surprised by how shocked I am on that point. The whole discussion had become so shrill… and I guess while I thought Willis and Dr. Curry’s interchanges were nice gestures, my skeptical side and the history on this issue held little hope that any real bridge building would actually happen.

    There may be much to disagree with Dr. Meier on, but there is no reason to be disagreeable. So for that I say… thanks Dr. Meier, I hope you stick around! Thanks Willis and Dr. Curry for getting this conversation going, and as always thanks to A and the mod team for the bus, and keeping the wheels on it.

  102. Ben Kellett says:

    Which ever side of the divide we stand in terms of AGW, this has been a first class contribution from Walt Meier. It is refreshing to have the issues stated in such a positive & dare I say it……..scientific way!

  103. peeke says:

    Another thing with regard to the stratospheric temperatures. It is more or less flat the last 15 years, just as the tropospheric temp curve seems flattened, *even* with the current spike. The current temperature spike does not show up in the stratospheric curve, as far as I can find, 1998 didn’t either.

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/get-file.php?report=global&file=uah-lowstrat-global-land-ocean&year=2010&month=2&ext=gif

    CO2 has been rising, and we all know that means increased forcing.

    Isn’t this clear evidence of a strong negative feedback?

  104. aylamp says:

    Ref indication #5
    5. Loss of Arctic sea ice, particularly multiyear ice

    The recent pattern of annual ice change (1979 – date) in the Arctic has never been properly explained to my knowledge. The oceanographic and meteorological data seem to be insufficient to explain annual variations in maxima, minima and rates of change. Only in recent years do we get some explanations that deal with sea and air temperatures, atmospheric pressures and wind speed and direction.

    #5 should not be cited as evidence that “climate is changing in response to forcing”.

  105. Neil says:

    Thank you, Dr Meier. You have given us much to think about. We seem at last to be getting near the roots of the issues.

    If I may modestly venture a prediction… this will be one of the most interesting threads WUWT has delivered so far. Stand by, moderators!

    Cheers,
    Neil

  106. Urederra says:

    He instead discusses the climate sensitivity of to CO2 forcing, i.e., 3.7 Watts per square meters leads to a temperature change between 1.5 C and 4.5 C. These numbers are simply a quantitative estimate of NH2, with an associated uncertainty range. Not being able to narrow that range certainly indicates that we still have more to learn. But it’s important to note that as computing power has increased and as our understanding of the climate has increased over the past several decades that range hasn’t shifted much.

    Computers are not a source of empirical data. OMG, He believes computers can are going to help having better empirical values. (Headbang)

    If you need better empirical data, go and make better experiments, but don’t tell me that you can predict climate as accurately as you can predict the outcome of a 10000 flip coin experiment when your experimental data is as bad as 1.5 to 4.5 degrees per CO2 doubling or an Earth albedo of “about 30 %” You need better experimental data.

    And BTW, I think something is missing or wrong in the text. It reads:

    He instead discusses the climate sensitivity of to CO2 forcing,

    and it should be climate sensitivity to CO2 doubling. Or something alike. Or am I wrong?

    Last thing. What Arrhenius measured is different from climate sensitivity to CO2 doubling. The first is measured and has a value of 1 degree Celsius when you double the concentration of CO2 and the other is estimated and it includes changes in water vapor and other effects not very well understood, defined or even measured.

  107. Dr T G Watkins says:

    Thank you Walt for taking the time to post at WUWT.
    Several points spring to mind which form the basis of sceptical arguments.
    a) No other explanation so it must be CO2?
    b) Infra-red absorption by CO2 logarithmic.
    c) No tropospheric hotspot and no decrease in LW radiation as predicted,in fact Lindzen showed increase LW as temp rose.
    d) Are temp. really rising and is Arctic ice really disappearing?

    I think these and other points need to be directly addressed and debated in a public forum before eye-watering sums are spent by Western governments in a futile attempt to change ‘natural’ processes
    Regards.

  108. Neville says:

    Interesting stuff, but if co2 is the cause of temp increase over the last 150 years why doesn’t the degree of slope of the 1976 to 1998 warming show a sharper rise than the previous two temp rises?

    Afterall 1976 coincided with the change over from a cool PDO to a warm phase PDO, surely this provided a sort of kick start to that temp increase, therefore why isn’t the slope showing a sharper angle with this kick start plus an increase from much higher levels of co2?

    Also the problem accumulates when we observe that there hasn’t been statistical warming for the past 15 years. ( Phil Jones BBC interview )

    Then we must return to the real world and note that the IEA staes that in the forseeable future 90% of co2 increase will come from the developing world so anything we do in the first world will have zero influence on CC.

    In fact OECD countries could retire and their citizens live in caves and the rise in co2 will go on unabated because of this 90/10 mix.

  109. Heber Rizzo says:

    Well, at last we have someone with who discuss in good terms!
    Now, the Discussion:

    1) In question 3, items 5,6,7,8, and maybe 4, are just consecuences of item 2, so they shouldn’t be considered as proofs per se.

    2) In question 6, item 3, if CO2 levels lags temperature rise, and if it doesn’t iniciates that rise, and if it acts later as a feedback, a) why that feddback stops somehow and temperatures start going down, even when CO2 levels keep rising, whithout a runawy effect?, and b) why that feedback doesn’t prevent the temperature’s fall to previous levels, even when CO2 levels are still high?

  110. Eric Flesch says:

    As a published amateur scientist, I make a general observation. Most scientists enter the field with a pointed premise that they can make a difference. It is their guiding light. And it may be necessary but it is not sufficient.

    As Richard Feynman said, Nature is not fooled. The world (etc) is much bigger than our little efforts. We come up with a model, but for the model to be internally consistent is IRRELEVANT to whether the model is operationally effective. Everything can be “right” about the Global Warming paradigm, and yet it will be stillborn. A Frankenstein’s Monster is not a goer in real life — physical law is far larger.

    Compared with the atmosphere and the oceans, we are small. We are cycled and flushed. We may yet poison the planet, but greenhouse gases won’t be it. Cheers.

  111. John Finn says:

    Dr Meier’s repsonse to Q£ begins

    Let me first address NH2. We have evidence that in the past the sun affected climate. And as expected we see the current climate respond to changes in solar energy. In the past we have evidence that volcanoes affected climate.

    Regular blog readers might care to consider that research by the much-maligned (by solar theorists) Leif Svalgaard now questions the extent of the solar influence. This introduces considerable uncertainties about what Dr. Meier and his colleagues think they know.

    I ‘ve said it before and I’ll say it again: AGWers NEED solar variation. The 1910-1945 warming shows that.

  112. John Finn says:

    Re: previous post

    ‘Q£’ should be ‘Q3′

  113. vjones says:

    I appreciated Willis’ original posting; although wanted to, I didn’t have time to comment. To have Dr Meier’s perspective is valuable. It is too easy to get into ‘camps’ and toss rocks, making sweeping statements about what the ‘other side’ does or does not believe. In reality all of us have a tapestry of knowledge and acceptance of the various issues; this is all too easily forgotten.

    On the issue of belief – the completely facetious answer I was tempted to give to Question 12: Is climate science a physical science?
    No it is an emotional science.

  114. Vincent says:

    “2. You are given the opportunity to bet on 10000 coin flips ”

    This argument is completely specious. We know as a mathematical certainty that there is a 50% probability of a coin flip landing either heads or tails and the ratio H:T approaches 50:50 as the number of flips becomes very large. However, as there is no mathematical certainty about the amount of warming expected from a CO2 level, any uncertainties become magnified with time – the exact opposite of what he is saying.

    According to the author, the accuracy of prediction would become greater and greater, the futher into the future you go. Does he really believe this or his he merely engaging in spin?

  115. Sleepalot says:

    Gambling Fail.

    When the odds are “evens” he wouldn’t take the bet, but when the odds are
    4:1 against him, he would.

  116. ferdiegb says:

    But regardless, without CO2 you don’t get swings between ice ages and interglacial periods.

    Dr. Meier,
    I have the same problem as Leif Svalgaard with that statement. Models need CO2 to explain the full switch from a glacial to an interglacial and back. But if they underestimate other feedbacks like ice cover or cloud cover changes (of which nothing is knonw), then we don’t need a huge (or even any) feedback from CO2 to explain the transition.
    There is a huge overlap of CO2 increases with temperature increases during a glacial-interglacial transition, with some 800 years lag of CO2, over a warming period taking 5,000 years. That makes it near impossible to see what the real impact of CO2 changes on temperature gives. But we have a period at the end of the Eemian, where temperatures were going back to a minimum and ice sheets to a new maximum, where CO2 remained high. After that, CO2 dropped with 40 ppmv, without measurable impact on temperature or ice sheet buildup. See:
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/eemian.html

    Another point where I disagree with the models is that all models use similar efficiencies for the same change in forcing. This seems quite strange to me, as a change in solar strength has a quite different fingerprint in the stratosphere and the upper ocean level than greenhouse gases. See:
    http://climate.envsci.rutgers.edu/pdf/StottEtAl.pdf

    The decrease in temperature in the stratosphere indeed is a matter of greenhouse gases, but the work in Philipona in Europe showed that much of the increase in backradiation (and thus stratospheric cooling) was from increased water vapour, as result of the positive phase of the NAO (and not as feedback on increased CO2, as he proposes)…

  117. Dan Lee says:

    In NH2 is indeed correct, I would like to propose NH3: that mankind did more to influence atmospheric heat between the invention of agriculture and the 1950s than we have from the 1950′s until now.

    For most of our history, agriculture had been a slash-and-burn affair, where land is burned off to remove the native growth. Changes to albedo, and the direct dumping of soot and other pollutants via forest and brush burning contributed tons of pollutants to the atmosphere where-ever there were humans. If mankind is responsible for changing our climate, then our adoption of Agriculture had to be the single biggest factor.

    (Agriculture also permitted the growth of large towns and cities, since populations didn’t have to follow the herds around for their food supply. Some urban heat islands are thousands of years old.)

    A key to disproving it would be that agriculture eventually led to industry, where soot and other pollutants were created by manufacturing. But – at higher or lower rates than the global slash-and-burn strategy that was humanity’s main way until relatively recently?

    Industry also began directly producing CO2. It’s well known that industry from the 1800′s into the 1950′s and 1960′s were sparsely regulated and polluted heavily, destroying rivers and laying waste to huge swaths of land and leaving some cities barely habitable due to smog.

    But from then until now? We already have very effective environmental laws on the books, and both agriculture and industry are much cleaner. China and India and other industrializing nations are going through the same progression the “West” did 50 years ago, and I have no reason to believe they won’t eventually clean up their industries just as we did.

    So my Null Hypothesis 3 would be a simple statement: climate change in the last 50 years due to mankind’s contribution of CO2 to the atmosphere (~3%-4% I believe) is indistinguishable from climate change due to land-use and agriculture changes over the course of the rest of the Holocene.

    Find a way to reject that, and I’ll reconsider (again) my beliefs about AGW.

  118. Vincent says:

    Regarding question 3:
    1. Increasing concentrations of CO2 and other GHGs in the atmosphere
    Reply: correlation only, and a poor one at that.

    2. Rising temperatures at and near the surface
    Reply: same as point 1.

    3. Cooling temperatures in the stratosphere (An expected effect of CO2-warming, but not other forcings)
    Reply: Not true – there has been both warming and cooling in the stratosphere. Lindzen and Choi showed that there is an increase in outgoing radiation when the surface warms, the exact opposite of what is being claimed here.

    4. Rising sea levels
    Reply: Sea levels have been rising since the end of the ice age, so it is evidence for nothing.

    5. Loss of Arctic sea ice, particularly multiyear ice
    Reply: we only have satellite records for 30 years, although historical records suggest similar losses in the 1930′s.

    6. Loss of mass from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets
    Reply: This also has been monitored for a very short period.

    7. Recession of most mountain glaciers around the globe
    Reply: same as point 6.

    8. Poleward expansion of plant and animal species
    Reply: Evidence of warming since the little ice age but not evidence of CO2.

    9. Ocean acidification (a result of some of the added CO2 being absorbed by the ocean
    Reply: not relevant to discussions of warming.

    In summary, out of 9 so called reasons why CO2 is warming the planet all are tautological at best – the earth has warmed and CO2 has increased. The key question – how much warming due to CO2 is unknown and no conclusions can be drawn from these points.

  119. Interesting article Walt, but difficult to see the wood for the trees! The real problem is that the empirical data doesn’t appear to support the catastrophic hypothesis that a higher proportion of CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere (an increase of one twelve thousand of one % since pre-industrial times) has or will accelerate warming, and that is fundamental to the whole issue as to whether huge sums of money should be spent trying to control its output. The theory is clear, the maximum warming would be 1 degree C for each doubling of CO2 – a diminishing effect – and this is most likely ameliorated by negative feedback, as in all other natural processes.

    So what’s the evidence: 4/5ths of 1 degree C warming in 150 years, having emerged from the coldest period for 1000 years, and half of that increase happened before CO2 could have had an influence. Sea levels (re Holgate) rose 10cm in the 50 years to 1953, and 7cm in the 50 years to 2003 – 30% less than the previous 50 years, so where’s the acceleration?

  120. Vincent says:

    “But regardless, without CO2 you don’t get swings between ice ages and interglacial periods. To paraphrase Richard Alley, a colleague at Penn State: “the climate history of the earth makes no sense unless you consider CO2”

    This is speculation again. Since we still cannot account for the onset and cessation of iceages in any meaningful way, it is disingenuous to make assertions about what is possible or not possible based on understandings of CO2 only.

    The relationship between CO2 and paleological climates is further confounded by inverse correlations popping up such as the fact that the late ordovician ice age was accompanied by a rise in CO2. Now tell me that the climate history of the earth “makes no sense unless you consider CO2.”

  121. c1ue says:

    Mr. Meier,

    Thank you for taking the time to answer a series of questions as well as take a personal and public position in a controversial subject.

    Your responses are eminently reasonable, but one specific question was not asked nor addressed:

    The present models assume various levels of net positive feedback in climate.

    Is there, in your opinion and scientific expertise, an adequate case for this presumption?

    One difficulty I have seen with the ‘more anthropogenic CO2 = bad’ position is that there is a gap between the pure ‘greenhouse’ effect of CO2 and what is projected by the various models for the year 2100. This gap is the net positive feedback.

    Lastly I would also appreciate it if you could lend your perspective to the theories of Don Easterbrook and Syun-Ichi Akasofu, whom focus more on a long (pre fossil fuel) warming trend modified by ocean cycles.

    Regards,

    c

  122. Merrick says:

    Sorry I just don’t have time this morning to give this a thorough read – and I want to say up front that I have great respect for Dr. Meier and believe that he has attempted to answer these questions honestly and openly.

    That having been said, I simply don’t buy his answer to question number #2 and I think that if he thinks it through again he’ll change his response. I also am a scientist and by my nature I *approach* science skeptically. And I mean that in exactly the same way that Dr. Meier defines it. But that doesn’t allow me to call myself a skeptic at all times and on all topics. I am *not* a skeptic with respect to quantum theory or differential calculus or that man has stood on the moon. Nor am I a skeptic on plate tectonics or that the sun will rise any moment as I type this. Yet if anyone were to present credible evidence to contradict any of these I would have to consider that evidence and don’t think I would shy away from it. However, to suggest that the level of realistic open skepticism regarding the validity of quantum theory is even with the same order of magnitude as the legitimate skepticism regarding anthropogenic climate change, as this answer clearly hints, is simply over the top.

    In the end it boils down to the difference between having a skeptical approach to science and *being* skeptical about a particular topic, like climate change. I don’t doubt for a moment that Dr. Meier has a healthy skepticism regarding his approach to science in general, but by his own words – mentioning quantum theory and gravity in the same breath as global warming theory – he’s proven to the rest of the world (if not himself) that he is is no climate skeptic.

  123. Joe says:

    Dr. Meier

    Skepticism is being able to look at the science being proposed as AGW and having the ability to go over the findings to find any fault.
    If the science and theory is rock solid and correct, there is no room for doubt or biases to the science. When there is room for doubt and ALL factors are not taken in and considered, there leaves a huge hole that some scientists have taken advantage of.
    Any Data manipulation to support a claim is wrong as governments are making future decisions on these claims and industry is chomping at the bit to take advantage of any decisions being considered. Once these decisions are made, it is very costly to try and adjust or change.
    These are increasing the cost of living with no room for the poor to survive except through assistance.

    The other area hard to swallow is lumping everything into one AGW when obviously we having differing regions. The data being taken in is not all uniform as many stations are represented in warmer areas and a very few in colder regions. This gives great latitude to manipulate data unless one general rule is adheard to.

  124. Merrick says:

    (Sorry if this is a double-post. I didn’t see the first attempt appear. Please delete if it’s duplicative.)

    Sorry I just don’t have time this morning to give this a thorough read – and I want to say up front that I have great respect for Dr. Meier and believe that he has attempted to answer these questions honestly and openly.

    That having been said, I simply don’t buy his answer to question number #2 and I think that if he thinks it through again he’ll change his response. I also am a scientist and by my nature I *approach* science skeptically. And I mean that in exactly the same way that Dr. Meier defines it. But that doesn’t allow me to call myself a skeptic at all times and on all topics. I am *not* a skeptic with respect to quantum theory or differential calculus or that man has stood on the moon. Nor am I a skeptic on plate tectonics or that the sun will rise any moment as I type this. Yet if anyone were to present credible evidence to contradict any of these I would have to consider that evidence and don’t think I would shy away from it. However, to suggest that the level of realistic open skepticism regarding the validity of quantum theory is even with the same order of magnitude as the legitimate skepticism regarding anthropogenic climate change, as this answer clearly hints, is simply over the top.

    In the end it boils down to the difference between having a skeptical approach to science and *being* skeptical about a particular topic, like climate change. I don’t doubt for a moment that Dr. Meier has a healthy skepticism regarding his approach to science in general, but by his own words – mentioning quantum theory and gravity in the same breath as global warming theory – he’s proven to the rest of the world (if not himself) that he is is no climate skeptic.

  125. This sort of thing could make WUWT even more important than it has been already. From being a leading location for principled criticism, to becoming a leading location for serious discussion. I’ll try to be more active again.

  126. Vincent says:

    Re: Null Hypothesis 2 “Are the factors that controlled earth’s climate in the past the same factors that control it today and will continue to do so into the future?”

    NH2 looks like a trojan horse argument. Actually it isn’t even a hypothesis, null or otherwise. If it is a hypothesis, then the idea that the laws of physics operate the same everywhere in the universe is also a hypothesis. So the question is, why is this being smuggled into the discussion?

    The author then states:
    “So we’re left with two possibilities:

    1. NH2 is no longer valid. The processes that have governed the earth’s climate throughout its history have suddenly starting working in a very different way than in the past.

    Or

    2. NH1 is no longer valid. Humans are indeed having an effect on climate

    But NH1 and NH2 are not mutually exclusive at all. NH1, remember, is that climate is changing naturally. If it is no longer valid, then humans are indeed effecting the climate. How is that mutually exclusive with NH2 which states that the laws that govern climate have remained constant over time? Humans have indeed effective the climate, along with natural cycles, AND the laws governing climate are unchanging over time.

    The author is either confused or trying to smuggle in NH2 as the valid hypothesis and then use that to argue for AGW – the trojan horse argument. We see the horse unveiled in the conclusion, where he writes:
    “The basis for his answer, in practical terms, is his conclusion that NH2 is no longer valid because while GHGs have been a primary climate forcing throughout earth’s history, they are no longer having an impact. This could of course be true, but to me there doesn’t seem to be much evidence to support this idea.”

    Now, nowhere did Willis even describe NH2, much less try and invalidate it. We certainly DO NOT understand quantitativly how CO2 has effected climate in the past, and are not able to quantify it today. The NH2 argument seems to be saying that we do, precisely understand past climate swings, and precisely the effect CO2 had on those. NH2 is saying that based on those facts, we know how much CO2 is warming the globe today. CO2 is causing most of the warming because, as NH2 states, the laws of climate have not changed.

    It is a circular argument based on slight of hand. Sounding more like classical arguments to prove the existence of God, it does nothing to refute the sceptical position: humans and CO2 do indeed effect the climate, but the sensitivity is lower than asserted by the IPCC.

    I expected a well balance argument from a scientist, but all I’ve seen is spin and propaganda. Not impressed, am I.

  127. Argh says:

    Your invitation to be coopted has been taken up.

    Now your path is paved with intellectual compromise and it’s all downhill.

  128. John Wright:

    Greenhouse gases warm the planet? – radiative properties of gases? I don’t think I would be misquoting Hans Schreuder in saying that such a proposition equates to perpetual motion. Surely only the sun warms the planet..

    But if for the sake of argument, one accepts the hypothesis of greenhouse gases, their role would surely be to prevent or slow down the escape of heat..

    ..but I still don’t see how greenhouse gases could be said to be radiating heat downwards; to a layman like me, that is abuse of language

    I don’t know who Hans Schreuder is, but no it’s nothing like perpetual motion.

    The sun warms the planet. With no trace gases absorbing and re-radiating the earth’s radiation it would be colder than it currently is. And if the sun “turned off”, then the earth would become very cold, eventually close to absolute zero. Therefore, no “perpetual motion”.

    We can measure the downward longwave radiation. See, for example, CO2 – An Insignificant Trace Gas? Part Six – Visualization where the downward radiation in the 15um (CO2) band is measured.

    Or Sensible Heat, Latent Heat and Radiation where the measured downward longwave radiation can be seen.

    It’s not reflection. Trace gases like CO2, methane, NO2 and water vapor absorb energy. Then they re-radiate energy – in all directions. If it was reflection then the spectral properties of the downward longwave radiation would be the same as the terrestrial radiation. But it’s not.

    No surprises given that 100+ years of spectroscopy has demonstrated and explained this.

    And for the many Gerlich and Tscheuschner fans –

    check out On the Miseducation of the Uninformed by Gerlich and Tscheuschner (2009)

  129. David Middleton says:

    Dr. Meier,

    Thank you for taking the time and effort to post your thoughts here. You can add me to the list of WUWT readers who would love to have a few beers with you and discuss the science. You made a very good point about “belief” having no scientific relevance. I’m an evil oil industry geoscientist and I have a couple of questions about some points that you made that I think are based more on “belief” than “science”…

    Question 2: Regarding human effects on climate, what is the null hypothesis?

    I will agree with Willis here – at one level, the null hypothesis is that any climate changes are natural and without human influence. This isn’t controversial in the climate science community; I think every scientist would agree with this. However, this null hypothesis is fairly narrow in scope. I think there is actually a more fundamental null hypothesis, which I’ll call null hypothesis 2 (NH2): are the factors that controlled earth’s climate in the past the same factors that control it today and will continue to do so into the future? In other words are the processes that have affected climate (i.e., the forcings – the sun, volcanic eruptions, greenhouse gases, etc.) in the past affecting climate today and will they continue to do so in the future? A basic premise of any science with an historical aspect (e.g., geology, evolution, etc.) is that the past is the key to the future.

    “However, this null hypothesis is fairly narrow in scope. I think there is actually a more fundamental null hypothesis, which I’ll call null hypothesis 2 (NH2): are the factors that controlled earth’s climate in the past the same factors that control it today and will continue to do so into the future? In other words are the processes that have affected climate (i.e., the forcings – the sun, volcanic eruptions, greenhouse gases, etc.) in the past affecting climate today and will they continue to do so in the future?”

    Then, why don’t CO2 and temperature correlate in a meaningful way over geologic time?

    Phanerozoic Temp vs. CO2

    The only paper I am aware of that yielded a Phanerozoic correlation between CO2 and temperature was Royer et al., 2004. However, they derived a pH correction for d18O temperatures from CO2; and then used the pH correction to “force” the temperatures to correlate to the CO2.

    If CO2 can drive climate change… Shouldn’t it have clearly done so over geologic time?

    Question 3: What observations tend to support or reject the null hypothesis?

    Let me first address NH2. We have evidence that in the past the sun affected climate. And as expected we see the current climate respond to changes in solar energy. In the past we have evidence that volcanoes affected climate. And as expected we see the climate respond to volcanic eruptions (e.g., Mt. Pinatubo). And in the past we’ve seen climate change with greenhouse gases (GHGs). And as expected we are seeing indications that the climate is being affected by changing concentrations of GHGs, primarily CO2. In fact of the major climate drivers, the one changing most substantially over recent years is the greenhouse gas concentration. So what are the indications that climate is changing in response to forcing today as it has in the past? Here are a few:

    1. Increasing concentrations of CO2 and other GHGs in the atmosphere

    [...]

    3. Cooling temperatures in the stratosphere (An expected effect of CO2-warming, but not other forcings)

    4. Rising sea levels

    [...]

    6. Loss of mass from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets

    7. Recession of most mountain glaciers around the globe

    [...]

    9. Ocean acidification (a result of some of the added CO2 being absorbed by the ocean)

    “1. Increasing concentrations of CO2 and other GHGs in the atmosphere”

    Why do plant stomata data consistently show that the rise in CO2 since ~1860 is not anomalous in magnitude or rate of onset?

    CO2: Ice Cores vs. Plant Stomata

    Atmospheric CO2 (800 AD to 2009 AD)UAH Strat v Trop

    “3. Cooling temperatures in the stratosphere (An expected effect of CO2-warming, but not other forcings)”

    Almost all of the stratospheric cooling occurred in two step-shifts…

    Why is it the the stratosphere has almost never cooled concurrently with tropospheric warming?

    A Simple Refutation of an Enhanced Greenhouse Effect?

    “4. Rising sea levels”

    Sea level has been generally rising since the onset of the Holocene. On a local scale it’s been rising since shortly after the warm up from the Little Ice Age began. On a very local scale, the rate of sea level rise in the early 20th century was almost identical to that of the late 20th century. There was a hiatus of sea level rise in the mid-20th century…

    Sea Level Since 1900 AD

    The total sea level change over the 20th century is about 6 inches.

    The total change in sea level since 1700 is less than 300mm…

    Sea Level Since 1700 AD

    If you plot the sea level changes over the last 300 years at the same scale as the Pleistocene glacial/interglacial sea level changes, the last 300 years is one point on the chart. Sea level during the last interglacial (Sangamonian/Eemian) was ~20 ft higher than the current sea level.

    How is the 20th century sea level change anomalous at any scale?

    “6. Loss of mass from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets”

    How did those ice sheets fare during the Holocene Climate Optimum, Roman Warming and Medieval Warm Period. Eyeballing Alley’s 2004 temperature reconstruction of Central Greenland, it looks like Greenland hasn’t been doing anything differently over the last 200 years than it has done over the last 12,000 years…

    Central Greenland

    When I combine the ice core data with borehole and modern temperature data, it doesn’t appear to me that Greenland is doing anything out of the ordinary… Greenland

    How does Greenland’s non-anomalous behavior suddenly support GHG-driven climate change?

    “7. Recession of most mountain glaciers around the globe”

    The alpine glaciers at Glacier National Park and Mount Hood formed between the Medieval Climate Optimum and the end of the Little Ice Age. They have routinely advanced and retreated along with the various climate cycles, particularly the 1,500-yr cycle. Archaeological data show that the Schnidejoch Pass in the Alps has routinely opened and closed as alpine glaciers advanced and retreated in concert with the ~1500-yr cycle.

    How are alpine glaciers behaving differently now than they did in the previous warm phases of the ~1,500-yr cycle?

    “9. Ocean acidification (a result of some of the added CO2 being absorbed by the ocean)”

    Oceanic pH has ranged between ~7.8 and ~8.3 for at least the last 6,000 years. Pelejero et al., 2005 found that pH varies cyclically with a strong correlation to the PDO…

    Pelejero>Pelejero

    Pelejero found that since 1700, oceanic pH has been varying within the same range (7.8-8.3) that it has been for at least the last 6,000 years.

    How if the lack of anomalous oceanic pH variation evidence of GHG-driven climate change?

  130. Cassandra King says:

    Having read Walt Meiers article several times I can see a distinct lack of balance, he seems start with a belief then he finds any facts to support that belief, while witholding elements and evidence that contradicts his beliefs.

    I can detect no emerging data that contradicts the AGW theory and indeed the evidence he presents is in many cases outdated and/or has been refuted.

    I would admire his attempt to engage with sceptics but I fear that this article is no engagement but simply a re statement of entrenched belief.

    I see no scientific method, I see no atempt to see both sides of the debate and sadly I see no effort to truly engage us with the real facts.

    What I see rightly or wrongly is a rehash of the consensus using out of date evidence selectively applied with contrary data ignored to present an entrenched opinion, that isnt science as I understand the term, it smacks of a political belief using partisan data to present a partisan case.

    I do however applaud the posting of this article, it shows us in great detail what is going on in the minds of the AGW supporters, how they justify there stances and how they intend to defend their ideas.

    Many better posters than me will be able to dissect this article and I look forward to that dissection with eager anticipation.

  131. Gail Combs says:

    Dave Wendt (22:17:33) :

    Thanks Walt, I commend you for having enough courage of conviction to place your thoughts before an audience who obviously “will just be trying to find something wrong ” with them.

    Reply:
    Mr. Wendt “will just be trying to find something wrong ” with them is exactly what the scientific method is all about.

    In one company I worked for (Gillette) a new product idea was presented to a large audience after the pilot plant phase and SCUT( Simulated Consumer Use Tests) Everyone would then have a go at tearing the product and its manufacturing process apart. Egos were to be left at the door, only logic and evidence were welcome.

    This is similar to what should be done to any theory and is what a scientist should expect when he presents new findings. I have had my work put through that type of “grilling” on several occasions. If you have an open mind it leads another step down the path of truth. This is my biggest problem with AGW. The science community is hung up on CO2 as a forcing, all effort is being focused on finding evidence that mankind is guilty (and therefore must be punished through taxes and regulation) Criticism of CO2 as THE MAJOR forcing is punished and investigation of any other theories is suppressed or ridiculed.

    Dr. Walt Meier works for the National Snow and Ice Data Center yet he supports CO2 as THE MAJOR forcing and ignores the most abundant and variable of green house gases WATER.

    To Quote:
    “1. Greenhouse gases warm the planet. This comes out of pretty basic radiative properties of the gases and has been known for well over 100 years.

    2. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. This is has been also been known for well over 100 years. There are other greenhouse gases, e.g., methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, but carbon dioxide is the most widespread and longest-lived in the atmosphere so it is more relevant for long-term climate change.

    Where the heck is the mention of WATER?????

    Dr. Walt Meier also uses this as evidence.
    3. The concentration of CO2 is closely linked with temperature – CO2 and temperature rise or fall largely in concert with each other.

    However anyone trying to pour hot soda into a glass knows CO2 is more soluble in cold water than it is in hot water and that water covers most of the surface of the earth. As a chemist if the concentration of CO2 was not closely linked with temperature I would start investigating. This scientific principle, proved by experiment, and the lag between the rise in CO2 and the temperature rise, again proved by evidence, indicates temperature is the “forcing” not CO2.

    Dr. Meier then addresses the present changes in the climate.

    “So what are the indications that climate is changing in response to forcing today as it has in the past? Here are a few:

    1. Increasing concentrations of CO2 and other GHGs in the atmosphere

    2. Rising temperatures at and near the surface

    3. Cooling temperatures in the stratosphere (An expected effect of CO2-warming, but not other forcings)

    4. Rising sea levels

    5. Loss of Arctic sea ice, particularly multiyear ice

    6. Loss of mass from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets

    7. Recession of most mountain glaciers around the globe

    8. Poleward expansion of plant and animal species

    9. Ocean acidification (a result of some of the added CO2 being absorbed by the ocean)

    He then goes on to “prove” his case that these changes can all be explained by increases in man released CO2. However the critical question is not “can we come up with a way to blame man for the changes” the question Dr. Meier is actually addressing, but whether these changes are outside the natural variation of the earths climate. The answer of course is NO.
    see the graphs at http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/noaa_gisp2_icecore_anim_hi-def3.gif

    The other little thing that is always left out of the discussion is how much CO2 is mankind actually contributing. It is about 3% with nature contributing the other 97% http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/eia_co2_contributions_table3.png

    What is used on the unwashed masses is the Hegelian dialectic to get a predetermined consensus (agreement to hand over more of our wealth) This process was designed by George Wilhelm Hegel, a transformational Marxist.

    Here is how it works: A diverse group of people ( believers (thesis) and unbelievers (antithesis) gather in a facilitated meeting and using group dynamics (Peer pressure) to discuss a social issue (NAIS/AGW) reach a pre-determined outcome (consensus, compromise, or Systhesis)

    To understand it more (typing the HTTP http://www.crossroad.to/Quotes/brainwashing/dialectic.htm ) Read it all and you will see that the groups we know use the ‘Process’ to sway our thinking. Learn and understand it. The Delphi technique ( type in Http http://www.learn-usa.com/transformation_process/acf001.htm) is based on the Hegelian principle and there is ways to break this up but you must know how to recognize when the Delphi/Hegelian principle is being used.(type in the Http http://www.learn-usa.com/transformation_process/acf002.htm ) Comment gisela @ NoNAIS.org

    The same principles are used on a much wider basis to influence entire populations.

    Oh and if you really want a reason to panic, a newly discovered asteroid just passed between the earth and the moon http://www.khou.com/news/Asteroid-to-pass-between-earth-moon-on-Thursday-90122092.html

  132. Solomon Green says:

    May I add my thanks to Dr. Meier for venturing into the dragon’s den and to Anthony Watts for publishing Dr. Meier’s very readable and reasonable response. I am still left, however, with some nuggling doubts.

    I have a problem with any article that can assert “Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. This is has been also been [sic] known for well over 100 years. There are other greenhouse gases, e.g., methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, but carbon dioxide is the most widespread and longest-lived in the atmosphere so it is more relevant for long-term climate change.”

    Relative to water vapour, carbon dioxide is a very minor greenhouse gas. There is also enough evidence to show that the volume of water vapour in the atmosphere might have varied considerably over any time scale that is taken into consideration.

    As with Peter Sorensen and John Gorter I also believe that at least some of the last eight of Dr. Meier’s list of nine evidential data are still disputed but even if we take them for granted, what evidence is there that their correlation with increasing concentrations of CO2 and other GHGs in the atmosphere is other than spurious?

    From my hazy memory of Karl Popper, I always understood that in science one put forward a hypothesis and then kept trying to disprove it. It was only when no proof to the contrary could be found that the hypothesis was advanced to a theory. Climate change (as shorthand for man-made “global warming”) is still, probably, at the hypothesis stage. The trouble is that too many climatologists – for reasons of funding, publishing or otherwise – are devoting their research into trying to prove the hypothesis rather than, as true scientists should, to demolish it.

  133. CRS, Dr.P.H. says:

    Thank you for your contribution, Dr. Meier! As you can tell from the comments, we are a serious bunch who welcome open discussion and a variety of opinions.

    I agree with much that has been said, and only wish to emphasize the unknown impact of the biosphere in a warming, CO2-enriched planet. Photosynthesis of all kinds should increase, and this should be incorporated into climate models. To date, I find this brushed off by nearly all in the climate change community.

    Excellent column, WUWT is evolving into a forum for deep discussion and analysis of some very advanced science. It’s a pleasure to be able to contribute.

  134. ThinkingScientist says:

    Thanks in advance for posting this and braving the wrath of skeptics. I have a number of points I would like to raise but the first is:

    Answer to question 3 contains the following statement:

    “And in the past we’ve seen climate change with greenhouse gases (GHGs).”

    The support for this statement appears to come from Q6, item 3:

    “3. The concentration of CO2 is closely linked with temperature – CO2 and temperature rise or fall largely in concert with each other. This has been observed in ice cores from around the world with some records dating back over 800,000 years. Sometimes the CO2 rise lags the temperature rise, as seems to be the case in some of ice ages, but this simply means that CO2 didn’t initiate the rise (it is clear that solar forcing did) and was a feedback. But regardless, without CO2 you don’t get swings between ice ages and interglacial periods.”

    This statement really does not hold up. The evidence of ice core data strongly suggests a lag of around 800 years, so temperature change leads CO2 change. The idea that solar forcing caused temperature rise and this causes CO2 rise is reasonable and would be consistent with CO2 coming out of solution from the oceans, or perhaps changes in biosphere activity. However the statement that there is then a feedback cannot be true – because how do we then revert back to a new ice age? Solar forcing again? If so, the CO2 rise is a red herring because to explain the cycling between ice ages requires positive and negative solar forcings – in which case CO2 becomes irrelevent and is clearly such a small effect it cannot overcome the natural solar forcing proposed. The argument that CO2 drives temperature in the ice core record reverses rational cause and effect. I do not see how the historical T/CO2 record over ice ages can support the importance of CO2 as a climate driver.

    A second corrolary to this is if CO2 were the driver, why does CO2 go up and down in the ice core records. All on its own? What possible physical mechanism could explain CO2 as the cause?

    The above arguments I put only falsify the suggestion that CO2 is a climate driver in the past 800,000 years. The argument for a modern AGW caused by increasing CO2 is not disproved by this, but ice core data cannot be used in support of the AGW theory – the physical mechanisms of cause and effect must be different. If modern CO2 increase does influence climate it is must be a very small and temporary effect compared to the scale of solar (or perhaps Malankovitch) forcing evidenced in the ice core records.

  135. Craig Goodrich says:

    Echoing the kudos to Walt for reasoned engagement, though I believe most of his points are subject to refutation by current scholarship.

    In particular, “ocean acidification” is simply not happening. How could it, when

    a) the ocean contains nearly two orders of magnitude more CO2 than the entire atmosphere; and

    b) the pH of the tropical ocean around an atoll, for example, can vary by 0.3 to 0.5 over the course of a single day?

  136. Bill Marsh says:

    Dr Meier,

    First, thank you for the well reasoned, professional response. It is refreshing to get to read a response like this that doesn’t devolve into an ad hominem attack replete with name calling and emotion laden statements. A real pleasure, Sir. again thank you.

    Not to say I agree with everything you state tho.

    I don’t agree with Dr Willis either in toto. I especially do not agree that earth has a ‘preferred’ temperature that it seeks. Having read a good deal of the back and forth (I’m not a ‘scientist’, I’m an IT Security expert) but I did do some preliminary work towards a Phd in Operations Research specializing in feedback systems before I took a different path (I got a little frustrated with modeling of feedback systems in which the overwhelming majority assumed away the problem “to make the model mathematically tractable”. Didn’t seem to me that this was accomplishing anything, but I digress). It looks to me like the earth’s climate, over time, is behaving exactly like you would expect a complex, non-linear, open feedback system to behave, with large fluctuations from the initial state, which become smaller and smaller as the feedback system stabilizes. As new forcings are introduced (volcano, meteor strike, human increase in GHG, land use change, etc), the system seeks a new equilibrium range. Pure speculation on my part, but I suspect the earth’s climate will never ‘stabilize’, but will tend to stay within a much narrower temperature range than it has in the past. What that range is is anybodies guess.

    The key question that we want to answer is, “what effect will human climate forcings (all of them) have on the equilibrium temperature range?” Some think it will be large, some appear to think it will be catastrophic, creating a new feedback cycle with requisite large swings in temperature as it seeks a new equilibrium range, some (the ‘skeptics’) think it will be small. I tend to believe it will be in the small range.

    In the end I don’t think we know enough about all the different processes and their effects to be able to make a reasonable projection. This is why I am in the skeptic camp. I cannot accept the definitive statement’s from Dr Mann like the CO2 sensitivity of the climate system is 3C per doubling of atmospheric CO2 content. I don’t think we know enough about the feedback system to come close to making statements like that.

    I seem to be rambling one of those ‘streams of consciousness’ but the point (if I actually have one) is that I don’t think we are as close to understanding the climate system and the effect of human provided forcings as the IPCC seems to think. I don’t know that we ever will.

  137. Steve in SC says:

    The increase in CO2 is due to human emissions. There are two ways we know this. First, we know this simply through accounting – we can estimate how much CO2 is being emitted by our cars, coal plants, etc. and see if matches the observed increase in the atmosphere; indeed it does (after accounting for uptake from the oceans and biomass). Second, the carbon emitted by humans has a distinct chemical signature from natural carbon and we see that it is carbon with that human signature that is increasing and not the natural carbon.
    This is a new one doc. I need to see some evidence before I even begin to think about believing that. My opinion: that is full of it.

  138. netdr says:

    It is pretty well conceded that temperature swings as rapid and large as the last one have happened 3 times since 1860. [Re Phil Jones of CRU fame] These swings have probably been going on forever but the thermometer hadn’t been invented yet. The rate and amount is very similar for all three but the first two cannot have been caused by CO2.

    It is logical to think that the same mechanism caused all three temperature swings, but the first two have never been explained. The third temperature swing is probably caused by the same thing as the first two. To reject that hypothesis and state that since we cannot explain any of them the firs two must be natural and the last one CO2 is illogical.

  139. Mae says:

    Respect for your willingness to engage here, also with your earlier posts on this site, I know this is not entirely acceptable to some scientists in climate science – so thank you for sharing your answers here.

    Rational and open discourse about scientific disagreements is the right way to engage with proponents of opposing views. Some of the points you made have certainly given me new material to think about, some things I disagree with, others that I consider important are missing but I do believe if the entire debate could be more like this and move away from the vileness that I’ve observed from both sides, we’d be in a better place.

    For my part, I’d be most interested in your views of the ocean oscillations and the proposed 1500-year cycle of the North Atlantic (I understand this to be a possibly significant contribution to both short- and long term variations)

  140. Stephan says:

    Actually this list in my view puts Dr Meier in the same category as the warmistas.

    2. Rising temperatures at and near the surface
    3. Cooling temperatures in the stratosphere (An expected effect of CO2-warming, but not other forcings)
    4. Rising sea levels
    5. Loss of Arctic sea ice, particularly multiyear ice
    6. Loss of mass from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets
    7. Recession of most mountain glaciers around the globe
    8. Poleward expansion of plant and animal species
    9. Ocean acidification (a result of some of the added CO2 being absorbed by the ocean)

    He is not a skeptic because they are all false; please show me that they are true.

  141. Steve Allen says:

    Dr Meier,

    Thank you very much for your time in writing to this post. It is much appreciated. Please help me understand something. From question 9, you stated;

    “ …call it null hypothesis 1 (NH1). Willis notes that modern temperatures are within historical bounds before any possible human influence and therefore claims there is no “fingerprint” of human effects on climate. This seems to be a reasonable conclusion at first glance.”

    Steve Allen’s interpretation: Meier aggrees that modern temps aren’t significantly different than those in warm, pre-industrial periods.

    You went on and stated;
    “However, because of NH2, one can’t just naively look at temperature ranges. We need to think about the changes in temperatures in light of changes in forcings because NH2 tells us we should expect the climate to respond in a similar way to forcings as it has in the past. So we need to look at what forcings are causing the temperature changes and then determine whether if humans are responsible for any of those forcings.”

    Steve Allen’s interpretation: Because Meir acknowledges he has NO temperature evidence for AGW, he immediately is forced to jump to a position whereby he is postulating the AGW-CO2 hypothesis.

    Question 10 you stated:
    “…For example, Arctic sea ice is declining much faster than most models have projected. Remember, where models are wrong does not necessarily provide comfort – things could ultimately be more extreme than models project (particularly if a threshold is crossed).”

    Steve Allen’s interpretation: Or could it mean the model was without skill for reason(s) other than AGW-CO2 hypothesis?

    Dr. Meier, can you please clarify your seemingly inconsistent answer to question #9? Or provide a source of unadulterated global temperature data that supports your AGW-CO2 hypothesis? Also, can you comment on the cause for decreasing Arctic sea ice? Isn’t more likely the models are wrong for reasons unrelated to the AGW-CO2 hypothesis?

  142. Jordan says:

    Walt – I’d agree with you for not taking that bet on the single toss of a coin.

    But on 10,000 tosses, would you take a bet on the number of heads being greater than 5,000?

    Or how about a bet where you are given this choice: the the total number of heads is inside or outside of the range 4,866-5,134.

    On exactly the same reasoning, I would suggest you would not take either of my alternative bets.

    The range you give for the second test (4000 to 6000) is too generous. You altered the bet, leading to an unfair conclusion.

    My range is based on the standard deviation of a large number of coin tosses (about 0.2), the central limit theorem and the the range of outcomes which keep the probability of the bet at 50/50 eitehr way.

    These should help to illustrate how the apparent narrower range of variation of an average does not mean we can therefore predict averages more “accurately”. To assess the accuracy of a predition of an average, we cannot simply use the variance of individual observations – that is not comparing apples-to-apples.

    Perhaps a chance to re-consider views on the utility of those long term predictions.

  143. GabrielHBay says:

    For me, this post adds nothing to the debate. All of this stale arguing about worn-out issues mean NOTHING unless it can be reliably and credibly shown that, for the last 100 years or so:
    a) the way of looking at temperature is in fact meaningful to climate.
    b) the temperature has increased by a statistically meaningful margin.
    c) the increase is larger than the margin of error.
    d) the data on which this is based is sufficiently virgin to be meaningful.
    e) the adjustments to the data were clear, well founded and without agenda.
    Anyone who considers the above points to be adequately shown, has either not been paying attention, or is seriously naive, or is simply (forgive me!) being less than honest. This is the bedrock for the entire rest of the argument about the role of CO2, man’s “culpability”, any precautionary action, etc. etc. Countless hours of reading, here and elsewhere, have convinced me of this. On a daily basis, I despair at how the wood gets lost in the trees when the debates go on and on, based on “rising temperatures” as if it were a given! It seems to me as if (in the blog comments at least) the voices raising this question are too few and far between.

  144. Mae says:

    Btw, I’d pass on the 10,000 coin toss bet. The laws of probability merely make your proposed outcome the most likely, not certain. I’ve been on the wrong side of a one in a million problem before (and I mean that literally) and it is too easy to forget that for every 999,999 people that are on the right side there is one that isn’t. So thanks but no thanks.

  145. AdderW says:

    5.
    …Second, the carbon emitted by humans has a distinct chemical signature from natural carbon and we see that it is carbon with that human signature that is increasing and not the natural carbon.

    unnatural carbon it is then, what is unnatural carbon?

  146. Curiousgeorge says:

    I made this comment in a previous thread and with some minor changes I felt it’s appropriate here also.

    As a general comment on prediction, which is really what this is all about, (weather, climate, or otherwise ): If a prediction is made ( via chicken bones or computer models ) and believed then people will act on that prediction in order to change the predicted future in some manner if it is in their interest and power to do so. Thus invalidating the original prediction, and setting up some other possible future with a different ( and likely unknown ) set of probabilities and outcomes.

    This is one of the things that drives any number of “climate modification” proposals currently being considered, and other actions (political, financial, and social ) intended to bring about a different future and why I tend to be very, very cautious and skeptical of anything that is justified by pleading the so-called “precautionary principle”.

    It is also very likely that the new future will not be acceptable to others. Who is right and who is wrong?

    This is why people (in free countries anyway ) vote on significant issues that affect their future. It is not acceptable that I should be deprived of my vote by a very small minority of well-meaning smart guys, let alone others with not so well meaning agendas.

    Let us not forget Niels Bohr’s admonition that prediction is very difficult, especially if it concerns the future. :)

  147. ThinkingScientist says:

    The statement:

    “Second, the carbon emitted by humans has a distinct chemical signature from natural carbon and we see that it is carbon with that human signature that is increasing and not the natural carbon.”

    is not true – there is no such thing as a “chemical” signature for a CO2 molecule burned by humans. What is it? A nuclear change? A CO2 molecule in the atmosphere is just that – a CO2 molecule and they all behave the same. Also worth pointing out that the residence time for CO2 is very short – around 7 years and that there is almost no difference in residence time between C12 and C14 atom CO2 molecules. The short residence time suggests CO2 is being cycled very rapidly in the atmosphere.

    Also, the isotope ratio of carbon molecules from burning fossil fuels…is the isotope ratio that pertained when the organic matter was buried millions of years ago.

  148. GabrielHBay says:

    P.S. I do not deny in any way the importance of all the other scientific issues, also of great interest to me. I am merely saying that, as far as the role of man and co2 in all this is concerned, first things first!

  149. Allen63 says:

    A very worthwhile read because of its completeness and clear statements.

    Regardless of the truth or falsity of AGW in general (AGW may be a component of the Earth’s climate), I don’t “believe” anyone has yet established as fact that we must “do something about it” or seriously risk “perishing”. That for me is the “bottom line” — as the scientifically illiterate politicians discuss cap & trade and other onerous mitigations.

    Dr. Meier’s post does not seem to strongly contradict my personal “belief” that AGW is a “non problem”. But, that is not a criticism of his post. In fact, I am happy to read the details of a practicing Climate Scientist’s reasoning.

  150. ArndB says:

    ## Dr. Walt Meir:
    I use the term “climate forcing” throughout. I’m sure this is familiar to most readers, but for clarity: a climate forcing is essentially anything that changes the earth’s global radiation budget (the net amount of radiative energy coming into the earth) and thus “forces” the earth’s climate to change. ##

    Sorry, NO, “climate forcing” does not make any sense to me, and can hardly be familiar to many readers, as neither the AMS-Glossary, nor the IPCC AR4WG1, Annex I, Glossary Editor: A.P.M. Baede (Netherlands), nor the UNFCCC explain a term “climate forcing”.

    If you use “CLIMATE” and “forcing” together, you should know what climate means.
    <<<IPCC says CLIMATE in a narrow sense is usually defined as the average weather, or more rigorously, as the statistical description in terms of the mean and variability of relevant quantities over a period of time ranging from months to thousands or millions of years.<<<<

    Kindly try now to put this and forcing together, e.g. :
    ___average weather forcing, or
    ___forcing mean (as the statistical description), or
    ___forcing variability of relevant quantities,
    ___ditto, from months to millions of years, etc ,
    and it is difficult to know what the talking is all about.

  151. kim says:

    Very interesting, a self-proclaimed ‘skeptic’ with the climate belief system of a ‘true believer’. Houston, we have a problem.
    ======================

  152. John Finn says:

    Sleepalot (03:21:41) :

    Gambling Fail.

    When the odds are “evens” he wouldn’t take the bet, but when the odds are
    4:1 against him, he would.

    Sleepalot

    You sound like just the sort of person I’ve been looking for. Do you happen to be rich, by any chance?

  153. hunter says:

    Thank you for taking the time respond on this forum.
    I would suggest that you have made answers, either deliberately or inadvertently, that are the equivalent of ‘heads I win, tails you lose’.
    Questions 2 and 3 seem to be the heart of it.
    I would suggest that the AGW hypothesis is this:
    CO2 is causing a climate catastrophe.
    The null hypothesis is:
    CO2 is not causing a climate catastrophe
    Your versions of the issue are full of false equivalence and equally false choices.
    Your assertion that to disbelieve in AGW is to disbelieve in physics is an argument a reasonable person could easily interpret as childish.

  154. Jordan says:

    I don’t follow the logic that a cooling stratosphere (only) is an indicator of increasing surface temperature due to CO2 radiative forcing at the surface.

    If I stand next to a warm body and feel its heating on the surface of my skin, any cooling of the warm body cannot make me feel even warmer. There would be a problem with the First Law if that happened.

    I do follow the logic of CO2 radiative forcing when it is asserted that surface warming must be attributed to even greater warming above the surface. This was well set out by Chapter 9 of AR4 – see “the big red spot” in Figure 9.2.

    But I know of no observations which confirm that the surface warming claimed for the late 20thCentury is accompanied by the pattern of warming predicted by “the big red spot”. In fact there is a tacit admission of this when Walt only refers to stratospheric cooling – I’d be pretty confident that we’d be hearing all about it, if there was any sign of the big red spot.

    The absence of such an observation would lead me to the conclusion that the late 20thCentury warming was not attributable to change of CO2.

    On the face of it, Dr Meier appears to be selectively emphasising those elements of the theory to suit an outcome, and that must surely be a reason for him to appeal to his skeptical side.

    Would Dr Meier like to comment?

  155. Craig Goodrich says:

    “Question 13: Is the current peer-review system inadequate, and if so how can it be improved?

    There is always room for improvement and Willis makes some good suggestions in this regard.”

    It is a little surprising that Walt doesn’t make the observation, obvious to every scientist outside the “climate” field, that peer review per se is irrelevant to science; it’s simply a convenience for journal editors and one is likely to find a similar process in place at a journal dedicated to, say, late medieval Italian literature. The hallmark of scientific inquiry is complete openness as to methods and data, which is why so many 18th and 19th-century scientific papers include elaborate (and sometimes quite beautiful) diagrams of the experimental apparatus. This makes it possible for any “peer”, anywhere, to “review” the conclusions.

    That complete disclosure of data, methodology, and computer code is not characteristic of “climate science” as practiced by Jones, Mann, et al. demonstrates quite clearly that whatever they are doing, it’s not science.

  156. hunter says:

    Please also tell us what the chemical properties of human generated carbon are. That is extremely interesting.

  157. Bruce Cobb says:

    This is all just boilerplate AGW/CC PNS pseudo-scientific claptrap, delivered in a smooth, polite tone to make it seem well-reasoned and rational.

    “in the past we’ve seen climate change with greenhouse gases GHGs. And as expected we are seeing indications that the climate is being affected by changing concentrations of GHGs, primarily CO2″.

    As Meir well knows, the issue is with C02. Talking about GHG’s is simply a typical weasely attempt at muddying the waters. And, as he well knows, C02 rise has almost always followed temperature rise, by an average of 800 years. To try to claim that “something else” began forcing temperatures up, and then some 800 years later C02 finally kicks in is simply absurd.
    Yes, “as expected”, you are seeing climate being affected by rising C02. That is called confirmation bias.
    Dr. Meir, it is laughable that you think of yourself as a skeptic. Your “evidence” for C02 being any sort of significant driver of climate is based on nothing but wishful thinking and fantasy.

  158. RockyRoad says:

    In reference to Dr. Meier’s statement in Question 6, point 3 wherein it says: “But regardless, without CO2 you don’t get swings between ice ages and interglacial periods.”, I would reverse the logic and say: “But regardless, without ice ages and interglacial periods, you don’t get swings in CO2 concentrations.”

    The ramifications in reversing their statement to fit the facts are immense (and makes the AGW theory difficult to defend, at least as far as pinning the blame of anthropogenic CO2).

    Palynology studies in Europe indicate transitions from an interglacial to a glacial regime takes less than four years, while studies of lake sediments in the UK indicates the transition may take as little as four months! Contrast that with the 800-year lag that ice cores indicate for CO2 in this same transition (and an equivalent lag as the earth transitions from glacial to interglacial epochs), and I see no plausible AGW argument regarding CO2 as a causitive factor. As far as glacial and interglacial epochs, with the exception of asteroid strikes, in the most pronounced climate swings earth experiences, CO2 is a lagging indicator, not a causitive, leading initiator.

    Even Dr. Meier admits that “CO2 didn’t initiate the rise (it is clear that solar forcing did)”, but then paraphrases Richard Alley, his colleague at Penn State: “the climate history of the earth makes no sense unless you consider CO2”. Their fixation on CO2 as a causitive factor is unwarranted; they admit it initially, but have to throw it in the climate mix to justify AGW.

    If atmospheric CO2 increased BEFORE an interglacial epoch (producing a warming effect) and decreased BEFORE a glacial epoch (producing a cooling effect), the evidence would be supportive of their case. Unfortunately for their argument, it does just the opposite.

    Or is their current expectation for this increase in anthropogenic CO2 to start the next ice age but they’re not sure so they couch it in terms of “climate change” and just don’t want people to know so there isn’t earth-wide panic?

  159. Louis Hissink says:

    The climate model is incomplete – it ignores electricity that underlies matter itself.

  160. Liam says:

    Whenever I see statements like “CO2 is a greenhouse gas. If you increase CO2 you increase the temperature” I want to see some hard figures. I want to see the maths and physics that x increase in CO2 gives y increase in I/R absorbed gives z increase in temperature, so I can see if the effect is not only real but significant.

    When the maths is done, it seems that CO2 increases alone cannot give the temperature rises claimed by the AGW hypothesis. AGW believers then posit a “forcing”, that a small temperature rise due to increased CO2 generates water vapour, which absorbs a lot more I/R and results in a large temperature rise.

    By that argument, any small warming effect due to any cause (not necessarily CO2) would give increased warming due to water vapour. Logically you’d then have the warming due to water vapour generating more water vapour, trapping more heat, raising the temperature, generating more water vapour…, in a doomsday feedback scenario which we know doesn’t happen.

  161. Quipper says:

    Point #9 [9. Ocean acidification (a result of some of the added CO2 being absorbed by the ocean)] doesn’t seem to relate to the NH2 that what drives climate today is what drove the climate in the past. I thought that ocean acidification was the second danger of CO2, which is used to scare those who don’t buy the first danger (global warming). Is there some established (or claimed) link between ocean pH and climate that I have missed?

    On a related note, the term “ocean acidification” used here and elsewhere seems to me to be evidence of the bias of many in the scientific community. Is the ocean becoming acidic due to CO2? No, it is becoming less basic. A more accurate term would be “ocean neutralization” – but that would sound less scary. When the scientific consensus favors fear over accuracy, it tends to make one have less in the “scientific consensus” in general.

  162. Pathetic.

    Mr Walt Meier concocted, not even penned down, an article with AGW mantra which was torn to shreds by commenters.

    For one thing I am thankful – I was given first hand proof (and a picture) how the “climate science” looks like from within. Disgusting.

    Well, I will skip Mr Meier’s texts next time.

    Regards

  163. jobnls says:

    “To paraphrase Richard Alley, a colleague at Penn State: “the climate history of the earth makes no sense unless you consider CO2”.”

    This comment signifies the whole AGW proponent debate for me. IMO it is equal to arguing that a certain disease or pathogen does not exist due to the fact that you have not heard of it. It implies complete knowledge of all contributing factors to historical climate. In an immense multifactorial system with a vast amount of unknown factors you choose to single out one green house gas of unknown importance as the doom of mankind, why?

  164. Dave says:

    Dr Meier

    Well done for a well written and well considered piece. It is unfortunate that for the most part this has fallen upon deaf ears, clamouring to shout about corrupted peer review ,fabricated data or other specious claims. For example, this gem from Alan the Brit RE: Phil Jones:

    > He also agreed in the very same interview that there had been no significant global warming since 1995!

    He said there was an upward trend, but that it is not ****statistically significant****. Add in an extra year and it is significant. Use the 30 years recommended as a minimum for establishing a trend over this noisy series and it is undeniably significant.

    > He also didn’t seem to comment on the apparent global cooling of recent years.

    Contradicted by Phil Jones in the interview he quote mines and misrepresents.

    So, it was admirable of you to try, but some people have no desire to engage with that which does not align with their prejudices.

  165. Gail Combs says:

    Roger Carr (22:49:59) :

    Walt Meier has penned a seductive piece here which bids fair to capture my belief and endorsement… so why do I at the same time feel ensnared in a trap which needs escaping from?

    REPLY:
    My take is that Dr Meier is a “facilitator/change agent” He would have to have great charm and the ability to convince to be placed in that critical role. Once you know what to look for it is easy to spot a “facilitator” (I was trained as one)

    To understand it what I am talking about see: http.www.crossroad.to/Quotes/brainwashing/dialectic.htm
    The Delphi technique: http.www.learn-usa.com/transformation_process/acf001.htm
    http http://www.learn-usa.com/transformation_process/acf002.htm

  166. PeterB in Indianapolis says:

    “Arctic sea ice is declining much faster than most models have projected.”

    This seems to be directly contradicted by the actual data coming out of the NSIDC itself. Until I got to that sentence I thought that it was a pretty well thought-out post and fairly hysteria-free. That sentence killed it for me.

  167. Jim says:

    An earlier post pointed out that NH! and NH2 are not
    mutually exclusive.

    The discussion is not necessarily one or the other, rather it is

    Current Warming = X*H1 + (1-X)*H2

    where H1 = hypothesis 1 and H2 = Hypothesis 2.

    The question is what is the value of X? There is a continuum
    of values between X = [0,1]. Walt, what is your opinion on the
    value of X, and how can one extract X from available data?

  168. Ric Werme says:

    Let there be disagreements – that’s one of the all time best drivers that lead to greater understanding.

    Let us disagree agreeably. That’s not science, but art and good manners. I avoided getting involved in the AGW debate for years due to the acrimony involved, patiently waiting until the end of solar cycle 23 (actually until it dragged out so long that it was clear that it would be a long cycle and those are important) and the PDO flip to a predominantly negative mode.

    There’s a lot to learn, and little in climate science can be learned in short order, we’re not talking subatomic collisions after all!* Still that’s no excuse to waste years letting science become polarized and politicized. Science has a long history of that as is, I have a lot more respect for people who work to maintain civility and help foster healthy debate.

    I’m always glad to see Dr. Meier’s forays over here. (Though I do think he gave water vapor a major slight, and suspect that increase ground level heating due to increasing GHGs may be offset by increased heat transport by convection. Sorry, I have no data to back that up.)

    *: Of course, Svenmark’s hypothesis says subatomic collisions are important, though it takes a while for the results to become apparent.

  169. netdr says:

    I too find the coin toss analogy faulty.

    In a coin toss each toss is an independent event with no feed forward from the last toss. This is clearly not the case with climate. Warming causes more cloudiness which causes less [or possibly more] warming. The feedback among climate factors is what makes it so difficult to model.

    So to say it is easier to model climate in 100 years than in 1 is to be ignorant of the modeling process. The feedback which is insignificant in 1 year is monstrous in 100 years and if it isn’t modeled correctly the results will be useless.

  170. Enneagram says:

    Stop breathing, we are all changing the climate!!. Fortunately americans think the US is the world, so, if as a consequence of NH2 there is a long expected by them armageddon it will be theirs only to enjoy it.

  171. Claude Harvey says:

    I applaud Meier’s willingness to state his case on these pages. However, the general argument that because CO2 is a greenhouse gas and therefore constitutes a temperature forcing function we should necessarily curtail man’s contribution of that gas to the atmosphere is not entirely logical.

    There is no question that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. More pertinent is the question of how effective CO2 might be as a forcing function and that hinges on “feedback”. I see lots of evidence the feedback is negative and very little convincing evidence the feedback to CO2 temperature forcing is positive. When I look at a chart of the past 450,000 years of reconstructed climate history (the one Al Gore used will do nicely), I find the following cyclical characteristics:

    1) During the “peaks”, temperatures have been higher than now, but not by much.
    2) During the “valleys”, temperatures have been much colder than now.
    3) The transitions from “warm” to “cold” have been relatively gradual.
    4) The transitions from “cold” to “warm” have been relatively abrupt.
    5) The shape of the curve for the current (fifth) temperature peak appears almost identical to the previous four peaks.
    6) Comparing the shape of the curve of the current temperature peak with the previous four leads to the conclusion that we are probably already on “the back side of the curve” and headed toward another Ice Age, as was the distinct scientific “consensus” up until AGW theory blossomed.

    If I were to make a large “insurance” investment as a hedge against the “uncertainty” of future global temperature, it would have to be insurance against cooling. In other words, I would certainly do nothing that would in theory tend to cool the earth and might seriously consider what I might do to prolong the current warm period.

  172. Larry Huldén says:

    Question 3.
    - 8. 8. Poleward expansion of plant and animal species
    This claim is definitely not settled in biology.
    I have a large regional database on observations (more than 1000,000 observations on 10-12 million specimens) of about 1000 species of moths and butterflies during 100 years in Finland. A careful analysis of this data shows clearly that there is no “poleward” drift in distribution of insects (independently of five different overwintering stages, egg, young larvae, mature larvae, pupae or adult). During warming climate the frequency of individuals increases and thus biasing a possible northward drift. You will during warm summers always make new observations on species far in the north because the species are then more easily observed. In cold summers you will not see them although they are there all the time.
    I was never able to publish this result in Nature because they needed an article that showed that insects had been moving northwards. They used Finland as an example where Parnassius apollo had spread up to 240 km northwards in recent times although every lepidopterist in Finland knows that it has declined 300-400 km southwards.

    Larry Huldén
    Finnish Museum of Natural History

  173. John Finn says:

    Mae (05:10:42) :

    Btw, I’d pass on the 10,000 coin toss bet. The laws of probability merely make your proposed outcome the most likely, not certain. I’ve been on the wrong side of a one in a million problem before (and I mean that literally) and it is too easy to forget that for every 999,999 people that are on the right side there is one that isn’t. So thanks but no thanks.

    I must admit I’d be bit a nervous about a life or death bet. I don’t think you could ever be convinced enough that the coin is unbiased. However the odds of being outside the 4000-6000 range are astronomically large. Millions-to-one doesn’t even come close.

  174. Martin Mason says:

    Nice article but still contains a lot of incorrect statements. CO2 is a GHG, CO2 is increasing therefore temperature must increase is not really a skeptical scientific statement

  175. Xi Chin says:

    What a load of rubbish. Global Warming, like change, real change you can believe in … I’ll believe it when I see it. Snakeoil.

  176. Curiousgeorge says:

    Mr. Meir’s example of a coin flip in his example is astoundingly simplistic, and bears no relation whatsoever to the issue at hand. Since we are talking probabilities here, it is important to utilize the appropriate methods and logic. He would benefit from studying Jaynes: http://omega.albany.edu:8008/JaynesBook.html , especially in regard to his statistics and logic.

  177. Jack Clancy says:

    I have great difficulty with generalizations that use, reuse and emphasize the phrase that “there is broad scientific agreement”. It is lame without factual backup or links.

  178. Steve Goddard says:

    I disagree with Dr. Meier’s answer to Question 9.

    Climate models are iterative (that is what feedback is all about) and thus errors compound. Each year’s snow cover, ocean temperature etc. affects the next year.

    If you can’t get this year correct, you certainly can’t get next year right either – or 100 years from now.

    The problem is that are only a handful of people who actually understand the inner workings of climate models. They are essentially extended weather models.

  179. Wondering Aloud says:

    Extending your coin flip analogy. Betting on catastrophic warming is like betting all 10,000 flips will come up heads.

  180. hunter says:

    Well here is a stab at a third hypothesis irt AGW:
    AGW is a social movement often called ‘mania’ or ‘popular delusion’ where a critical mass of true believers and promoters fixate on an idea- it can be real estate, an investment strategy, tulips, eugenics, etc.- and reinforce the power of the idea and certain public policy demands until no dissent or discussion outside of the framework of agreement with that idea is acceptable to its community members.
    True belief is so powerful that even when significant evidence of fraud or just plain wrongness is discovered, the believer persists in their confidence.
    Examples of this would be the conflation that Arctic ice behavior over the past 30 years portends a great climate catastrophe. Even as Antarctic ice is expanding. Another would be that the small temperature moves of the past ~130 years represents proof that CO2 is causing a catastrophe.
    Another would be that inspite of no evidence at all, AGW true believers claim the oceans are ‘acidifying’.
    Another would be the failure of AGW predictions regarding storm strength and intensity, droughts, rain fall, etc.
    Another would be the way the AGW community recasts weather events as ‘extreme’.
    Another would be the AGW community calling any weather event proof, whether it has to do with warming cooling drought or rain.
    Except when skeptics point out weather events as normal or not unusual, then the AGW community calls them weather.
    Yet another would be the rebranding of AGW, from climate change- as if climates do not change, to global warming back to climate change and now to climate crisis.
    All of these demonstrate a lack of actual evidence to support the idea that CO2 is causing a climate catastrophe and point to the idea that AGW is constantly seeking to sell the idea of climate catastrophe, both to reinforce belief in the believer community and to attempt to sell the idea to a larger market.

  181. Alexander says:

    Dr Meier,
    Many thanks for making the effort to reply to Willis E. in an appropriate manner.
    While I disagree with a number of the conclusions you have postulated, I commend you for engaging in a sensible debate which will benefit all of us who are regular readers on this site.

  182. Bob Kutz says:

    Dr. Meier,

    This is a breath of fresh air. Good read.

    As to your points; it looks to me as though you are implying that we had GCMs that worked (i.e. understood all of the forcings and correctly predicted climate change), and then these models started to be incorrect, until we realized that anthropogenic CO2 emissions were causing problems, and once accounted for, our GCMs became accurate predictors of climate change again.

    If that is what you are indicating, I’d love to see these models, because to my understanding, nothing could be further from the truth; our models have been hopeless, and continue to be so. They cannot correctly predict or interpret PDO, ENSO, or any other of the oceanic climatic phenomena that seem to have a very significant impact on at least short term (by which I mean decadal) climate variance. They cannot retrospectively “predict” the climate in any meaningful way, and are largely just ‘GIGO’ at this point.

    Finally; from your last paragraph, it seems you are imputing linear forcing to CO2. Is it your contention that CO2 has an unlimited capacity to warm the earth? Will the next 300 ppm of CO2 concentration have the same impact to temperature as the first 300? Will the next 50 ppm have the same effect as the last? I know this probably seems a bit of a stretch on my part; but at some point the next 50 ppm becomes meaningless, as saturation to the bandwidth has occurred, and no further absorption is possible. So your statement that

    “From this we conclude that humans are having an impact on climate and that this impact will become more significant in the future as we continue to increase GHGs in the atmosphere.”,

    seems a bit unscientfic and presumptuous to me.

    Although I truly appreciate your response to Willis’, I am beginning to understand the true difference between skeptics and believers; Believers believe we’ve learned everything there is to know, and we cannot be wrong, while skeptics look at the evidence and ask; yes, but why is it that our GCMs keep giving us wrong answers.

    From the warmists we get statements like ‘we cannot explain the current lack of warming, and it’s a travesty that we can’t’, and ‘hide the decline’, (which would be difficult to take out of context, by the way), while from skeptics we get a lot of honest questions that go largely unanswered.

    The Wizard of Oz is not an inaccurate analogy here; I’ve seen it in print that sharing of data and methodology is not considered to be the norm in climate science. If that is the case, then it’s just climate shamanism, and the moniker of science needs to be taken away, lest it be tarnished. And that is what Jones, Hansen, Briffa, Mann, et. al. have been engaged in for a long long time.

    Again; thank you for your well thought out reply though.

    Sincerely,
    Bob Kutz

  183. Don Mattox says:

    As many have pointed out water vapor was not discussed but it can be a “forcing” in both ways! Water vapor is a very good greenhouse gas/vapor and will tend to increase the temperature however if the water vapor becomes clouds it increases the albedo and decreases the solar insolation on the earth and causes cooling. Cloud formation depends on nucleation sites (ions/particles – think contrails) and the vertical circulation in the atmosphere (think thunderstorms) – these are not understood and without their inclusion a climate model is just that, a model that needs to be refined and not believed to the point of “alarmist” reactions that my affect mankind’s future more than climate change.

  184. kim says:

    The irony of calling himself a skeptic while mindlessly and carefully, religiously even, repeating the standard AGW argument just sparkles. This one is a real gem. Does he really have no idea of the very trenchant criticisms of the standard climatic belief system? If he is, he’s ignorant; if he’s not, he’s disingenuous. Which is it.

    Maybe after he’s read these comments, containing the kernels of the skeptical critique, he might favor us with insight. Did you really not know, Walt? Say it ain’t so.
    =================

  185. David L. Hagen says:

    Thanks Walt for a carefully reasoned position.

    On the science, see the other side of the story in:
    Climate Change Reconsidered
    Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change 2009 ISBN-13 – 978-1-934791-28-8

    The biggest issue is the uncertainties and the physics not included in the global warming models dominate the supposed GHG drivers. e.g. cloud feedback, and amplification mechanisms of solar and galactic cosmic ray variations, and the interaction of Length of Day variations with climate and solar processes.

    Re Question 14: Regarding climate, what action (if any) should we take at this point?

    Recommend putting this into perspective with other global humanitarian projects. See the Copenhagen Consensus 2008.
    On a benefit/cost basis, mitigating global warming comes in dead last relative to 30 major humanitarian projects. We have far more important issues to deal with than hyped warming fears.

    Regarding economic issues, OPEC’s controlling oil exports and global pricing strongly drove the 2008 economic crisis and the increase in unemployment. Non-OPEC oil production peaked in 2004/05. OPEC is now controlling future oil prices for maximum “tribute”. This has far greater immediate impact on global economy and welfare than any realistic global warming projections. e.g. See The Oil Drum

    Best wishes for sane science and well weighed global perspectives.

  186. John Gorter says:

    As I stated way way back in this thread, Dr Meier makes a lot of ‘indications’ that the climate is changing. Nobody yet has challeged my statement that :

    ‘From my reading here and elsewhere, nearly all, or possibly all, of the indications are contentious, i.e. somebody has disputed them.’

    Apart from Stumpy, who does not give any evidence, but may be being ironic/sarcastic.

    Can anybody give any strong, unequivocal evidence (NB: not ‘proof’, this is ‘science’ after all!) that any of these statements by Dr Meier are likely correct?

    John Gorter

  187. Tom in Florida says:

    Just thinking

    a. If GHGs increase temperatures and CO2 is a GHG and humans produce CO2 , then humans are mainly responsible for the increase the temperature

    b. If hurricanes need warm water to develop and warmer waters make for stronger hurricanesand global warming increases the water temperature, then global warming is responsible for more frequent and stronger hurricanes.

    c. But, b. is not true and hurricanes depend on many different factors to develop and strengthen, increased water temperatures is only a small factor.

    d. So, in light of what c. says about b., what should we say about a?

  188. Kay says:

    @Annabelle (23:32:47) : Walt, I really don’t follow your logic in Question 3. It seems to be a contorted version of the more familiar “We don’t can’t explain the current warming using our present knowledge of the effects of the known forcings, so therefore it must be caused by anthropogenic CO2″. ”

    This jumped out at me too, and I agree with Annabelle, and that’s a logical fallacy–an appeal to ignorance. The author is saying, “There’s no evidence against x, therefore x must be true” or, conversely, “There’s no evidence for y. Therefore, not-y.” That’s like saying there’s no proof God doesn’t exist; therefore he must exist. In other words, it can’t be proven that AGW doesn’t exist, therefore it does. Or, to put it in context with the article, it can’t be shown that the forcings are related to natural variability, therefore anthropogenic CO2 must be the cause.

    Do they even teach logic anymore? It really should be a required course or two, especially for those in the sciences–and preferably taught concurrently with statistics.

    You don’t need to be able to completely understand the science if you can see through bad reasoning like this.

  189. Dave F says:

    Question 12: Is climate science a physical science?

    Climate science uses 95% confidence levels, yes?

    http://www.mail-archive.com/edstat@jse.stat.ncsu.edu/msg03859.html

    This email is interesting in that context.

    “Half of all 3 sigma events are wrong.”

    I know 95% is not a three sigma event. It is actually a two sigma event.

    So, when would the temperatures from the models give us a five sigma event? This could be the prediction we have all been asking for, and induct climate science into the physical sciences. If models say five sigma happens in 2050, and it does not, then they are wrong. Of course, given that each individual model has made projections contrary to observations, why believe the conglomeration of a bunch of wrong models?

  190. kim says:

    @Larry Hulden 6:14:38

    Thank you very much for that. It seems that the species of butterfly wing which twitches with such social moment is the Parnassius Apollo. Good to know, and the name is apt.
    =====================

  191. kim says:

    OK, P. apollo. Don’t we capitalize the names of Gods?
    ========

  192. harrywr2 says:

    Another coin-toss fan.

    I made good money during my misspent youth relieving those who believed in the statistical probability of the coin toss of their money.

    A coin toss only appears random to those who are uniformed of the nature of the worlds greatest con.

    All coins are heavier on one side then the other. A skilled coin tosser would bet a million on a single toss or bet a million on 10,000 tosses. An American Quarter in skilled hands will land heads down 80% of the time.

    But one would say ‘but in that case it’s not a matter of chance’, which I would answer yes. it’s a matter of knowing what ‘appears’ to be random.

    Hence, when we talk about predicting weather or climate into the future we say natural variation tends to cancel itself out over time. Yet we know this to be false, the earth was once a snowball.

  193. Dave F says:

    Also, extended indefinitely forward, when do climate models predict another ice age? Is the answer, possibly, never?

  194. INGSOC says:

    I think this line from Cassandra King @ (04:35:30) best encapsulates my own impression of Dr. Meier’s post.

    “I would admire his attempt to engage with sceptics but I fear that this article is no engagement but simply a re statement of entrenched belief.”

    I too came away somewhat disappointed that there is nothing new here. Then I saw this from Professor Ravetz and “my heart soared like a hawk”:
    “This sort of thing could make WUWT even more important than it has been already. From being a leading location for principled criticism, to becoming a leading location for serious discussion.”

    Alas…

    I hope Dr. Meier engages in this discussion, rather than merely (re)stating his beliefs and walking away, as appears to be the case yet again.

    Nevertheless, My thanks to Dr. Meier.

  195. John Galt says:

    1. Increasing concentrations of CO2 and other GHGs in the atmosphere

    2. Rising temperatures at and near the surface

    3. Cooling temperatures in the stratosphere (An expected effect of CO2-warming, but not other forcings)

    4. Rising sea levels

    5. Loss of Arctic sea ice, particularly multiyear ice

    6. Loss of mass from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets

    7. Recession of most mountain glaciers around the globe

    8. Poleward expansion of plant and animal species

    9. Ocean acidification (a result of some of the added CO2 being absorbed by the ocean)

    So what is the evidence that #1 is causing 2- 9? Just #1 alone is evidence that it’s causing 2-9?

    The concentration of CO2 is closely linked with temperature – CO2 and temperature rise or fall largely in concert with each other.

    Yet the ice core data show it warms first and then the CO2 goes up.

  196. R. Gates says:

    What an excellent post. One item I think worth pointing out is this statement:

    “Arctic sea ice is declining much faster than most models have projected…”

    Indeed it is, but the reason this quote is worth pointing out is that in this quote we have the perfect example of the great divide between AGW skeptics and those who seem to really understand both what the data is saying and what AGW models predict. A great many AGW skeptics will not even acknowledge that arctic sea ice has been showing a long term decline (more than 10 years), yet it is declining even faster than AGW models predict it should (i.e.trends saying that summer arctic sea ice gone by 2030 or so, versus models saying about 2100). I find the existence of this divide troubling from the standpoint that the two sides of the AGW issue can’t even agree on what the data is saying…the gap will remain perpetually, as I expect to be the case regardless of what happens with the climate.

  197. Madman says:

    Thank you, Dr. Meier. Commendable indeed.

  198. Jason Calley says:

    Doctor Meier,

    Thanks for taking the time and effort to post your views. Reasoned debate and discussion is always welcome!

    I think many of the commenters have already made most of the points which I would have otherwise hoped to make, but let me expand on the remarks of the few people who commented on your analogy of the coin toss and computer climate models.

    Obviously after 1,000 or 10,000 tosses we can not predict the exact ratio of heads to tails. What we CAN do is predict a statistical range of probably outcomes. “It is likely that for 10,000 tosses we will NOT have either exactly 5,000 heads, nor likely to have greater than 6,000 heads, etc.” What makes the coin toss senario so suitable for modeling and prediction is the fact that the tosses are distinct disconnected events. Each toss has zero influence on each of the others. This is what we do NOT have with weather (and yes, climate IS weather — at least in the sense that climate describes the large scale and long term distribution of many accumulated weather events.) The distribution of water, of ice, of warm air masses or cold, is based at any given moment on the state of the immediately preceeding moment. This means that we are dealing with a system that is massively reinterative, as well as being non-linear, poorly measured, barely understood, chaotic and which has varying (unknown) inputs by biological elements — especially us humans! The only reason why physics manages to describe planetary motion, electrical circuitry, thermodynamics, and so on, is that the sytems which model those phenomena are (relatively speaking) of almost childish simplicity and without the type of feedback mechanisms which describe the Earth as a whole.

    No, using the coin toss analogy to descibe why we sholud have faith in current computer models is not, I think, correct. A better analogy would, “Imagine you toss a coin 1,000 times. Now, create a program which will tell exactly how many heads you got — and the order in which they came up!”

    Still, thanks again for your thoughts, and especially for posting in such a civilized and scientific manner. Your effort is appeciated.

  199. Richard S Courtney says:

    Dave (05:41:27) :

    Dr Meier has had the good grace to openly and honestly explain his understanding of the science. He has placed his views here so others can agree or dispute them. Several have done both but (not surprising on this site) most have disputed his claims.

    This has potential to be a constructive and useful dialogue for all involved and for onlookers. That potential is severely hindered by knit-picking and mistaken objections to minor points.

    Your complaint at the fact stated by ‘Alan the Brit’ has been covered on another thread where Willis E and I each gave different (but both correct) refutations of your claim. Simply, it is factually correct that there has been no statistically significant global warming at 95% confidence for the last 15 years and Dr Jones agreed this in writing.
    LET THAT BE AN END TO THE MATTER.

    We need a serious and mutually respectful discussion between Dr Meier and those who agree with him and others who do not.

    I would welcome Dr Meier attempting to refute my explanation of why I think his basic assumption of “climate forcing” governing climate requires justification. And I am certain several others have similar desire for him to address their contributions. Such debate of those contributions is hindered by insertion of points that have been completely answered in another thread.

    Richard

  200. Ryan C says:

    How can you call yourself a skeptic and then spout out a big essay of IPCC propaganda?

  201. R Taylor says:

    Dr. Meier, thanks for making a serious effort to debate. I hope you are pleased by the response. To repeat what others have said, you cannot declare CO2 to be a greenhouse gas in the earth’s atmosphere based on a laboratory observation; you need evidence in the historical record. The ice-cores, with highly resolved indications of both temperature and CO2, indicate pre-agricultural CO2 is controlled completely by temperature, and consistent lag presents NO evidence of any effect of CO2 on temperature. In the eye-blink of post-agricutural (6000 BC) time, CO2 has risen far beyond any ice-core level, while temperature has perhaps decreased.
    If I may be blunt, the many who are less quantitative than you but pay your salary deserve keener analysis, more care with words such as feedback, and much more consideration of diverging interest.

  202. Mark says:

    “Sometimes the CO2 rise lags the temperature rise?”

    “Sometimes?” This is news to me. Everything I’ve ever read has said that ice core data shows CO2 lagging temperature by hundreds of years. If anything, ‘sometimes the temperature rise lags the CO2 rise.’
    I wonder if the CO2 lagging temperature view is in the process of being dealt
    “a mortal blow?”

    And in the cases where solar forcing initiated the rise in temperature, we’re supposed to believe that the rising CO2 levels that resulted from the warmer temperatures then took over and caused even more warming? Then what causes the cooling? Solar, orbital, or a drop in CO2 levels? It’s obviously one of the first two conditions with CO2 following (lagging).

    And the warming power of CO2 is logarithmic. When one looks at the ice core graphs of CO2 and temperature, you see what looks to be a direct one to one response between CO2 and temperature. If the CO2 was causing the warming, I would think that the spikes of the CO2 would not be followed by those current spikes in temperature that ice core data show but by spikes in temperature that followed the logarithmic equation of CO2.

    I’m going to plot this out in excel and see how it looks…

  203. Jeremy says:

    @Pamela Gray (22:38:22) :

    “Greenhouse gases have not been nearly as influential as the oceanic oscillations and the hydrological/topographical/atmospheric weather system interplay have been on regional climate variations over long time periods. These parameters, without regard to human emissions, have strong mechanism ties and correlation to climate swings.

    In my opinion, they bury the much smaller changes in temperature that greenhouse gases have had.”

    IMHO, this is the undeniable truth. Water has the best heat-energy absorption properties of any naturally occurring substance on the planet. It’s why we use it in our car radiators. On top of this our planet is mostly water on the surface. Many more watts per square meter of IR LW or SW makes it to the surface undeterred by the atmosphere than is ever absorbed by the spotty spectral absorption lines of the greenhouse gasses. It seems to me that blaming CO2 for the earth’s warming seems akin to blaming the exhaling of the person in the hot tub for the heat of the water.

  204. Richard Sharpe says:

    It is a testament to the influence of this site that someone like Walt would respond.

  205. Capn Jack. says:

    Sir with all due respect.

    This is not a casino this is science.

    And your models rely on statistics not probability.

    We use statistics to refine science not justify it, at the end of the day we map the world and the events.

    Statistics are not science.

    No axiom of AGW by CO2 exists

    There are only two proofs, one is by proven law and the other by axiom.

    Neither exist, qutoing long dead scientists is not an argument

    The answer is we refine research, will you admit to release of thought to other Variables, effects other than CO2 man made or otherwise.

    We have made progress, by keeping all effects and their causes on the table.

    What have you achieved?

    Kind regards from open minds.

  206. Gail Combs says:

    scienceofdoom (00:46:50) :

    “…. Also, I note that your list of GHG’s does not include water vapour. Why not?

    This is not a result of thinking water vapor is insignificant. Human activity is changing the amount of various trace gases like CO2, CH4, NO2 etc.

    Water vapor changes in response. So we don’t directly introduce water vapor into the atmosphere.

    Therefore, it has become conventional to talk about the GHGs except water vapor as “forcings” and water vapor as part of the feedback effect.”

    “So we don’t directly introduce water vapor into the atmosphere” is an incorrect statement at least according to some of the players on the political field of Anthropogenic greenhouse gases.

    First From NOAA, the basic We do not know statement:
    “….As yet, though the basics of the hydrological cycle are fairly well understood, we have very little comprehension of the complexity of the feedback loops. Also, while we have good atmospheric measurements of other key greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, we have poor measurements of global water vapor, so it is not certain by how much atmospheric concentrations have risen in recent decades or centuries, though satellite measurements, combined with balloon data and some in-situ ground measurements indicate generally positive trends in global water vapor….” http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/gases.html#watervapor

    Then from Thayer Watkins at San José State University, a water vapor is Anthropogenic greenhouse gas statement:
    “….Does anyone seriously believe that the these fluctuations in the water vapor content are due to temperature fluctuations or that the trend is due to global warming at a rate of 0.7°C per century. Those who want to ignore the direct water vapor role in climate claim falsely that water uses such as irrigation affect the humidity only in the immediate vicinities of the fields. The graph on the left is for the stratosphere (20-22 km) but the graph on the right shows the trend rates for all levels of the atmosphere. The trend is more radid at the lower altitudes.

    The far more reasonable explanation of the trend is the amount of water being put into the atmosphere from farming and urban landscapes in the area…. http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/watkins/watervaporole.htm

    Followed by the political action statement from the EPA.
    “(Washington, DC) The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking to classify water vapor as a pollutant, due to its central role in global warming. Because water vapor is the dominant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, accounting for at least 90% of the Earth’s natural greenhouse effect, its emission during many human activities, such as the burning of fuels, is coming under increasing scrutiny by federal regulators…. http://www.ecoenquirer.com/EPA-water-vapor.htm

    I think water as a anthropogenic greenhouse gas was deliberately left out until recently because it was too touchy a subject and would blow the whole game and not because of the reason you trotted out If I recall correctly I saw a write up by the IPCC dealing with Anthropogenic water vapor and they did not consider it insignificant just politically touchy. After all the IPCC considers the minor 3% contribution by man to a 1.4 ppm change per year in CO2 a call for massive changes in human lifestyles. (Sorry I can not find that reference.)

  207. EW says:

    To Larry Huldén:

    and off topic – by any chance, do you know something about changes in woodwasp occurrence in Finnland?

  208. Alan Davidson says:

    Q4 is the most important and basic question. Is there a real demonstrable global warming trend? People seem to just accept this as true and go on to the next point……

    Think about this:-

    A “scientific” experiment is set-up in which maximum and minimum temperatures at various locations are reported several times per day, with the aim of calculating an average temperature for a region.

    During the period of the measurements, some temperature readings are missed and go unreported, some thermometers are taken out of the experiment for various periods, some are put back in for various periods. In collating the results, missing temperature readings are not ignored but are added from readings taken at other locations. Data for missing thermometers is “filled-in” from other readings taken at locations that could be up to 1200kms away.

    Would you accept the result as valid and to be used as the basis of justification for multi-trillion-dollars of expenditure worldwide? But this seems to be what NASA and maybe also CRU have been doing for the past twenty years or so to produce it’s global temperature trends, along with other various other adjustments, resulting in it’s and the IPCC’s pronouncements of global warming and laughably blaming it on the miniscule proportion of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. For some bizarre reason this has been accepted as true and valid by millions.

    EM Smith (Chiefio at http://www.chiefio.wordpress.com) has produced a very large number of national temperature charts going back to the turn of the century and beyond from NASA’s GHCN database. The vast majority of these national charts show a long period of constant average temperatures, some with a small cooling trend, but after 1990 there are abnormal upswings at times corresponding to various often large numbers of thermometers being removed from the record and/or being brought back into the record at different times. In many countries the retained recording thermometers are mainly located at airports, which inevitably will be warmer-than-average locations. There is a remarkable similarity in the resemblance of these national charts in many parts of the world.

    The “warming” trend produced in this way by NASA appears to be an artificial trend of “anomalies” against a carefully chosen base period, created by selectively removing and replacing thermometer readings in such a way as to produce an overall warming trend, where the underlying real temperature data for individual locations has no such trend.

    It would be very informative if people would check as many nationally available raw temperature records as possible to compare with Chiefio’s national charts produced from NASA’s GHCN records, to see how different the NASA GHCN data national trend is to the actual measured temperatures. This could help to establish whether some national temperature record authorities are also involved in NASA’s work to produce an artificial global warming trend.

    If there are very few countries where there is a real measured warming trend, how can there possibly be a real global warming trend?

  209. Henry chance says:

    Al Gore
    Al sharpton
    Al Queda.

    Is there a pattern?

    More serious question. What did Dr Walt predict for sea ice extent 2009, 2010 and 2011?

    Is it impossible for the extent to fall if CO2 doesn’t fall?

  210. Noelene says:

    So you admit that you know little about the climate,join your fellow scientists,it’s a long queue.You are sceptical of some climate science,but not all?It’s easy for me to be sceptical of anything a so-called climate scientist says,because there is so much disagreement between scientists.You choose to believe some,I choose to believe none.Some know a little,some know a lot,but none know it all.You are trying to hoodwink people into believing that some scientists know it all.Are you telling me that in spite of having little knowledge yourself,I should believe you on this because your chosen scientists know it all?

  211. bob says:

    Models can’t predict climate on a decadal basis with the current forcings in mind, this is a property of the system being models as on a decadal basis the noise is greater than the trend.

    And its not something that can be fixed, as science cannot answer all questions with unlimited precision.

    And saturation to the bandwith hasn’t occurred.

  212. co2fan says:

    Dr Meier

    Here is Dr Richard Lindzen. He IS a CLIMATOLOGIST.

    http://gazettextra.com/news/2010/apr/08/con-earth-never-equilibrium/

  213. alf says:

    >>Now of course, weather and climate are different than tossing a coin. Whereas coin flips are governed largely by statistical laws<<
    I though coin flips were also governed by the laws of physics. Are there not very specific forces which determine the out come of every "flip"?

  214. Capn Jack. says:

    Sir, the theorem of Pythagoras is an axiom.

  215. Wondering Aloud says:

    You did state the case just fine and if this is all the information we have it sounds good. I could give you justifications to add regarding feedback that would strengthen your case.

    However, a theory has to explain what has been observed (not just a few convenient parts) and it must be useful to predict future results. So far in 23 years following this issue closely the CAGW hypothesis has failed more experimental tests than any serious scientific theory I can think of ever did. Doesn’t this bother anyone?

    What you list in question 3 above would all be clearly and undoubtedly observable before the idea of CAGW could be considered anything other than falsified.

    Instead what we have is this

    1. Le Chatlier’s principle explains this very nicely and unlike CO2 driving temperature fits the fossil record.

    2. Are they rising? how much? is this the only explanation? is this even close to being the best explanation? What portion is site bias? what part is caused by infilling of data with silly data that adds to warming? What part is natural? We just had a grand maximum. What part is cloud and aerosols varying?

    3. The pattern of temperatures discovered here did not fit the theory so we “changed” the theory retroactively to pretend this was true. Just like the warming was going to be greatest and most dramatic at the poles, which it certainly would be if the theory wasn’t wrong. How much warming has there been at the South Pole where we have some data that isn’t made up?

    4 and 5 no such effect outside natural variation has been observed. Sea level rise is a particularly weak support for the case.

    6. Are they? I have read otherwise and people I know working in the Antarctic are not supportive of this statement.

    7. I don’t know this appears to be counter evidence, in places like Glacier Nat Park micro climate issues are perdominant in causing this situation not any measured warming. Not all glaciers are shrinking and those that are began doing so before the supposed warming began. Bit of a cause and effect violation there.

    8. Could be explained at least as well by increased CO2 decreasing stress on plants and allowing them to survive in more difficult environments. This is a positive in any event.

    9. Not observed, unlikely to ever be significant. we would need a substance a lot more acidic than H2CO3 is to do much with the huge volume of the ocean that is now alkaline. We would also need rocks to somehow stop dissolving in this more acidic water.

    I continue to hope for global warming and any amount likely to be even remotely possible in the next two centuries is certain to be a net benefit, but I am not holding my breath.

  216. franks says:

    For such a polite reply it seems impolite to argue with you, however

    In Question 6 point 2

    Where is the water vapour? My understanding is that the forcing effect that CO2 has on it’s own is relatively minor. It is the consequent additional forcing due to the initial temperature change that AGW proponents rely on for predicting the much larger projected temperature rises.

    Included in this is water vapour which acording to AGW proponents has a positive forcing effect but for skeptics a negative effect – ie more low level clouds. Water vapour is said to cause 95% of the greenhouse effect, hence any small change in cloud cover is likely to swamp the effects of other greenhouse gasses. For instance Svensmark has shown how external cosmic influences change cloud cover but nowhere are any external influences apart from the sun mentioned in your arguments.

    OCEAN ACIDIFICATION

    Also I have some disquiet at your use of “Ocean Acidification”. This implies that the ocean is turning acid whereas more accurately it is only a “decrease in alkalinity”. This is important as this term is often used to justify MSM media scare stories for the scientifically illiterate (and this includes some environment journalists!) that give the impression that any additional CO2 will cause dissolving coral reefs and sea shells. It is no surprise therefore that RealClimate in their standard rebuttals for skeptics recommend turning around any reference of changing alkalinity to acidification.

    As far as I am aware CO2 levels have never been cause of the ocean becoming acidic ( ie less than pH 7). Around 55 million years ago it did become briefly acidic but this was due to a sudden release of large amounts of Methyl Hydrate from the ocean floor and not CO2.

    Interestingly although changing oceanic pH is often mentioned, we here a lot less about pH ranges of fresh water which should also mirror pH changes in the same direction as our oceans, the only study I have come across stated that fresh water pH has remained static.

    And no change in fresh water pH directly contradicts the theory that additional man made CO2 is the cause of lower oceanic pH.

    COIN TOSSING ANALOGY

    Your comparison of coin tossing to average out the results over a longer period of time has a defect. It is assumed that there is near even chance that the coin will land either way when tossed and that starting position is irrelevant.

    However a climate model is much much more complex, accuracy dependent on the correct starting parameters as well as long term weighting of the various forcing factors. It could for instance always show an ever increasing linear trend in the near future – for those that have studied graphs showing IPCC future temperature trends versus actual temperature will be very familiar with this.

    In the first few throws coin tossing will sometimes be a non linear graph or a positive/negative linear trend.

    The Met office have admitted recently that they use the same models for climate projections as their short term weather forecasts. The requirement to always produce extremely accurate short term projections implies that in the long term the models behave in a totally different way to simply tossing a coin.

    In fact they are likely to become more and more inaccurate. We can see this from a typical Met office forecast, over 5 days it works reasonably well but for seasonal forecasts they have been consistently wrong the last few years and have stopped publishing long term forecasts as a consequence.

    From this evidence we can say at the end of year one the input parameters for year two will be incorrect and hence produce even worse estimates for year three etc etc until effectively we end up with a random estimate or more likely a trend produced by the construction of the of the program itself. Why am I thinking hockey stick as an example here?

  217. beng says:

    First, thank you for your input Dr Meier. You obviously spent some time preparing this, and we appreciate it.

    *******
    Question 2: Regarding human effects on climate, what is the null hypothesis?

    I will agree with Willis here – at one level, the null hypothesis is that any climate changes are natural and without human influence. This isn’t controversial in the climate science community; I think every scientist would agree with this. However, this null hypothesis is fairly narrow in scope. I think there is actually a more fundamental null hypothesis, which I’ll call null hypothesis 2 (NH2): are the factors that controlled earth’s climate in the past the same factors that control it today and will continue to do so into the future?My emphasis
    *******

    This is where I fundamentally disagree. In fact, your NH2 is less fundamental & more narrow than the “natural-caused” null hypothesis (even tho your NH2 is a well-stated and important consideration).

    And like Leif S., I can’t see any evidence that CO2 regulates/influences the glacial “cycles”. In fact the empirical evidence seems strongly to suggest CO2 variation (and apparently all the other GHG gases) is a result of temps and not vs versa during the cycles. It’s a follower, not a leader.

  218. Mike Bryant says:

    Dr. Meier,
    Thanks for your thoughts… The last two times you’ve posted here, I’ve asked why this graphic has not been updated:

    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/seasonal.extent.1900-2007.jpg

    I know that you are not responsible for it, but could you at least ask the people responsible to update it? It hasn’t been updated since 2008…Thanks for your consideration,
    Mike

  219. rbateman says:

    Al Gore’s Holy Hologram (00:04:48) :

    I’d like to know if there are independent sources of C02 measurement longstanding too.
    Every last item these warmists preach is found to be half the story when the data sources are dragged kicking and screaming into the light.

  220. Peter says:

    Does Walt still stand by this prediction?

    2009: “the NSIDC, this time in the form of Walt Meier, a research scientist, was saying that the Arctic Ocean “will” be effectively ice free sometime between 2020 and 2040, although it is possible it could happen as early as 2013.”

  221. Pascvaks says:

    To begin, thank you for coming and giving us your thoughts in response to Willis’ points. Wish more with your experience would do the same and jump in the pool with the rest of us. So happy to hear you’re a sceptic, a “Scientific Sceptic”.

    Where to start?

    Climate projection is NOT easier then weather prediction. Many may think it is, but that doesn’t make it so. The analogy to coin tosses (1 or 10,000) is traditional but invalid and applies to climate in no way. The thinking, today, that it’s easier to predict the general climate of the latter half of the century than it is the weather for next week is absolutely stupid AND unscientific, it’s a common illusion.

    Past climate may ‘suggest’ future climate but does NOT ‘prove’ future climate. The climate 200 to100 years ago, and all the weather that has happened in the meantime, show that temps rose and ice melted and ‘suggest’ that global temps are still rising. The climate for the past 12,000 years appears to suggest temps will continue as they have for that timeframe. The climate of the past 14,000,000 years appears to suggest more of the same, up and down, cold and warm. The past is an indicator only and NOT a proof of anything tomorrow.

    Climate is complicated and we aren’t even close to getting a grip on it. Unfortunately, too many scientists believe it’s simple and have fallen into the hole of assuming it’s simple; apparently because they think somebody has “proved” something, or that like 10,000 coin tosses it must be like the law of averages.

    PS: Given that the anomoly is the change in climate over time, what is the anomoly of the anomoly that reflects the change in climate caused by humans over time? And, how was that ‘human’ cause derived? What are the scientific componet parts?

    PPS: Once again, thanks for jumping in;-)

  222. Just some guy says:

    While I am glad Doctor Meier expressed his position in a rational way, I am surpised at his linear thought process. Especially when everything in Climate appears to be cyclical. We aren’t even sure of all those things that affect these cycles.

    Take NH2 “are the factors that controlled earth’s climate in the past the same factors that control it today and will continue to do so into the future?”

    Such a statement presumes static rather than chaotic factors. Further note the word control. These climatic inputs do not control climate they affect climate and the effect they have had on climate has changed over time, becuase the inputs themselves are variable. e.g. the sun has been steadily wariming over the past several billion years but climate has been variable. Why?

    It has been 70,000 years since the last truly catastrophic volcanic eruption, Yellowstone is overdue. We haven’t had a truly catastophic meteor strike for quite a while. So does it really make sense to spend zillions of dollars to attempt to influence something we don’t understand only to be twarted by a major climatic input we weren’t even thinking of that is just around the corner?

  223. Doug in Seattle says:

    Dr. Meier’s changing of the null hypothesis is a canard. It shifts the burden of proof away from the proponents of AGW to the skeptics. This is the reverse of the correct process of falsifiability.

  224. Henry chance says:

    Walts forecast april 2008

    “It’s an indication that things are continuing to happen, and we can maybe expect it to accelerate in future years with other ice shelves,” Meier said.

    http://antarcticsun.usap.gov/science/contenthandler.cfm?id=1408

    Also:

    The Wilkins disintegration won’t raise sea levels because it already floats in the ocean, and few glaciers flow into it. However, NSIDC scientists and others note that the collapse appears to be part of a pattern, and additional ice shelves in the region may be at risk. Several have retreated in the past 30 years, with six of them collapsing completely — Prince Gustav Channel, Larsen Inlet, Larsen A, Larsen B, Wordie, Muller and the Jones ice shelves.

    Did 2009 and 2010 show the accelerated decrease in ice?
    But CO2 is up.

  225. Kevin Kilty says:

    quality papers eventually get published and bad papers that slip through the peer-review process and get published can be addressed by future papers.

    And what of quality papers that cannot get published, or not quality papers that, nevertheless, ask important questions and cannot get published? The answer is WUWT.

  226. RWS says:

    Thank you Dr Meier, for your discussion.

    The million-year record of temperature which mirrors the advances and retreats of the ice sheets through the last ice age is proof that the null hypothesis covers several degrees of temperature change, and that atmospheric concentration of CO2 changes along with temperature.
    There is some debate about whether CO2 concentration lagged temperature change during that time – if there is an ~800 year lag, it indicates feedback, and not a very strong feedback, rather than forcing. Before the Pleistocene, much of the Cenozoic was much warmer than now, and there were variable, but generally higher concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    Now, human activity is increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere by a few ppm per year. To me, the question is: Does the climate forcing of this CO2 increase overpower the preexisting, natural climate forcing that has obviously happened? This is what Dr Meier alludes to in his definition of NH2: “are the factors that controlled earth’s climate in the past the same factors that control it today and will continue to do so into the future? ”
    There is no reason to suppose that apart from industrialization, the present is in any way unique; we appear to be in the last third or quarter of an interglacial period, based on ice core and other evidence showing interglacials are much shorter than glacial periods, and range up to about 20,000 years.
    For example: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/04/06/sediments-show-pattern-in-earths-long-term-climate-record/

    Dr Meier has it right about the past being the key to the present, and that processes we observe today are generally what happened in the past. I contend that AGW alarmists, including many climate scientists, are ignoring that evidence and concentrating on the last 50 or 150 years, where there is a general, but not exact, correlation between (apparent) rise in global surface temperature and rise in atmospheric CO2. They assume that nothing else is affecting climate besides this increase in CO2.
    Will power stations, automobiles and manufacturing wrest control of climate from natural forces? Possibly in the short run, but unlikely in the longer term; an eventual return of continental glaciation is very likely. This means most of the “global warming problems” cited by Al Gore and the alarmists will be reversed and overrun in spades.
    If that doesn’t happen, either because the ice age is actually finished, or our CO2 emissions cause enough warming to forestall the return of continental glaciation, then we will have to adapt to a warmer world, which shouldn’t be too difficult. Higher sea-level will likely be the most significant effect, but that certainly doesn’t threaten civilization.
    Mitigation is possible and cheaper than the preventive prescriptions proposed by the IPCC, which are far more dangerous to civilization than the likely outcomes of any warming.

  227. A C Osborn says:

    Dr. Meier, thank you for an interesting Thread.
    Unfortunately I have to agree with Cassandra King (04:35:30) :.
    You are obviously not enough of a skeptic to have kept up to date with the latest refutations of most of your points that others have highlighted in their posts.
    For instance have you read the this thread over at Bart’s Site – http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2010/03/01/global-average-temperature-increase-giss-hadcru-and-ncdc-compared/
    VS and Tim Curtin have shown Statistically that there is NO relationship between CO2 and Temperature, both in the Global Series and the Local Series.

  228. enneagram says:

    What about Niels Bohr arguments against CO2 “Green House Effect”?
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/28018819/Greenhouse-Niels-Bohr

  229. DirkH says:

    “scienceofdoom (04:29:02) :
    [...]
    And for the many Gerlich and Tscheuschner fans –

    check out On the Miseducation of the Uninformed by Gerlich and Tscheuschner (2009)”

    scienceofdoom, in
    http://scienceofdoom.com/2010/02/26/new-theory-proves-agw-wrong/
    you say
    “Someone just pointed me to Gerlich & Tscheuschner so I’m not far into it. Perhaps it’s the holy grail – update, full of huge errors as explained in On the Miseducation of the Uninformed by Gerlich and Tscheuschner (2009).

    Arthur Smith already published an attempt at a debunking of G&T but had several mistakes himself as pointed out by
    http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/0904/0904.2767.pdf
    Gerhard Kramm, Ralph Dlugi, and Michael Zelger 2009

    Now you say in no uncertain terms that you spotted huge errors. So probably you can publish in a journal now, debunking G&T for good, something that Arthur Smith hasn’t accomplished by now.

    Will you? Or is it all only polemic?

  230. Karl Maki says:

    Almost all new theories have initially been looked upon skeptically by scientists of the time before being accepted – gravity, evolution, plate tectonics, relativity, quantum mechanics, etc.

    This is an interesting point in regards to the general pattern of scientific progress. However, in all the instances Dr. Meier cites above, the new ‘radical’ theory was challenging existing dogma; dogma that the relevant establishment of the day had an incentive to defend.

    But what happens when a theory is the foundational idea in a field of inquiry, the ur-theory of a science? It becomes dogma by default.

    In fact, I would argue that there was very little skepticism on the part of science when it came to the introduction of AGW because it appeared in a theoretical vacuum. No one had seriously engaged in the systematic, large-scale study of changes in the global climate over time outside of a few basic ideas about variability in the Earth’s orbit, tilt, etc. Of course, some of this had to do with the fact that prior to the late 1980s there wasn’t nearly enough cheap computing power to allow a reductionist study of such a large, integrated system. However, initial inquiry was also organized around concern about changing concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere and its potential impact on climate.

    In short, global warming forced by increasing CO2 concentrations was the foundational concept of global climate study. That is the ur-theory of climate science. That is the existing dogma, the one which the establishment of our day has an incentive to defend.

  231. Wren says:

    Vincent (03:20:00) :
    “2. You are given the opportunity to bet on 10000 coin flips ”

    This argument is completely specious. We know as a mathematical certainty that there is a 50% probability of a coin flip landing either heads or tails and the ratio H:T approaches 50:50 as the number of flips becomes very large. However, as there is no mathematical certainty about the amount of warming expected from a CO2 level, any uncertainties become magnified with time – the exact opposite of what he is saying.

    According to the author, the accuracy of prediction would become greater and greater, the futher into the future you go. Does he really believe this or his he merely engaging in spin?
    =====
    You may be misinterpreting what he said. The accuracy of predicting a single coin flip does not become greater the more times you flip. But you can more accurately determine the outcome of 1,000 flips than the outcome of 10 flips.

    I prefer the stock market analogy. Predicting what the market will do next week or even next year is a fool’s game. However, it is reasonable to expect the market to rise over the long-term.

  232. Richard M says:

    I didn’t read all the comments but my view of Dr. Meier’s response is a perfect example of groupthink.

    In almost all cases where doubt exists about AGW, it is ignored. Beck’s work for example. The recent papers showing CO2 may not have been a factor in the Younger Dryas period or the Faint Sun period appears to have also been ignored. Instead he accepts only the theories where CO2 is responsible for historical temperature change.

    The fact that the 1.5-4.5 range is still quoted even after we recently saw the supposed CO2 feedback from warmer temperatures had been way overestimated is yet another example where evidence to the contrary is ignored.

    I see nothing skeptical in Dr. Meier’s views. They are all biased to the AGW hypothesis.

    I do appreciate Dr. Meier posting his thoughts as I now have a much better understanding of the lack of real skepticism by climate scientists. It makes me even more skeptical of anything they say.

    I am also amazed at the lack of logic. Only two possible hypotheses? And that’s just the start. Of course, my mathematical training probably makes me overly logical in many ways, but when I see logic twisted to a point of view I really start to cringe.

  233. obruinsma says:

    Thanks to the very wellcome contribution of Dr Meier we, the reasonable informed taxpayer, are presented with conclusions based on statistics. Because it is very well known that when your research has to be proven with statistical procedures, one option is to change your experiment(!) to demonstrate the wanted effect. in this case the relation between human induced CO2 and global waming. Because the reasoning is based on a 100 year old (Arhennius) calculation which may be wrong( see Lindzen) and the 20th century effects (warming) are minimal, and the technology to measure temperature is of questionable quality a problem has arisen. We the reasonable informed taxpayer have to question whether the mechanism of the sun influencing our climate is not only based on the most obvious part of the radiation but also on a magnetron effect to heat the most important “greenhouse”gas in the atmosphere: water. The top (nano-) layer of water is very susceptible to magnetic heating influencing evaporation rates. A simple experiment in a domestic magnetron may prove the point.

  234. Gail Combs says:

    Vincent (03:20:00) :

    “2. You are given the opportunity to bet on 10000 coin flips ”

    This argument is completely specious….
    According to the author, the accuracy of prediction would become greater and greater, the further into the future you go. Does he really believe this or his he merely engaging in spin?

    Reply
    Thanks for pointing that one out.

    There is also the problem of whether the coin is symmetrical. If it is coated with lead on one side the H/T will not be 50/50 and will diverge the more times it is tossed. The same with the computer models. If the assumptions made are not exactly correct the predictions will diverge from reality the further into the future they predict. We are already seeing this as Neville (03:01:08) points out

    “….After all 1976 coincided with the change over from a cool PDO to a warm phase PDO, surely this provided a sort of kick start to that temp increase, therefore why isn’t the slope showing a sharper angle with this kick start plus an increase from much higher levels of co2?

    Also the problem accumulates when we observe that there hasn’t been statistical warming for the past 15 years. ( Phil Jones BBC interview )”

    In other words the more the assumptions used in the computer models diverge from reality the worse the future predictions will be and there is no way of getting around that problem except a completely accurate climate model with every little thing in it. Otherwise it will diverge more and more from reality.

    Dr. Meier needs to revisit his thinking on that point.

  235. enneagram says:

    In the beginning (around the 1960´s) they used to peacefully”fly” with their “astral body”, then they began flying with the aid of pot (Aka: Mexican Maria Juana), after that they tried harder things, beginning with Carlos Castaneda Don Juan´s peyote, psilocybe mexicana and “ammanita muscaria” but then they chose four engines flying machines up to the first rockets to heaven (noticeable before NASA´s trip to the moon)) like Di-ethyl-amide-lysergic acid (LSD-25).
    Troubles began when they changed to the more sophisticated and imported white powder stuff. That whitish substance made them feel all powerful men and to achieve political related allucinations…This is where we came into the story: Since then they became our problem, meddling into our simple commoners lives, telling us the world (theirs, of course) was suddenly going to end. Of course we could have f*! them off but they managed to scare our wives and our children, and not only them, but some morons in our neighborhood….The rest of the story you know it by reading WUWT posts…

  236. I want to thank Walt, Willis and everyone else for a most interesting discussion. We need to remember that in the earth sciences we view the present as the key to understanding the past. Note key and understanding, not forecasting. Logically the past then should be the key to understanding the future. Not forecasting it. Understanding does not model, it does not forecast. Understanding does help to explain and provides the fodder for developing hypothesis. Hypothesis are those little (or large) bits of science that we can falsify. All scientific disciplines caution us to take care in leaping from apparent or even real correlations, to causation.

    My problem from the get go, back in the 80′s on this whole topic, is and still is founded on the leap to causation and determination to force deterministic mathematical modeling on an inherent chaotic and dynamic, poorly understood, highly complex system.

    It is clear to me and has been for many years that these climate forecasters are masturbating their ideology and hubris without even the success of ejaculation.

    We may think we know how we have arrived at where we are and because of that thinking we assume we can forecast the future. We think losts of things the that cuts no ice with nature.

  237. Henry chance says:

    Washington D C set record high of 90 degrees Tuesday. Now it is down to the 40′s. Did CO2 fall? The 90 degrees were attributed to climate change.
    I am very suspicious when a model assumes only one variable is causitive and the others are constant. I have seen many years when a high pressure ridge covers the plains states and it is hot and dry for many weeks. But the CO2 is lower than recent years when the temps are down, there is no stable high ridge and rain continued all summer.

  238. jlc says:

    Thanks once again, Dr M for your willingness to engage with the us planet destroyers.

    Just a few questions:

    Do we really know what is the temperature of the earth (land, sea, atmosphere, stratosphere, etc.) and whether it has increased over the past 50 years?

    Do we know what causes an extreme ENSO event? (Note that, despite what Wikipedia says, El Niño events occur every year).

    Can we really distinguish between human-produced and “natural” CO2?

    How precisely can we establish the CO2 content of the atmosphere over the past 50, 100, 1000, 10 000, 100 000 years?

    How precisely can we establish the correlation between the earth’s temperature and the CO2 content of the atmosphere over the past 50, 100, 1000, 10 000, 100 000 years?

    Can we really rule out the impact of cosmic rays on climate?

    Do we really know that we are experiencing long term declines in global sea and land ice volumes?

    Do climate scientist know enough about drilling technology to be able to confirm that core samples are fully representative of in-situ material?

    I think that your definition of ” skeptic”is a bit different than mine.

    Jack

  239. Curiousgeorge says:

    @ RWS (08:43:58) : “Dr Meier has it right about the past being the key to the present, and that processes we observe today are generally what happened in the past.”

    Unfortunately, that is only true of a statistically stable system within known boundaries. While the physical boundaries of earths climate can be broadly defined, our predictive ability within those boundaries is very tenuous at best.

  240. Dave F says:

    @ Wren (09:02:15) :

    Is it, though? Once climate change kicks in, the markets will be toast, remember?

  241. Roger Knights says:

    A few days ago, in another thread here, it was suggested that the reason oceanic “acidity” is increasing, and that of fresh-water bodies is not, is due to increased (local?) undersea volcanic activity.

    I suggest that a reasonable compromise about “acidification” terminology would be to do what I have done, namely enclose the word in quotation marks to flag that it is being used in a special sense.

  242. Stefan says:

    The answer about the null hypothesis is mush.

    I’ve read that sort of convoluted narrative in feminist literature.

  243. Jack Maloney says:

    Thanks to Dr. Meier for a thought-provoking column. And thanks to all on this forum who can disagree without being disagreeable.

    Climate change is happening, as it has been for 4.5 billion years. And global warming is happening, as it has alternated with global cooling throughout Earth’s history. Arctic ice is shrinking and expanding, as always – the north coast of Greenland was apparently ice-free when the Vinland map was drawn (c. 1440). And humans are affecting the environment in which we live, as we have been from time beyond memory. These are realities which we cannot deny.

    As a skeptic, I’d like to know where we are on the natural global temperature swing toward warming. At the beginning? Near the middle? Near the end? How much of that swing is influenced by man-made CO2? Is it accelerating? Is it slowing? Will man-made CO2 delay (or even cancel) the otherwise expected return of global cooling? If so, by how much? So far, the answers are vague, and much of the data supporting any answers is murky.

    I am always concerned about the unintended consequences of movements that are driven by popular fear, political ambition, financial greed, and consensus science. An example is Norman Borlaug’s ‘Green Revolution.’

    Do you recall the “Green Revolution”? It won Borlaug a Nobel Peace Prize in 1970. His promotion of genetically-modified crops was “unequivocally” endorsed by agronomic science – and the UN – as “the solution to world hunger.” Borlaug’s ideas were the “settled” science of that day.

    After 40 years of Borlaug’s “Green Revolution,” the unintended global consequences of GMO-based agriculture have included:

    - accelerating deforestation
    - input-dependent agriculture
    - large-scale application of herbicides, pesticides, nitrates and other chemical fertilizers
    - increasing cancer rates
    - declining water resources
    - depleted aquifers
    - progressively deeper well pumping
    - increasing water pollution
    - draining and flooding
    - disruption of land use patterns
    - displacement of small farmers leading to
    - urban sprawl, social unrest and mass migration

    Oh, and one other thing: hunger still thrives around the world.

    I look at the “solutions to Global Warming” being proposed today by forces of popular fear, political and bureaucratic ambition, financial greed, and consensus science, and I remain a skeptic.

    But I appreciate Dr. Meier’s contribution to my limited store of knowledge, and WUWT’s willingness to keep the debate open and balanced.

  244. Steve Oregon says:

    Dr. Meier does a good job of covering the various angles in this broad subject. His willing participation in the discussion should serve as a model for others who hesitate and resist jumping into the vanguard.

    However, after all of the appreciated (yet somewhat verbose) presentation, where is the section on evidence of AGW?

    I simply cannot pretend the case is there , somewhere, because Dr. Meier and so many others load up the docket with the long string of experts opining on the theoretical validity of the climate science.

    Walt uses a generous definition of “evidence” in suggesting there is an adequate amount in the AGW case. But he avoids detailing what it amounts to.

    He seems to acknowledge Willis’ “climate models don’t provide evidence and that evidence is observable and measurable data about the real world.”

    But fails to comment on it’s absence. Instead Walt defines evidence, “To me evidence is any type of information that helps one draw conclusions about a given question.”

    Ok, Walt, but there is such a thing as value. This is the problem with AGE.

    Essentially Walt is saying the accompanying expert testimony in a legal trial, used to bolster the validity or credibility of the case, is equal to the actual hard evidence,(physical and eyewitness) and is good enough to stand alone without the real evidence Willis describes.

    Uh, I don’t think so. Millions of other skeptics don’t either. Courts certainly disagree.

    That’s what so often draws out the put up or shut up reactions from layperson skeptics.

    Then on top of the inflated value of opinions, theories and concepts we have the severe problems with the “state of mind” of AGW defendants who’s motives and observations have produced data where none exists, found imaginary links and made conclusions by carefully crafted consensus.

    Dr. Meier, that too is important information, your kind of “evidence”, and should not be left out of the equation or case for AGW. It speaks to the reliability of the evidence you weigh.

    At the end of the day we also have many on the AGW side like yourself who are “a bit skeptical of models and don’t trust them to provide information with complete confidence.”

    So now we should “never mention models in discussing the “evidence” for the influence of human-emitted CO2 on climate.”

    Ok, finally, but what’s left?

    A bunch of “tools to help us understand the evidence for human influence on climate” ?
    Just no real evidence to understand?

    Where am I wrong?

  245. Dave F says:

    Also @ Wren (09:02:15) :

    Given your preference for long-term analogies, what do you think about my post @ Dave F (07:08:04)?

  246. Buffoon says:

    AGW = Conflict of Interest.
    Transparency = obvious COI.
    Obvious COI = discouragement of COI participation
    Discouragement = Sound science
    Sound Science = Strong Future

    Ingredient required = Transparency

    That is all.

  247. The Iceman Cometh says:

    Second, the carbon emitted by humans has a distinct chemical signature from natural carbon and we see that it is carbon with that human signature that is increasing and not the natural carbon.
    I have searched in vain for any evidence for this vital point. “Chemical” is certainly not distinct – in this otherwise well reasoned piece that is nonsense. I had some hope of finding isotopic evidence, but that doesn’t work either. It turns out differences in plant metabolisms mess the expected ratios in ways which cannot be unravelled.

  248. Roger Knights says:

    RWS:

    Mitigation is possible and cheaper than the preventive prescriptions proposed by the IPCC, which are far more dangerous to civilization than the likely outcomes of any warming.

    The conventional term for what RWS recommends is “adaptation”; “mitigation,” in the context of the global warming debate, means diminution of emissions.

    Wren:

    I prefer the stock market analogy. Predicting what the market will do next week or even next year is a fool’s game. However, it is reasonable to expect the market to rise over the long-term.

    HaHa. See you in five years.

  249. Tamara says:

    Interesting responses, but the coin-flip analogy is inaccurate. 10000 flips does not add complexity, it just adds replication which make the odds of a desirable outcome more favorable. A better analogy would be if all of the coins were minted of different materials from 10000 unique molds, were all flipped under different atmospheric conditions (windy, rainy, snowy, under water, etc.), allowed to fall from different heights, acted on by different gravitational forces, and the result observed by individuals of differing levels of visual acuity. Even then, the analogy does not scratch the surface of the complexity reflected in the climate system.
    A key point that is lost in modelling is that every weather event on Earth is a completely unique result of a completely unique set of circumstances. There is no true historical analog to the climate that exists today. Even the continents were in a slightly different place yesterday. That makes the odds of any particular outcome vanishingly small and the odds of all outcomes equal.

  250. Jeremy says:

    @Doug in Seattle (08:33:23) :
    Dr. Meier’s changing of the null hypothesis is a canard. It shifts the burden of proof away from the proponents of AGW to the skeptics. This is the reverse of the correct process of falsifiability.

    This is true. His introduction of Null Hypothesis 2 is exactly that. Instead of answering yeah or nay on the idea that any currently unexplainable changes in Earth’s climate must be assumed to be natural (Null Hypothesis 1)… Meier says that a “more general” hypothesis is “are the processes that have affected climate … in the past affecting climate today and will they continue to do so in the future?”. He is doing exactly what Doug has said here, he has subtly changed the burden of proof. With NH2 it becomes the skeptic’s responsibility to demonstrate that the earth is behaving exactly as it has been before, and changes to this are presumed to be the result of human influence.

    Thank you Doug. I knew his first two answers didn’t sit well with me at all, and that is why.

  251. George Tobin says:

    I have some strong reservations about how Dr. Meier backed into the precautionary principle but I have to say that I wish all climate discussions were as thoughtful, candid, temperate and respectful as his post. He deserves a lot of credit for this substantive contribution.

  252. R. de Haan says:

    The earth never in equilibrium!
    ‘Global warming enthusiasts are arguing that the past decade has been the warmest on record. We are still speaking of tenths of a degree, and the records themselves have come into question’

    http://gazettextra.com/news/2010/apr/08/con-earth-never-equilibrium/

  253. Delaware Surveyor says:

    I have lurked and learned here for quite awhile, but have never posted. However after reading Mr Meier’s post and the responses to it I felt compelled to comment.

    First I think it is a wonder thing that an environment has been created here where experts who do not share the primary views felt here. This is both a credit to Anthony and those who post here who respect views from all sides as long as they are scientific.

    Those on the warmist side could learn a lot for the people here.

    Thank you Anthony, Walt and all those who post here on both side.

  254. Delaware Surveyor says:

    NIce start with first post:

    edit

    ..who do not share the primary views felt here are comfortable to share their views.

  255. Charles Higley says:

    I have not been through all of the comments, but wanted to make sure that this is in the discussion:

    “But regardless, without CO2 you don’t get swings between ice ages and interglacial periods.” Ouch!!

    Overall all time frames, CO2 LAGS temperature changes, and ice ages and 1940s CO2 peaks all saw dropping temperatures while CO2 was high. It is quite clear that CO2 cannot maintain a warm climate, let alone drive a climate to warm.

    It is the IPCC’s cherry-picking of the data that led to the false assertion that CO2 has not been higher than now in the recent past. In fact, direct chemical CO2 bottle data (E Beck) shows that CO2 has been much higher than now 3 times in the last 200 years, most recently 440-550 ppm (385 currently) in the 1940s – no problems then – and temperatures dropped while CO2 was high!

    There is also very good reason to believe that ice core CO2 data suffers a 30-50% loss of CO2 during the trauma of extraction, putting the more realistic CO2 values totally in line or above today’s values.

    The big problem climate science has today is that many scientists trying to truly understand what is happening have not really examined ALL of the false assumptions of the IPCC’s AGW framework – including the false data they promulgate regarding the history of CO2 concentrations.

    F Miskolczi and M Zagoni have recently shown quite elegantly that water vapor and CO2 interact to create a constant heat-trapping gas effect such that, as CO2 rises, absolute water vapor drops. And, since water vapor is a superior heat-trapping gas, the net result of replacing water vapor with CO2 would likely be to decrease the overall effect – er, that would be cooling.
    (http://www.scribd.com/doc/25071132/The-Saturated-Greenhouse-Effect-Theory-of-Ferenc-Miskolczi)

    Furthermore, Miskolczi points out quite well the fact that there is such an abundance of a powerful heat-trapping gas, water vapor, that, if there ever was to be a runaway greenhouse effect, it would have happened long, long ago. There is no reasonable expectation for the climate to wait for the addition of a small amount of an inferior heat-trapping gas, CO2, before warming.

    It is the propaganda and junk science of the IPCC that has led so many otherwise fine scientists to tacitly accept that CO2, a trace gas, can cause (significant) warming, that they continue to keep the false meme in their thinking.

    This meme needs to be shot on sight and replaced by the meme that direct (chemical) data is superior to indirect (ice core) data and that it is dishonest to cherry-pick CO2 values that fit your opinion (Callendar’s artificial 282 ppm historical CO2 value created by selecting data points in a clearly biased manner.)

  256. Ryan C says:

    Dr Meier: You’re conclusion that since the climate has slightly warmed over the past century and since c02 has increased fractions of fractions of a percentage point, that c02 is the cause for this warming sounds easy to the layman.

    But how is this any different:

    Say I eat hot dogs every single day in May.
    Say the Yankees win all of their baseball games in May.
    Does that mean that me eating hot dogs causes the Yankees to win?

  257. JDN says:

    Question 7: How much of the post-1980 temperature change is due to humans?

    Here Willis says we get into murky waters and that there is little scientific agreement. And indeed this is true when discussing the factors he’s chosen to focus on: land use and soot. This is because, as mentioned above, the magnitudes of these forcings are small and the uncertainties relatively large. But there is broad scientific agreement that human-emitted CO2 has significantly contributed to the temperature change.
    ———————————
    This is a non-starter for an answer. After saying that belief doesn’t count for much in science, he then quotes the belief of the supposed masses to defend his position. The question calls for a fraction or percentage as an answer. *His* answer shows that he isn’t genuinely interested in anything other than AGW because he won’t lay his cards on the table.

  258. George E. Smith says:

    Well I scanned Dr Meier’s essay to see what he generally was saying, and I ran into this list of questions and his answers. Don’t know whose questions they are; but I’m thinking tht Willis might have been involved.

    Things got really interesting when I got to question # 6 and Dr Meier started talking about Greenhouse gases; well maybe he said GHGs; but then he started to list some GHGs.

    Imagine my total astonishment that a PhD Scientist who says he’s a climate scientists can write so many words about greenhouse gases and so far as I can tell, never once mention H2O; by far the most prevalent GHG in earth’s atmosphere; and one which has been a permanent component of that atmosphere for at least as long as CO2 has; well let’s say over at least the last billion years; 600 million anyway.

    How it that possible Dr Meier, that you couldn’t even think of H2O in a listing of earth GHG ?

  259. Dave Worley says:

    “You can be pretty sure that the answer won’t be 5,000 heads”
    A tiny scratch on the coin flipped 10,000 times will affect the balance as well as the aerodynamics of the spinning coin, altering the final result.
    Which outcome will dominate (heads or tails) is likely incalculable.

  260. paxxus says:

    How can a null hypothesis be a question like your NH2? I don’t get that. A null hypothesis is not a question but an assertion like: “Unicorns do not exist”.

  261. NickB. says:

    Dr. Meier,
    I would like to take exception with one point in particular from your post:

    Question 12: Is climate science a physical science?

    Willis answers “sort of” and that it is a “very strange science” because he defines climate as the “average of weather over a suitably long period of time” and that “statistics is one of the most important parts of climate science”. Our description of climate does indeed rely on statistics because they are useful tools to capture the processes that are too complex to explicitly examine. This is not unlike a lot of physical sciences, from chemistry to biology to quantum physics, which employ statistical approaches to describe processes that can’t be explicitly measured. But statistics are merely a tool. The guts of climate science are the interactions between elements of the climate system (land, ocean, atmosphere, cryosphere) and their response to forcings. This isn’t really all that different from many physical sciences.

    My background is in Economics and many of the most powerful objections to CO2-based AGW (or CAGW) Theory have, IMO, been raised by the folks in this field. In particular, Dr. McKitrick (see McKitrick Michaels 2007, see also here), VS’ (appears to be a professional econometrician) discussion on Bart’s blog here, and Beenstock Reingewertz (WUWT discussion here, paper here). I hope this does not offend you, but from my view Climate Science has more in common with Economics than it has with traditional physical sciences.

    The similarities are quite striking, and an exhaustive list could stretch for pages but here are a few: 1.) both face an extremely complex system to describe, 2.) modeling for both has been very well funded but still fails to provide predictive power, 3.) both intersect multiple other areas of expertise (sociology, psychology, mathematics, statistics, business, government, and history for Economics – multiple disciplines in physics, geology, biology, oceanography, meteorology and statistics in the case of Climate Science… just to name a few). In school there were two mantras implied by my professors (the good ones who “got it” at least): 1.) correlation is NOT causation (I swear I heard that at least once every day), and 2.) when describing macro relationships there was always an implied caveat of “[this is how we think it works in general]“ because even with something as simple as exchange rates which have a formula to describe them, the equation really describes the tendencies not a hard and fast prediction – the reason for this is that the assumption “all other things being equal” never applies in the real world. I would say as well, that in the climate the same rule applies – “all other things being equal” is NEVER the case.

    Economics has a long history of reasonable (good/great sounding) theories, even based on demonstrable and predictable micro relationships, that are completely lost in the macro. It is the reason why Econometrics was developed… so you can take horribly complex time series data and confirm or deny real correlation as opposed to spurious correlation. That’s the first step (which CO2surface temps fail I might add) before causality can be determined.

    I say all of this with respect, but I cannot agree with you that climate science – at least in the state is in now – is even remotely a “hard” or physical science. It’s fuzzy and if you don’t think so consider this… what % of the anthropogenic activities that produce CO2 go into building, road construction or direct heating of the atmosphere? How do you know that the seeming correlation between CO2 and temp, is really mostly UHI/LULC and temp with the following logical relationship CO2Temperature? If it were all CO2 (assuming that recent changes were in fact due to anthropogenic forcing), which is well mixed in the atmosphere, then what explains this analysis from Dr. Spencer, which shows in the US a .12 C/decade surface temperature trend difference between stations in low population densities vs. high at a 1 km2 resolution? All things being equal, which they’re not, UHI and LULC – or as I prefer to call it, terraforming – is probably capable of having as significant, if not more, of an impact on “climate” than CO2/GHG – but it could all still be lost in the noise of bigger and more powerful forces in play, namely trade winds, clouds, and oceanic currents.

    In Economics we have what I refer to as Institutional Humility (the good ones do at least) almost to the point of absurdity – we almost can’t even talk about things without bringing up exceptions to our own rules and explaining how we could be wrong. We do this because we know how complex the system we are studying is, and how communicating unwarranted certainty is a road to ruin.

    Climate Science needs some of that. The certainty with which Lacis describes CO2 as a “control knob”, or that even though the up-tick in CO2 started hundreds of years later than temps the CO2 took over the warming at some undetermined point in time… I am sorry, but it is unwarranted… and take it from an economist, saying otherwise is bad business and, unless you’re absolutely right, will result in a backlash against your field.

    Best Regards,

  262. Grumpy Old man says:

    In respect of the peer review for climate change, I would say that the system is defunct. The warmists have shut down the opposition and peer review looks like a club or a gang or a conspiracy – whatever. Radical change needed here I think.

  263. NickB. says:

    Darn special characters caused a couple misses, but in particular…

    Correction here:

    How do you know that the seeming correlation between CO2 and temp, is really mostly UHI/LULC and temp with the following logical relationship CO2-UHI/LULC-Temperature?

    The implication here is that UHI/LULC, at least partially drives CO2 production and surface temperature changes… and that it would be expected to exhibit a basic correlation with both.

  264. Jordan says:

    Wren (09:02:15) : “The accuracy of predicting a single coin flip does not become greater the more times you flip. But you can more accurately determine the outcome of 1,000 flips than the outcome of 10 flips”

    Not so Wren. If you flipped 10 times, would you be prepared to bet your life that the number of heads was 5 or greater? OR if you flipped 10,000 times, would you bet on 5,000 heads or greater.

    The crucial point is that I have kept the probability at 0.5, and the reformulation of the problem has created no improvement in your ability to anticipate the outcome.

    So there is no trend to accuracy. Don’t let the refinement of the numerical probability values fool you into thinking otherwise.

    The same thing for predicting specific outcomes versus predicting an average of a group of those outcomes. An average value is not the same measure as a specific outcome, and if we don’t change our test criteria, we are simply fooling ourselves into thinking we know more than we do.

    Walt Meier makes that mistake in the above post. Right now, it is not clear whether he simply doesn’t understand it, or whether he was trying to pull the wool over your eyes.

    Since he is such a nice guy, my guess is that he did not understand the point and should reconsider his arguments.

  265. Charles Higley says:

    One more point to make.

    Regarding the price of mitigation. One has to realize that a cheap fix is not desirable here. It is NOT what they want.

    What the AGW crowd wants is to cripple the industrialized world and stunt the developing countries = they want it to hurt and hurt big time!!! That’s why they hate nuclear power – they do not want a solution to the (false CO2) problem – the problem is what they want.

    Wind power and solar power – the environmentalists hate it. Repair an old hydroelectric dam – no, tear it down, they say. They are against people succeeding by themselves or finding solutions. They want the only solution to be to submit to their demands and government control at all imaginable levels – to save (sniff) the planet. Remember, these people know so much better what is good for us than we do, that we would be fools not to do what they say. Rriigghhtt!

    Just the other day a Congressman stated that Obamacare was all about wealth redistribution (not covering uninsured) and James Hansen agreed with the idea that the cities should be leveled, industry destroyed, and our meat herds eliminated (to save the planet or is there another agenda here?).

    Another Congressman stated, regarding the Obamacare fight, that it takes time to get all of the pieces in place to control the people. Is that what our government is all about today? Yep – and it starts with believing that CO2 is anything but a valuable plant food!

    They want a one-world government; they want control of everything. This whole issue has nothing to do with science. Science is just the bent tool they want to use as an excuse to impose Draconian solutions which will not work without national and world level control.

    One of Obama’s next moves will likely be to “decrease emissions” by making electricity more expensive and taxing transportation fuels (in the news yesterday). This will increase the cost of everything we do or use – higher cost of living, decreased productivity, and jobs lost. This has nothing to do with AGW and CO2 – this is all about lengthening the recession until we cave and ask the government to save us. They want the pain, crises are their means of achieving goals.

    Copenhagen having effectively failed, Obama is now considering instituting with France the beginning of a world level type of banking regulation. Check the agendas and you will find that all goals lead to national and world level (international, unibody) controls of various aspects of our economy and society.

    Hillary Clinton’s recent agreement to pursue UN Small Arms Control places many aspects, eventually all, of our private weapons under UN control. After all, if you want to run the world, it helps if you disarm all of the people.

    So, mitigation ideas – not wanted, no way. They know how to solve the problem – their way and it’s not at all with our welfare in mind.

    Fight the junk science all you want, but the politicians already know that they are right and going ahead with their plans anyhow.

    Their null hypothesis is “WE WIN, YOU LOSE” and it is up to us to prove them wrong!

  266. RockyRoad says:

    hunter (05:24:17) :

    Please also tell us what the chemical properties of human generated carbon are. That is extremely interesting.
    ——————–
    Reply:
    Human-generated carbon:
    1) Exhaled as a waste product of metabolism. Call it gassey CO2. (Applies to domesticated animals, too, but not those in the wild.)

    2) The waste product of burning fuel in an automobile. Call it fumey CO2. (Applies to any internal-combustion engine ranging from lawn trimmer to ocean-going container ship).

    3) Chimney gasses from a coal-fired power plant. Call it black CO2. (Natural coal seam fires are excluded, of course.)

    4) Stack gasses from a gas-fired power plant or furnace. Call it electro CO2. Includes oil-field flares.

    5) Combustion from a wood-burning stove or bon fire. Call it woody CO2.

    Now, if lightning strikes a forest and starts a fire, I’m sorry but that CO2 doesn’t get branded as anthropogenic, UNLESS the forest was planted by humans. And if buildings burn in said fire, it is DEFINITELY anthropogenic.

    Of course, this branding technique wears off. You can’t expect a molecule of CO2 that was exhaled by some ancient Nile dweller 5,000 years ago to have the same impact as one that was exhaled just yesterday.

    Now, if I can just figure out how to read the brands on all these different CO2 molecules…

    Yeah, I know… but it’s Friday.

  267. netdr says:

    RE: the coin toss fallacy

    Inherent in Mr Meier’s argument is that the coin toss is memory-less. Each flip of the coin cannot be influenced by the results of previous flips.

    This is contrary to the way the climate works, warming causes shifts in weather patterns which causes more or less warming and more or less rainfall in a tangled almost chaotic web.

    Changing the output of one iteration changes the input to the next iteration so errors compound. [They do not even out as the purely random case does.] Therefore it is much much more difficult to predict 100 years in the future than 10 years. A small error compounded over 100 years will probably make the climate model’s output worthless.

  268. The Iceman Cometh says:

    @Peter Sorenson (23:17:54) “Sea levels have been rising long before humans could have impacted cllimate, I see no conclusive evidence for an acceleration of the sea level rise. Please post a reference documenting this.”
    Fourth Assessment Report, Working Group 1, p410 has a lovely graphic, Fig 5.13. The text notes “Church and White (2006) determined a change of 1.7 ± 0.3 mm yr–1 for the 20th century. Changes in global sea level as derived from analyses of tide gauges are displayed in Figure 5.13.” Church and White (2006) is Church, J.A., and N.J. White, 2006: A 20th century acceleration in global sea-level rise. Geophys. Res. Lett., 33, L01602, doi:10.1029/
    2005GL024826. From what I can make out, this was published too late for inclusion in AR4 by the IPCC’s own rules, but then, J.Church (Australia) was one of the lead authors.
    Reading the article, we find “The spatial correlations from this data set, expressed as Empirical Orthogonal (eigen)Functions (EOFs), together with the longer but sparse tide-gauge data set, have been used to produce estimates of reconstructed global sea-level variability.” And there you have it – the makings of a hockey stick all over again. Take the raw tide gauge data (http://www.pol.ac.uk/psmsl/psmsl_individual_stations.html )
    - the monthly data for New York is a good example, because it extends back to 1860 apart from a bit of a gap (perhaps that is the ‘sparseness’ of the data set referred to) – and you will search in vain for any acceleration. But reconstruct the raw data, and voila! after 1920 it accelerates beautifully. Just remember, if at first you can’t find what you are looking for, reconstruct – its even better than hiding the decline.

  269. R. de Haan says:

    Richard Black is at it again! We need a climate change treaty more urgent than ever!
    This is the prelude to the next bilge of hog wash to sucker humanity in a permanet state of decline! No matter the state of the ice caps, no matter ClimateGate.
    The genie is out of the bottle and unti someone gets it back in….
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8611811.stm

  270. Stephen Wilde says:

    Mr. Meir is not well informed about climate matters and is certainly about 10 years out of date as regards the real world climate behaviour.

    It is a matter of concern that he is in a senior position

  271. Stephen Wilde says:

    Mods, please amend to Dr. Meier in post (11:06:37).

    REPLY: ???

  272. RWS says:

    Roger Knights (09:48:12) :

    The conventional term for what RWS recommends is “adaptation”; “mitigation,” in the context of the global warming debate, means diminution of emissions.

    Thanks Roger, I was not intending ‘mitigation” as defined in the global warming context (yikes!), my intention included adaptation or acting after the fact, if there are any detrimental effects at all. I realize climate alarmists are screaming “We have to do something”, but the precautionary proposals they’ve made so far aren’t going to work, and the hyperbole describing the possible effects muddies the science. Shutting off the engines of civilization is not the solution.

    Prehistoric adaptation to climate change just meant migration if anything. Historically, some migrations and invasions have been attributed to the effects of climate change.
    In the future, the international community can react humanely to any climate-related hardships, just as we have to earthquakes and famines. That is what I meant by mitigation; dealing sensibly and fairly with the results.

  273. Gail Combs says:

    hunter (06:37:43) :

    Well here is a stab at a third hypothesis irt AGW:
    AGW is a social movement often called ‘mania’ or ‘popular delusion’ where a critical mass of true believers and promoters fixate on an idea- it can be real estate, an investment strategy, tulips, eugenics, etc.- and reinforce the power of the idea and certain public policy demands until no dissent or discussion outside of the framework of agreement with that idea is acceptable to its community members…..

    HMMMmmmm… That hypothesis seems to fit the facts at least at first glance. Especially given Larry Huldén comment (06:14:38)

    Care to disprove it Dr Meier???

  274. R. Craigen says:

    Hi Mr Meier. Thanks for being willing to cast your bread upon the WUWT waters, I respect that. Like you I would call myself a skeptic, and I also am not a specialist in these fields — my PhD is in mathematics, which qualifies me mainly to think and to understand the general issues of handling data and extracting logical consequences from observations.

    I’m still processing your long post, but a central element in what you write is seriously problematic. You write:

    null hypothesis 2 (NH2): are the factors that controlled earth’s climate in the past the same factors that control it today and will continue to do so into the future? In other words are the processes that have affected climate (i.e., the forcings – the sun, volcanic eruptions, greenhouse gases, etc.) in the past affecting climate today and will they continue to do so in the future? A basic premise of any science with an historical aspect (e.g., geology, evolution, etc.) is that the past is the key to the future.

    My problem: this is not a null hypothesis. It is not even a hypothesis! As far as I can tell, it is a question! Presumably you know what the scientific process is. Have you ever judged science fair? Do you know what we expect of projects that fall into the category of “hypothesis testing”? When I see a student’s project begin with a “hypothesis” ending in a question mark, I roll my eyes and hope I can find a few pity marks for them because, frankly I know they aren’t about to win any medals.

    I hesitate to help you out here, but perhaps you mean that the null hypothesis STATES that contemporary changes in climate are caused by the same factors as have changed it in the past. (Here we should be clear what is meant by “the past” — do we mean “recent holocene”? “since the cycles of ice ages and interglacial periods began”, etc?) As I understand things (and I have read quite broadly on the subject) — we are only just now beginning to understand the smallest fraction of past climate forcings. So such a concept is a mere black box; it has very little tangible content. As past causation of climate change is poorly understood at best, what the null hypothesis says is completely obscure.

    Generally, a “null hypothesis” is not tested. It is there as a foil, to negate a proposed hypothesis, like “Mankind is significantly impacting the climate”. It is the primary hypothesis that is subject to testing, and it must be falsifiable; the null hypothesis is the default position — to which one reverts if the primary hypothesis fails the test.

    By the way, “Mankind is significantly impacting the climate” is seriously flawed as a primary hypothesis, because it is so vague as to be almost meaningless, and on this basis alone it is unfalsifiable. Even if “significantly” were clearly defined, I think it would fail to act as a guide to research. I would prefer something that makes a specific falsifiable claim. Which particular action of mankind is doing this, and through what mechanism? What is the precise nature of the claimed impact (we must have something quantifiable here!)?

    Another problem I have, both with your null hypothesis and the possible implied primary hypotheses is: “who cares?”; “What does it matter?”

    Yes, the question as to whether mankind has impacted the climate is of some intellectual and scientific interest. But of greater interest to the general public and policymakers are the following:
    1. Are the effects of that impact within the range of natural variation?
    2. Is that impact, on balance, harmful, helpful, or neutral in its effect on the world’s biological systems?

    And before one procedes to policy, assuming we can answer BOTH 1. (No, it is clearly anomalous) and 2. (Harmful), one must also answer a much more difficult question:
    3. Is it possible to remediate in a way that does less harm?
    Actually this should be 3a) “is it possible to remediate?” and 3b) “Is a particular proposed remedy worse than the disease”?

    Frankly, I have to say that nothing you have written, and nothing I have seen of literature on climate science that is publicly available, has convinced me that we have proceeded beyond question 1. That so many advocates who present themselves as scientists behave as if we have finished answering 3b) is, to me, an outrage.

    NSIDCS is one organization that has some hope of getting us partway through question 1. But honestly I think the answer is known before we start. One only needs to look at ice cores or long established knowledge about major climate shifts of the past, both in geological time and in holocene, where we have both historical and proxy records to work from, to know that it will take a lot more than we’ve seen in the databases to establish that contemporary changes are outside natural variation.

    When I see the effort expended to swim upstream on this issue by those presenting themselves as “skeptical” scientists with no interest in the outcome, I am disgusted, and the scientist in me rebels, and not because I have some political prejudice. To me this is not political at all. It’s basic common sense. It’s basic science. It is a null hypothesis that better explains data than any of the alarming primary hypotheses inflicted upon this field, and to which we must remain reverted until a worthy challenger is found. Until then, we’re still at question 1.

  275. Timothy Nesbitt says:

    Cassandra King (23:29:07) :
    Well written and my thoughts – exactly…
    Tim

  276. hunter says:

    Dr. Meir’s hypotheses are the problem.
    Focus on those.
    The issue is NOT if CO2 can act as a climate forcing.
    The issue is if CO2 is now causing a climate catastrophe.
    That is the only question worth making $trillions in changes over.

  277. Vincent says:

    Stephen Wilde,

    “It is a matter of concern that he is in a senior position.”

    Agreed. Many have picked Meir’s arguments to peices until they are left resembling the rotting bones of a carcass on the Serengetti. All I can do is shake my head in disbelief.

  278. B. Jackson says:

    Dave (05:41:27) :
    “So, it was admirable of you to try, but some people have no desire to engage with that which does not align with their prejudices.”

    Isn’t that exactly what the AGW pushers have been doing since the beginning?

    As for models, I love models. As a kid I used to build lots of models, model airplanes, model cars, etc. They were fun and challenging but, they weren’t the real thing. They were great to play with, too, especially the part where we loaded them up with a model rocket engine or a few firecrackers. I think it’s time we did the same with the climate models as they seem about as useful as the ones I used to build. ;-)

  279. Dave F says:

    @ Jeremy (10:00:51) :

    Actually, with NH2, the climate models become completely falsified. Think about it. How far into the future does one have to go to find an ice age in a climate model?

  280. Adrian O says:

    Is there any reason, Mr. Meier, that NSIDC and your discussion above never mentions recent climate history, especially in the Arctic?

    The 1922 melt
    The big 1922 Arctic ice summer melt. The Washington Post headline on Nov 2, 1922, was
     “Arctic Ocean Getting Warm; Seals Vanish and Icebergs Melt.”
    (discovered by John Lockwood – why not by NSIDC?)

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2007/aug/14/inside-the-beltway-81073443/

    “This was one of several such articles I have found at the Library of Congress for the 1920s and 1930s,” says Mr. Lockwood. “I had read of the just-released NASA estimates, that four of the 10 hottest years in the U.S. were actually in the 1930s, with 1934 the hottest of all.”

    The expedition in 1922 could sail up to 81 deg 29 min  latitude in ice-free water.
    Note a weather station near the pole
    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/gistemp/gistemp_station.py?id=620040630003&data_set=1&num_neighbors=1
    showing then higher temperatures than now.
    **************************

    Similarly, why do you and your agency mention warming, but NEVER the fact that the warming between 1910-1940 matches in amount, 0.65C, and in shape, the warming between 1970-2010?
    **************************

    What about the fact that the Swiss Academy website shows clearly that glaciers recede now with EXACTLY THE SAME VOLUME and in EXACTLY THE SAME proportion as they did in 1940, when CO2 levels were much lower?
    http://glaciology.ethz.ch/messnetz/lengthvariation.html
    How on Earth could we humans be responsible for glaciers melting?
    **************************

    You are trying to put up a “skeptical scientist” reasoning face – like my neighbor Michael Mann – while putting up arguments which DON’T MAKE ANY SENSE AT ALL in view of the immediate historical past, which YOU ALWAYS CONVENIENTLY OMIT. Why is everything NEW TO YOU like to a two year old child? Is that attitude, you think, suitable for a scientist? I find that it gives a bad name to science…

    I am a mathematical physicist, and find that your central list of arguments make just about the same sense as the fact that we humans cause the spinning of the Earth, as proved by the undeniable fact that we are here and the Earth spins.

  281. markl1505 says:

    Well, 270 comments at this point. Lots of questions, not too many answers.
    We can disscus AGW science for ever, but real problem is here;

    Go back to this post by:
    Charles Higley (10:56:03) :

  282. enneagram says:

    Though it was a lengthy post it can be summarize as follows:
    I ♥ Al Baby

  283. londo says:

    I can’t believe this is the scientific statement of somebody who considers him self to be a skeptic, or was that just a attempt to conjure support where arguments are lacking.

    I mean, since when do two hypotheses make a proof? The “make no sense” about glacial periods and the CO2 hypothesis to make up for the slack in an incomplete theory. Why do climatologists get away with arguments like that. Just imagine what would happen to a physicist trying to sell MOND by a variable speed of light hypothesis.

    The closing arguments are not much better. Nr 10. Models are supposedly reliable but in the end they fail to account one of the most dramatic consequences of the global warming which is (arguably) the declining arctic sea cover. How are we to trust models that do not account for the fundamental heat transport from the equator to the poles? A true skeptic would have asked the question, have we missed really important something since we can’t account for this dramatic heat transport process? The latent heat of melting ice correspond to the heating the same amount of water to 80 degrees and all he has to say about that is, oops! You better watch out.

  284. davidmhoffer says:

    Dr. Meier;

    Congratulations on engaging in a positive manner. Though I disagree with some of your arguments, data, and logic, I welcome your willingness to participate in this manner. Most of what I disagree with having been covered by others, may I make two important points:

    1. Coin flipping. If I may suggest, consider instead 1 billion coins, all fair of course, being flipped 1 billion times each. The results will yield an almost exact 50/50. But the results will ALSO yield a small number of coins that are 60/40 and an equally small number of coins that are 40/60. In fact, there is a distinct (though small) probability that one coin will come up heads 1 billion times and one that will come up tails one billion times. Any statistician can calculate the exact ratios for each standard deviation and predict in advance how many standard deviations to expect, and how many coins to expect to fall into each one. When it comes to climate, the number of factors involved, and the chaotic relationships between them, I don’t think the complexity of a billion coins flipped a billion times each even comes close. The radiative properties of CO2 in isolation are known. Within a complex chaotic system they are not, and correlating any specific change for a given period of time to one single factor when so many other factors are unknown is not scientific at all. If it were, I could choose one group of coins to “prove” that “fair” coins come up 60% heads and I would have an audited data set to back me up, all I need do is ignore all the other results. So in the climate debate we have clear cases of “scientists” ignoring other results, but I suspect we also, not knowing all the data, have excluded factors we didn’t even know were part of the equation.

    2. Frequently left out of the “known” radiative physics is that extrapolating catastrophic results from the “known” physics is defied by the known physics itself. Over and over again we hear about sensitivity to “CO2 doubling” of between 1.5 and 4.5 degrees. While I dispute that, let us accept it for argument’s sake and extrapolate into the future. The reason the use of “doubling” is accepted is that the radiative effects of CO2 are logarithmic, that is addition of a given amount of CO2 has a declining effect in terms of forcing. Oft left out of the explanation is that the same radiative physics demand that the cooling response of the planet due to increased temperature rise exponentially (to the power of 4 of the temperature in degrees K). If we examine the effects of increases in CO2 in relation to both forcing AND cooling response, we get a rapidly diminishing law of returns. In fact, if we consider that CO2 concentrations have increased 38% since the beginning of the industrial age, the logarithmic nature of CO2 radiative physics suggests that of the 3.7 w/m2 doubling CO2 is predicted to cause, we should already have seen 60% or 70% (my guestimate anyone with the precise math feel free to correct me) of the effect, which would translate to 1 to 3 degrees of warming. We have seen no such thing. Even if we were to presume some natural cooling cycle that is masking the warming effect of CO2 we are still left with the fact that the next 100 ppm of CO2 contributed by human activity will have not just half the forcing effect of the first 100 ppm, but LESS than half due to the exponential increase in cooling response from the planet’s temperature. In brief, the first 100 ppm (from 280 to 380) appear to be minimal, and even accepting radiative physics as endorsed by AGW, the next 100 ppm (from 380 to 480) will have less than half the additional effect of the first 100 ppm. The actual effects being so small that they are difficult to measure at all, and the theory itself insisting that they will continue to diminish, I see no reason to be excited by hockey sticks unless there is a hockey game involved.

  285. MiMo says:

    I concur with AGW-Skeptic99 comment above. Thanks for the good explanation but even more for the respectful tone and complete lack of hype.

  286. Tom_R says:

    Dr. Meier. First, thank you for respond to a skeptic’s questions. It’s a shame that most of the AGW community are not willing to engage in such dialog.

    Secondly I apologize for repeating what otherss may have said. i didn’t read all of the comments.

    Your reply to point three gets to the crux of my concern about climate science in general. The so-called science has devolved into a gathering of evidence in support of AGW, which makes it more of a religion than a science. You call yourself a skeptic. What research have you or others at NSIDC performed in an attempt to refute AGW?

    In real science there should be as many or more papers published describing (possibly failed) attempts to refute a theory as there are attempts to support a theory. I doubt that the number of attempts to refute AGW represents even 1% of the government-funded AGW publications. The other 99% are either 1. gathering of anecdotal evidence, 2. models assuming AGW as a basic premise, or 3. ‘What if …’ diatribes. Please consider the literature with which you are personally familiar and tell me why I’m wrong.

    Also, your nine indications to point 3 are questionable:

    1. Increasing concentrations of CO2 and other GHGs in the atmosphere
    9. Ocean acidification (a result of some of the added CO2 being absorbed by the ocean)

    Yes CO2 has increased. I strongly doubt #9. These points are not ‘indications’ of any climate change.

    2. Rising temperatures at and near the surface

    This has been observed definitively only since 1979. Before that the measurements over the 71% of the planet covered by water, as well as much of the land, were almost non-existent. The temperature measurements since 1979 fit a 60 year sinusoid. No forcing is needed.

    In the US, the list of record high and low temperatures by state shows no evidence of recent warming. Between 1990 and August 2006 (1/6th of a century, and the last date for which I had numbers) there were six record highs and seven record lows, statistically almost exactly what would be expected for NH1, for records going back to 1880. The US is not the globe, but it represents a large portion of the area where there are reasonably accurate temperature records before 1979.

    3. Cooling temperatures in the stratosphere (An expected effect of CO2-warming, but not other forcings)

    This has been claimed many times but I have not seen a reasonble explanation of why only CO2 could cause this. Are you sure there is no other possible cause?

    4. Rising sea levels

    Local sea level measurements are significantly affected by local geological movements, and there are plenty of local measurements all over the globe that show no sea level rise. The satellite measurements are only very recent. Also, have the satellite measurements been adjusted to fit selected local measurements? I’m skeptical about Dr. Morner’s statement (below), but have not read a refutation to it. Are the satellite records adjusted as he claims?

    ***
    One of his most shocking discoveries was why the IPCC has been able to show sea levels rising by 2.3mm a year. Until 2003, even its own satellite-based evidence showed no upward trend. But suddenly the graph tilted upwards because the IPCC’s favoured experts had drawn on the finding of a single tide-gauge in Hong Kong harbour showing a 2.3mm rise. The entire global sea-level projection was then adjusted upwards by a “corrective factor” of 2.3mm, because, as the IPCC scientists admitted, they “needed to show a trend”.
    ***
    Full Article

    5. Loss of Arctic sea ice, particularly multiyear ice

    Isn’t Arctic summer sea ice level mostly due to winds and currents? Haven’t Arctic winter sea ice levels been fairly contant? There are reports of low levels of Arctic sea ice from the 1940s, so how can you say the recent levels are anything but normal?

    And how could you possibly measure the amount or percentage of multi-year ice?

    6. Loss of mass from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets

    From what I’ve read the Antarctic Ice sheet is gaining mass. Greenland is losing mass around the edges and gaining it in the middle. Even at the edges human habitations from the Viking settlements are just now being revealed, and others are still buried in the ice.

    7. Recession of most mountain glaciers around the globe

    Yet the glacier recession is uncovering human habitations from earlier times. And exactly what percentage is ‘most’?

    8. Poleward expansion of plant and animal species

    Are you claiming that 0.5 degrees C is causing a significant, or even measureable movement when the daily temperature change is on the order of 10 or more degrees C over the non-tropical land areas? That is illogical.

    Here in Florida the freeze line has moved significantly SOUTH since the early 20th century when oranges were grown north of Ocala. That’s just a single anecdotal example, but all of the plant and animal movements are anecdotal examples. This gets back to the crux of my main concern, has anyone even bothered to look at the examples of animals that moved away from the poles?

  287. jorgekafkazar says:

    Thanks for taking the time to post this article, Dr. Meier. I particularly appreciate your comments regarding skepticism.

    “Certainty is the mother of fools.” –The Mentalist

  288. Gail Combs says:

    Dave F (07:08:04) :

    “Also, extended indefinitely forward, when do climate models predict another ice age? Is the answer, possibly, never?”

    Thanks for that insight, To be called accurate the climate models would have to be capable of predicting the next ice age. Now that could be a very important prediction.

    Back in 1974 the CIA even had a report on the problems caused by the coming Ice Age called “A Study of Climatological Research as it Pertains to Intelligence Problems” http://www.climatemonitor.it/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/1974.pdf

    The report states interglacials never extend beyond 12,500 years or last less than 10,000 years and that the last ice age ended 10,000 years ago. We are now within the 2,500 year window in which an “abrupt” change to an Ice Age could occur. I doubt that information has changed except the “abrupt” is no longer 200 years but more like a decade according to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. http://www.whoi.edu/page.do?pid=12455&tid=282&cid=10046

  289. RockyRoad says:

    On a more serious side, I’ve done a lot of coin-flipping in my profession as a mining engineer. I used a program called STOVAL.FOR (for STOcastic VALuation), which was a stochastic mine evaluation program that employed Monte Carlo simulation of the variables. Every mining project, just like any other system, has constraints and unknowns. This STOVAL.FOR allowed the input of the half dozen most critical economic parameters as distribution functions for each (take gold price as an example)–I’d set the highest and lowest expected value to define the range, and the most likely value inbetween since most of the time such variables follow a skewed distribution.

    A random number generator (mathematical coin toss) was used to determine realizations for each of the variables, the economics for the entire mining life was run, and 100 iterations were run to get a distribution of likely NPVs and IRRs. The distribution was evaluated against a loss limiitation line to see if any sane investor or engineer would proceed with the project.

    It was a very interesting exercise and one I repeated hundreds of times for dozens of projects, but here’s the catch–one never knew which of the many realizations based on the “coin toss” approach was actually going to happen. I could never make a recommendation that, say, 59% of a $billion in capital should be invested since there remained a corresponding 41% chance of losing the entire investment. The procedure wasn’t sufficient robust (ah, there’s that term) to justify the go-ahead decision unless the vast majority of the coin-toss iterations landed on the positive side of the loss-limitation line (otherwise the mine is a money loser, not a money maker).

    The key to reaching an acceptable level of confidence in an investment project would be to identify the critical variables, rank them by sensitivity, and refine those that have unacceptable influence on the outcome.

    A similar approach might be applied in modeling climate but where it gets sticky is in selecting the correct stochastic variables and determining the interralated relationships between all selected. With the widely varying opinions I read regarding the influence of CO2 and a number of other factors that influence climate (and some factors that are currently ignored or used incorrectly), I believe such an exercise could indicate the earth will indeed have a climate, but not the characteristics of that climate sufficient to be predictive.

  290. Dr. Meier,

    Thank you very much for your thoughtful post. I agree with many things you say but also have some serious problems with several *key* issues that you raise. The stratosphere does not seem to have cooled since the mid-90s (the rest of the evidences in your list are not CO2-fingerprints, but logical consequences of a warming that very few dispute). And also I am not aware of any solid evidence of CO2 having forced climate changes in the past, which you take as a given in your NH2.

    However, and even though I am a bit appalled by some critical comments, I´m sure that these problems will be better dealt with by more qualified posters than me.

    Instead, what I would like to do is probably miss a great opportunity to hide my ignorance and ask a question to whomever wishes to answer it. If we need GHG forcing to explain the full temperature swings of the ice ages, wouldn´t the much more abundant water vapor be a better candidate than CO2? Cooler earth through orbital forcing – less WP – positive feedback. And viceversa. It must be pretty obvious why this wouldn´t work but I haven´t come across the explanation.

    Thank you,
    Mikel

  291. nvw says:

    Dr. Meier,

    Thank you for your submission.

    Regarding your comment:
    “Second, the carbon emitted by humans has a distinct chemical signature from natural carbon and we see that it is carbon with that human signature that is increasing and not the natural carbon.”

    I have been skeptical of this line of argument. Consider:

    d13C values of atmospheric CO2 are trending towards lighter values. In your interpretation this is proof positive that this signal represents the increase in d13C from fossil fuels which indeed represent a reservoir of lighter carbon values. However what I have never seen adequately answered is how one can distinguish light d13C that come from biogenic methane trapped in permafrost. The residence time of methane in the atmosphere is 8 years and oxidizes to CO2. We know that as polar regions warm there is/will be an increasing release of trapped methane to the atmosphere. Methane released from polar melting of permafrost will produce the same lower d13C isotopic signature as burning fossil fuels. My take in the literature is that no one really knows how much methane is sourced from this reservoir or whether it is increasing, or if it is for how long it has been increasing. Therefore measurements of increasing lighter d13C in the atmosphere could equally represent increasing amounts of light d13C methane entering the environment. This increasing methane flux could simply be due to warming of the planet through natural variability etc etc.

    So sorry, I am not yet convinced that the carbon isotopic values of atmospheric CO2 prove that humans are responsible.

  292. Dave F says:

    @ Gail Combs (12:02:37) :

    I’ve never heard of anyone claiming to know when the next ice age is coming based on computer models. If we believe the NH2 that Dr. Meier is alluding to, that Earth’s climate operates in a similar fashion to the way it operated in the past, where are the predictions of the next ice age?

    If there are none, what are the models missing to replicate the ice age?

  293. Tenuc (00:22:27) :

    “”Thanks for giving your views, and good to find at least one sceptic still working in main-stream climate science.

    Here’s a few ideas for you to let your sceptical-side chew on:-

    Despite continuous growth in CO2, Phil Jones said there has been no statistically significant global warming for the last 15y.

    Our climate is driven by processes which display deterministic chaos. This means that accurately predicting what will happen beyond a few days is impossible and forecasts get worse the further out you go, not better.

    Because of deterministic chaos, ‘forcing from CO2′ or anything else are not required to initiate ice-ages or climate-optimums. The cause is simple bifurcations in Earth’s non-linear dynamic systems.””
    ____________________________________
    The above assertion may be valid for the forecast models, however analog weather forecasts that use valid cyclic drivers of the weather can forecast well into 2 to 10 years out for the periods of time, when cyclic patterns not considered do not interfere. For an example of one that works until outer planet conjunctions upset it for 10 days to 2 weeks as they happen and then it works again see.
    http://www.aerology.com/national.aspx
    It has been working well for the past 18 years I have been generating it, with the exclusion of the times when the outer planets have Synod conjunctions with the Earth, then returns to working again after they pass. Should be consistent untill August 10th when we pass Neptune on the 20th.

  294. toyotawhizguy says:

    “7. Recession of most mountain glaciers around the globe.”

    - – - – - – -

    Many reports of receding glaciers are anecdotal, a portion of which are inaccurate and/or exaggerated.
    Some glaciers recede not due to warming, but due to lack of precipitation, the loss is via sublimation, rather than melting.
    Warmists tend to ignore glaciers that are growing, the public never hears about these from the AGW side of the isle.

  295. Gail Combs says:

    Peter (08:24:46) :

    Does Walt still stand by this prediction?

    2009: “the NSIDC, this time in the form of Walt Meier, a research scientist, was saying that the Arctic Ocean “will” be effectively ice free sometime between 2020 and 2040, although it is possible it could happen as early as 2013.”

    REPLY:
    Dr Meier states in his article “For example, Arctic sea ice is declining much faster than most models have projected.” So I guess we should look for an ice free Arctic in a few years. Of course if the prediction does not come true will Dr Meier and the rest of the Climate “Scientists” refund all the money the politicians are taking??? Will they refund all that grant money they wasted??? To be polite I will stop there although others who may be badly hurt in the future by this false science may not.

  296. Bob Kutz says:

    bob (08:05:23) :

    1) If your models can’t/don’t accurately predict global surface T on a decadal scale, how are you going to assert any accuracy beyond that? Aren’t they currently predicting surface t anomaly more than 2 StDev above what is being experienced? If you can’t model the oceans, you can’t model the atmosphere.
    IF THEY DON’T WORK, THEY DON’T WORK.

    2) No, bandwidth saturation hasn’t occurred, we’re only at something like 95%, but the energy absorption works on a logarithmic scale; most (80%) of the warming that results comes with the first 50% (about 200ppm), with diminishing returns all along the way. The difference between where we’re at and where we might go could not result in an additional 30C warming, nor could it result in an additional 5C warming, or even 1C; it is limited to about .5C, from my understanding, before feedbacks. Now the assertion comes that the feedbacks will outweight the effect; lost albedo in the arctic ocean, etc. etc., you know, the tipping points we hear so much about. The notion that feedbacks will outweigh the original effect is akin to asserting that the earth’s climate is like a mousetrap; is CO2 the trigger? The notion seems laughable, as we’d have never had LIA, since MWP was arguably as warm if not warmer than today. If these tipping points had kicked in, why did we subsequently turn to LIA?

    Science does not yet have a working model that can tell us, as I said; we do not have a model that can retrospectively ‘predict’ global termperature phenomena as we know them to have happened.

    If the CO2 variance is orders of magnitude smaller than natural variation, you are all doing some new-age form of a rain dance; only it’s not rain you’re hoping will fall; it’s dollars, and there’s little chance what you study will ultimately effect anything other than the likelyhood you’ll be run out of town on a rail, once the natives figure out they’ve been had.

    If you’re going to assert that CO2 is going to wreak havoc, and implement programs that cost Trillions of dollars to prevent that happening, shouldn’t you at least be able to make a stronger case than ‘it’s more likely than not that anthropogenic emissions of CO2 will cause warming an order of magnitude smaller than is normally caused by natural variations other than CO2′. Because that is what is currently being advocated by the pro-AGW set.

  297. Indiana says:

    The real value here IMO is the measured and positive responses elicited by Dr. Meier’s post. Regardless of any “sophistry” or lack of guile, the effect is a good one. We have a scientist in a position of relative expertise establishing a dialog with a broad swath of common skeptics (not the Brit interpretation of common.) Thus, here in 250 or so posts, we have the beginnings of a positive dialog airing the differing views of a volatile subject. Volatile not due to the science, but due to the socio-political ramifications. And to the enormous financial cost of some climate related actions.

    All in all – Dr. Meier deserves praise. As do the tempered responses from committed skeptics. One tiny, science related point Walt… What of the Devonian? With CO2 at 1800ppm and the emergence of Earth’s first forests and large plant life? We have no indication of thermal runaway then – what if anything has changed in the GHG effect?

    Thank you for your considered and constructive response to Willis.

  298. Gail Combs says:

    Kevin Kilty (08:43:16) :

    “…..And what of quality papers that cannot get published, or not quality papers that, nevertheless, ask important questions and cannot get published? The answer is WUWT.”

    Perhap Larry Huldén of the Finnish Museum of Natural History could publish at least part of his unpublished paper here. Someone Willis?? suggested that publication of science papers via the internet at sites such as WUWT may start replacing peer reviewed journals. If they continue acting as “gate keepers” for political agendas the journals deserve to die the same death the printed mass media is currently experiencing.

    “…..I was never able to publish this result in Nature because they needed an article that showed that insects had been moving northwards.” Larry Huldén

  299. ferdiegb says:

    Charles Higley (10:13:27) and others along this line…

    It is the IPCC’s cherry-picking of the data that led to the false assertion that CO2 has not been higher than now in the recent past. In fact, direct chemical CO2 bottle data (E Beck) shows that CO2 has been much higher than now 3 times in the last 200 years, most recently 440-550 ppm (385 currently) in the 1940s – no problems then – and temperatures dropped while CO2 was high!

    As long as we sceptics do accept the work of Beck (which includes impossible, inaccurate historical values, some from heavily contaminated places) and don’t accept the ice core samples, which are coming from pristine places, made in today’s environment with today’s extremely accurate methods, then we are simply no partner for serious discussions in the scientific world.

    Callendar choosed (cherry picked if you want) CO2 data based on pre-established criteria, like using no data measured for agricultural purposes. That excludes data from Giessen (Germany) and Poona (India), which makes the bulk of the 1940-1945 peak in CO2, according to Beck. But there is no peak in CO2 levels around 1942, nor a drop after that (which is physically impossible: the equivalent of 1/3rd of all carbon in vegetation on earth added and disappearing to/from the atmosphere in 15 years time), not in any other proxy.
    Thus Callendar was right, as 60 years later is shown in ice cores, stomata data and coralline sponges, and Beck is wrong.
    See further: http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/beck_data.html

    There is also very good reason to believe that ice core CO2 data suffers a 30-50% loss of CO2 during the trauma of extraction, putting the more realistic CO2 values totally in line or above today’s values.
    This is not based on any valid proof. The main objections as Jaworowski put forward in 1992, were already rejected in 1996 by the work of Etheridge on the Law Dome ice cores. Measurements in situ on firn and ice extracted via the normal route at the same (closing) depth show the same CO2 values, including an overlap of about 20 years of the ice core CO2 values with those measured in the atmosphere at the South Pole.
    See further: http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/jaworowski.html

    It seems hard to convince people here that the time needed to reduce an extra amount of CO2 (whatever the origin) in the atmosphere is far longer than the residence time (that is the time before any CO2 molecule, whatever the origin, is exchanged with the oceans or vegetation). The latter is about 5 years, but that doesn’t change the total amount of CO2 in the atmosphere The reduction half life time is about 40 years… The residence time makes that the amount of CO2 still originated from fossil fuel use is only a few % of the atmosphere, the reduction half life makes that (near) 100% of the increase (some 55% of what humans added) in CO2 over the past 150 years is of human origin (thus as total mass, not as type).

    As vegetation growth is stronger than vegetation decay/use (including all biological life that uses current vegetation direct or indirect as food), the decline in 13C/12C ratio measured in the atmosphere is 100% from the use of fossil fuel. That is what Dr. Meier means, and where he is completely right. See further:
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/co2_measurements.html#The_mass_balance

    Thus, please be as sceptic for any data and methods forwarded by fellow sceptics as one is for data and methods put forward by the “consensus”…

  300. Max says:

    Annabelle (23:32:47), writes:

    Walt, I really don’t follow your logic in Question 3. It seems to be a contorted version of the more familiar “We don’t can’t explain the current warming using our present knowledge of the effects of the known forcings, so therefore it must be caused by anthropogenic CO2″.

    There’s no logic involved, Annabelle. This is AGW’s stock, last ditch, “what else could it be” argument. Made famous by ancient Greeks who believed lightening was Zeus hurling thunderbolts, it uses ignorance (of electromagnetism, for instance) as a springboard for bland assertion.

  301. Steve Schapel says:

    R Craigen (11:09:45)…
    Thank you very much for these comments, which you expressed so clearly, and which reflect much of my own response to the original article.

  302. Jocelyn Leblanc says:

    Roger Carr (22:49:59) :

    “I will read the comments as they appear here with attention and an open mind; but at the moment feel that Walt is a really nice and genuine guy with a truncated vision and understanding of the subject, and that therefore his essay has no real value at all.”

    ^^^ this

  303. DirkH:

    On my comment about Gerlich and Tscheuschner..

    Now you say in no uncertain terms that you spotted huge errors. So probably you can publish in a journal now, debunking G&T for good, something that Arthur Smith hasn’t accomplished by now.

    Will you? Or is it all only polemic?

    I point out many of the errors. Just because G&T were published in a journal doesn’t mean they don’t have errors. Or do you accept the “argument from authority”? Take a look for yourself and comment over at the article if you think my points aren’t valid criticisms.

    I also emailed the editor of the journal asking if they would be interested in a submission pointing out the many flaws (but expecting I was in a long queue) and shortly afterwards had a comment on the article from one of the co-authors of a rebuttal paper.

    He says:

    ..All in all, it seems to have been something of an aberration for the journal. But to their credit, they have also subsequently accepted and will shortly publish a paper which has been through the review process and points out some of the major errors in G&T.

    For people who have come to believe the gospel of Gerlich and Tscheuschner this is all ho hum and “proves nothing”. But for people who want to see for themselves if it has any merit, take a look at the article .

  304. NickB. says:

    Mikel Mariñelarena (12:04:06) :
    If we need GHG forcing to explain the full temperature swings of the ice ages, wouldn´t the much more abundant water vapor be a better candidate than CO2? Cooler earth through orbital forcing – less WP – positive feedback. And viceversa. It must be pretty obvious why this wouldn´t work but I haven´t come across the explanation.

    It’s not exactly an answer but in case you haven’t seen it give this article a whirl: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/04/07/faint-sun-paradox-explained-by-stanford-greenhouse-effect-not-involved/

    If you notice, scientists had predictably tried to shoe-horn in CO2 as the explanation for the planet being able to warm in this early stage. Analysis shows otherwise, and then what’s left but the ocean and clouds? Call it a hunch, but I think similar thinking will eventually take hold regarding climate in general. To think that a .01% change in atmospheric content could significantly influence the oceans is far fetched IMO.

  305. Gail Combs says:

    Roger Knights (09:30:50) :

    “….I suggest that a reasonable compromise about “acidification” terminology would be to do what I have done, namely enclose the word in quotation marks to flag that it is being used in a special sense.”

    WRONG! It should be called by its correct scientific name ocean neutralization using the term “acidification” is nothing but buying in to the alarmists hype and is misleading at best. I suggest correcting the term when ever you see it.

  306. Al Gored says:

    Excellent comments folks!

    Which takes me back to my original comment about Dr. Meier’s answer to his question 13 to be the most troubling.

    I see only Craig Goodrich (05:23:56) addressed it:

    “Question 13: Is the current peer-review system inadequate, and if so how can it be improved?

    Craig wrote that “obvious to every scientist outside the “climate” field, that peer review per se is irrelevant to science; it’s simply a convenience for journal editors… The hallmark of scientific inquiry is complete openness as to methods and data…”

    While I agree with this in principle, in reality the process of peer review for publication does matter because the establishments consider that to be a verification or at least a credible substantiation of what is published. Thus all the references to the alleged authority of peer reviewed studies and all dismissals of what has not been.

    (Similarly, some fresh young graduate with some climate or other degree from Dildo University is automatically given more credence than anyone who does not have one, no matter what the merits of their evidence or logic. Thus all the talk of ‘distinguished’ professors, when they say the chosen thing.)

    Aside from the actual flawed content of the AGW hypothesis, the most revealing, and in my opinion significant revelation of Climategate was the overwhelming eveidence that the peer review process had been totally corrupted (which most informed people, including those involved with it, knew already).

    This is a fatal and profound problem of rot at the very foundations of science and, of course, it makes everything dubious.

    Yet Dr. Meier wants to pretend that this process is OK. That is the worst part of this whole response.

    I would venture to say that the comments here have provided a more thorough real review of Dr. Meier’s comments than any review by his so called peers in the climate crisis industry.

  307. ThinkingScientist says:

    If “the climate history of the earth makes no sense unless you consider CO2” why don’t oil company geologists spend some of their significant annual budgets on measuring this in the hundreds of kilometres of core collected from wells drilled every year? Why have I never seen a paper in an oil exploration journal on CO2 as an indicator of climate?

    Oil exploration geologists (and especially Exxon-Mobil ones) who created the modern understanding of sea level change over geological time due to its impact on petroluem systems have absolutely no interest in CO2 in the geological record.

    Why?

    Because its irrelevent. and tells us nothing about climate over time.

  308. enneagram says:

    Dr.Meir’s defection to the skeptic ranks should have been made, instead, in a global warmers’ blog.

  309. Gail Combs says:

    George E. Smith (10:23:07) :

    “….Imagine my total astonishment that a PhD Scientist who says he’s a climate scientists can write so many words about greenhouse gases and so far as I can tell, never once mention H2O; by far the most prevalent GHG in earth’s atmosphere; and one which has been a permanent component of that atmosphere for at least as long as CO2 has; well let’s say over at least the last billion years; 600 million anyway.

    How it that possible Dr Meier, that you couldn’t even think of H2O in a listing of earth GHG ?”

    My thoughts exactly.

    Scienceofdoom (00:46:50) stated it is left out because the Climate Scientists in their infinite wisdom decided humans do not add to the atmospheric water vapor. ” Human activity is changing the amount of various trace gases like CO2, CH4, NO2 etc. Water vapor changes in response. So we don’t directly introduce water vapor into the atmosphere.”

    However Thayer Watkins at San José State University and the EPA certainly think Anthropogenic water vapor exists and should be regulated…

    “(Washington, DC) The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking to classify water vapor as a pollutant, due to its central role in global warming. Because water vapor is the dominant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, accounting for at least 90% of the Earth’s natural greenhouse effect, its emission during many human activities, such as the burning of fuels, is coming under increasing scrutiny by federal regulators…. http://www.ecoenquirer.com/EPA-water-vapor.htm

    I think it was left out because it is a political hot potato thanks to farmland irrigation and because if they put it in it would be obvious CO2 wasn’t even a feather weight. Once CO2 regulation is a done deal H2O will be next.

  310. Rudy says:

    “2. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. This is has been also been known for well over 100 years. There are other greenhouse gases, e.g., methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, but carbon dioxide is the most widespread and longest-lived in the atmosphere so it is more relevant for long-term climate change.”

    I am shocked. An expert of this magnatude, and when listing the greenhouse gases leaves out the one that contributes 85% of the entire Greenhouse effect.

    WATER VAPOR.

    So how does 100 ppm of a gas heat the oceans and land 1 deg C? Do we know the CO2 is man made? The oceans give up far more CO2 than all human sources.

  311. jlc says:

    Pretty good comments, people.

    Nothing offensive and nothing too stupid.

    Except that some commenters seem to have forgotten that Dr M is a well-qualified expert on sea ice. i would hesitate to to pick an argument with him on that subject.

    I, and many other commenters have asked questions to which we are genuinely seeking answers.

    Most WUWT readers are truth seekers and genuine “skeptics”; i.e., if arguments can be developed that clearly demonstrate that CAGW is a real and present danger, most of us will jump on board.

    Any other climate scientist prepared to join the discussion?

  312. conradg says:

    I have a simple question about Meier’s definition of “settled science”. He seemed to give an example of it in the coin toss bet. I know what “settled science” means in physics, say. I know that an object is going to fall at a known rate every time I drop it. I can make a certain bet on that. Meier admits that climate science is a more probablistic situation, but he mentions that there are situations, such as betting on the over/under of 10,000 coin tosses, which are virtually certain, and he would bet his life on those probabilities.

    So my question is, would Meier bet his life (or his children’s lives, given his current age) on the proposition that the earth will be warmer than it is today in forty years if CO2 levels continue to rise as expected (with 20 million dollars going to him if he wins the bet)? My sense is that no, he isn’t really that certain at all, and he wouldn’t make that bet. If that’s the case, I don’t see how Meier can claim that even he believes the science here is settled.

  313. 1DandyTroll says:

    If one can be as picky.

    An answer to “Preface Question 2″ only has merits if the the answerer is objective to boot, otherwise it’s moot.

    The answer to “Question 1″ is null. The earth doesn’t have a preferred temperature. The earth is cooling and has been doing so for about 4.5 billion years. The atmosphere is just a bi-product of earth’s cooling process. The cooling undergoing is the core, what happens on the surface is rather moot since it wouldn’t exist in current existence if the core was dead cold, or too hot. Everything that is earth’s climate is because we still’ve an active core that’s cooling but making a splendid magnetic field still.

  314. ferdiegb says:

    nvw (12:11:35) :

    d13C values of atmospheric CO2 are trending towards lighter values. In your interpretation this is proof positive that this signal represents the increase in d13C from fossil fuels which indeed represent a reservoir of lighter carbon values. However what I have never seen adequately answered is how one can distinguish light d13C that come from biogenic methane trapped in permafrost. The residence time of methane in the atmosphere is 8 years and oxidizes to CO2.

    nvw, most methane in the atmosphere nowadays is also of human origin. In the previous interglacial, temperatures in the Arctic were far higher (+5 C in Alaska) and CH4 levels were around 700 ppbv. Nowadays they are around 1800 ppbv, from natural gas losses, rice paddies, cattle,…

    To maintain 700 ppbv CH4 with an 8 years decay, one need a near constant supply of roughly 50 ppbv (equivalent to 0.15 ppmv CO2 or 0.45 GtC). In the old days, that was part of the total carbon cycle and while the CO2 and d13C levels changed over the ice age-interglacial temperature shift, once on the higher temperature level, the CO2 and d13C level didn’t change much anymore. Neither did it over the past 600 years (in coralline sponges) or the past 10,000 years (the Holocene in ice cores), except for the (relative small) temperature swings. From 1850 on, we see the d13C level falling at the same rate as the CO2 level increases at about 55% of the emissions:
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/sponges.gif

  315. John Galt says:

    I respect Dr. Meier’s willingness to openly post his views in a forum that supports open debate and which has many participants who are adamant in stating their opposition to the AGW “consensus.”

    That said, it always seems to boil down to

    1) CO2 is a greenhouse gas
    2) CO2 is increasing in the atmosphere
    3) Humans emit CO2 through various activities
    4) Therefore, human emissions must be causing AGW.

    Many educated people emphatically believe #4 is a factual statement.

  316. Alex says:

    Dr. Meier,
    I believe that “2 (NH2): are the factors that controlled earth’s climate in the past the same factors that control it today and will continue to do so into the future?” is not a correctly formulated null hypothesis.

    With NH1 “climate changes are due to natural causes” we can in principle find data that will enable us to reject NH1 and then we have to accept the Alternative Hypothesis – “the climate is changing in a way that cannot be explained by natural variation, hence human influence must be considered”.

    What would be the alternative hypothesis for your NH2 ? And what would make you reject NH2? Short of a sudden change in the laws of physics NH2 will hold and is pretty much a tautology – whereas NH1 is not.

    After that, basing the argument on discussing NH2 is a sure winner. It also misses the point completely.

  317. Chuck Wiese says:

    Walt Meir : “To paraphrase Richard Alley, a colleague at Penn State: “the climate history of the earth makes no sense unless you consider CO2″.

    This is nonsense. It makes no sense that CO2 is needed to explain the climate system, and the “snowball earth” analogy cannot be correct describing the earth as a “frozen iceball” with the suns radiant energy where it is. The daily insolation at the equator is ~600 ly/day. With no GHG’s , the Planck temperature of the surface as a perfect radiator in the IR would be -5.5C. Start with a frozen ocean at that temperature. The vapor pressure of the frozen sea would be 3.99mb. It is ceratainly reasonable to assume over the ocean that sublimation would saturate a layer of atmosphere 1 mb thick. At a mean temperature of -5 degC, the layer would be 25 ft. deep, with an optical depth of .01gcm-2 at that vapor pressure. In Elsasser’s model with the standard absorption coefficient for water vapor, the absorption in that layer with that optical depth would be 48 Wm-2. The new Planck temperature of the surface is now +5 degC, and your off and running to hydrostatic convective instability that was calculated by Emden by water vapor alone, and established the effective emission height in the troposphere of 6.5 Km. With Co2 it is about the same. It is not reasonable to assume a snow albedo at this latitude when at the current strength of solar insolation, the noon sun angle delivers ~955 Wm-2 of insolation to the tropical ocean surface.

    The optical depth of water vapor in the atmosphere depends on the vapor pressure of the ocean, which is determined by the solar insolation and gravitational potential energy of the atmosphere. Co2 cannot modify this because of water vapor. See Ferenc Miskolczi, ie. “The Saturated Greenhouse Effect”. There you will see that the Eddington equation with an infinate lower boundary for optical depth is misapplied in the earth’s atmosphere, as that equation is more properly associated with a stellar atmosphere. Miskolczi solved it for the earth with the correct IBV. The only free variable left to change optical depth is ultimately solar insolation in a water saturated atmosphere.

    Most of Meir’s points on the significance of GHG’s being able to cause climate change are invalid to the founding work in atmospheric radiation and were supplanted by climate models that contain incorrect assumptions and physics that have already lead to multiple failures of the projections.

    If the earth at one point was a frozen iceball, the solar output from the sun had to be so low that sublimation from the oceans vapor pressure could not create radiative equilibrium that would cause the surface temperature to rise above 0 degC. At some point, insolation was great enough to accomplish this which means the rest is history. Co2 was not needed to create a robust greenhouse atmosphere on earth.

  318. Gail Combs says:

    Tom_R (11:54:25) :

    “…Here in Florida the freeze line has moved significantly SOUTH since the early 20th century when oranges were grown north of Ocala. That’s just a single anecdotal example, but all of the plant and animal movements are anecdotal examples. This gets back to the crux of my main concern, has anyone even bothered to look at the examples of animals that moved away from the poles?”

    Tom take a look at the post by Larry Huldén (06:14:38) : He was not able to get his paper published.

    “…I was never able to publish this result in Nature because they needed an article that showed that insects had been moving northwards. They used Finland as an example where Parnassius apollo had spread up to 240 km northwards in recent times although every lepidopterist in Finland knows that it has declined 300-400 km southwards.
    Larry Huldén
    Finnish Museum of Natural History”

    I am hoping Dr. Huldén and Anthony will get together and publish at least a synopsis of Dr. Huldén’s paper.

  319. JAE says:

    Dr. Meier: Thanks for your interesting thoughts. One question, based on this statement:

    “1. Greenhouse gases warm the planet. This comes out of pretty basic radiative properties of the gases and has been known for well over 100 years.”

    Most of us can accept the basic calculations, WITHOUT FEEDBACKS. But they don’t show much potential increase in temperatures. I’m still waiting to see just how these feedbacks can be demonstrated using the physical properties of gases. This has NOT been known for well over 100 years! Without this little detail, I think there is widespread agreement that we cannot see any major climate changes as a result of GHGs.

    McIntyre has been asking this question for many years now, and it is always met with silence. Can you break this silence?

  320. Dr. Meier

    “a climate forcing is essentially anything that changes the earth’s global radiation budget (the net amount of radiative energy coming into the earth) and thus “forces” the earth’s climate to change.”

    In any form of accounting except in climatology one starts with the gross, subtracts what goes out, wasted, spent to arrive at the net. No?

  321. WilliMc says:

    Dr. Myers certainly put his head into the lion’s mouth, which has very long white teeth, honed from much usage. For that he is to be commended. His assertions are without merit, however. Certainly, after reviewing his treatment regarding the argument put forth asserting the 800 year lag by carbon dioxide increases following the upsurge in temperature, one wonders. How can the cause precede the effect?

    Also, something must be said for the violation of the second law of thermodynamics. Energy, also known as heat, only travels from warm to cold areas. When the earth is warm, it exudes energy which goes through the available greenhouse gases upwards to space, always from hot to cold. It does not return to a warmer earth. The decrease in temperature with altitude is well known, a law of physics which prevails. The assertion by Dr. Myers is refuted.

    Furthermore, although Louis Hissink did not discuss his reasons for rejecting the assertions of Dr. Myers, his citations asserting the Plasma Theory of the Sun are more then convincing. I strongly suggest he look at them.

  322. Roger Knights says:

    Stephen Wilde (11:08:19) :

    Mods, please amend to Dr. Meier in post (11:06:37).

    REPLY: ???

    To answer the “???”: Wilde had misspelled the name as “Meir” in his preceding post.

    Gail Combs (13:09:31) :

    Roger Knights (09:30:50) :

    “….I suggest that a reasonable compromise about “acidification” terminology would be to do what I have done, namely enclose the word in quotation marks to flag that it is being used in a special sense.”

    WRONG! It should be called by its correct scientific name ocean neutralization using the term “acidification” is nothing but buying in to the alarmists hype and is misleading at best. I suggest correcting the term when ever you see it.

    The term has been established in common use in “the literature” and in the media and they aren’t going to change their ways significantly. There’s no way we can “correct” them. The best we can do is insist that they “flag” their potentially misleading term. It’s not completely “wrong,” because acidification could be taken to mean, “the ocean is in an acidifying trend” or “is trending in the direction of acidity.”

    By analogy, there’s no harm in saying that “the arctic is in a warming trend” (assuming it is), or even to speak of “arctic warming,” even though the arctic is nowhere near warm.

  323. Gail Combs says:

    Dave F (12:17:13) :

    @ Gail Combs (12:02:37) :

    I’ve never heard of anyone claiming to know when the next ice age is coming based on computer models. If we believe the NH2 that Dr. Meier is alluding to, that Earth’s climate operates in a similar fashion to the way it operated in the past, where are the predictions of the next ice age?

    If there are none, what are the models missing to replicate the ice age?

    REPLY:
    Dr Meier claims the models are more accurate over a longer time frame than a short time frame. If they can not predict the next ice age at least as well as the 1974 CIA report (sometime in the next 2500 years) or if they do not predict one at all then they are proven false because they can not predict a known major event that is predicted with great probability by other methods.

    No matter what else we believe we can all agree that the likelihood of another ice age is 100% even if we have to wait until the sun burns out completely.

  324. Tony B (another one) says:

    Maybe it is the cynic in me, but I am afraid that all I can see in the original post is a complete change in tone, not message. And that change in tone is almost certainly caused by the realisation by the AGW climate science community that they have failed in their former sales strategy.

    Having bombarded us with increasingly ridiculous scare stories and predicted scenarios, having attacked anyone who has dared to question their message, they now, all of a sudden, have decided that appearing to be nice and reasonable is the way to win the deal.

    Greeks bearing gifts, is the expression that springs to mind, so beware. (Sorry to any Greeks reading this, it is just an expression based on a specific incident in history, OK, not intended as a current generalisation).

    And as so many have suggested in this thread, some of the logic used to justify the message is remarkably, breathtakingly, questionable.

  325. Ben Kellett says:

    For those of us who are descending into the murk of polarised passionately held views, let’s remember a few imortant points here: Dr Meier is an expert in arctic ice & self confessed as “not a climate scientist”. However, a scientist none the less & someone who can advise on one of the key indicators of climate science – the health of arctic ice. This is undeniably on a downward trend & there is no one in a better position to remind us of this FACT.

    Personally, I find it quite interesting (by way of illustration) that we all get so excited (after the coldest winter in decades) about the prospect of arctic sea ice extent might just about approach normal levels. Let’s be serious just for a moment……what was once normal is now something that we get excited about!!!

    Take a step back & think about it. Arctic sea ice IS on a “death spiral” – if the current trend continues. Just because it might momentarily reach normal levels, does NOT mean that normality has been restored. Arctic temps have suddenly taken a massive jump……let’s see how long normality can be maintained.

    Of course, we could be witnessing a 30 year blip in the arctic, which might be about to turn around……but let’s not discount the possibility that there might be a problem here folks!

    Dr Meier has obviously an enquiring scientific mind (like many who contribute here) and has clearly applied that mind at times to the possible reasons, which might affect the issue with which he is most closely associated – arctic sea ice. Let’s not dismiss his views out of hand like some seem all too willing to do.

  326. Dave F says:

    @ Alex (14:00:39) :

    Dr. Meier,
    I believe that “2 (NH2): are the factors that controlled earth’s climate in the past the same factors that control it today and will continue to do so into the future?” is not a correctly formulated null hypothesis.

    It is poorly worded, I agree, but there is a basic point there. It can actually be thought of as ‘Earth’s climate regulation has remained constant.’ (or climate sensitivity is a static number). This hypothesis is problematic for climate models, though.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c2/Vostok-ice-core-petit.png

    There is a clear pattern there, but climate models do not predict another ice age. You can explain this one of three ways:

    (1) The ice ages are actually random events, and the seeming pattern of them is a coincidence, so there is no need to consider them when considering model results.

    (2) The data showing the ice ages is wrong somehow. The ice ages have not happened, or they happened at different intervals than the ice core data shows. This would mean that (1) is true.

    (3) The models showing no future ice ages are wrong somehow. The models are missing a parameter that causes these ice age patterns in Earth’s climate. This suggests we are missing a fundamental climate forcing in the model equations.

    I believe (3).

    But, assuming you could reject that hypothesis, what would the alternative hypothesis be? It would be ‘The regulation of Earth’s climate varies.’ (or climate sensitivity is not a static number). This would suggest that we are missing a fundamental factor in climate sensitivity that alters the sensitivity of the climate to certain forcing, and because the models do not incorporate this value, they are wrong about the future of Earth’s climate.

    Still a problem for the models. A lose/lose situation, if you ask me, unless you fail to reject the null, and (1) or (2) is true.

    If I am putting words in Dr. Meier’s mouth, somebody stop me, because I do not mean to.

  327. Henry chance says:

    NickB. (10:40:54) : My background is in Economics and many of the most powerful objections to CO2-based AGW (or CAGW) Theory have, IMO, been raised by the folks in this field. In particular, Dr. McKitrick (see McKitric…

    Exactly. Some economists are so incredibly advanced beyond this overly simplistically modeled muddled mess called CO2 behavior theory.

    MACRO econ has an incredible number of variables and the weights placed on them shifts. Having CO2 be a sole/primary or most heavily weighted variable tells me they don’t understand their science.

    In fact i am bold enough to say that rises in CO2 levels can be a “lagging indicator” of increased temps. We know soda pop loses more gas at room temperature than it does when it is chilled. We know the ocean is the largest source of CO2.

    In terms of advanced education, there are more grad schools and degrees in ecomomics than in climate science. In climate science, there are a few strong minds and i see a lot of profs have degrees in stats, Physics, Geosciences, astrophysics but not in Climate science.

  328. Dave F says:

    @ George Steiner (14:14:08) :

    Well, gross has to come from somewhere. Think of the sun’s heating of the Earth as income, the outflow of radiation as expenses and so on, and the leftover temperature of Earth as retained earnings. At least, I think I have the analogy straight. :-)

  329. George E. Smith says:

    “”” Gail Combs (13:38:22) :

    George E. Smith (10:23:07) :

    “….Imagine my total astonishment that a PhD Scientist who says he’s a climate scientists can write so many words about greenhouse gases and so far as I can tell, never once mention H2O; by far the most prevalent GHG in earth’s atmosphere; and one which has been a permanent component of that atmosphere for at least as long as CO2 has; well let’s say over at least the last billion years; 600 million anyway.

    How it that possible Dr Meier, that you couldn’t even think of H2O in a listing of earth GHG ?”

    My thoughts exactly.

    Scienceofdoom (00:46:50) stated it is left out because the Climate Scientists in their infinite wisdom decided humans do not add to the atmospheric water vapor. ” Human activity is changing the amount of various trace gases like CO2, CH4, NO2 etc. Water vapor changes in response. So we don’t directly introduce water vapor into the atmosphere.” “””

    “”” ….” So we don’t directly introduce water vapor into the atmosphere.” “””

    Oh really, is that a fact ?

    So what are these new forms of Hydrogen free hydrocarbon fuels that we use, that don’t introduce any water vapor into the atmosphere ?

    If I burn methane, a principal component of natural gas; I actually introduce twice as much water vapor than I do of carbon dioxide. If I burn ethane, the other major component of natural gas I introduce 1 1/2 times as much H2O as CO2. Even going as high as Octane, I’m still intorducing more H2O than CO2.

    Maybe with coal we finally get to introduce more CO2 than H2O.

    So please stop telling me that we humans don’t make an anthropogenic contribution to H2O greenhouse gas.

    And stop telling me that CO2 emitted by humans somehow stays in the atmosphere for 200 years.

    The NOAA pole to pole annual CO2 curves for the atmosphere, show that at the north pole, and for a large area around it; basically the entire area of the arctic ocean and much of the northern lands; the annual cyclic variation of atmospheric CO2 removes 18 ppm of CO2 in about 5 months or less.

    That simply does not agree with a residence time constant of 40 years, which would result in 1% remaining after 200 years.

    The average rate of removal of that 18 ppm, would remove 100 ppm (the supposed excess over “equilibrium” in about 2.5 years; and that would be the time constant for a simple exponential decay of a perturbation. That’s a long way from 40 years.

    So maybe excess water vapor will be removed faster than that (taking with it inevitably some CO2 as well, since CO2 dissolves readily in H2O.

    So stop feeding us cow pasture patties. H2O creates very much more greenhouse effect that cO2, and human emitted H2O does just the same as natural H2O.

    But then that human emitted H2O also contibutes to the H2O negative feedback cooling effect due to clouds, as well as contributing to the heating.

    When a scientist omits the single most prevalent cause of some phenomenon, in a listing of other trace causes; one is left with a quandrary.

    Either he knows that and does it deliberately because of an agenda; or else he doesn’t even know; and frankly, I don’t know which of those two options scares the hell out of me the most.

  330. Ivan says:

    Meier:
    “1. Increasing concentrations of CO2 and other GHGs in the atmosphere

    2. Rising temperatures at and near the surface

    3. Cooling temperatures in the stratosphere (An expected effect of CO2-warming, but not other forcings)

    4. Rising sea levels

    5. Loss of Arctic sea ice, particularly multiyear ice

    6. Loss of mass from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets

    7. Recession of most mountain glaciers around the globe

    8. Poleward expansion of plant and animal species

    9. Ocean acidification (a result of some of the added CO2 being absorbed by the ocean)”

    ======

    All of this fine and good. There are just couple of small problems. 1 is obviously true but irrelevant, and 2-9 are mostly true but also irrelevant because all of that would be true even if the warming was caused by the natural factors. As for 3, this is the only possible exemption since stratosphere indeed is predicted to cool only under the AGW forcing. However, stratosphere haven’t cooled since 1995 according to RSS. It is interesting that second specific AGW fingerprint is not mentioned, and that is the tropical tropospheric hot-spot! What about that dr Meier?

    So, 8 out of 9 “arguments” for AGW are not specific fingerprints for AGW and would occurr equally during the natural warming process. The argument 3 is specific, however, the data do not support the AGW theory at that point. Another specific fingerprint (TT hot spot) is not mentioned, probably because the tropospheric warming is lower than surface warming, and according to the models it should be at least 2 times higher.

    So, zero evidence for AGW here.

  331. Chuck Wiese says:

    WilliMc: “Dr. Myers certainly put his head into the lion’s mouth, which has very long white teeth, honed from much usage.”

    Yes, I think WUWT could be called website “White Fang” to AGW proponents.

  332. Tenuc says:

    Willis Eschenbach (02:26:01) :
    Dr. Meier, it is late night here (2:25 AM, I’m a night owl). However, I wanted to take a moment before retiring to thank you for your answers to the questions. I feel that much of the antagonism has been caused by misunderstandings of people’s positions. I applaud your willingness to state your views, and I am impressed by the clarity with which you have done so.

    Dr. Meier’s response to your questions, and the replies to it made on this thread, crystallises the context of the wider CAGW debate.

    After spending some time answering the questions from my belief system (still only at the WIP stage), I think Dr. Meier is very brave to answer the questions and that you’re a very clever man, Willis Eschenbach!

  333. oakgeo says:

    Ben Kellett (14:35:15) :

    Arctic ice “death spiral” is interesting and leading terminology. It evokes images of calamity and finality, and is always attributed to mankind. I get so tired of dire crap like this.

  334. Gail Combs says:

    Ben Kellett (14:35:15) :

    “….Personally, I find it quite interesting (by way of illustration) that we all get so excited (after the coldest winter in decades) about the prospect of arctic sea ice extent might just about approach normal levels. Let’s be serious just for a moment……what was once normal is now something that we get excited about!!!

    Take a step back & think about it. Arctic sea ice IS on a “death spiral” – if the current trend continues. Just because it might momentarily reach normal levels, does NOT mean that normality has been restored. Arctic temps have suddenly taken a massive jump……let’s see how long normality can be maintained.”

    You completely misjudge the excitment. It is about evidence that the change in the PDO cycle is effecting the weather as predicted by some of those here at WUWT. If the change in the PDO leads to consistent lower land temperatures, more snow and more Ice in the Arctic as well as a dumping of heat to the atmosphere (the warmer sat. temps) then there is evidence that the oceans are one of the major drivers of the climate. That is the line of reasoning, I at least am following with interest.

    “…The Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) is an internal switch between two slightly different circulation patterns that occurs every 30 years or so in the North Pacific Ocean. … It has a positive (warm) phase that tends to warm the land masses of the Northern Hemisphere, as well as a negative (cool) phase.” http://www.drroyspencer.com/global-warming-background-articles/the-pacific-decadal-oscillation/

    “…the PDO data changes from positive to negative about 1945, reaches into positive values again about 1975, then appears to “switch” back to negative in the 2000s….”

    “…Physicists at the University of Rochester have combed through data from satellites and ocean buoys and found evidence that in the last 50 years, the net flow of heat into and out of the oceans has changed direction three times….” http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/08/17/evidence-that-ocean-net-heat-flow-is-connected-with-climate-shifts-co2-not-correlated/

  335. WilliMc:


    Also, something must be said for the violation of the second law of thermodynamics. Energy, also known as heat, only travels from warm to cold areas. When the earth is warm, it exudes energy which goes through the available greenhouse gases upwards to space, always from hot to cold. It does not return to a warmer earth. The decrease in temperature with altitude is well known, a law of physics which prevails. The assertion by Dr. Myers is refuted.

    Check out The Imaginary Second Law of Thermodynamics for explanation.

    Net heat flows from warmer to colder. Radiation upwards from the earth’s surface is larger than the re-radiation from the atmosphere.

    Net heat (once the earth’s surface has been heated by the sun, i.e., excluding solar energy) is from the warmer earth’s surface to the colder atmosphere. No violation of the second law of thermodynamics.

    Many people have come to believe an imaginary law possibly due to the comedic due of Gerlich and Tscheuschner.

    It’s so simple. If your point is correct, how can we measure downward longwave radiation at the earth’s surface? If this can’t happen, why do we measure it?

    Check out CO2 – An Insignificant Trace Gas? Part Six – Visualization
    You can see the downward longwave radiation in the 15um CO2 band as well as the many other trace gases, including ozone at 9.6um.

    And some measurements also done at the earth’s surface in a post on the very basics – Sensible Heat, Latent Heat and Radiation

    And for those who like theory, just take a look at the extract from a basic thermodynamics book at the end of the Gerlich and Tscheuschner article – clearly showing that even (non climate scientist) thermodynamics experts believe it is actually possible for transfer of heat to take place by radiation from a colder to a warmer surface.

    As they note, the radiation from the warmer to the colder is larger and therefore net heat flows from the warmer to the colder.

    Radiation can – and does – flow from a cold surface to a warm surface. The radiation in the other direction is larger. Net heat always flows from a warmer to a colder surface.

    Elementary radiation theory. In elementary thermodynamics books. And measured at the earth’s surface.

  336. NickB. says:

    R. Gates (07:26:02) :
    A great many AGW skeptics will not even acknowledge that arctic sea ice has been showing a long term decline (more than 10 years), yet it is declining even faster than AGW models predict it should (i.e.trends saying that summer arctic sea ice gone by 2030 or so, versus models saying about 2100). I find the existence of this divide troubling from the standpoint that the two sides of the AGW issue can’t even agree on what the data is saying…the gap will remain perpetually, as I expect to be the case regardless of what happens with the climate.

    I think we’ve chatted enough for us to maybe understand each other some, but a couple of points here:

    1.) Which ice extent are we talking about and which one matters? Seems to me that you’re usually looking at summer and the folks here are usually looking at winter. Neither party really specifying which one they’re talking about can be a consistent source of unnecessary confusion. For reference:

    March 2010:
    Arctic sea ice extent averaged for March 2010 was 15.10 million square kilometers (5.83 million square miles). This was 650,000 square kilometers (250,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average for March, but 670,000 square kilometers (260,000 square miles) above the record low for the month, which occurred in March 2006.
    http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

    September 2009
    The average ice extent over the month of September, a reference comparison for climate studies, was 5.36 million square kilometers (2.07 million square miles) (Figure 1). This was 1.06 million square kilometers (409,000 square miles) greater than the record low for the month in 2007, and 690,000 square kilometers (266,000 square miles) greater than the second-lowest extent in 2008. However, ice extent was still 1.68 million square kilometers (649,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 September average (Figure 2).
    http://nsidc.org/news/press/20091005_minimumpr.html

    Note as well that ice extents in the Antarctic have been growing during this time and that, in general, the thinking seems to be that at least part of what we’re seeing is due to that relationship.

    2.) Regarding trends, I think everyone on this site should read the following article – http://masterresource.org/?p=5240

    In Financial markets we call this kind of stuff “technical” analysis or playing the trends. The idea is that trends, in and of themselves, mean things… and that by examining the trends you can time the market. For financial markets this is, as far as I’m concerned, complete crap but some people that I know swear by them.

    Anyway… the point is that there are all sorts of trends one can see in the data – even if you’re staring at a random walk. There can be underlying trends – like the S&P500 exhibiting a relatively consistent 5% growth rate over 5 years… but, as the saying goes, past performance is no indicator of future performance. The underlying trend from 1980-on could still be there, which as mentioned is almost identical to the one between 1911-1945 (Ref), it could be taking a pause, or we could be entering a phase like 1946-1979. No single way of looking at the data is going to be “right” to the exclusion of all others.

    So when you say “arctic sea ice extents are showing a long term down trend”, and I say “but they appear to have bottomed out and have been rebounding for the last 3 years”… technically we’re both right, and to be bluntly honest, I’m not sure either of us really know what is going to happen next year and the year after. Grabbing a trend from any timeframe and extrapolating it through time is all well and good too, but realize that the chances of that being correct are not necessarily that great.

    Regards.

  337. Chuck Wiese says:

    Ben Kellet Writes: “Take a step back & think about it. Arctic sea ice IS on a “death spiral” – if the current trend continues. Just because it might momentarily reach normal levels, does NOT mean that normality has been restored. Arctic temps have suddenly taken a massive jump……let’s see how long normality can be maintained.

    Of course, we could be witnessing a 30 year blip in the arctic, which might be about to turn around……but let’s not discount the possibility that there might be a problem here folks!”

    Ben, there is enough established physics regarding IR radiation and its relevance in the earth atmospheric system to refute your statements. The psychoblather that “climate science” with all of its incorrect assertions about CO2, combined with failed climate models that the blather relied upon are astounding. But that is what 90 billion dollars of wasted research accomplished. It bought the special interests promoting AGW one hell of a prropaganda machine to attract a false attention and significance to itself.

    Read the posts here allitle more carefully. There is NO scientific reason to believe humans are responsible for ANY of the arctic melt, let alone ANY measurements of OLR to space that confirm the optical depth of the troposphere was altered by CO2.

    Relax. Really. Its OK. The AGW movement is about carbon regulation and taxation, not sound science.

  338. Gail Combs says:

    George E. Smith (14:53:35) :

    “….Imagine my total astonishment that a PhD Scientist who says he’s a climate scientists can write so many words about greenhouse gases and so far as I can tell, never once mention H2O; by far the most prevalent GHG in earth’s atmosphere; …

    When a scientist omits the single most prevalent cause of some phenomenon, in a listing of other trace causes; one is left with a quandrary.

    Either he knows that and does it deliberately because of an agenda; or else he doesn’t even know; and frankly, I don’t know which of those two options scares the hell out of me the most.”

    George E. Smith, I remember seeing an IPCC report that DOES discuss the contribution of man to water vapor and the reasons they decided not to include it in their calculations. Did you see the report and if so do you have the reference?

    By the by I am sure Dr Meier leaves out water because his agenda is to sell CO2 caused global warming. After all his area of expertise is the Arctic Ocean so he certainly is studying water!

  339. Al Gored says:

    Chuck Wiese (14:00:43) wrote: “Walt Meir : “To paraphrase Richard Alley, a colleague at Penn State: “the climate history of the earth makes no sense unless you consider CO2″.”

    Ummm… Penn State??? Home of Mann-made hockey sticks? With all due respect to other academics there, that is not a place which inspires any confidence, particularly after their white-wash.

    May as well paraphrase Al Gore or Bernie Madoff. Wonder when or if any other academics at Penn State will actually do something about the charlatan in their midst, or will they just politely all go down together?

  340. tarpon says:

    If we were really interested in figuring out how earth’s climate works, you would naturally focus in on the major forcing of greenhouse effects, like water vapor. Since the other effects could be easily seen as secondary, not important, figuring out how water vapor drives or controls climate would be paramount. It’s only the politics that forces us to start with CO2, which leads us off the science trail to how climate works.

    But since politics rules, a simple fact that can be proved in any lab setting, CO2 has a logarithmic greenhouse absorption effect, once all the energy that can be trapped, is for all practical purposes already been trapped — seems an interesting issue that gets little discussion.

    The missing hot spot is also amusing. Says there may be something major wrong with the computer models, since all predict it should be there. GIGO comes to mind. No engineering manager would accept these models as proof of anything but maybe software writing capability. Models must be proved in capability before shown capable to prove anything useful.

    In a sane world this would absolve CO2 of further discussions.

    Being an engineer, this is fond subject — As to positive feedback, positive feedback is very destructive, to systems both natural or man-made– It’s very likely that given the wide excursions of both temperature and greenhouse gas concentrations tolerated in the last millions of years, AND since the climate has neither ‘failed’ hot nor cold, positive feedback can be discounted — It’s just utter nonsense to say doubling CO2 will cause climate to fail hot and lock-up that way forever more. Would the next glaciation ice age then be canceled? And why didn’t that happen before …

    So we are left with ‘how does earth’s climate work’, not how does CO2 force climate. One question is political, one scientific. Answer the scientific question first, you will answer the second in due time. Reverse the order you will have nothing.

  341. Jim F says:

    @ferdiegb (13:57:05) :

    Your “sponges” chart, found here:
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/sponges.gif

    is interesting. Now, how about telling us what it means, or giving us the citation so we can go find out ourselves.

    Thank you.

  342. Re: scienceofdoom (00:46:50) : 9 04 2010

    –quote:
    Human activity is changing the amount of various trace gases like CO2, CH4, NO2 etc.

    Water vapor changes in response. So we don’t directly introduce water vapor into the atmosphere.
    –end quote

    That is false. I am afraid that you have become a victim of warmist propaganda. The warmists do not consider any combustion by-products other than CO2. Every time hydrocarbons are being burned, water vapor is injected into the atmosphere. CO2 and H2O are products of that combustion.

    The white “smoke” you see coming out of the smoke stacks illustrated in alarmist propaganda such as that flaunted by Al Gore is actually plain and simple fog, condensed water vapour. CO2 is invisible.

    We know that H2O is a product of hydrocarbon combustion, but everything else that is present during the combustion process is likely to become a product of the combustion process.

    Nitrogen (part of the air used in combustion) turns into various forms of nitrogen oxides, and sulfur turns into various forms of sulfur oxides, mainly SO2.

    SO2 distributed in the atmosphere cause a considerable amount of cooling. Wood, coal and any fossil fuels routinely contain considerable amounts of sulfur, although most of that sulfur is now being stripped from oil and natural gas before combustion takes place.

    It would be enlightening if Dr. Meier were to explain how much of the global warming he is concerned about is being caused through the CO2 produced when humans burn fuel, and by how much that warming is being offset through the SO2 and the H2O produced in the combustion processes of concern.

    –Walter

  343. u.k.(us) says:

    “First, I’m speaking for myself only,”

    Question 14: Regarding climate, what action (if any) should we take at this point?

    This is of course an economic and political question, not a scientific question, though the best scientific evidence we have can and should inform the answer. So far there isn’t any scientific evidence that refutes NH2 and we conclude that the processes that influenced climate in the past are doing so today and will continue to do so in the future. From this we conclude that humans are having an impact on climate and that this impact will become more significant in the future as we continue to increase GHGs in the atmosphere.
    ==========================
    Seems like a lot of “we”, considering:
    “I’m speaking for myself only,”

  344. Walter Schneider and others:

    On anthropogenic water vapor introduction..

    Thanks for pointing this out, I will take a look.

    I possibly read too much into the question (or too little) that I originally responded to – in that many times I see comments which imply (or believe) that water vapor itself is being ignored in total. Everyone knows that water vapor is the strongest “greenhouse” gas. Generally it is dealt with as a feedback rather than a forcing and sometimes it doesn’t appear in a “list” – not implying that it is being ignored.

    However, perhaps it is a forcing as you, and others, suggest and this is worth looking at.

    I would be surprised simply because there is a vast amount of water – the oceans – available to be evaporated based on temperature and existing humidity. I’m sure that there is a human contribution and maybe it is significant, at first sight it would seem unlikely.

    But unlikely things are often true.

  345. DirkH says:

    “scienceofdoom (13:04:08) :
    [...]
    For people who have come to believe the gospel of Gerlich and Tscheuschner this is all ho hum and “proves nothing”. But for people who want to see for themselves if it has any merit, take a look at the article .”

    First of all, thanks for your answer. Now i’m not taking sides here, i only wanted to know whether you’re willing to debate it in a journal. Because, you know, i don’t know your identity but i do know that Gerlich is a professor of physics in Braunschweig, Germany, and as Germans are known to be nit-pickers – i should know, i’m one myself, and boy, can i pick nits! – i would say i would like to see a thorough argument published in the form of at least an arxiv paper if not in a journal.

    I’ll be eagerly following what happens here.

  346. Gilbert says:

    The Iceman Cometh (09:47:29) :

    Second, the carbon emitted by humans has a distinct chemical signature from natural carbon and we see that it is carbon with that human signature that is increasing and not the natural carbon.
    I have searched in vain for any evidence for this vital point. “Chemical” is certainly not distinct – in this otherwise well reasoned piece that is nonsense. I had some hope of finding isotopic evidence, but that doesn’t work either. It turns out differences in plant metabolisms mess the expected ratios in ways which cannot be unraveled.

    There is an interesting discussion of the isotopic evidence at the following site. Hopefully, it will make more sense to you than it did to me.

    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/co2_measurements.html

  347. Dave Springer says:

    Dr. Meier,

    Which is worse:

    1) ferns growing near the north pole
    2) glaciers in Florida

    Let me know if you need any botany expertise but I presume your study of ice has you informed on how well plants grow on ice. You’re probably also aware that plants are the primary producers in the food chain and where go they goes the rest of the food chain.

    Given that we’re in an interglacial getting long in tooth and it is statistically justified in expecting the earth to soon enter, if it hasn’t already, a long term cooling trend resulting in shorter growing seasons, less arable land, water and carbon cycle slowing, until we have glaciers in Florida thousands of years from now.

    Is it wise for us today to accelerate approach of the next glacial period at great economic burden through drastic reduction in manmade CO2 and other greenhouse gases?

    It seems to me any objective assessment of the situation would indicate that any manmade warming in our power to effect is actually the advisable thing to do as far as keeping the earth as green as we can for as long as we can.

  348. TA says:

    Walt,

    You state your null hypothesis:

    “(NH2): are the factors that controlled earth’s climate in the past the same factors that control it today and will continue to do so into the future?”

    That is all well and good, but then you go to seemingly assume that we know to a reasonable degree of certainty what factors controlled the earth’s climate in the past and how, specifically CO2. I will not dispute your null hypothesis, but I think there is room for a great deal of skepticism that climate scientists understand how CO2 has controlled the earth’s climate in the past (much less various feedbacks). It appears to me e.g. from Phil Jones that climate scientists pretty much assume they understand how CO2 works by a process of elimination: eliminate the effects of everything else which we supposedly understand, and then assume the rest is due to CO2. Well, this is no good, because we do not understand the effects of “everything else” very well, either.

  349. George E. Smith says:

    “”” Gail Combs (15:43:16) :

    George E. Smith (14:53:35) :

    …….
    George E. Smith, I remember seeing an IPCC report that DOES discuss the contribution of man to water vapor and the reasons they decided not to include it in their calculations. Did you see the report and if so do you have the reference? “””

    Gail, I have read all of the published IPCC reports that I know of; so I am sure that I have read whatever it is they say about water vapor.

    In general they make the arguments:-
    1/ Humans don’t emit H2O to the atmosphere; but they do emit CO2. Quite false; we emit much more water vapor than we do CO2.

    2/ CO2 is a “forcing” GHG; but water vapor is a “feedback” that amplifies the CO2 caused effect (warming).

    That too is total hogwash. The emission of further H2O to the atmosphere (evaporation) by surface warming is absolutely identical regardless of whether that initial surface warming is caused by CO2 warming of the atmospehre; or H2O warming of the atmosphere; or solar warming of the atmosphere; or even the local witch doctor rubbing two sticks together over the surface.

    Water is a greenhouse gas just like CO2 or ozone; and it is by far the most important one.

    It doesn’t fit the IPCC’s radical agenda; because unlike any other GHG, H2O also give rise to the primary cooling mechanism, namely cloud formation that stops runaway heating in its tracks.

    The comfort range of earth climate is almost entirely due to the physical and chemical (biological too) properties of the H2O molecule; and is the reason why the “early weak sun” hypothesis is not a paradox at all; just plain bunkum.

    George E. Smith (14:53:35)“….Imagine my total astonishment that a PhD Scientist who says he’s a climate scientists can write so many words about greenhouse gases and so far as I can tell, never once mention H2O; by far the most prevalent GHG in earth’George E. Smith, I remember seeing an IPCC report that DOES discuss the contribution of man to water vapor and the reasons they decided not to include it in their calculations. Did you see the report and if so do you have the reference? “””

  350. baahumbug says:

    The first time read this post I had similar thoughts to other commenters, i.e. well done Dr Meier for posting and thankyou for the tone of the post and the absence of ad homs.

    However, having read it a second time, I found the post offensive.
    Not a single point in the good Drs post is new. All of it has been debated, disected and examined many times here at WUWT and at other blogs. I feel like I’ve been treated like a dumb mug.

    And no Dr, you are NOT a sceptic regards AGW. If you were, you wouldn’t treat a hypotheses as a settled science.

    Fancy trying to tell experienced WUWT contributors that T’s have risen, glaciers are melting, vegetation is advancing etc etc so that’s proof of AGW.

    After years of debating this stuff, being told the EXACT SAME POINTS THAT ARE IN THE AR4 IS OFFENSIVE.

    I am NOT a dumb blogger and neither are the regular contributors to this blog.

    HAVE YOU GOT SOMETHING NEW from all the recent research? From the all powerful new computers? From the yet more millions spent on this since the AR4?
    ANYTHING NEW AT ALL?

  351. Gil Dewart says:

    It’s troubling that Dr. Meier makes the blanket statement that CO2 is a “greenhouse gas”. That blanket has a great big hole in it. Carbon dioxide is a selective absorber, and the re-radiation wave lengths being emitted at the Earth’s current temperature (see Wien’s Law) mostly go right out the “radiation window” into space.

  352. sky says:

    Despite all the good “vibes” projected by Meier, his basic mis-definition of what constitutes “forcing” was a tip-off that no discussion based on rigorous physical reasoning was forthcoming.

    In any rigorous physical sense, forcing is the externally supplied energy that drives the system–and not just any interactive component of system response. Clearly solar energy , more specifically, the fraction of TSI that is thermalized by the Earth as a planet, supplies all the forcing of consequence to climate. GHGs produce no energy whatsoever on their own. They are just a capacitance component of the system and, by comparison to the thermal capcitance of the oceans, a minor one, at that. For Meier to conclude that CO2 provides substantial climate “forcing” shows the absence of rigorous physical reasoning.

  353. Dave F says:

    @ scienceofdoom (16:32:58) :

    Generally it is dealt with as a feedback rather than a forcing and sometimes it doesn’t appear in a “list” – not implying that it is being ignored.

    And why is that the correct treatment? Why is CO2 a forcing and H2O a feedback?

  354. Pompous Git says:

    Walt wrote: “Almost all new theories have initially been looked upon skeptically by scientists of the time before being accepted – gravity, evolution, plate tectonics, relativity, quantum mechanics, etc.”

    So which theory of gravity has been accepted? There appear to be two mutually exclusive theories, Einstein’s curved space theory and quantum mechanics graviton theory. I know that many refer to Newton’s theory of gravity, but he never had one and specifically stated that he had no theory of gravity.

    “I have not yet been able to discover the cause of these properties of gravity from phenomena and I feign no hypotheses… It is enough that gravity does really exist and acts according to the laws I have explained, and that it abundantly serves to account for all the motions of celestial bodies.”

    Newton’s *Law* of gravity is not a *theory*. A correct theory of gravity would *explain* Newton’s *Law*.

    “Ocean acidification (a result of some of the added CO2 being absorbed by the ocean)”

    Where has the ocean become acidic? I thought the ocean everywhere was greater than pH 8. That is, it’s basic, not acidic.

    I prefer scientific explanations that are not so terminologically sloppy.

  355. peterhodges says:

    a climate forcing is essentially anything that changes the earth’s global radiation budget (the net amount of radiative energy coming into the earth) and thus “forces” the earth’s climate to change.

    i believe this is assuming the consequent.

    i also believe much of the evidence generally cited in support of CAGW is just not true. this weakens dr. meier’s arguments.

    and i rarely assent to any beliefs

  356. Sparkey says:

    >And why is that the correct treatment? Why is CO2 a forcing
    > and H2O a feedback?

    Because it HAS to be to a true believer such as Dr. Meyer. Every one that in all complex systems that 5th or 6th order effects such as trace gasses like CO2 have their hands on the throttle of forcing functions.

  357. Sparkey says:

    Every one that = Everyone knows that

    BTW: a true skeptic questions lunacy such as the belief that model outputs are data. Most of all, a true skeptic questions his own…

  358. Dave F says:

    @ Pompous Git (17:50:02) :

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v464/n7286/full/nature08857.html

    Looks like Einstein is winning the contest.

  359. DeNihilist says:

    I think, that as a previous poster noted, Dr. Meier was upfront that he is not a “climate” scientist. He is an expert on ocean ice. So if you disagree with his personnal views of AGW, fine. But if you have specific questions, why not aim them at his specialty?

    Such as, Dr. Meier, as has been debated on this blog many a time, in your capacity as an expert on Arctic ice, could the past 25-30 years of slow decrease in Arctic ice cover have been caused by a natural cycle of warmth?

    Some claim from historical accounts, that this loss of ice has happened at least on two other occasions in the last 175 years. Is there any “hard data”, ie – sediments, ice cores, sea shells, etc. that you have studied that could deny these claims?

    Thanx again for your taking the time to visit Anthony’s blog.

  360. Marlene Anderson says:

    What is this mysterious signature on human emitted carbon?

  361. hunter says:

    Marlene,
    The belief is that there is an isotopic difference in fossil fuel CO2 and ‘natural’ CO2.
    I am sure Dr. Meier would concur that he made an error in asserting there is a chemical distinction between carbon from different sources. There is. of course, not.
    Isotopic differences do not effect chemistry.

  362. Pompous Git says:

    @ Dave F (18:32:03) :

    “Looks like Einstein is winning the contest.”

    Now that is wonderful news :-) Many thanks! Albert would have been pleased that his theory was still being corroborated.

  363. hunter says:

    Not treating H2O as a forcing is more than a bit bothersome.
    It seems a bit downright convenient.
    The poster who pointed out that to be correct, the sun is the sole driver of climate, I think gets closer to the reality.
    The climate is driven by the sun, period. No sun = no climate.
    The gasses in the atmosphere are what are driven, and some can act as ghg’s.

  364. Legatus says:

    1. Increasing concentrations of CO2 and other GHGs in the atmosphere
    a. We know that the majority of warming after the end of the little ice age happened in the 1890s or thereabouts, and mankind did not pump out enough CO2 at that time to have a noticable effect on temparature occording to pro AGW climate “science” today. Therefor we must conclude that major warming can be caused without AGW, therefor nature must be involved to a greater extant than AGW.
    b. We know that there were times in the distant past when CO2 was less than today, and also other times when it was very much greater. The CO2 apeared to lag the warming, not proceed it, which suggests that CO2 is caused by warming, not warming by CO2.
    c. We know that there was a Little Ice Age, and that the earth has warmed since then. Since it has warmed, and the above evidence shows that warming creates CO2, we must ask, how much of our present warming is caused by CO2, or conversly, how much of our present CO2 is caused by warming? Is saying that CO2 causes warming merely the tail wagging the dog? Is that science?
    d. Finally, and most importantly, when told how much CO2 we humans are pumping out, big scary numbers of how many tones are pumped out are used. But how many tones are already in the atmosphere, and what percentage of that are these big scary numbers we are pumping out? I have never seen one ‘scientist” address that question, which begs the question of whether the A should be dropped entirely from AGW. If we were to find out how much CO2 mankind has pumped out since the start of modern industry, and compare that to the amount of CO2 present just before that start, and compare it to the amount present now, we could then see how much mankind put out, and how much nature put out, and what percentage is attributable to man. This would be the nessissary first step to putting the A in AGW, yet this has never been done, why not? If it is not done, I have to question whether AGW is even a science at all.
    e. Finally, there is considerable question, that the amount that CO2 has increased would have any effect on temperature at all, given that the first small amount of CO2 will have the greatest effect and that that effect will fall off rapidly as CO2 increases. There is also considerable evidence of worldwide temeprature controls that keep the earths temerature within a certain limitaed range and do not allow it much outside that range. The AGW crowd beleives in things like “tipping points” and “runaways”, which history shows cannot happen.
    2. Rising temperatures at and near the surface
    a. Urban heat island effect has been shown to be half of these “rising temperatures” at the very least, possibly very much more. There is also the effects of bad calibration, poor maintainace of the stations, bad siting, improperely applied adjustments, etc, which have been well documented.
    b. There is currently very little actual measurement of temperatures world wide compared to formerly, due to there being far less temperature monitering stations used than formerly. Much of waroldwide temperature is now merely estimates, rather than actual measurements at that site. There is also some evidence that the few sites left are contaminated by urban heat, which means that the estimates of the temperature in the rural areas between thm are far too high. It is also easier to ‘adjust” temeratures at places where it is not actually being measured, since you have no actual data to compare the estimate to, and since AGW means money, power, and prestige to it’s proponants, the tempation to adjust them upward with no way to check them afterwards is too high for me to not be suspicious of these temparatures.
    c. Climategate and the other recent gates have shown that pro AGW “scientists” have concealed, altered, “lost”, and manipulated data, especailly manipulating old data to make it look colder and more recent data to make it look warmer, and have harressed and blackballed anyone who questions their data and conclusions and stopped publication of any contrary experiments and theories. The sientific method has rules for what you do with data, one of the prime ones is repeatbility, which means you must tell others how you got that data so that they can repeat your experiment and see if they get the same results that you do. Pro AGW “scientists” have not done that, even concealing data to a criminal degree, even managing to “lose” their original measurements, even called out the inquisition against any competing data or theories, therefore, they are not following the scientific method, are not doing science, and are not scientists at all, which is why I have used “scientist” rather than scientist.
    d. The “worldwide” temerature measurements are taken to far too many decimal places for the lack of accuracy from especially a and b above. That is nothing more than a standard propaganda ploy, when your measurements are in question, take them to more decimal olaces to make it look like they are more accurate than they really are. When I see a standard propaganda ploy used, I suspect propaganda, ie a lie, not science.
    e. Finally, despite even the ‘adjustments”, the temperature has stopped rising and appears to be falling, when AGW theory says it must be rising, which says that AGW theory is clearly wrong. Also, they now say that rising temperatures is a sign of AGW, and falling temeratures is also a sign of AGW, which means that there can be do falsification of AGW, a clear violation of the scientific principle which shows that this is nothing more than propaganda, ie lying, and not science.
    3. Cooling temperatures in the stratosphere (An expected effect of CO2-warming, but not other forcings)
    a. Yet there must be rising temperatures at 10 kilometers altitude in the tropics for AGW to even happen at all, right?
    4. Rising sea levels
    a. Not rising, the former measured rising was too slow to be worth worrying about, and not increasing enough above the levels it has risen on average for 12,000 years or so to be worth noticing, and for the last several years, has slowed or even stopped. Many of the news stories of rising have been shown to be fruadulant, and the scare stories of what might happen if it does are irrelevent. The stories of islands seeing salt in their well water are simply the same as the similar happenings thousands of miles inland, too many people using too much water and draining out the water table.
    b. The fact that you do not see news stories or scientific publications is due to the fact that if anyone questions rising sea levels, they are harrassed, fired, not hired, have publication denied, etc. Therefore the news will all be one way and never the other, regardless of the actual facts. Meanwhile, any actual measurements will be quietly buried, if the people can’t find it, it isn’t happening, right? But really, you posted that sea level data at the bottom of the missing stairs under the burned out lightbulb with the sign “beware of the leapord”, right? If AGW is true, actual sea level data should be in the news, where it belongs, it isn’t, yet buried in obscure publications or web sites where hardly anyone will ever see them. That being the case, you can make up “facts” about sea level rise with the certainty that no one will call you on it if you are wrong.
    5. Loss of Arctic sea ice, particularly multiyear ice
    a. Yet Antarctic ice is increasing, which is why we do not see a rise in sea levels.
    b. Such Arctic and Antarctic ice as might be melting (in very suspicious sensationalist news stories with all the earmarks of pure propaganda and not science) is floating ice, which will not effect sea levels in any case.
    c. There is considerable evidence that such floating ice melting is the result of air and water currents, not AGW.
    d. And it appears to be growing back, whats up with that?
    6. Loss of mass from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets
    a. The only stories about Antarctic ice melting come from one small area and ignore the great mass of ice inland. They are nothing more than blatant propaganda stories, other actual studies, as compared to sensationalist news stories, show that the ice inland is increasing. The inland area is much larger than that one small peninsula, hence the actual total amount of ice in Antarctica is either staying steady or even increasing.
    b. Simply put, if the sea is not rising, than worldwide ice is not melting. The sea is not rising. Therefore worldwide ice is not melting.
    c. Therefore this idea of ice melting everywhere must be the result of sensationalist news stories coupled with aggressive silencing of anyone who says different. In otherwords, a flat out, bald faced lie. It is clearly not science, and anyone who states that should be charged with fraud and fined the amount of their saleries during the time they claimed they were a ‘scientist” and stated that, since they were clearly lying. At the very least, they were doing a very sloppy job as a scientist.
    7. Recession of most mountain glaciers around the globe
    a. Glaciergate shows that much of this reporting is nothing more than bald faced lies. To do one, go only to those glaciers that are melting (preferably during summer when you can get lots of sensational pictures of melting), while staying well away from any glaciers that are growing, also, squash any news stories and refuse publication, fire, or not hire any scientist who does any study refuting melting.
    b. Again, if the sea is not rising, than worldwide ice is not melting. The sea is not rising. Therefore worldwide ice is not melting.
    8. Poleward expansion of plant and animal species
    a. False, some might be moving poleward, some are definatly moving away from the poles. Studies that show any moving away from the poles are not published, and those that do are not criticised or checked, thus giving the false impression of polward movement. Or do you still beleive the Eskimos have no name for Robin?
    b. There is land at the north pole to move poleward on, there is no such land at the south pole. Therefore, if it gets warmer at the north pole, but colder at the south pole (which some evidence says is happening), then we would see more of this, even though the average temeprature of the poles stayed the same.
    c. Also, there are likely to be some areas near the poles that get warmer, while others get colder. By restricting your studies to only the warm areas, and staying well away from the cold areas, you can give the impression of warming poles, even when the actual affect is only localized.
    9. Ocean acidification (a result of some of the added CO2 being absorbed by the ocean
    a. During the little ice age, the water was colder, and hence could hold more CO2. It has since warmed up, and warming usually happens first with the oceans, which then warm the land, rather than the other way around. Therefore the oceans have been warmer for well over 100 years, and so we should expect that they have outgassed CO2 into the air, which means less acidification. Now you are saying more, which is it? If there is more CO2 in the sea, does that mean the sea is getting colder?
    b. What measurements do we have of ocean acidification in the past, and how far back in the past? If it is only very recent measurements, how do we know this is nothing more than temporary or localized? Do we have measurement from the Little Ice Age, when the water was colder, to compare it to? What about the Medieval Warm peroid, dark Ages cold period, Roman Warm Peroid, last ice age, warm period before that, etc? I mean, this ‘acidification”, what do we really have to compare it to? How do we even know if it is unusual, or harmfull?
    C. Or is this just more sensationalist news stories, they certainly read that way.

    Finally, there is the question of whether there is motification for some to beleive that AGW is true, lets look at that, shall we?
    If AGW is false, you may lose your job.
    If AGW is true, you keep your job, which suddenly becomes SO much more important that the pro AGW crowd gain control of vast amounts of money, in fact, essentially they gain controll of EVERYTHING EVERYONE DOES EVERYWHERE, in other words, ALL the money, power, and prestige in the world. After all, they are “saving the world”, right, and they need to controll every action we take to do that, right?
    So if it comes between losing your job or ABSOLUTE POWER, thats a pretty easy choice, wouldn’t you say?
    With a motivation like that, I must be suspicious of any pro AGW views, and the best way to allay that suspicion is to use “the scientific method”, which was created precisly to screen out such motivations from actual scientific inquiry. This scientific method has not been used by the pro AGW crowd, and has in fact been deliberatly avoided and bypassed on many occasions, therefore I must look at any pro AGW “science” with extreme suspicion at the very least.
    And if you call yourself a scientist, all I have to say is, well then do some science, start actually using the scientific method. Untill you do, your belief in AGW is similar to the belief in invisible pink unicorns (and thats being charitable).

  365. TA says:

    Although I am generally on the side of the skeptics here, I have to say that I don’t see why the definition of forcing is an issue here. If CO2 is increased as a result of human actions, and if this additional CO2 effects climate, then that is a climate forcing, because the additional CO2 did not arise in response to another change in the climate. It was brought into the climate system from outside the climate system. Likewise, a volcano eruption that effects climate is a forcing, because it is an input to the climate system which originated outside of the climate system.

    On the other hand, if warming temperatures cause more CO2 to be released from the oceans, and if that effects climate, then that is a feedback, because the additional CO2 is a result of another change in the climate system (the warming) which preceded and caused the additional CO2. Some climate scientists say CO2 is both a forcing and a feedback, because some additional CO2 is input from fossil fuels (forcing) and some additional CO2 goes into the atmosphere resulting from warming oceans (feedback).

    I don’t necessarily have a problem with this aspect of the mainstream climate model. The problem I have is in the claims this will all lead to a catastrophe.

    Of course, if you define everything on planet earth as being a part of the climate system, then the distinction goes away, but I do not see the usefulness in doing so. To me, magma underneath the earth is not part of the climate system until the volcano blows and that is when it begins to effect climate as a forcing. If I am wrong, then please explain to me how magma underneath the earth effects the climate system before the volcano blows.

  366. Gail Combs says:

    George E. Smith (14:53:35) :
    “Gail, I have read all of the published IPCC reports that I know of; so I am sure that I have read whatever it is they say about water vapor….”

    George,
    Thanks. Then I am probably remembering a UN report on the major increase in irrigation especially in third world countries. I do a lot of read on farming issues too.

    Wherever I read it, an increase in irrigation is still going to effect the amount of water that evaporates. With the Green Revolution, GMO crops requiring more water, and the wholesale irrigation of commercial crops I am sure this is a major contribution. Since Ag has become consolidated by a few international privately owned companies, the UN is not about to bite the hand that feeds them. Politics as usual.

  367. Anu says:

    Pompous Git (17:50:02) :
    “Ocean acidification (a result of some of the added CO2 being absorbed by the ocean)”

    Where has the ocean become acidic? I thought the ocean everywhere was greater than pH 8. That is, it’s basic, not acidic.

    I prefer scientific explanations that are not so terminologically sloppy.
    I prefer Pompous Git’s who are not so ignorant.
    If you add acid to a base, it becomes “more acidic”, even if it remains a base.
    If you extend a dwarf’s leg bones, he becomes “taller” even if he remains short.

    Learn the lingo:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/nov/25/water-ocean-acidity-shellfish
    http://oceanacidification.wordpress.com/2009/04/27/a-look-into-future-oceans-for-shellfish-reasons/

  368. Gail Combs says:

    sky (17:27:15) :

    “… GHGs produce no energy whatsoever on their own. They are just a capacitance component of the system and, by comparison to the thermal capcitance of the oceans, a minor one, at that. For Meier to conclude that CO2 provides substantial climate “forcing” shows the absence of rigorous physical reasoning.”

    Thank you for putting this in such a precise and easily understood way. It is a concept I agree with 100% but have had a lot of trouble stating.

    I never could swallow the idea that GHGs were some how were more important than the sun or ocean and some how mysteriously “added” energy to the earth’s energy budget.

  369. Julian Flood says:

    Dr Meier,

    When the sociologists eventually write up the sorry history of this scientific episode, your post will be the subject of PhDs, and you will be given much respect for venturing out into the non-academic world to defend your science.

    However… You knew there was a ‘but’, of course.

    The argument that the models don’t work without CO2 is hardly a knock-out one. They were developed with CO2 included, so a science of the gaps does not apply. One might as well argue that the bits we don’t understand in any science are the realm of Divine Providence and argue from there the existence of God. Be that as it may, let me choose one of your arguments which has interested me from the start.

    6/5. quote
    The increase in CO2 is due to human emissions. There are two ways we know this. First, we know this simply through accounting – we can estimate how much CO2 is being emitted by our cars, coal plants, etc. and see if it matches the observed increase in the atmosphere; indeed it does (after accounting for uptake from the oceans and biomass).
    unquote

    The match is hardly convincing. It’s about half. “We know it’s anthropogenic because it goes up by about half the amount we emit” is not a match. I might as well claim that the increase correlates to the oil consumption figures.

    quote
    Second, the carbon emitted by humans has a distinct chemical signature from natural carbon and we see that it is carbon with that human signature that is increasing and not the natural carbon.
    unquote

    What we see is that since 1850 the amount of light C isotope 12C in the atmosphere is increasing. This is claimed to match the industrial revolution time scale. Looking closer, the 12C pulse begins in 1750, before we could possibly have had an impact on the balance. If the data is good then either the isotopic composition of atmospheric carbon changes naturally or we have done something else to change the balance. Remember, the pipe has two ends: the isotope concentrations depend not only on what goes into the system but also on what is taken out.

    My bet — one of my bets — is silica modulation of the ocean biology. Farming increases the amount of silica available in the oceans — there’s a recent paper which found a ten times increase in dust deposits in US lakes when agriculture really hit its stride. Increase dissolved silica and phytoplankton blooms in spring are delayed as diatoms, extremely efficient competitors which are silica limited, out-compete the C3 phytos. Testable prediction. Diatoms pull down relatively more 13C as they are C4 like fixers. Testable prediction. Phytoplankton are good at producing DMS which increases cloud cover over the ocean, diatoms not so good. Fewer clouds, warmer oceans. Global warming without the greenhouse effect.

    You may argue, perfectly justifiably, that this is all just handwaving. Correct. It’s just like ‘it’s CO2 because we can’t think of anything else’ handwaving, a science of the gaps. That latter reasoning made me sceptical of the science and with a little thought I found five explanations for the isotope signal, all avoiding the problem that the signal starts before anthropogenic CO2 could possibly have had an effect. Are any of them true? I have no idea, but at least they match the data, which is more than can be said for ‘human signature carbon’.

    I see a lot of the ‘ we know because’ arguments, each stretching credulity beyond the breaking point. Climate science suffers more from its defenders than the actual science errors. If everyone calmed down and accepted that it will be years, maybe decades, before the science is settled then the research might be of higher quality and the level of hysteria much lower. More research is needed, preferably by new and untrammelled minds.

    Here’s a prediction: Arctic ice melt will be higher where oil extraction from offshore fields is going on.

    JF

  370. F. Ross says:

    [Bolded mine]

    In Que. 6 you say:
    “… Sometimes the CO2 rise lags the temperature rise, as seems to be the case in some of ice ages, but this simply means that CO2 didn’t initiate the rise (it is clear that solar forcing did) and was a feedback. …”

    In Que. 10 you say:
    “…Increasing GHGs should result in increasing temperatures and that is what we’ve observed. …”

    Dr. Meier, thanks for your interesting post.

    The above two quotes seem contradictory to me.
    In the first you state that increased CO2 did NOT initiate a rise in temperature, yet in the second you say that GHGs [presumably including CO2] SHOULD cause an increase in temperature.
    Are you asserting in the second quote that CO2 DID/DOES cause an increase or simply that it SHOULD?
    Is any current temperature increase leading or lagging CO2 increase?

  371. david elder says:

    I thank Dr Meier for a scholarly contribution, refreshingly free of the excesses characteristic of many CAGW exponents. I as a somewhat sceptical onlooker will try to observe similar standards as I play the devil’s advocate:

    The warming in the late 20th century – yes, it might be our CO2, but couldn’t it alternatively be (at least in part) the PDO – that would explain inter alia the pausing of the temperature rise in the last decade or more

    The Arctic ice – I thought its shrinking, currently reversing, was due to the Arctic Oscillation

    The Antarctic ice – most of the continent hasn’t warmed since the early 1970s – the main exception is the Antarctic Peninsula which juts out far from the continent and contacts a warm current (according to Duncan WIngham)

    Certainly CO2 if doubled by 2100 could raise temperature but not by much (about 1 deg C) unless this is amplfified by water vapour – but what if water vapour has a strong cooling effect by forming clouds? Is the science on this crucial point really settled?

    The IPCC projecton for sea level rise this century is only about a foot

    Is the 20th century warming out of the ordinary? Many studies collected by the Idsos (CO2 Science MWP project) suggest the Middle Ages were about as warm as and quite possibly warmer than today

    The CO2 rise after the start of an interglacial is about the same (in absolute or relative terms) as the anthropogenic CO2 change since the mid-20th century. Yet the latter CO2 rise only produced at most about 0.5 deg C. rise while an interglacial shows a temperature rise a good order of magnitude higher than this. That does not fit with the idea that CO2 is a strong driver of temperature in interglacial dynamics.

    I am far from convinced that peer review is in good shape after seeing what McINtyre went through, and after seeing the covert machinations on this as revealed in the CRU emails – tthe 2006 Wegman report also commented on the inbred nature of the hockey-stick/Climategate team and its unhealthy effect on scientific debate

    I am most persuaded by Dr Meier’s invocation of the precautionary principle. But I believe that nuclear power is the only currently proven option here. Yet pro-CAGW Greens are often the most vocal critics of any such proposal. (I do not know Dr Meier’s view on this point, but it is the Green movement as a whole that I am looking at here.)

    Thank you again Dr Meier for improving the level of debate on this important subject.

  372. Joe Prins says:

    Dr. Meier,
    Somewhere in the recesses of my memory I recall:
    1) The earthly poles have a tendency to “travel” over time;
    2) the earthly poles have `switched` sides regularly in the last few million years.
    If indeed the poles move, how does this effect the wind patterns, ice accumulation or degradation and a host of other consequences.
    What would be the consequence, if any, if the north pole went south.
    By the way, no one has yet explained why the planet Mars is heating up.

  373. TA says:

    Walt says:

    “So what are the indications that climate is changing in response to forcing today as it has in the past? Here are a few:

    9. Ocean acidification (a result of some of the added CO2 being absorbed by the ocean)”

    Ocean acidification is not an indication that climate is changing. At most, it is an indication of increased CO2.

  374. Marlene Anderson says:

    hunter,
    Thanks for the response. So, to probe that isotope angle just a bit more, carbon 12 and 13 are deemed stable while carbon 14 has a half-life around 5700 years give or take a few decades.

    So, if I try to reason my way through this, any carbon-based material beyond a certain age would be devoid of any C-14 since it decays to zero. As hydrocarbons are an ancient artifact, then there would be no C-14 present. So, to relate the carbon signature to humans burning fossil fuels, one would expect an increasing dominance of C-12 with lesser amounts of C-13 and an ever decreasing amount of C-14.

    Except that C-14 is created in the upper atmosphere by radiation from the sun transforming nitrogen-14 into C-14. Therefore the atmosphere itself creates CO2 as C-14 combining with atmospheric oxygen and voila! more carbon dioxide is added to the inventory and it’s all of the C-14 variety.

    Now, over time one would expect there to be some kind of steady state CO2 of the C-14 variety. My experience is that steady state is some kind of mythical utopia dreamed up in science heaven and it rarely exists anywhere except in engineers imaginations and university textbooks. Hence, there could be any number of factors influencing the amount of CO2 in the upper atmosphere and it could be greater or lesser at any given time. Perhaps we should be measuring nitrogen on an ongoing basis to determine whether it’s been decreasing while CO2 has been rising – hey it’s crazy, but who knows?

    So, it doesn’t immediately jump out at me how they know that certain carbon is from people unless it’s attached to human DNA.

  375. Roger Carr says:

    Gail Combs (05:42:35) : (to me: Roger Carr (22:49:59) : Walt Meier has penned a seductive piece here which bids fair to capture my belief and endorsement… so why do I at the same time feel ensnared in a trap which needs escaping from?

    REPLY: (from Gail)
    My take is that Dr Meier is a “facilitator/change agent” He would have to have great charm and the ability to convince to be placed in that critical role. Once you know what to look for it is easy to spot a “facilitator”

    Thank you, Gail. I appreciate your comment and the knowledge therein.

  376. Mike says:

    Regarding Ivan (14:54:24) : “Another specific fingerprint (TT hot spot) is not mentioned, probably because the tropospheric warming is lower than surface warming, and according to the models it should be at least 2 times higher.”

    See: Upper troposphere is warming after all, research shows, May 28, 2008,
    http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/34398

  377. Roger Carr says:

    hunter (06:37:43) : True belief is so powerful that even when significant evidence of fraud or just plain wrongness is discovered, the believer persists in their confidence.
    Fully endorsed, hunter.
    Maybe some Burns, here?

    Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim’rous beastie,
    O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
    Thou need na start awa sae hasty
    Wi bickering brattle!
    I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee,
    Wi’ murdering pattle.

    We (so many of us), the mice… to our shame.

  378. R. Gates says:

    Responding to NickB. at (15:40:08) :

    I agree that no one knows for certain what the next few years holds for arctic sea ice, but I still maintain that the single best source for overall arctic sea ice trends is here:

    NickB. (15:40:08) :

    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/sea.ice.anomaly.timeseries.jpg

    The ice has spent far more time below the 30 normal line than above the past 10+ years, and no time above it since 2004 (though we can extremely close this year, and still may cross it, who knows?). My point is that in looking at trends, I like longer rather than shorter, (though if this is an investment, you can certainly play a short term bounce). But the climate can only be thought of as a long term investment, and the best chart we have covering the longest period is the one above as far as arctic is concerned, but show me a better one, and I’d love to have a look at it.

    As I’ve stated many times, the next few years are critical for my own belief that current AGW models (and the general theory) is correct. If we don’t hit a new summertime low by 2015, I’ll lean more to the skeptical side of things. Right now though, I think we will see a new summer low for the arctic ice by then, and I think this summer will surprize many who think that the 2 or 3 year old ice will be able to hold up to a very warm summer with lots of warm currents invading the arctic ocean once more…but we will see.

  379. Jim F says:

    Hey, Anus @19:46:42:

    “…I prefer Pompous Git’s who are not so ignorant.
    If you add acid to a base, it becomes “more acidic”, even if it remains a base….”

    No, it becomes less basic. It stays basic (or alkaline as you prefer) until it goes below (less than) pH 7.0.

    Shove it, pal.

  380. F. Ross says:

    Anu (19:46:42) :

    I prefer Pompous Git’s who are not so ignorant.
    If you add acid to a base, it becomes “more acidic”, even if it remains a base.

    Seems to me both terms are [or at lest should be] acceptable. Hardly worth getting one’s drawers in a twist.

    And if you add a base to an acid does it become more basic or less acidic even though it may remain acidic?

  381. Joe Prins (20:24:33) :
    2) the earthly poles have `switched` sides regularly in the last few million years.
    The magnetic poles have switched. Not the rotational poles.

    By the way, no one has yet explained why the planet Mars is heating up.
    Who says that Mars is heating up?

  382. Ninderthana says:

    Dear Dr. Peter Meier,

    Thank you for having the courage to place your views on GW for WUWT bloggers to comment.

    Like many scientists that I know you have come to the wrong conclusions on GW because you have used the wrong assumptions.

    First, you list a series of observations that you believe cannot be completely explained by “known” natural forcing terms. The false assumption that you are making here is that the collective wisdom of scientists has a good handle on all the major forcing terms that affect climate on decadal to centenial time scales.

    Second, you assume that the observed climate changes are historically unprecedented. Unfortunately, you fail to realize that this false assumption is based upon your poor (incomplete) knowledge of past climate change.

    Thirdly, you have falsely assumed that correlation is causation. Just because CO2 levels are increasing at a time where the atmosphere is warming climate is NOT proof that the former is causing the latter.

    I am sorry, but three strikes and you are out!

    Just so that you are not completely surprised by what happens over the next few years, I will let you in on a little secret or two:

    Scientific evidence is emerging to show that Lunar/solar tides are causing significant decadal to centenial varaitions in sea surface temperatures, and that it is these variations that are:

    a) governing the onset and impact of the El Nino/La Nina Cycle
    b) producing a ~ 60 year periodicity in the Earth’s trade winds

    The IPCC dismisses this natural forcing factor as being insignificant, however, this is about to change.

    Additional scientific evidence is emerging to show that the increase in optical opacity of the atmosphere at the top of the troposphere due to CO2 is being counterbalanced by a decrease in optical opacity of the atmosphere at the top of the troposphere due to water vapour, because of a decrease in the specific humdity at these altitudes. In other words, there is a strong negative feed-back in the atmosphere limiting the warming to < 0.6 C for a doubling of CO2.

  383. Ninderthana says:

    Sorry, It should have read:

    Dear Dr. Walter Meier,

  384. Ninderthana says:

    I am having a bad day – that was:

    Dear Dr. Walt Meier,

  385. Lord Jim says:

    Anu (19:46:42) :

    “If you add acid to a base, it becomes “more acidic”, even if it remains a base.
    If you extend a dwarf’s leg bones, he becomes “taller” even if he remains short.”

    And to put it in perspective agw alarmists would no doubt call a 1cm increase in the population height of dwarfs: “dwarf giantification”.

  386. Smokey says:

    R. Gates (20:45:06),

    Thank you for re-posting the chart I have repeatedly posted to show that the climate reverts to the mean. But you cherry-pick as usual:

    The ice has spent far more time below the 30 normal line than above the past 10+ years… My point is that in looking at trends, I like longer rather than shorter, (though if this is an investment, you can certainly play a short term bounce). But the climate can only be thought of as a long term investment, and the best chart we have covering the longest period is the one above as far as arctic is concerned, but show me a better one, and I’d love to have a look at it.

    There’s your ‘better one,’ and yes, you will ‘have a look at it’ and then revert to your true belief that climate catastrophe is just around the corner. And as usual, you cherry-pick only the Arctic, because it is the hemisphere that supports your conjecture.

    Since you pine for a long term view: click

    We are currently in an interglacial period. Consider yourself lucky that the climate is currently as warm as it is. Based on the relentless long term cooling trend, the temporary warming won’t last. If CO2 had more than a negligible effect, honest climate scientists would welcome any increase in temperature with open arms.

    But then, you’re not a scientist, are you? Much less a climate scientist.

  387. Cassandra King says:

    R Gates,

    You claim you prefer long term trends, thirty years is hardly a long term trend is it?

    Satellites have been measuring the poles for only a tiny period of time and you believe you have long term trends all figured out by looking at thirty year cycles?

    We have data from explorers for the poles for the last century and satellite data for thirty, there is simply no way to extrapolate a trend with that amount of data.

    A million polar cycles, ten million polar cycles, a hundred million polar cycles can be judged as long term, thirty cycles is a blink of the eye time wise.

  388. Dave F :

    After I said “Generally it is dealt with as a feedback rather than a forcing and sometimes it doesn’t appear in a “list” – not implying that it is being ignored.

    Commented:

    And why is that the correct treatment? Why is CO2 a forcing and H2O a feedback?

    It’s a convention. The maths works out just the same regardless of the label.

    Why is it a convention? Because human activity increases the concentrations of long-lived “greenhouse” gases, while water vapor changes primarily take place due to changes in surface and lower troposphere temperature. I.e., water vapor responds to temperature. And in turn has a feedback effect.

    It seems that many people feel very strongly about such a convention.

    Calculating the effect in W/m^2 at the top of atmosphere and at the surface from increases in CO2 and water vapor are not changed by the convention.

    Much work is currently being done in understanding water vapor and measuring water vapor – probably much more than is being done in CO2.

  389. Wren says:

    Jordan (10:55:23) :
    Wren (09:02:15) : “The accuracy of predicting a single coin flip does not become greater the more times you flip. But you can more accurately determine the outcome of 1,000 flips than the outcome of 10 flips”

    Not so Wren. If you flipped 10 times, would you be prepared to bet your life that the number of heads was 5 or greater? OR if you flipped 10,000 times, would you bet on 5,000 heads or greater.

    The crucial point is that I have kept the probability at 0.5, and the reformulation of the problem has created no improvement in your ability to anticipate the outcome.

    So there is no trend to accuracy. Don’t let the refinement of the numerical probability values fool you into thinking otherwise.

    The same thing for predicting specific outcomes versus predicting an average of a group of those outcomes. An average value is not the same measure as a specific outcome, and if we don’t change our test criteria, we are simply fooling ourselves into thinking we know more than we do.

    Walt Meier makes that mistake in the above post. Right now, it is not clear whether he simply doesn’t understand it, or whether he was trying to pull the wool over your eyes.

    Since he is such a nice guy, my guess is that he did not understand the point and should reconsider his arguments.
    ===
    Nah! The more flips, the greater the chance of a distribution that’s 50% heads and 50% tails. It’s not hard to get 100% heads or 100% tails if you flip a coin only 2 times. But try getting 100% of either with 1,000 flips.

    But as I said, I prefer the stock market analogy.

  390. sky :

    .. his basic mis-definition of what constitutes “forcing” was a tip-off that no discussion based on rigorous physical reasoning was forthcoming.

    In any rigorous physical sense, forcing is the externally supplied energy that drives the system–and not just any interactive component of system response. Clearly solar energy , more specifically, the fraction of TSI that is thermalized by the Earth as a planet, supplies all the forcing of consequence to climate. GHGs produce no energy whatsoever on their own. They are just a capacitance component of the system and, by comparison to the thermal capcitance of the oceans, a minor one, at that. For Meier to conclude that CO2 provides substantial climate “forcing” shows the absence of rigorous physical reasoning.

    The term “radiative forcing” is used in a rigorous way. You can find it in the IPCC AR4 (2007), section 2.2 (p133). If the fact that the term “forcing” is used offends then think of it as feedback.

    “A capacitance component” is not a rigorous definition.

    Explaining “radiative forcing” in a non-rigorous way, it is the change in downward longwave radiation in W/m^2 from changes in concentration of that trace gas. (Of course, everyone knows that all of the energy ultimately derives from the sun). Without that trace gas concentration that downward longwave radiation would not be there.

    These values can be measured. The amount is not trivial. You can see some values calculated using the radiative transfer equations and also measured with a Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometer – at CO2 – An Insignificant Trace Gas? Part Six

  391. iggi59 says:

    Arguments are sound, but quantifications about sensitivies are absent, as are statements on the criteria of falsifying models.

    According to Phil Jones, the last 15 years brought no statistical significant global warming, yet in the same period of time we have increased our rate of CO2 emissions by a factor of 2 or 3. Any type of economist or engineer in any similar sort of situation would not call human CO2 emissions the ‘main factor’ of global warming.

    What would be the criteria for rejecting warming models based on data divergence?

    Furthermore, the comment about the arctic ice models is misleading. Failure of these models indicates lack of data and knowledge about the processes just as much as it indicates that ‘everything is worse than we thought’.

  392. Dave F says:

    @ scienceofdoom (21:44:38) :

    It is not just a convention, it is an ordering of the effects. CO2 heats, H2O feedback. Why is that correct? Why does H2O not provide this feedback effect without CO2?

  393. Anthropogenic water vapor

    As many people commented that anthropogenic water vapor is a significant forcing agent on climate, I had a quick look in the IPCC AR4 to see what they had to say.

    Not that this makes it correct or anything, but as most of the commenters are convinced that anthropogenic water vapor is possibly more important than anthropogenic CO2 here is a starting point at least:

    Section 2.5.6 (p185) of Chapter 2 of the AR4 (2007):

    Anthropogenic use of water is less than 1% of natural sources
    of water vapor and about 70% of the use of water for human
    activity is from irrigation..

    ..The emission of water vapor from fossil fuel combustion is significantly lower than the emission from changes in land use..

    Recommended reading of the whole section for everyone interested in the subject.

  394. Jim F says:

    @Mike (20:36:47) :

    re the heating troposphere:
    http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/34398

    “…Allen and Sherwood took wind data from 341 weather-balloon stations — 303 in the northern hemisphere and 38 in the southern hemisphere — covering a period from 1970 to 2005. To covert the data to temperature measurements, they employed a relationship known as the thermal-wind equation, which describes how vertical gradients in wind speed change with horizontally varying temperature. They found that the maximum warming has occurred in the upper troposphere above the tropics at 0.65 ± 0.47 °C per decade, a rate consistent with climate models.

    “This research really does show the tropical troposphere has been warming over the past three decades,” says Benjamin Santer of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. “And it will, I hope, put this controversy of weather balloon and satellite data to rest.” Santer, who was one of the lead authors of the 1995 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, thinks the next step is to confirm Allen and Sherwood’s findings with direct temperature records. These, he explains, must be taken with advanced weather-balloon instruments that can be calibrated against older models to remove biases….”

    Well, that does it for me. If Ben Santer sanctions this, it simply has to be right. NOT!

    This sounds damned silly, in fact. Take the measurements at night, or figure out how to correct for the sun or to obviate it. And 1 +/- 1 is “consistent”. Right!

  395. henry says:

    Like others, I too, thank you for your appearance.

    And as I’ve said before, you can always tell when someone who supports AGW is losing the argument – they bring out “The List”.

    So here we go again:

    1. Increasing concentrations of CO2 and other GHGs in the atmosphere

    As others have said, the inclusion of water vapor as a GHG changes the whole premise of “man-made”.

    2. Rising temperatures at and near the surface

    According to which organization? All the discussion over which stations to use, which averaging period to use, the processing and charting of the data might say the Earth is warming, but by how much?

    Some say “It’s the trend that matters, not the zero”. But are the rising temps going above zero, or returning to zero (from below)?

    At least here you say: “It is possible that latter 8 points are completely unrelated to point 1, but I think one would be hard-pressed to say that the above argues against NH2.”

    3. Cooling temperatures in the stratosphere (An expected effect of CO2-warming, but not other forcings)

    4. Rising sea levels

    5. Loss of Arctic sea ice, particularly multiyear ice

    6. Loss of mass from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets

    7. Recession of most mountain glaciers around the globe

    8. Poleward expansion of plant and animal species

    All of the above are expected when coming out of an Ice Age. Especially #8. How are we to know that the “poleward expansion” is nothing more than a return to the natural habitat?

    Plant and animal remains have been found under the retreating glaciers.

    9. Ocean acidification (a result of some of the added CO2 being absorbed by the ocean)

    Here, man may have a part. If trees are chopped down (removing one sink), the other sinks have to take up more.

    But nature has also had a part. Wildfires, volcanoes, coal fires (some not started by man, and have been burning for decades) have all added to the ratio of C12/C13.

  396. JER0ME says:

    Well, I truly appreciate your input. I also reserve the right to disagree, of course:

    3. The concentration of CO2 is closely linked with temperature – CO2 and temperature rise or fall largely in concert with each other. This has been observed in ice cores from around the world with some records dating back over 800,000 years. Sometimes the CO2 rise lags the temperature rise, as seems to be the case in some of ice ages, but this simply means that CO2 didn’t initiate the rise (it is clear that solar forcing did) and was a feedback. But regardless, without CO2 you don’t get swings between ice ages and interglacial periods. To paraphrase Richard Alley, a colleague at Penn State: “the climate history of the earth makes no sense unless you consider CO2”.

    Well, I was reading quite well up until this point. I do not think there is a terribly good correlation. I am also very dubious about the quality of any proxy measurements. They do not seem to correlate well with our limited temperature readings as I understand it. Then again I am obviously not an expert.

    I am also extremely dubious of the oft asserted but never, and I mean never, validated claim that “CO2 increased after temperature rose, and then obviously caused more temperature increase”. Complete tosh, and without even a flimsy theory to back it up IMO.

    Basically you make the claim that minute changes in a minute fraction of the atmosphere make huge changes in climate regardless of what else is massively changing at the same time. That requires faith, not science.

    6. Given the above points and NH2, one expects the observed temperature rise is largely due to CO2 and that increasing CO2 concentrations will cause temperatures to continue to rise over the long-term. This was first discussed well over 50 years ago.

    No, sorry. There have been other rises in temperature for many many years of equal intensity, and with little or no increases in CO2. Why can this one be unrelated to CO2 as well?

    . Given the above points and NH2, one expects the observed temperature rise is largely due to CO2 and that increasing CO2 concentrations will cause temperatures to continue to rise over the long-term. This was first discussed well over 50 years ago.

    If you’re interested in more details, I would recommend the CO2 page here: http://www.aip.org/history/climate/co2.htm, which is a supplement to Spencer Weart’s book, “The Discovery of Global Warming”.

    Been there, read that, BUT:

    Arrhenius made a calculation for doubling the CO2 in the atmosphere, and estimated it would raise the Earth’s temperature some 5-6°C.(3)

    There is no reference at all to Arrhenius’ later studies where he believes he overestimated the effect of CO2 by at least 100%. If you don’t include that, you are clearly biased, and you cannot accept what he accepted, that we are not at all sure of the effects of CO2.

    Of course, there are other forcings so we don’t expect an exact match between temperatures and GHGs with a completely steady temperature increase. Periods of relatively cooler temperatures, more sea ice, etc. are still part of the natural variations of the climate system that continue to occur. Such periods may last for months or years. The anthropogenic GHG forcing is in addition to the natural forcings, it doesn’t supersede them. And of course, as with any scientific endeavor, there are uncertainties. We can’t give the precise amount warming one gets from a given amount of CO2 (and other GHGs) with 100% certainty; we make the best estimate we can based on the evidence we have. And that tells us that while there are uncertainties on the effect of GHGs, it is very unlikely the effect is negligible and the global effects are much larger than those of land use changes and soot.

    Sorry, that effectively invalidates any possibility of a Null Hypothesis. At that point you may as well stop as AGW can never be disproved.

    But if the question is “is NH2 still valid?”, then yes I would say the science is settled. And as a result, we also can say the science is settled with respect to the question: “have human-emitted GHGs had a discernable effect on climate and can we expect that effect to continue in the future?”

    Oh dear. What discernible effect? Everything we see now is perfectly explicable by normal climate variations. It is only the future thermageddon scenarios that are not.

    Well, as I said, I reserve the right to disagree. I think your points are well thought out, except the CO2 bit. There is just not enough evidence.

  397. Gilbert says:

    Mike (20:36:47) :
    See: Upper troposphere is warming after all, research shows, May 28, 2008,
    http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/34398

    They found that the maximum warming has occurred in the upper
    troposphere above the tropics at 0.65 ± 0.47 °C per decade, a
    rate consistent with climate models.

    That translates to 2.75C over the entire 35 years.

    So what to believe. Two separate direct reading systems or a proxy based on a theoretical relationship between vertical wind wind speed gradients and temperature?

  398. Gilbert says:

    correction

    That translates to 2.275C over the entire 35 years.

  399. Wren says:

    iggi59 (22:00:31) :
    Arguments are sound, but quantifications about sensitivies are absent, as are statements on the criteria of falsifying models.

    According to Phil Jones, the last 15 years brought no statistical significant global warming, yet in the same period of time we have increased our rate of CO2 emissions by a factor of 2 or 3. Any type of economist or engineer in any similar sort of situation would not call human CO2 emissions the ‘main factor’ of global warming.
    ===
    Why not? After all, wasn’t a La Nina a cooling influence during this period. If not for CAWG, shouldn’t the La Nina have caused a drop in global temperatures?

    Engineers and economist should be able to comprehend multiple independent variables, some working against each other. That’s what they are trained to do.

  400. Dave F says:

    @ Wren (23:07:03) :

    A 15 year La Nina?

  401. scienceofdoom.

    glad to see you here. Your site is one of the sites I highly recommend to people who want to get a good introduction to the basic physics, physics which actually help us design things which work. I also like your site because it’s a place where skeptics are welcome to come and ask their questions without being treated poorly. Anyways, I found the actual measurements of downward LW to one of those “goto” points to illuminate people who wanted to see what data said as opposed to models. Also your exposition of RTE was very readable. More and more I find myself telling people who want to argue about GHGs to just go read scienceofdoom.
    And I hate recommending anonymous people, but you keep things focused on the math and science.

    Just a snippet for the curious:

    “What is interesting is seeing the actual values of longwave radiation at the earth’s surface and the comparison 1-d simulations for that particular profile. (See Part Five for a little more about 1-d simulations of the “radiative transfer equations”). The data and the mathematical model matches very well.

    Is that surprising?

    It shouldn’t be if you have worked your way through all the posts in this series. Calculating the radiative forcing from CO2 or any other gas is mathematically demanding but well-understood science. (That is a whole different challenge compared with modeling the whole climate 1 year or 10 years from now).”

  402. Wren says:

    Dave F (23:18:10) :
    @ Wren (23:07:03) :

    A 15 year La Nina?
    ======
    Didn’t say that, did I?

    I said :After all, wasn’t a La Nina a cooling influence during this period.

    During this period

    During this period

  403. JER0ME says:

    Lord Jim (21:17:04) :

    Anu (19:46:42) :

    “If you add acid to a base, it becomes “more acidic”, even if it remains a base.
    If you extend a dwarf’s leg bones, he becomes “taller” even if he remains short.”

    And to put it in perspective agw alarmists would no doubt call a 1cm increase in the population height of dwarfs: “dwarf giantification”.

    “dwarf giantification” …… caused by Climate Change, of course!

  404. Chuck Wiese says:

    Jim F Writes: “…Allen and Sherwood took wind data from 341 weather-balloon stations — 303 in the northern hemisphere and 38 in the southern hemisphere — covering a period from 1970 to 2005. To covert the data to temperature measurements, they employed a relationship known as the thermal-wind equation, which describes how vertical gradients in wind speed change with horizontally varying temperature. They found that the maximum warming has occurred in the upper troposphere above the tropics at 0.65 ± 0.47 °C per decade, a rate consistent with climate models.

    This research really does show the tropical troposphere has been warming over the past three decades,” says Benjamin Santer of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. “And it will, I hope, put this controversy of weather balloon and satellite data to rest.” Santer, who was one of the lead authors of the 1995 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, thinks the next step is to confirm Allen and Sherwood’s findings with direct temperature records. These, he explains, must be taken with advanced weather-balloon instruments that can be calibrated against older models to remove biases….”

    Jim F: I don’t know whether you believe this or not, but when I saw this paper over a year ago I about fell out of my chair from nearly fainting. This is the most convoluted, bastardized and incorrct use of the thermal wind equations I have ever seen, and if Ben Santer from Lawrence Livermore believes these equations can be used in the tropics in a barotropic ( meaning no horizontal temperature advections ) atmosphere, he is way in over his head and an incompetent boob for sanctioning the use of theses equations.

    ANY meteorologist knows that the use of these equations REQUIRES a horizontal temperature gradient, which is lacking entirely except in the far northern fringes at latitudes between 20-30 degN occasionaly during the winter. Further, the equations tell you NOTHING about a permanent or equalizing state of the atmosphere after more or less energy is present. They only tell you about the shear of the geostrophic wind with height, and if there is a horizontal temperature gradient, the shear vector can give a short term forecast of advective temperature change. These equations CANNOT be used in ANY manner to predict climate change temperatures or something more permanent based upon entirely different physical parameters acting upon the system.

    Papers like this that pass peer review are proof that “climate science” is a dicked up arena of special interests who lack the ability to understand fundamental concepts and limitations of the earth atmospheric system and regularly abuse physics in this manner to reach illogical and incorrect assumptions and conclusions.

  405. David says:

    Question 7: How much of the post-1980 temperature change is due to humans?

    Here Willis says we get into murky waters and that there is little scientific agreement. And indeed this is true when discussing the factors he’s chosen to focus on: land use and soot. This is because, as mentioned above, the magnitudes of these forcings are small and the uncertainties relatively large. But there is broad scientific agreement that human-emitted CO2 has significantly contributed to the temperature change.

    Still, this question not answered. The question was how much? And this is not settled science or “broad scientific agreement,

    Refusing to release the data and medadata, threatening to change peer review, if it dares alow desent, refusing to engage in moderated debate, that’s not science, that is political activism. The planet is falsifying CAGW alarmism. The claim that “mainstream” scientists have reached a consensus is also completely wrong. For one example, more than 31,000 U.S. scientists have already signed the OISM Petition, which states:
    The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind.
    There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.
    Dr Frederick Seitz, past President of the National Academy of Sciences, wrote the petition’s cover letter. There are numerous other petitions and statements collecting hundreds os signatures of international scientist. There is no consensous. Just try to get this many signatures on the ” plasma universe” for instance.

  406. xyzlatin says:

    I have to agree with the poster who said on second reading that he was offended by this dissertation. My reaction was offense but then this morphed into embarrassment for Dr Meier.
    He is obviously not familiar with WUWT, Climate Audit, Chiefio, Air Vent, Bishop Hill, Jo Nova, EU Referendum, and other blogs, and the many many discussions and articles on every single point he has raised. All his points have been well and truly demolished a long time ago, years.
    I feel embarrassed that Dr Meier has shown his ignorance to the world, even to the extent of excusing peer review which has become such a joke that there are internet skits and parody songs on this.
    He is also ignorant that most of the skeptics are familiar with straw men which the NH2 argument was.
    Yes he did not do ad hominem which has been praised by many on this blog. It is sad that one gets praise for not doing something that a person should not do anyway.
    The problem is that AGW does not have anything in the theory that has not been demolished, so any person from the AGW side is at a disadvantage.
    I do not see any point in these attempts at “debating”, or trying to get a dialogue going on a theory which died the moment the temperature stopped rising while CO2 kept being pumped into the atmosphere (although does not stay there long).

  407. Jacob says:

    Walt says:
    ““have human-emitted GHGs had a discernible effect on climate and can we expect that effect to continue in the future?”

    This is a bad formulation of the problem.
    Few cast doubt whether “human-emitted GHGs had a discernible effect on climate”. They had.
    The question is about the magnitude of the effect, and whether it is bound to be catastrophic or not.

  408. Richard S Courtney says:

    scienceofdoom and Sky:

    You are having an ‘Angels on a pinhead’ argument when you debate the definition of “radiative forcing”.

    The important issue to determine is whether or not changes to “radiative forcing” have any discernible affect on climate.

    As I said to Dr Meier at (01:17:38) 8.04.10:

    “I agree that the basic assumption used in the climate models is that change to climate is driven by change to “climate forcing”, and most notably radiative forcing. But I have repeatedly pointed out that it is very important to recognise that this assumption has not been demonstrated to be correct. Indeed, it is quite possible that there is no force or process causing climate to vary.”

    And I explained why radiative forcing may not be relevant for the non-linear chaotic system that is climate.

    So, before detailed debate concerning a best definition of radiative forcing, perhaps you would care to try providing some evidence and/or argument to support the assumption that change to climate is driven by change to radiative forcing.

    At present there is no evidence and/or argument of any kind to support this assumption that is the foundation of the AGW hypothesis.

    Richard

  409. Jordan says:

    “Wren (21:54:49) : Nah! The more flips, the greater the chance of a distribution that’s 50% heads and 50% tails. It’s not hard to get 100% heads or 100% tails if you flip a coin only 2 times. But try getting 100% of either with 1,000 flips.”

    Dr meier is flipping a fair coin which has exactly 0.5 of either outcome at the outset. This property of the coin can be called its “population probability” as it relates to an indefinite number of flips.

    The population probability is the maximum amount of knowledge we have about a fair coin before the coin flipping starts.

    Walt mentions a hypothetical bet. It is important to place the bet before the coin is flipped, so I’ll use the term “prior chance”.

    On a single flip, his prior chance of a head is the population probability. He’s not willing to bet his life on that.

    On any even number of flips, his prior chance of 50% or more being heads is still the population probaility. Still no bet, we suspect.

    Walt re-formulated the bet to a range for observed outcomes given 10,000 tosses. But the range is too great and he altered the odds unfairly. If he narrows the range, he could easily get the probability back to a 50/50 bet at the outset, given that we know the population probability of the coin. On the same reasoning, we don’t expect him to place the bet if the range is narrowed appropriately.

    I think your point makes the mistake of confusing “sample probability” with the observed outcome of the bet.

    The “sample probability” is an estimate of population probability, derived from a finite number of sample observations. The bet is made in advance, and we know the population probability, so sample probability doesn’t come into it.

  410. Stefan says:

    R. Craigen (11:09:45) :
    Hi Mr Meier. Thanks for being willing to cast your bread upon the WUWT waters, I respect that. Like you I would call myself a skeptic, and I also am not a specialist in these fields — my PhD is in mathematics, which qualifies me mainly to think and to understand the general issues of handling data and extracting logical consequences from observations.

    I’m still processing your long post, but a central element in what you write is seriously problematic. You write:

    null hypothesis 2 (NH2): are the factors that controlled earth’s climate in the past the same factors that control it today and will continue to do so into the future? In other words are the processes that have affected climate (i.e., the forcings – the sun, volcanic eruptions, greenhouse gases, etc.) in the past affecting climate today and will they continue to do so in the future? A basic premise of any science with an historical aspect (e.g., geology, evolution, etc.) is that the past is the key to the future.

    My problem: this is not a null hypothesis. It is not even a hypothesis! As far as I can tell, it is a question! Presumably you know what the scientific process is. Have you ever judged science fair? Do you know what we expect of projects that fall into the category of “hypothesis testing”? When I see a student’s project begin with a “hypothesis” ending in a question mark, I roll my eyes and hope I can find a few pity marks for them because, frankly I know they aren’t about to win any medals.

    I’m glad someone with qualifications can spot this too.

    My gut, qualified in digestion, says that NH2 is mush.

    Here’s that NH2:

    I BELIEVE X ABOUT THE PAST. WILL I CONTINUE TO BELIEVE X ABOUT THE PRESENT?

    The NH2 tells you nothing that you didn’t believe you already knew.

    Mush mush mush mush mush.

    Here’s the NH:

    CO2 is a minor forcing across all time scales.

    Please try disprove that.

  411. Legatus says:

    If it is radiative forcing, then we should be able to detect the LW radiation, should we not? Why has there never been an experiment designed or even as far as I know proposed to directly obsorve the LW radiation being broadast earthward from all that CO2 up there? If we never do such an experiment, then the whole AGW position is non scientific, being based merely on assumptions and theories without experiment. That is the way “science” was done before the scientific method, do we want to go back to a pre scientific age?

    Show me the radiation.

  412. Chris Wright says:

    “3. The concentration of CO2 is closely linked with temperature – CO2 and temperature rise or fall largely in concert with each other. This has been observed in ice cores from around the world with some records dating back over 800,000 years. Sometimes the CO2 rise lags the temperature rise, as seems to be the case in some of ice ages, but this simply means that CO2 didn’t initiate the rise (it is clear that solar forcing did) and was a feedback….”

    As far as I’m aware the CO2 in the ice cores *always* lags behind the temperature by typically 800 years. If this is so then he is being very misleading. Basically he seems to be saying that CO2 acts as a feedback. But if that is the case then it should show clearly in the record. As far as I’m aware, it doesn’t.

    It seems to me that the ice core record is a perfect opportunity to see AGW in action. But in fact there’s no sign of it. The CO2 follows the temperature due to the action of the oceans storing/releasing CO2. The ice cores strongly suggest that CO2 has an insignificant effect on the climate.
    Chris

  413. Gail Combs says:

    Legatus (19:08:53) :

    “….d. Finally, and most importantly, when told how much CO2 we humans are pumping out, big scary numbers of how many tones are pumped out are used. But how many tones are already in the atmosphere, and what percentage of that are these big scary numbers we are pumping out? I have never seen one ’scientist” address that question, which begs the question of whether the A should be dropped entirely from AGW. If we were to find out how much CO2 mankind has pumped out since the start of modern industry, and compare that to the amount of CO2 present just before that start, and compare it to the amount present now, we could then see how much mankind put out, and how much nature put out, and what percentage is attributable to man. This would be the nessissary first step to putting the A in AGW, yet this has never been done, why not? If it is not done, I have to question whether AGW is even a science at all….”

    Here are some answers to that question from two different sources.

    The that is always left out of the discussion is how much CO2 is mankind actually contributing. It is about 3% with nature contributing the other 97%
    http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/eia_co2_contributions_table3.png

    Then there is the calculations of how much CO2 they can blame on mankind mentioned by Dr. Meier using isotopes: http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/co2_measurements.html

    Notice the indirect measure drives the original 3% of the CO2 emitted each year way up.

    “….There are techniques to follow human CO2 even there, where they use other recent human-made gases like CFC’s to track the past emissions. Anyway the “half life”, that is the time period in which half of the human induced CO2 disappears, is about 5.2 years.

    Over longer periods, humans continue to emit (currently about 8 GtC) CO2. The accumulation over the last years thus is 8 + 5.3 + 4.3 + 3.5 + 2.8 +… or about 40 GtC from the emissions over the past 30 years. That is only 5% of the current atmosphere…
    Some conclude from this that humans are only responsible for 5% of the CO2 increase and thus, as far as that influences temperature, also only for 5% of the temperature increase. But that is a wrong assumption…

    The previous paragraphs are about how much human induced CO2 still is in the atmosphere. That is about the origin and fate of individual CO2 molecules, which atmospheric lifetime is governed by the seasonal turnover (back and forth flows) of about 150 GtC in/out the atmosphere from/to oceans and vegetation, and has nothing to do with the fate of the extra amount of CO2 (as mass) that humans emit, neither with the increase of total amount of CO2 in the atmosphere as result of that. The latter is governed by the net amounts which year by year are incorporated into oceans and vegetation. That is only 1-7 GtC/year (variable due to temperature variability) or in average about 55% of the emissions. The half life time of this extra CO2 (as mass) is much longer than the half life time of an individual CO2 molecule: around 40 years [20]. Thus if we should stop all CO2 emissions today, then the increase of 100 ppmv since the start of the industrial revolution would be reduced to 50 ppmv after some 40 years,….”

    Notice how humans are some how blamed for the entire “100 ppmv since the start of the industrial revolution” and the implication is that if we halt civilization in its tracts we “would be reduced to 50 ppmv after some 40 years”

    As some one else stated the entire system is treated as if it is completely static. This reasoning does not mention the fact that all that water is warmer and will not remove as much CO2 from the atmosphere. That it is probably net outgassing and has been since the end of the Little Ice Age. Nor that the outgassing maybe releasing ancient CO2 with a similar isotope signature to that of coal, or that the biomass is gobbling up that CO2 with the isotope signature of coal. That the biosphere is then releasing it as the grass and veggies are eaten or the trees are burned in wildfires thereby recycling all that coal signature isotope yearly for the past 100 yrs. Even if all that is taken into account it leaves a LOT of wiggle room just like the “temperature adjustments” and station record dropping does in the global temperature record.

    Ain’t it wonderful what you can do with a bit of science babble and a convoluted manner of coming up with the numbers? The author should have been a used car salesman.

  414. Richard S Courtney:

    On angels on pinheads.. and radiative forcing..

    Nice. I might pinch that for a title of another post at scienceofdoom.com. Excellent clarity in what you say and I think this is the right way to look at the problem.

    So why is it that there is such a huge effort to downgrade the obvious physics of CO2? Any new story that might possibly show its “isolated effect” isn’t like the climate science community has calculated (over 3 decades!) is enthusiastically embraced.

    I find it amazing.

    In fact, the real questions are about the other, more intractable problems of climate:
    - Clouds
    - Water vapor
    - Stratospheric water vapor
    - Aerosols

    By comparison, CO2 is quite a simple problem and “easily calculated” with the radiative transfer equations. Don’t try this at home everyone, can’t be done on the pocket calculator..

    But in case you think I am dodging the issue with these comments, I believe in the school of reductionism in science that has been hugely successful in the last 300-400 years or so and has attempted to isolate different causes before solving the whole problem. This is in every field of science.

    So – understand CO2 in “isolation” = “all other things being equal”, understand solar forcing, understand humidity – and so on.

    Putting it all together is very difficult. But if you don’t first understand the individual effects – it is definitely impossible.

    CO2 is only one effect on climate, there are many others.

  415. Mike Bryant says:

    Has Dr. Meier responded to even ONE of the counterpoints presented on this blog?
    Here we have another hit and run by a public servant… No sense, no accountability.
    His total lack of response is telling.

  416. Dave F :

    It is not just a convention, it is an ordering of the effects. CO2 heats, H2O feedback. Why is that correct? Why does H2O not provide this feedback effect without CO2?

    It does. Water vapor in the atmosphere is a “greenhouse” gas. Water vapor concentration in the atmosphere is a function of temperature among other factors. It is not a function of CO2 concentration.

  417. Dave Springer says:

    @ Anu

    “Acidification” is misleading. It is defined as “The process of becoming acid or being converted into an acid”. The oceans are not being turned into an acid. You advise a poster to “learn the lingo”. I would advise you to learn to be precise. Precisely, the oceans are becoming less alkaline.

  418. kim says:

    Sci of D @ 5:22:20

    Unless Miscolzi is correct.
    ===========

  419. Enneagram says:

    There are two possibilities: Either Dr.Meir was hit by a Hockeystick on the head or he has been intoxicated with “kool-aid”

  420. RockyRoad says:

    Mike Bryant (05:13:59) :

    Has Dr. Meier responded to even ONE of the counterpoints presented on this blog?
    Here we have another hit and run by a public servant… No sense, no accountability.
    His total lack of response is telling.
    ———————
    Reply:
    I think he’s overwhelmed, if he even stopped by to read any of these responses, which I doubt. Based on the content of his post, I think it was just a PR stunt.

  421. RL says:

    The number and type of responses here, illustrate the hunger that skeptics have for finding the “best fit model” by debating all the issues.
    It is wonderful to have a genuine interaction.
    For too long there have been so many skeptics questions unanswered ,so many alternative studies opposing warmist conclusions not reviewed, or commented on,just a bland “the science is in” or the “icecaps are melting “etc, but no definitive proofs of much at all,no rebuttals.
    The temperature debate is not easily settled ,but surely genuine scientists can argue out -to an agreed position on matters such as
    Sea levels,world ice levels,maximum effect CO2 can have on temp,admit to the areas of poor understanding ,and come back down to earth about the whole debate.
    Hopefully there will be more of this,and with reasoned debate there will be a point where we agree on what is known ,and what is not , and we can all move forward together.

  422. Dave F says:

    @ scienceofdoom (05:22:20) :

    It does. Water vapor in the atmosphere is a “greenhouse” gas. Water vapor concentration in the atmosphere is a function of temperature among other factors. It is not a function of CO2 concentration.

    My question was a little unclear. If H2O is a GHG that raises temperature, and H2O in the atmosphere is a function of temperature, why does H2O not cause the runaway heating effect on its own? Why is it necessary for CO2 to be in the picture to get this effect moving?

    Also, H2O vapor is in a mixed phase regime in the atmosphere, not to mention oceans, being present in 3 of the 4 stages of matter, so just saying there will be more water vapor does not necessarily mean a positive feedback, it could turn to ice and increase albedo. In addition to this, using energy to evaporate the ocean skin would seem to mean to me that the oceans are not holding vast stores of energy to unleash on us in the future, if it is being used at the surface to evaporate.

  423. Isn`t Dr. Meier just another shade of those who are dependent on the never ending flow of taxpayer dollars to sustain this obvious AGW propaganda? A softer approach than Santer, Schmidt and Mann for sure but he reminds me of the proverbial, “wolf in sheep`s clothing.”

  424. Robert Kral says:

    As Stefan points out, NH2 is not even remotely a hypothesis and it is quite revealing that Dr. Meier pretends it is. Even if you accept it as a valid question for debate, his subsequent treatment of it is quite illogical. In essence, it requires AGW skeptics to invoke a hitherto inoperative phenomenon to explain climate change, when in fact that is exactly what the pro-AGW side of the argument is doing.

    I appreciate the effort to engage on a rational and reasonable basis, but the arguments are poorly constructed and unpersuasive.

  425. Wren says:

    Jordan (03:05:31) :
    “Wren (21:54:49) : Nah! The more flips, the greater the chance of a distribution that’s 50% heads and 50% tails. It’s not hard to get 100% heads or 100% tails if you flip a coin only 2 times. But try getting 100% of either with 1,000 flips.”

    Dr meier is flipping a fair coin which has exactly 0.5 of either outcome at the outset. This property of the coin can be called its “population probability” as it relates to an indefinite number of flips.

    The population probability is the maximum amount of knowledge we have about a fair coin before the coin flipping starts.

    Walt mentions a hypothetical bet. It is important to place the bet before the coin is flipped, so I’ll use the term “prior chance”.

    On a single flip, his prior chance of a head is the population probability. He’s not willing to bet his life on that.

    On any even number of flips, his prior chance of 50% or more being heads is still the population probaility. Still no bet, we suspect.

    Walt re-formulated the bet to a range for observed outcomes given 10,000 tosses. But the range is too great and he altered the odds unfairly. If he narrows the range, he could easily get the probability back to a 50/50 bet at the outset, given that we know the population probability of the coin. On the same reasoning, we don’t expect him to place the bet if the range is narrowed appropriately.

    I think your point makes the mistake of confusing “sample probability” with the observed outcome of the bet.

    The “sample probability” is an estimate of population probability, derived from a finite number of sample observations. The bet is made in advance, and we know the population probability, so sample probability doesn’t come into it.
    ===
    My point makes no mistake. Perhaps my wording wasn’t clear.

    The odds of correctly calling N coin flips in a row is (0.5)^N

    If N is 1 flip, the odds of getting heads or tails is (0.5)^1 or .50

    If N is 10 flips, the odds of getting all heads or all tails is (0.5)^10 or about .001

    So if I am betting on heads turning up at least one-half of the time, I would prefer to have a large N. That’s my point. Wouldn’t you agree?

  426. Richard S Courtney says:

    scienceofdoom (05:06:02) :

    I accept your reductionist approach.

    And I agree that the radiative physics of atmospheric CO2 is understood and quantified.

    And I agree that other factors than CO2 may each be more important to climate than CO2 (indeed, I am certain that the hydological cycle is more important).

    However, none of that addresses the point I keep making and which – to date – has not obtained any response. I again repeat my point (that I put to Dr Meier at (01:17:38) 9.04.10) and is:

    The AGW hypothesis has as its basic assumption that climate change is driven by radiative forcing but, at present. there is no evidence and/or argument of any kind to support the assumption. Furthermore, it is much more likely that the climate system is not driven to change by anything but is seeking its chaotic attractors while its energy inputs and outputs are varying.

    Please note that the postulate of chaotic attractor seeking provides a complete explanation for glacial and interglacial periods (i.e. these are the conditions near the two major chaotic attractors) which the ‘radiative forcing’ hypothesis does not, it provides a complete explanation for the MWP, LiA, etc., and it removes the ‘snowball Earth’ paradox.

    I fail to understand why I have not been able to obtain any discussion of the postulated chaotic attractor seeking. But people are very keen to discuss the obviously trivial effect of atmospheric CO2 concentration.

    Consider, how implausible the AGW hypothesis is.

    The hypothesis is that a trace atmospheric gas (CO2) which is the very stuff of life itself may – if it increases its atmospheric concentration – become Shiva, the Destroyer of Worlds. In fact, it’s worse than that. Nature emits 34 molecules of CO2 for every molecule of CO2 emitted by human activities so AGW suggests that a minute increase to the annual emission of this essential trace gas could cause Armageddon. Furthermore, in the geological past and during ice ages the atmospheric CO2 concentration has been more than ten times greater than it is now.

    So, if they had never heard of AGW and somebody came in off the street and tried to sell it to them would theybe likely to say,
    “Oh dear! Of course, we must change the economic activity of the entire world”?

    But people do buy into that and refuse to discuss the climate’s probable chaotic atractor seeking. I really would like to know why.

    Richard

  427. Baa Humbug says:

    Re: Mike Bryant (Apr 10 05:13),

    Has Dr. Meier responded to even ONE of the counterpoints presented on this blog?
    Here we have another hit and run by a public servant… No sense, no accountability.

    Hear, hear to that.
    I’ve been logging back on regularly to catch a response from the Dr but nothing as yet. I’m trying to be charitable by thinking he is a busy man.
    But he did take on the task of posting, so he should have made time to respond to some of the comments at least.

    All the more offensive if he doesn’t respond.

    Willis ALWAYS does.

    Come on WUWT, stir him up. We need a response.

  428. baahumbug says:

    Hi everybody

    I’d like to invite everyone over to Donna Laframboises weblog to take part in a guessing competition.

    We’ve recently finished auditing all the 18,531 references in the IPCC AR4 to see how many are NOT peer reviewed. (how many do you think?) The results may surprise you.

    Results will be published at the Citizens Audit website in a few days.

    Please tell others.

    Thankyou in advance

  429. magicjava says:

    [quote scienceofdoom (05:22:20) :
    Water vapor concentration in the atmosphere is a function of temperature among other factors. It is not a function of CO2 concentration.
    [/quote]

    I just checked the ISCCP satellite data for 24 years of total column water vapor and surface temperatures. Other than the high-frequency annual correlation that nearly all climate variables have, there doesn’t seem to be much correlation between water vapor and temperature. Water vapor is trending down and surface temperatures are trending up.

    So at the very least you may want to qualify your statement to make it clear what you mean by saying water vapor is a function of temperature. Because that doesn’t seem to be the case.

    Graph Of Total Column Water Vapor And Surface Temperature:
    http://i15.photobucket.com/albums/a378/magicj/WaterVaporAndSurfaceTemperature.png?t=1270918091

  430. Henry chance says:

    I do see many posts cover H2O as a greenhouse gas. I also look for cloud cover in the warming models and it appears they assume the amount of cloud cover will remain constant. I will put my physical science viewpoint aside and look at this from a psychological perspective. As it is often the case, government funded jobs are not profit or bottom line motivated. Government doesn’t make money but lives on taxation. Walt works for tax payers and the climate/warming industry is committed to raise funding to feed it self with taxes.
    Since most of the planet is covered with water, you can’t tax or control water. You can’t cover the water with plastic and stop evaporation to test the influence of water vapor reduction in regards to changes in the rasdiation of heat. Pielke has noted that temps change in areas where there is a great increase in irrigation. Meier can look at eastern Colorado and Western Kansas. In fact recent court cases force Colorado to release more water down the Arkansas river and do less irrigation. Was humidity gone up in these areas and has the temperature fallen over the last decades?
    If water vapor enhances warming, reduces radiation of heat, we have to hustle and tax the tropical area. That is not politically correct because the greenies rant about amazon deforrestation. Are the “scientists” afraid of talking up water vapor and the consequences if we establish global initiatives for evaporation retardation? 75% of home heating in India and China is done with burning coal, trash, wood, charcoal or corn stalks. This produces CO2 AND H2O
    Does farming with oxen produce more or less H2O vapor as does farming with a GREEN John deere Tractor per ton of grain harvest?
    Where are the studies? Are they afraid to study and show the poorest of the poor are polluting the most? I suspect the H2O source of GHG is going to be pushed aside for political reasons.

  431. R. Gates says:

    Smokey said: (about R. Gates)

    “There’s your ‘better one,’ and yes, you will ‘have a look at it’ and then revert to your true belief that climate catastrophe is just around the corner…”

    ———-

    I’ve never used the term “climate catastrophe” in any of my posts, nor even the word “catastrophe”. Just because I happen to believe that AGWT is likely correct, does not mean that I think it will lead to a catastrophe. Who knows, warming could be good, especially if it holds off the next glacial period a bit longer…though for what it’s worth, I don’t think that AGW (if it becomes extreme) will be very positive for the human race. The point is, the long term positive or negative effects of AGW are a different topic than IF AGW is even occurring.

    Finally, the temperature trend at Vostok station is interesting. We know that the thinning of the ozone layer over Anarctica has had effects on winds and temperatures. Thanks for the link…

  432. magicjava says:

    [quote Richard S Courtney (09:01:08) :]
    However, none of that addresses the point I keep making and which – to date – has not obtained any response.

    But people do buy into that and refuse to discuss the climate’s probable chaotic atractor seeking. I really would like to know why.
    [/quote]

    I think the reason no believer has responded to your point on radiative forcing is that there’s simply nothing to say. CO2 absorbs and re-emits photons. That’s a a fact. Unfortunately for the believers, it’s a fact of weather, no climate, meaning it’s a short-term effect (a gas emitting a photon takes almost zero time to occur), not a long term effect.

    The only way to link it to long term effects and therefore to climate is try to correlate CO2 to temperature. And, again unfortunately for the believers, there’s been no such correlation for 15 years. There’s no such correlation in the ice cores. There was no such correlation when CO2 was 10 times today’s levels and the Earth was in an Ice Age so bad it caused the 2nd worst mass extinction in the history of the planet.

    I think the reason no one is giving you a response about your chaotic attractors is it’s a specialized area where few have experience and even fewer have experience tying it to the climate.

  433. ferdiegb says:

    Jim F (15:56:13) :

    @ferdiegb (13:57:05) :

    Your “sponges” chart, found here:
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/sponges.gif

    is interesting. Now, how about telling us what it means, or giving us the citation so we can go find out ourselves.

    Thank you.

    The sponges d13C decrease can be found in:
    Böhm e.a., Evidence for preindustrial variations in the marine surface water carbonate system from coralline sponges, Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst., 3(3), 1019, doi:10.1029/2001GC000264.
    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2002/2001GC000264.shtml

    The coralline sponges incorporate carbonate from the upper ocean level, without changing its isotopic composition (d13C, a measure for 13C/12C ratio). In the pre-industrial times, during the whole holocene, upper oceans d13C varied only slightly (+/- 0.2 per mil d13C). Even over the ice age – interglacial transitions, there were only small changes (see http://epic.awi.de/Publications/Khl2004e.pdf ). After 1850, the d13C level decreases in ratio with the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    The resolution is quite high: 2-4 years for most of the measurements. The accuracy is sufficient to notice the addition of 1 GtC (2 ppmv) of CO2 from fossil fuel burning (or decaying vegetation – decrease, vegetation growth – increase) or 4 GtC from the deep oceans (increase).

    The difference in d13C between pre-industrial ocean surface (at +4.95 per mil) and the atmosphere (at -6.4 per mil) is mainly due to the isotopic fractionation of 13C/12C when passing the ocean-atmosphere border in both directions, in part due to the increase and drop out of biomass in the upper ocean parts (deep oceans are around zero per mil).

    A good introduction of d13C levels in different compartiments can be found at:
    http://homepage.mac.com/uriarte/carbon13.html

  434. Mike Bryant (05:13:59) :
    Has Dr. Meier responded to even ONE of the counterpoints presented on this blog?
    Here we have another hit and run by a public servant… No sense, no accountability.
    His total lack of response is telling.”

    Hmm. Seems like your science on Dr. Meier’s motives is settled. And on no evidence whatsoever. There are plenty of plausible explanations for why he would not respond. To move things forward perhaps why dont people here
    do what we did over at CA when we wanted to ask Parker ( of UHI fame) some questions. Look through all the comments above and select the TOP 3 comments to the good doctor. See if you can all agree on the top 3 comments. the three comments that make the best counter points.
    Otherwise he’s got to decide to do one of the following:

    1. Respond to the weak comments ( A real climate trick)
    2. Say there are too many to respond to.
    3. Complain about the rude ones.

    So, see if you can get a consensus on the Top 3.

    Or maybe have Willis pick.

  435. Michael Larkin says:

    Dr. Meier,

    I give you 10/10 for courage in coming here.

    But you know what? I find it shocking how superficial your arguments seem to be. Your null hypothesis seems like a straw man to me. Is anyone proposing that past influencing factors cease to have an effect? Or even that increasing CO2 won’t have *some* effect on climate?

    Surely the issue is by how much, and whether anthropogenic contributions are of any major significance? I mean, the hypothesis is that they are, isn’t it? And isn’t the null hypothesis that any recent global warming (unfortunately in doubt because of signs of inappropriate data handling) would be overwhelmingly caused by much more significant factors that have long been in operation?

    Nothing you have said, or that any AGW proponent has ever said or demonstrated has proven to my satisfaction a causal link. Somehow, you seem to expect me to accept a series of assertions that say nothing about anthropogenic CO2 causation, so much as the effects (and even those are disputed) of increasing temperature.

    Convincing AGW sceptics is about much more than playing the same cracked record over and over again. It’s about producing the evidence for causation and the mechanism whereby anthropogenic global warming would work. The fact that you have come here and said little more than any ordinary AGW supporter who’d read a primer on the doctrine would say leaves me aghast. Can that really be the only weapon you have in your arsenal? Can that really be all that guides you in your belief in AGW? If it is, God help us all.

  436. R. Gates says:

    Cassandra King said (21:38:45) :

    “R Gates,

    You claim you prefer long term trends, thirty years is hardly a long term trend is it?”

    ________________

    30 years is the longest reliable data we have on arctic sea ice extent. Anecdotal evidence from early explorers, etc. is not reliable as they had no idea what was going on over the whole arctic at one time as we do now. For example, the recent winter’s extreme negative AO index which brought snow to Florida would seem to paint a picture of a severe winter for the whole of the N. Hemisphere…afterall, “if it is snowing in Florida in the winter, just think what Greenland must be like.” 100 years ago, we might have guessed that Greenland would be minus 50 if it is snowing in Florida in the winter. But in fact, during the same period, Greenland was having a heat wave (and that’s exactly why it was snowing in Florida by the way) as all the cold air from N. Canada and Greenland was pushed south into the U.S. and Europe. My point is that data from before satellite recording of polar sea ice is not reliable enough.

    In terms of arctic sea ice, this is the best chart we have showing the longest term reliable trend data:

    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/sea.ice.anomaly.timeseries.jpg

    And for global sea ice, this is the best trend chart we have, with the longest term data:

    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/global.daily.ice.area.withtrend.jpg

    I’ve studied these charts for hours, and I think they do reveal an interesting story. Based on this, I think we will see a new summer low sea ice minimum in the next few years (before 2015). I also think that we’ll see around 4.5 million sq. km for our summer low arctic sea ice extent this year, and lower still (below the 2007 minimum) during the 2011-2015 timeframe. If we don’t see this new record summer minimum by 2015, my confidence in AGWT will be reduced measurably.

  437. Chuck Wiese says:

    Dave F Writes: “My question was a little unclear. If H2O is a GHG that raises temperature, and H2O in the atmosphere is a function of temperature, why does H2O not cause the runaway heating effect on its own? Why is it necessary for CO2 to be in the picture to get this effect moving?”

    Dave F; In answer to this, there can be no “runaway greenhouse warming” from either CO2 or water vapor. Water vapor is constrained in amount in the atmosphere by its own phase change properties, the conservation of energy and hydrostatic relationship, which is bounded by gravitational influence on the troposphere. Much smaller amounts of water vapor in the troposphere than we now have could have caused a runaway effect if it is not for the fact that radiative equilibrum in the troposphere is not possible with water vapor. The absorption and emission characteristics of water vapor are so large, that by themselves create a vertical temperature gradient that exceeds what is permissible by the hydrostatic relationship. The atmosphere as a result vigorously overturns, releasing latent heat back to the troposphere to rewarm it, thus increasing emission by the atmosphere to a required and restored 1/2Su value of the surface to space, plus the window and transmitted radiation. This process is self mitigating to amplifying ( Increased IR emission by the troposhere is a negative feedback on the surface temperature ) surface warming as it not only rewidens the window radiation, but produces cloud cover which reduces solar insolation. As long as the thermal properties of water vapor remain unchanged ( which they obviously will ) nothing can change these mitigating processes. And because Co2 cools the upper troposphere by similar radiative means, the increased IR downwell to the surface by a higher concentration becomes limited and cancelled by the cooling and thus limiting of water vapor concentration in the upper troposphere. The only free variable to change the mean optical depth of the troposphere is solar insolation. In other words, adding more energy to the entire system.

    The Co2 warming hypothesis is an unproven and bogus assumption unless the proponents can succsessfully refute the founding work in atmospheric radiation, which to date they have been unable to do. That work was supplanted by climate models. Inspite of Co2 rising by 38% in the atmosphere post industrial revolution, the OLR ( outgoing long wave radiation ) from the atmosphere to space has remained remarkably steady as the founding work suggests, meaning that water vapor has already mitigated the increased IR absorption by this Co2 increase.

  438. magicjava says:

    [quote steven mosher (10:40:12) :]
    Otherwise he’s got to decide to do one of the following:
    [/quote]

    Plus he’s really under no obligation to respond. And it’s not like his response will change people’s minds anymore than what we post here will change his.

    This debate is 25 years old now. One post, or even a series of posts, isn’t going to change the dynamics that much.

  439. Alex says:

    Maybe somebody already pointed it out here but I’ll put it in anyway – there is an interesting distribution for the difference between the number of heads and tails in N throws.

    The expected difference is proportional to the square root of N – so the longer the sequence the wider the expected spread between the number of heads and the number of tails, or in other words the less accurate our prediction will be. It is the proportion Heads/N that is converging towards 0.5 NOT the difference.

    I guess Mr. Meier will have a problem if he continues to bet his life without EXTENDING the range for longer sequences of throws.

  440. Chuck Wiese says:

    magicjava writes: ” I just checked the ISCCP satellite data for 24 years of total column water vapor and surface temperatures. Other than the high-frequency annual correlation that nearly all climate variables have, there doesn’t seem to be much correlation between water vapor and temperature.”

    magicjava: The data you refer to can be very misleading. Total water vapor column amount doesn’t specify where in the column there has been any change. And the truth is, the decline was found in the upper troposphere, and there has been a small increase in the lower troposphere. The net may be a loss, but I haven’t seen the comparisons to be sure.

    The temperature graphing is also suspect, as it indicates or suggests that there was continued warming in the 2000-2010 decade. This is not true according to MSU satellite temperature data. The trend line for that decade is clearly flat ond not changing as there were cooling years as well. Phil Jones from Esat Anglia ( a major AGW proponent ) is even on record with the BBC as having stated the temperatures globally in the last decade cooled .12 degC.

  441. magicjava says:

    [quote Chuck Wiese (11:38:16) :]
    magicjava: The data you refer to can be very misleading. Total water vapor column amount doesn’t specify where in the column there has been any change. And the truth is, the decline was found in the upper troposphere, and there has been a small increase in the lower troposphere. The net may be a loss, but I haven’t seen the comparisons to be sure.
    [/quote]

    The water vapor at various levels of the atmosphere can be found here:
    http://www.climate4you.com/images/TotalColumnWaterVapourDifferentAltitudesObservationsSince1983.gif

    It’s all pretty much flat or trending down.

    [quote]
    The temperature graphing is also suspect, as it indicates or suggests that there was continued warming in the 2000-2010 decade. This is not true according to MSU satellite temperature data. The trend line for that decade is clearly flat ond not changing as there were cooling years as well. Phil Jones from Esat Anglia ( a major AGW proponent ) is even on record with the BBC as having stated the temperatures globally in the last decade cooled .12 degC.
    [/quote]

    Well, the MSU is going to be tropospheric temperatures, whereas the data I provided is surface temperatures.

    As to the differences between CRU and ISCCP data, yes there are some differences. But both are trending slightly up.
    http://www.climate4you.com/images/HadCRUT3%20GlobalMonthlyTempSince1979%20With37monthRunningAverage.gif

  442. John from CA says:

    Thanks Willis and Dr. Meier for taking the time to present an honest level headed dialogue of views.

    However, I keep circulating back to articles like these that address many of the same points:

    ANOTHER LETTER TO THE EPA ON THE SO-CALLED “ENDANGERMENT FINDING”
    by Howard C. Hayden | October 27, 2009
    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/reprint/letter_to_epa_on_the_so-called_endangerment_finding.html

    - “I write in regard to the Proposed Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases Under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act, Proposed Rule, 74 Fed. Reg. 18,886 (Apr. 24, 2009), the so-called “Endangerment Finding.”
    It has been often said that the “science is settled” on the issue of CO2 and climate. Let me put this claim to rest with a simple one-letter proof that it is false. ”

    - “The earth, it seems, has seen times when the CO2 concentration was up to 8,000 ppm, and that did not lead to a tipping point. If it did, we would not be here talking about it. In fact, seen on the long scale, the CO2 concentration in the present cycle of glacials (ca. 200 ppm) and interglacials (ca. 300-400 ppm) is lower than it has been for the last 300 million years.”

    - “The first principle of causality is that the cause has to come before the effect. The historical record shows that climate changes precede CO2 changes. How, then, can one conclude that CO2 is responsible for the current warming?”

    - “The melting point of ice is 0 ºC in Antarctica, just as it is everywhere else. The highest recorded temperature at the South Pole is –14 ºC, and the lowest is –117 ºC. How, pray, will a putative few degrees of warming melt all the ice and inundate Florida, as is claimed by the warming alarmists?”

    - “Consider the change in vocabulary that has occurred. The term global warming has given way to the term climate change, because the former is not supported by the data. The latter term, climate change, admits of all kinds of illogical attributions. If it warms up, that’s climate change. If it cools down, ditto. Any change whatsoever can be said by alarmists to be proof of climate change.”

    - “To put it fairly but bluntly, the global-warming alarmists have relied on a pathetic version of science in which computer models take precedence over data, and numerical averages of computer outputs are believed to be able to predict the future climate. It would be a travesty if the EPA were to countenance such nonsense.”

    Howard C. Hayden
    Professor Emeritus of Physics, UConn

    Does CO2 really drive global warming?
    Robert H. Essenhigh
    May, 2001
    http://pubs.acs.org/subscribe/journals/ci/31/special/may01_viewpoint.html
    What the evidence shows
So what we have on the best current evidence is that
    • global temperatures are currently rising;
    • the rise is part of a nearly million-year oscillation with the current rise beginning some 25,000 years ago;
    • the “trip” or bifurcation behavior at the temperature extremes is attributable to the “opening” and “closing” of the Arctic Ocean;
    • there is no need to invoke CO2 as the source of the current temperature rise;
    • the dominant source and sink for CO2 are the oceans, accounting for about two-thirds of the exchange, with vegetation as the major secondary source and sink;
    • if CO2 were the temperature–oscillation source, no mechanism—other than the separately driven temperature (which would then be a circular argument)—has been proposed to account independently for the CO2 rise and fall over a 400,000-year period;
    • the CO2 contribution to the atmosphere from combustion is within the statistical noise of the major sea and vegetation exchanges, so a priori, it cannot be expected to be statistically significant;
    • water—as a gas, not a condensate or cloud—is the major radiative absorbing–emitting gas (averaging 95%) in the atmosphere, and not CO2;
    • determination of the radiation absorption coefficients identifies water as the primary absorber in the 5.6–7.6-µm water band in the 60–80% RH range; and
    • the absorption coefficients for the CO2 bands at a concentration of 400 ppm are 1 to 2 orders of magnitude too small to be significant even if the CO2 concentrations were doubled.
    The outcome is that the conclusions of advocates of the CO2-driver theory are evidently back to front: It’s the temperature that is driving the CO2. If there are flaws in these propositions, I’m listening; but if there are objections, let’s have them with the numbers.

    Robert H. Essenhigh is the E. G. Bailey Professor of Energy Conversion in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Ohio State University, 206 W. 18th Ave., Columbus, OH 43210; 614-292-0403; essenhigh.1@osu.edu.

  443. crossopter says:

    During last night’s aftermath of snooker/beer/snooker etc and whilst out for a late beer got blethering, in passing, to a bloke (engineer) about weather. So we nattered on for [self snip-rambling] [no such call for a self-snip-mod] about what the signals for obvious MGW were.

    The failure is for east not to meet west-conditions applied

  444. crossopter says:

    Snaking into cold cave fissure…

  445. NickB. says:

    Steven Mosher,
    To your point about Science of Doom’s site being a great resource for those looking to understand the underlying physics around CO2 – could not agree more… and the conversations there are kept positive and constructive. I’m a big fan too!

    ScienceOfDoom,
    I really appreciate your point about “all other things being equal”. Understanding of a (micro) component of a complex system is crucial to ever gaining understanding of the system as a whole.

    Much of the well deserved debate is how the components play together in macro but unfortunately it seems to, on both sides I think, result in unfortunate tendencies to be against research that may strengthen the opposing side’s macro theory.

    ——————————————-

    Regarding water vapor, I ran across a link recently that referenced NASA data and tropospheric specific humidity trends at various latitudes and altitudes. The levels appear to be highly variable, but apear to back up a recent NYT article I found indicating that mid and upper tropospheric water content has trended down in the 00′s after generally trending up across all levels since the early 80′s. The NYT article implies this caused the cooling over the last few years – which seems to be incorrect considering the cycle life of water in the atmosphere is extremely short and the net behavior of the atmosphere is what’s important. To me this would imply – assuming consistent net energy in the atmosphere – less water content means higher temps… but this would also imply less greenhouse effect (appearing to back up Misckolzi – sp?).

    So in a way, recent water vapor trends could explain (or at least would seem to correlate with) some of the recent temperature trends seen around upper tropospheric warming and, more or less, flatlined global average surface temps and this implies significant variability completely unrelated to the rising CO2 levels during the same timeframe.

    The role of water vapor is not only important for its GHG behavior, but perhaps more for its relationship to temperatures. Given the same energy content for a given volume of air and all other things being equal, an air mass with lower water content will exhibit higher temperature than an air mass containing more water.

    Without factoring in atmospheric water content, temperature measurements from the satellites or surface are just proxies (and given the variability of atmospheric water, potentially a really bad one I might argue) to atmospheric energy content. If the models can recreate historical temperature behaviors but not water content (please note, this is seperate from questions about cloud behavior) then they should necessarilly be expected to be useless for any type of predictive value in the future. This might also be the underlying failure for their tropospheric temperature predictions over the last few years – if the water content did not play out per the model (which I’m almost sure is the case) then their temperature projections will necessarilly be wrong too.

    All things being equal in this case (i.e. assuming no unexplained variation in water and that it would be expected to behave as a consequence of continued CO2 forcing instead of something else) does not appear to have worked out for the modellers. That is another way of saying that the causation vs. correlation of CO2 and atmospheric water content relied on to explain CO2 as the driving GHG variable (“control knob” as Lacis puts it) for the period between 1980 and 2000 appears to have broken.

    If that really is the case (notice I said appears to be the case) then the big question for the climate science crowd would be, if not CO2, what controls long term atmospheric water content trends?

    Anthropogenic pressures on water vapor other than whatever effect CO2 may have, appear to be contradictory. While we introduce it into the atmosphere through irrigation (which has some really odd effects regarding surface temperature I might add), we have also severely changed the surface of the earth in regards to evapotranspiration – both by replacing 100s of thousands of square miles of plant and soil with impervious surfaces (buildings and pavement) and by deforestation. I’m not sure if anyone really understands the net effect, but of course it could all be drowned out by other natural factors.

  446. Jordan says:

    Wren (09:00:50) : The odds of correctly calling N coin flips in a row is (0.5)^N .. So if I am betting on heads turning up at least one-half of the time, I would prefer to have a large N. That’s my point. Wouldn’t you agree

    The factor 0.5^N relates to the coincidence of successive flips all turning out on the same side. That’s not what’s at issue in Walt’s example.

    Walt asserts that an aggregate number of flips is more easy to call than a single flip. I don’t agree.

    On a single flip, your chances of calling it correctly (in advance) is 0.5.

    On a large number of flips, we can expect one side to have a small majority (although there is a finite probability of exactly 50%, but we can set that aside). The probability of correctly identifying which will be in the majority before the start of the test is still 0.5.

    Walt expressed the same problem slightly differently, but he got his numbers wrong and biased the test in favour of the point he was trying to make. That was essentially my objection – if he had formulated his example properly, he would not have been able to reach the conclusion he sought.

    There is no case to suggest that forecasting an averaqe of weather (climate) is any more accurate than these hopelessly unreliable weather forecasts (like the Met Offices ill-fated quarterly forecasts). The critical thing to do is to formulate the issue correctly. Walt and others do not appear to be aware of this and cling to a belief that climate is more predictable. It’s not.

    Hope that helps.

  447. ferdiegb says:

    Legatus (19:08:53) :

    Finally, and most importantly, when told how much CO2 we humans are pumping out, big scary numbers of how many tones are pumped out are used. But how many tones are already in the atmosphere, and what percentage of that are these big scary numbers we are pumping out? I have never seen one ’scientist” address that question, which begs the question of whether the A should be dropped entirely from AGW.

    Gail Combs (04:40:46) :

    Notice how humans are some how blamed for the entire “100 ppmv since the start of the industrial revolution” and the implication is that if we halt civilization in its tracts we “would be reduced to 50 ppmv after some 40 years”

    As some one else stated the entire system is treated as if it is completely static. This reasoning does not mention the fact that all that water is warmer and will not remove as much CO2 from the atmosphere.

    It is quite simple: humans have added some 360 GtC as CO2 to the atmosphere, which increased with 210 GtC and now contains about 800 GtC, a 30% increase since pre-industrial times. Nature didn’t add any CO2 in any given year over the past 60 years, as in every year (hot or cold), more CO2 was absorbed by oceans and vegetation than was released by the same. See:
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/dco2_em.jpg
    Thus nature as a whole is a net sink for CO2, not a source. Nature added nothing, nada, zero CO2 to the atmosphere when the balance after a year is made.

    That doesn’t mean that CO2 is static: it is highly dynamic (for the process engineers: nature acts as a simple first order linear process in dynamic equilibrium to CO2 disturbances). A lot of CO2 is exchanged back and forth between oceans/vegetation and the atmosphere over the seasons. But how much is exchanged is not of the slightest interest for the total amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, only the difference between all ins and outs is important. As about twice as much CO2 is emitted by humans than can be measured as increase in the atmosphere, humans are for 100% responsible for the increase.

    To repeat a previous (imaginary) example:
    Humans add 100 GtC as red coloured CO2 to the atmosphere at once, where colourless natural CO2 in the atmosphere was at pre-industrial 580 GtC. This will instantly increase the total amount of CO2 to 680 GtC. The human induced red coloured CO2 in the atmosphere then starts at about 15% of total CO2, but I suppose that it is obvious that humans are 100% responsible for the increase in total amount.

    As a lot of CO2 from the atmosphere (regardless of colour) is absorbed by the oceans, where part of it sinks into the deep, and only returns after some 1000+ years. Part is mixed in the ocean surface layers. But the deep oceans return about the same amount of only colourless CO2, thus the red colour fades at a rate of about 20% per year, as that is about the exchange rate. That means that most of the red coloured, human induced CO2 is gone after some 40 years (with a 5.2 years half life time, or “residence” time).

    But the exchange rate doesn’t influence the total amount of CO2, where 100% of the initial increase is of human origin. The total amount of CO2 only decreases with the difference between all inflows and outflows, which is with 100 GtC extra in the atmosphere, some 2 GtC/year more sink than source (the sink rate depends of the difference between momentary and pre-industrial CO2 levels). Thus the rate with which the extra 100 GtC is removed from the atmosphere is far slower than with which the “human” CO2 is exchanged for natural CO2. That is in the order of 40 years (the IPCC shows smaller and longer half life times, but that is a separate discussion). Thus after 40 years, the atmosphere still has some 50 GtC extra mass above pre-industrial. This 50 GtC extra still is 100% from the initial red coloured human addition, even when practically no human induced red coloured CO2 is left in the atmosphere.
    Here in graph form (based on realistic exchange rates between air, upper and deep oceans):
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/fract_level_pulse.jpg
    Where FA is the fraction of “human” CO2 in the atmosphere, FL the fraction in the upper oceans, tCA total carbon in the atmosphere and nCA natural carbon in the atmosphere.

  448. RWS says:

    I am looking forward to reading comments from both Willis and Dr Meier on this thread. I wonder at the impatience expressed above, it has only been a day, and Dr Meier would want to be able to give a reasonable response if he is going to.
    He replied to Willis’s post about Trust and Mistrust using the same questions.
    I notice some criticism of Meier’s null hypothesis NH2, but suspect you all know what it means, anyway. It is a concept developed in the early days of geology, by Hutton and articulated as “the present is key to the past”, or as he stated it “the past is the key to the future.” I am happy with Willis’s statement of it that “any changes in the climate (e.g. changes in temperature, rainfall, snow extent, sea ice coverage, drought occurrence and severity) are due to natural variations.” Then it is up to climate scientists to disprove that and prove the case for AGW.

    Then what’s up with the coin flip mania?
    Steven Goddard has a good response today, suggesting Meier used the wrong analogy, but all the posts about tossing coins? wow… how easily diverted we are.

  449. Smokey says:

    Legatus (19:08:53),

    Maybe this will help to see the proportion of human emitted CO2 vs the total amount of CO2 emitted annually by the planet: click

    Out of every 34+ CO2 molecules emitted in total, only one molecule is of human origin. Those are the IPCC’s own numbers.

  450. ferdiegb says:

    John from CA (12:06:54) :

    Some points mentioned are true, some are false or irrelevant:

    “The first principle of causality is that the cause has to come before the effect. The historical record shows that climate changes precede CO2 changes. How, then, can one conclude that CO2 is responsible for the current warming?”

    That some item causes an effect in another item doesn’t exclude that the second one can have a feedback effect on the first. It is perfectly possible that both have effects on each other.
    If that is giving a runaway effect is only a matter of feedback strength (as long as the combined effects are less than 1, there is no runaway effect)

    the CO2 contribution to the atmosphere from combustion is within the statistical noise of the major sea and vegetation exchanges, so a priori, it cannot be expected to be statistically significant;
    This is not right: the amounts exchanged are of no importance at all, as long as the inflows and outflows are equal. In this case, the natural variability over the past 50 years of the net exchanges is around +/- 2 GtC/year, the natural
    sink rate increased to currently 4 GtC/year, while the human emissions nowadays are around 8 GtC/year, thus far outside the noise.

  451. ferdiegb says:

    Smokey (13:16:59) :

    Legatus (19:08:53),

    Maybe this will help to see the proportion of human emitted CO2 vs the total amount of CO2 emitted annually by the planet: click

    Out of every 34+ CO2 molecules emitted in total, only one molecule is of human origin. Those are the IPCC’s own numbers.

    Except that the 34+ natural CO2 molecules are not “emissions”, but part of a seasonal cycle which adds nothing to the atmosphere, only removes CO2 when the balance is made at the end of the year…
    While the one molecule from human emissions really adds a halve molecule per year to the total balance…

  452. Tenuc says:

    Richard Holle (12:30:29) :
    [Tenuc (00:22:27) :
    “”Thanks for giving your views, and good to find at least one sceptic still working in main-stream climate science.

    Here’s a few ideas for you to let your sceptical-side chew on:-

    Despite continuous growth in CO2, Phil Jones said there has been no statistically significant global warming for the last 15y.

    Our climate is driven by processes which display deterministic chaos. This means that accurately predicting what will happen beyond a few days is impossible and forecasts get worse the further out you go, not better.

    Because of deterministic chaos, ‘forcing from CO2′ or anything else are not required to initiate ice-ages or climate-optimums. The cause is simple bifurcations in Earth’s non-linear dynamic systems.”"]
    ____________________________________
    “The above assertion may be valid for the forecast models, however analog weather forecasts that use valid cyclic drivers of the weather can forecast well into 2 to 10 years out for the periods of time, when cyclic patterns not considered do not interfere. For an example of one that works until outer planet conjunctions upset it for 10 days to 2 weeks as they happen and then it works again see.
    http://www.aerology.com/national.aspx
    It has been working well for the past 18 years I have been generating it, with the exclusion of the times when the outer planets have Synod conjunctions with the Earth, then returns to working again after they pass. Should be consistent untill August 10th when we pass Neptune on the 20th.”

    Sorry Richard, I should have made it clear that I was referring GCM and statistical models as used by the IPCC cabal of climate scientists.

    Within our chaotic climate systems there are many different overlapping quasi-cycles caused by the Earth’s spin, inclination, orbit, solar cycle changes, atmospheric and ocean circulation systems e.t.c. These provide the possibility of predicting weather patterns reasonably accurately beyond current meteorological forecast horizons. Of course unforeseen events can be confounding.

    All systems which exhibit deterministic chaos have patterns of order within the turbulence and I think the techniques you have developed are better than those that the main-stream employ.

  453. Smokey says:

    R. Gates (10:06:19) :

    Just because I happen to believe that AGWT is likely correct, does not mean that I think it will lead to a catastrophe.

    You’re changing your tune now, but that’s OK. Good, in fact. I’m glad you’re beginning to see the light.

    Because if CO2 doesn’t lead to a runaway global warming climate catastrophe [and in fact, it can't], then the only reasonable course of action is to drastically slash all CO2-related climate spending immediately: click

    The entire climate scare is based on an invented looming catastrophe caused by human emitted CO2. But there is nothing abnormal about the way the climate is acting, despite a 33% increase in CO2.

    The effect on temperature of human produced CO2 is so small that it is unmeasurable. Therefore, government funding for climate studies must be slashed, otherwise it is a misappropriation of public funds.

    Money is the only thing that keeps this scam alive. We’ve spent too much already on this non-problem: click

    The fact that the government is even considering Cap & Trade shows only that they are acting like ravenous hyenas. Here is how wide they want us to open our wallets to fund the CO2 scam: click

  454. Smokey says:

    ferdiegb (13:39:02),

    Is it your position that the biosphere will not increase due to increased airborne fertilizer? click

    Prof Freeman Dyson thinks the biosphere will increase to accommodate any excess CO2. And since the global temperature hasn’t increased for fifteen years [cf Phil Jones], CO2 is a non-problem anyway.

  455. John from CA says:

    Thanks ferdiegb (13:32:05) for the comments.

  456. ferdiegb says:

    Smokey (13:51:22) :

    Is it your position that the biosphere will not increase due to increased airborne fertilizer? click

    I am pretty sure that most of the biosphere reacts positive on 1000 ppmv CO2, but when you double CO2 in the atmosphere, the response is not a doubling of growth, it is in average somewhere around 80% for the first doubling. That means that not all extra CO2 is removed by vegetation (and oceans) in short time, that will take a lot of time…

    And I am inclined that the influence of 2xCO2 is at (or below) the minumum range of the IPCC, but that there still is a (small) influence, currently overwhelmed by natural influences (PDO?).

  457. crossopter says:

    The level of bubble and burn response to many unfolding stories IS this heat-certainly it has positive feedbacks

  458. Smokey says:

    Thanks for your response, Ferdinand. Based on your analysis, do you think it is likely that atmospheric CO2 will exceed 1000 ppmv?

  459. magicjava says:

    [quote NickB. (12:46:13) :]
    Regarding water vapor, I ran across a link recently that referenced NASA data and tropospheric specific humidity trends at various latitudes and altitudes.
    [/quote]

    Since there’s an hour or so between posting and approval on this thread now, you probably didn’t see the link I provided to water vapor data. It’s here:
    http://www.climate4you.com/images/TotalColumnWaterVapourDifferentAltitudesObservationsSince1983.gif

    Other than the annual “buzz saw” fluctuations, the trends are fairly smooth over the long term.

    [quote]
    The role of water vapor is not only important for its GHG behavior, but perhaps more for its relationship to temperatures.
    [/quote]

    Other than the base greenhouse effect that keeps the planet 8 degrees warmer than a blackbody, there is no greenhouse effect of water vapor in the climate and the relationship between water vapor and tropospheric temperatures is a reverse correlation. The more water vapor there is, the colder it is. See comparison of UAH tropospheric temperatures and water vapor here:
    http://i15.photobucket.com/albums/a378/magicj/TropWaterVap.png?t=1270934192

  460. ferdiegb says:

    Smokey (14:04:26) :

    Thanks for your response, Ferdinand. Based on your analysis, do you think it is likely that atmospheric CO2 will exceed 1000 ppmv?

    All depends of the emissions: the response of CO2 in the atmosphere is quite exactly in ratio with the emissions, because the emissions increase – despite economic crisises – practically exponentially over time. See:
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/temp_co2_acc_31.jpg
    Thus if the current increase rate remains exponential (including burning all available oil and a lot of coal), we surely can reach 1,000 ppmv.

    If we can hold the emissions at a constant (high) rate (as e.g. fossil becomes more expensive) in the foreseeable future, the amount in the atmosphere would slowly decrease in increase and end at some higher level (but far less than 1,000 ppmv). And if we can halve our current CO2 emissions (because we have invented some very huge, cheap energy source), there wouldn’t be any increase in CO2 anymore…

  461. igloowhite says:

    On control of the words and data in a debate.

    He who holds the large microphone and gets to hang on to it for long periords of time just may be heard more and win even when he is wrong.

    Example, every American and many others from around the world know John F. Kerry.

    Almost no one knows of/or about Sgt. Jerry “mad dog” Shriver.

    Jerry Shriver had no microphone, John Kerry has his still.

    One side of this debate has had the microphone to long and the one they have is much to large.

  462. ferdiegb says:

    igloowhite (14:32:21) :

    One side of this debate has had the microphone to long and the one they have is much to large.

    Agreed, feel somewhat responsible too. The problem is that the sceptic community is a rather heteregenous group, where all kinds of good (and false) ideas have their defenders. If I was Dr. Meier, I shouldn’t know how to respond on this chaotic bunch…

    But I do agree with the proposal that Willis should choose the 3 most relevant questions for Dr. Meier…

  463. Gail Combs says:

    Gilbert (22:42:30) :

    correction

    That translates to 2.275C over the entire 35 years.

    REPLY:
    As soon as they added the point 275 to the end of the number my bull patty detector went off. If I have trouble accurately measuring to point one degree accuracy over a year in a lab setting, then how are these guys measuring THAT accurately over 35 years using some sort of proxy!

    Doesn’t anybody bother to teach about significant figures in university science courses any more???

  464. Richard S Courtney says:

    magicjava (10:14:29) :

    Thankyou for your considered response that concludes saying:

    “I think the reason no one is giving you a response about your chaotic attractors is it’s a specialized area where few have experience and even fewer have experience tying it to the climate.”

    Yes, that does seem reasonable. Again, thankyou.

    Richard

  465. Ben Kellett says:

    “There is none so blind as those who do not want to see”!

    I think this applies to both sides of the debate as far as I can see. Be careful skeptics – some of you are starting to sound as blinkered & as bullish as the AGW “alarmists/crowd/doomsdayers such are your labels!

    What ever happened to the “precautionary principle”?

    Let’s face it – arctic sea ice IS on the decline, CO2 IS rising etc, etc. Is it plausible that there’s a link?……..Maybe not…….but shouldn’t we be just a little careful here?

    I think that is what Dr Meier might be telling us – ever so gently

  466. Gail Combs says:

    scienceofdoom (05:06:02) :
    “…..In fact, the real questions are about the other, more intractable problems of climate:
    – Clouds
    – Water vapor
    – Stratospheric water vapor
    – Aerosols

    By comparison, CO2 is quite a simple problem and “easily calculated” with the radiative transfer equations. Don’t try this at home everyone, can’t be done on the pocket calculator..

    But in case you think I am dodging the issue with these comments, I believe in the school of reductionism in science that has been hugely successful in the last 300-400 years or so and has attempted to isolate different causes before solving the whole problem. This is in every field of science.

    So – understand CO2 in “isolation” = “all other things being equal”, understand solar forcing, understand humidity – and so on.

    Putting it all together is very difficult. But if you don’t first understand the individual effects – it is definitely impossible.

    CO2 is only one effect on climate, there are many others.”

    Very well stated. The focus on CO2 and only CO2 is hampering or advancement in actually understanding our climate. I will have to wander over to your site and look at all that physics… Sigh, I am still not over the trauma of a dual level P-chem course taught by an organic chemist who hated physics and its been 40 years.

  467. Gail Combs says:

    Dave F (08:28:17) :

    My question was a little unclear. If H2O is a GHG that raises temperature, and H2O in the atmosphere is a function of temperature, why does H2O not cause the runaway heating effect on its own? Why is it necessary for CO2 to be in the picture to get this effect moving?

    Reply:
    You might want to look at Willis’
    The Thermostat Hypothesis and of course the discussion after the article.
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/06/14/the-thermostat-hypothesis/

    also
    Another Look at Climate Sensitivity
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/03/16/another-look-at-climate-sensitivity/

    and
    Message in the CLOUD for Warmists: The end is near?
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/07/01/message-in-the-cloud-for-warmists-the-end-is-near/

    Why is it necessary for CO2 to be in the picture to get this effect moving?

    As a skeptic my answer is CO2 is not really very important except as a tool to pry more taxes our of the unwashed masses. I think everyone is willing to agree the climate is complicated and is influenced by multiple factors. The fight is over WHICH factors are the dominant players in the climate. CO2 was nominated by those with a political agenda.

    If you stick around here you will see others have their particular pet “factors” and theories. Mine are water in all its states such as the oceans, clouds… and the sun and sun/earth relative locations. However as a chemist working in industry and stuck with fixing processes that were out of spec, I NEVER discount all the different factors and interactions you can have. I have seen a “simple” batch process drive four different departments nuts for close to a year. Those interactions between three or more factors can be a royal donkey/dog to figure out. Especially when you do it before computers were used in the lab.

    (Ever notice the accountants always get the first/newest computers and the labs always get the hand me downs?)

  468. Frank says:

    Dr. Meier: If you deserved the honorary title of skeptic, you would NOT have passed on the following propaganda without first asking yourself if this information MUST be correct:

    “So what are the indications that climate is changing in response to forcing today as it has in the past? Here are a few:

    “1. Increasing concentrations of CO2 and other GHGs in the atmosphere.”

    A priori, the clear correlation between GHG concentrations and temperature seen in ice cores could occur because a) GHG’s effect temperature, b) temperature effects GHG’s, or c) both respond in parallel to other factors, or d) some combination of a)-c). Orbital forcing theories imply that c) is correct. We know that b) is at least partially true because GHG changes partially lag temperature changes in ice cores. We know that a) is at least partially true because GHG’s absorb outgoing infrared radiation and on the average warm the troposphere a modest 1 degC for 2X CO2. Most of this direct warming is expected at night, in the winter and at high latitudes (where it is generally beneficial) and higher in the troposphere. Without feedbacks, GHG’s alone aren’t a problem.

    “2. Rising temperatures at and near the surface”

    The same surface warming rate was observed in the 1920-1930′s and the end of the LIA before most GHG increases. Urbanization and land use changes are perturbing the temperature record to an unknown extent. The surface temperature record lies in the scientific fiefdoms of Drs. Jones and Hansen, a situation no real skeptic should find acceptable.

    “3. Cooling temperatures in the stratosphere (An expected effect of CO2-warming, but not other forcings)”

    But greater warming has not been observed in the upper tropical troposphere than at the surface as expected for GHG-driven warming. (Santer and Douglas can argue about the statistical significance of discrepancy; but, in the IPCC’s terminology, the discrepancy is “likely” if not “very likely” or “virtually certain”. If the uncertainty in predictions made by GCM’s for the surface and upper troposphere over the last 30 years are as great as Santer claims, current GCM’s aren’t of any real value.)

    “4. Rising sea levels”

    …which have been rising at a similar, but slightly variable, rate for the last 5000 years.

    “5. Loss of Arctic sea ice, particularly multiyear ice”

    … which decreased during the MWP, increased during the LIA, decreased during the 1930′s – all without the assistance of GHG’s. What happened to Arctic sea ice (and the polar bears) when forests extended to the shore of the Arctic in the early Holocene.

    “6. Loss of mass from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets”

    Loss from the edges, accumulation in the center due to increased precipitation, with a current net trend that poses no threat. The opposite changes probably occurred without the assistance of GHG’s during the LIA.

    “7. Recession of most mountain glaciers around the globe”

    … which started before appreciable GHG’s with the end of the LIA in 1850; which no one has yet proven has sped up with increasing GHGs in the late 20th century; and which happened to many glaciers during the MWP.

    “8. Poleward expansion of plant and animal species”

    … except when compared with Greenland, Iceland, Great Britain, and probably many other places during the MWP (and probably during other warm periods) without the assistance of GHGs.

    9. Ocean acidification (a result of some of the added CO2 being absorbed by the ocean)

    … which has nothing to do with climate change and which coral and other and other CaCO3-dependent animals survived in the past.

  469. Dave F:

    My question was a little unclear. If H2O is a GHG that raises temperature, and H2O in the atmosphere is a function of temperature, why does H2O not cause the runaway heating effect on its own? Why is it necessary for CO2 to be in the picture to get this effect moving?

    You are correct. Water vapor is affected by temperature (and other factors) no matter what the source of the temperature change.

    And I don’t think anyone believes in “runaway heating” – not in climate science anyway.

    I hope to do some articles about humidity and water vapor in the near future on Science of Doom to clarify some of the basics..

    ..but every since atmospheric physicists in the 60s onwards started to be able to quantify the “radiative forcing” from increases in CO2 – and therefore a temperature change – the immediate question was raised about water vapor.

    Many of these early papers considered both absolute humidity being held constant, and relative humidity being held constant.

    But expecting absolute humidity to stay constant with increasing temperature is a less likely hypothesis than relative humidity.

    And if relative humidity is held constant with a “radiative forcing” the “equilibrium temperature” ends up higher – but it doesn’t go to any kind of runaway temperature rise because of all of the non-linear effects – like surface radiation being proportional to T^4.

    Anyway all interesting stuff

  470. Ow, sorry about the bold tags everyone, not trying to shout, I wish a moderator could fix them…

    [Done. ~dbs]

  471. Gail Combs says:

    Jack Mclaughlin (08:54:09) :

    Isn`t Dr. Meier just another shade of those who are dependent on the never ending flow of taxpayer dollars to sustain this obvious AGW propaganda? A softer approach than Santer, Schmidt and Mann for sure but he reminds me of the proverbial, “wolf in sheep`s clothing.”

    REPLY:
    YES! As I said in another comment earlier he is a facilitator. Trained to lead people to a predetermined conclusion. That is why you are always hearing the word “Consensus” It is part of the brainwashing technique being used.

    Here is how one of the ways it works: A diverse group of people believers (thesis) and unbelievers (antithesis) gather in a facilitated meeting with a trained facilitator/teacher/group leader/change agent using group dynamics (Peer pressure) discuss a social issue (CAGW/ Animal Traceability/school PTA) and reach a pre-determined outcome (consensus, compromise, or Systhesis) However as the USDA found out with farmers in its recent “listening sections” on Animal Traceability, it does not work well if the “uneducated hicks” are aware of what you are up to.

    See: http.www.crossroad.to/Quotes/brainwashing/dialectic.htm
    The Delphi technique {see: http.www.learn-usa.com/transformation_process/acf001.htm } is based on the Hegelian principle and there is ways to break this up but you must know how to recognize when the Delphi/Hegelian principle is being used.

    http.www.learn-usa.com/transformation_process/acf002.htm

  472. Gail Combs says:

    …..But people do buy into that and refuse to discuss the climate’s probable chaotic atractor seeking. I really would like to know why.

    Richard

    Reply
    Richard the answer is simple. “They ” already KNOW the hypothesis of CO2 being “Shiva” is a crock but the power hungry politicians want a reason to tax and regulate energy and the politicians are the ones who are paying the salaries. If you don’t bow to the CO2 idol you do not advance, you do not get grants and may end up fired, depending on where you work. The e-mails demonstrated that was a fact. Also see Larry Huldén (06:14:38) : information on Question 3.
    - 8. 8. Poleward expansion of plant and animal species

  473. Joel Shore says:

    Richard S Courtney says:

    The AGW hypothesis has as its basic assumption that climate change is driven by radiative forcing but, at present. there is no evidence and/or argument of any kind to support the assumption. Furthermore, it is much more likely that the climate system is not driven to change by anything but is seeking its chaotic attractors while its energy inputs and outputs are varying.

    Please note that the postulate of chaotic attractor seeking provides a complete explanation for glacial and interglacial periods (i.e. these are the conditions near the two major chaotic attractors) which the ‘radiative forcing’ hypothesis does not, it provides a complete explanation for the MWP, LiA, etc., and it removes the ’snowball Earth’ paradox.

    What does this even mean? How can radiative forcing not have an effect? The First Law of Thermodynamics says that if you change the balance between the energy that the earth receives and what it radiates back out into space, it has to respond in some way to get back into balance. The most obvious way to respond is by warming up. (Admittedly, one can argue for other responses such as altering its albedo, but then one needs to explain how this occurs and provide evidence of its occurrence in the past.)

    Furthermore, how do you ideas about explaining the glacial and interglacial periods jibe with the understanding that most people agree with that the pace for these oscillations is set by the Milankovitch oscillations…or do you believe that these don’t have an effect.

    Further still, even if we assume that this invocation of these attractors is correct, how do you know there are only two such attractors and that we can safely drive the system without causing it to run off to some other attractor?

    The hypothesis is that a trace atmospheric gas (CO2) which is the very stuff of life itself may – if it increases its atmospheric concentration – become Shiva, the Destroyer of Worlds. In fact, it’s worse than that. Nature emits 34 molecules of CO2 for every molecule of CO2 emitted by human activities so AGW suggests that a minute increase to the annual emission of this essential trace gas could cause Armageddon.

    Richard, I can’t believe that after as many years studying this issue you have maintained such ignorance of the carbon cycle that you can make such a statement. Surely, you have read some elementary textbook discussions of it? If not, I recommend, for example, Section 2.4 of the book “Global Warming: The Hard Science” by L.D. Danny Harvey. The summary is this: The atmosphere + biota + soils + ocean mixed layer components form a tightly coupled subsystem that rapidly exchange carbon between them but exchange it only slowly with the deep ocean. Hence, any new slug of carbon introduced into this subsystem rapidly partitions between the different components. To confuse exchanges between components with the introduction of new carbon from outside this subsystem is to make a very elementary error that shows your own (perhaps willful) ignorance on the subject more than making any sort of coherent argument.

    Furthermore, in the geological past and during ice ages the atmospheric CO2 concentration has been more than ten times greater than it is now.

    And, you know this how? You are on a website that disputes whether we could measure temperature accurately over the last few decades and yet you are claiming that temperature and CO2 estimates from tens of millions of years ago or more are known both with sufficient accuracy and resolution to make this statement? (Not to mention the fact that over such timescales there are huge other potential forcing changes involving solar luminosity, completely different positions for continents, mountain ranges, ocean currents, and so forth.

  474. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Ben Kellett (14:35:15)

    For those of us who are descending into the murk of polarised passionately held views, let’s remember a few imortant points here: Dr Meier is an expert in arctic ice & self confessed as “not a climate scientist”. However, a scientist none the less & someone who can advise on one of the key indicators of climate science – the health of arctic ice. This is undeniably on a downward trend & there is no one in a better position to remind us of this FACT.

    Personally, I find it quite interesting (by way of illustration) that we all get so excited (after the coldest winter in decades) about the prospect of arctic sea ice extent might just about approach normal levels. Let’s be serious just for a moment……what was once normal is now something that we get excited about!!!

    Take a step back & think about it. Arctic sea ice IS on a “death spiral” – if the current trend continues. Just because it might momentarily reach normal levels, does NOT mean that normality has been restored. Arctic temps have suddenly taken a massive jump……let’s see how long normality can be maintained.

    Ben, the satellite Arctic sea ice record started at about the coldest point of the recent Arctic record. We have no idea what “normal” is, and we likely won’t for another forty years or so. Arctic temperatures were about as high or higher in the 1930s as they are now. If the record had started then and we had gotten to 1970, people would look at the increasing ice and be worried about an ice age … oh, wait, they were …

    See “Congenital Climate Abnormalities” for much more information on how things are not unusual, including Arctic temperatures (Update 14).

    What ever happened to the “precautionary principle”?

    Let’s face it – arctic sea ice IS on the decline, CO2 IS rising etc, etc. Is it plausible that there’s a link?……..Maybe not…….but shouldn’t we be just a little careful here?

    What happened to the precautionary principle was that it got misapplied by folks like yourself until it was so debased as to be useless. The precautionary principle is not a case, as you suppose, of “shouldn’t we be just a little careful here”. See my post, “Climate, Caution, and Precaution” to see why applying it now is totally inappropriate.

  475. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Joel Shore (18:43:11)

    Richard S Courtney says:

    The AGW hypothesis has as its basic assumption that climate change is driven by radiative forcing but, at present. there is no evidence and/or argument of any kind to support the assumption. Furthermore, it is much more likely that the climate system is not driven to change by anything but is seeking its chaotic attractors while its energy inputs and outputs are varying.

    Please note that the postulate of chaotic attractor seeking provides a complete explanation for glacial and interglacial periods (i.e. these are the conditions near the two major chaotic attractors) which the ‘radiative forcing’ hypothesis does not, it provides a complete explanation for the MWP, LiA, etc., and it removes the ’snowball Earth’ paradox.

    What does this even mean? How can radiative forcing not have an effect? The First Law of Thermodynamics says that if you change the balance between the energy that the earth receives and what it radiates back out into space, it has to respond in some way to get back into balance. The most obvious way to respond is by warming up. (Admittedly, one can argue for other responses such as altering its albedo, but then one needs to explain how this occurs and provide evidence of its occurrence in the past.)

    You present the alteration of albedo as if it were some off-the-wall theory we have to “argue for”, something requiring huge substantiation. It is not, we can observe it easily.

    The alteration of albedo does not need much explanation. It occurs every day in the tropics in response to increasing temperatures. Mornings are clear and cool. As temperature rises, cumulus start to form around 10:30 AM. By 11:30 or so, they are fully formed. This causes a huge reduction in incoming sunlight, and effectively caps the daily temperature. I provide details and calculations of this effect at “The Thermostat Hypothesis”.

  476. TomFP says:

    Dr Meier, thank you for entering the lion’s den. As a layman, I have only two questions:

    “…indications that climate is changing in response to forcing today as it has in the past? Here are a few:

    1. Increasing concentrations of CO2 and other GHGs in the atmosphere”

    I thought rising GHGs were supposed to be the CAUSE of unprecedented climate change. Surely they can’t simultaneously (for argument’s sake) be EVIDENCE of it?

    Secondly – if I understand it correctly, your argument amounts to an endorsement of the Jones et al position. As James Lovelock has pointed out, scientists with confidence in their work can’t wait to share it. Yet a large burden of the Climategate emails is the way they illustrate the tireless efforts of Jones et al to AVOID sharing their work. Do you have an opinion as to why scientists who have reached similar conclusions to your own should behave in this way, and if so may we hear it? Why, in particular, should we, who have not performed the “science” underlying this hypothesis, not draw the adverse inference that those who have done so have in fact, despite their (excruciating and tortuous, as we read in the emails) efforts, failed to confirm it?

  477. Smokey says:

    Joel Shore (18:43:11),

    It looks like you’re disputing the universally accepted theory that CO2 levels were much higher in the geologic past. That would sure make it easy to show that the current climate is going crazy, wouldn’t it?

    When a peer reviewed paper shows you’re wrong, you say “…over such timescales there are huge other potential forcing changes involving solar luminosity, completely different positions for continents, mountain ranges, ocean currents, and so forth.”

    Karl Popper had something to say about ad hoc arguments made on the spur of the moment in order to rescue a hypothesis. Anyway, argue with these authors about how high CO2 was in the past [and it was even higher at other times]: click [click in the image to expand]

    Maybe radiative forcing was different then, huh? Those damn continents were probably in the way.

  478. Gail Combs says:

    ferdiegb (13:03:31) :

    “….I suppose that it is obvious that humans are 100% responsible for the increase in total amount.”

    YEAH right, The only way I will believe that is if I know the heat content of the oceans and the total amount of CO2 absorbed by the biomass for each of those 100 yrs. Oh and lets not forget the volcanoes spewing out CO2 and other really nasty gases.

    Sorry the CO2 level has bounced all over the place without the help of man until the last hundred years. Thanks to the irrigation discussed in other comments here, we have increased the biomass in many places and there are actually MORE trees now than one hundred years ago. Also increases in CO2 make plants use less water. Up until recently we also controlled runaway forest fires. There is the replacement of the old slash and burn farming methods with the “green revolution” Burning a field is still the best way to kill insect pests and weed seeds, but it is no longer the method of choice. Man is contributing 2.9% of the total CO2 per year while nature is contributing 97% and we know that the biomass responses to an increase of CO2 and temp by growing. I can’t be bothered to look for it, but someone recently posted the link to a paper showing that the limiting factor in plant growth is CO2 starvation on a micro level! On top of all that we have seen that the CO2 level responses to an increase in temp by increasing. Dr Meier even mentions it.

    Just give this a thought, no people, dry weather, a good wind, and a grass fire on the American plains, where will that fire stop?…. We know wildfires were common enough that some trees require fire to germinate their seed.

    I think where we disagree is the statement you made
    nature acts as a simple first order linear process in dynamic equilibrium to CO2 disturbances

    I have dealt with enough “simple” chemical processes in the real world not to EVER believe that line of bull. I stopped believing it after the “simple” process my boss tried out on the plant floor blew the reaction vessel to smithereens my second year out of school. That is the difference between ivory tower models and the real world, the real world can get you killed – fast.

  479. Wren says:

    Jordan (13:02:21) :
    Wren (09:00:50) : The odds of correctly calling N coin flips in a row is (0.5)^N .. So if I am betting on heads turning up at least one-half of the time, I would prefer to have a large N. That’s my point. Wouldn’t you agree

    The factor 0.5^N relates to the coincidence of successive flips all turning out on the same side. That’s not what’s at issue in Walt’s example.

    Walt asserts that an aggregate number of flips is more easy to call than a single flip. I don’t agree….
    —–
    Jordan, I don’t know how I could have explained it more clearly. You have a 50/50 chance of being wrong if you call heads on one coin flip. Not just a little bit wrong but totally wrong. If you call heads every time on 100 flips, your chance of being totally wrong is nothing to worry about.

  480. Steve Keohane says:

    NickB. (12:46:13) :
    I thought we had generally decreasing water vapor over the past 60 years:
    http://i38.tinypic.com/30bedtg.jpg

  481. Tom B says:

    I applaud his contribution to this site, but question many of the assertions made. Given the long-term observations of various analysis of the data to which he refers I do not draw the same conclusions.

  482. Charles Higley says:

    ferdiegb (12:49:17):

    “Thus Callendar was right, as 60 years later is shown in ice cores, stomata data and coralline sponges, and Beck is wrong.”

    It is much too pat an answer to discount hundreds of direct chemical data papers and accept indirect data. It is hubris to assume that all are contaminated when the ice cores suffer such corruption of their own (see Jaworowski). Many direct data papers were done by experts and when they are all plotted, the data is far from erratic and show well defined increases and decreases over time.

    I maintain that Callendar cherry-picked the data based on opinion-based criteria. If there was a factual criteria, then they would suffer the same quality problems used to discount virtually all other direct data – as you say, sampling errors and not enough samples.

    It just plain fails to meet reality that all chemical direct data would be false and disagree so thoroughly with the ice core data. This simply smells of a rat.

    Of course, it behooves the IPCC to maintain that indirect data is better than direct, but that means that a photograph of a criminal is not a good as a sketch from a witness’s memory.

    It is telling that the only two papers of direct CO2 data that the IPCC lauded as good were by Frenchmen who used a sulfuric acid method which is notorious for producing low CO2 results – they always read low, but then that is what the IPCC needs.

    Beck has done some very good work explaining his rational in his analyses of the data, and that is superior to the lack of recognition of the vagaries of ice core data (see Jaworowski) that has been practiced by the IPCC.

    The true test of ice core data would be that it have a decent correlation with direct data. This is lacking miserably. To accept indirect data without reasonable correlation is to go on faith and not falsifiable science.

  483. Richard S Courtney says:

    Joel Shore (18:43:11):

    You ask:

    “What does this even mean? How can radiative forcing not have an effect? The First Law of Thermodynamics says that if you change the balance between the energy that the earth receives and what it radiates back out into space, it has to respond in some way to get back into balance. The most obvious way to respond is by warming up.”

    Oh dear! Such a list of prejudice and lack of logic.

    Q1.
    What does this even mean?
    A2.
    It means that the system is governed by deterministic chaos: not radative forcing.

    Q2.
    How can radiative forcing not have an effect?
    A2.
    Because the system adjusts to keep near its chaotic atractors. In extremis, the system is different in a galcial and an interglacial period (because there is more than one atractor).

    Please consider that “The most obvious way” a complex system could respond to a change is rarely the way that it does. For example, your body temperature changes little between 10 degC and 25 degC ambient temperature, but your surface skin temperature and moisture loss may both vary.

    Your response seems to be a clear demonstration that Gail Combs (18:25:46) is right, at least in your case.

    Richard

  484. Bart says:

    Joel Shore (18:43:11) :

    “To confuse exchanges between components with the introduction of new carbon from outside this subsystem is to make a very elementary error that shows your own (perhaps willful) ignorance on the subject more than making any sort of coherent argument.”

    This statement only demonstrates your continuing ignorance of how elementary feedback systems work. But, we have already established that there is little I can do to alleviate that deficiency. Hi ho.

  485. ferdiegb says:

    Gail Combs (19:51:11) :

    “….I suppose that it is obvious that humans are 100% responsible for the increase in total amount.”

    YEAH right, The only way I will believe that is if I know the heat content of the oceans and the total amount of CO2 absorbed by the biomass for each of those 100 yrs. Oh and lets not forget the volcanoes spewing out CO2 and other really nasty gases.

    Gail, I had my fair chair of runaway reactions in my working life (I am a retired process -automation- engineer), thus I may recognise a reaction type when it is put under my nose…

    First, one hass the mass balance: If one adds twice the amount of CO2 as is observed in the atmosphere and no CO2 is escaping to space, there is simply no net addition by nature. Enormous quantities may be exchanged within a year, but whatever the total amount exchanged, there is no net increase of atmospheric CO2 by nature, there is a net decrease.

    Secondly, and quite interesting from a process point of view: an exponential increase in CO2 gives an exponential increase in airborne fraction, which is quite constant, at least over the past 50 years of accurate measurements:
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/acc_co2_1960_2006.jpg
    with a slight gradient, as there is a lag of the SH after the NH (where 90% of the emissions are situated).
    But even for the past 100+ years, based on ice core CO2:
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/acc_co2_1900_2004.jpg

    I don’t know of any natural process which may increase atmospheric CO2 levels in such an exact ratio to the emissions.

    Volcanoes in average spew 1/1000th of what humans emit and even the Pinatubo didn’t increase CO2 levels (to the contrary, as the resultant cooling even reduced the increase speed).
    The temperature/CO2 ratio, where temperature leads CO2 levels, is quite well known for the past 800,000 years: about 8 ppmv/K, surprisingly linear. That includes very long term changes like ocean currents, ice sheets/forests growth and destruction, etc… See:
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/Vostok_trends.gif
    Thus the LIA-current warm period difference of about 1 K may have increased the CO2 levels with about 8 ppmv, while we see over 100 ppmv increase.

    Further, that human emissions are 3% of the natural cycle is true, but irrelevant. It doesn’t matter how much is circulating through the atmosphere, it matters how much is left after a year. The same for your bank: they may have an enormous turnover of tenthousands of dollars a day, but if you save personally 100 dollar a day and the bank at balance shows an increase of only 50 dollar a day, better look for another bank…

    Biomass decay and burning and biomass growth are parts of the natural cycle. Therefore it is important to know what the balance is. Indeed, at least sinds 1990, it is clear from the deficiency in oxygen use (caused by fossil fuel burning) that biomass growth is higher than biomass decay/burning/use (includes all kinds of use by animals, humans, forest fires,…). See:
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/287/5462/2467 and
    http://www.bowdoin.edu/~mbattle/papers_posters_and_talks/BenderGBC2005.pdf
    Thus biomass is an around 1.4 GtC/yr sink, oceans are a 2.0 GtC/yr sink but humans are a 8 GtC/yr source, about twice the level of the sinks. Anyway neither vegetation, nor oceans are responsible for the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. Any other possible sources are way too small/slow to be the cause.

  486. Jordan says:

    Wren (21:03:26) : I don’t know how I could have explained it more clearly. You have a 50/50 chance of being wrong if you call heads on one coin flip. Not just a little bit wrong but totally wrong. If you call heads every time on 100 flips, your chance of being totally wrong is nothing to worry about.

    You have explained yourself perfectly well and I understand your point. But you have misrepresented Walt’s second hypothetical bet:

    You are given the opportunity to bet on 10000 coin flips. If heads comes up between 4000 and 6000 times, you win a million dollars. If heads comes up less than 4000 or more than 6000 times, you die. Again, you are assured that the coin is completely fair and unbiased. Would you take this bet? I think I would.

    Walt does not require the coincidence of a straight sequence of heads, so your calculation of 0.5^N should never have come into your discussion.

    He also requires the bet to be placed once, before the coin flipping starts. So you don’t get the chance to “call heads every time”.

    Walt’s example involves placing the bet, observing a sequence of outcomes where heads and tails are intermingled, such has { … H,T,T,T,H,T,H,H… }, count up the total number of heads, and then ask whether the total is greater than 4000 and less than 6000. And he is almost certainly going to place a bet that it is within that range because he has altered the odds in his favour: the chances of the total being outside his range is very small.

  487. Jordan says:

    RWS (13:11:39) : Then what’s up with the coin flip mania? Steven Goddard has a good response today, suggesting Meier used the wrong analogy, but all the posts about tossing coins? wow… how easily diverted we are

    RWS, MMGW proponents claim that climate is more predictable than weather. They rely on this assertion to sweep aside the poor record of short-term weather forecasts, but still pleading that we have reason to accept very long term forecasts.

    Climate forecasts should have appropriately reduced tolerance values for testing whether or not the forecasts have utility. If this was done correctly, we would see that the above assertion is wrong: climate is not more predictable than weather.

    Walt Meier has sought to explain his thinking on the predictability of aggregates using a flawed example of tossing a coin. Why wouldn’t we press home the faqilings of that example – he’ll be in a better position to challenge his own ideas if we explain to him where he is going wrong.

    So please don’t be so dismissive – this is a worthy point of contention.

  488. ferdiegb says:

    Charles Higley (22:47:15) :

    “Thus Callendar was right, as 60 years later is shown in ice cores, stomata data and coralline sponges, and Beck is wrong.”

    It is much too pat an answer to discount hundreds of direct chemical data papers and accept indirect data. It is hubris to assume that all are contaminated when the ice cores suffer such corruption of their own (see Jaworowski). Many direct data papers were done by experts and when they are all plotted, the data is far from erratic and show well defined increases and decreases over time.

    First of all, we have modern CO2 data from some of the same places where
    Ernst Beck used his historical measurements. The “peak” in 1942, according to Beck’s data, was caused mainly by two series: Giessen (Germany) and Poona (India). The latter measured in the midst of growing vegetation. That has not the slightest connection to anything like global CO2 levels. The first was more interesting, but as the modern station of Giessen shows: in summer, diurnal swings from -50 to +150 ppmv against background measurements (from near the North Pole – Barrow – to the South Pole) are quite common. Thus worthless today for background estimates, worthless for historical estimates. See:
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/giessen_background.jpg for a few days 1/2 hour samplings at Giessen, compared to Barrow, Mauna Loa and the South Pole (raw, uncorrected data!) for the same days.
    and
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/giessen_mlo_monthly.jpg for monthly values. I suppose that it is clear that the measurements of Giessen today, or in the past are too unreliable for background estimates. The more that the historical measurements were taken at 3 samples per day, 2 of them at the moment of largest change in local CO2.

    The exceptions are historical measurements made on board of seaships and coastal, with the wind direction from the sea. From nowadays measurements we know that all measurements over the oceans don’t differ more than 10 ppmv from each other. And indeed, the ice core measurements are within the band of all historical seaside measurements…

    Thus Callendar was right and Beck is wrong, as Beck didn’t make any attempt to look at the validity of the location where was measured.
    To make an analogy: You probably (as I do) don’t like the mess of temperature measurements done on parking lots, asphalt roofs,… This is similar: never use CO2 measurements near huge sources/sinks, which is mainly over land near vegetation, traffic, heating,…

    About Jaworowski: sorry, forget his objections. He managed to suggest that ice cores loose CO2 by cracks in the ice. But they measure 180-280 ppmv in the inside air bubbles, while the outside air contains 380 ppmv. If anybody can explain me how to loose CO2 towards a higher level, I may believe Jaworowski.

    And quite incredible for an “ice core specialist”, he doesn’t know that there is a difference between the age of the ice in the ice cores and the average age of the enclosed air bubbles. See further:
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/jaworowski.html

  489. ferdiegb says:

    Charles Higley (22:47:15) :

    The true test of ice core data would be that it have a decent correlation with direct data. This is lacking miserably. To accept indirect data without reasonable correlation is to go on faith and not falsifiable science

    This test was already performed by Etheridge e.a. in 1996, I suppose partly in response to the objections of Jaworowski of 1992. Etheridge drilled three ice cores at Law Dome with three different (wet and dry) drilling methods and measured CO2 in situ in the firn and via the normal extraction routine in the ice core bubbles. Ice core CO2 in fully enclosed bubbles and firn CO2 at the same depth had the same CO2 level, which was about 7 years “younger” than CO2 levels at the surface.

    The CO2 values from the ice cores were compared to the measurements at the South Pole, which overlap each other for a period of about 20 years (1960-1980). The ice core values and the South Pole values match for that period, within the accuracy of the ice cores (1 sigma = 1.3 ppmv).

    Thus CO2 levels in ice core bubbles doesn’t change by incorporation, pressure, decompression or measurement technique. These are direct measurements of historical CO2 at Antarctica (which is virtually global), not a proxy.

  490. Gail Combs says:

    Smokey (13:16:59) :

    Legatus (19:08:53),

    Maybe this will help to see the proportion of human emitted CO2 vs the total amount of CO2 emitted annually by the planet: click

    Out of every 34+ CO2 molecules emitted in total, only one molecule is of human origin. Those are the IPCC’s own numbers.

    REPLY:
    Yes Smokey but those numbers do not support the “pre-determined outcome” so we get argument by Obfuscation. I have never seen so much convoluted logic to prove a point, all the while dancing around the issue that the earth’s oceans have a mechanism for taking excess CO2 out to the equation and sequestering it on the ocean floor and that the biomass is actually CO2 starved.

    I notice NO ONE argues that we have missed a real catastrophe in the making: too low a CO2 level to sustain civilization. Using AGW numbers we were at 280ppm before industry started to place the sequestered CO2 back into the environment. At 200 ppm plants stop growing and at 150 ppm they die. If we had decreased instead of increased the CO2 level by the same 100 ppm the earth would have been approaching a no fix situation with plants struggling and herbivores dying of starvation.

    Different plants require different amounts of CO2 and as I stated above plant growth is regulated by the amount of CO2 available. Lowering the amount of CO2 means less food and food of poorer quality as research has shown. As CO2 approaches 200 ppm and the plants struggle to survive fruiting could be impaired. A harsh winter shows how deer will kill trees by eating the bark and herbivores without enough food will graze a pasture down to the bare earth. Not a prety picture is it but that’s what the warmists seem to want.

    “Research has shown that in most cases rate of plant growth under otherwise identical growing conditions is directly related to carbon dioxide concentration.

    The amount of carbon dioxide a plant requires to grow may vary from plant to plant, but tests show that most plants will stop growing when the CO2 level decreases below 150 ppm. Even at 220 ppm, a slow-down in plant growth is significantly noticeable.

    Colorado State University conducted tests with carnations and other flowers in controlled CO2 atmospheres ranging from 200 to 550 ppm. The higher CO2 concentrations significantly increased the rate of formation of dry plant matter, total flower yield and market value…. [In tomatoes] Work in experimental stations has shown that crop increases of as much as 29% have been obtained by increasing the CO2 concentration… [in winter green houses] By adding CO2 to the atmosphere around the plant, a 40% crop increase was achieved….. growers using CO2 are cutting their heating costs as much as 50% while realizing extra profit from increased crop production…” http://homeharvest.com/carbondioxideenrichment.htm

    Warmer with more food is better than freezing my @r$e off while starving, but what do I know.

  491. Gail Combs says:

    ferdiegb (14:24:17) :

    “… And if we can halve our current CO2 emissions (because we have invented some very huge, cheap energy source), there wouldn’t be any increase in CO2 anymore…”

    So you are in favor of build lots more nuclear plants? Most commuters are close enough to work that electric cars would work especially if combined with electric commuter rail in cities. (i used a bike and commuter rail for years in Boston) Insurance data shows most accidents happen within ten miles of home, so most driving is generally within 10 to 25 miles here in the USA.

    Seems if the US government would spend ALL that money building and promoting nuclear plants instead of promoting a climate scare the economic AND the CAGW problem both go away.

    The fact that governments are promoting TAXES, and a transfer of wealth from the poor and middle class to the rich and powerful instead is another reason to think the scare is completely manufactured.

  492. A C Osborn says:

    ferdiegb (02:04:59) :
    I don’t know of any natural process which may increase atmospheric CO2 levels in such an exact ratio to the emissions.
    Interesting how that is a lovely straight line for Cumulative emmissions.
    Of course emmission since 1900 have been anything but a straight line, so the cumulative shouldn’t be either.
    But that doesn’t matter in the world of Climate change does it?
    Also “Inferred from Atmospheric O2 and & dgr;13C” is not a direct measurement of CO2 sinking either.

  493. Henry Pool says:

    Juts for the record here for Walt Meier, I am repeating what I have said at other posts at WUWT:
    here is the famous paper that confirms to me that CO2 is (alos) cooling the atmosphere by re-radiating sunshine (12 hours per day). http://www.iop.org/EJ/article/0004-637X/644/1/551/64090.web.pdf?request-id=76e1a830-4451-4c80-aa58-4728c1d646ec

    they measured this radiation as it bounced back to earth from the moon. Follow the green line in fig. 6, bottom . Note that it already starts at 1.2 um, then one peak at 1.4 um, then various peaks at 1.6 um and 3 big peaks at 2 um.
    This paper here shows that there is absorption of CO2 at between 0.21 and 0.19 um (close to 202 nm):
    http://www.nat.vu.nl/en/sec/atom/Publications/pdf/DUV-CO2.pdf
    There are other papers that I can look for again that will show that there are also absorptions of CO2 at between 0.18 and 0.135 um and between 0.125 and 0.12 um.
    We already know from normal IR that CO2 has big absorption between 4 and 5 um.

    So, to sum it up, we know that CO2 has absorption in the 14-15 um range causing some warming (by re-radiating earthshine, 24 hours per day) but as shown and proved above it also has a number of absorptions in the 0-5 um range causing cooling (by re-radiating sunshine). This cooling happens at all levels where the sunshine hits on the carbon dioxide same as the earthshine. The way from the bottom to the top is the same as from top to the bottom. So, my question is: how much cooling and how much warming is caused by the CO2? How was the experiment done to determine this and where are the test results? If it has not been done, why don’t we just sue the oil companies to do this research? (I am afraid that simple heat retention testing will not work here, we have to use real sunshine and real earthshine to determine the effect in W/m3 [0.04%]CO2/24hours). I am also doubtful of analysis of the spectral data, as most of the UV apsorbtions of CO2 have only been discovered recently.
    I am going to state it here quite categorically again that if no one has got these results, then how do we know for sure that CO2 is a greenhouse gas?

    We know that Svante Arrhenius’ formula has long been proven wrong. If it had been right earth should have been a lot warmer. So I am asking: what is the correct formula? Maybe Walt Meier give me this formula?

  494. NickB. says:

    magicjava
    I’m not sure that’s the same source I was looking at. My last few posts here have been from my phone, but when I fire up the laptop IOU the link.

    So how the hell I could have spent all that time describing water vapor content and temperature and NOT using the word inverse is really quite astounding (my apologies!)… but that said I don’t think we’re necessarilly disagreeing. My mind was, in particular on allegations of recent upper tropospheric warming. Lower trop (I’m assuming the UAH analysis you showed is weighted for different altitudes with lower altitudes, justifiably holding more sway) I thought had held relatively steady over the 00′s but with a (slight?) uptrend the inverse relationship still holds – agreed! For given volumes of air with equal energy content – the one with more water vapor would exhibit a lower temp than the one with less water vapor.

    The important implication here could be that the upper and lower troposphere seem to be exhibiting symptoms consistent with no net increase in energy… while CO2 has continued to climb.

    Steve Keohane
    That graph is showing relative humidity – what you need to look for is specific humidity (which I think is the same thing as absolute humidity – Steve/anyone/everyone please correct me if I’m wrong on that). The problem with relative humidity is that, by itself, it does not represent atmospheric water content – at best it’s a really bad proxy.

    Think for a moment that for the period of 1980-2000 (going off the sat records) we had generally increasing temps. Hotter air is capable of holding more moisture, so 100% relative humidity at temp X would by only 80% relative humidity at higher temp Y. Only if temperature were constant (which we know it isn’t) would the down trend in relative humidity necessarilly imply a net decrease in atmospheric water content.

    The trend in real atmospheric water vapor appears to vary based on altitude, with a (slight?) overall increase in the 00′s according to magicjava’s UAH ref, with decreases in the mid and upper tropospheric.

  495. kim says:

    Joel, how can it not? Better, how can it? That is not yet shown.
    ===========================

  496. ferdiegb says:

    Gail Combs (04:25:59) :

    So you are in favor of build lots more nuclear plants? Most commuters are close enough to work that electric cars would work especially if combined with electric commuter rail in cities.

    I live in a country where 60% of power generation already is nuclear… I would like to see that expanded, but the Greens here blocked any attempt to do that (they even could pass a law to close the existing plants in the next decade, but that is reverted now). That should be temporarely, until nuclear fusion comes on stream, but I haven’t any hope that will be in my lifetime…

  497. ferdiegb says:

    A C Osborn (04:56:07) :

    Of course emmission since 1900 have been anything but a straight line, so the cumulative shouldn’t be either.
    But that doesn’t matter in the world of Climate change does it?
    Also “Inferred from Atmospheric O2 and & dgr;13C” is not a direct measurement of CO2 sinking either.

    The (cumulative) emissions indeed are not a straight line, but they increase near exponentially over time (with some variations due to economic crises, wars, cold winters,…). But in average (taken over a few years), the increase in the atmosphere follows already 100+ years with the same ratio to the emissions. Therefore, plotting the accumulation in the atmosphere against the cumulative emissions is a straight line. Here is the original accumulation/cumulative emissions over time (+ the temperature trend):
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/temp_emiss_increase.jpg
    The year by year emissions show little variability, the increase in the atmosphere is far more variable, as that is influenced by (ocean) temperature changes:
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/dco2_em.jpg
    But the average trend in the atmosphere is at 55% of the emissions and natural variability around the trend is about half the emissions level.

    And yes, the O2 measurements are a direct indication of how much CO2 is released/absorbed by biolife: the amounts of fossil fuel burned and their type are known with reasonable accuracy (thanks to fuel taxes…). The burning efficiency of the different fuels also is known with reasonable accuracy. Thus the oxygen use from fossil fuel burning is known with reasonable accuracy.

    Now, since about 1990, oxygen measurements are accurate enough to show a small deficit in oxygen use, somewhat less oxygen is used than calculated. That means that all biolife together is a net producer of oxygen, and thus a net user of CO2 (and preferable 12CO2).

    Thus biolife is a net sink for CO2 and not responsible for the decrease of d13C in the atmosphere (and the upper oceans).

  498. Joel Shore says:

    Richard S Courtney says:

    Q1.
    What does this even mean?
    A2.
    It means that the system is governed by deterministic chaos: not radative forcing.

    Yeah, but just waving your hands and throwing out words like “attractor” and “chaos” does not a theory make, let alone a theory with any empirical support. Besides which, even if this picture were correct, it would not give us much comfort, as the forcings due to increased greenhouse gases would be likely at some point (which could be very near or not so near, who knows?) drive the system off to some other attractor in phase space. It would just be a suggestion that the climate changes that occur could be quite rapid and discontinuous.

  499. ferdiegb says:

    Gail Combs (04:01:36) :

    Yes Smokey but those numbers do not support the “pre-determined outcome” so we get argument by Obfuscation. I have never seen so much convoluted logic to prove a point, all the while dancing around the issue that the earth’s oceans have a mechanism for taking excess CO2 out to the equation and sequestering it on the ocean floor and that the biomass is actually CO2 starved.

    I do fully agree with the last part: I use mulching around the growing vegetables in my own garden, as that increases the near-ground CO2 level, as good as growers in the neighbourhood pump some 1,000 ppmv CO2 in their greenhouses.

    Indeed the oceans ultimately will absorb most, if not all CO2 we have emitted. But that is a slow process. If it was instantly, we should see the opposite CO2 cycle that we see now: CO2 absorption in spring/summer by vegetation is fast, decreasing CO2 levels rapidely with some 8 ppmv near ground in the NH. That despite that the oceans at the same moment release a lot of CO2 by heating up. The opposite happens in fall/winter when a lot of vegetation (leaves) decays. Thus the oceans are a slow sink for the extra CO2. The main reason is the slow transmission of air CO2 into the ocean surface and further into the deep oceans, as there is only a limited exchange flow between the upper and deep oceans. That is the reason that not all human CO2 (as mass) is absorbed immediately and we still see an accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere…
    See further the interesting pages of Feely e.a. on that topic:
    http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/pubs/outstand/feel2331/exchange.shtml

  500. Joel Shore says:

    Smokey says:

    It looks like you’re disputing the universally accepted theory that CO2 levels were much higher in the geologic past.

    No. What I am disputing is the notion that we have good enough accuracy and temporal resolution during those times in both the CO2 and temperature estimates to conclude that the CO2 levels were high at the same time that the temperatures were low. The general trend in the paleoclimate science has been that as we get better accuracy and resolution in estimates of both temperature and CO2 levels, the further back in time the positive correlation between CO2 and temperature seems to extend.

    And, as I also noted, on geologic timescales, there are many other forcings that can vary considerably, so at these timescales it is necessary to consider such issues.

  501. Dave F says:

    Wow, this thread is large.

    @ scienceofdoom (17:47:37) :

    Wouldn’t the presence of more water vapor be quantifiable in rainfall totals? More water to precipitate would lead to an increase in rainfall totals and snow accumulations? Is there such a trend in precipitation? Not in Australia, where the droughts are blamed on AGW, but apparently so in America where the several feet of snow in Virginia and Delaware are blamed on AGW. The multiple attributions of cause and effect are confusing, and essentially amounts to ‘whatever happens’ is consistent with modeling, which to me says more about the knowledge behind the modeling than anything else.

  502. Charles Higley says:

    ferdiegb (03:04:22) :

    “Ice core CO2 in fully enclosed bubbles and firn CO2 at the same depth had the same CO2 level, which was about 7 years “younger” than CO2 levels at the surface.”

    Sorry, but the IPCC stand that CO2 has been consistently low until human emissions started is simply unacceptable and too simplistic. Also, it is not credible to discount all papers of direct data except for two which are obviously bad. Again, there is simply little to support the ice core data when it stands more or less alone and does not correlate with more direct measurements.

    This area needs more work and even the “tests” need more work.

    However, this is all a tempest in a teapot since CO2 cannot and has not driven the climate. When CO2 was high, it has always lagged temperature peaks and in the 1940s it dropped while CO2 was high. Even the ice core data shows that temperatures drop while CO2 is high. Thus, if CO2 cannot maintain a warm climate, it certainly cannot drive a climate to warming.

    See F MIskolczi and M Zagoni’s recent work which elegantly describes the interaction of water vapor and CO2 in which they effectively constitute a constant effect – absolute water vapor drops when CO2 rises. Actually, as water vapor is a better heat-trapping gas than CO2, such an interaction with CO2 rising would serve to cool the climate (ever so slightly).

    Do not forget that the IPCC altered a thermodynamic factor to up CO2′s heat-trapping ability by 12-fold and then considers water vapor as a 30-fold positive forcing factor. These are both false assumptions, if not simply fraud.

    When taken in their real characters, CO2 becomes a non-issue of 0.01 deg C with atmospheric doubling and water vapor is part of a global heat engine – a massive negative forcing factor.

  503. Richard S Courtney says:

    Joel Shore (08:31:46) :

    Your argument is a series of illogical assertions that are denied by empirical facts.

    You say:

    “Richard S Courtney says:

    Q1.
    What does this even mean?
    A2.
    It means that the system is governed by deterministic chaos: not radative forcing.

    Yeah, but just waving your hands and throwing out words like “attractor” and “chaos” does not a theory make, let alone a theory with any empirical support. Besides which, even if this picture were correct, it would not give us much comfort, as the forcings due to increased greenhouse gases would be likely at some point (which could be very near or not so near, who knows?) drive the system off to some other attractor in phase space. It would just be a suggestion that the climate changes that occur could be quite rapid and discontinuous.”

    I respond to your assertions as follows.

    All that is needed to show an assumption may not be correct is provision of an alternative assumption that fits the available evidence. And the alternative is more plausible if it better fits the empirical evidence.

    You assert that the assumption of radiative forcing being the cause of climate changes must be correct because you do not like a suggested alternative. That assertion is irrational. I have provided a possible alternative explanation, and it better fits the empirical evidence.

    I did no “hand waving”. And I gave a complete theory with much empirical support. Please read my post at (01.17.38) on 9.04.2010 that provides this.

    Part of the evidence for the climate system being controlled by deterministic chaos (n.b. NOT radiative forcing) is the fact indicated by ice cores that the system DOES exhibit “climate changes that occur could be quite rapid and discontinuous”. These changes are known as ‘climate flickers’ (google ‘climate flickers’ since you seem not to know of them).

    Indeed, the postulate of deterministic chaos as the cause of climate changes has much more empirical evidence than the postulate of radiative forcing. If you think otherwise then please use the radiative forcing postulate to explain climate flickers, transition between glacial and interglacial periods, climate stability in each of the glacial and interglacial states, and the ‘snowball Earth’ paradox. Deterministic chaos provides a complete explanation for each of these points. But the radiative forcing assumption cannot explain that the radiative forcing assumption cannot explain any of these factors (and others) that the assumption of deterministic chaos does.

    The entire AGW hypothesis fails if the assumption of radiative forcing is not correct. But there is no evidence – none, zilch, nada – that it is correct. Of course, it may be right but it is a big stretch to adopt the assumption of climate change being driven by radiative forcing when there are other more plausible assumptions that explain climate behaviour.

    Richard

  504. Chuck Wiese says:

    Magicjava: “Other than the base greenhouse effect that keeps the planet 8 degrees warmer than a blackbody, there is no greenhouse effect of water vapor in the climate and the relationship between water vapor and tropospheric temperatures is a reverse correlation. The more water vapor there is, the colder it is. See comparison of UAH tropospheric temperatures and water vapor here:
    http://i15.photobucket.com/albums/a378/magicj/TropWaterVap.png?t=1270934192

    Magicjava: This statement is untrue. There is no question in anyones mind that water vapor is a powerful greenhouse gas and has an indisputable warming effect on the earths surface by IR radiation. But the problem is more complex than you state here. Water vapor cannot enter the atmosphere without being evaporated from the surface. This COOLS the surface to the tune of ~597 cal/g. ( Latent heat of vaporization ). Upon entering the gas phase, water vapor absorbs the more energetic part of the earths surface IR emission left of the IR window ( about 5.5 um ) and significantly out absorbs CO2 regardless of quantity, although quantity adds to the effect enormously.
    That tradeoff tends to warm the surface and cool the troposphere until the hydrostatic equations are no longer in equilibrium. Convective overturn rewarms the troposphere by latent heat release back to the troposphere, thus rewidening the IR window to space, and creates partial cloud cover to “reset” the otherwise ascending effective emission height until hydrostatic stabilty is reobtained by also reducing shortwave insolation to the surface.

    The processes are quite involved, so it is again misleading to show these graphs and incoirrectly state that water vapor has an inverse relationship to temperature. This is incorrect.

  505. Charles Higley says:

    Richard S Courtney (11:40:23) :

    “The entire AGW hypothesis fails if the assumption of radiative forcing is not correct.”

    Exactly. The IPCC had to go back to basics and alter accepted constants to create the radiative forcing conditions they required – as I described above (Charles Higley (10:48:43)).

    The IPCC was pretty funny when they did this; they marveled at how constant the constant had been historically in the literature while changing the value at the same time. “Look, is that Superman?” (wallet being pick-pocketed; number being changed).

    In addition, they needed to have manmade CO2 be a greater part of the atmosphere, so they fabricated a 200 year half-life for CO2 in the atmosphere. Not to be outdone, NASA has taken this lie and raised the half-life to 1000 years.

    Real science, not political opinion, has the half-life from 2.5 to 20 years, with an average of 5.4 years, much more realistic considering the annual fluctuations that can be seen with the seasons, reflecting the biospheric usage of CO2.

    Of course, they habitually and religiously ignore water vapor – the elephant in the room – and the water cycle which trashes their whole positive forcing card-castle.

  506. Dave F :


    Wouldn’t the presence of more water vapor be quantifiable in rainfall totals?

    Not necessarily. It becomes rain after it condenses. It doesn’t necessarily become rain, because it has to fall out of the sky to the ground, but in the first instance it has to condense. Higher temperatures tend to mean less condensation.

    Rainfall totals are used to estimate the average annual latent heat transfer because there is no way of measuring the amount of evaporation all around the world, and measuring rainfall is a reasonable estimation of the end of this process. This doesn’t account for slight imbalances (increase in water vapor in the atmosphere) but the rainfall measure itself is not so accurate.

  507. Lonnie Schubert says:

    I posted a note with some references about water vapor on Willis’ reply post.

    Here, I’m commenting about fusion. Practical fusion energy is about 20 years away, just as it has been for 70 years now.

    14 MeV neutrons are just too damaging. Materials just break down too fast to allow for economic use. Think of it as continuous nanowelding of the material without heat treatment or stress relief.

    Of course, I’m assuming D-T. p-11B (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polywell) and other possibilities exist, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

  508. ferdiegb says:

    Charles Higley (10:48:43) :

    Sorry, but the IPCC stand that CO2 has been consistently low until human emissions started is simply unacceptable and too simplistic. Also, it is not credible to discount all papers of direct data except for two which are obviously bad. Again, there is simply little to support the ice core data when it stands more or less alone and does not correlate with more direct measurements.

    If the ice cores in the past 50 years follow atmospheric measurements (firn follows the South Pole data, thus ice formation will follow the measured increase of CO2), I see no reason why the historical CO2 measurements in ice cores would differ from the real CO2 levels at the time that the bubbles were closing (except smoothed by averaging, depending of the accumulation rate). Anyway, there was no peak of CO2 around 1940, as CO2 measurements in ice cores, and proxies like stomata data don’t show a peak, neither do indirect indications like d13C values in trees, ice cores and coralline sponges. Thus the ice cores aren’t the only indications that at least a part of the historical data are unreliable.

    Moreover, it is unlikely that such huge quantities are released in such a short time (equivalent to burning 1/3rd of all vegetation on earth in 7 years time) and it is simply impossible that the same amount would be absorbed (by what?) in only 7 years.
    Further, there were values measured around the ice core values at some places (oceans, Boston, Wight), while in the same year other places (Vienna, balloon measurements) show extreme high values. That also is impossible. Some, if not all of these measurements must be wrong, or taken near huge sources…
    See e.g. the range of historical measurements over the years: ice core data are always within the range, but at the low side. The fact that the direct measurements show such a wide range is sufficient to drop them (near) entirely as unreliable:
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/beck_1930_1950.jpg

    Since the accurate measurements by Keeling at Mauna Loa and meanwhile many other places, there are no such wide variations found in 95% of the atmosphere. Only over land. Thus drop all historical land based CO2 measurements as unreliable. Which was what Callendar (indirectly) did.

    Why I am so persistent on this point? If one want to be taken serious as a sceptic on other, far more important points, one need to be serious on all points. In this case the “consensus” is very solid: all observations agree with humans as the cause of the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere and all alternative explanations are in conflict with one or more observations.

    Further, the measured influence of 2xCO2 is about 0.9 C (without any feedbacks) and the half life time of excess CO2 is not 2.5 to 20 years (that is the residence time, nothing to do with how long it takes to reduce the current 380 ppmv back to 290 ppmv), but about 40 years (yes, in part less than what the IPCC says). See the work of Peter Dietze at:
    http://www.john-daly.com/carbon.htm
    But that is a different discussion…

  509. Chuck Wiese says:

    ferdiegb writes: “Further, the measured influence of 2xCO2 is about 0.9 C (without any feedbacks)”

    And where does this come from? More than likely Df/DT = 4sigmaT^3, using Stefan Boltzman for a given mean earth Planck temperature.

    But sigma is an integration constant taken over all wavenumbers of emission from a perfect emitter, and so its relevance to a colored absorber at a narrow wavenumber range is highly suspect and likely not correct.

    It is also not likely completely correct for water vapor, but much closer, as that constituent absorbs over a much braoder range of IR wavenumbers that are emitted from the earth.

  510. ferdiegb says:

    Chuck Wiese (23:01:09) :

    ferdiegb writes: “Further, the measured influence of 2xCO2 is about 0.9 C (without any feedbacks)”

    It is not my speciality, but I frequently use the Modtran calculations of the Archer’s. These are based on extreme fine laboratory measurements (Hitran) and calculations based on molecular movements. The calculated spectra (and related energy absorption/emissions) can be measured upward by satellites and downward by IR spectroscopy. These confirmed the calculated upward absorption and downward radiation by water, CO2, etc… and the related energy. See:
    http://ams.confex.com/ams/pdfpapers/100737.pdf
    But with a caveat: the authors show that the measured downwelling by CO2 increased with 3.8 W/m2 since the (simulated) start of the industrial revolution, but they don’t mention that measured water vapour (in winter) was 20 W/m2 less than simulated, this largely influences the result for CO2 in the overlapping bands.

    In how far that leads to increased temperatures is a still unresolved question, as that depends of all positive and negative feedbacks which may be involved (and of which we have very little information), like clouds…

  511. A C Osborn says:

    ferdiegb (16:12:30) :
    “Anyway, there was no peak of CO2 around 1940, as CO2 measurements in ice cores, and proxies like stomata data don’t show a peak, neither do indirect indications like d13C values in trees, ice cores and coralline sponges. Thus the ice cores aren’t the only indications that at least a part of the historical data are unreliable.”

    But there should be major differences between 1914-18, the 1930s and 1933-1945. There were wars and major industrial increases either side of a Major Economic Depression.

    Why don’t the proxies show this?

  512. A C Osborn says:

    scienceofdoom (14:09:06) :

    Dave F :

    Wouldn’t the presence of more water vapor be quantifiable in rainfall totals?

    Dave, I can remember some summers in Wales in the last 40 years where it was very Cloudy the whole time, quite cold and very depressing, but hardly any rain at all

  513. A C Osborn says:

    ferdiegb (08:52:28) : “That despite that the oceans at the same moment release a lot of CO2 by heating up.”

    How has the CO2 Anomaly remained a dead straight line trend upwards when wold temperatures have shown a slight downward trend and so should have man made CO2 during the 2009 world recession?

  514. D. Patterson says:

    Joel Shore (10:16:54) :

    Smokey says:

    “It looks like you’re disputing the universally accepted theory that CO2 levels were much higher in the geologic past.”

    No. What I am disputing is the notion that we have good enough accuracy and temporal resolution during those times in both the CO2 and temperature estimates to conclude that the CO2 levels were high at the same time that the temperatures were low. The general trend in the paleoclimate science has been that as we get better accuracy and resolution in estimates of both temperature and CO2 levels, the further back in time the positive correlation between CO2 and temperature seems to extend.

    And, as I also noted, on geologic timescales, there are many other forcings that can vary considerably, so at these timescales it is necessary to consider such issues.

    The resolution of carbon dioxide and temperature is accurate to the resolution of the lifecycles of the lifeforms incorporating the seawater chemistries into their shells and immediate sedimentary environments. There are also a number of inorganic processes indicative of temperature and atmospheric environments, including exotic locations such as Mars and proto-stars in which calcium carbonates are formed under cryogenic conditions. The precipitation of calcite and presence of calcite seas are indicative of high levels of carbon dioxide, while the precipitation of aragonite and presence of aragonite seas are indicative of low levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Calcite seas in the presence of low temperature lifeforms and low temperature inorganic processes are indicative of high carbon dioxide during low temperature climates at the same resoultion of the lifecycles of the biological communities and individuals being sampled.

  515. Steve Keohane says:

    NickB. (05:33:45) : You’re right. The absolute water is contingent on temperature & pressure. I kept that RH% graph because it shows that whatever temperature is actually doing, RH% has changed. I need to sit down with this and the UAH temps which cover half the time frame. What would be ideal are the readings from which the RH% was computed which should include temperature.

  516. NickB. says:

    MagicJava
    The water content information I was referencing was here: http://www.appinsys.com/GlobalWarming/WaterVapor.htm …with the underlying data sourced from the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory.

    The NYT article referencing “A decrease in water vapor concentrations in parts of the middle atmosphere has contributed to a slowing of Earth’s warming, researchers are reporting.” is here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/29/science/earth/29vapor.html

    It’s funny that they would skip over the necessary implication that this should be expected to correlate with higher mid-tropospheric temps and that the decreased green house effect they’re implying would not be the case if total water water content levels were increasing because of increasing concentrations in the lower troposphere.

    Dave F :
    Wouldn’t the presence of more water vapor be quantifiable in rainfall totals? More water to precipitate would lead to an increase in rainfall totals and snow accumulations? Is there such a trend in precipitation? Not in Australia, where the droughts are blamed on AGW, but apparently so in America where the several feet of snow in Virginia and Delaware are blamed on AGW. The multiple attributions of cause and effect are confusing, and essentially amounts to ‘whatever happens’ is consistent with modeling, which to me says more about the knowledge behind the modeling than anything else.

    Higher temperatures mean higher capacity for the atmosphere to hold water.

    If an air mass at temperature Y has 100% relative humidity (meaning it can hold all the water vapor possible at that temperature) and cools to lower temperature X then some amount of water vapor in that air will condense to out of the gaseous state into, eventually, some form of precipitation.

    This is another area where relative vs. specific/absolute humidity is important to consider. In my reading, which is just ONE way to look at it, all things being equal other than temperature change due to CO2 (which they never are)… “global warming” would probably result in a downward pressure on precipitation across the board until surface evaporation vs. atmospheric water content capacity get back into some semblance of equilibrium.

    That assumes, of course, that describing the averages of evaporation, temperature and precipitation as ever having been in a state of “equilibrium” is reasonable – those are the major factors that drive weather. That assumption is no small leap, and for me should not be a given for describing the real world.

    Like you, I also find the concept of claiming credit for increasing rain and increasing drought specious. It is built on the assumption that, as I described, a warmer atmosphere can hold more water resulting in a downward pressure on precipitation… but also that because the atmosphere can hold more water it will be able to dump more water in the right conditions. As far as I am concerned, claiming both is more than a little far fetched… and I’m sorry but I just don’t see how current weather has become more “extreme” – any reasonable look through the historical records will show precedents to all our “extremeness” and the alarmist media coverage is no different than the Summer of the Sharks here in the states until proven otherwise.

    Chuck Wiese (12:44:29) :
    Magicjava:

    The processes are quite involved, so it is again misleading to show these graphs and incoirrectly state that water vapor has an inverse relationship to temperature. This is incorrect.

    Sorry to step in but I also made that assertion. Is it not true that in a situation where everything other than temperature and water vapor are constant, a given volume of air with more water vapor in it will exhibit lower temperatures than a given volume of air with less water vapor? This necessarily implies that in a situation where atmospheric energy content is static, higher atmospheric water content means lower temperatures. If that is incorrect, please explain why I am looking at it wrong.

    We are specifically discussing the physical behavior of the atmosphere and putting aside GHG behavior in describing water content vs. temperature vs. net energy in a given volume of gas. You also say:

    There is no question in anyones mind that water vapor is a powerful greenhouse gas and has an indisputable warming effect on the earths surface by IR radiation.

    His invocation of blackbody behavior as the basis of comparison is something I took exception to but did not mention in my response. To put GHG’s in proper context you need to consider gray body behavior and that puts us at roughly 11.5% for Greenhouse Effect vs. 88.5% for the surface behavior at explaining the earth’s equilibrium temperature (it’s not really that simple, but that discussion is for another day/thread… for now we’ll go with that).

    This is important because the view that radiative forcing from GHGs is *the* controlling factor of climate, and the models built on that assumption, seem to have broken in the last 10 years. Where during 1980-2000 we saw increased temps alongside increased atmospheric water content, for the last 10 years (going off the satellite records Magicjava cited) we have seen increased overall atmospheric water content (specifically in the lower troposphere, with down trends in the mid-upper levels) alongside a slight down trend in temps.

    Per the “consensus” view, anthropogenic changes in GHGs (mainly CO2) were responsible for the increase in water vapor between 1980-2000, and that the net effect of this forcing accounted for the changes in measured ocean heat content (which really only measures down so far but anyway), *and* global surface temp, *and* atmospheric temp changes. Note that between OHC and atmospheric temps increasing alongside water content, this implies a massive amount of new energy being stored in the system. There is absolutely no explanation for where this missing energy has been going for the last 10 years in general in terms of atmospheric temps, or the last 3-4 years in particular with OHC having leveled out as well.

    The mechanisms that underly this are complex, no disagreement, but you have to look at net energy content. If the consensus view is correct there should be massive amounts of missing energy because CO2, other GHGs, and water content have all continued to increase for the last ten years just the same as they had for the 20 years prior… while temps have stopped increasing and *measured* net energy in the system appears to have essentially flat-lined in recent years.

    In my view this implies that the CO2-to-atmospheric water content correlation between 1980 and 2000 is spurious, as are the relationships derived from it and programmed into the models. Most likely there are bigger players involved that have not been factored in.

    It’s important to note as well that we have no atmospheric water content or OHC data for the 1911-1945 warming that is, from a magnitude standpoint, essentially equal to the increase from 1979-on. We do know that anthropogenic CO2 and other GHG pressures cannot explain it, neither can solar variability. It’s also important to note that OHC data appears to be incomplete (they can only go down so far). Something else is lurking out there, and whatever it is it’s big. This does not imply that there is no impact to CO2, but it seems to have been shoe-horned in as the explanation for recent warming and the mechanisms used to explain that have, again, appeared to have broken for the last 10 or so years.

  517. NickB. says:

    Steve Keohane (09:33:00) :
    This page – I don’t vouch for it necessarily, just ran across it trying to find information on atmospheric water levels but seems to be well written and well sourced – references a NOAA source for the information: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/cgi-bin/data/timeseries/timeseries1.pl

    It seems like no easy task to find out about this stuff – Wiki refers to atmospheric content of water vapor as between 0-4% :(

    Cheers!

  518. ferdiegb says:

    A C Osborn (05:09:03) :

    But there should be major differences between 1914-18, the 1930s and 1933-1945. There were wars and major industrial increases either side of a Major Economic Depression.

    Why don’t the proxies show this?

    The best ice core resolution is about 8 years, thus any relative small change in emissions during a relative short time wouldn’t be measurable. For the period 1910-1920 the emissions varied between 815 and 955 MtC/year, the difference in increase rate, if a fraction of 55% stays in the atmosphere is about 0,05 ppmv, even with the current accuracy of direct measurements not detectable.
    For the 1930′s, the drop in emissions was about 300 MtC/years, thus about 0.08 ppmv, again not measurable in ice cores (1.2 ppmv accuracy at 8 years resolution) and the 1933-1944 period shows an increase in emissions of about 400 MtC/year (900-1300 MtC/yr) or an increase in atmospheric increase of 0.1 ppmv/year…

    Thus the influence even of major disturbances in emissions is rather limited and not measurable in ice cores. The more that fast temperature changes (like El Niño) have far more (temporarely) influence (about 4 ppmv/C).

    How has the CO2 Anomaly remained a dead straight line trend upwards when world temperatures have shown a slight downward trend and so should have man made CO2 during the 2009 world recession?

    The current emissions, until recently, were about 8 GtC/year, that gives an increase of about 2 ppmv/year in the atmosphere. Even if the temperature dropped 0.5 C over the past 10 years, that would translate into a drop of about 0.2 ppmv/year, if there were no emissions. That means that the measured increase would be 1.8 ppmv/yr instead of 2.0 ppmv/yr. Hard to be noticed in the trend…

    I have no recent figures for the emissions, but even with a 20% drop in emissions (but heating got up this winter…), there still would be an increase of 1.6 ppmv/yr, or 1.4 ppmv/yr with the temperature drop (except this winter, as the El Niño did push up ocean temperatures…).

  519. Joel Shore says:

    Richard Courtney says:

    Indeed, the postulate of deterministic chaos as the cause of climate changes has much more empirical evidence than the postulate of radiative forcing.

    Nonsense. The idea of radiative forcing determining climate has lots of strong empirical evidence. Among that evidence is the following:

    (1) Plotting the estimated forcings due to ice albedo and greenhouse gas changes (the latter directly measurable from ice core data and the former determined from sea level data) and of the resulting temperature changes (also from ice core data) show an incredibly good correlation between the radiative forcings and the temperature over several ice age – interglacial cycles. (See Figure 1 here: http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/docs/2008/2008_Hansen_etal.pdf )

    (2) The timing of the glacial – interglacial cycles is strongly correlated with the Milankovitch oscillations which, through well-understood mechanisms provide radiative forcings (that can be well-estimated by considering glacial extent and greenhouse gas concentrations in ice cores). There remain a few mysteries (such as why the periodicity was dominated by 40 K year cycles before about 1 million years ago and then switch to being dominated by 100 K year cycles), but the basic picture is well-accepted and strongly empirically-supported.

    (3) It is based on basic physics (such as energy conservation), and our physical models of the climate system, incorporating this physics, clearly show such responsiveness. They do not show any evidence of deterministic chaos causing significant climate change and noone to my knowledge has produced any climate model having anything close to the realism of the GCMs that gives evidence for this hypothesis.

    Yes, your hypothesis is complete handwaving. You have only handwaving rather than any quantitative agreement with empirical data and you don’t have any demonstration of any sort of even slightly realistic model of climate incorporating known physical laws that demonstrates that the behavior that you claim occurs does occur. If you want to claim that your hypothesis better explains the data from the ice age – interglacial cycles, show us something better than that demonstrated in Figure 1(c) in Hansen’s 2008 paper linked above. Otherwise, you are just blowing hot air.

  520. ferdiegb says: