Eight tenths of a degree? Think of the Grandchildren!

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

James Hansen and others say that we owe it to our Grandchildren to get this climate question right. Hansen says “Grandchildren” with a capital G when he speaks of them so I will continue the practice. I mean, for PR purposes, Grandchildren with a capital letter outrank even Puppies with a capital letter, and I can roll with that.

In any case Hansen got me to thinking about the world of 2050. Many, likely even most people reading this in 2010 will have Grandchildren in 2050. Heck, I might have some myself. So I started to consider the world we will leave our Grandchildren in 2050.

In a recent post here on WUWT, Thomas Fuller floated a proposal that we adopt a couple of degrees as the expected temperature rise over the century. He says in the comments to his thread that

I think we owe it to the people of the world to give them an idea of how much warming they can expect, so they can plan their buildings, businesses, roads and lives. They matter. They don’t care how much of it is due to CO2 or how much is rebound from a LIA due to forcings we don’t understand. They don’t. They probably shouldn’t.

We have temperature rises that we can almost trust from 1958 that show a trend of about 2 degrees for this century if things go on.

To start with, I don’t think we owe people anything more than the scientific truth as we understand it. And if we don’t understand it, as in the case of what the climate may be like over the rest of this century, we definitely owe it to the people to simply say “We don’t know”. Those three little words, so hard to say … so no, we don’t owe people a number if we don’t have one.

Next, predicting the future by extending a linear “trend” is a bad idea, because it puts a totally false air of accuracy and scientific reliability on something that we haven’t much of a clue about, except we’re very sure it’s not linear … As Mark Twain famously wrote of that kind of extrapolation:

In the space of one hundred and seventy-six years the Lower Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles. That is an average of a trifle over one mile and a third per year. Therefore, any calm person, who is not blind or idiotic, can see that in the Old Oolitic Silurian Period, just a million years ago next November, the Lower Mississippi River was upwards of one million three hundred thousand miles long, and stuck out over the Gulf of Mexico like a fishing-rod.

And by the same token any person can see that seven hundred and forty-two years from now the Lower Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long, and Cairo and New Orleans will have joined their streets together, and be plodding comfortably along under a single mayor and a mutual board of aldermen. There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.

So extending linear trends is not a good plan, particularly in our current state of knowledge of the climate. The planet may be warmer in fifty years, or it may be cooler in fifty years, we don’t know.

But let’s set all of those difficulties aside. Here’s Fuller’s proposal graphically, using HadCRUT data. (As an aside, the trend 1958-2010 in the HadCRUT data is actually 1.3° per century, not 2°/century as Fuller states. So his figures are an exaggeration of the historical trend.)

Figure 1. A grapical representation of Thomas Fullers proposal that we decree that expected warming will be 2° over the 21st century. Image Source

However, Fuller’s proposal along with a comment from Michael Tobin got me to thinking. How about that two degrees per century, what if it actually happens? That two degrees has always been the big scare number, the tipping point, the temperature rise that would lead to the dread Thermageddon, the temperature where we fall into planetary immolation. So I got to pondering James Hansen’s statement about the Grandchildren, and also Fullers postulation of a historically unlikely 2°warming this century. Two degrees per century is eight-tenths of a degree by 2050, so my questions were:

What would I do differently if I knew for a fact that my Grandchildren would be eight-tenths of a degree warmer in 2050? Or alternatively, how would I feel if I knew for a fact that I had sentenced my as-yet-unborn Grandchildren in 2050 to live in a world that was eight-tenths of a degree warmer?

And you know, I couldn’t think of one single thing about buildings, or businesses, or roads, or lives, that I’d do differently for eight tenths of a degree by 2050. Not one thing. Even if I knew it was coming, I don’t know what that slight warming will do, so what would I do to get my Grandchildren and Puppies and business and bridges ready for it? How would I know what to do to prepare my buildings and roads and life for eight tenths of a degree of warming?

There might be some adverse outcomes from that eight tenths of a degree of temperature rise threatening my Grandchildren in 2050, but neither I nor anyone else knows what those outcomes might be. We’ll assuredly get an extra flood over here, and one less flood over there, it’s very likely to be drier somewhere and wetter somewhere else, in other words, the climate will do what climate has done since forever — change.

But anyone who says they can predict exactly where the floods and droughts might be in that unknown climate future is blowing smoke. And I don’t know if we could even tell if the average temperature changed by eight-tenths of a degree. Here’s why:

Let’s take a real look at what that means, eight-tenths of a degree. Here is the record for the GHCN climate station nearest to me these days, Santa Rosa, California.

Figure 2. GISS Unadjusted and Adjusted Temperature records, Santa Rosa, CA. Adjusted temperature is shown in transparent red, to show the Unadjusted underneath (blue). Bottom panel shows the amount of the adjustment.

Santa Rosa has pretty good record, mostly complete from 1902 to the present. Now, there are a number of issues with the GISS adjustments to this station. Before adjustment there is a slight cooling, and after adjustment that has become a slight warming. Who knew that the urban heat island might work in reverse? In addition, the adjustment in recent years is very rapid. Seems counterintuitive.

However, none of the details of the adjustment is my issue today. Today, I want to highlight the fact that the adjustment in the Santa Rosa record is about a degree in a century. So the uncertainty in the historical record is at the very least about a degree. And this is a good record.

Now, which one is right, the adjusted or the unajusted temperature? Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell. Why? Because an adjustment of a degree in a century is lost in the noise. We often see winters and summers that are three or four degrees warmer or colder than the preceding year or two. We see warm decades and cool decades. A degree is simply not enough change to notice. The oldest men and women living in Santa Rosa couldn’t tell us whether average temperatures were a degree warmer on average when they were kids than they are now. And our thermometers can’t do any better. We simply don’t know whether the ~ 1°C adjustment to the Santa Rosa record is valid or not.

My point is that the adjustment is almost a full degree. This is slightly larger than the predicted temperature rise in the scary stories about 2050 and the Grandchildren and the Puppies. And since the adjustment of nearly 1°C in Santa Rosa is so small that we can’t determine if the adjustment is correct, why should I be concerned about eight-tenths of a degree in 2050? We can’t even measure temperature to that accuracy in a site with good historical records, and I should worry about that unmeasurable change?? I don’t think so.

So no, I’m sorry. I refuse to be scared, even by Fuller’s exaggeration of a linear extrapolation of a cherry-picked trend. I have no problem if my Grandchildren have to face a world in 2050 that is eight-tenths of a degree warmer than it is now, more power to them. Without alarmist scientists armed with megaphones and performance-enhancing mathematics, how would we even know if it were eight-tenths of a degree warmer in Santa Rosa in 2050? Our scientists can’t decide if there is a 1° change in the Santa Rosa record, and yet we’re supposed to fear a smaller change by 2050? I think not.

And what catastrophes will eight tenths of a degree bring? We see decadal swings in the Santa Rosa record that are much greater than that, and there are no ill effects. Yes, I know there’s hosts of scientists out there telling me that awful things will happen from Thomas Fullers stipulated warming, but here is my question:

First, let’s assume that the AGW folks are correct, and that global warming will lead to global catastrophes of a variety of types, all the biblical plagues plus a host more.  Increasing temperatures is supposed to lead to more extreme weather and terrible outcomes, a perfect storm of hundreds of bad effects in what I have termed “Thermageddon”.

Next, let’s note that the globe has been warming, in fits and starts but generally warming, since the Little Ice Age. Estimates of the amount of the warming are on the order of one and a half to two degrees C.

And finally, note that since 1958 (to use Fuller’s start point) we have had much faster warming for half a century.

So my questions are … where are all of the catastrophes from that couple of degrees of warming since the Little Ice Age, and from the half century fast warming since 1958? I mean, James Hansen would excoriate the Elizabethans because they bequeathed not only their Grandchildren, but their great-great Grandchildren, a warmer world. I don’t know how the Elizabethans slept at night, after wishing a degree or more of warming on their poor innocent Grandchildren. And puppies. But where are the catastrophes from the couple of degrees of slow warming since the 1600s?

Seriously, people keep saying that the problem with the climate is that we can’t do laboratory experiments. But for the past three centuries we have two excellent natural experiments. In the first we saw warming century after century, and yet we didn’t experience Thermageddon. Where are the catastrophes?

Then in the second natural experiment we have the much faster warming Fuller talked about since 1958, as shown in Figure 1. During that time the Pacific atolls have gotten bigger, and Bangladesh has more hectares of land. People are better fed than at any time in history. There has been no increase in extreme weather events. Where are the catastrophes resulting from those two natural experiments in slow and fast warming?

So no, I don’t worry about eight tenths of a degree warming by 2050. I sleep content, knowing that my Grandchildren might actually get to the point where they could measure eight tenths of a degree of warming and have a scientific reason to agree on the size of the adjustments … I figure they’ll be able to do it, they’ll be smarter and richer and more powerful than we are, with undreamed of technologies. Heck, they may find out that it actually did warm by eight-tenths of a degree between now and 2050. And by then they may actually have found out whether or not CO2 is the main planetary temperature control knob. And likely they will have a variety of other energy sources at that time.

But regarding the eight tenths of a degree of warming by 2050, I just don’t see what catastrophes that will cause in the real world for my Grandchildren. It certainly hasn’t caused catastrophes up until now.

But then people say, never mind the Grandchildren, what about the other species? Won’t their ranges change?

I’m at about Latitude 38 North. The global average temperature change as one goes north or south at that latitude is about one degree per hundred miles.

So under the Thomas Fuller 2°C assumption, the average isotherms will move 80 miles north by 2050. Again, this is lost in the noise. These kinds of changes have been happening in the climate since forever. The world generally doesn’t even notice. Eight tenths of a degree is just too small, it is dwarfed by the daily, monthly, annual, and decadal temperature swings.

Oh, people will say, but the warming in this case will be much faster than in the past, that’s where the problem will come in. But those people forget that all life adapts very quickly. It has to because the temperature changes so much and so quickly. When the temperature often changes by three degrees from one year to the next, either up or down, plants and animals must (and can) adapt to that change in a single year. The idea that plants and animals can’t adapt to eight tenths of a degree by 2050 doesn’t make sense, when they can easily adapt to a three degree swing up or down in a single year. And we have seen that in the rapid warming since 1958 that Fuller highlighted, there haven’t been any catastrophes, either among humans, animals, or plants. So the “fast warming causes catastrophes” claim doesn’t work either.

Final Conclusion? I’m sorry to be so contrary, friends, but I just don’t see that even Thomas Fuller’s exaggerated (by historical standards) 2° per century warming will bring any kind of problems or catastrophes. The IPCC’s greatest projected warming is said to occur in the extra-tropics, in the winter, at night.

And at the end of the day, you can call me a callow, unfeeling neo-Elizabethan brute willing to sentence his Grandchildren to a warmer world, but I’m not going to lose sleep over having less frigid December midnights in Helsinki Finland, or over Thomas Fuller’s possible (not guaranteed but only possible) eight tenths of a degree of warming by 2050. Warming has not caused catastrophes in the past, and if future warming does happen, there is no reason to expect catastrophes from that either.

I know mine is a minority view. But to change my mind, you’ll have to show me that warming in the past has caused catastrophes and huge problems. Until then, I’m not going to believe that warming in the future will cause catastrophes and huge problems, especially warming that we can barely measure.

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172 thoughts on “Eight tenths of a degree? Think of the Grandchildren!

  1. This planet has an exceptional thermostat in water. As the temperature rises so water evaporation increases and the temperature starts to fall due to the need for latent heat of evaporation to do this simple task. the water vapour rises and condenses, releasing that heat which leaks to space eventually, and clouds are formed which reflect the incoming solar energy back into space. Even back in the Cretaceous, when CO2 levels were 3000-4000 ppmv, temperatures were only a couple of degrees higher than today. This was due to shallower seas not the CO2, due to an increase in the tectonic plate speed, why we do not know but it did happen. Global temperatures have been fairly even over the past 500Ma despite CO2 levels being above 8000ppmv back then.
    So if you wish to tell your Grandchildren the truth- tell them that CO2 is not the evil gas that some would have them believe. My Grandchildren have been told this.

  2. But, they all scream, “something must be done!”

    I suggest “they” all stand on their heads and wiggle their toes at the sky. Or stand on opposite sides of the planet and jump up and down in an alternating rhythm.

    Just don’t require the rest of us to lose sleep, tax ourselves into an early grave, or pretend to “care” about their Gaian cult.

  3. It’s a very rare occasion that I fully agree with every single thing someone says in an article. This is one of them. Outstanding post.

  4. Willis Eschenbach

    Your always enlightening essays are highly appreciated. You live at about Latitude 38 North. You do not believe that warming in the future will cause catastrophes. I agree! During the last millions of year the earth average temperature had been never higher than a few degrees.

    But what do you think about global cooling? As a diver, navigator, and fisherman with outstanding exercise at sea, you know better than many what is all about the influence of the oceans on our weather and long term weather (climate), and that the oceans are covering two-third of the global space, that their mean depths is more than 3000 meters, and their average temperature is below 4°C. The oceans can set off a cooling within a short period of time, which could bring permanent snow an ice down to the Latitude of 38°North, or even to San Diego and Cap Hatteras.
    Kindly permit to repeat here a comment I submitted to the recent post on WUWT, by Thomas Fuller (October 21, 2010 at 9:36 am):
    #Tom Fuller:
    It seems necessary to accept at least that since the end of the LIA, which saw a number of big volcanic eruptions and tsunamis, a longer lasting global warming was logically “inevitable”. The continuous rise of temperatures had been only interrupted twice, namely:
    ___by the first Arctic warming from 1919 to 1940 affecting the whole Northern Hemisphere (that originated from the ocean , discussed at: http://www.arctic-heats-up.com/ and
    ___the a period of three decades global cooling from 1940 to the mid 1970s, which started with three extreme winters in Europe (1939/40 to 1941/42)
    (that originated from the regional seas (1939-1942) with possible further contribution by the NH oceans since Pearl Harbor since December 1941, discussed at: http://climate-ocean.com/ . In both cases the timing with the two World Wars was very close.
    As the global cooling since 1940 was merely a temporarily disruption, the end-of-LIA temperature rise was to resume, as observed during the last few decades.
    As this two events fall in the area of modern meteorology, and ample data and observations over the last 100 years are available, is seems irresponsible to make any planning based on data from about 1970s, as long as the two events 1919-1940 and 1940 to 1970 are not convincingly investigate

  5. Good article. It makes such sense, to me, and presumably any rational person. So why are there alarmists, and what sort of individual believes them? History rather shows all the forecasts of Armageddon to be fantasy, even to average not-particularly-scientific observers like me, so is the world REALLY that gullible?

    We ALL know the real answer, don’t we – it contains words like “Money”, “Control”, “Bilderberg”, “Fabian”, “Governance”, and “Global” if I’m not much mistaken…

  6. The global mean temperature in 1950 was best of all possible global mean temperatures ….and that’s a fact.

  7. This human animal emigrated from 52°N to 32°S many decades ago and seems to thrive, as do other flora and fauna transported similarly over the last two centuries, roughly 700 miles nearer the equator. This translates to around 7°C change or a little less allowing for altitude.

    Quite happy with the change :)

  8. “…Heck, they may find out that it actually did warm by eight-tenths of a degree between now and 2050…”
    …and that it was great for all concerned!

    “I know mine is a minority view.”
    Not for long at the rate things are going.

  9. Think of the (grand) childeren, did he mean those under the age 5 on this planet that won’t make it during the next 24 hours? Kids that would have been between 40 and 45 years old in 2050 and well on their way of having their own grandchilderen.

  10. When I researched global warming in the 1990’s, I would never have dreamed that we would be fighting the alarmists at this point. Warming is no longer accelerating, it has at least tapered off. The paleo record has revealed natural variability starting with the public release of the Briffa and other data and and people like Milloy pointing out empirically where the hockey stick comes from http://www.junkscience.com/MSU_Temps/Warming_Proxies.html

    I often ask myself, what if the alarmists are right and more CO2 warming is waiting in the “wings” (so to speak). Even if CO2 itself turns out to cause more than a minor amount of warming, the notion of water vapor “feedback” is quite mistaken. The amount of water vapor is not controlled by the underlying warmth from CO2, but rather by the weather itself. Right now, as I type, we have less water vapor in column above me than any time in the last week. That doesn’t have much to do with the temperature, it is chilly, never mind the amount of CO2.

    It should really be no surprise that many alarmists are physicists who have oversimplified the weather and use idealized relationships like the Clausius-Clapeyron relation. See http://climaterealists.com/index.php?id=2494 for a counterexample.

  11. Thoroughly enjoyable read. Thank you. My grandchild, sorry, Grandchild, has been told already and he’s only a year old. I’ll tell him again, and again …..

  12. I too have pondered the consequences of such a small rise in temperature over such an extended period.

    I work by the River Thames in Central London. Every day the tide goes up and down about 20 feet. We have a river wall, built of brick mostly in Victorian times that quite happily restrains the water from flooding the city. And life goes on pretty much as normal day by day ….and the tide goes up and down 20 feet every 12 or so hours.

    If the sealevel were to rise even three feet in fifty years, surely our solution is to put another two or three layers of brick on top of the wall. We have plenty time to plan for it..the Victorians built the whole b….y thing in the 1860s without any modern powered machinery. And after 2012, we will have a national surplus of construction engineers as we will have already staged the best Olympiad ever.

    And London is not alone on its situation. Most of the world’s big cities were originally ports and used to big tidal ranges. Adding a metre here or a yard there to the top of the sea walls should not be any big potatoes!

    So I am hard pressed to find exactly what the perceived problem is. I’ve made the same points to my greenie friends, but they just resort to abuse. Nobody has been able to persuade me that this would be anything other than a minor but annoying problem in construction.

    Can anybody put me right? I have puzzled over this every time I walk across Putney Bridge to get my sandwiches for lunch. Should I be worried that I’m not worried?

    PS – It is true that London also has the Thames barrier to hold back the sea. Its primary purpose is to guard against tidal surges which are a consequence of North Sea gales and a build up of water in the Thames Estuary. It was not built to prevent ‘climate change induced sealevel rise’ and is not expected to be needed in that capacity for many tens if not hundreds of years. Do not confuse the two separate issues.

  13. Suffered 17 degrees C temperature swings yesterday. (+3 deg C outside in the morning; up to +20deg C at work). Nearly died. I guess what saved me was the office was too dry to develop strong water vapor feedback.

  14. Interesting read which puts things in perspective. One small point, would such a temp. increase a move potential crop growing areas in Canada and Siberia further north, opening up vast areas, and negating any loss from a decrease increase in the south? In other small hilly countries such as Wales we would also see a potential move from a limit of 400m altitude and bring in even more agricultural land. I would love to be able to promise my grandchildren such a potential bounty, but I’m not sure Mr.Hansen has read the runes correctly.

  15. Wow,
    it’s very rare to read such a well thought out and well-put but above all logical piece like this.

    It puts the scare stories into context somewhat doesn’t it. Half the time i swear people don’t actually know what it is they’re arguing and just get caught up in the rhetoric.

    0.8 C up north? i’m from the north of england, i’ll happily take that thankyouverymuch- as too will all the local wildlife!

  16. “One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.”
    Mark Twain again,
    Shout it from the rooftops :D:D

  17. In Australia, people migrate from the colder parts to the warmer parts. They like the weather. The same happens in the US. Do many migrate from Florida to New York, unless they need to for work? The biggest consequence of a 0.8 rise would be that people wouldn’t have to move as far to get to more pleasant, warm climates. Of course, 0.8 is so small that they would probably go all the way from New York to Miami anyway, and they would just get the 0.8 as a bonus.

  18. Wow! A whole 0.8 degrees.

    I don’t think most thermostats can maintain room temperature any closer than that.

  19. Extending linear trends is not a good idea….I read that if present trends continue,by 2050 40% of the worlds populati0n will be Elvis Impersonators.

  20. Once again, an excellent piece by Willis.
    History tells us one thing very clearly: when the world gets warmer, mankind prospers. When the world gets colder there are far worse storms, droughts and starvation. Many ancient civilisations died during cold periods. I don’t know of a single one that died when the world was warmer.

    During the Little Ice Age some storms in Europe killed 100,000 (data from H.H.Lamb), and one storm killed 400,000. There were many extreme weather events, for example hail storms that killed all unprotected cattle. Because these events were so extreme and ‘unprecedented’, people believed that they could not be natural. As a result possibly tens of thousands of innocent people were put on trial for the crime of ‘weather cooking’ and executed. There were a few sceptics who spoke out against this madness, but they had to be very brave, as they might quickly find themselves on trial. Does all of this sound horribly familiar? It seems we never learn.
    Actually, we do. Opinion polls in the UK and US clearly show that a strong majority of ordinary people believe that climate change is natural. It’s the climate scientists (who have enormous vested interestes in alarmism) and the politicians (who appear to be incapable of recognising a confidence trick when they see it) that are the problem. If they have their way, the world will squander trillions of dollars trying to solve a problem that almost certainly doesn’t exist.

    No one knows whether the world will be warmer or colder in 50 years. It may well be colder, and that won’t be pleasant. Unfortunately, it puts sceptics in a difficult position. Most would far prefer warming to cooling. But a sustained cooling over coming decades might be the only thing that will prove to the politicians that AGW is nonsense.

    I must confess, I do get pretty angry when I see graphs like this that show the ‘adjustments’. It is outrageous that essentially all the warming comes from adjustments – and adjustments made by people who desperately want to prove AGW.

    It does seem that the warming is man-made, after all – made, that is, by the likes of Hansen and Mann.

    Chris

  21. Brilliant essay Willis.

    It’s a rare piece of clear and logical pragmatism in the Gordian Knot that is CO2 driven Global/Climate/Warming/Change/Disruption ‘science’.

  22. I cannot see how the change of .8 degrees C is somehow out of bounds of the 3.0 to 3.8 degrees C swing of data present in the last 100,000 years of Vostok Ice Core record. The Low reached in the Little Ice Age and the High reached in present time (2010) is fully consistent with the roll-down to -10 to -11 degrees C expected in the next 10,000 years…. just like the roll down to the last Ice Age.
    What if we warm another 2 degrees C?
    This has happened in 3 of the previous 4 interglacials, and in fact, has actually reached twice that amount, 4 degrees C in

  23. continued: October 22, 2010 at 3:50 am
    This has happened in 3 of the previous 4 interglacials, and in fact, has actually reached twice that amount, 4 degrees C in those same previous interglacials, and Life on Earth did not perish, but has handed to this present interglacial a multitude of species.
    The Warming, if it does persist, presents no more danger to Life on Earth than it did before.
    The ‘ What If ‘ doesn’t translate to imminent danger to Grandchildren.

  24. Willis, it may feel like being part of a minority but trust me when the facts are laid out in a common sense way such as you have done here that allows people to come to their own conclusions then the ‘beleive me because I am an expert’ crowd get laughed out of town.
    Labelling me as sceptic or denier doesn’t phase me one bit but my normal comment of CS not BS, Common Sense not Bull S***, generally will make people sit back and think about what they are saying.

  25. Thank you for yet another brilliant essay, Willis!

    It is very strange that people seem to be so frightened of change, even if it is for the better, like a bit more warmth.
    It is also very odd that all those ‘planet-saving’ activists don’t seem to understand that a bit more warmth means less need for heating in Winter, therefore less use of fossil fuels, therefore less CO2 ‘pumped’ or ‘belched’ into the atmosphere.
    But as with die-hard trade unionists, their mindset holds that any change has to be bad and must be resisted, even if it leads to the downfall of a whole industry/Western economics.

    No arguing with stupid, is there …

  26. Willis’ brilliant post could be read alongside some recent comments by Craig Idso et al., for reinforcement of the points made. The Idsos are commenting on a recent article in Science that purports to demonstrate CO2 is the main controller of temperatures. They agree in a sense, but from a very different perspective. Their post is titled “They left Life out of the equations” and focuses on the role of plants as temperature regulators. I’ve always thought that the fact this planet has a biosphere tends to be left out of most theoretical considerations. In these comments, they show how the increase in plant biomass caused by extra CO2 produces gases that *counter* its warming effect, which is an aspect of the biosphere’s regulatory role that I had never heard of. Apparently, this has been observationally verified. (Another regulatory effect worth mentioning is that as plants grow larger and more abundant, the CO2 sinks also increase.)
    I copy the relevant passage:

    http://www.co2science.org/articles/V13/N42/EDIT.php

    […] and in the case in point, CO2 affects earth’s climate in several more ways than through its thermal radiative properties. CO2 is, after all, the elixir of life, promoting plant growth, both on land and throughout the surface waters of the world’s oceans. And this vast assemblage of plant life has the ability to impact earth’s climate in a number of different ways, all of which tend to counteract the heating or cooling effects of carbon dioxide’s thermal radiative forcing as its concentration either rises or falls, thereby helping to maintain earth’s temperature within a range that is conducive to the continued existence, and even flourishing, of the planet’s myriad life forms.

    Time and space do not allow us to go into great detail about these several phenomena in this editorial; but in our website’s Subject Index, under the general heading of Feedback Factors (Biophysical), we report the results of numerous observational studies that describe how earth’s plants — ranging all the way from unicellular algae in the sea, to grasses, shrubs and majestic trees on land — emit copious quantities of gases that are converted to particles in the atmosphere, forming aerosols that reflect significant amounts of incoming solar radiation back to space, thereby cooling the planet, or that serve as condensation nuclei for cloud droplets that create more numerous, more extensive, longer-lasting and brighter clouds that also cool the globe. Therefore, depending on whether the air’s CO2 content is increasing or decreasing, these phenomena result in changes in global radiative forcing similar in magnitude but opposite in sign to the direct thermal forcing induced by the increases or decreases in the air’s CO2 concentration, which suggests that CO2 might well be considered the “principal control knob governing earth’s temperature.” However, CO2 controls the planet’s temperature in such a way as to prevent the occurrence of both unduly hot and cold temperature extremes. Thus, the end result of these several simultaneous and interacting phenomena is that the ongoing rise in the air’s CO2 content is of great benefit to the biosphere, helping to increase both the amount and quality of life on earth, while not materially altering the globe’s temperature, by stimulating biological phenomena that ultimately tend to negate the greenhouse gas’s own global warming potential.”

    Roy Spencer has also commented on the Science article from a different perspective.

  27. Willis, this is a very good post.

    One is always amazed by the so called ‘science’ (or rather lack thereof) behind climate science, but as far as I am concerned, the real sham is the catastrophic predictions behind the AGW scare stories.
    I have long been saying to my friends/colleagues, what if the globe warms by 2degC? So what. The globe has (apparently) warmed by more than 1degC (may be nearly 1.5 deg C) since the 1850s and there have been no disastrous consequences. This in itself suggests that warming of more than 1.5 deg C is no great problem and life (humans, animals and plants) simply adapt.
    Look further back in time at the MWP and the RWP it was far hotter (at least) in the Northern Hemisphere (probably at least 2 deg C hotter than today) and guess what, no evidence of mass extinctions, terrible floods and the like. As I say to my friends and colleagues when have you ever seen a David Attenborough type programme depicting what disasters were unleashed and how the very fabric of life itself was thrust against the edge of mass extinction? The reason there are no such programmes is simply because there was no such natural disasters. In fact, quite the opposite. All historical evidence suggests that mankind flourished in these times. This was an era of great development and advancement of civilisations, eg., Egypt, Greece, Romans, Vikings – mankind never had it so good.
    The upshot is that a world that is warmer by a couple of degrees would be a good thing. All life would find it easier to live.
    I just cannot understand why proper studies are not conducted of the geological and historical past. With proper investigation, one can readily see that the predictions of doom and disaster by the AGW crowd are simply hot air and science fiction.

    By the way, I absolutely loved the Mark Twain quote:

    “There is something fascinating about [climate] science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact” [with respect to Mr Twain, my addition]

    This has to be one of the most insightful observations ever made. The man was a true genius.

  28. Superb post. I especially loved the Mark Twain quote, and was deeply disturbed the the graphed adjustments to the Santa Rosa thermometer record.

    I spent my early years in southeastern Idaho, which has a rather interesting history from a climate perspective. The early settlers, circa 1850s, were pretty discouraged at the killing frosts that occurred every month of the year. They didn’t think they could make a go of it. But they persisted, the climate moderated, and agriculture became a profitable enterprise. I worked for a farmer who was a bit daring and would occasionally try crops that needed a longer growing season than typical for the area. We were all pretty pleased when he was able to make it work.

    Why would we want to turn the clock – and the temperature – back?

    One of my fears is that an energy tax will be implemented globally, and our grandchildren will be poorer, economically enslaved, and less-educated as a result. We really need to shut down the cap-and-tax nonsense if we want anything good for our grandchildren. Thanks Willis for being a warrior on the front lines.

  29. I am picking up my next golden retriever Puppy in mid December. I train all my dogs for Search and Rescue (S&R) capabilities. I am deathly afraid and frightened out of my wits about the world that my Puppy’s Grandpuppies will be left with! I may, infact, have to take on more Puppies for the training regime just to handle all the S&R needs that will clearly arise from all the great catastrophes that will ensue in the coming 40 years. Odd that we can be so callous about the plight of the Puppies, and here these Puppies are growing up to save us from Thermageddon via their S&R skills!

    Save the Puppies! /sarc

  30. Brilliant and well written…
    What is all the fuss about? Its a storm in a teacup!
    Thank You from one callow, unfeeling neo-Elizabethan brute to another :-)

  31. Grandchildren, which grandchildren would that be? What’s that alarmist said again that people will die in the zillions of all sorts of nasty simplified statistical climate phenomenon or of deceases, starvation and thirst brought on by them nasty simplified statistical phenomenon. So who’ll have kids under those future conditions?

    So why spend money today on people who wont exist tomorrow?

  32. Willis, well done indeed, simple concise calm and..shock horror!
    theres no panic fear or frenzy aspect:-)
    without that, this brilliant article will NOT make it to the Msm yaddah yaddah.
    prior to this ,your “Show me the Corpses” was my favorite, but now its a close race indeed.

  33. Good article.
    Maybe you could end it with a paragraph outlining the positive aspects if this tiny bit of heating takes place, as people have outlined above: better agriculture, better for arthritis, less pneumonias :) etc. And if in Siberia it is 10C warmer in the winter at night, from -60C to -50C, what’s so bad about that? And the reminder that the last 400.000 years or so what goes up in temperature, comes down, so what role can linear extrapolation play ?

  34. Ok Willis, Nice piece.

    Just a thought or two. How have the climate belts changed during the 2°C change since the little ice age and the 5°C or more since the ice age?. Is this change linear? I was a young lad in the ’50s and note that our winters have been less snowy and less cold even since the early ’70s (a 0.5 to 0.8°C change, perhaps). What happens to land use as the climatic belts move north, specifically those lands that move into the warmer climate phases from their already warm phase? Does it fall out of use? Can it be inhabited? or do crops grow even better there as well as further north?

    And finally, I agree totally with you on the effects of temps adjustment since the advent of hansenism. I believe that all physicists will same the same thing about data. You take the raw and analyse it. You examen it for ‘quirkiness’. You revisit the data and the experiment to try to create an hypotheses as to why the ‘quirkiness’ appeared. You put forward your hypotheses for review. YOU DO NOT ADJUST THE ORIGINAL DATA. That is criminal in scientific terms.

  35. Natsman says: “So why are there alarmists, and what sort of individual believes them? ”

    Partly because, I would bet, that if you went out into the streets and asked a representative sample of people by how much the planet had supposedly warmed in the last century most people’s guesses would be out by several degrees.
    Presented with the “real” supposed figure most would, I suspect, wonder what all the fuss was about.
    Don’t forget that, unlike here, most people’s information on the subject is gained from alarmist propaganda, disguised or not – which hardly emphasizes piffling numbers like the “actual” rise.

  36. The most potent and irreversible forcing? The human ego.

    Give it a little power and it will spin that into a desire for complete control.

    Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    Never give in to the fevered dreams of those that have betrayed their adherence to the scientific method and the humanistic ideal of “The whole truth and nothing but the Truth.”

  37. 8-balled. hansen eight-balled.

    “Many environmentalists want to save the planet, not mankind. For them, the sophisticated economic reasoning we offer is irrelevant.”

    …-

    “Vaclav Klaus: An anti-human ideology

    Global warming may just be statistical fluctuations

    By Václav Klaus

    The global warming dispute starts with a doctrine which claims that the rough coexistence of climate changes, of growing temperatures and of man-made increments of CO2 in the atmosphere — and what is more, only in a relatively short period of time — is a proof of a causal relationship between these phenomena. To the best of my knowledge there is no such relationship between them. It is, nevertheless, this claim that forms the basis for the doctrine of environmentalism.

    It is not a new doctrine. It has existed under various headings and in various forms and manifestations for centuries, always based on the idea that the starting point of our thinking should be the Earth, the planet or nature, not man or mankind. It has always been accompanied by the plan that we have to come back to the original state of the Earth, unspoiled by us, humans. The adherents of this doctrine have always considered us, the people, a foreign element. They forget that it doesn’t make sense to speak about the world without people because there would be no one to speak. If we take the reasoning of the environmentalists seriously, we find that theirs is an anti-human ideology.

    To reduce the interpretation of the causality of all kinds of climate changes and of global warming to one variable, CO2, or to a small proportion of one variable — human-induced CO2 — is impossible to accept. Elementary rationality and my decades-long experience with econometric modelling and statistical testing of scientific hypotheses tell me that it is impossible to make strong conclusions based on mere correlation of two (or more) time series.

    In addition to this, it is relevant that in this case such a simple correlation does not exist. The rise of global temperature started approximately 150 years ago, but man-made CO2 emissions did not start to grow visibly before the 1940s. Temperature changes also repeatedly moved in the opposite direction than the CO2 emissions trend suggests.

    Theory is crucial and in this case it is missing. Pure statistical analysis does not explain or confirm anything. Two Chinese scientists, Guang Wu and Shaomin Yan, published a study in which they used the random walk model to ­analyze the global temperature fluctuations in the last 160 years. Their results — rather unpleasantly for the global-warming alarmists — show that the random walk model perfectly fits the temperature changes. Because “the random walk model has a perfect fit for the recorded temperature … there is no need to include various man-made factors such as CO2, and non-human factors, such as the Sun” to improve the quality of the model fit, they say. It is an important result. Do other models give a better fit? I have not seen any.

    The untenable argument that there exists a simple causal nexus, a simple functional relationship, between temperature and man-made CO2 is only one part of the whole story and only one tenet of environmentalism. The other, not less important aspect of this doctrine is the claim that there is a very strong and exclusively damaging relationship between temperature and its impact upon nature, upon the Earth and upon the planet.

    The original ambition probably used to be saving the planet for human beings, but we see now that this target has gradually become less and less important. Many environmentalists want to save the planet, not mankind. For them, the sophisticated economic reasoning we offer is irrelevant.

    Only some of them look at mankind. Only with them the debate about the intergenerational discrimination and solidarity and about the proper size of discount rates used in any intertemporal analysis comes into consideration, only here can the economists make use of some of their concepts. The unjustifiably low rate of discount used by the environmentalists was for me the original motivation to enter the discussion.”

    http://opinion.financialpost.com/2010/10/20/vaclav-klaus-an-anti-human-ideology/

    “Forecast

    Isolated flurries”

    http://weather.canoe.ca/Weather/CityOttawaON.html

  38. Swift knew the linear-extrapolating type as well.

    From his description of the Laputans in Gulliver:

    And although they are dexterous enough upon a piece of paper, in the management of the rule, the pencil, and the divider, yet in the common actions and behaviour of life, I have not seen a more clumsy, awkward, and unhandy people, nor so slow and perplexed in their conceptions upon all other subjects, except those of mathematics and music. They are very bad reasoners, and vehemently given to opposition, unless when they happen to be of the right opinion, which is seldom their case. Imagination, fancy, and invention, they are wholly strangers to, nor have any words in their language, by which those ideas can be expressed; the whole compass of their thoughts and mind being shut up within [mathematics].

    But what I chiefly admired, and thought altogether unaccountable, was the strong disposition I observed in them towards news and politics, perpetually inquiring into public affairs, giving their judgments in matters of state, and passionately disputing every inch of a party opinion.

    These people are under continual disquietudes, never enjoying a minute’s peace of ind; and their disturbances proceed from causes which very little affect the rest of mortals. Their apprehensions arise from several changes they dread in the celestial bodies: for instance, that the earth, by the continual approaches of the sun towards it, must, in course of time, be absorbed, or swallowed up; that the face of the sun, will, by degrees, be encrusted with its own effluvia, and give no more light to the world; that the earth very narrowly escaped a brush from the tail of the last comet, which would have infallibly reduced it to ashes; and that the next, which they have calculated for one-and-thirty years hence, will probably destroy us. For if, in its perihelion, it should approach within a certain degree of the sun (as by their calculations they have reason to dread) it will receive a degree of heat ten thousand times more intense than that of red hot glowing iron, and in its absence from the sun, carry a blazing tail ten hundred thousand and fourteen miles long, through which, if the earth should pass at the distance of one hundred thousand miles from the nucleus, or main body of the comet, it must in its passage be set on fire, and reduced to ashes: that the sun, daily spending its rays without any nutriment to supply them, will at last be wholly consumed and annihilated; which must be attended with the destruction of this earth, and of all the planets that receive their light from it.

  39. Thanks, Willis. I appreciate your writing. I agree.

    Did you get this Mr. Fuller? (I know you’re reading, but I’m adding the emphasis.)

    Warmer is better! (Ask the dinosaurs.) Did anyone catch the fact that the science so far indicates that primates and ungulates came on the scene those eons ago when the world was at its probable warmest ever, a full 10°C warmer or so than now?

    I want to address the assumption that our grandchildren will be able to measure 0.1°C accurately in context of weather by 2050. Not!

    I spent years conducting metals tests from -190°C to +500°C. (Breaking things is fun but can be tedious when you have to control temperature.) To reproduce temperatures to within ±2°C requires precision PID controls and active, intelligent tweaking. Reproducibility is a killer. I had my professors and supervisors admonishing me to not be perfectionist about my temperature control. Under most circumstances, with the best available temperature measurement capabilities, accuracy and reproducibility at ±2°C is the best we can claim with certainty. And I’m supposed to get excited about my grandchildren dealing with an increase equal to the known noise? No. I will not. My grandchildren will be fully capable, adaptable, and smart enough to deal with it. Besides, I assert the supposed two-degree increase will be a boon. Life will be better the world over if it is that much warmer.

    Anyway, my point is that we are arguing over numbers we cannot even measure, and there really is no likelihood that we will be able to measure so precisely fifty years from now.

    We cannot do it with a contact thermocouple in a controlled thermal chamber. What makes the warmists and lukewarmers think we can do it for the entire uncontrolled planet? (Mr. Fuller, I’ll watch for a response. I really would like to know why you think we can measure the globe in tenths of degrees.)

    I’ll add, totally out of context, economical fusion-derived power is 20 years away, just as it has been for over 70 years now.

  40. Read Hansen’s wording about his tipping points very carefully.
    He knows he is misleading people by distracting them over his claim about Venus, then he slips in the incredible comment about ‘if we burn all the carbon’.
    For the AGW fear mongering industry, all weather represents AGW, unless it does not, and then it is simply weather.

  41. Spot on, always love your posts. Cold hard logic and reasoning see straight through to the heart of the issue, every time

  42. The apologists like Tom Fuller would rather give up control of their lives to someone else than confront the foolishness of the invented problem. Without using any loaded political historical observations, Tom needs to think about what he and the other apologists give up when the cede control of their lives to someone else and their agenda.

  43. Another beautifully clear-headed and rational post, thank you Willis. Especially thank you for that Mark Twain quote – I’ve not seen that before, and it brilliantly encapsulates the utter stupidity of assuming unchanging linear trends in everything.

  44. s you post here (indeed, your post soliceted this from Willis) it wuould be appropriate and honorable for you to respond to this post. It would be very refreshing to see some one state that their mind is influenced and changed from their former opinion.

  45. Another first class post Willis! Time to publish a group of your posts as a book! It would make a great Xmas present! I would even put a copy away for my 2 year old GREAT Grandson. (I know, pulling rank again!).

    A couple of footnotes:-
    @Latimer Alder says: October 22, 2010 at 2:55 am
    I think I’m right in saying that the Thames Barrier has so far been closed more often to maintain upstream water levels (and thus prevent ponging!) that to resist storm surges.

    and

    After yesterday’s budget announcements in the UK, slashing services, welfare, police numbers and much else (but still not actually CUTTING government expenditure and projected borrowing, only reducing the projected increase!), how pleasant that the Guvmint can still find £2.9 Billion “to help developing countries pursue low carbon growth and adapt to the impact of climate change.”

    That’s right, not providing them with reliable, affordable energy, much less clean water, decent health & education, but to be frittered away on the West’s cAGW scaremongering obsessions. And without doubt, quickly diverted into the kleptocratic African rulers’ Swiss bank accounts.

  46. I am thinking of the grandchildren in 2050-Less cold deaths, especially in the 3rd world. And that’s if Mark Twain’s linear satire doesnt slip in, which it probably maybe will.

  47. I doubt that 0.8 degrees would make a whole lot of difference in growing seasons unless it was all concentrated at the extreme ends of the season, even then its not a big deal, the temperature swings more than that from night to day in most places. Where the diurnal temps don’t swing measurably, the growing season is probably 12 months anyway, ie the tropics.

    If the increased temperatures are measured mostly at night, in the winter, and towards the poles, then there is even less problem. Here in Canada, at night, in the winter, and well north, the difference between -35 and -34.2 is hardly worth writing home about.

    The Canadian Broadcasting Corp (CBC) had one of their scare stories on last night about surviving the future. The gist of the story was that computers have been telling us that there’s a problem for a long time, and now we have even better computers telling us that the problem is even worse than we thought. Pretty depressing if you live in the virtual world described by the silicon gods. Fortunately, we don’t. People need to rely more on what te see and experience first hand than what the simulations tell them.

    Thanks for the thought provoking post Willis.

  48. Thanks, Willis, for clear, scientifically and historically accurate reasoning. I still cannot understand why Thomas fuller is posting on WUWT other than he seems to bring in “traffic”. What is a “luke-warmer” position? There can only be the science; Fuller is corrected again and again, but he continues to make the same bald-faced assertions with little to back up his positions. Once or twice a guest post, fine, but come on, Anthony, lets stick to the science whatever “side” it “supports”. Willis’ positions are clear and they can be checked and debated. With gratitude.

    Thanks, R. de Haan (3:09 a.m.), for the link to Steven Goddard’s essay. Nice geology and nice real history: http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/originals/to_a_geologist_the_past_is_key_to_the_future.pdf

  49. The arctic is known for its cold, desert-like conditions. The growing season ranges from 50 to 60 days. The average winter temperature is -34° C (-30° F), but the average summer temperature is 3-12° C (37-54° F) which enables this biome to sustain life.

    Arctic tundra

    In the Arctic north of 80N, visually, the winter average 244K (-29° C, Summer average ~ 274K (~1° C), annual average ~ 259K (-14° C).
    And we are told to worry that it will increase to -13° C by 2050?
    And that this will cause the Artic to be “entirely” ice free?
    Hmm. I thought ice melted at 0° C!
    Perhaps the problem is having a few more days of Arctic growing season?
    The Minnesotans for global warming wax eloquently about that prospect.

  50. Once again I come in at the end of a long string of comments which have probably already said this, but excellent post Willis!

    The issue of how the climate is changing and by how much (and why, of course) should be a purely scientific discussion, but instead we have turned it into a massive political narrative and governments are racing with each other to destroy their economies over even less quantifiable scare stories. Mankind’s history is one of overcoming adversity through more and more development – this should be our goal. With greater wealth we will cope better with whatever happens – end of story.

    I have accused Tom (Fuller) of being a pessimist and failing to account for human ingenuity. He has countered that he is isn’t and is fully expecting the extra billions of humans to find solutions, but at the same time his articles still all begin with linear extrapolations and showing how these will result in serious problems. This to me is a pessimistic approach – certainly not one that fits with our historical experience.

    At the same time, Tom’s articles have certainly generated much discussion and perhaps articles like your’s here Willis would not have been written without his (Tom’s) push. I am quite prepared to believe that Tom is pushing his “lukewarmer” status as much to be provocative as anything else, but the main point to me seems to be wanting to get beyond arguments of the science into discussion of responses. This would be useful if I thought there was anything differently we should do in response to climate change, but – as Willis so admirably describes here – there is nothing we should do differently.

  51. In the past 30 years Greenland has experienced twice the warming as lower NH latitudes. Yet in the year 2006 there were a total of 19 heads of cattle being kept in Greenland. Viking era artifacts, particularly livestock bones, reveal that one in three heads of livestock routinely kept by Viking farmers were cattle.

    When I start seeing all the CAGW apparatchiks investing in startup agricultural enterprises in Greenland which should be booming “real soon now” thanks to north polar amplification I’ll concede that some of them truly do believe in the AGW dogma. Instead what I actually see them investing in is carbon trading markets and frightfully subsidized alternative energy programs. They are not capitalizing in the areas that stand to benefit the most from global warming but are instead capitalizing on the fears and fake solutions to a narrative future cloaked in ginned up bandwagon “science” to give it an air of authority. Follow the money.

  52. John Nicklin says:
    October 22, 2010 at 6:35 am

    re; growing seasons

    The growing season in Greenland is reported to have increased by 2 weeks (at the end of the season) in the past 30 years. This is cause for celebration there as they get 20 hours of daylight in the summer. If they get two more weeks of growing season it opens up possibilities for agriculture there (apple trees for instance) that haven’t been seen since the Viking farms were overrun by glaciers as the Medieval Warm Period transitioned into the Little Ice Age. Glaciers in Greenland during the MWP were in some cases 15 kilometers inland from where they are now and due to the warming had ample supplies of irrigation water from the melt.

    Presumably, due to polar amplification, if the warming trend continues for another 30 years vast and growing tracts of frozen NH land will become arable. Any shrewd investor convinced that AGW is real should be buying up northern land at the fringe where growing seasons are as yet not quite long enough to sustain any serious agriculture. Governments owning or controlling these tracts should be offering homesteads in these fringe areas to anyone willing to develop it for agriculture. Yet this is not happening. Even governments which on the surface subscribe to the AGW dogma don’t really believe it. Follow the money.

  53. P.S. Get rid of Fuller. He has no business writing articles on a science blog. All it ends up doing is having the commentary dominated by redundant corrections of his most obvious mistakes. This wouldn’t be that bad if he learned from those mistakes but he just glibbly goes on propagating the same misconceptions in article after article. Enough is enough.

  54. Excellent points Willis. I agree. As a scientist I could never understand the worry about such small effects. CO2 goes up by 50 ppm and the world is going to end? The temperature increases by 0.8°C on average over a century and the planet is going to self destruct? The temperature fluctuates 10 or 20 degrees going from night to day….does the planet self destruct on a daily basis? Over millions and millions of years there has always been life on this planet. Surely there were temperature changes of more than 0.8°C per century. With all the volcanism, meteorites, etc. surely the planet isn’t kept in a temerature balance of less than 0.8°C per century?

    And what’s with all the constant fitting of everything to lines and then extrapolating? Linear regressions are only reliable for interpolation. Nothing is ever linear. Even light doesn’t travel in a straight line as described by Einstein. It will bend around masses. Certainly climate is cyclical so a line is never appropriate. Ever. There are feedback and feedforward loops that guarantee it can’t be linear. Maybe exponential or sigmoidal or sinusoidal, but not linear. Ever.

  55. “Think of the Grandchildren!”

    Go on, let’s. Not our grandchildren, but those of the >1 billion very poor Africans and Asian sub-continentals. Even in the astoundingly unlikely event that their birth-rate suddenly drops to 2 per couple, by the time their grandchildren come along, there’ll be >3 billion of them, because the vast majority of generations 1 and 2 will still be alive.

    Is there any realistic possibility that we won’t be killing hundreds of millions more people through starvation and poverty by ‘acting to prevent climate change’ than we could save by diverting resources to helping economic development in those areas? I thought the term ‘megadeaths’ had gone out with the Cold War, but the Warmists seem to be trying to cause a revival.

  56. Great job Willis!
    Just throwing in with many from above: this is a keeper. Do you mind if I commit it to memory (I will credit the source, of course)?

    Funny how dalliance in affairs sets off alarms and common sense rings alarmingly true!
    Especially like the Twain quote.
    Keep up the good work.

  57. A linear extrapolation temperatures to the end of the century is really illogical! It overlooks the fact that we have had two periods of global warming the past century (~1915 to ~1945 and 1977 to 1998) and two of GLOBAL COOLING (1880 to ~1915). Isotope analyses of the Greenland ice cores show that in the past 400 years we have had 40 periods of global warming/cooling with each warm/cool phase lasting an average of 27 years. Why in the world should we ignore the wealth of DATA that these climate changes are based upon and adopt of linear trend from a single 21 year warm phase that is now over? It would actually make more sense to extrapolate the cool phase we have been enjoying for the past decade and decide that we should prepare for our grandchildren to endure global cooling, not warming!

  58. Dave Springer says:
    October 22, 2010 at 7:37 am

    C’mon Dave,
    ‘Misconception’ is, sometimes, a relative term. Given that Tom sits as a self-proclaimed lukewarmer he offers valid viewpoints from that position. He may not cover all the bases all the time but I believe it is important to give voice to all viewpoints here. I am thankful for WUWT’s practice of allowing dissenting and/or lukewarm viewpoints.

    Having said that, IMHO, Willis thoroughly refuted Tom’s earlier post and I would be interested in Tom’s response.

    Tom, care to rebutt Willis?

  59. Good to see Willis is back. Thanks Willis!

    For a moment I was afraid WUWT had turned into a LukeWarm blog.

  60. Hi Willis,

    Although we’ll probably end up agreeing to disagree, this is a nice post with many valid points.

    Perhaps you missed one of the sub themes of my contribution, especially as I consciously tried to understate it. Which is that we owe it to people to tell them the truth, no matter what it is. Currently people are being bombarded by the Joe Romms of this world saying it will be 6 or 7 degrees with sea level rises of 20 feet. People like Michael Tobis are saying that the East Antarctice ice sheet is threatened.

    Temperatures have been rising, and although I know it’s dangerous to extend straight line trends, they have been rising (with and without any help from us) for 160 years. None of the factors that might be presumed to affect that rise (manmade or not) look like they’re ready to stop or go into reverse.

    I agree with you that some places (including North America) look set to benefit from the rise examined in your post. And I firmly believe that people in all parts of the world will be able to adapt to whatever temperature rise we experience.

    But one of the characteristics that makes us so adaptable as a species is the ability to plan ahead.

  61. I believe Grandchildren (with the ‘G’) are those you sired. When with a small ‘g’, those are not yours, although they may be of your spouse.

    In your text you use both. WUWT?

  62. In think it speaks volumes for the unassailable logic of Willis’ excellent post that not a single warmist has even attempted to rebut it. What a pleasant change.

  63. Dave Springer says:
    October 22, 2010 at 7:37 am

    P.S. Get rid of Fuller.

    I wish Tom would just get it through his head that ipcc Climate Science is not real science, including its flight into the blathering “end of days” scenarios which seem to represent its main power over susceptible people, by inviting them to panic and then to accede to its truely disasterous “precautions”.

    Other than than, I’m not worried by anything that the inherently feckless ipcc “Climate Science” says. Scientifically, it’s a Zero.

  64. Willis,
    Thanks for the essay. Well done.

    Thomas Fuller,
    Just above you wrote: “None of the factors that might be presumed to affect that rise (manmade or not) look like they’re ready to stop or go into reverse.”

    Do we even know what those factors are, e.g., the specific factors that led to events such as the LIA and the MWP, and how quickly they may act and how visible the precursors are? Admittedly, I’m not a scientist, but I don’t see a great deal of clarity nor unanimity in these discussions on these events as to cause and effect….so, if we aren’t sure what the factors are, how do we judge whether they are ready to stop or go into reverse?

  65. A really great article. Thanks.

    Especially this…
    “To start with, I don’t think we owe people anything more than the scientific truth as we understand it. And if we don’t understand it, as in the case of what the climate may be like over the rest of this century, we definitely owe it to the people to simply say “We don’t know”. Those three little words, so hard to say … so no, we don’t owe people a number if we don’t have one.”

    This phrase “we (I) don’t know” is the mark of a good intellect, and a good character.

  66. Thanks again Willis for another thought provoking and reality-based article. This should be required reading for all of the climate chicken littles out there.
    For myself, I think that Mr. Fuller’s articles should continue as they bring another point of view to the site and the subsequent discussion of ideas that may not be as skeptical as others is a good thing. Especially so when they result in a counterpoint argument such as the one above.
    Here, at 50N and mid continent, a degree of average warming in the winter would be appreciated. It won’t come fast enough for me to enjoy so I hope to be spending a good portion of the upcoming winters closer to Willis’ latitude. And even more so if we’re heading back to the types of winters we had in the 60s/70s. :)

  67. A damn fine informative and entertaining post Willis…. I too, go to sleep at night knowing all future “G”randchildren and “P”uppies will be safe n’ snug come 2050….. ;-)

  68. Willis;
    Your evaluation of the puedo-dangers of global warming or climate change due to AGW is outstanding. It clearly shows the level of stupidity that the proponents of AGW have reached.
    One paradox that befalls the climate controllers by carbon credits and such is that the affect of CO2 is not linear but logarithmic. A decrease in the amount of CO2 does not decrease the global temperature in a linear manner but in a diminishing rate of return. A large projected increase in global temperature would require a Herculean effort to shut down all the sources of CO2 and to find someway to capture CO2 and bottle it. The people of the western world would have end up freezing in the dark. On the other hand if the projections are small as you use in your post, 0.8 of a degree in 40 years, the issue of a projected increase in temperature is trivial.
    Will your arguments stop the continual predictions of Thermageddon? Has logic worked in the past? Unfortunately, the global warming has long ago left the world of critical reasoning and become a political cause based on religious fervor and belief. Thanks for the great essay. The people who need to read it, won’t.

  69. But one of the characteristics that makes us so adaptable as a species is the ability to plan ahead.

    Thomas Fuller: As you can see and apparently not refute, no one here is concerned about a gradual 2C rise in temperatures by 2100. What sort of “plan[ning] ahead” do you think is required?

    In any event, your 2C scenario won’t satisfy the climate change crowd at all. It’s almost as bad as saying that temperatures will stabilize where they are now. The force of climate change arguments is that we don’t know how much climate will change — it could be as high 4.5C, which I’m not sure even Willis E. would be sanguine about.

    The climate change movement requires their catastrophic scenarios and you are foreclosing that possibility for this century at least.

  70. How many stars are there in the universe?

    hmm. simply because we dont know a number exactly does not imply that we know nothing about the number or the likely range

  71. I had the thermostat set at 72 degrees for our party. Everything was going fine, when suddenly, people all around me started to pass out. I too felt woozy. I didn’t know what to do!

    Luckily, my wife noticed that someone reset the thermostat to 72.8 degrees. She changed it back to 72 degrees and everyone who had passed out woke back up. Man, I had no idea that .8 degrees made such an impact!

    True story, as far as you know.

  72. If not enough dire weather events have happened since the LIA, during the 20th century in Santa Rosa, etc, then there’s the catch-all response:

    It’s in the pipeline!

  73. This is an excellent article from Willis, as was his post yesterday on Fuller’s thread.

    What Fuller proposed yesterday was not science. It was Ravetz’s PNS repackaged for the unthinking masses. This is dangerous politicking; let’s assume a 2 degree temperature rise and give that to the policy makers as if it were fact.

    Thank God Willis is on the case.

  74. Excellent post again, Willis, but you are getting a little behind the play – the George Monbiot and other arch-Greenists of the world are now promoting ‘biodiversity’ and telling the world how improving agricultural method and equipment to feed the world’s peoples is endangering it. Global Warming is so passe it doesn’t frighten the horses anymore. Even Climate Disruption isn’t so scary when the citizens have the facts.
    No wonder only poor George’s acolytes take him seriously any more.

  75. “…so what would I do to get my Grandchildren and Puppies and business and bridges ready for it?”

    Invest in companies that make Bermuda shorts, t-shirts, and portable, battery-powered fans (the ones with the little spray bottle attached). And you might consider buying an air-brush t-shirt booth on the beach, but make sure it’s well above the “rising” tide line. ;)

  76. Steven Mosher says:
    October 22, 2010 at 9:28 am
    How many stars are there in the universe?

    hmm. simply because we dont know a number exactly does not imply that we know nothing about the number or the likely range

    The difference is that no one is demanding that the world put a pistol to our collective heads and pull the trigger based on our uncertain knowledge of the number of stars in the universe, and we probably have a better SWAG on that number than we have for GAT, given that the major satellite and surface station data sets rarely provide a “consensus” number they all agree with for even the GAT anomaly, for points in the era for which we, at least theoretically, should have the best measurements we can currently produce.

  77. Steven Mosher says:
    October 22, 2010 at 9:28 am
    “How many stars are there in the universe?
    hmm. simply because we dont know a number exactly does not imply that we know nothing about the number or the likely range”

    Interesting to think about. I would argue that we have no idea how many stars are in the universe, not even the range. All those little blips on even the highest resolution Hubble images are 1) stars , 2) galaxies or 3) twin galaxies, 4) other? This directly impacts knowing even the magnitude.

    I heard once on NPR I believe (and this is almost unbelievable) that biologists that are worried about endangered species have a huge problem of not even knowing how many species are on the planet.. They don’t even have an idea of the range or order of magnitude. Now I find this almost impossible to believe and haven’t verified this “fact”. But, if it’s true we don’t know the number of species on the planet within an order of magnitude, we can’t possibly know the magnitude of stars in the universe. Come to think of it, do we even know if there’s only one universe?

  78. We certain owe our children and Grandchildren a lot. We have tagged them with many trillions of dollars in debt, and many more trillions of dollars in obligations which they will never be able to get rid of. We have designed a system so that they will be eternally indebted to bankers with no way out (just like us). We have sent them to many unnecessary wars and have destroyed a lot of lives, both physically and mentally. We have loaded their (and our) bodies with thousands of harmful chemicals through either REAL pollution (cut the CO2 crap) or food and water additives. We have indoctrinated them with many half-truths and blatant falsehoods so they can’t tell right from wrong (just like us). Yes, we owe our children and Grandchildren a lot. They have every right to despise us.

  79. Sitting here in AGW sapped/zapped government bureaucracy, my reading of another excerpt from the book of E. during coffee enables me to get on with my day. Thank you so much Willis.

  80. You have written the definitive paper on climate policy for this time. I fully endorse your position. By the way, Richard Lindzen holds a similar position. He has said that debates about tenths of a degree in temperature change are nonsense.

  81. The voice of reason. Where can I sign up?
    Excellent article. I’m myself a grandchild and I already have grandchildren. Nobody in our family would want to blame our ancestors for whatever they did.

  82. Chris Wright says:
    October 22, 2010 at 3:36 am

    Once again, an excellent piece by Willis.
    History tells us one thing very clearly: when the world gets warmer, mankind prospers. When the world gets colder there are far worse storms, droughts and starvation. Many ancient civilisations died during cold periods. I don’t know of a single one that died when the world was warmer.
    _______________________________________________________

    CW, your point is well taken.

    Civilizations as a rule don’t die out from prolonged cold or hot periods, as those periods of climate change are not sudden, cataclysmic events in nature. Historically, peoples affected by climate change either adapt to their new climatic conditions or they migrate to a better climate. Humans have not only survived, but thrived for centuries in both the coldest and hottest regions on the planet.

    If we must “fear” climate change (an absurd notion), it is a much colder world that is far more worrisome to me.

  83. Willis,

    I love your energy and your broadening of the issues at hand. Thanks.

    Upon thinking more and more about the TF position [ which I call the ‘any effect’ of AGW-by-CO2 requires action now position ] I think there is beneath it a more fundamental aspect that we have not been hitting on.

    Is this current period of modern USA history generally special compared to all other periods of USA history? Likewise, is the current period of world history generally special compared to all of modern world history? I mean special in a certain way; special from a cultural/social fear phenomenon and/or the need for cultural/social focus on an evil of some form that needs be social slain.

    Whether or not our recent history is pretty much as it has been for most of modern history wrt to cultural/social fears and targeting evil is an interesting topic to look for the more fundamental source of TF’s position. But not only TF’s position but also all other related to the climate belief system positions that generate fear and identify evils.

    My limited thinking so far says the current history is just another example of an old and recurring Western Civilization need to culturalize/socialize some anxiety or fear and assign some agent of evil that needs to be slain (a dragon if you will) with common social purpose. I think that is what is going on with this climate change belief system (or the AGW-by-CO2 belief system).

    I could be wrong and maybe it is a strictly late 20th century and early 21st century phenomena.

    Sorry that I may not have articulated this well.

    John

  84. Yes!!!

    It’s not the climate that’s changing, it’s the HISTORICAL DATA.

    Back in the early part of this Century, the data were basically sessile. They just sat there, unmoving and unchanging. But then, somewhere around 1990, the data became animate and started to morph.

    First there was one little adjustment, then another, and then another. Old data fell unexpectedly, new data rose overnight like bread dough, a data tipping point was reached, and a data death spiral ensued.

    We are now approaching DATAGEDDON, the end time in which old, formerly reliable data sneaks out at night, threatens to run off with the neighbor boy, and generally refuses to listen to reason.

    Eventually, and it’s inevitable now, all our databases are going to boil away into outer space. The planet will be data-less. Nobody will know what the temperature is, and Civilization As We Know It will collapse.

  85. thomaswfuller says (October 22, 2010 at 8:19 am): “But one of the characteristics that makes us so adaptable as a species is the ability to plan ahead.”

    Robert Burns had something to say about that (and I suspect more than a few recently foreclosed homeowners could add their two cents). “Adaptability” isn’t the result of “planning ahead”, it’s what you need when your best-laid plans don’t work out. As Willis has pointed out, any “plans” we make for upcoming climate change are almost certain to be wrong, so why waste time and money doing anything? IMHO the best “plan” is to make our civilization richer and more scientifically advanced (dare I say “more robust”) so our Grandchildren can more readily “adapt” to whatever is coming.

    Steven Mosher says (October 22, 2010 at 9:28 am): “How many stars are there in the universe?”

    Next week on Non-Sequitur Theater… (How do I insert a roll-eyes smiley here?)

    Willis Eschenbach says: “Until then, I’m not going to believe that warming in the future will cause catastrophes and huge problems, especially warming that we can barely measure.”

    Going…going…gone! Another home run from my favorite WUWT slugger.

  86. I cannot understand how you lot can be so complacent about even the lower figure of 0.4 degrees C / century.

    This will result in BOILING TROPICAL OCEANS in around 18,000 years! And TOTAL MELTDOWN OF ANTARCTICA in less than 9000 years!

    Think of your great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great grandchildren! (assuming life expectancy of 1000 years, giving a ‘generation’ of approx 250 years).

  87. Whatever you think of the data, the post is beautifully written. It’s great to have this particular scare put in a sensible perspective.

  88. IT’S WORSE THAT WE THOUGHT!

    Here’s the proof – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11575415

    22 October 2010 Last updated at 05:53 ET

    Warming ‘destabilises aquatic ecosystems’
    By Mark Kinver Science and environment reporter, BBC News

    Future warming could have “profound implications” for the stability of freshwater ecosystems, a study warns.

    Researchers said warmer water affected the distribution and size of plankton – tiny organisms that form the basis of food chains in aquatic systems.


    The team warmed plankton-containing vessels by 4C (7F) – the temperature by which some of the world’s rivers and lakes could warm over the next century.

  89. I thought it might be interesting to see what a 2 degree Celsius higher annual mean temperature would mean in practical terms, so I took out my old (printed 1970), and therefore presumably unadjusted, climatology textbook which has a big appendix full of climatological data. These are for the then standard period (1931-60), but the differences between towns probably haven’t changed very much.

    This is what I found

    Duluth would become slightly warmer than Bismarck, ND (+1.9)
    Bismarck would become as warm as Great Falls (+2,0)
    Great Falls would become nearly as warm as North Platte (+2.2)
    North Platte would become slightly warmer than Columbus, Ohio (+1,9)
    Columbus would become slightly warmer than St Louis (+1.8)
    St Louis would become nearly as warm as Nashville (+2.3)
    Nashville would become nearly as warm as Abilene (+2.3)
    Abilene would become nearly as warm as New Orleans (+2.1)
    New Orleans would become warmer than Jacksonville (+0.8)
    Jacksonville would not become as warm as Miami (+3.1)
    Miami would become as warm as Mérida, Yucatan (+2.0)
    and Mérida would become as warm as Maracaibo, Venezuela (+2.0)

    I had originally intended to start at Point Barrow, but there wasn’t enough stations in Alaska and Canada. It would take another 8 steps to get from there to Duluth.

    Doesn’t sound too calamitous, does it?

  90. I know mine is a minority view. But to change my mind, you’ll have to show me that warming in the past has caused catastrophes and huge problems. Until then, I’m not going to believe that warming in the future will cause catastrophes and huge problems, especially warming that we can barely measure.

    I think I am going to use this quote somewhere. I hope Willis does not mind.

  91. We need to break the connection between the AGW and Energy conservation. I’m all for conserving energy, but not for the sake of some Druidic theory. I want improvement to conserve resources and reduce prices.

  92. I’m sorry Willis but you have missed the real danger of a 0.8 increase by 2050, one that will have very serious impacts on “our” grandchildren.

    If we truly do see a 0.8 increase by 2050, Global Warming alarmist will not stop and very likely will increase their doomongering. That is a terrible thing that our children shouldn’t have to deal with.

    Nothing we can do about it of course, but won’t we please think of the grandchildren’s puppies.

  93. I’m absolutely sure, 100% positive, without-a-doubt certain, that things on this planet are going to get warmer and colder in the long run and that the ONLY solution is to adjust and evolve –well, if the past is any indicator of what the future holds in store, I am, I am, I am. I am also positive that Mr. Willis Eschenbach is absolutely giving the VERY BEST advice on how to deal with this little problem right here and now and everyone with half a brain cell in their head should listen to him.

    See the following link –

  94. Willis, thank you and Mark Twain for your wit and wisdom. God bless you both.
    Oh, I forgot…. “There is no God, and Karl Marx is his Prophet.”

  95. thomaswfuller says:
    October 22, 2010 at 8:19 am

    “…[W]e owe it to people to tell them the truth, no matter what it is.”

    There is a wide divergence of opinion as to what the future climate will be. The IPCC, NASA and others have been claiming for years that there will be substantial, anthropogenic global warming. Skeptics have been claiming for years that there is too much uncertainty regarding paleo climate, surface temperature records and computer models to know what the global temperature will be in the future, but they believe there is no reason to accept the dire predictions of the IPCC et al.

    Both of these positions have been, and are still being, aired with regularity. Governments and people all over the world are aware of the dispute and have access to the primary arguments. In other words, the people are already being told the truth.

    How is compromising on 2 degrees warming telling the people “the truth, no matter what it is?” Those who genuinely believe that the risk of catastrophic warming are too great should say that they now believe that warming will not be so severe? While skeptics should say that warming is now predictable enough to set a figure of 2 degrees?

    If the CAGWers truly believe what they say about the science, they would be immoral to agree to tell people that warming will be limited to 2 degrees. If skeptics do not agree that 2 degrees is accurate, or that expensive remediation/adaptation is necessary right now, it would be immoral for them to tell the public otherwise. I have trouble seeing this as anything other than urging the vast majority to lie about their true understanding of the state of the science and adopt the lukewarmist position.

  96. For the past couple of years I have challenged the students in my climate course in second year Earth Sciences at Carleton University in Ottawa to give me any examples from the history if civilization when warming hurt society or the environment. So far, in two years, not a single verifiable example has been put forward.

    I think we need to use the argument of the excellent article above more often, namely, if it warms a bit, especially at night in cold places in the winter, so what? We have no instances of this being bad, let alone it being bad that it warmed in more temperate areas where the vast majority of people and nature are found.

  97. Willis, My thoughts exactly. You envoke commen sense, Which is something i have siad here a few times before mainly because i am no scienctist just an old auto mechanic with common sense. Just the fact temp records such as SantaRosa CA. much less other cities around the USA and globe that has been posted here before, showing exactly what you are saying. much less the fact of how species of all kinds have adapted over the milions and billions of yrs. Those that do not adapt will go extinct. IT happened before and will continue whether we like it or not, The one problem I have with these temp sets that are used is WHAT,WHY,AND FOR are these temps being adjusted, I do not see a reason for it, just plot the temps that are recorded ther is no real reason IMO for doing it unless it is done to prove agw[yes no caps just as it deserves] by the warmist. Can you please explain this to me and if not possible in acomment how about it as post or possibly several to help ezplain the science to us layman? Thanks Gray

  98. I live in the UP of Michigan. Winter temperatures can and do get to -30 F or less and summers almost never above 90 F. So everything here lives in world that can have a 120 F degree temperature variation in 1 year. The percent change for .8 C or 2 C increase is 1.4-3%. How could I notice that when it 30 below. So it changes to -29 below to 93 F. I doubt I would wear less clothing at either end of the range.

  99. Eight-tenths of a degree warmer might actually have more advantages than disadvantages for our planet. Did the people who lived through the Medieval Warm Period complain as much about the climate as the people living through the Little Ice Age? I doubt it.

  100. The Thermageddon scenario that James Lovelock and Stewart Brand pose is that as we warm the planet with GHGs, we risk the climate falling into a positive feedback loop in which the climate abruptly shifts to some new equilibrium and in the process kills off a huge amount of flora and fauna and ultimately humans.

    In particular Brand mentions the melting of permafrost in the Arctic which releases vast amounts of methane, which causes more warming, then the tropics are decimated into dead deserts, resulting in the loss of forests which release more CO2 and causes more heating, which warms the oceans causing the oceans to release more CO2, then more heating, and ultimately the oceans’ clathrates break down which release large amounts of methane, which causes even more heating.

    Finally things stabilize around the point of Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum 55 million years ago, when crocodiles swam in the Arctic Sea and snakes grew to the size of school buses in Colombia.

    Now you wouldn’t want that to happen…

  101. To be slightly more accurate here are the high and low for where I live.

    The highest recorded temperature was 98°F in 1921.

    The lowest recorded temperature was -37°F in 1934.

    The percentage change is even smaller than I thought. Also please note dates of high and low.

  102. .8 of a degree? Oh my, my son may have to buy a new air conditioner for his house every 24years instead of every 25years.

    If everyone in the AGW movement is sooooo worried about pollution and CO2 then why aren’t they lighting a fire under the butts of the scientists that have been messing around with fusion for the last 40 years? Bring some fusion reactors on-line and you stand to shut down every coal-fired power plant and most of the automobile internal combustion engines on the planet…. that might make a little dent in the CO2 use, wouldn’t it???

  103. Brilliant, Willis! Your piece now adorns my PC’s desktop. Whenever I take my dogs by car for a walk in the sand dunes, about 6 miles from my home by the Irish sea, I often notice that temperatures can drop by 2 to 3 degC on the way out and rise again by the same amount on return. But we always survive the trip!

  104. Steven Mosher says:
    October 22, 2010 at 9:28 am

    How many stars are there in the universe?

    hmm. simply because we dont know a number exactly does not imply that we know nothing about the number or the likely range

    Mosh, thanks for your thoughts as always. It took me a couple of days to spot the logical flaw in your argument. I am talking about an estimated future planetary temperature trend. You are talking about a count. Counts are much easier to estimate than the future evolution of climate. For starters, counts are static. Also, they are a present value, rather than an estimate of a future event.

    For a count of stars, we have a variety of ways that we can estimate the value. At the most bozo level, we know the number of stars is greater than zero. We have no such hard floor for the temperature trend, it can be less than zero.

    Next, of course is to count the visible stars. That immediately gives us a lower bound to the count.

    From there we can estimate the number of stars in our galaxy and multiply by the number of galaxies to get an estimate of the total number of stars. We can also estimate a maximum value for the number of stars, through knowing the rate of the expansion of the universe and the average mass of a star.

    For estimates of the temperature trend of the planet, on the other hand, we have no such methods to estimate maxima, minima, or exact values. There is no way to put a hard lower bound on the value, as we could with stars. There is a small but non-zero chance of us falling off of a cliff into the onset of the next Ice Age before 2050. There is a larger chance that a solar minimum will depress temperatures for decades. And of course, there’s a good chance that the warming of the last 300 years will continue. So unlike estimating stars, we can’t establish a hard minimum value.

    Nor can we measure part of the temperature trend and multiply by the number of parts, as we can with stars. Because stars are a count and not a measurement, we can say (stars per galaxy) multiplied by (galaxies per universe) = stars per universe. We can’t do that with planetary temperature trends. So your comparison with star counting doesn’t stand up.

    You say:

    simply because we dont know a number exactly does not imply that we know nothing about the number or the likely range

    OK, that’s fair enough. What do we know about the temperature trend between here and 2050, and what is the likely range?

    Yes, I know that the computer models assume (not demonstrate but assume) that the temperature of the planet is controlled by CO2. As a result, the models show the temperature of the planet varying with CO2 concentration. While that is less than shocking, it is also not evidence of future climate states.

    We don’t know what will happen with the sun, with cosmic rays, with volcanoes, with black and brown carbon, with winds, with albedo, with aerosols, with plankton, and all the rest. We don’t know what the effect of all of that will be by 2050. So despite your assurance, we truly don’t know much about the number we are looking for.

    We can, as you suggest, give a range that we think will include the actual result. But here’s the thing. My estimate of the 95% confidence interval (95%CI) of the temperature trend from now to 2050 would be from -0.5 to +1.0 degrees per century. Here’s the problem with that. As you know, a 95%CI that includes zero is not statistically significantly different from zero. So in this case, knowing the range doesn’t really help us a lot.

    And my 95%CI is not any real scientific result. It is a SWAG (a scientific wild-@$$3D guess). There is no mathematical way to establish a real confidence interval on the question, and my SWAG will be different from that of other people who have studied the question. But we can’t really put hard limits on the future climate. So range estimates don’t have much value.

    In short, you are right that we don’t “know nothing about the number”. But we truly have very little information about the number in question, the future temperature trend to 2050.

    Please note that to obviate these questions, I have assumed Thomas Fuller’s historically unsupported estimate of 2° temperature rise this century. I have shown (I think) that even that exaggerated rate of rise will not affect the Grandchildren. Or the Puppies.

    Note also that although I have used Fuller’s estimate in this essay, I think it would be a huge mistake to give people a number like Fuller’s 2° just to have something to plan around. If we don’t know, we don’t know. If we can only give a SWAG and not a scientific result, we should say so explicitly. And if our range of answers includes zero, we should say so and explain what that means.

    w.

  105. Well, I am over 60, and so I could expect to have experienced nearly 1 degree of warming during that time – but can’t say that I’d noticed..
    I do remember halcyon days of my childhood of warm sunny days, I remember rain, and I remember snow lasting for days – in fact I remember black snow that as children we were forbidden to play in just one day after it fell in England’s Yorkshire Dales – the soot from pollution had a profound effect back then.
    I also remember the dire warnings that we were headed for a new ice-age – but no-one panicked over it – it was just a few cranks
    The clean-air act sorted out the black snow, and we began to experience Yorkshire winters as now – and I don’t believe for one second that the winter just gone was that “exceptional” – I have experienced winters just as exceptional. Snowed in for days or weeks at a time – in fact we youths used to head for a remote moorland pub in the hope that we would be snowed in !!!! Regret only once did it happen and we had 3 days to try to drink the place dry – ah halcyon days indeed!
    I must have experienced rising tide, but can’t actually perceive how – the sand at Blackpool remains the same. Perhaps Parkgate on the Wirral could explain why the sea is receding?
    Have I personally experienced Climate Change – YES – over 20 years ago I moved to New Zealand and to a Climate where I don’t see snow other than on the surrounding hills (OK there has been snow one day in all that time – about Y2K) – I have to travel to high-altitudes to find snow here on the North Island.
    From personal experience, I can tell anyone from England that you will get far more from a warming (about 2 degrees in my case) and a far more pleasant year-round weather system despite the wind here in Wellington.
    For me, another 2 degrees – bring it on !!!
    And yes, I do have thoughts are for those less fortunate in places such as the Tropics – and the West could help – if only the Political will allowed – both ours and more especially the despotic dictatorships.
    Andy

  106. huxley says:
    October 22, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    The Thermageddon scenario that James Lovelock and Stewart Brand pose is that as we warm the planet with GHGs, we risk the climate falling into a positive feedback loop in which the climate abruptly shifts to some new equilibrium and in the process kills off a huge amount of flora and fauna and ultimately humans.

    In particular Brand mentions the melting of permafrost in the Arctic which releases vast amounts of methane, which causes more warming, then the tropics are decimated into dead deserts, resulting in the loss of forests which release more CO2 and causes more heating, which warms the oceans causing the oceans to release more CO2, then more heating, and ultimately the oceans’ clathrates break down which release large amounts of methane, which causes even more heating.

    Finally things stabilize around the point of Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum 55 million years ago, when crocodiles swam in the Arctic Sea and snakes grew to the size of school buses in Colombia.

    Now you wouldn’t want that to happen…

    OH NOES …

    Seriously, we are currently at the cold end of the Holocene (the current interglacial period). Ice cores show that eight thousand years or so ago it was a couple of degrees warmer than it is now. In addition, the previous interglacial was even warmer than that.

    In neither case did we see any runaway warming. So the idea that a couple of degrees of warming above our current temperature will cause some huge climate shift is unsupported by history. It was that warm only a few thousand years ago.

    So I’m not going to buy the idea that a couple of degrees of warming will radically destabilize the planet. If so, we would have seen that in the (geologically) recent past, when it was warmer than that.

    Huxley, you can raise any kind of quasi-possible scare scenario you want. But I say again, I have cited periods where 2° of warming did not cause catastrophes. So until you can show me where 2° of warming caused past catastrophes, I will not believe it when you want to cry “Wolf” about some imagined future catastrophe.

  107. Willis: I’m just reporting what I’ve read from the other side of the fence. I burned out on Stewart Brand’s alarmism back in the seventies.

    My point, though, in this topic and the previous, is that Tom Fuller’s 2C compromise won’t satisfy the climate change folks either. The 2C scenario, if accepted and as you demonstrate, isn’t serious enough as a threat to convince people to acquiesce to the big green climate change agenda.

    To get that kind of leverage, the climate change movement needs real catastrophic scenarios, even if they are no more than hand-waving too speculative to include in IPCC reports.

    My impression is that this kind of apocalyptic thinking drives many environmentalists and progressives even though they are somewhat careful not to say so directly lest they get pinned down by skeptics.

    (I do give Brand and Lovelock credit for coming around on nuclear power. They take AGW seriously, therefore they accept the necessity for nuclear power.)

  108. “I know mine is a minority view.” Really?

    I believe that anyone who has seriously thought about this issue has come to that same conclusion. Unless, of course, they make a living saying otherwise. That’s why we “deniers” often call it CAGW. There’s nothing catastrophic about it at all.

  109. Excellent post. If we step back from the debate a bit and just exercise some common sense, there is no reason whatsoever to be concerned about a degree’s change in temperature. While it is possible for our ordinary everyday common sense to deceive us (e.g., quantum mechanics), we need strong evidence to abandon our everyday experience. In terms of CAGW, the evidence just isn’t there yet.

  110. Willis Eschenbach says on October 22, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    huxley says:
    October 22, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    The Thermageddon scenario that James Lovelock and Stewart Brand pose is that as we warm the planet with GHGs, we risk the climate falling into a positive feedback loop in which the climate abruptly shifts to some new equilibrium and in the process kills off a huge amount of flora and fauna and ultimately humans.

    In particular Brand mentions the melting of permafrost in the Arctic which releases vast amounts of methane, which causes more warming, then the tropics are decimated into dead deserts, resulting in the loss of forests which release more CO2 and causes more heating, which warms the oceans causing the oceans to release more CO2, then more heating, and ultimately the oceans’ clathrates break down which release large amounts of methane, which causes even more heating.

    Finally things stabilize around the point of Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum 55 million years ago, when crocodiles swam in the Arctic Sea and snakes grew to the size of school buses in Colombia.

    Now you wouldn’t want that to happen…

    OH NOES …

    Seriously, we are currently at the cold end of the Holocene (the current interglacial period). Ice cores show that eight thousand years or so ago it was a couple of degrees warmer than it is now. In addition, the previous interglacial was even warmer than that.

    In neither case did we see any runaway warming. So the idea that a couple of degrees of warming above our current temperature will cause some huge climate shift is unsupported by history. It was that warm only a few thousand years ago.

    Willis, I think you have misunderstood. They do not claim that temperatures will run away. Rather, they claim we will have to run away from the crocodiles and snakes the size of buses. :-)

  111. Where I live in Canberra, Australia, we often have a daily temperature range of 20ºC (36º F). So of course we are all dead here – after all, a 2º rise will mean the end of life as we know it all over the world! Or will it? Most of us would not even notice it, as it is so far down in the noise or ordinary weather.

  112. Willis
    Great article – as is always with you. The writing style is so enjoyable apart from what you actually say. So great stuff and thanks Willis. But in this the humour just creases me with laughter. Also DirkH at October 22, 2010 at 3:00 am. I love your dry cynical humour as well. I just had to comment after picking myself up off the floor.
    Doug

  113. @polistra

    Mark Twain would, of course, have been familiar with Swift’s work. There was a time when most high school graduates in the US would have been familiar with both Twain and Swift. Those graduates still living form the cadre of sceptics/skeptics we know today.

  114. The problem with this article is that it focuses on the global average temperature change that is projected for the future in a discussion of the consequences and compares that figure with the daily variation in temperature which is much larger. The average temperature change by itself is not what is causing the concern, so Eschenbach is responding to a straw man argument here.

    The real problems associated with temperature increases are increases in catastrophic weather events such as droughts and floods, which result from the exponential increase in evaporation and water content in the atmosphere as a function of temperature. Eschenbach totally ignores this real argument which is based on the dependence of the vapor pressure of water, and is reflected in the results of weather and climate modeling. The projections are that droughts and fires such as were observed in Australia and Russia, and floods such as the recent incident in Pakistan will be more frequent. There is nothing benign about these events.

    The fact that Eschenbach doesn’t feel the need to deal with this argument is appalling. Is it because has never encountered real consequences of global warming as described by scientists, or is purposely ignoring them because it is easy to do, and the cheerleaders who favor his point of view won’t notice.

  115. eadler says:
    October 22, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    “The real problems associated with temperature increases are increases in catastrophic weather events such as droughts and floods, which result from the exponential increase in evaporation and water content in the atmosphere as a function of temperature. Eschenbach totally ignores this real argument which is based on the dependence of the vapor pressure of water, and is reflected in the results of weather and climate modeling. The projections are that droughts and fires such as were observed in Australia and Russia, and floods such as the recent incident in Pakistan will be more frequent. There is nothing benign about these events.”

    The conventional wisdom seems to be that the planet has already experienced significant warming over the last 150 or so years. Presumably you can provide a link to some observational data to show the ” exponential increase in evaporation and water content in the atmosphere as a function of temperature” over that time. I must have missed it, because most of what I’ve come across suggests that the weather is trending toward more average, not more extreme. The much ballyhooed weather events of recent times are not unprecedented, but are merely reiterations of similar events that have occurred before, mostly within our lifetimes, mine at least. They are examples of weather that is definitely not benign, but having spent over six decades in Minnesota I tend to expect weather that is truly benign to be the rarest of all commodities.

  116. eadler says:
    October 22, 2010 at 4:22 pm
    The projections are that droughts and fires such as were observed in Australia and Russia, and floods such as the recent incident in Pakistan will be more frequent. There is nothing benign about these events.

    The fact that Eschenbach doesn’t feel the need to deal with this argument is appalling. Is it because has never encountered real consequences of global warming as described by scientists, or is purposely ignoring them because it is easy to do, and the cheerleaders who favor his point of view won’t notice.
    Your “projections” of more frequent droughts, fires, and floods are nothing more than baseless scaremongering. No, there is nothing benign about them, but then Mother Nature, or Gaia, or whatever you want to call it can be cruel at times. Add to that man’s insistence on living in areas more prone to those types of events and the consequences are magnified many times over. Often, it can be stupid practices like outlawing cutting down brush surrounding homes, such as in Australia, which cause the tragedy to be much greater than it would otherwise.
    I imagine he didn’t address these “issues” because they are so patently absurd, and have been debunked countless times here and elsewhere.
    As for not encountering the “real consequences of global warming”, what you really mean are the imaginary, much-hyped “consequences”, which are pretty much whatever you Alarmists say they are, including completely contradictory ones.
    The kicker is that not only is there no evidence that our weather has become more extreme, or will become so, there is little evidence that our C02 has had much warming effect. There are far more powerful players at work driving the climate. We are but passengers.

  117. eadler says:

    “The real problems associated with temperature increases are increases in catastrophic weather events…”

    Gaia disagrees.

    You should have picked Door #3. Thanx for playing, and Vanna has some lovely parting gifts for you on your way out, including Rice-A-Roni, the San Francisco treat!

    Our next contestant is a housewife from Boise, Idaho, Mrs Lulu Finklestein…

    .

    OK, no more beer tonight.

    click1
    click2
    click3

  118. Eadler; What weather extremes are you talking about, A heatwave in russia or the floods in pakistan, give me a break. That is weather remember, as you warmist are so fond of saying so that argument is out the door. Now if you want an explanation of it i am quite sure Anthony can give you one as any meteorologist can do. When you have high pressure systems that sit over an area like they do here in Texas in the summer it gets hot you know 90s and WAY up. The same as when a low pressure sits over us it brings lower temps and rain. Your so called AGW extreme weather explained so go peddle you cr@p else wear or stay and learn instead of spouting off the warmist dogma. I prefer you stay and learn i hope others feel the same.

  119. Willis
    I agree with everything that you say.

    The person worrying about fires in Australia should just start reading some history.
    Also some mathematics and statistics.
    Specially chaos theory.

    Everyone, please do come to grips with the fact that climate is NOT normally distributed.
    Extreme events occur (and have always occurred).
    Chaotic systems have long fat right hand tails (that stretch far out to the extreme).

    When you study some history, do read that the Murray river in Victoria was so dry many years ago that locals around Echuca used its dry bed as a main road, as it was far smoother than the bush tracks at that time.

    In recent weeks SES voultareers frantically built sand bag walls to prevent the river flooding the town.

    Drought, fire, floods are all extreme (but quite natural) events.
    It’s just that the past does not jump out and grab youl like TV footage of people killed in recent Victorian fires.
    Nevertheless, the past was as real then as the present is now.

    Perspective and a deep understanding of chaos theory is required by anybody studying the climate.
    That’s all.

  120. Here’s an example of the apocalyptic climate change scenario recalling the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum that was current a few years ago. Perhaps they have moved on since then, but it is in Stewart Brand’s latest book, Whole Earth Discipline, that hit the shelves last year.

    …the scientific community failed to adequately anticipate and model several positive feedback loops that profoundly amplify the rate and extent of human-induced climate change. And in the case of global warming, positive feedback loops can have some very negative consequences. The plain fact is, we are fast approaching – and perhaps well past – several tipping points which would make global warming irreversible.

    In an editorial in the Baltimore Sun on December 15th, 2004 this author outlined one such tipping point: a self-reinforcing feedback loop in which higher temperatures caused methane – a powerful heat-trapping greenhouse gas (GHG) – to escape from ice-like structures called clathrates, which raised the temperature which caused more methane to be released and so on. Even though there was strong evidence that this mechanism had contributed to at least two extreme warming events in the geologic past, the scientific community hadn’t yet focused on methane ices in 2004. Even among the few pessimists who had, we believed – or hoped – that we had a decade or so before anything like it began happening again.

    We were wrong.

    In August of 2005 a team of scientists from Oxford and Tomsk University in Russia announced that a massive Siberian peat bog the size of Germany and France combined was melting, releasing billions of tons of methane as it did.

    The last time it got warm enough to set off this feedback loop was 55 million years ago in a period known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum or PETM, when increased volcanic activity released enough GHGs to trigger a series of self-reinforcing methane burps. The resulting warming caused massive die-offs and it took more than a 100,000 years for the earth to recover.

    It’s looks like we’re on the verge of triggering a far worse event. At a recent meeting of the American Academy for the Advancement of Sciences in St. Louis, James Zachos, foremost expert on the PETM reported that greenhouse gasses are accumulating in the atmosphere at thirty times the speed with which they did during the PETM.

    We may have just witnessed the first salvo in what could prove to be an irreversible trip to hell on earth.

    http://statusquomustgo.blogspot.com/2006/02/hotter-faster-worser.html

  121. Steven Mosher says:
    October 22, 2010 at 9:28 am
    How many stars are there in the universe?
    hmm. simply because we dont know a number exactly does not imply that we know nothing about the number or the likely range

    OK so Mr Eschenbach and others have already batted this piece of silliness away but it is such a good analogy that I just had to lend my support to it.

    Based on Hubble telescope observations there where believed to be (ESA figures)something like 10^11 to 10^12 stars in our galaxy, and there are perhaps something like 10^11 or 10^12 galaxies. With this simple calculation you get something like 10^22 to 10^24 stars in the Universe. But note that the error bars in this analogy for climate science already span two orders of magnitude!

    More recently, however, astronomers have thought again. Hubble optical wavelength observations suggested that star formation had reached a peak at roughly seven thousand million years ago. There is now evidence that a lot of early star formation was hidden by thick dust clouds. Formation timescales have been reviewed and a whole different number of stars (with just about the same uncertainty) pops out of the equation.

    So with stars as with climate – we don’t know. (not even approximately Mr Mosher)
    Though it is less likely when counting the stars that the sign will go negative

  122. grayman says on October 22, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    Eadler; What weather extremes are you talking about, A heatwave in russia or the floods in pakistan, give me a break.

    Quite. On Christmas eve, 1974, I experienced the Cyclone that pretty much destroyed Darwin in Australia. In July 1984 I was in Boston for a week-long heatwave … seems that they have them regularly in that area …

    Doesn’t seem like things are very different today.

  123. Hansen wants us to think of the Grandchildren!

    Well, what if he’s wrong. What would our children inherit?
    Lower job expectations, lower living standards, probably shorter live expectancy all due to less freedom to inovate and adjust, if and when necessary.

    I think I’ll trust my Grandchildren and technology to overcome whatever may happen. If we can affect climate as always mentioned we should be able to counter any future changes.

    I love the statements, even if the hockey stick is right where are the changes caused by the last 300 years of warming, or even the tremendous rise of the last 50 years?

    If you look at Fullers graph it only shows a 0.6-0.7°C rise in the last 150 years, that’s only 0.5°C per century at most!

  124. Dude…now here you go applying logic to the issue! What are you thinking? It is warming (doesn’t matter if it’s at night, in the Winter, or in airport runways), it’s warming, so it must be us. We all know the Sun doesn’t do squat, the oceans used to but not this time around…no sir…cosmic rays, schmosmic rays, tis’ definitely us, I can feel it. This is bad. Warm is bad, cold is good, (except when it’s caused by global warming). We are doomed! Can’t you feel that 0.8C change?!? It’s cooking in here…or at least in the science of it. But hey, if you want to sell something, you have to create a market. Econ 101…0.8C bad, holocene optimum…no longer-optimum. May the AMO humble us all…and soon!

  125. eadler says:
    October 22, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    The problem with this article is that it focuses on the global average temperature change that is projected for the future in a discussion of the consequences and compares that figure with the daily variation in temperature which is much larger. The average temperature change by itself is not what is causing the concern, so Eschenbach is responding to a straw man argument here.

    The real problems associated with temperature increases are increases in catastrophic weather events such as droughts and floods, which result from the exponential increase in evaporation and water content in the atmosphere as a function of temperature. Eschenbach totally ignores this real argument which is based on the dependence of the vapor pressure of water, and is reflected in the results of weather and climate modeling. The projections are that droughts and fires such as were observed in Australia and Russia, and floods such as the recent incident in Pakistan will be more frequent. There is nothing benign about these events.

    The fact that Eschenbach doesn’t feel the need to deal with this argument is appalling. Is it because has never encountered real consequences of global warming as described by scientists, or is purposely ignoring them because it is easy to do, and the cheerleaders who favor his point of view won’t notice.

    eadler, thank you for your comments. I have dealt with the issue of extreme events (droughts, floods, and the like) here, as I mentioned above. I have also discussed droughts here as well. So the idea that I have not discussed and dealt with them is not true.

    And again I say, show me the catastrophes. You say:

    The real problems associated with temperature increases are increases in catastrophic weather events such as droughts and floods, which result from the exponential increase in evaporation and water content in the atmosphere as a function of temperature.

    But we have seen three centuries of slow warming, followed by a half-century of fast warming, and your “real problems” haven’t materialized. So you can wave all of the climate models you want in front of my face, but your doomsday predictions of what warming will bring haven’t worked in the past. Droughts and floods haven’t increased, hurricanes haven’t increased, where are the catastrophes?

  126. eadler says:
    October 22, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    The projections are that droughts and fires such as were observed in Australia and Russia, and floods such as the recent incident in Pakistan will be more frequent.

    More frequent than what? Anecdotes don’t prove anything, eadler, nor does bald faced disasterizing according to the utterly simplistic argument that “anything’s possible”. You are simply falling for Climate Science’s unscientific, fear based Propaganda Operation. Life is always “iffy” regardless, and we’re all going to die. Perhaps you should deal with those very personal realities first instead of trying to make everyone else do very stupid things which have no bearing upon your own personal resolution of these facts of life.

  127. Many children born today will see 2100, mind-boggling as that is.
    The global temperature will conservatively be 3 degrees warmer by then.
    I think you short-change them with this kind of apathetic plan-for-nothing approach.

  128. If humans ever do really have the power to “destroy Gia” through accidental means then the real problem, manifested in “The boy who cried “wolf”, will be realized due to the CAGW actions now.

  129. Willis
    wrong.
    “osh, thanks for your thoughts as always. It took me a couple of days to spot the logical flaw in your argument. I am talking about an estimated future planetary temperature trend. You are talking about a count. Counts are much easier to estimate than the future evolution of climate. For starters, counts are static. Also, they are a present value, rather than an estimate of a future event.”

    I am talking about epistemology.

    “And if we don’t understand it, as in the case of what the climate may be like over the rest of this century, we definitely owe it to the people to simply say “We don’t know”. Those three little words, so hard to say … so no, we don’t owe people a number if we don’t have one.”

    We never have “a” number. Not a number about counts, not a number about trends. We have estimates. F=MA is an estimate. It happens to be a very good estimate, but I’ve never seen an experient where the results came out exactly as predicted. And still, if they did they most we can say is “if the laws of the universe stay the same over the next period of time when we test F=MA, we will get the same “certain” results.

    The point is you want to say that we have a moral obligation only to pass on things we are certain about. taxes, death, and logic seems a might small inheritance to pass on.

    In short, I think most if not all of our knowledge has an element of uncertainty, philosphical uncertainty, and that observation means I have a obligation to pass on what I think I know, the limits of what I know, how I figured that I knew it, and the things people should look out for to tell if trusting that estimate was wrong.

    Ya know son, every year if we planted in the spring we had food for the winter. Now I can’t tell you exactly how much food, and I cant say for certain that things wont change. But if you need a good place to start your journey, pick up where I left off. Things might change, but I will give you the rules of thumb I found useful, knee high by the 4th of july ( give er take ). You see Willis there is all sorts of knowledge and know how and rules of thumb and educated guess that we rely on and that you yourself have passed on to others. Like the idea that just because the scietific method worked yesterday, it will work tommorrow. Not a certainty, but something that we pass on.

    So on my view we cannot owe the future generation those things we know. The things we know cant change. we cant owe them what cant withhold. That’s a moral impossibility. We owe them our uncertainty. That’s the real gift. but if you like, just let your kids have only what you know with certainty. 2+2=4. Give them what they already know.

    “Mosh, thanks for your thoughts as always. It took me a couple of days to spot the logical flaw in your argument. I am talking about an estimated future planetary temperature trend. You are talking about a count. Counts are much easier to estimate than the future evolution of climate. For starters, counts are static. Also, they are a present value, rather than an estimate of a future event.”

    But, if you you really want to stick with your distinction between estimating counts and estimating trends. fine. Its roughly 14.5C today, average for the global. Unlike Thomas who estimated a trend for the next 90 years, I wont. I’ll estimate a series of counts. same difference.

  130. Jim D,

    “The global temperature will conservatively be 3 degrees warmer by then.
    I think you short-change them with this kind of apathetic plan-for-nothing approach.”

    You are making the common mistake of confusing pie in the sky fantasy projections based on a myriad of unproven assumptions with hard reality. Take a lesson in science 101.

  131. Steven Mosher,

    Why do you say ” just let your kids have only what you know with certainty”?

    Are we talking about science here? As you well know, the science that is accumulated over time is an audit trail of research papers, theories, methodologies, results and conclusions. Nothing that Willis has said or proposed, changes this in any way.

    Climate scientists will continue to produce their papers with all their variations, from sceptics like Spencer to hardcore warmists like Hansen. Nothing is being ‘witheld’ from the ‘kids’. To say that is to (willfully?) misuderstand what Willis is saying. IMO he is criticising the line that you should take out a figure – a 2C warming plucked from thin air – and give to the world as if it was fact.

    If we follow that line, then you have to decide whose figure gets to be used. Why not Hansens or Lindzens? How can we say ‘this is the figure to use?’ This is politicising of science – perversion really – and is gravely to be regarded.

  132. Jim D says:
    October 22, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    Many children born today will see 2100, mind-boggling as that is.
    The global temperature will conservatively be 3 degrees warmer by then.
    I think you short-change them with this kind of apathetic plan-for-nothing approach.

    No, there is no proof whatsoever that we’ll be 3 or more degrees warmer then. There is nothing “apathetic” about wanting to bring science back into the discussion about climate. But you’re right, we probably should be planning for cooling in the coming decades, with possible LIA conditions by 2050. Despite all the breast-beating and wailing of the Warmists, it is in fact cooling that is more of a danger to mankind, and to all life. The best defense will be healthy, vibrant economies driven by science and technology, which is the opposite of what the climate bedwetters want.

  133. The phrase “Think of the Grandchildren”, of course, is simply an Appeal to Emotion-type of logical fallacy, with the assumption being that unless you believe in the Sky-Is-Falling fairy tale you must be a callous monster who doesn’t care what happens in the future. The irony is that the Alarmists aren’t actually thinking about the Grandchildren at all. True Believers are never concerned about the actual consequences of those Beliefs.

  134. 8/10 degree: Willis if you want to check out now how your grandchildren will do in 2050 just make a trip to San Diego and see how others’ grandchildren are doing now.

  135. Bruce Cobb says: “No, there is no proof whatsoever that we’ll be 3 or more degrees warmer then.”

    I often see the appeal for proofs here. This is not mathematics. You can’t prove it will be 3 degrees warmer in 2100 any more than you can prove that tomorrow’s weather will be sunny. However, you can give confidence levels and that is what the IPCC does. As the decades go by, verification will bear their forecast out, and we have had two or three such decades already to show they are on the right track.

  136. Willis Eschenbach says:
    October 22, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    “eadler says:
    October 22, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    The problem with this article is that it focuses on the global average temperature change that is projected for the future in a discussion of the consequences and compares that figure with the daily variation in temperature which is much larger. The average temperature change by itself is not what is causing the concern, so Eschenbach is responding to a straw man argument here.

    The real problems associated with temperature increases are increases in catastrophic weather events such as droughts and floods, which result from the exponential increase in evaporation and water content in the atmosphere as a function of temperature. Eschenbach totally ignores this real argument which is based on the dependence of the vapor pressure of water, and is reflected in the results of weather and climate modeling. The projections are that droughts and fires such as were observed in Australia and Russia, and floods such as the recent incident in Pakistan will be more frequent. There is nothing benign about these events.

    The fact that Eschenbach doesn’t feel the need to deal with this argument is appalling. Is it because has never encountered real consequences of global warming as described by scientists, or is purposely ignoring them because it is easy to do, and the cheerleaders who favor his point of view won’t notice.

    eadler, thank you for your comments. I have dealt with the issue of extreme events (droughts, floods, and the like) here, as I mentioned above. I have also discussed droughts here as well. So the idea that I have not discussed and dealt with them is not true
    And again I say, show me the catastrophes. You say:

    The real problems associated with temperature increases are increases in catastrophic weather events such as droughts and floods, which result from the exponential increase in evaporation and water content in the atmosphere as a function of temperature.

    But we have seen three centuries of slow warming, followed by a half-century of fast warming, and your “real problems” haven’t materialized. So you can wave all of the climate models you want in front of my face, but your doomsday predictions of what warming will bring haven’t worked in the past. Droughts and floods haven’t increased, hurricanes haven’t increased, where are the catastrophes?”

    In other articles, you may have dealt with the theory that global warming will increase the statistical occurrence of flood and drought, but you didn’t mention these ideas in the above post, to which I was referring. So my contention that your argument, that a temperature increase of 2C or 0.8C is not significant compared to temperature variations, is a reply to a straw man is still correct.

    In addition your first reference above,

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/02/13/congenital-climate-abnormalities/

    doesn’t discuss floods or droughts at all.

    Your analysis in the second reference above,

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/04/18/come-rain-or-come-shine/

    looks at average changes over a long time period, and is designed to avoid observation of the statistics of extreme events of drought and rainfall.

    Your statement that severe droughts and floods have not materialized is clearly incorrect and indicates a failure to observe the obvious. This year has seen unprecedented fires in Russia, due to drought and a heat wave, as well as unprecedented floods in Pakistan, and some extreme record events in the US including floods and record high temperatures. These events in themselves do not permit one to draw the conclusion that they are caused exclusively by global warming occurring in the current time period, but they are certainly consistent with what is expected based on fundamental physical theory underlying weather and climate.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/15/science/earth/15climate.html

    http://www.grist.org/article/2009-08-18-global-warming-triggers-more-disasters/

    “The Bush administration’s U.S. Climate Change Science Program, or CCSP, working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, gathered the latest scientific research in its June 2008 report, “Weather and Climate Extremes in a Changing Climate.” The report’s conclusion:

    In the future, with continued global warming, heat waves and heavy downpours are very likely to further increase in frequency and intensity. Substantial areas of North America are likely to have more frequent droughts of greater severity. Hurricane wind speeds, rainfall intensity, and storm surge levels are likely to increase. The strongest cold season storms are likely to become more frequent, with stronger winds and more extreme wave heights.

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s “Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States” report, released on June 16, 2009, provides reams of scientific data about warmer temperatures, more frequent floods and droughts, more damaging wild fires, and other serious impacts. For example, some of the clearest results from the research show that rainfall patterns will significantly change. These events would only add to the growing number of disaster declarations, which have dramatically risen in the last three decades.”

    For the details you can go to the reports referenced in the article I have quoted above:

    http://downloads.climatescience.gov/sap/sap3-3/sap3-3-final-all.pdf

    http://downloads.globalchange.gov/usimpacts/pdfs/climate-impacts-report.pdf

  137. Jim D says:
    October 23, 2010 at 10:14 am

    I often see the appeal for proofs here. This is not mathematics. You can’t prove it will be 3 degrees warmer in 2100 any more than you can prove that tomorrow’s weather will be sunny. However, you can give confidence levels and that is what the IPCC does. As the decades go by, verification will bear their forecast out, and we have had two or three such decades already to show they are on the right track.

    Yes, Jim, I know all about the IPCC’s confidence game. That is nothing but voodoo science, based on “climate models” which simply assume that C02 is a significant climate forcing. Yes, we’ve had some warming in recent decades, though little in the most recent one. So what? They haven’t shown any connection with C02, other than correlation. That’s called cherry-picking, something you Warmists are expert at.
    Sorry to disappoint, but the coming decades will see the whole manmade warming/climate change/disruption pseudoscientific fairy tale dead and buried. Any who still believe it will be laughed at, and considered in the same vein as flat-earthers, which is all they are.

  138. Eadler.

    Where I was born, Catcliffe in Yorkshire had some pretty bad floods a few years ago. There were a lot of scare stories about increasing floods & homes damaged. What they forgot to mention is that the village I lived in had extended onto the flood plain. The flood was nothing unusual or extreme, it just hadn’t been seen for some years.

    I can say one thing. I don’t know what the climate is going to do. I don’t really think anyone else does either. The only thing I can say with certainty is that it’s going to change.

    I’ve seen cooling & warming. Now I think it’s likely I’ll see cooling again. I could be wrong but I’ll know better in a few years.

    DaveE.

  139. Jim D says:
    October 23, 2010 at 10:14 am

    However, you can give confidence levels and that is what the IPCC does. As the decades go by, verification will bear their forecast out, and we have had two or three such decades already to show they are on the right track.

    Exactly which ipcc Model scenario starting at yr. 2000 has been bourne out? Why is Trenberth worried?

  140. @ eadler,

    If reports of “increases in catastrophic weather events such as droughts and floods” upset you, perhaps you should stop searching for them.
    They have always been happening, it’s just easier to find them now.
    An increase in detection, does not indicate an increase in frequency.

  141. @ eadler, preaching from the New Church of Global Climate Disruption

    “as well as unprecedented floods in Pakistan”

    You mean unprecedented if you don’t count the other 66 they’ve had since 1900 ??

  142. JPeden says “Exactly which ipcc Model scenario starting at yr. 2000 has been bourne out? Why is Trenberth worried?”

    It has been steadily 0.1 C per 10 ppm since about 1980. This is consistent with a log-law feedback from doubling CO2 of 2.8 C, which is within their range, and this range was predicted long before the first IPCC report in 1990-2.
    Trenberth’s concern with the last decade is why it didn’t warm more, but it was warmer than the 90’s anyway.

  143. Come to think of it; most climate history I have read tells me that the planet has never been too hot, but it has been to darned cold in times past. Would a new ice age with permanent ice coverage as far south as Tennessee satisfy the we-are-going-to-burn-to-death crowd alamists?

  144. eadler is in way over his head trying to correct Willis, who has written extensively on droughts and other extreme weather events. None of those events are outside past parameters of natural variability.

    And quoting the NY Times? And Grist?? Please. Pretty soon, just like the NYT eadler will be blaming Bush for Katrina.

    eadler also says he has a problem with observations of daily temperature. Well then, let’s look at the October monthly record from 1895 – 2010. Is anyone frightened? Or December, if you like. One of the ‘fingerprints’ of AGW is warmer winters. Once again, the models are wrong. All of them.

    Another ‘fingerprint’ of AGW is warming at higher latitudes. The Arctic is warming; but the Antarctic is cooling. So much for A G W. The Arctic is simply a regional climate variation.

    Next, comparisons of named storms of greater intensity and severity can never be confirmed. We can now identify storms that could not be identified, or were not even known about, eighty or ninety years or more in the past. It is just speculation, fueled by grant money and confirmation bias. The comparisons can not be verified. Ever.

    What we do know is that even Phil Jones found that the temperature trend regularly repeats. That is more evidence of natural variability.

    In fact, natural variability explains everything we observe. It’s all happened before, and at times to much greater extremes.

    eadler’s alarmism is baseless conjecture, to which he is entitled. But he should not assume it is a successful hypothesis.

  145. thomaswfuller [October 22, 2010 at 8:19 am] says:

    “But one of the characteristics that makes us so adaptable as a species is the ability to plan ahead.”

    Within this non sequitir lies the root of the problem. Adaptability is reactive, Planning Ahead is pro-active and pre-emptive. In the case of the former, as has been explained countless times before, the fact that humans and all other species have adapted already under momentus climate swings (from mile high glaciers to arid deserts to tropical rain forests) completely obliterates the concern over several degrees of variability.

    Far more importantly though, in the case of the latter, there is no planning ahead. It hasn’t happened nor will it ever happen. Sorry! Let’s consider some things that you should be able to control and plan ahead for, things that are in your immediate vicinity with very few variables, things that are under your own roof …

    [3 people] You and your wife cannot plan your one single kid’s life: what diseases he will have, will he be an A or F student, fat or thin, healthy or not, will he mature in one piece or will he lose all his teeth in a football game, will he be a scientist or a burger flipper, a priest or a drug addict, will he be gay or straight, loud and obnoxious or quiet and outspoken, will he be clean or a slob, will he respect you or run away to a commune, will he be honest or will he steal. The day of his birth is only the beginning, nothing but chaos and uncertainty lies ahead for the three of you.

    [2 people] You and your wife cannot plan your own marital life: where you live or work, will you thrive or starve, will you be faithfull or cheat on each other, will she work or stay home, will you own or rent, have friends or be loners, which of you will live longer. They day of your wedding is only the beginning, nothing but chaos and uncertainty lies ahead for the two of you.

    [1 person] You yourself cannot even plan your one and only single life: … [endless list implied] … from the day you become self-aware, nothing but chaos and uncertainty lies ahead for you.

    These are things that are most under your control, probably the ONLY things under your control, with the least amount of variables you will ever encounter, yet there is nothing but chaos and uncertainty ahead. The likelihood of any carefully laid plan succeeding is miniscule.

    This does not mean that you throw up your hands and say ‘my life is over’ and give up. A rational person will still try to perfect their own lives, but a rational person should also recognize a bridge too far. What becomes borderline psychotic is someone even considering laying plans for far into the future for OTHER people who are not under their roof. Furthermore, consider the classic life experience lesson: try to get 3 people in a room to agree to any plan, now try 20, now try thousands and millions spanning multiple lifetimes. The probabability of such a pipedream being agreed upon let alone succeeding is just a hair above zero. And since growing numbers of people like myself have no intention of playing along, regardless of the United Nations or IPCC or Mann or Gore, it is not going to happen.

    So what do we do without a grandiose plan? What we have always done! We do NOT do what the do-gooders want, which is construct artificial barriers and limitations, we don’t confine ourselves to thinking inside a box. Such arbitrary boxes are becoming increasingly common, such as CAFE standards (essentially locked car companies into building dangerous little sh!t boxes while destroying the industry itself), pushing CFL’s and banning incandescents (locking the public into immature LED’s and dangerous fluoros), aborting the fledgling nuclear/steam industry after three-mile-island (locking us into anything but nuclear). These are just three recent examples and in each case the end-users should have been the final arbitrator not the do-gooder influenced powers-that-be. Simply put, there are cases where each and every product or technology can and should be used, but intervention short-circuited the normal development process. Such planning for the future only results in freezing the technological process and locking us a current product.

    We should thank god the generations alive in 1870 or 1914 or 1780 or 1690 (etc) didn’t attempt to proceed with such megalomaniacal presumptive future planning. It took random people thinking outside the box without fascist constraints to make the great leaps from wood burning to coal, whale oil to petroleum, from steam to gasoline, horse to car, nothing to electricity (…etc) and most of this is only a generation removed from living memory. It is no longer hard to imagine being locked into riding horses (or bicycles or rickshaws) by 19th century do-gooders, or balloons instead of planes, wagons instead of trains, props instead of jets, and so on. It is no great leap to imagine 30 years ago freezing computer evolution into Apple over IBM/Microsoft, Motorola over Intel, or whatever. Had those companies wielded the irrational clout of the pre-Climategate AGW cabal anything at all is possible. Think of the skewed timeline in Back To The Future!

    CONCLUSION: my own theory is that at the core of the liberal mind is an unspoken but grudging acceptance of the massive uncertainties of their day to day lives (listed above), which leads them to megalomanical attempts to control the uncontrollable, that is items such as weather, climate, and society itself. Scratch a liberal and just underneath the surface lies a feudal dictator in training. Well I say this to them: micro-manage your own lives, start with your children and see if you can even accomplish that before you think about presuming to alter other peoples lives that you will never meet, and especially future societies yet to be born.

  146. Thanks to the heavy metal in your CFL’s, your Grandchildren will not be able to eat Tuna or Swordfish.

    Haz-Mat Bulbs are on their way!

  147. Delingpole’s comments are a scream!!

    “Wattsy’s site was responsible for another classic this week which you must read if you haven’t already: Willis Eschenbach’s magisterial and hilarious essay “Eight tenths of a degree? Think of the Grandchildren!”

    I met Eschenbach at Heartland: terrifyingly loud shirts and an aura of tousled levity and almost childlike sweetness which might give you the impression that he’s just a barmy eccentric. Make no mistake, though, this man is a genius.

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100060493/warmists-plot-secretly-to-kill-off-the-medieval-warming-period-again/

  148. @eadler,
    You may want to explain how an “exponential increse in evaporation and water content in the atmosphere” (assuming it real) should cause more droughts, as you keep repeating.

    There is no question that *focus* on all kinds of extreme weather events has vastly increased, and the means to detect such events anywhere on the globe have also increased in recent decades. None of that tells you anything about their frequency relative to other periods.

    I have never seen the description of a plausible mechanism by which global warming should cause an increase in *all* these events. It is just asserted that it should be so.

    The contrary argument seems in fact more plausible to me. All weather activity is generated by the temperature difference between the poles and the equator. Global warming takes place disproportionately at high latitudes — tropical temperatures being much more stable. Therefore global warming will reduce this temperature difference. Now, arguing that such a reduction will cause an increase in weather activity is sort of like arguing that reducing the voltage in a circuit will increase the current.

  149. Smokey says:
    October 22, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    eadler says:

    “The real problems associated with temperature increases are increases in catastrophic weather events…”

    Gaia disagrees.

    You should have picked Door #3. Thanx for playing, and Vanna has some lovely parting gifts for you on your way out, including Rice-A-Roni, the San Francisco treat!

    Our next contestant is a housewife from Boise, Idaho, Mrs Lulu Finklestein…

    .

    OK, no more beer tonight.

    click1
    click2
    click3

    I think your victory celebration is not justified.
    The data looks impressive until you enquire into it more deeply. The reduction in death data from extreme events during 1900-2006 is not due to a reduction of the incidence of extreme events, but rather due to the improved ability to respond to these incidents and prevent mortality. This is explained by the author of the paper who produced the graph in your link.

    http://www.csccc.info/reports/report_23.pdf

    If extreme weather has indeed become more extreme for whatever reason, global and U.S. declines in mortality and mortality rates are perhaps due to increases in societies’ collective adaptive capacities. This enhanced adaptive capacity is associated with a variety of interrelated factors – greater wealth, increases in technological options, and greater access to and availability of human and social capital – although luck may have played a role.

    The theory of global warming has made no predictions regarding the incidence of tornados in the US above the level of force 3, the graph you claimed shows that predictions of extreme drought and flood events are wrong.

    In fact, in the US, the incidence of drought events has increased. Check out the graph on page 23 of the following report:

    http://downloads.climatescience.gov/sap/sap3-3/sap3-3-final-all.pdf

    This shows drought in the Western United States, which has always been at risk for drought, has increased rapidly since 1950.

    This is consistent with projections based on climate models which project drier areas will get drier, as the earth heats up.

    On page 47 there is a figure which shows that in areas normally subject to high levels of precipitation, there is an increasing trend in the occurrence of such events.

    On page 50, there is a graph which shows that there has been an increase in the Frequency (expressed as a percentage anomaly from the period of
    record average) of excessive precipitation periods of 90 day duration exceeding
    a 1-in-20-year event threshold for the U.S.

    There is data which confirms that projected increases in average global temperature should result in increases in drought and flood events.

  150. Jim D says:
    October 23, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    JPeden says “Exactly which ipcc Model scenario starting at yr. 2000 has been bourne out? Why is Trenberth worried?”

    It has been steadily 0.1 C per 10 ppm since about 1980. This is consistent with a log-law feedback from doubling CO2 of 2.8 C, which is within their range, and this range was predicted long before the first IPCC report in 1990-2.
    Trenberth’s concern with the last decade is why it didn’t warm more, but it was warmer than the 90′s anyway.

    From which I conclude that you can show me no CO2AGW Model scenario which was bourne out by the post 2000 temp. record – even Jones agrees that there’s been no warming since 1995 – and that that’s why Trenberth is worried; because the post-2000 temp. record is in fact inconsistent with output from the CO2AGW warming Models.

    Surely you would agree that the actual course of events at least casts some doubt upon the CO2AGW hypothesis?

  151. eadler says:

    “There is data which confirms that projected increases in average global temperature should result in increases in drought and flood events.”

    Please provide that data — and make sure it is neither raw [not “adjusted”] data, nor computer model output.

    Thanx in advance.

  152. That’s telling like it is, Willis, I couldn’t agree more. But you brought out the recent temperature rise and ArndB (2:37 A.M.) then brought in the influence of the ocean, both of which are important in the present day. AB thinks the temperature drop in 1940 was oceanic in nature which I did not know but find believable. Finally, I thought, someone who knows something about temperature which NASA, NOAA, and Met Office have screwed up with an imaginary heat wave. But that is not the only thing they have screwed up. They also show warming in the eighties and nineties which did not happen despite Hansen’s testimony in 1988. This period was actually a period of oscillating temperature, up and down by half a degree for twenty years, but no rise until 1998. That is ten years after Hansen spoke. The oscillations trace out five ENSO cycles of El Ninos alternating with La Ninas when the 1998 super El Nino comes in and temporarily lifts global temperature by a full degree Celsius. It turned out that it did not belong to ENSO but was interpolated between two ENSO cycles. What caused it was a huge amount of warm water dumped at the start of the equatorial countercurrent near New Guinea by a storm surge. The countercurrent is the route that all El Ninos take to cross the ocean but this one was bigger than any of the regular ones. The warm water it brought to South America lingered and was responsible for the temperature rise in the aftermath of the super El Nino. Starting in 1998 the global temperature rose by a third of a degree in only four years and then stopped. What followed was what I call the twenty-first century high – a period of six years when the temperature stayed high but did not go anywhere. But catbon dioxide kept going up and so did all the model predictions including Hansen’s. Not one model predicted absence of warming for this period and when cooling arrived in 2008 in the form of a La Nina they did not know what hit them. The shape of the La Nina was obvious to me last year when I was writing the book and I knew the oscillating climate of the eighties and nineties had returned. I was right because it was followed by the El Nino of 2010 which has now peaked and is being followed by aLa Nina that is already on the way. The satellite temperature record which thirty one years old by now can be divided into three sections: the oscillating temperature of the eighties and nineties, the super El Nino and its aftermath, and a new oscillating region starting with the La Nina of 2008. The center line of the oscillations in the eighties and nineties lines up with the mean temperature of the sixties and seventies, meaning that there was no warming whatsoever until the super El Nino of 1998 arrived. The warming you see during this period in official temperature curves is cooked. That means falsified and I show how it was done. So now we have a horizontal temperature trend for twenty years, followed by a four year transition by a third of a degree to the twenty-first century high which is also a horizontal trend until the present oscillating temperatures begin. I extended the trend of the twenty-first century high to see where it leads and found that it neatly divides the line connecting the bottom of the 2008 La Nina and the tip of the 2010 El Nino. From this you would have to say that the twenty-first century high will effectively continue with its present temperature. But why? It was created by the warm water that came over with the super El Nino but now it is twelve years since then and it should be cooling or dissipating which I don’t see. It’s origin was oceanic in that sense and what AB had to say started me thinking about the possibility of an oceanic climate change right in front of our eyes.

  153. JPeden, my answer to that is natural variability. Yes, the oceans can cause natural variability, as can the solar minimum we just had. We have seen up to half a degree amplitude swings due to El Nino. This is small compared to 3 C expected from CO2, however, and I don’t see how even the famed 60 year cycle can rise to that amplitude considering it hasn’t shown anything like that much in the past.

  154. @eadler

    The reduction in death data from extreme events during 1900-2006 is not due to a reduction of the incidence of extreme events, but rather due to the improved ability to respond to these incidents and prevent mortality.

    Ok…lets assunme that this is true. So why should we worry about these events. They occur – sure. But we’re better at coping with them than we used to be.

    Few people in developed countries nowadays die of the old dread diseases…cholera, tuberculosis etc.Because we have developed good ways (eg drugs) of coping with them. They still exist and are a problem. But not any longer the automatic death sentence that they used to be. There are ways to cope. We as a species got better at understanding and living with these nasties.

    Why should a few more ‘extreme weather events’ be treated any differently – even if all the doomongers predictions are bang on the money?

  155. Steven Mosher says:
    October 23, 2010 at 12:29 am

    “Mosh, thanks for your thoughts as always. It took me a couple of days to spot the logical flaw in your argument. I am talking about an estimated future planetary temperature trend. You are talking about a count. Counts are much easier to estimate than the future evolution of climate. For starters, counts are static. Also, they are a present value, rather than an estimate of a future event.”

    But, if you you really want to stick with your distinction between estimating counts and estimating trends. fine. Its roughly 14.5C today, average for the global. Unlike Thomas who estimated a trend for the next 90 years, I wont. I’ll estimate a series of counts. same difference.

    No, it’s not the “same difference”. A count of stars is a count of something that exists today. It can be estimated in a variety of ways.

    The future evolution of the climate, on the other hand, is something about which we have very little information. There is no agreed upon way to estimate it.

    Remember this started when you said:

    How many stars are there in the universe?

    hmm. simply because we dont know a number exactly does not imply that we know nothing about the number or the likely range

    I am simply pointing out that regarding the climate in 2050, we know very little about either the size or the range of the trend from here to there. There are credible scientists out there that claim it will be cooler. Who knows? Not one climate model that I know of forecast the lack of warming in the first decade of the 21st century, so that gives no credence to their claims. Yes, they claim it will be warmer in 2050 … but they made that same claim about 2010.

    So while we know quite a bit about the number of stars, we know little about the climate of 2050.

  156. Oh, Steven Mosher, one other thing. You said regarding the Grandchildren:

    We owe them our uncertainty. That’s the real gift.

    I couldn’t agree more, and I couldn’t say it better.

    w.

  157. Jim D says:
    October 23, 2010 at 10:14 am


    I often see the appeal for proofs here. This is not mathematics. You can’t prove it will be 3 degrees warmer in 2100 any more than you can prove that tomorrow’s weather will be sunny. However, you can give confidence levels and that is what the IPCC does. As the decades go by, verification will bear their forecast out, and we have had two or three such decades already to show they are on the right track.

    Right track? The first decade of the 21st century shows no statistically significant warming. The IPCC didn’t predict that (or project it, or forecast it, or scenarificate it, or whatever they call it). So whatever track the IPCC are on, the actual climate is on a different track. And at the moment, it’s a flat track.

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