Pielke Sr. on Climate Science Myopia

By Dr. Roger Pielke Sr.

There is an article

Global warming lull down to China’s coal growth by Richard Black of the BBC which perpetuate an inappropriately narrow view of climate science. The article headlines with the text

“The lull in global warming from 1998 to 2008 was mainly caused by a sharp rise in China’s coal use, a study suggests.”

This article makes the common major erroneous statement that global warming from CO2 and a few other greenhouse gases is climate change.  This is NOT true. As we document in our article

Pielke Sr., R., K. Beven, G. Brasseur, J. Calvert, M. Chahine, R. Dickerson, D. Entekhabi, E. Foufoula-Georgiou, H. Gupta, V. Gupta, W. Krajewski, E. Philip Krider, W. K.M. Lau, J. McDonnell,  W. Rossow,  J. Schaake, J. Smith, S. Sorooshian,  and E. Wood, 2009: Climate change: The need to consider human forcings besides greenhouse gases. Eos, Vol. 90, No. 45, 10 November 2009, 413. Copyright (2009) American Geophysical Union

“Although the natural causes of climate variations and changes are undoubtedly important, the human influences are significant and involve a diverse range of first-order climate forcings, including, but not limited to, the human input of carbon dioxide (CO2). Most, if not all, of these human influences on regional and global climate will continue to be of concern during the coming decades.”

The claim that CO2 dominates climate change in the multi-decadal time period has been clearly FALSIFIED.

The end of the Richard Black article reads

“The last two years’ data suggest temperatures are once more beginning to rise; but how fast this happens depends on a number of factors.

One is how quickly the rapidly industrialising countries mandate the fitting of equipment that removes sulphate particles.

Another is solar activity. Recently, it showed signs of picking up as the Sun enters a new cycle of activity, although recent research raises the possibility of a new lull.

Other research groups, meanwhile, have produced evidence showing that natural cycles of ocean temperature, such as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, may restrain temperatures for another decade or so.

Uncertainties over aspects of the Earth’s immensely complex climate system, such as melting ice and the behaviour of clouds, could also skew the overall picture.

But Robert Kaufmann is in no doubt that temperatures will pick up if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise.

“People can choose not to believe in [man-made] climate change – but the correct term here is ‘belief’ – believing is an act of faith, whereas science is a testing of hypotheses and seeing whether they hold up against real world data.

‘Even before this paper there wasn’t much scientific evidence for denying climate change, and now I don’t see any credible scientific contradiction – if people don’t believe it, it’ll be because they choose not to believe it.’”

Robert Kaufmann is correct that

“….science is a testing of hypotheses and seeing whether they hold up against real world data.”

We have performed such a test on the hypothesis that CO2 and a few other greenhouse dominates climate change and have clearly shown this to be a falsified hypothesis.  The human role in climate change is much more than the positive radiative effect from added CO2 and a few other greenhouse gases.

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75 thoughts on “Pielke Sr. on Climate Science Myopia

  1. Now that we know pollution, especially Chinese pollution, stops global warming…….
    …can we go back to having fun now

    It’s no coincidence that they like to start their temperature graphs right after the first clean air act…
    …now we know it was the clean air act that caused temperatures to rise

    //////snarkysnark

  2. Now that we know pollution, especially Chinese pollution, stops global warming…….
    …can we go back to having fun now

    It’s no coincidence that they like to start their temperature graphs right after the first clean air act…
    …now we know it was the clean air act that caused temperatures to rise

    /snark

  3. “The claim that CO2 dominates climate change in the multi-decadal time period has been clearly FALSIFIED.”

    I think this is the first time I’ve seen him say this so clearly and adamantly (sure, I might have missed it). I wonder if he’ll update his “Main Conclusions” page to reflect this. That would be pretty remarkable.

  4. In the 70s burning coal was blamed for global cooling.
    In the 90s burning coal was blamed for global warming
    in the 10s burning coal was blamed for global warming and hiding global warming at the same time.
    Clearly the problem is burning coal and the science is settled!

  5. Not to mention that SO2 is a short-lived local agent. And emitted in the wrong hemisphere to explain the bulk of the cooling.

  6. Land use change has been proven to not be cause of current Global warming as the Stratosphere is cooling, it would be warming if land use was driving warming.

  7. Well yes, Dr Pielke, but when human causes of global warming are added to the other forcings, we get a cumulative problem which causes great concern. The resulting heat has to be absorbed somewhere, doesn’t it? How much additional heat can the oceans absorb? What are the consequences of present, not to mention future absorption?

  8. So what “first-order climate forcings” other than CO2 are we talking about here?

    I can think of a few candidates:

    1. Deforestation (e.g. shrinking snow cover on Mt. Kilimanjaro);
    2. Agriculture (change albedo from the “natural” state; more H2O vapor from via irrigation & evaporation — as I recall Anthony attributed a temp rise in one well-sited California surface station to increased local irrigation & H20 “greenhouse” effect)
    3. Soot on glaciers and arctic ice
    4. Aerosols, both as direct sunlight blockers and as cloud nucleation enhancers (e.g. contrails)
    5. Urban heat islands

    What others?

  9. It is hard to think of anything more bizarre than the claim that China has single handedly caused a slow down in the rate of global warming. The phrase “clutching at a straw” comes to mind.
    The Pielke article is simply loaded with common sense.

  10. ” The human role in climate change is much more than the positive radiative effect from added CO2 and a few other greenhouse gases.”

    I do not disagree with this approach including the looking at land-use changes as possible forms of changes in the climate, but lets not forget that natural variation might indeed be the culprit for “most” of the observed changes. This means that until we find out where natural variation ends and human impacts begin, we are hopelessly lost in this tug of war of finding the truth (the goal of science obviously.)

    Do not think this is a let-down to studying a hypothesis which is not popular. I by all means think that we need to study the possibilities to the letter, but until we find out the true range of natural variation (which we are getting closer to) we are lost when it comes to estimating what humans are actually doing to the planet in actuality.

    Regardless, it never hurts to be cautious and to try our best to live with the planet as an environmentalist, but lets never forget that we need to live here too and that it might be a selfish desire, but I don’t care. Humans need to be the number one resources and the number one species as far as humans are concerned. This has to be realized, and if we can better our planet and other species with that in mind, lets do it…as long as we figure out potential pit-falls as well before we act.

    That being said, I predict we will seriously see the imprint of man from something other then CO2 long before we find the CO2 fingerprint. Until then, I still highly recommend finding where natural variation ends and man’s impact begins…until then, all we are doing is guessing about the actual effects of our impacts on the planet. Guesses are fine for most applications, but when you want to re-work society….yea its just not even feasible.

    But please do not take this as a slight, I realize how difficult of a science this can be with sceptics such as me on one side and warmists on the other who all tend to get political nowadays….

  11. It’s Richard Black, what could anybody pretend? He’s got his “narrative” and nothing, nothing, nothing will make him change his mind.

    It’s all quaint stuff from the BBC, unless you’re interested in the reality of the world that is.

  12. Translation: Now moot is the gun barrel enforced religious symbolic act of mercurially sacrificing Edison bulbs while churningly turning remaining pristine windy hills and mountains and oceans too into power line and access path fouled support networks for monstrous bird-chopping industrial towers, the shadow-casting bat lung blasting icons of the Church of Climatology, the swinging knives of The Green Bank Authority.

    The stolen armor of science falls down before it, yet inertia of the fall itself of this giant now carries the power grab along, re-energizing it in crucial moment, impossibly, birthing toothy clawed green babes. Up until one century ago there lived, in the Zi Duang province of eastern country, a glass-like spider. Having devoured its prey it would drape the skeletons over its web, creating a macabre shrine of remains. Its web was also unique in that it had many layers, like floors of a building. At the top of this palace-like place, assembled with almost apparent care, were tiny shining objects, glass, beads, dew-drops. One could almost call it an altar. When the breeze blew thru this construction, it produced sounds of wailing, crying.

    Tiny wails, tiny cries.

    The baby spiders would get scared and search frantically for their mother. But the Glass Spider would have long gone, having known that the babies would survive somehow on their own.

    Now the fast track light bulb ban has garnered fleeting attention, it’s up for normal track vote, likely tomorrow, one that needs only majority instead of super majority support, attached to another bill, in the usual way. Here is a site for you that automatically determines who your representative is and allows you send an e-mail to them, specifically about the sacrifice of greatness to the false gods of falsified science:

    http://www.capwiz.com/freedomaction/issues/alert/?alertid=51427566&type=CO

    It’s not likely to pass easily into Mr. Bill Becomes A Law, but this will make the GINO (“Green In Name Only”) Demagogues now adopt the prematurely birthed Bush Jr. bulb ban, after Climagegate and various IPCCgates have revealed that all was not right in the state of Denmark, centered around Copenhagen, wherein Man deemed fit to control the weather.

    We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget.

    -=Xenon=-

  13. I give up. The article makes no sense. I can’t even figure out where the author stands. Could we have some plain English, please, where who said what is clearly identified and claims are backed up by logic?

  14. Gary Hladik – Please see

    Pielke Sr., Roger A., 2008: A Broader View of the Role of Humans in the Climate System is Required In the Assessment of Costs and Benefits of Effective Climate Policy. Written Testimony for the Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality of the Committee on Energy and Commerce Hearing “Climate Change: Costs of Inaction” – Honorable Rick Boucher, Chairman. June 26, 2008, Washington, DC., 52 pp.

    http://pielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/testimony-written.pdf

  15. P Sr: “The claim that CO2 dominates climate change in the multi-decadal time period has been clearly FALSIFIED.”

    Your article you reference is merely an essay arguing that other human activities are also contributing to climate change. It is just an opinion piece. You can’t cite your own opinion as proof your opinion is correct. The essay ignores the obvious fact that CO2 builds up in the atmosphere and thus will likely dominate other human activities in causing climate change.

  16. jcrabb says:
    July 14, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Land use change has been proven to not be cause of current Global warming as the Stratosphere is cooling, it would be warming if land use was driving warming.

    Please show us a graph that is consistent with ghg increases cooling the stratosphere.

    An overlay of tropospheric CO2 content with stratospheric temperature would be informative.

  17. DCC,

    The article was clear to me.

    “Carbon” has been demonized by self-serving grant hogs. Whatever effect CO2 may have is negligible compared with all the other forcings, both anthropogenic and, especially, natural variability. The climate has been much colder prior to the industrial revolution, and much warmer at various times. And the only correlation between T and CO2 is that CO2 follows temperature, not vice-versa.

  18. DCC says: (July 14, 2011 at 5:59 pm)
    “I can’t even figure out where the author stands”
    But this very question is the problem with climate science.
    Ask rather; “What new evidence does the author provide?”
    That way we can cease to stand and start to move forward.

  19. John M says:

    “Please show us a graph that is consistent with ghg increases cooling the stratosphere.”

    The original climate alarmist prediction was that the “fingerprint of global warming” would be a rapidly warming Troposphere. But that prediction has been decisively falsified:

    So the response from the alarmist crowd was to start arm-waving and pointing to the stratosphere ["Look! A kitten!"], and to ignore the fact that the failure of a tropospheric hot spot to appear as predicted has falsified their CAGW conjecture.

    The only verifiable, empirical observations regarding the rise in CO2 are that it has caused no global harm or damage, indicating that it is simply a harmless trace gas, and that it has increased agricultural production – certainly a beneficial outcome.

    Thus, CO2 is harmless and beneficial. QED

  20. RobJM says “Clearly the problem is burning coal and the science is settled!”

    Well, I’m a believer! We have a consensus. Now, where’s Al? We need us a global salesman to pitch this disaster to the IPCC!

  21. Black notes three MAJOR variables, the sun, the AMO and clouds yet Kaufmann is still convinced the temperature will continue to rise.
    Unfreaking believable!

  22. the biggest revelations since Climategate are presently up on CA and Bishop Hill covering the fact that UEA hired a big PR company, Outside Organisation, and specifically Neil Wallis, who was arrested in the UK yesterday in the NoW hacking scandal, to do damage control for CRU when Climategate broke.
    Wallis was also working with the Met Police at the same time he was with Outside, it would appear, tho he had left NoW a few months prior to the contract with the Police.
    for all the alarmist crowd, who have claimed Rupert Murdoch’s media has been on the side of the sceptics, which i have constantly argued against, this is explosive. will the BBC, NYT, Guardian etc who are out for Murdoch’s head report any of this, only time will tell:

    “Covert” Operations by East Anglia’s CRU

    http://climateaudit.org/2011/07/14/covert-operations-by-east-anglias-cru/

    Bishop Hill News of the World and UEA

    http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2011/7/14/news-of-the-world-and-uea.html

  23. And all the while our duly elected officials, continue to subsidize their wind farms.
    I saw them in the ocean, offshore, while watching the British Open today.
    Monuments to greed and stupidity, they are.

  24. ‘Even before this paper there wasn’t much scientific evidence for denying climate change, and now I don’t see any credible scientific contradiction – if people don’t believe it, it’ll be because they choose not to believe it.’”

    I completly agree. Those who believe in climate that is always constant are akin to those who believe the earth is flat, and those who believe Stoke City will ever win the premiership.

    Why doesn’t Richie (any other shortened names for Richard?) address the more down to earth ‘deniers’ who claim that the role of humans in climate change is exaggerated, and hint at the possibility that this current global agenda is politically motivated?

  25. …now we know it was the clean air act that caused temperatures to rise

    I’ll correct that statement,

    …now we know it was the clean air act that caused measured temperatures to rise

    The increase in measured minimum temperatures resulted from a reduction in low level, near horizon smoke and haze, resulting in an increase in early morning solar insolation, which reduced the period outgoing radiation exceed incoming solar insolation. Hence causing earlier and higher minimum temperatures.

    You can clearly see this effect in the Australian temperature data taken at fixed times.

    And if there is a dataset that goes back to the 1960s containing minimum temperatures and time of day minimum occured, I’d expect it to show a strong correlation between these two values.

  26. So many posts, so many seconds of life lost, so much energy expended , so many kilowatts of electricity used, to demonstrate what every thinking human already knows. Black is a MORON. Can we please not see all these posts the next time this idiot publishes?

  27. Doug Allen says:
    July 14, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Pielke Sr. for Time magazine Man of the Year! It’s deserved!

    Why insult the man with the ‘honor’?

  28. So does this mean that environmentalists can go back and support high sulfur West Virginia coal?

    /sarc

  29. Another is solar activity. Recently, it showed signs of picking up as the Sun enters a new cycle of activity, although recent research raises the possibility of a new lull.

    Where did they get THAT idea?
    News to me, I don’t see no

    recent increase in Solar Activity, and I don’t see a big rush of spots

    towards the Solar Equator.
    Way I graph it, the Northern Active Regions will hit the Solar Equator in Jan, 2013 and the Southern Active Regions are set to arrive at the Solar Equator in 2016/2017. That would be Northern Max and Southern Max, respectively. Provided, of course, that the cycle doesn’t simply go poof ( I am not paid to forecast the SC and I’m not going there). Continued current behavior with a 6 year slide down to minimum yields 2023 and a 14 yr. cycle. That again, is if nothing changes and SC24 ends like SC23 did. I have yet to see a prolonged and encouraging upswing out of SC24.
    That’s not the type of renewed Solar Activity that the article suggests.

  30. Smokey says: “DCC, The article was clear to me.

    “Carbon” has been demonized by self-serving grant hogs. Whatever effect CO2 may have is negligible compared with all the other forcings, both anthropogenic and, especially, natural variability. The climate has been much colder prior to the industrial revolution, and much warmer at various times. And the only correlation between T and CO2 is that CO2 follows temperature, not vice-versa.”

    But we already knew that. The article is an incomprehensible mish-mash of statements (who knows who said what?) that go no where. I am not objecting to your conclusions, I am simply mystified why anyone would write such an unintelligible article.

    Please. Let’s have some clarity.

  31. There seems to be an implied assumption with alarmists that any increase in average temperatures will result in raised maximum temperatures with increases in CO2.
    That this is highly unlikely , given the regulating effect of moisture on temperature, but even without that physicist Harry Dale Huffman neatly demonstrates that given equal solar radiation and atmospheric pressure, despite the 95.5% CO2 atmosphere on Venus.
    Given this the difference between temperatures of Earth and Venus are negligible. Any increase of GHG’s on Earth would be reflected in night-time temp. given that Venus has a very nearly uniform temp.

    http://theendofthemystery.blogspot.com/2010/11/venus-no-greenhouse-effect.html

    “There is no sign whatever of a greenhouse effect on either planet. The fact that the temperature ratios are so close to that predicted solely by their relative distances from the Sun tells us that both atmospheres must be warmed, overall, essentially in the same way, by direct IR solar irradiation from above, not by surface emissions from below. Keeping it simple, the atmospheres must be like sponges, or empty bowls, with the same structure (hydrostatic lapse rate), filled with energy by the incident solar radiation to their capacity to hold that energy.

    There is no greenhouse effect on Venus with 96.5% carbon dioxide, and none on the Earth with just a trace of carbon dioxide.
    Harry Dale Huffman ”
    For the graph you will have to visit the site as it failed to appear on the post.

  32. There is a 24 hour strike on at the BBC by some of their ‘Journalists’ [14/15th July]. Caused by the BBC reducing costs by laying off a number of said scribes. Why oh why did they not include Richard Black?

  33. Gary Hladik says:
    July 14, 2011 at 5:03 pm
    So what “first-order climate forcings” other than CO2 are we talking about here?

    I can think of a few candidates:

    1. Deforestation (e.g. shrinking snow cover on Mt. Kilimanjaro);
    2. Agriculture (change albedo from the “natural” state; more H2O vapor from via irrigation & evaporation — as I recall Anthony attributed a temp rise in one well-sited California surface station to increased local irrigation & H20 “greenhouse” effect)
    3. Soot on glaciers and arctic ice
    4. Aerosols, both as direct sunlight blockers and as cloud nucleation enhancers (e.g. contrails)
    5. Urban heat islands

    What others?

    Reduced cloud cover 1980-1998 as measured by ISCCP?
    Increased cloud cover post 1998 as measured by Palle et al
    Active sun during later C20th

    Bigger effects by far than those you mention.

    1)Deforestation
    Creates new growth, which absorbs more co2 than mature forest

    2)Agriculture
    Where’s the data on changed albedo compared to albedo changed by cloud cover change?

    3)Soot on glaciers and arctic ice
    Natural airborne dust settles on ice too. Data?

    4)Aerosols,
    See: http://www.warwickhughes.com/blog/?p=87#comment-4663

    5)Urban heat islands
    The growth of these raised the temperature of thermometers, and hence the temperature record, more than the temperature of the globe.

  34. Mike says:
    July 14, 2011 at 6:04 pm
    P Sr: “The claim that CO2 dominates climate change in the multi-decadal time period has been clearly FALSIFIED.”

    Your article you reference is merely an essay arguing that other human activities are also contributing to climate change. It is just an opinion piece. You can’t cite your own opinion as proof your opinion is correct. The essay ignores the obvious fact that CO2 builds up in the atmosphere and thus will likely dominate other human activities in causing climate change.

    Just as likely, it will not. I’d read the article again, as well.

  35. Gary Hladik says: quote what others? unquote

    Global Warming in the 21st Century: An Alternative Scenario By James Hansen et al. is more of an essay than a paper, lacking solid numbers, but it points to a variety of forcings other than CO2 which may be causing the warming.

    Also:

    Global Warming in the 20th Century: An Alternative Scenario

    AGW may have causes other than CO2, e.g. alternative GHGs, soot, and land-use albedo change. There is another forcing to be considered which may limit estimates of CO2 sensitivity.

    Background

    NASA gives figures for oil pollution: [http://seawifs.gsfc.nasa.gov/OCEAN_PLANET/HTML/peril_oil_pollution.html].
    Oil effects on water have been known for millennia [Pliny, Plutarch, Bede, Kipling]. Franklin’s experiment [http://www.historycarper.com/resources/twobf3/letter12.htm] allows the rough calculation that 5ml of light oil will smooth one hectare and that enough light oil flows onto the oceans to cover them completely every fortnight. Surfactant pollution also smooths the surface, with the contribution of synthetic surfactants being particularly interesting.
    A smoothed ocean surface means fewer breaking waves [http://www.opticsinfobase.org/abstract.cfm?uri=ao-16-8-2257]. A breaking wave drives bubbles down to where gas exchange is facilitated and organic debris entrained. When the bubble subsequently bursts it releases cloud condensation nuclei as salt and dimethyl sulphide from stressed phytoplankton (dimethyl sulphide, DMS, is produced by phytoplankton and converts to particularly effective cloud condensation nuclei (CCNs)). Fewer waves, therefore, mean fewer CCNs. Only near shorelines and in very shallow water will the normal amount of stirring and CCN generation occur.
    An oily oceanic boundary layer generates oily water droplets which are more prone to join together and fall back [Garrett 1978], further reducing the number of CCNs. Polluted CCNs are less hygroscopic [Fuentes et al Feb 2010]. Polluted nuclei will grow more slowly and local relative humidity around them will be higher. Droplet size will be larger and the resultant cloud — oceanic stratocumulus — will have lower albedo.
    A smoothed ocean surface has lower albedo and lower emissivity than one ruffled by wind.
    Reduced wind/wave coupling over a smoothed surface will slow currents and reduce upwelling of nutrient-rich water. Wave action stirs the upper ocean, replenishing nutrients which are continually depleted by phytoplankton and pumping in atmospheric CO2. Fewer breaking waves means lower nutrient levels in the upper ocean.
    Plants fix carbon by different methods: C3, good when there is an abundance of CO2 and nutrients; C4 which needs less of both; CAM, the same; and C4-like, employed by diatoms. Only the first discriminates strongly against the heavier carbon isotopes.
    The System Of The World
    Oil covers the oceans. The wind/ocean interface decouples. Evaporative cooling slows. [ G. Meyers, J. R. Donguy & R. K. Reed 1986] The stratocumulus layer above becomes less opaque and with a higher relative humidity as the number of mechanically-produced CCNs falls. The smoothed surface exposed to sunlight warms more readily and, at night, cools more slowly. The surface layer warms. Less CO2 is absorbed.
    Warm water stabilises and the upper ocean becomes stratified. Mixing, already slowed by the lack of wave action, reduces further. The starved waters feed fewer phytoplankton and the amount of DMS falls. Warmer air slows cloud formation. Stratocumulus cover is further depleted. The cumulus heat pump slows.
    Starved phytos revert to C4 carbon fixation or are replaced by obligate C4 species: a light isotope signal is left in the atmosphere.
    Silica from farming runs into the oceans or falls as dust. Diatoms flourish as limiting silica is more readily available. Their C4-like metabolism adds to the atmospheric C12 signal. [Dugdale and Wilkerson 2001, Neff et al 2008]
    Phytoplankton populations collapse [Boyce et al, 2010] and ocean albedo reduces further, while oxygen fixation falls.
    Oceans have reduced biological production and lower DMS generation. Relative humidity rises above them and water vapour GHG heating warms the surface. Warming surfaces discourage low level cloud formation.
    ‘Natural Experiment’ Demonstrations

    http://isccp.giss.nasa.gov/climanal1.html

    The WWII Kriegesmarine offensive caused vast oil spills and a temperature ‘blip’ [http://www.eastangliaemails.com/emails.php?eid=1017]
    PETM [http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/temperature/], a leaking oil reservoir heated the oceans beyond the clathrate tipping point.
    The Gulf oil spill where the slick can be seen rotting clouds around its edges [http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/oil_spill_initial_feature.html ]
    The Andaman Sea [http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/aug2010/2010-08-16-02.html]
    Lake Tanganyika’s anomalous warming. [Verburg, Piet, and Robert E. Hecky
    The physics of the warming of Lake Tanganyika by climate change ]
    Summary
    Oil and surfactant polluted oceans have lower albedo, higher emissivity, less evaporative cooling, and produce fewer DMS and salt CCNs, reducing the albedo of oceanic stratocumulus cloud and slowing the cumulus heat pump. These effects warm the surface and limit the value we can put on CO2 sensitivity.

  36. If it has been cooling for the last ten years then why are they telling us at the same time that the Arctic is still melting????

    Not all singing from the same hymnsheet are they!

  37. The idea that the slight kick-up in SO2 due to China post c.2000 concurrent with a ~5% rise in global CO2 conflicts with the minor negative forcing role attributed to aerosols compared to CO2 in AR4.
    If the significantly rising SO2 trend was responsible for the temperature hiatus 1950-1980 as claimed, http://cdiac.ornl.gov/images/AtmosChemPhys11.gif then the minor blip post 2000 could hardly overwhelm the claimed much larger positive CO2 forcing (at a higher concentration than then).

    The Black line, I guess, is plausible but sounds like confirmation bias from the ‘a priori’ converted.

  38. The idea that the slight kick-up in SO2 due to China post c.2000 concurrent with a ~5% rise in global CO2 is responsible for the flat temperature trend conflicts with the minor negative forcing role attributed to aerosols compared to CO2 in AR4.

    If the significantly rising SO2 trend was responsible for the temperature hiatus 1950-1980 as claimed, http://cdiac.ornl.gov/images/AtmosChemPhys11.gif then the minor blip post 2000 could hardly overwhelm the claimed much larger positive CO2 forcing (at a higher concentration than then).
    The Black line, I guess, is plausible but sounds like confirmation bias from the ‘a prior’i converted.

  39. Gary Hladik says:
    July 14, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    Are you seriously suggesting that on a planet 71% covered with water, that our mega offerings of irrigation make a significant contribution to the atmosphere through evaporation? Me thinks perhaps not! Locally maybe, but Globally? No chance!

    Time to boringly reiterate UNIPCC Reports 3 & 4: “We don’t really know how element A (Sun) affects element B (Earth’s climate) but we know for certain that element C (mandmade CO2 at 1/62,500th of atmosphere) overpowers element A!” Settled science indeed! The big shiney ball thing in the sky, (currently missing over South-west UK) that contains 99.9% of the mass of the Solar System has a variability in Total Solar Irradiance of 1/10th of 1% over a Solar Cycle, which allegedly (Prof Mike Lockwood et al) couldn’t possibly have any affect on a planet with a mass of barely a few hundreths of 1% of mass of the Solar System????? Hmmm, not convinved on that one! I guess it’s just a numbers game in the end? HAGWE. We rotate around the Sun in the same direction as all the other planets, its gravitational field is enormous, the effects of gravity on the Earth from the System’s giants is also significant over time,before we get into magnetic field effects. Prove beyond all “reaonable doubt” that these do not affect our climate on micro, macro, & Solar System scales along with GCR variability, is all I ask.

  40. Land use changes does not, to my mind, cause climate change only local weather changes. These changes will be within the local climate variation. The 30′s dust bowl problem in the Dakotas was caused by ploughing the prairie grasses up coupled with a period of very dry weather. I am sure that this region had very dry spells before the land change. In the 30′s case winds blew the fine top soil away which would not have happened with grass cover.

  41. Dr. Pielke

    Your differentiation between your hypotheses 2a (primarily anthropogenic greenhouse gases) and 2b (greenhouse gases, land use, black carbon, aerosols) is quite interesting.

    However, when looking at the net effects of these various human drivers (http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch2s2-9-2.html) – black carbon effects are rather small, as are land use (<0.25 W/m^2 +/-), aerosols are predominantly negative (-0.5 W/m^2 direct, about -0.75 indirect), while the assorted greenhouse gases plus ozone account for around +3 W/m^2. Hence anthropogenic greenhouse gases are the largest changing factor involved in climate change.

    “This article makes the common major erroneous statement that global warming from CO2 and a few other greenhouse gases is climate change. This is NOT true.”

    It is entirely correct that CO2 is not the only forcing. But anthropogenic greenhouse gases are the predominant factor in level of effect and direction of climate change, something you seem to be downplaying.

  42. The climate in NE Oregon, and indeed the Pacific Northwest, has not changed one iota. We have had weather pattern variability that has been seen in the past with records that extend back to the late 1800′s, but nothing new is happening. Nothing happening to the extremes. Nothing happening that would cause a change in zone designations. Nothing happening that would indicate climate change. So regardless of the conversation here, at least the climate I live in has not changed a bit. The weather patterns have, but not in any new way. So exactly where has the climate changed?

  43. My apologies – in my previous comment I had Dr. Pielkes (2A) and (2B) hypotheses backwards: 2B has primary attribution for climate change assigned to greenhouse gases, while 2A emphasizes land use, black carbon, and aerosols along with CO2.

  44. KR, glad to see your true colors, your statement is very anti-science. First, you state and bold that “anthropogenic greenhouse gases are the predominant factor” it appear that is not the case in the last decade, period. If they were predominant they they would dominate and there would be nothing to stop warming. Since there has been no warming in the past decade and there has been a huge increase of human caused emmisions of CO2. As Pelke says, “falsified”.

  45. KR – With respect to your statement

    “But anthropogenic greenhouse gases are the predominant factor in level of effect and direction of climate change, something you seem to be downplaying.”

    you use the global average radiative forcing as the metric to compare the different forcings. First, CO2 may not even be the majority of this metric (e.g. see my powerpoint slide on this in

    Pielke, R.A. Sr., 2006: Regional and Global Climate Forcings. Presented at the Conference on the Earth’s Radiative Energy Budget Related to SORCE, San Juan Islands, Washington, September 20-22, 2006. http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/files/2009/09/ppt-69.pdf).

    However, the global average radiative forcing is only one component of the climate system. Please see the detailed discussion of this in

    National Research Council, 2005: Radiative forcing of climate change: Expanding the concept and addressing uncertainties. Committee on Radiative Forcing Effects on Climate Change, Climate Research Committee, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, Division on Earth and Life Studies, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 208 pp. http://www.nap.edu/openbook/0309095069/html/

    where regional and vertical variations in radiative forcings and of “non-radiative forcings” [including the biogeochemical effect of CO2] are discussed.

    See also the specific example that we analyzed regarding a large scale and regional average of radiative forcing of well mixed greenhouse gases and of aerosols in

    Matsui, T., and R.A. Pielke Sr., 2006: Measurement-based estimation of the spatial gradient of aerosol radiative forcing. Geophys. Res. Letts., 33, L11813, doi:10.1029/2006GL025974.

    http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/files/2009/10/r-312.pdf

  46. Whatever the human influences on climate are, they are primarily regional and/or second order forcings. In other words, they, including C02, merely add noise to the climate system, not direction. The entire concern over man’s supposed “influence” on climate is simply a ruse, and mis-directs away from real environmental concerns.

  47. @ Mike Bromley the Kurd July 15, 2011 at 12:23 am

    If the odds that CO2 will cause climate change are 50% as you claim, then we should begin reducing emissions. If a sign said there is a 50% chance the bridge is out, what would you do?

  48. @ho hum:

    SO2 shielding is temporary. SO2 does not build up in the atmosphere the way CO2 does. With the increase in Asian SO2 emissions how to you explain the lack of cooling?

    @ rpielke, July 15, 2011 at 7:11 am

    I have no idea which slide of the 57 you are referring to, and a presentation by you saying you are right does not carry a lot of weight. Sorry. The NRC study discusses the need to improve our understanding of various regional issues but does not back up your claim that the build up of CO2 is not the dominant factor in global climate change. Yes there are lots issues we need to look at beside GHG emissions, but since CO2 sticks around this is the dominate issue.

  49. Dr. Pielke – Thank you for your response.

    Reading your links, there are some very interesting issues that you have raised, in particular (for me) effects of land use changes upon cloud formation. I would, however, consider cloud formation a feedback, not a forcing, and in fact would consider the majority of changes in the water cycle to also be feedbacks. There is also the issue that land only represents a fraction of Earth surface – radiative imbalances over the oceans represent the majority of climate energy changes.

    To the extent that CO2 influence on current climate are reduced (by better estimates of other forcings and secondary effects), it’s quite clear to me that we are in greater risk from climate change, not less, as we know the physical radiative imbalance due from expected CO2 (and other GHG component) changes, and those changes in radiative forcing will still occur – along with all of those feedbacks.

    Most importantly, however, is your emphasis on regional and local climate changes rather than global, like your decrying of global temperature anomalies. I have seen such emphasis used to claim that global climate change is not occurring, a Fallacy Of Composition (http://www.don-lindsay-archive.org/skeptic/arguments.html#composition), looking at the trees while ignoring the forest. Hence I am very wary of focusing on the part rather than the whole – such a local focus can distract from the changes of the whole, which will in time affect all regions and localities in some fashion.

    Incidentally, I would strongly disagree with your statement that “Global and regional climate models have not demonstrated skill at predicting climate change and variability on multi-decadal time scales. (Pielke, R.A. Sr., 2006). Global models in particular have performed quite well within the bounds of internal variability. But that’s another discussion entirely…

  50. RE: Pamela Gray says:
    July 15, 2011 at 6:13 am

    ============================

    I strongly suspect that so called “climate change” in the Eastern US and the Old World is largely a result of albedo mods and other surface / near surface effects. Because most surface stations happen to be in such locales, it creates the false impression of “global warming.” Per another poster’s comment I doubt it has resulted in much net ocean warming other than continental shelf areas of the Atlantic Basin. I also suspect that the net near surface “warming” in that densely populated portion of the world even impacts the satellite record. I also suspect that here out West we have not had nearly the impacts from albedo mods etc hence your observations in the stepped, high desert and high country in OR.

  51. hum @ July 15, 2011 at 6:36 am

    CO2 is one of a number of forcings (albeit the once changing fastest right now, and therefore dominant in climate change), but there’s also lots of variability in both internal state (ENSO, for example) and forcings (solar minimum, the recent aerosol changes in Asia).

    Of course, if you account for those variations, such as volcanic activity, ENSO, solar activity, etc., there’s a blatantly evident linear trend (http://tamino.wordpress.com/2011/01/20/how-fast-is-earth-warming/) in global temperature evident from examining all five major temperature measurements (GISS, NCDC, HadCRU, RSS, UAH). The climate is still warming.

  52. @KR:

    The climate is supposed to change, isn’t it? What would be the rate of climate change without anthropogenic greenhouse gases in the atmosphere? Would we be entering another ice age, as it was believed just a few decades ago? Would we be in climate nirvana?

  53. KR – Thank you for your further feedback.

    Regarding your text

    “Incidentally, I would strongly disagree with your statement that “Global and regional climate models have not demonstrated skill at predicting climate change and variability on multi-decadal time scales. (Pielke, R.A. Sr., 2006). Global models in particular have performed quite well within the bounds of internal variability. But that’s another discussion entirely”

    please document examples in the literature where the models have sucessfully predicted changes in the statistics of the climate system in response to human and natual climate forcings and feedbacks. This includes the statistics of such weather dominating features as ENSO, the PDO, NAO, etc. It is these regional atmospheric/ocean climate features and their changes over time that the models need to skillfully predict, and, unfortunately, they have not.

  54. Mike says:
    July 15, 2011 at 9:00 am
    If a sign said there is a 50% chance the bridge is out, what would you do?

    See if there was a “bridge for sale” further ahead?

  55. Dr. Pielke

    As I stated before, climate modeling is a side topic; and ENSO, PDO, etc. are internal variability. Examples include GISS (http://data.giss.nasa.gov/modelE/, http://www-pcmdi.llnl.gov/ipcc/about_ipcc.php), NOAA (http://nomads.gfdl.noaa.gov/CM2.X/CM2.0/data/cm2.0_data.html), etc.

    Some of the deviation from modeled runs, particularly from the IPCC data (http://www.copenhagendiagnosis.com/), are in higher temperatures and faster ice loss (at or above the fastest estimates presented), as the IPCC was quite conservative with those items and estimates at the time of the Third Assessment report.

    Regional variations such as ENSO are just that – variations. “It is these regional atmospheric/ocean climate features and their changes over time that the models need to skillfully predict, and, unfortunately, they have not.” I cannot disagree more. Climate is the long term behavior, not short term, and <5-15 years is far more 'weather' than 'climate'. That's not the question climate models are constructed to answer. I don't ask for a truck to weave in and out the HOV lanes for high speed commuting, and I don't ask a motorcycle to carry a tonne of cargo – it would be frankly disingenuous to demand either.

    My major concern, though, is that here in a post on "Climate Science Myopia", you point me to several presentations of yours indicating that the only relevant issues are the local/regional variations, not global climate change. Global climate drives those local/regional issues, and (in my opinion) ignoring global indicators and trends while emphasizing local effects is itself myopic.

  56. AGW alarmism turns out to be a great vehicle for expressing ones favourite predjudices. Are we left wing anti-capitalists? Jolly good – CAGW is a perfect policy vehicle to give industry and big business a good kicking – as well as people who fly in airplanes. O yes – we’re racists too and dont like the Chinese? No problem – we can pin either warming or cooling on the new yellow peril, from their dark Maoist mills.

    Useful thing, CAGW – hmmm – I wonder what effect sexual orientation has on climate?

  57. Gary Hladik says:
    July 14, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    “So what “first-order climate forcings” other than CO2 are we talking about here?”

    I can think of 3 others. They are;

    -Water vapour
    -Water vapour, and
    -Water vapour.

    But you can’t tax it. It would be too ridiculous. Therefore, CO2 is the tax-substitute.

  58. @ KR
    Global climate drives those local/regional issues, and (in my opinion) ignoring global indicators and trends while emphasizing local effects is itself myopic.
    Well then, please enlighten us as to just how global climate “drove” the snows of kilamanjaro away. Or, how about how they “drive” UHI?
    Go ahead, deny that those are/were manmade, locally-driven effects. As far as global indicators, there’s nothing at all unprecedented about the some .7 °C (probably exaggerated by half, due to issues with thermometer placement, dropout, etc.) rise in temps since the LIA. Climate is cyclical in nature. We’re just along for the ride.

  59. Alan the Brit says (July 15, 2011 at 3:13 am): “Are you seriously suggesting that on a planet 71% covered with water, that our mega offerings of irrigation make a significant contribution to the atmosphere through evaporation?”

    Globally, no. On local/regional scales, yes. IIRC, Anthony found at least one well-sited surface station with an unexpected jump in temp that correlated with an increase in local irrigated farming. What was the effect of converting California’s Central Valley from a semi-desert into an irrigated breadbasket? Could the increased humidity have raised the average night temperatures through the famous “greenhouse” effect?

    Others may experience climate globally, but personally I only feel local effects. :-)

  60. KR – Regarding
    “Global climate drives those local/regional issues, and (in my opinion) ignoring global indicators and trends while emphasizing local effects is itself myopic.”

    see http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11175&page=5

    where it is written

    “Regional variations in radiative forcing may have important regional and global climatic implications that are not resolved by the concept of global mean radiative forcing. Tropospheric aerosols and landscape changes have particularly heterogeneous forcings. To date, there have been only limited studies of regional radiative forcing and response. Indeed, it is not clear how best to diagnose a regional forcing and response in the observational record; regional forcings can lead to global climate responses, while global forcings can be associated with regional climate responses. Regional diabatic heating can also cause atmospheric teleconnections that influence regional climate thousands of kilometers away from the point of forcing. Improving societally relevant projections of regional climate impacts will require a better understanding of the magnitudes of regional forcings and the associated climate responses.”

  61. Dr. Pielke

    while global forcings can be associated with regional climate responses – Obvious, and quite sincerely agreed.

    regional forcings can lead to global climate responses – References? This sounds interesting, I would like to look at the evidence. Aside from polar amplification (and similar global feedbacks), I don’t know of regional elements that can bend the boundary conditions that drive climate averages – rather than just inducing local energy distributions (aka ENSO and the like). I won’t say ‘simply’, as the math is not, but local is the key there.

    Regional variations (which I consider ‘weather’) are indeed of critical importance to our immediate plans and responses – along the lines of better weather prediction. However, as initial value problems in a chaotic or near chaotic state, they are by no means equivalent to the long term boundary value problems such as climate averages. Again, focusing on the local, the regional, the immediate (as you advocate), while deprecating the global trends, the larger point of view – that’s (in, again, my opinion) truly myopic.

    A particular tree may be doing very well – but if the forest as a whole is burning, that small sub-sample isn’t going to look good for very long…

  62. KR – Regarding “regional forcings can lead to global climate responses – References?” see the references in the body of the text of NRC (2005).

    With respect to climate being a boundary value problem, see the discussion in

    Pielke Sr., R.A., 2010: Comment on ” A Unified Modeling Approach to Climate System Prediction”, Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 91, 1699–1701, DOI:10.1175/2010BAMS2975.

    http://pielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/r-360.pdf

    and

    Publication Of “Comments on ‘A Unified Modeling Approach to Climate System” By R. A. Pielke Sr And “Reply” By Hurrell Et Al 2010

    http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2011/01/25/publication-of-comments-on-a-unified-modeling-approach-to-climate-system-by-r-a-pielke-sr-and-reply-by-hurrell-et-al-2010/

    Finally, except for a few metrics such as sea level rise due to ocean heating, the climate effects of human and natural climate forcings have their most important impacts on regional scales. A global average smears out our ability to describe these effects. This does not mean that an increase in global average atmospheric CO2 and its radiative and biogeochemical effects are not important, but the climate system is much more complex than that. We overviewed this complexity in the NRC (2005) report and, more recently, in the EOS article.

  63. Dr. Pielke

    Thank you for the very interesting references, in particular the indirect reference to Hurrell 2009 (http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/bibliography/related_files/Hurrell_2009BAMS2752.pdf). The border between weather prediction (initial value) and climate projections (boundary value) problems does indeed blur at midscale time/spatial resolutions.

    I would disagree on long term climate being an initial value problem, however (a question you note was posed in 1998), – conservation of energy alone requires that that the boundary values of radiative balance will have an increasing influence over longer time scales. Initial values of weather cannot over the long term maintain the climate in an imbalanced state, as the restoring forcings will simply increase until a response occurs.

    I would agree that mid-scale predictions at high spatial/temporal resolution beyond the ~10 day weather forecasts would be exceedingly useful. But this certainly doesn’t invalidate long term climate projections. As to long term effects on regional scales, I would argue that even the simplest global temperature anomaly or precipitation prediction is of use – understanding growth zones moving poleward (isotherms are fairly large scale), predicting seasonal start/end times, long term water forcasts, etc.. For example, the projection that by the end of the 21st century the California Central Valley (8% of US food production) will lose ~50% productivity due to temperature shifts and reduced precipitation is a low resolution projection worth paying attention to.

    More detail is better. But even low resolution forecasts are of use.

  64. KR – All climate time scales are strongly forced as a boundary value problem; for instance, daily solar heating or on intraannual and longer time scales solar forcing. However, initial conditions matter on all time scales also. For multi-decadal time scales, this includes the need to specifiy the ocean temperatures and salinty, continental and sea ice coverage, vegetation, ect.

    If you prefer, the term “initial-boundary value problem” accurately captures this perspective, but the termimology “boundatry value problem” does not in my view. It is incomplete.

    To illustrate why climate even on long time scales is an initial value problem, please see the example in our paper

    Pielke, R.A. and X. Zeng, 1994: Long-term variability of climate. J. Atmos. Sci., 51, 155-159.

    http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/files/2009/09/r-120.pdf

    and also our discussion in

    Rial, J., R.A. Pielke Sr., M. Beniston, M. Claussen, J. Canadell, P. Cox, H. Held, N. de Noblet-Ducoudre, R. Prinn, J. Reynolds, and J.D. Salas, 2004: Nonlinearities, feedbacks and critical thresholds within the Earth’s climate system. Climatic Change, 65, 11-38.

    http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/files/2009/10/r-260.pdf

    With respect to your comment “low resolution forecasts are of use”, I agree with you.

    However, I would use “simulations” rather than “forecasts”. Nevertheless, what will they tell us beyond what we already know; i.e. that added CO2 is a positive radiative forcing and in the absence of large enough negative feedbacks and negative radaitive forcings will warm the climate system. Hence, it prudent to develop constructive policies that minimize how much more added CO2 we place in the atmosphere. The regional projections you present have not been shown, however, to be accurate, in that the climate models have not shown skill at predicting changes in climate statistics even in hindcast. Low resolution models do not even have the spatial scales to tell us anything about regional climate change, such as in the California Central Valley.

  65. Dr. Pielke

    I will have to continue to disagree, although you have argued your points well – Winograd 1992 (arguing ice ages from natural variability rather than Milankovich cycles) and similar articles are not well supported, or for that matter convincing, to the majority in the field. Back-projections of climate forcings match climate behavior reasonably well, even in the (rather spotty) warming of the MWP, and natural ‘cycles’ have not been demonstrated to statistical significance by anyone to my knowledge. Boundary conditions seem more than sufficient to predict >30 year variations in climate conditions, and arguments otherwise have not been convincing (in my opinion, granted).

    Even the low resolution projections we have now (simple global temperature anomaly projections) indicate that regions like the California Central Valley will indeed lose precipitation and warm enough to significantly impact fruit and nut crops – unless you have evidence indicating that regional variations will outweigh the global shifts sufficiently to ensure continuing agricultural production? Because otherwise the global projections indicate severe issues in the future. The state of the science at present is more than sufficient to cause CA to put a lot of effort into considering how they will manage the agriculture going forward.

    In other words, the global changes forthcoming are going to be severe – are you arguing that regional variations and influences will override the global changes, making them less severe where it’s important to us? Because otherwise, we have to prepare for the projections we have…

    However – I am in total agreement that more accurate regional and temporal modelling and predictions are hugely desirable. I look forward to continuing progress in bridging the temporal/spatial scale space between initial value and (more or less) boundary condition projections.

    Thank you again for the discussion – it’s been very interesting.

  66. KR – In terms of your question

    “…are you arguing that regional variations and influences will override the global changes, making them less severe where it’s important to us?’

    please see our paper

    Pielke Sr., R.A., R. Wilby, D. Niyogi, F. Hossain, K. Dairuku, J. Adegoke, G. Kallos, T. Seastedt, and K. Suding, 2011: Dealing with complexity and extreme events using a bottom-up, resource-based vulnerability perspective. AGU Monograph on Complexity and Extreme Events in Geosciences, in press. http://pielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/r-365.pdf

    Our abtract reads

    “We discuss the adoption of a bottom-up, resource–based vulnerability approach in evaluating the effect of climate and other environmental and societal threats to societally critical resources. This vulnerability concept requires the determination of the major threats to local and regional water, food, energy, human health, and ecosystem function resources from extreme events including climate, but also from other social and environmental issues. After these threats are identified for each resource, then the relative risks can be compared with other risks in order to adopt optimal preferred mitigation/adaptation strategies.

    This is a more inclusive way of assessing risks, including from climate variability and climate change than using the outcome vulnerability approach adopted by the IPCC. A contextual vulnerability assessment, using the bottom-up, resource-based framework is a more inclusive approach for policymakers to adopt effective mitigation and adaptation methodologies to deal with the complexity of the spectrum of social and environmental extreme events that will occur in the coming decades, as the range of threats are assessed, beyond just the focus on CO2 and a few other greenhouse gases as emphasized in the IPCC assessments.”

    This is a framework which would, in our view, develop more effective adaptation and mitigation policies in the coming decades. See also my son’s book

    The Climate Fix – http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2010/04/climate-fix.html

    Finally, thank you for the constructive exchange of viewpoints. I wish there was more such dialog in our science community.

  67. Mike:
    “The essay ignores the obvious fact that CO2 builds up in the atmosphere and thus will likely dominate other human activities in causing climate change.”
    +++++++
    Your objection is to him providing a reference to a previous article which you have termed, ‘opinion’ which you then counter with you own ‘opinion’ to which you neither append nor reference anything in support, even from your own previous publications (if they exist).

    The article above is in support of a long stream of other evidence that CO2 does not dominate other human activities ‘causing climate change’. Further, there is no detectable signal that humans cause any climate change at all, because even if it is there, it is completely dominated by natural variation. Trying to assign a dominant role to AG CO2′s contribution to an undetectable signal is literally pointless and equal to arguing about how many fairies can dance on the head of a pin.

    Eschew that which starts and ends in words.

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