What do you get when you rub two climatologists together?

The Current Wisdom: Climate Change Controversy in the Wall Street Journal

Guest post by Patrick J. Michaels (reposted from cato.org)

This edition departs from our usual routine because of the very vitriolic fight that has broken as the result of publication of a January 27 op-ed titled “No Need to Panic about Global Warming” in The Wall Street Journal. Authored by 16 high-profile scientists, it made common-sense climate arguments that readers of this Wisdom and other Cato publications on climate science and policy are certainly familiar with.

The January 27 piece can be summarized as follows:

• There has been no net warming for “well over ten years;”

• Global warming forecasts confidently made by the UN in 1990 were clearly exaggerations;

• Carbon dioxide, the main “greenhouse” emission, stimulates plant growth;

• Climate scientists on the federal dole have a track record of punishing those who do not express alarmist views;

• Climate alarmism, public funding, and the growth of government and taxation create self-feeding mutual incentives; and

• Doing “nothing” about climate change in the next 50 years has little effect on climate mitigation compared to initiating taxation now.

None of the above are earthshaking propositions to any serious student of climate change. Monthly temperature departures from average show no significant trend going back to 1996. If one is concerned about biasing from the warm El Nino year of 1998, beginning post-2000 yields the same result. The UN was forecasting that global temperatures would be rising around twice the mean rate actually observed in surface temperatures. Greenhouse owners jack up the carbon dioxide concentration of their air several fold to stimulate plant growth. Alarmism breeds funding and new agencies that require more tax dollars, and funding begets tenure. The futility of politically feasible emissions reductions policies has been demonstrated for decades.

By January 30, the New York Times, whose editorial stance on global warming is (to put it mildly) different than that of the Journal, brought in their high-profile environmental blogger, Andrew Revkin, to carp principally about the last bullet item.

His post, “Scientists Challenging Climate Science Appear to Flunk Climate Economics,” claimed that the Journal scientists had misrepresented the work of Yale economist William Nordhaus, quoting the latter’s “wise policy” (no bias there) of slowly introducing a carbon tax.

Nordhaus responded that the Journal piece “completely misrepresented my work.”

At that point, Revkin opened up the controversy to commentary. Readers can decide for themselves.

Here is Nordhaus’s complete comment on the Journal op-ed:

The piece completely misrepresented my work. My work has long taken the view that policies to slow global warming would have net economic benefits, in the trillion of dollars of present value. This is true going back to work in the early 1990s (MIT Press, Yale Press, Science, PNAS, among others). I have advocated a carbon tax for many years as the best way to attack the issue. I can only assume they either completely ignorant of the economics on the issue or are willfully misstating my findings.

And here is the response of the Journal article authors:

We have accurately represented Professor Nordhaus’s findings in our Wall Street Journal editorial of 01-27-12, while making and intending no statement regarding his policy beliefs and advocacy. In his 2008 book, A Question of Balance, Weighing the Options on Global Warming Policies, Professor Nordhaus provided the computed discounted costs and benefits for a variety of policies, assuming the IPCC central value for warming due to increased atmospheric CO2 (3 degrees C for doubling of CO2).

He finds (Table 5.3 of the book) that a policy of delaying greenhouse gas controls for 50 years gives a benefit-to-cost ratio just slightly less than his “optimum” policy. The optimum policy is a universal harmonized carbon tax, which Professor Nordhaus advocates. It starts small and is increased gradually over decades. In terms of net benefits, the 50-year-delay policy is far better than more aggressive policies that would severely limit atmospheric concentrations of CO2 or model-calculated global temperature rises.

Both the 50-year-delay policy and the optimum policy allow world economies to continue to develop with relatively little disruption. Aggressive policies considered in the book do not have this characteristic and display sharply higher abatement costs and lower benefit-to-cost ratios.

As we note in the Wall Street Journal editorial, several more aggressive policies are negative return propositions.

Furthermore, in Chapters I and VI, Professor Nordhaus takes pains to explain that the requirement of universality of policy application is critical; regional, national, or group participation differences can be expected to lower policy effectiveness, perhaps substantially: “… there are substantial excess costs if the preponderance of sectors and countries are not fully included. We preliminarily estimate that a participation rate of 50 percent, as compared with 100 percent, will impose an abatement-cost penalty of 250 percent.” (Chapter 1, p.19). Therefore the optimum policy should be considered an ideal upper limit that may not be achieved in real world application.

We wish to emphasize once again that the above assumes that the IPCC climate results are correct and that significant environmental damage would result, both of which we strongly dispute. The statements made in the Wall Street Journal editorial report Professor Nordhaus’s findings accurately and do not bear on his policy advocacy.

Here is Table 5.3:

Of course, that wasn’t the end.

It seems that if one ever needs to start a fire in the woods, simply rub two climatologists together. So, in the wee hours of February 1, a response to the Journal article, signed now by 38 scientists, was published.

For clarity, let’s call this one “Trenberth et al.”, for its senior author, Kevin Trenberth of the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Summarizing Trenberth et al.:

• The authors of the original Journal article were largely not climate scientists, and those that were, held “extreme views.”

• Warming has not “abated” in the last decade.

• Scientific societies worldwide concur that “the earth is heating up and humans are primarily responsible”. More than 97% of all actively publishing climate scientists “agree that climate change is real and human caused”.

• ”… The transition to a low-carbon economy will not only allow the world to avoid the worst risks of climate change, but could also drive decades of economic growth.”

Trenberth et al. is surprisingly weak and incomplete. The 16 original authors are all individuals that are highly competent in their fields, most are physicists of one stripe or another, and all can read and summarize a scientific literature. In fact, most would hold that climate science is nothing more than applied physics.

“Extreme views” lie in the eye of the beholder, and science only grudgingly backs away from established paradigms. For example, despite the obvious jigsaw-puzzle fit of the earth’s continents, it took 100 years of bickering before continental drift was accepted over geological stasis. And, in this case, the “extreme view” of the most prominent climate scientist of the 16, MIT’s Richard Lindzen, is hardly an outrage.

Lindzen holds that the “sensitivity” of surface temperature to changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide has been overestimated because of an inaccuracy in the way that computer models magnify warming. In and of itself, it is mainstream, not extreme, to entertain the hypothesis that doubling carbon dioxide on its own would only cause a bit more than 1 degree (C) of global surface warming. Computer models arrive at much higher values, around 3.5°C, by amplifying the carbon dioxide effect because a slightly warmer atmosphere contains more water vapor, which itself is a potent greenhouse gas. Clouds are also changed in a way that enhances warming. There is evidence from the outgoing radiation signal of the earth that the effects of water vapor and clouds have been overestimated.

The 38 must somehow disagree with Susan Solomon, whose 2010 article in Science attributing the lack of recent warming—that the 39 deny—to unanticipated changes in stratospheric water vapor with no known cause.

The 38 must somehow disagree with the global temperature sensing from satellites, which also shows no net warming for the last 14 years. Now, one could argue that the satellites are measuring temperatures above the surface in the lower atmosphere, but the computer models that the 38 find so accurate, predict that the lower atmosphere should be warming faster than the surface over most of the planet.

Finally “more than 97% of all actively publishing* climate scientists agree that climate change is real and human caused” is probably an underestimate, as virtually everyone acknowledges that the surface temperature is warmer than it was, and that multifarious human activities have some influence on climate. Rather, he misses the point well-made by the original Journal article, which is that the rise in surface temperature is clearly below the values first forecast by the UN in 1990. The core—unsettled—issue in climate science is the “sensitivity” of temperature to carbon dioxide, and there are several independent lines of evidence, including the surface temperature history and the water vapor problems, that argue that it has been substantially overestimated.

In global warming, it’s not the heat, it’s the sensitivity. But don’t expect much sensitivity and expect a lot of heat when climatologists voice their opinions.

* The part about “actively publishing” is saved for another day. The climategate emails—and there are plenty by, to, or about these 39 scientists, detail how difficult it is to publish anything they disagree with, thanks to intimidation and manipulation of editors, blackballing of those who disagree with them, and other blood sports.

Patrick J. Michaels is the former state climatologist of Virginia and a Senior Fellow in Environmental Studies at the Cato Institute.

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70 thoughts on “What do you get when you rub two climatologists together?

  1. Is there a link to Trenberth et al? I’m curious as to whether they expanded on the assertion: “Warming has not “abated” in the last decade.”

  2. Something I noticed right away with the “they are not climatologist” argument that might have been said before, but….

    Mann/Hansen and etc are not programmers. I love showing my programming friends GISSE, watch them cringe (or over the email/forum) and then say, nah, that can’t be the program. Then I sent them the link.

    The argument normally ends there. They don’t know how to make a computer model. And hence, no matter if they were experts in whichever field, they are novices when it comes to the computer models they rely on.

    If I was in the position to counter argue, that would be my point.

  3. The rather haughty recital of the “over 97%” line makes for amusing reading…if only because of the absence of imagination. Somewhere in there one envisions a partial scientist, a mere fraction, asserting his take on the meme. The issue then becomes, which fraction? And does that include the thinking part?

    The big irritation is how climate science equivocates “warming” with their pet, “AGW”. They use this equivocation as a means to lambaste people for denying it’s existence, when in reality, they lambaste for the sceptic’s ‘denial’ of the anthropogenic part. Implicit in this lurid snobbery is that the warmists seem to believe that temperatures should not vary one iota, that the climate should be in stasis, and that somehow, through an amazing leap of political faith, humankind can “reverse” the perceived upward trend. All the while ignoring the truth of climate variation through time immemorial…without our help.

    The haughty responses are nothing more than those defending the indefensible. Hilarious that the Druid Punt is hanging out in Antarctica while all this happens.

  4. Okay:

    Statement 1: There has been no warming in the past decade. (And, I’ll add, that HadCRUt3 shows considerable cooling.)

    Statement 2: The past decade is the warmest on record, therefore Statement 1 is false.

    – What is the logical fallacy contained in Statement 2?

  5. Give ‘em all hockey sticks but no hockey uniforms (with the headgear, pads, etc.) and watch ‘em annihilate one other.

    That would be completely in line with what they said to each other in Climategate I and Climategate II–the third sequel should just about finish ‘em.

    In the meantime, we have an economy to fix and marxists to thwart.

  6. Mike Bromley the Canucklehead says:
    February 2, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    The rather haughty recital of the “over 97%” line makes for amusing reading…

    Well, sure… 97% of about 40 people in “The Team” comes to about 39, which isn’t a hard number from which to corral concenses even if one of them is Michael Mann (or maybe he’s the 40th man that nobody agrees with).

  7. “What do you get when you rub two climatologists together?”
    Multiplication and eventually Colossal Climate problems. They breed like rabbits if there’s plenty of feed about. Without snow and ice to keep their numbers in check they’re devilish critters to get rid of once they’ve got a toehold in milder climes and in the absence of any serious predators-

    http://library.thinkquest.org/03oct/00128/en/rabbits/history.htm

  8. “What do you get when you rub two climatologists together?”

    Inspiration for Pachauri’s next novel?

  9. “What do you get when you rub two climatologists together?”
    =========
    A friction fire, caused by shuffling research and grant request papers so hard that they ignite.

  10. I have been watching and injecting myself over at the Scholars and Rogues (Brian Angliss) site where Brian sent an open letter to Burt Rutan. Burt has actually fought back a number of times in the comments. Unfortunately what you realize with Warmists is that no matter what discussion you try to have with them it degenerates into futility. Honestly, we might as well just wait them out 5 to 10 years. With the Sun going to sleep and other climate cycles heading more to the cold side, it shouldn’t be long before they just have to give up.

  11. The only research I know of that found this 97% figure used a sample size of 77. See link

    http://opinion.financialpost.com/2011/01/03/lawrence-solomon-97-cooked-stats/

    They approached over 10,000 scientists to participate in an on-line survey, asking only 2 vary vague questions. Even so, they only got about a 30% response. Then they winnowed out (it seems) anyone who might even incline to skepticism. Thus, they were left with a sample size of 77, of which 75 were warmists. Hence the 97% figure.

  12. “What do you get when you rub two climatologists together?”

    Positive feedback?
    A grant application?
    A hockey stick?
    Consensus?
    Whatever it is, it’ll be settled!
    Can’t be done; their egos get in the way.
    I don’t know, but I guarantee it’ll be worse than we thought!
    Friction, but the heat will be missing?

  13. “What do you get when you rub two climatologists together?”

    Continuously reflected IR radiation – but no heat.

  14. John Rae says:
    February 2, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    For people that can measure the average temp of the world to 0,01 degrees the can only get to two significant digits on the 97% thing? 75/77 = 0.9740259…

  15. “What do you get when you rub two climatologists together?”

    For one thing, whether the two climatologists are the pro AGW variety, or are the sceptical variety, or even one of each, you get a stupid, inferentially half truthful statement like “Water vapour is the most potent greenhouse gas”.
    That statement infers that WV warms and warms more powerfully than CO2.
    But when one compares temperatures in a desert region (anywhere) to a wet region at the same lattitude, one almost always finds lower day time highs at the wet region, accompanied by higher night time temperatures.
    It’s WV that stops our planet from acquiring day time temperatures akin to the Moons surface. It’s the lack of evapotranspiration that causes drought hit areas to be hot.

    So the inference that water vapour is a “warming” gas is misleading and just plain wrong.

  16. In the author’s post he mentions the 38 scientists, then the 39, then 38 again, and then 39 again. I’m confused(?)

  17. Mark Wells says…

    “Unfortunately what you realize with Warmists is that no matter what discussion you try to have with them it degenerates into futility.”

    So true. I appreciate the efforts of those who do take the time to try and clue these folks in. These days, I’m not willing to invest that much time and energy with people who are in their bubble reality with their thinking turned off and the ideological agenda running full tilt. I just had some of that at Briggs blog.

  18. Baa Humbug says:
    February 2, 2012 at 8:17 pm
    “So the inference that water vapour is a “warming” gas is misleading and just plain wrong.”

    If that’s true Humbug, it must follow neither does Co2.

  19. I once knew 2 climatologists,
    both were made out of brass.
    When you rub them together,
    they sang “Stormy Weather”
    and lightning shot out of each……. never mind. It was a long time ago.

    Josh C says: said at 6:30 pm
    Mann/Hansen and etc are not programmers. …. They don’t know how to make a computer model. … If I was in the position to counter argue, that would be my point.
    Nor are they system analysts. That is a point I’ve been making for years. Took one look at their logic flows AND programing years ago, and said- “OMG!” It’s a conglomeration of assumptions that no where near “models” the reality of the global weather system. It CAN NOT be done with todays technology. It CAN NOT done with a digital system. You simply CAN NOT digitize that massive of an analog system. Think- butterfly flapping it’s wings in Mexico right now which causes a tornado to occur in April in Kansas – - oops, no. It only flapped it’s wings half way – or was that all the way?
    Point is, they can not model what they can not measure or what they do not have enough measurements of, so they just ignore it or assume – and you know what that makes them….

  20. The lack of indent on the Nordhaus quote happened when it was edited after I submitted it. The 38/39 inconsistency is from the last rewrite. The original had 39, and I realized it was 38. Sorry I did not catch all the iterations!

  21. evanmjones says: February 2, 2012 at 6:41 pm
    Okay:
    Statement 1: There has been no warming in the past decade. (And, I’ll add, that HadCRUt3 shows considerable cooling.)
    Statement 2: The past decade is the warmest on record, therefore Statement 1 is false.
    – What is the logical fallacy contained in Statement 2?
    ——————————
    Briggs has a timely post that may help explain things to do with temperature trends:

    http://wmbriggs.com/blog/?p=5154

  22. “What do you get when you rub two climatologists together?”

    As a result of their interactions they become excited and they find themselves in heat and that results in increased carbon dioxide and other emissions. A secret shared will never be told about the heat.

  23. evanmjones says: at February 2, 2012 at 6:41 pm
    “The past decade is the warmest on record ……
    – What is the logical fallacy …….”

    … Whose “record” is this and upon what criteria was that based ?
    But see the graph that fooled the world on the main index page of website linked to “Axel”

    Richard G says: at February 2, 2012 at 7:18 pm
    “If consensus ruled science, the Sun would still orbit the Earth.”
    … But the “Sun” is just a big light bulb in the sky hanging from God’s ceiling isn’t it? [sarc]
    see also the video “Our Mr Sun” by Frank Capra on Video Wall #1 at website linked to “Axel”

  24. Dave N says:
    February 2, 2012 at 6:23 pm
    Is there a link to Trenberth et al? I’m curious as to whether they expanded on the assertion: “Warming has not “abated” in the last decade.”

    See:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204740904577193270727472662.html?mod=wsj_share_tweet#articleTabs%3Darticle

    The sentences were: “Climate experts know that the long-term warming trend has not abated in the past decade. In fact, it was the warmest decade on record.”

    It seems as if Trenberth confuses being warm with warming. Just because a stove may be hot does not mean it can not be cooling at the same time if it was turned off.

  25. Markus says:
    February 2, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    Baa Humbug says:
    February 2, 2012 at 8:17 pm
    “So the inference that water vapour is a “warming” gas is misleading and just plain wrong.”

    If that’s true Humbug, it must follow neither does Co2.

    The thing is Marcus, CO2 doesn’t change phase at Earth temperatures. But yes, to a much less extent, because CO2 is a good emitter, it helps cool the planet. How else does the atmosphere shed energy to space?

    Put simply, WV is a modulating gas that cools during the day and warms during the night. And calling it a “potent” GHG is only half the story and misleading by virtue of the fact that “greenhouse gas” invokes thoughts of warming only.

  26. “attributing the lack of recent warming…to unanticipated changes in stratospheric water vapor with no known cause.”

    Well that is not a very repentant attitude about their computer model’s water vapor failure.

  27. re the 97% figure – didn’t Anthony put a post up about about a poll, several months ago? I seem to remember going to a site to sign up/vote – what happened to the results? (apologies in advance for not remembering)

  28. I was struck by the notion that a ‘hang on a minute, let’s wait and see’ approach is considered extreme, whilst running around in a blind panic dismantling the western economies is considered business as usual

  29. Only an “intellectual” like Prof. Nordhaus would not see the obvious impracticality of his policy, which is dependent on a belief that all we need in the world is a larger than life Rodney King who can tell us all “Can’t we just get along?”. Seriously is the requirement of universality not what diehard Marxists have claimed the main reason for us mere mortals failing it.

  30. “What do you get when you rub two climatologists together?”

    A slumgullion of fudge factors that has no connection to the scientific method

  31. “What do you get when you rub two climatologists together?”

    Either 97% or, depending on the day of the week, Lindsay Lohan.

  32. “evanmjones says:
    February 2, 2012 at 6:41 pm
    Okay:

    Statement 1: There has been no warming in the past decade. (And, I’ll add, that HadCRUt3 shows considerable cooling.)

    Statement 2: The past decade is the warmest on record, therefore Statement 1 is false.

    – What is the logical fallacy contained in Statement 2?”

    Statement 1 is derived from satellite data.
    Statement 2 is derived from a dataset that has been modified and has selection bias.

    Statement 2 cannot be used to falsify 1. That is the fallacy.

  33. evanmjones said:

    “Okay:

    Statement 1: There has been no warming in the past decade. (And, I’ll add, that HadCRUt3 shows considerable cooling.)

    Statement 2: The past decade is the warmest on record, therefore Statement 1 is false.

    – What is the logical fallacy contained in Statement 2?”

    * therefore Statement 1 is false *

    Statement 2 doesn’t falsify statement 1. A plateau at a maximum period can fit with temperatures having stalled (but not fallen) and also with temperatures being the highest on record (*because* they haven’t fallen).

  34. “Carbon dioxide, the main “greenhouse” emission, stimulates plant growth”

    “Stimulates”!!??
    Carbon Dioxide is the prana of the plants.
    Without it all plants, all herbivores and all carnivores including Al Gore, dies.

  35. FROM Trenberth, et. al. “Scientific societies worldwide concur that ‘the earth is heating up and humans are primarily responsible’”.

    This claim deserves a further rebuke: this is NOT arrived at by surveying the membership, but rather top down, by those already in the most politicized scientific posts within these organizations, not dispassionate, informed scientists.

    In other words, there is much suspect about these endorsements coming from politics, activists, and sycophants of vested interests — all of this damaging to real science claims.

  36. F. Ross says:

    February 2, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    In the author’s post he mentions the 38 scientists, then the 39, then 38 again, and then 39 again. I’m confused(?)

    One of them keeps changing his mind, he’s confused as well!

  37. Do you consult your dentist about your heart condition? In science, as in any area, reputations are based on knowledge and expertise in a field and on published, peer-reviewed work. If you need surgery, you want a highly experienced expert in the field who has done a large number of the proposed operations

    ******************
    The rebuttal to that is “Do you go to a surgeon who has a reputation for failed surgery ? The climate models failure to predict our present climate shows that these “surgeons” do not understand the patient well.

  38. What do you get when you rub two climatologists together?

    (A) – a shovel

    It spends all day digging a deeper hole for itself and when discovered it hides the hole in a shed and then it commences digging a new hole for itself.

  39. F. Ross says:
    In the author’s post he mentions the 38 scientists, then the 39, then 38 again, and then 39 again. I’m confused(?)

    One of them must be Schrodinger

  40. What do you get when you rub two climatologists together?

    Answer: Some new “spark” to some old Broadway releases. Synopses follow:

    The Lyin’ King – A young man leaves his father’s southern tobacco plantation, grows up to author a “documenary” on climate with more untruths in it than you can shake a scepter at. One of the great cult musicals of Broadway. Showstopper Number: “The Circle of Lies”.

    Cat(astrophist)s – Cats assemble in a darkened world to debate, among other things, whether all food comes from man (“His fingerprints Are Always On the Can”), and which feline deserves nine lives. The evening climaxes when Old Mephistopheles grants an afterward in the supplemental literature to the Jellicle who purrs the the sweetest. Hit song: “Fe-e-e-e-elings!”

    Phantom Heat – A tragically disfigured climate scientist misplaces the formula that can make him whole again, and must take refuge in the bowels of the Research Lab, where he is afflicted with mice. He falls in love with a mysterious “friend” MM, who visits him by e-mails. She promises to send him a magic stick to fend off rodents. Hit songs: “It’s a Travesty!” “Et al.”

    Book of More Mann – Two wide-eyed climate scientists go on mission to Africa and discover that the baloney they are preaching is screwing up the lives of millions of the very people they are claiming to save. They go ahead anyway.

    Naked; The Wizard Has No Clothes – A magician puts a spell on a young English lad, so that he grows up to have his hand on the lever of the most powerful weather prediction machine in the Kingdom. Only when he is exposed by Toto pulling aside the curtain does he awaken from his spell. Big hit numbers: “Value-Added”; and “Burn After Reading”, and “Tornadoes Just Ain’t What they Used to Be”

    Spiders, Man! – Spiders and mosquitoes invade the Northern Hemisphere in this post-apocalyptic story of a climate gone haywire. To offset the comic strip main characters, thousands of bugs are released during every show to add to the audience’s sense of realism.

  41. Brian H,

    What the 97% figure best represents is how they manipulate their data. A two question poll sent to 10,000 plus people (carefully limited to a few disciplines) and they choose a sub sample of 77 responses.

  42. Another Gareth says:

    Statement 2 doesn’t falsify statement 1. A plateau at a maximum period can fit with temperatures having stalled (but not fallen) and also with temperatures being the highest on record (*because* they haven’t fallen).

    No. A maximum period can fit with temperatures having stalled or fallen. Or with rising temperatures, for that matter. That 2001-2010 was the warmest decade in the (short) instrumental record says nothing about what the trend was during that period, let alone anything about the trend since.

    Statement 2 doesn’t falsify statement 1, because statement 2 doesn’t have a damn thing to do with statement 1. “Warm” and “warming” are two different things. One is a state, the other is a trend. That is a concept that “buddies” R Gates and Kevin Trenberth both cannot grasp – or are OK with feigning ignorance about, to further the agenda.

  43. tim;
    yeah, I know about that poll. But they’re now going on about 97% of published climate science paper authors. Different but similar.

    TonyG;
    The 38/39/38/39 scientists encompasses a virtual data point. Climatology is rife with them.

  44. What do you get when you rub two climatologists together? Hmmmm…

    A whole lot of weather! Thunder and lighting, high winds, and whole lot of in your face rain. All this negative feedback producing some quite cool temps in the end.

  45. Whenever I hear someone described as a “climate scientist”, the first words that come to my mind are “fraud” and “charlatan”. I’m more apt to believe research and articles on the climate written by geologists, archeologists, historians, meteorologists, physicists and chemists than anything written by some “climate scientist”.

  46. And Trenberth et al. are not Biologists, much less animal physiologists, the most relevant expertise in discussion of whether CO2 harms life or not, nor are they ecologists, the relevant discipline as to whether any warming would be “catastrophic” or not.

    I am an animal physiologist. I learned only in grad school that the mammalian stimulus to breathe is carbon dioxide, not oxygen, because of the need to keep blood pH within very very narrow limits. (Recent studies have shown that both hypercapnia (high CO2) and hypoxia (low O2) will increase the breathing rate in laboratory rodents.)

    Ecologists need to teach doctrines about succession, when barren areas are invaded by life. One of the best places to do that is to show photographs of the Alaskan glacial bays. These began melting 250 years ago at the end of the Little Ice Age, as shown in a recent WUWT post, and have continued to melt to the present. The recent melts are ice deserts with not a living thing; those that have been ice-free for a few years have pioneer species; and the longer the area has had for succession species, the more life there is.

    I do not consider life to be a catastrophe.

    Also relevant is the work of Indur Goklani, who appears here frequently. He has done things like compare the monthly death rates in dozens of countries to prevailing climates. He has shown that the winter kill is higher than the summer kill, and points out that (fossil-fuel-driven) air conditioning is a major factor in prolonging human life in the summers. The “greens” advocate depriving people of air conditioning. That is murder.

    The “greens” (I think of them as blacks, the color of death and decay) are led by haters of humanity. But most greens are just lied-to, and truly want to be of benefit to the biosphere. That is a worthy endeavor. Look at satellite images of the Earth and you will see vast areas of desert. These can be made lush and green again. Google “permaculture,” and you will find some examples of methods for making the desert bloom. There are others. Googling “urban agriculture” also yields interesting results. The website http://www.originalsonicbloom.com is another personal favorite.

    It is possible to double the food-producing capacity of the Earth with an increase in wildlife, Or maybe ten or a hundredfold. It is much more fun than a focus on howling scarecrows like CAGW. It can be done only in harmony with the earthworms and bugs, the birds and the bees, the rare and the common creatures. Greening the desert requires animals as well as plants. Go for it!

  47. IMHO they are just pining for the “good old days” of the Coal Tax Post in England:

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/06/26/coal-tax-post-redux/

    Once a government, monarch, or petty lackey get a taste of a tax, they loath to ever let go of it again. I’d be willing to bet that ever since the good folks of London told them to ‘stuff it’, they have been just itching for a way to get it back.

    IMHO, all we see here in the “carbon tax” is petty greed and a desire to get that Coal Tax back again. FWIW, we see a similar “tax post” idea in the “Tobin Tax” that would be collected on every single financial transaction as it is ‘posted’.

    New Taxes? Just Say NO!

    Once they have demonstrated they can do something useful with the present taxes and not consistently use them for featherbedding, aggrandizement, and punishments, then, maybe, we can talk…

  48. “What do you get when you rub two climatologists together?”

    It took me a couple of days of number crunching on my most powerful laptop.

    The answer is…………42

  49. “What do you get when you rub two climatologists together?”

    If they’re back to back, you get…

    Back Radiation.

  50. Baa Humbug,

    What you are alluding to is specific heat. It takes more energy to raise a mole of H2O 1 degree C than it takes to raise one mole of CO2 1 degree C. A “warming gas” is one that is transparent to some wavelengths of light but opaque to IR, which is the wavelength on which heat is radiated. This means that the gas allows heat in, but doesn’t permit it to leave. If it were transparent to both, the heat would radiate out again and if it were opaque to both the upper atmosphere would heat up or reflect the heat, but the lower atmosphere would be shaded by it and would heat slower.

    Actually, between Mr. Watts’ replication of the Gore/Bill Nye/etc. CO2 in a bottle experiment and Nassim Taleb’s passing mention in “Fooled by Randomness” that atmospheric temperature VARIATION is changing makes me wonder if a lowering of the average specific heat, because of the increasing CO2 levels, is what’s is causing glacier and ice cap changes, since glaciers only melt on the days the temperature goes over 32 degrees, but don’t freeze more when the temperature goes to -20 instead of -10. I don’t hear anyone talking about that.

    And, yes, I know that the glaciers have been melting since the end of the Little Ice Age.

  51. joncard1 says:
    February 4, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    since glaciers only melt on the days the temperature goes over 32 degrees, but don’t freeze more when the temperature goes to -20 instead of -10. I don’t hear anyone talking about that.

    True; it’s purely a matter of snowfall that stays and compresses. Warmer air holds and dumps more snow, so they may actually grow more at -10. A similar sorta paradoxical observation was made about Arctic sea ice; open water from warmish-but-still-freezing westerlies pile ice up against the eastern shore, leaving more open water to freeze and add to the total volume, plus more available moisture to be picked up and dumped as snow downwind.

    “Things aren’t always what they seem …”

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