## Parts 5 and 6 John Nielsen-Gammon’s ‘Skeptics are not deniers’

Click titles for each full essay.

Skeptics Are Not Deniers: A Conversation (part 6)

This is Part 6 of my six-part discussion with Robert G. Brown on paleoclimate, climate dynamics, and global warming.  Start with Part 1. *********** RB: I’m not sure how much this makes us disagree in the end.  We both agree that CO_2 increases are very likely responsible for some fraction of the observed temperature increase [...]

Skeptics Are Not Deniers: A Conversation (part 5)

This is Part 5 of my six-part discussion with Robert G. Brown on paleoclimate, climate dynamics, and global warming.  Start with Part 1.  Wait until next week for my response to the NOAA “greenhouse gases increased the chances of the Texas heat wave by a factor of 20″ study. *************** 5. To analyze the modern [...]

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### 68 Responses to Parts 5 and 6 John Nielsen-Gammon’s ‘Skeptics are not deniers’

1. dp says:

N-G: You see unknown vast, overwhelming forces at work, whereas I see feedbacks (largest: ice albedo; second largest: CO2), with fast feedbacks (H2O, etc) and dust (hard to classify) along for the ride. The thing you don’t seem to be getting is that the ice albedo and CO2 feedback magnitudes are commensurate with the bistable states. For either state to be stable, the Earth must be in energy balance. The changes in radiative forcing associated with the known changes in ice albedo and CO2 are consistent with both the temperature changes back then and the way we observe the climate system to respond to forcings today.

This guy seems to believe he has solved the mystery of clouds in all this chaos. I guess I’m a denier after all because I don’t believe it. I’m going to go watch some Feynman to clear my head.

2. Interstellar Bill says:

You gotta love that Warmista mantra: ‘consistent with’
yeah, with whatever is their latest looney forecast

3. Bob says:

Nielsen-Gammon is just parroting BS. He is altogether invested too heavily in the catastrophic meme, and all his comments are dedicated to defend his extreme dug-in position.

Here is another article about problems with the scientific edifice in this country.

http://www.bio-itworld.com/news/07/13/12/Skeptical-Outsider-rescue-life-sciences-technological-torpor.html

4. traditional warmist-luke monotribe…this comment from Part 5

Simple Science Says: “It is extremely hard to simulate annual cycles of snow accumulation and melting with enough precision….ice sheet dynamics aren’t amenable to simple climate modeling.”

NON Simple Science Says: Truth and the Scientific Method are “not amenable to simple climate modeling” either. You have not and cannot do your homework. The reason the Glacial-Holocene forcing is important is that there can be NO HUMAN INVOLVEMENT in a cycle many magnitudes greater than any fictional AGW forcing.

Simple Science Says: “There are vast, serious forces at work here”.

NON Simple Science Says: FINALLY ! Let talk about those forces beginning with the variable solar output and the variable Earth fission rate.

BTW….My formal education has allowed me to distinguish between Verbosity and Veracity….and Brevity is the Soul of Wit.

thanks to N-G and RGB for allowing use of the romper room….

5. N-G bases a portion of his argument on the contention that there are people (whom N-G calls “scientists”} who fail to make their claims regarding the causation of global warming falsifiable. In particular, in IPCC Assessment Report 4, Working Group 1 fails to make its claims falsifiable by its absence of reference to the statistical population that underlies these claims.The nature of N-G’s argument underscores the necessity for identifying what one means by “science” and “scientist” in debating the legitimacy of global warming “science.” When the terminology is disambiguated, N-G’s “scientists” emerge as examples of pseudo-scientists.

6. dp says:

The ice sheets amenability comment reminds me of a great saying: “This is hard – let’s do it wrong”.

7. davidmhoffer says:

N-G; I don’t think I would have minded 50 ppb above preindustrial. We passed that benchmark around 1970
>>>>>>>>>>>>>

I presume N-G meant ppm, not ppb, but that aside, I’m disappointed that Dr Brown didn’t take that opportunity to point out that CO2 is logarithmic. We’re now closing in on 130 ppm over pre-industrial, with no noticeable signs of warming at all. Temps in the last 15 years flat or declining. Sea level rise at a crawl. All the alarmists are left with at this point is anecdotal evidence drawn from isolated one time events such as the recent heat wave in the US, while ignoring the fact that on average (and if the CAGW meme has any merit, it most show up in the AVERAGE) global temps have not changed much at all, in fact the stability of them is amazing. If 50 ppm over industrial has produced zippo for evidence in 42 years, and 100 ppm for about 20 years the same, what conclusion can one possibly draw other than the feedbacks are largely negative and the combined effect inconsequential?

N-G sounds more to me like he’s made up his mind and, unable to muster any logical or evidence based response to Dr Brown, throws up his hands about things he believes, and what he is “comfortable with”. I learned a lot from the discussion, but this theme of repeated wilfull blindness from those such as N-G when their belief system is exposed to be nothing but a house of cards is disturbing.

One has to give N-G credit however. He ventured where many warmists fear to tread, and that is into an honest and open discussion of the science. That part is refreshing, and he should be congratulated on that point, and urged to pursuade others with a warmist mentality that they should do the same. The more open and honest debate we get, the more the real science will rise to the surface.

8. Robert Brown says:

Speaking personally, I thought John NG was quite reasonable throughout. He wasn’t speaking ex cathedra — he was stating his opinion and basis for it, and so was I. What’s wrong with that? I even agree that — depending on some numbers that I’m not sure either of us know and the correctness of his unstated hypotheses as well as his stated ones — that he’s right, one can make up a model where CO_2 and ice albedo balance are tipped neatly for one (warming) direction of the transition. Where we disagree — and where I don’t think his answer suffices — is on the cooling side. CO_2 and temperature rise very close together, close enough that one cannot properly resolve which one leads and which one follows. This makes good physical sense either way — if temperature leads CO_2 must surely follow as the ocean warms, and it can hardly provide negative feedback to the warming — it may not accelerate/sustain it much but it will certainly sustain it some. It might sustain and accelerate it a lot. And sure, melting the glaciers will eventually reduce the albedo and warm things still more. Both CO_2 and albedo reduction on melting favor a warming/melting transition, which doesn’t stop the cold/glaciation phase of the current climate from being 80-90% of the bistable cycle.

On the cooling side, however, there is a big split between cooling and CO_2. Temperatures drop significantly and quite rapidly in spite of both low albedo and high CO_2 (doubled from glacial lows). Even this high level of CO_2 is incapable of preventing runaway cooling. This split (to me) suggests that a CO_2 feedback dominant model is almost certainly wrong. CO_2 is literally overwhelmed by powerful drops in climate forcing that just don’t care. Nor can it just be albedo feedback, I don’t think. The actual growth of glaciation is rather inexorable and “too fast” (as is the melting) not to be driven by more than just albedo feedback.

I simply see at least one more powerful driver in this mix, and there is one obvious candidate — Mr. Sun and some fairly complicated orbital or “other” feedbacks, which might include geodynamic feedbacks that function as anything from triggers to actual drivers themselves. Tambora 200 years ago — at 800 Mt the moral equivalent of a good sized asteroid — could have served as a trigger to runaway glaciation if the macroscopic system was already cold-unstable. So might the Maunder Minimum (plus other volcanic events) 200 years earlier. Yet there are long time scale dynamic fluctuations in temperature with fairly clear, nearly periodic signals in the climate record — clarity confounded by multivariate factors so that nothing is “clean”, more indicative of chaos than simple driven oscillation.

But I could be wrong too. The problem is that one can almost certainly build heuristic models either way and “fit” (be consistent with:-) the observational historical data, although no models I know of can explain the full Pliestocene thermal history including the period shifts and deepening of glaciation. Saying “I’m not sure” is something John is definitely capable of, but he’s just as entitled to “however, I think” as anybody else and his thoughts are likely to be pretty well informed.

I do wish we could lose the rampant ad hominem on both sides, though. John was a gentleman at every turn in our exchange, and permitted me to look over and edit or suggest changes to my responses to his comments to my comment, elevated to an article, on Bain — none of which was actually written for this much scrutiny. While we clearly disagreed in places, we agreed in others. Given that I’m at best a well-educated amateur in his primary area of study, I thought he (and most of the other participants in the discussion) were remarkably respectful. And we both teamed up — to no avail, of course — when Mr. Olsen showed up to assert that some bizarre and utterly impossible process of fission is responsible for warming the deep oceans a tiny fraction of a degree which causes a huge climate change, or that the greenhouse effect doesn’t exist. Which is nonsense in its entirety here or there on on his sky dragon site.

I’m interested in learning, and figuring out, the actual physics and dynamics of the climate and am happy to hear even iconoclastic hypotheses, but outrageous violations of the laws of physics and thermodynamics and common sense don’t work very well for me whether they are for or against the CAGW hypothesis. One more thing that I advise. When discussing AGW, even CAGW, it is always good to recite a little mantra to yourself whenever you make a pronouncement. That mantra is “…but, I could be wrong!” I think that CO_2 alone is inadequate to explain geological cycle ice ages or the relatively recent glacial oscillations (seriously, I do!) but I could be wrong! I doubt that we’ll see more than 1-1.5 C more total warming (and maybe not even that) by the end of the 21st century but I could be wrong! (and in any event, will be dead long before then).

Of course, it would be lovely if the other participants in the debate added the same mantra to their own pronouncements. Imagine Hansen proposing that we’ll experience 5 or even 10 C more warming by 2100 as the Earth passes a tipping point and we race towards boiling oceans but that he could be wrong! because nothing like that happened in the past when CO_2 levels were much higher and because we cannot be certain of the climate sensitivity or feedbacks. Mann saying that the latest round of tree ring studies, which include these trees but not those and which use the following ritual to determine which rings on which trees are “good” predictors of temperatures seem to indicate that there was no Little Ice Age but that he could be wrong because there is other evidence that confounds that.

It would be so very sublime. Civility, courtesy, and the open acknowledgement that climate science is difficult so that even a results one passionately believes can be mistaken.

Naaaah, it’ll never happen…

rgb

9. Jon says:

“You gotta love that Warmista mantra: ‘consistent with’
yeah, with whatever is their latest looney forecast”
It’s consistent with only one factor only, the political decided UNEP/UNFCCC (UN framework convention on climate change) established in Rio 1992. Since socialist and social liberals have invested billions in making climate science UNFCCC conform.

So much waste of resources and money just to tax air and get world government? Throw UNEP and those behind it out of UN now!

10. Rhys Jaggar says:

I think this is a very interesting discussion, but it will not be of much use to the general public. If an MA (Cantab), PhD MBA has to take a deep breath every so often to remember what various bits of jargon mean, Joe Schmo will have given up after the first two paragraphs.

An exercise of global worth would come from translating this discussion into readable, non-jargon ridden English. It’s not something which should be pooh-poohed, because if you want the public to understand, they need to get the facts in simple, accessible ways.

I do think that discussions about stable states would be very valuable, as would discussions about what triggers transitions between them.

I also think discussions from eco-biologists may be valuable in explaining how adaptational forcings may produce contrary, surprising or unexpected results in certain systems. It’s not a given that warming will produce deserts and droughts, it may produce restoration of forests courtesy of rising carbon dioxide if conditions are right. Warming oceans may alter the phytoplankton populations which may affect the rate of absorption of solar energy. A combination of oceanic coolings, solar quitening and volcanic eruptions may have huge effects on polar ice.

If there’s one thing I’m tired of it’s this: ‘earth is predictable and this is what’s going to happen’ nonsense. Until you can predict solar activity, volcanic activity, oceanic activity and jet stream activity, I seriously doubt you can do that.

Even if you can do all that, I’d be interested to see quite how quickly the models turn into the impenetrable fog of ‘noise’.

11. rgbatduke says:

I presume N-G meant ppm, not ppb, but that aside, I’m disappointed that Dr Brown didn’t take that opportunity to point out that CO2 is logarithmic.

You mean in my extensive discussion of how we should be expressing CO_2 changes in decibels? That the entire change from the minimum we can determine during the last glacial period to the present is around 3 dB?

I didn’t pursue his remark as far as I might because one of his replies got me thinking and I didn’t have time then to think it through (and still haven’t). The radiation physics here is laid out in Caballero, but Caballero doesn’t present a worked out example of the expected straight-up effect of another 3 dB of CO_2 on top of the one that was added since the low water mark of the last glacial period. Saying that CO_2 is saturated is all well and good (and true!) but that doesn’t give one an immediate sense of the actual curves. I may have to program up a solution to the differential equations or something to find out.

rgb

12. Brian H says:

Sorry, RB, the stakes are too high for professiona/academic politeness. The AGW/CAGW enterprise is grabbing for all the marbles. It needs to have its fingers chopped off right up to the shoulder.

13. Brian H says:

14. davidmhoffer says:

rgbatduke;
You mean in my extensive discussion of how we should be expressing CO_2 changes in decibels? That the entire change from the minimum we can determine during the last glacial period to the present is around 3 dB?
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Sure, that too ;-)
I tend to come at it from a simpler perspective. One of the things that I noticed when reading AR4 was that they constantly talk about the expected effects of CO2 doubling from pre-industrial levels. Then they zip back and forth in terms of time reference, talking about CO2 increases now, but in terms of pre-industrial levels. There’s very little point in my mind talking about pre-industrial levels of 278 ppm. We haven’t been at 278 for a century or more. Nor can we go back. Even if we reduce our emissions to zero, it is the CURRENT levels of CO2 that are relevant to the discussion, not the levels from a century ago.

So the point I try and draw attention to is that we are close to 400 ppm today. If human activity over the next 50 years increases CO2 concentrations by 100 ppm, that’s 400 +100 which, due to the logarithmic nature of CO2, has a completely different implication than 280 +100.

AR4 is written in terms of X amount of CO2 over 280. But 280 is meaningless. We cannot suck the CO2 out of the air! Point being that when we speak of X ppm of CO2 being contributed by human activity TODAY, which is 400 ppm, not 280, the effects that we would expect are far lower. Given that we are at 400 ppm TODAY, if one accepts direct affects of CO2 being 1 degree per doubling, we’d need to get to 800 ppm to achieve that one degree. Even with the likes of India, China and Brazil rapidly increasing their use of fossil fuels, we’re still talking on the order of a couple of centuries to get to just one more degree than we have now from CO2. Hardly a rate of warming that we cannot adapt to. Two degrees? That requires 1600 ppm of CO2. I don’t think we could generate that much over the next few centuries even if we tried deliberately to do so.

Understanding the logarithmic nature of CO2 also speaks in my mind to the issue of sensitivity. If sensitivity is low, then really, what are we so concerned about? The CAGW meme relies on sensitivity being high, very high. Some of the initial alarmist estimates were 6 degrees C or more for CO2 doubling. They’ve been revised downward steadily since then, now ranging from +3 to +4.5. OK, if that is true, then 280 +110 ought to result in warming of 2 degrees or more by now, and that is above and beyond natural variability (since we’ve been in a warming trend since the LIA). We’ve seen nothing of the sort, leaving the Trenberth’s of the world to argue that the warming is “in the pipe”. Sure, I know what a time constant is, and I’ll allow that the time constant for a planet could be rather large. But it would have to be awful large for the 280 +110 we have seen over the last century to leave no obvious impact on the general warming trend we’ve seen since the LIA. I think the CAGW meme falls down on this point also. To summarize:

1. Future impacts of increased CO2 levels must be predicated upon CURRENT levels of CO2. The law of diminishing returns requires that the impact of emissions also diminishes, even if we drastically increase them.

2. If sensitivity is low, we have little to be concerned with. If sensitivity is high, then either we should have seen a major impact to global temperatures by now, or we are dealing with a time constant so large that it makes the issue immaterial as we’re talking about a rate of change so slow that adaptation over a period of centuries makes far more sense than mitigation.

15. Allan MacRae says:

davidmhoffer says: July 15, 2012 at 10:03 pm
Good comments David – thank you.
_____________

No significant global warming means no significant climate sensitivity to increased atmospheric CO2.
We wrote in 2002:
“Climate science does not support the theory of catastrophic human-made global warming – the alleged warming crisis does not exist.”
See http://www.apegga.org/Members/Publications/peggs/WEB11_02/kyoto_pt.htm

In the same 2002 article, we wrote:
“The ultimate agenda of pro-Kyoto advocates is to eliminate fossil fuels, but this would result in a catastrophic shortfall in global energy supply – the wasteful, inefficient energy solutions proposed by Kyoto advocates simply cannot replace fossil fuels.”
The economic and energy debacle of grid-connected wind and solar power is now imploding – Check!

In 2002 we predicted imminent global cooling, starting by 2020 to 2030.
Scorecard: No significant global cooling yet, but no warming either – a global temperature plateau – OK so far – Check!
(Like pride, a level global temperature plateau “cometh before the fall”.)

In ~2002 I received my first and only threat – Welcome to full-contact climate science! I suddenly found myself attributed with God-like powers, since I was allegedly responsible for the flooding of Prague! I took full responsibility for Prague, readily accepted my newfound powers, and told my assailant to “run along or I’ll do it again!” :-)
Scorecard: Neutral – there is no check-box on the scorecard for “assume God-like powers”. Drat!

In 2008, I wrote that atmospheric CO2 does not primarily drive temperature, rather global temperature primarily drives CO2.
http://icecap.us/index.php/go/joes-blog/carbon_dioxide_in_not_the_primary_cause_of_global_warming_the_future_can_no/
Following the usual ritualistic human sacrifice (Burn the heretic!) by both sides of the mainstream CAGW debate, my observation that dCO2/dt varies ~contemporaneously with temperature and CO2 LAGS TEMPERATURE AT ALL MEASURED TIME SCALES was accepted and promptly swept under the rug as a “feedback effect”, inconsistent with both “high-sensitivity” CAGW religion and its “low-sensitivity” skeptics’ counter-argument. This “feedback argument” was and is convenient nonsense, imo.

I arose like a phoenix from the ashes in 2011 with the publication of Murry Salby’s video in which he states the same temperature-drives-CO2 heresy.

In truth, I’m starting to find this whole ~27-year climate science experience rather amusing.

I’m also about 90% confident that I am correct – that both sides of the “mainstream CAGW debate”, the warmists and the skeptics, have confused cause and effect.

I accept that there is a ~10% chance that I am wrong. “To err is human”, and all that.

No, on second thought, this is just false modesty. I am correct! :-)

16. polistra says:

I don’t know those two dudes, but I can judge the way the “conversation” runs. And I judge that this is not an honest “conversation” between a carbon cultist and a skeptic. This is a calculated Socratic dialogue between two devout carbon cultists to advance the interests of the cult.

Much like the “debates” between the “Republican”-brand Gramscians and the “Democrat”-brand Gramscians to advance the tyranny of Gramsci.

17. Dr. Brown, continental drift is a 50 year old term that changed 45 years ago to Plate Tectonics which is the correct scientific term. (Sorry but I am a geologist)
Extraterrestrial climate drivers are not all known and those we do acknowledge we do not fully understand. All are changing at different rates as are drivers of terrestrial origin, not all known or understood. This is one reason why climate models do not work.
I would like to add that the term Tipping Point implies a situation beyond which no recovery is possible. This cannot apply to any climate event since these cycle they do not trend. No tipping point has ever occurred over the past 500 million years.
It would seem that passage of the solar system round our galaxy, into and out of the spiral arms times ice ages but this may become poor information given more research. certainly the Ordovician ice age, one of the most severe, occurred when atmospheric CO2 levels were up to 8000ppmv. Some greenhouse. But the proposed ‘Ice House Earth’ when the planet was totally covered with ice, has been shown not to have happened. Drop stones found in sediments of that age prove that open water was abundant enough for icebergs.

18. Dr Burns says:

“We both agree that CO_2 increases are very likely responsible for some fraction of the observed temperature increase from the LIA on.”
What a ridiculous statement ! Some fraction = 1/1,000,000

19. David Longinotti says:

If I’ve done it correctly, a first-order calculation shows that opening a can of soda in a sealed, average-sized room (about 2000 cubic feet) and letting the CO2 in the soda (about 2.2 grams) dissipate into the room would approximately double the concentration of CO2 in the room. It’s difficult to believe that that miniscule amount of CO2 would have any detectable effect on climate.

20. izen says:

@- Allan MacRae says:
“In 2008, I wrote that atmospheric CO2 does not primarily drive temperature, rather global temperature primarily drives CO2.”

Given the measurable fact from isotope ratios show that the rise in CO2 is due to the industrial burning of fossil fuels and NOT the rise in temperature this must have caused you some embarrassment.

Do you accept that CO2 is an active component of the ‘Greenhouse Effect’ that keeps the surface ~30degC warmer than it would be without an insulating atmosphere?
If so, why do you assert it stops working at ~280ppm, even a logarithmic effect has an impact if the double the level.

21. rgbatduke says:

Sorry, RB, the stakes are too high for professiona/academic politeness. The AGW/CAGW enterprise is grabbing for all the marbles. It needs to have its fingers chopped off right up to the shoulder.

The AGW/CAGW “enterprise” is political, mostly, and if anything is using the scientists to accomplish political ends. Also bear in mind that most of the scientists being used in this way are sincere! They are not “lying”, trying to be deceitful, greedy, or in any way unethical. A very small minority have perhaps been corrupted by their own fame and blinded by confirmation bias. John NG is absolutely not one of them. As he puts it on his own website, there really should be a string of “AGW” descriptors, ranging from Catastrophic AGW (5+ C of warming, held by most climate scientists to be unlikely at this point, catastrophic AGW (2-3 C) of warming effect somewhat positive, somewhat negative, likely to affect some “catastrophes” but not serious ones (most climate scientists are in this general category at this point, well down from previous times), and plain old (A)GW, perhaps 1 C of warming that is non-catastrophic and only partially anthropogenic. All are within “range” of the admissible climate sensitivities; the question is where on places one’s bets. In the George Mason survey, one climate scientist in 7 or thereabouts was in this category!

It hardly sounds like an enterprise “grabbing all the marbles”.

The problem is that uncivil discourse is no way to get anything done.

rgb

22. beng says:

****
Robert Brown says:
July 15, 2012 at 10:39 pm

I simply see at least one more powerful driver in this mix, and there is one obvious candidate — Mr. Sun and some fairly complicated orbital or “other” feedbacks, which might include geodynamic feedbacks that function as anything from triggers to actual drivers themselves.
****

Doc, I agree it has to be something powerful. Why not some major oceanic-current change? Specifically in the N Atlantic. Seems like the Greenland ice-cores show more drastic changes than Antarctic, plus we know Greenland’s climate is quite variable given the large changes since the MWP & LIA. Temps today are said to have risen to MWP levels, but obviously Greenland was much milder back then than now.

I’m going out on a limb a bit, but I think there are oceanic changes that occur that we haven’t seen yet during recorded history. What causes that, I don’t know. But, as you say, it has to be something powerful to overcome the high CO2/low albedo features of the interglacials in just a matter of several thousands of yrs. The periodic D-O and Heinrich events during glacials seem to be of similar origins.

Our resident solar expert would prb’ly discount solar changes. He’s got alot of data/work/experience behind his opinion.

23. Richard M says:

rgb: “Given that I’m at best a well-educated amateur in his primary area of study …”

That puts you well above many climate scientists. You probably have a better overall knowledge of the many, many fields that have impacts on our climate than those who actually believe they are climate scientists. To be a true climate scientist would likely take degrees in a dozen or more fields. I’d venture that absolutely no one who calls himself a climate scientist has this level of education and experience. What we have is true amateurs in most of those dozen fields trying to claim they are experts.

One of the best things about WUWT is it provides the experts in those fields to call out the sloppy science being pushed (and published) by non-experts. We see it every day here but the rest of the world does not. This is why we really need to get the national science academies to back off their position statements. They are accepting climate science as providing unassailable truth which we know is total BS.

24. Pamela Gray says:

Radiative cooling (a thief in the night that chaotically goes wherever it wants) is the single most important metric I know of and have experienced first hand (thunderstorms being second) that destroys the notions that 1. CO2 is well mixed, and that 2. CO2 is capable of globally strong continuous absorption and re-radiation of IR. Radiative cooling sucks heat from the ground up to the higher troposphere and sends it packing. We experience it here in NE Oregon and can be strong enough to kill garden plants during Summer months. Where it goes from there I am not sure but my hunch is that some heat dissipates in the stratosphere and some even manages to escape into space. Because it comes and goes, you need constant satellite surveilance to catch it and quantify it. I think that is where the missing heat is. Back into space and is the reason why Trenbreth cannot find it. It chaotically occurs in time and location along with thunder storms and thermals, and is hard to “capture” with our current satellite set-up. The CO2 hypothesis has yet to be proven. The null hypothesis still stands.

25. izen says:

@- Robert Brown
“I simply see at least one more powerful driver in this mix, and there is one obvious candidate — Mr. Sun and some fairly complicated orbital or “other” feedbacks, which might include geodynamic feedbacks that function as anything from triggers to actual drivers themselves.”

There is a glaring lack of evidence for changes in solar activity of sufficient magnitude to be a ‘powerful driver’ in the climate. The carbon dating calibration/correction curve would be much further from the constant decay trend if that were the case.
As you mention at the end of the paragraph, the climate is a chaotic {but thermodynamically constrained} system. A powerful driver is not required for large changes in state. Very small inputs can have very large effects, climate sensitivity is not likely to be linear function in a non-linear system.

26. more soylent green! says:

In Part 5, we learn that we don’t understand how the climate works, but we can still model it!

In Part 6, we learn that we don’t know all the factors that influence climate and how they interact, but we should remove those factors from the actual data and viola — the models show CO2 is actually causing warming. The data doesn’t show warming, we have to adjust it first, then run a model to find the world is actually warming.

27. John West says:

Dr. Brown,
Thank you! You are just what we (those in opposition of mitigation) need in order for the great silent majority (which I believe exists, but I could be wrong) of scientists, engineers, and scientifically literate people who have drawn the same conclusions to start speaking out against CAGW and its mitigation being the only solution mantra in numbers sufficient to seriously effect policy.

If you are a member of APS, have you expressed your position openly within that organization or any other you may be a member of? Have you requested a survey for wording of “official” statements concerning GW? IMO, these institutions and organizations are the high ground we must take in order to win the war against alarmism. We have to educate the average member and then push from within for changes in “official” statements that reflect the doubts of the majority of scientists. As long as those who advocate for mitigation action like carbon trading and carbon taxes can point to these “objective” institutions’ support for their position, we’ll continue to have difficult times (especially in summer) preventing massive legislative actions until the next real cooling off period, IMO, but I could be wrong.

APS climate change statements:
http://www.aps.org/policy/statements/07_1.cfm
The 2007 statement is absolutely dreadful. The 2010 statement is better but still IMO lacks true objectivity.

I’d also like to thank you for representing NC well, not only in intellect but also in civility. Please, keep it up.

28. KLA says:

In Part 6, RB wrote:

… Moore’s Law is going to make solar cells cheaper than fuel based generation of electricity, breaking even in just about ten more years without any sort of subsidy, and thirty years from now fossil fuels will primarily be used to bridge gaps in solar production (or maybe not, if battery research actually makes progress).

This is a fallacy a lot of solar enthusiast fall for. The only thing solar cells have in common with computer chips is that both use semiconductor materials. Moore’s Law ONLY states that we can cram progressively more transistors per semiconductor area, which means we can process more and more INFORMATION per area. More’s Law DOESN’T say that semiconductor material becomes cheaper and cheaper.

Solar cells on the other hand just convert incoming light energy per area unit into electricity. Progress there just means an increase in efficiency, which is achieved by using more and more complicated junction structures. This causes an increase in cost per area unit, and could or could not cause an increase or decrease in cost per peak W. The limit is of course the second law of thermodynamics, as the best cells are already in the 40% efficiency range.

There’s nothing possible in the magnitude of progress like Moore’s Law. For something like Moore’s Law to be in effect, we would need to be able to increase the amoung of energy per area unit, which is clearly not possible. And no, concentrating optics does not count, because the optics is already more expensive than the cells per area unit.

And in addition, more than 50% of the cost of installed solar is already in the frame, inverters and so on, a cost that will only go up.

29. Europeanonion says:

As you may know in Britain we had an exceptionally hot March this year and the conclusion by the BBC and other warmists was that this demonstrated climate change at work. From My till the present day Britain has been submerged in rain, sometimes torrential and other times just heavy. This is cited as the predicted result of global weather perturbation. Over the past couple of weeks we have been treated to a series of insights into the current behaviour of the Jet Stream. The Met Office stated that the behaviour of these high atmosphere winds was not as yet understood. This is an organisation which possesses a huge computer system in which it ‘models’ weather the outcome of which informs Governmental and strategic policy. How in Wonderland can this ‘model’ be so trusted if perhaps the greatest component if its formation is not understood? If only the Met Office was half as diligent never mind sceptic as WUWT.

30. What I found most frustrating about N-G’s side of the argument was the blinders he donned in regard to economics and policy.

Part 3: RB: Sure. And with trillions of dollars at stake, and a lot of people who want to tap into and control that sort of cash flow and who are using this as an excuse to pick our pockets. ….. Before we spend that kind of money, I want to see a solution that might actually work, so we don’t BOTH spend the money — permitting most of it to be looted along the way, naturally, the way the world works — AND end up eating most of the warming that would have happened otherwise, for better or worse, catastrophic or not.
N-G: I share your doubts about the efficacy of carbon trading and the virtues of investing in alternative technologies, but let’s keep the discussion focused on the science…

While there is merit is some focus on science and what is known and unknown, the science is literally academic without some affect on decisions and action. Yet even here N-G turns a blind eye to how politics is trumping science.

Part 6: RB: I think attempts to quantify the economic costs and benefits of 1-2 C additional warming in the absence of data are complete bulls***, open invitations to pick our pockets (and being presented in precisely that way, with a complete disdain for the possibility of “quantifiable” benefits as well as costs even as the most mundane of statistically irrelevant phenomena are amplified into “costs”). Perhaps you too feel a bit uncomfortable with the way CAGW is being sold well in advance of the science — I don’t know.

N-G: Economics is not my field, so I don’t know how much of that (if any) is bulls***. My goal is to get people to understand the science, so that all the economic and other arguments can at least start from the right place.
….
RB: …. See Galloping Camel’s links to the IPCC WG reports, which are balanced, versus their policy report which somehow is not. How about Feynman’s insistence on honesty to the lay person that pays the bills? Galloping Camel is actually an old friend of mine from Duke and is a reviewer of the AR 5 process, and one can see in previous AR reports that the actual working group science usually IS well balanced but somehow the uncertainties never make it through into the policy or recommendations or price tag.

N-G: The scientists write the working group reports, but the national representatives write the summary for policymakers. The scientists on hand ensure that the summary for policymakers is not wrong scientifically, but balance is another matter. The national representatives are extracting the information they most want to emphasize.

Skepticism must yield no bounds. A magician is an illusionist who uses misdirection as an essential tool. A skeptic needs to be aware of that misdirection; to look for the questions that are not asked, to challenge the assumptions taken for granted. In a chain of reasoning, it doesn’t matter whether the science is sound when the politics and policy is fraudulent.

31. rgbatduke says:

“We both agree that CO_2 increases are very likely responsible for some fraction of the observed temperature increase from the LIA on.”
What a ridiculous statement ! Some fraction = 1/1,000,000

I think you would find it very difficult to justify that statement believably. More realistically somewhere between 0.3C and 1.0C out of about 1.5C, depending, although yes, there is at least one model wherein feedbacks are so strong as to result in essentially zero gain. I doubt zero gain or negative gain. I doubt $10^{-6}$ gain. But flat out CO_2 only no feedback gain is IIRC between 0.3 and 0.5 C.

But regardless, the term “ridiculous” is clearly exaggeration. It is precisely this sort of thing that one should examine very critically, when different people have different quantitative arguments that can describe the past adequately but project very different futures. There’s nothing one can or should “ridicule” in any of these arguments — one should simply look to see how they pan out over a long time because one problem that actually (IMO) plagues climate science is that people on both sides of the issue seem to think that 30 years is “long enough” to make conclusions when in fact it isn’t even a full half-cycle of many of the global decadal oscillations and is a tiny interval compared to characteristic times of e.g. oceanic equilibration.

I’m liking 50 to 100 years as being a minimum baseline of modern era, well-instrumented observations to begin to nail down which models do or don’t really extrapolate. In the meantime, one can argue for one part in a million but one cannot prove that the argument has any realistic predictive power for the future, in part because we (again IMO) don’t have all of the baseline functional drivers nailed down to where we might not be neglecting pieces that have much larger effects than the pieces we are including.

One simply lovely question that emerged on the John NG thread is this. One reasonable criterion for somebody who is a “denier” versus somebody who is a skeptic is that a skeptic can usually tell you at least something — whether or not it is easy or difficult to achieve — that might be evidence that would change their mind. Whether it is a resumption of monotone increases in global temperature at a rate equal to or exceeding 0.1 C/decade even in the teeth of two or three cycles of seriously diminishing solar activity, a sudden, rapid and real, easily observable increase in sea level that exceeds levels that can plausibly be explained by mere thermal expansion or continental motion and so on, combinations of the above, or whatever, there is something that might make them (possibly reluctantly) conclude that even CAGW is more plausible than not for some meaning of the C.

Ideally, the same would be true for individuals on the other side of the issue — if global temperatures actually dropped 0.1 to 0.3 over the next decade or three as solar cycle 24 plays out and solar cycle 25 and 26 came in weaker still, and CO_2 levels and oceanic levels dropped with it, a lot of people would go back to the drawing board, not because their arguments were ridiculous but because they were wrong, because they failed to be borne out by observation.

What is wrong with moderating the tone of the rhetoric so it is less polarizing and more open minded? What is wrong with laying out some sort of reasonable criterion for being convinced of C/c/B/b/N/n/A/GW/GC (Catastrophic or less catastrophic, Beneficial or less beneficial, Neutral (both at the same time in large measure) or neutral (little benefit or damage either way), Anthropogenic (or not) Global warming or, for that matter, Global Cooling anthropogenic or not? Even if it is something as simple as “twenty to thirty years of observations that are predicted accurately by current CAGW models and less accurately by anything else”…

It will probably take even longer to be certain — the climate is pretty complex and there are long time scale drivers (and we need reliable apples to apples data for a lot of it over long time scales to be sure that confirmation bias or sampling bias aren’t corrupting the empirical side one is attempting to fit). But hey, if I see the ocean routinely lapping at my back door at high spring tide in the house I’m living in inside a decade or two, I’m going to be a lot more convinced than I am now — that would take a roughly 20 cm rise, and if one wishes to convince me that sea levels are going to rise by 1 meter in 80 or so years, 11-12 cm per decade, it is hardly crazy to insist that they rise enough for me to see the process unambiguously at work in my own back yard. Not borderline results that depend on marginal statistical analysis or cherrypicking locations; clear, unmistakable signal that anyone can see.

This is the largest problem with the entire issue, and one I have the greatest difficulty communicating even to John NG. Before I am convinced that CO_2 is causing egregious increases compared to natural variability, the signal has to emerge clearly from the noise, not because of clever subtractions of presumed noise, but because the signal clearly emerges from the noise. It may have happened — certainly there are those that think that it has — but IMO it is far from clear and many of the assertions that it has are rather absurd, e.g. Katrina proves CAGW, SLR at selected locations on the eastern seaboard is rising due to CAGW, Antarctica is melting due to CAGW, animal species are disappearing or altering their habitat due to CAGW, etc. Real SLR is perhaps 1 centimeter or even two per decade (if that, the data is still pretty uncertain), real statistical analysis of storm energy, violence, frequency shows no resolvable CAGW signal, and so on.

In the meantime, CAGW itself is not “ridiculous”, it is a hypothesis with some theoretical and some experimental support. It is not a proven hypothesis, not even among climate scientists. Most scientists climate or otherwise consider GW to be proven (the thermometric record speaks for itself). I’d say most scientists consider GW to have some anthropogenic component due to CO_2.

Most scientists may be wrong, but the hypothesis is far from ridiculous.

rgb

32. Thanks to both parties for sharing their thoughts. The comments triggered and old bug bear.

I have read AR3 and AR4 cover to cover. I commented on this years ago: – I am completely dumbfounded as to how the Summary for Policy Makers could be derived from the Working Group Papers. It is like the Summary for Policy Makers was written independently of the Working Group Papers and it didn’t matter what is in the science section as the political section trumped it in all cases. I read AR4 several times trying to connect the dots. I couldn’t but perhaps others can. As an engineer who has written many reports based on good data and being required to be responsible for the technical and FINANCIAL recommendations I am surprised more scientists haven’t refused to participate in the writing of the Working Group papers. But then that would only leave the politically driven scientists, WWF and Greenpeace to author the WG papers so I guess they are firmly between a rock and a hard place.

33. rgbatduke says:

There’s nothing possible in the magnitude of progress like Moore’s Law. For something like Moore’s Law to be in effect, we would need to be able to increase the amoung of energy per area unit, which is clearly not possible. And no, concentrating optics does not count, because the optics is already more expensive than the cells per area unit.

I completely understand what you are saying, but what you are saying is clearly completely wrong. Empirically wrong, in some detail. A variation of Moore’s Law has held for hard drives, for example, even though they aren’t semiconductor devices — all that is required is for there to be some arena where there is a power law scaling in what is achieved in time, and sometimes that scaling, even in the case of chips, doesn’t even come from “just” VLSI scaling but from other nonlinear stuff, pipelining and parallelism, new technologies, etc.

Whether or not one counts or discounts concentrating optics, where one should really say that they are more expensive so far than the cells area unit (a far cry from proving that they will always be so), it is a matter of fact that if you plot the cost per watt over time, it seems to be following a power law with a halving time of roughly 10 years. You can argue that this cannot or will not continue — as it has been argued many times in the past with Moore’s Law itself, for that matter. Somehow, the prospect of lots of money and concentrated science always found a way to give it more legs, legs that were always obvious after the fact.

In the present case, a lot of the obstacles aren’t even physics — they are manufacturing or engineering obstacles — how to build efficient foundries, how to accomplish economies of scale. And then there is a lot of research being done into the actual semiconductor physics, work with a huge potential payoff given success.

Could all this work fail? Absolutely! We may have hit the wall, and PV cells may never get cheaper in real dollars than they are today. Do I think that likely? Are you kidding? Of course not. I think that they’ll continue to come down in price rather aggressively for at least two more decades, quite possibly with some discrete doublings in cost efficiency (just as was seen in CPUs).

As for cost-benefit — at today’s prices, a rooftop collector plus inverter with guaranteed sellback into the electrical net is barely a net loss for me, living in the south, amortized over 20 years. I’m talking over the counter retail. With the government subsidy, it might be a small win (but high risk and a fair bit of cash out of pocket to buy in). A halving of the price of the actual cells (which are still a substantial part of the total cost of the installation) would almost certainly permit the installation to be scaled to where it was easily a decent ROI on a less than 20 year amortization plus years of profit. Halving twice would make it a no-brainer — it would be a standard feature of almost all new construction housing in the South.

But I honestly don’t care if you agree with this projection. If prices drop I’ll “vote” with my pocketbook, acting in my own best self-interest, as will you. If they don’t, well, then I guess I was wrong. I’m just explaining why in my, fairly well informed opinion doing nothing about carbon (which is probably what is going to be done anyway, at least for a decade or two yet) isn’t a crazy choice. It lets one accumulate a 50 year baseline of reliable satellite data extended modestly by sounding data from a decade or two more. It might suffice to convince even most skeptics that C/c/A/GW is a real problem — or not. In the meantime, solar PV technology may — or may not, sure — become first economically feasible, then economically advantageous, so that in 20 years rooftop PV systems on houses are as common as houses with double insulated low-E glass windows or houses with high efficiency air conditioning and furnaces, just features worth paying for.

I’ve spent a bunch of money on high efficiency H/AC in my house as the original equipment wore out and it has dropped my utility bill tremendously. Why wouldn’t one want to do this when you’ve got to install a new AC anyway, if one can afford it? Does it reduce my “carbon footprint”? Probably. Do I care? A bit — I’m not worried about carbon yet, but all things being equal reducing the risk that I’m wrong seems sensible, especially if I can do so at a positive ROI. Why would rooftop solar be any different? If it never makes sense, I’ll never buy it, but I’m certainly not going to pay more for carbon based electrical energy if I can get it more cheaply at home and realize a positive ROI in the process. I even view “energy independence” as being worth something, by which I mean having some electrical capacity that does NOT depend on the power grid would have saved me around \$2000 and a whole lot of discomfort over the last 20 years as weather events like hurricanes have knocked out my power for week long intervals, and utility costs have only gone up in the meantime as well.

Do I support grant funded research to improve PV electrical generation? Damn skippy I do! If it “hits” I and every other taxpayer make out like bandits. In the meantime that work costs pennies per taxpayer, if that much. If it never hits, it keeps some smart people off of the streets and supports the entire research infrastructure that has proven to be a source of enormous wealth to us over decades.

Do I support carbon trading, widespread government subsidy of immature technologies? No and no. Do you have to agree with me? No. Use your own judgment.

I do.

rgb

The same is true of many other things.

34. rgbatduke says:

There is a glaring lack of evidence for changes in solar activity of sufficient magnitude to be a ‘powerful driver’ in the climate. The carbon dating calibration/correction curve would be much further from the constant decay trend if that were the case.
As you mention at the end of the paragraph, the climate is a chaotic {but thermodynamically constrained} system. A powerful driver is not required for large changes in state. Very small inputs can have very large effects, climate sensitivity is not likely to be linear function in a non-linear system.

Well, glaring lack of evidence unless you count things like ice ages and 6-10C variability on geological timescales, or the imperfect correspondences between solar variability and e.g. the LIA, the Dalton minimum, and other sort-of-periodic climate fluctuations.

The problem isn’t that there isn’t any evidence, it is that the evidence isn’t consistent with it being (as you observe) a simple logistic driver (although even this isn’t certain as we don’t have really good, non-confounded proxies for solar state into the remote past). But as you note, the climate is a chaotic, thermodynamically constrained and highly nonlinear system, and it is not only the case that small changes can have large effects, it is the case that small changes in one variable can have large effects when some other variable is in one certain range and small effects otherwise. Furthermore, the interacting variables themselves may not be periodic or linear or predictable.

Solar maxima might (for example) have a greatly amplified effect if they occur during the positive (warming) phase of the NAO, a doubly amplified effect if this occurs when there is surplus CO_2 above some threshold, and ENSO is always in positive phase. But if any one of these is not satisfied, the climate might be nearly neutral, and if two or more are the opposite, it might cool. Volcanic aerosols might trump all of them, or might nonlinearly feed back on cooling but be nearly balanced on warming.

As it is, the occurrence of sort-of-resonances with periodicities in the Earth’s orbital parameters — tilt, precession, orbital resonance — in the glacial cycle is one sort of evidence that solar variability is important in subtle and not terribly consistent or constant ways. The occurrence of geological era variability between (very) warm phases and (very cold) ice ages where details on less than tens of millennia are erased in the fossil record and proxies adds still more uncertainty to the puzzle. And crazy or not, there are at least some not completely implausible arguments for ways the sun itself might directly affect global climate, in fairly powerful ways, other than “just” by variation of TOA insolation. Our lack of certain knowledge about the sun — again in part due to a remarkably short baseline of observations, plus the fact that the sun has many, many unsolved puzzles left even given e.g. SOHO and modern observations with modern instrumentations simply adds to our uncertainty in the correctness of climate models that make assumptions about how solar state works in the climate.

I won’t be entirely comfortable with those models until they can explain the geological timescale global climate without much by way of heuristics. This may never happen — you can’t squeeze data out of a turnip, so to speak, and we may never know what caused an ice age like the one at the Ordovician-Silurian boundary, that happened in spite of atmospheric CO_2 levels estimated to be in the range of 4000 to 7000 ppm! Yes, that would be almost exactly an order of magnitude greater than we have today during the ice age, which lasted for over a million years with no particular reason to think that it was continental drift of orbital variation that was the cause.

There are some lovely stories about the cause of this event, but they are just glorified science fiction, like the stories that it is CO_2 variation that has caused all of the ice ages on geological time scales. Gamma ray burst wiping out the ozone layer? Sure, why not. Chaotic fluctuation in solar output lasting a million years? Possible. Passage of the sun through a dense cloud of interstellar dust as the cause of same? Difficult to rule out. Simultaneous eruption of a hundred Tambora sized volcanos, collision with a 10 km asteroid, work down the science fiction list, look for evidence to the extent that one can in a fossil record with huge amounts of noise, and pray.

In the meantime, please do not insist that there is no evidence that solar state cannot be a major driver of global climate. We don’t know that. There is evidence that suggest that it might be, but the total evidence available to us is probably horribly inadequate to resolve the question even in principle, and our knowledge of and certainty in the physics of a lot of the complex system is still very much up on the air. Personally, I rather think the sun is more variable and chaotic than we have observed in the scant century or two we’ve been watching it with enlightened eyes and even telescopes as “modern” instrumentation. It wouldn’t surprise me to be surprised by future discoveries in solar physics, which I think is actually rather exciting.

rgb

35. rgbatduke says:

Radiative cooling sucks heat from the ground up to the higher troposphere and sends it packing. We experience it here in NE Oregon and can be strong enough to kill garden plants during Summer months. Where it goes from there I am not sure but my hunch is that some heat dissipates in the stratosphere and some even manages to escape into space. Because it comes and goes, you need constant satellite surveilance to catch it and quantify it. I think that is where the missing heat is. Back into space and is the reason why Trenbreth cannot find it. It chaotically occurs in time and location along with thunder storms and thermals, and is hard to “capture” with our current satellite set-up. The CO2 hypothesis has yet to be proven. The null hypothesis still stands.

Dearest Pamela,

I regretfully must categorically disagree with your description. Radiation is the only way the Earth itself cools. The greenhouse effect slows this cooling, but as you observe, on a very dry day at high altitude it may not slow it a lot. I’m unaware of any “missing heat” in this process.

I’ve already posted a number of moderately clear descriptions of the greenhouse effect and the direct, photographic evidence of the GHE in action. Satellites can and do observe it in action; sadly they cannot AFAIK watch it for the whole globe all of the time closely enough to be able to quantitatively evaluate our outgoing radiation and its modulation in real time, but there is really no doubt that it exists and is responsible for the Earth not being a snowball. There is also in my mind little doubt that there is any sort of runaway pathway to “Venus” like conditions on Earth as Hansen has sometimes utterly irresponsibly proposed. The aforementioned Ordovician-ending ice age — occurring in the teeth of 7 parts per thousand of CO_2, almost a 1% CO_2 atmosphere — is pretty strong evidence that runaway CO_2 mediated global warming not only is impossible, but that even atmospheric CO_2 concentrations around 20 times what they are today aren’t enough to prevent an ice age if some unknown conditions are met.

Why this doesn’t influence the doubt levels of modern climatologists I have no idea, but that doesn’t mean that CO_2 isn’t a greenhouse gas and that the GHE isn’t real. Heat doesn’t “dissipate” in the stratosphere — where could it go? The only place it can go is out to space, radiated away, and it has to do this all of the time in order to remain in balance with incoming energy from the sun.

rgb

36. rgbatduke says:

That puts you well above many climate scientists. You probably have a better overall knowledge of the many, many fields that have impacts on our climate than those who actually believe they are climate scientists. To be a true climate scientist would likely take degrees in a dozen or more fields.

You’re very kind (and I don’t disagree that it is a very difficult multidisciplinary subject) but still, a person who is “doing” it is likely to have learned some things that I simply haven’t and have to look up and remind myself every time I try to think about them. It’s difficult to master even all of the physics only needed in climate science, let alone the knowledge of geology, statistics, ODEs and PDEs, and so on that is required. To be a true climate scientist one is probably best off being a scientist in a multidisciplinary team, employing statisticians, mathematicians, computer scientists, physicists, chemists, geologists, and more, all working together, tied together by a few polymaths who are good in multiple disciplines (although probably not good enough to stand alone in them) to provide direction and glue.

Or, perhaps, to work in blogspace. I’m still meditating upon how bloggery facilitates true collaborative brainstorming that can lead to more than just bullshit heuristic arguments. I’m not sure that we’ve managed to capture the next generation paradigm for serious research yet, the one in which the internet itself is the primary facilitating tool. It has worked absolute magic in the open source world, but so far I’m not certain it has worked magic in science.

A shame, really. It should.

rgb

37. rgbatduke says:

Understanding the logarithmic nature of CO2 also speaks in my mind to the issue of sensitivity. If sensitivity is low, then really, what are we so concerned about? The CAGW meme relies on sensitivity being high, very high. Some of the initial alarmist estimates were 6 degrees C or more for CO2 doubling. They’ve been revised downward steadily since then, now ranging from +3 to +4.5.

IIRC, the actual mean being proposed in AR5 is 2.8C, and John NG indicated to me offline that his personal bet is 2.5C. And yes, I appreciate your argument for even less.

John Marshall — sorry, I was reading the messages in the wrong order or I would have realized that you already indicated the Ordovician Ice Age (and sorry about misnaming plate tectonics — I’m an old guy and it was continental drift when I grew up, and I haven’t taken “geology” since a single course in high school and learned most of it on my own, especially when dinosaurs fascinated me pre-age 13 and sympathetically when my kids reached the age where they liked them too.

But I completely agree. The Ordovician is a — at least a Apatosaurus in the room (bigger than an elephant, for sure) — being ignored by climate scientists. If an ice age that lasts a million years or more can occur where during the ice age the CO_2 drops only to 4000 ppm, and where the ice age itself is initiated at close to 1% CO_2 in the atmosphere, it is difficult for me to give as much credence as perhaps I should to those who have warned me in a voice most dire that our current CO_2 levels have made a return to glaciation inconceivable. To quote from The Princess Bride — “You keep using that word. I do not think that it means what you think that it means…”

It is difficult to consider something inconceivable when it has already happened. And we do not know why. Which makes it difficult to answer the question, Why Not? And this is far from the only ice age, and no, we don’t really have a good theory for why any of them happened, unless you are a “CO_2 is everything” enthusiast who wants to blame them all on overturning and sequestering carbon stores. Which I personally think is a bit silly, but we’ll see — I could be wrong!

OK, just about time to quit blogging and go fishing on the high (but not too high!) tide out back. Having added 10,000 or so words to its content, I may just retire from the thread on BOTH websites at this point. Hopefully it did some good, more good than harm, on both sides of the issue. Should have made the Ordovician point with John NG, though — I just never remember the particular name unless I look it up (curse you 10th grade geology back there in 1971, curse you all of the beer and dead brain cells in between:-)!

rgb

38. davidmhoffer says:

rgbatduke;
IIRC, the actual mean being proposed in AR5 is 2.8C, and John NG indicated to me offline that his personal bet is 2.5C. And yes, I appreciate your argument for even less.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Ah, so they are reducing the mean estimate… AGAIN! Still high in my opinion, but at least they’re moving the numbers into a range that is more supportable by both the data and the physics. Please note that I said “more supportable” not that I agree with it.

Even that is misleading in my view however because I’m betting that they are leaving out a crucial part of the physics in their explanation of that number. When I first read AR4, I couldn’t resolve CO2 doubling = 3.7 w/m2 = +1 degree + feedbacks with SB Law. Using the average temperature of earth at +15C (a number which I now doubt to be accurate but for the purposes of this discussion let’s run with it) I calculated that it would take 5.4 w/m2 to raise average earth temps by 1 degree. The 3.7 w/m2 looked doubtful, but with all the scrutiny AR4 was getting, it didn’t seem that anyone was challenging it. So I started asking questions.

It turns out that the calculation is not done against temperature at earth surface. It is done at the “effective black body” temperature of earth as seen from space, which is about -20 C. But to find the words that explained that, I had to go back to AR3 where the definition exists. AR4 simply refers to that value from AR3, but WITHOUT the additional explanation that it is in reference to an average temp of -20C rather than an average surface temp of +15C. Sort of like they calculate the effects of X amount of CO2 over 280 ppm without acknowledging that thos effects are already in place and any adidtional CO2 must be calculated against current CO2 concentrations which are closer to 400 and result in far lower effects than those referenced in AR4.

So….how does +1 degree at -20C, which occurrs on the mythical “average” at about 14,000 feet in altitude, translate into surface temperatures? Even if we were to assume that the 3.7 w/m2 went straight through the atmosphere unimpeded, we would still get a change in surface temps based on the IPCC’s “average” of 15C of only 0.7 degrees per doubling of CO2, not 1 degree. Scaling that to include feedbacks, provided that the AR5 definition is the same as AR4 and AR3, that putated 2.5 degrees is actually, at surface, only 1.75 degrees. Misleading upon misleading upon misleading.

Now let us factor in that if one were to model 3.7 w/m2 at TOA (which is my understanding of the IPCC methodology but its been quite a while since I actually read it) one would have a tough time arguing that all 3.7 w/m2 would even get through the atmosphere to surface in the first place. Water vapour absorption spectra overlaps CO2. Yes, it isn’t as strong an absorber as CO2 at the relevant wavelengths, but we measure water vapour at earth surface as high as 40,000 ppm versus CO2 at just 400 ppm. Even though a weaker absorber, water vapour overwhelms CO2 at low altitudes and low latitudes. CO2’s effects are therefor to be expected to be more pronounced at high altitudes and high latitudes where lower temps force water vapour out of the air.

So if water vapour is a GHG, resisting the radiation of energy from earth to space, it must also be a resistor of energy re-radiated at high altitude from CO2 toward earth. I’ve not seen a paper anywhere trying to quantify this, but it seems improbably to me that the all, or even most, of the 3.7 w/m2 modeled at TOA is going to make it to earth surface.

So what would be a realistice value? 50%? 25%? I really don’t have a clue on that one, but what I can suggest is that if AR5 is quoting a mean range of 2.5 degrees at earth’s effective black body temperature for a doubling of CO2, I cannot see how that would translate to more than a degree or so at surface, if that. Water vapour absorbs and re-radiates in both directions, and it just seems to me that CO2 at altitude producing 3.7 w/m2 is just not going to be able to punch very much of it through the water vapour below.

But, I could be wrong…. ;-)

39. KLA says:

rgbatduke says:
July 16, 2012 at 12:19 pm

I completely understand what you are saying, but what you are saying is clearly completely wrong. Empirically wrong, in some detail. A variation of Moore’s Law has held for hard drives, for example, even though they aren’t semiconductor devices — all that is required is for there to be some arena where there is a power law scaling in what is achieved in time, and sometimes that scaling, even in the case of chips, doesn’t even come from “just” VLSI scaling but from other nonlinear stuff, pipelining and parallelism, new technologies, etc.

Whether or not one counts or discounts concentrating optics, where one should really say that they are more expensive so far than the cells area unit (a far cry from proving that they will always be so), it is a matter of fact that if you plot the cost per watt over time, it seems to be following a power law with a halving time of roughly 10 years. You can argue that this cannot or will not continue — as it has been argued many times in the past with Moore’s Law itself, for that matter. Somehow, the prospect of lots of money and concentrated science always found a way to give it more legs, legs that were always obvious after the fact.

Again, you are comparing apples to oranges. Moore’s law applies so far to INFORMATION processing, of which information storage is a part. I did NOT say it applies only to semiconductors. Hard drives store INFORMATION, solar cells convert energy. With information storage or processing there is no forseeable physical limit. It’s even conceivable to store or process multiple bits per atom.

With energy conversion the hard physical limit is the second law. You can’t convert more energy than what’s input. It does not matter how cheap or efficient solar cells get. You can’t get more out of them than the sun produces. Any technology cost follows initially a power law. Compare the cost per horsepower of todays cars to a car say from 1910. It also followed a power law. But the floor was reached a while ago. Solar cells are very fast approaching that floor, and have arguably reached it already. See all the cell manufacturers that are going bankrupt because their product sales at current prices does not support them. Have you heard of a meltdown in information processing equipment manufacturers? There neither chip nor end-user equipment manufacturers are doing badly. Simply because there Moore’s law is in effect instead of the second law.
And for solar the enery area density is just very low, Meaning a large area needs to be used to collect the diffuse energy. No way around that.

40. eyesonu says:

Dr. Brown, thank you for your comments. Very well presented. I’m sure they will be read and studied by many.

41. rgbatduke says:

As I said, if you’re right, then I just won’t invest. But as I also said, it wouldn’t take much of a drop in real cost to make them a break even to win a bit proposition at over the counter prices. As for the rest of your remarks, there are a number of scaling laws at play, such as the one that generally predicts a rise in the real price of mining scarce resources as the initial easily accessible sources are exploited and played out. A second way solar technology could become a wise investment with a solid ROI is simple rate increases in electrical power due to all causes.

In reply to your question about meltdowns in microelectronics, of course there have been some. It’s a market. Somebody overproduces, suddenly people can’t make margin, there’s a shakeout. There have been several that I recall from my beowulf years, and even more in the PC industry in general, where margins are always on the edge of bankrupting the low-rent manufacturers if they are to remain competitive. There is also the foundry problem — new foundries for next-gen VLSI are horrendously expensive — so expensive that only a few companies can afford them, and those companies often pick up a serious technological edge (something that is happening now with Intel, as usual, being the one company that can afford to make a move that its competitors cannot then afford not to make, even though it may nearly bankrupt them in the process.

I actually suspect that the issue with PV cells has more to do with foundries and politics than with real costs of the technology (once the foundries are amortized). the PV market got nailed by an oversupply from China, brought about by the fact that China subsidized the hell out of its foundries (giving them an unfair advantage over even our subsidized, but less extravagantly so foundries). The supply got ahead of the demand curve before amortization had a chance to occur. There are also quite a few places where cost breakthroughs can occur in semiconductor PVs — I think you overestimate the extent to which the physics and engineering are already cut and dried. It isn’t a matter of just increasing thermodynamic cell efficiency, quite the contrary. It is a matter of increasing economic efficiency for any given thermodynamic efficiency. Given (say) an 8% conversion rate at retail cost \$X in 2012, it is entirely plausible that improvements in economy of scale, use of amorphous vs crystalline semiconductors, variations in doping, improvements in nanoscale VLSI, all could combine to make the retail cost at 8% conversion \$X/2 in 2020. Where is the second law violated in that? Indeed, a lot of the price drops we’ve seen have been at more or less constant efficiency, simply from improved foundries and economies of scale.

But I also have a lot of confidence in the probable discovery of hard improvements in the physics, either achieving any given percentage conversion with much cheaper materials or developing a much more efficient conversion with more expensive materials, but not scalably more expensive. Or products of sheer human ingenuity. But then, I’m an optimist.

Yet another place that could make a serious difference in solar and alternative energy, PV or not is storage or energy transport technology. As has been pointed out repeatedly, one serious barrier to commercial exploitation of solar where purchases in bulk can already provide — in principle — economy of scale sufficient to make it a decent ROI is the fact that you still have to buy power when the sun goes down, or behind clouds, etc. In addition, people who live in Maine aren’t going to get the ROI of somebody that lives in Arizona. A breakthrough in battery technology, for example really perfecting a cheap zinc-air storage battery or some other high density, inexpensive, low memory storage battery, could change everything almost overnight. Individually all of these chances might be small, but there is a huge payoff and a lot of people are working very hard to win this particular lottery. I don’t think my optimism is baseless — solar cells are vastly less expensive than they were one or two decades ago. Rechargable battery technology has improved radically twice or more in the last few decades.

IMO, we could make solar happen radically fast, if we needed to, with Manhattan-project style R&D and investment. We could also make nuclear replace coal radically fast if we needed to, without really requiring any new technology at all, or implementing “old” new technology in the form of Thorium Salt reactors. I’m not alone in my optimism in these technologies — a lot of my nuclear physicist friends think this is quite doable as well.

So while we might well disagree about whether or not solar, or batteries, or nuclear fission (any flavor), or wind, or fusion will pan out in any particular time frame, we might agree that the vast range of these alternatives, many of which are already borderline profitable in terms of ROI, will almost certainly produce several alternatives that might yet replace constantly more costly carbon based fuels (with the possible exception of gasoline, which is nearly unique in terms of portable energy density), and that if CO_2 ever truly did emerge as a problem at a level that didn’t require careful extraction of a “warming signal” from a dubious treatment of “climate noise” we could, as a society, implement one or more of these technologies quite rapidly and probably even experience a gold rush of sorts in the process from the large amounts of money in motion and jobs created. There is, therefore, no reason to panic and spend vast sums implementing immature technologies now, even as there is some reason to continue investing to make the immature technologies mature, and even investing in long shot stuff along the way.

Do you disagree? Would you pull a Ron Paul if you could and pull the plug on the DOE altogether, on energy technology research altogether?

rgb

42. rgbatduke (July 16 at 12:58 pm):

If I’m not mistaken, the quantity whose “actual mean being proposed in AR5 is 2.8 C” is the equilibrium climate sensitivity (TECS). TECS is the increase in the increase in the global average equilibrium surface air temperature from a doubling of the CO2 concentration. As the equilibrium temperature is not an observable, speculations regarding the numerical value of TECS are not falsifiable, thus lying outside science.

If climatology is to join the sciences, something other than the magnitude of TECS must be the subject of its speculations. One possibility is to replace speculations about the magnitude of TECS with (falsifiable) predictions of the global average surface air temperature. Does this topic interest you?

43. davidmhoffer says:

Terry Oldberg;
If I’m not mistaken, the quantity whose “actual mean being proposed in AR5 is 2.8 C” is the equilibrium climate sensitivity (TECS). TECS is the increase in the increase in the global average equilibrium surface air temperature from a doubling of the CO2 concentration.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Have they changed the definition? In AR3 and AR4 they were talking about the “effective black body” temperature of earth, which is NOT the surface temperature.

44. Allan MacRae says:

izen says: July 16, 2012 at 5:58 am

Izen, watch Murry Salby’s video regarding your carbon isotopes argument.

Your other question is far too silly for a response – unless you are nine years old or younger, in which case I apologize.

How old are you?

45. davidmhoffer:

According to Wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_sensitivity ) TECS “…refers to the equilibrium change in global mean near-surface air temperature that would result from a sustained doubling of the atmospheric (equivalent) carbon dioxide concentration (ΔTx2).” The pertinent feature of the referenced temperature is that it is an equilibrium temperature, consequently is unobservable.

46. Rob Dekker says:

This question goes back way to the first post, but is still valid and remains unanswered :

Dr. Brown said :

On WUWT most of the skeptics do not “deny” AGW, certainly not the scientists or professional weather people (I myself am a physicist) and honestly, most of the non-scientist skeptics have learned better than that. What they challenge is the catastrophic label and the alleged magnitude of the projected warming on a doubling of CO_2.

Dr. Brown, as a scientist, can you please clarify where I can find where climate scientists added the “catastrophic label” as you call it. I can’t seem to find it anywhere in scientific literature. Is it possible that self-proclaimed ‘skeptics’ (of the various varieties) have invented this label themselves ? Could it be that the term CAGW has been invented by ‘skeptics’, for political reasons, and has no place in science at all ? And could it possibly be that therefor you are challenging a label created by opinion, to counteract and opposing ‘opinion’, and that thus the label ‘catastrophic’ is not at all scientific ?

Second, ‘the alleged magnitude of the projected warming on a doubling of CO_2′ is 1.5-4.5 C (best estimate of 3 C) per doubling of CO2. Is this range really scientifically challenged, as you allege ? Or is this simply another derivative of the “catastrophic” label that seems to be invented by self-proclaimed ‘skeptics’ that prefer political skapegoating and labeling over scientific findings and reason ?

47. Rob Dekker says:

Sorry Dr. Brown, if I rubbed your lamp in the previous post.

Truth be told, I spend more time on WUWT smacking down (with Anthony’s full blessing) terrible physics or statistical arguments being advanced by certain people who participate than I do attacking AGW, in part because GW is obvious

is very well put, and, getting used to your blunt, but fair and scientifically accurate style, I would hope to see some more of your responses to obvious ‘confusionist’ pseudo-science postings that are so rampant on this fine blog.

48. davidmhoffer says:

Terry Oldberg says:
July 16, 2012 at 10:48 pm
davidmhoffer:
According to Wikipedia
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

You want to prove a definition then quote the source which is AR3 and AR4. You want me to take Wikipedia’s definition of what AR3/4 says over what AR3/4?

49. To claim that you are an old guy perhaps ignores your capabilities and work. By the way my age is greater than yours, I bet, at 71. New concepts are not that hard to grasp with an open mind. I will continue to fight the 2nd law corner when confronted with the GHG theory since I still consider it to be false, despite your recent emails to me. Observation shows that CO2 has little to do with climate drivers but a lot to do with politics and money. The label ‘catastrophic’ also shows that those using it have little knowledge of recent and past climate/weather or choose not to use that knowledge if politics/money get in the way.

50. You very nearly came to the same conclusions as I have concerning CO2 but then spoiled it. I pointed out some time ago that Jupiter, with its atmosphere of non GHG gasses hydrogen and helium , radiates more heat than it receives from the sun. It is accepted that this heat comes from adiabatic compression, as per the gas laws, but when questioned about this you claimed that what happens on Jupiter has nothing to do with earth. Sorry but both planets operate under the same physical laws. You accept compressive heating on Jupiter but not on Earth and instead return to CO2 because it is a GHG. (GHG is a stupid non scientific label since the atmosphere acts in no way like a greenhouse and scientific labels are supposed to be accurate which the GHG one is not and the reason why Continental Drift was changed to Plate Tectonics, because it most accurately described what was happening to both Continental plates as well as Oceanic ones)

51. Radiative cooling is not very effective with cloud cover but water vapour is regardless. Convection carries WV and with it a lot of latent heat, that heat coming from the surface. this WV forms the clouds losing its latent heat which is then radiated to space.

52. davidmhoffer:

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to clarify. Regarding the question of the definition of terms, my desire is to provide an accurate account of the definition of the equilibrium climate sensitivity (TECS) for IPCC Working Group 1 in AR4. Please note that Working Group I references TECS by the more ambiguous term “Climate Sensitivity.”

According to “Climate Change 2007: Working Group I: The Physical Science Basis, Section 8.6 Climate Sensitivity and Feedbacks, 8.6.1 Introduction, first paragraph”: “Climate Sensitivity is a metric used to characterise the response of the global climate system to a given forcing.” Paragraph 1 goes on to state that “It is broadly defined as the equilibrium global mean surface temperature following a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration (see Box 10.2).”

According to the authors of the description at http://math.about.com/od/statistics/a/meanmedian.htm, “Before you can begin to understand statistics, there are four terms you will need to fully understand. The first term ‘average’ is something we have been familiar with from a very early age when we start analyzing our marks on report cards. We add together all of our test results and then divide it by the sum of the total number of marks there are. We often call it the average. However, statistically it’s the Mean!”

By combining the descriptions from these two sources, I arrive at the conclusion that for IPCC Working Group I in AR4, TECS is the result from summing the equilibrium surface temperatures at a number of different points in Earth’s surface and dividing by the count of these points. Wikipedia’s definition differs from this one in reducing the range of ambiguity of the radial position near the surface of the Earth at which the various equilibrium temperatures are defined.

A conclusion that can, I think, be drawn from the above evidence is that the numerical value which is calculated by summing the various equilibrium temperatures and dividing by the count of them is not an observable feature of the real world. It is not an observable because none of the equilibrium temperatures from which this value is computed are observables.

53. davidmhoffer says:

Terry Oldberg;
By combining the descriptions from these two sources, I arrive at the conclusion that for IPCC Working Group I in AR4, TECS is the result from summing the equilibrium surface temperatures >>>>>

This connot be reconciled with the IPCC AR4 meme that CO2 doubling = 3.7 w/m2 = +1 degree and that the mean temperature that they use is 15C. To raise the temperature 15C by one degree requires additional forcing of 5.5 w/m2 (Stefan-Boltzmann Law). This leads to one of several possible conclusions:

1. Stefan-Boltzmann Law has been superseded by the IPCC
2. The IPCC did the math wrong
3. The IPCC is using -20C at the mean earth surface temperature, not +15C

In order to clarify this matter, refer to AR3 where it is clear that they are speaking of the “effective black body” temperature of earth which is -20C and which is the ONLY logical explanation for the meme of CO2 doubling = 3.7 w/m2 = +1 degree. Either we conclude that the definition in AR3 was poorly worded in carrying the discussion over to AR4, or that AR4 is simply built on a total and complete violation of SB Law.

54. davidmhoffer says:

In 3) above I did not mean to include the word “surface” Sentence should have read

3. The IPCC is using -20C as the mean temperature of earth which is derived from the “effective black body temperature” of earth.

55. KLA says:

rgbatduke says:
July 16, 2012 at 6:09 pm

….

Look, I am an electronics engineer with over 35 years of experience. I know the physics and engineering of solar cells very well and know in detail what can and cannot be achieved with the limits of their physics. And there I don’t share your optimism. Basically solar and wind are collectors of low density energy of uncontrolled variable supply. Meaning both are usable only either in conjunction with vast amound of energy storage (not available for the near future), or in conjunction with conventional energy sources. And they require large support structures to collect the low density energy of a large area.

This means you have to add the cost of storage or the building, maintenance and fuel cost of conventional sources. And because the conventional sources have to be available at full max load capacity, you double the total energy supply cost, as the “alternate” sources like solar and wind can potentially only reduce the fuel cost, which in case of nuclear is a very small part of the cost per enery unit.

I do however share your optimism in regards to nuclear. Gen IV uranium or thorium based. With that we won’t need any other energy sources ever as they can supply ALL our energy needs for the lifetime of humanity.
Especially with Thorium. For example, just the average Th content of the soil excavated for the foundation of a house could supply enough energy for the lifetime of the occupants. That’s where we should invest as that would produce the largest ROI.

The usual argument I hear against nuclear is of course the waste, which in reality is not a problem for these new reactors.
As Alvin Weinberg, the inventor of the pressurized water reactor, once said:

“Nuclear waste is not a substance. Wasting valuable nuclear materials is what stupid governments do.”

The other argument is that nuclear cannot load follow. Which is only true because todays reactors are build as base-load suppliers. They are build that way because the fuel cost is such a small part of the operating cost (the others are more or less fixed) that they become cheapest to operate as base load devices, running at 100% load all the time. However, there’s no reason reactors can’t be build to load follow. The reactors in nuclear submarines for example can ramp from idle to full power and back within 2 minutes. Well into the reaction realm of gas turbine load followers.

56. rgbatduke says:

Dr. Brown, as a scientist, can you please clarify where I can find where climate scientists added the “catastrophic label” as you call it. I can’t seem to find it anywhere in scientific literature. Is it possible that self-proclaimed ‘skeptics’ (of the various varieties) have invented this label themselves ? Could it be that the term CAGW has been invented by ‘skeptics’, for political reasons, and has no place in science at all ? And could it possibly be that therefor you are challenging a label created by opinion, to counteract and opposing ‘opinion’, and that thus the label ‘catastrophic’ is not at all scientific ?

I dunno. Did you actually visit and read through TFS on John NG’s blog that are the subject of this thread? John Nielsen-Gammon, the host, is a climate scientist. He seems completely aware of the “catastrophic” aspect of AGW as a nearly universal adjunct to the science, to the extent that many papers address nothing but how “catastrophic” (politically and economically) things like an AGW-predicated SLR will be, whether or not the ice caps will be melted in ten years, 100 years, 1000 years, how big the droughts are we’re bound to have when the temperature has increased, and so on. He also is well aware of the inexcusable bias of a famous survey that asked “scientists” of many disciplines whether or not they thought warming had occurred and whether or not any of that warming was anthropogenic, which was then used — and continues to be used — to justify taking any measures to combat an alleged catastrophe, as in “90% plus of all scientists believe in anthropogenic warming, so we need to prepare for a SLR that will flood all of Florida in 100 years and take enormously expensive measures in the meantime to control CO_2″. If you actually participate in any debates at all on this subject, you cannot possibly not have heard this. Indeed, it is difficult to hear anything else in many public forums. It is also absolutely the tone of the “Summary for Policy Makers” produced by the IPCC.

JNG pointed out to me that in a survey that asked climate scientists — members of the AMS and AGU — about the specific issue of catastrophic AGW, 16% of those surveyed said that they thought that AGW would be modest and its effects non-catastrophic/negligible, 31% thought that it would have moderate negative effects but that they wouldn’t be massively negative or truly “catastrophic”, and only 43% thought they would be catastrophic. Not even all of the members surveyed agreed that significant/detectable anthropogenic global warming has occurred. I do, so I suppose I’m a warmist compare to at least “climate scientists”.

John’s response — as a climate scientist — is to break personal conclusions about AGW into three categories. One he labels CAGW — Catastrophic with a capital C, corresponding to the 43% that believe that a doubling of CO_2 will be enormously, catastrophically expensive, disasterous whatever that means to the individual involved. Another he labels cAGW — corresponding to the 31% or so of climate scientists (including himself) who think that AGW is happening and will have moderately negative consequences (not ruling out the possibility that some of its consequences could be positive as well). The remaining 16% — roughly 1/7th of the surveyed members of the two scientific bodies where one would expect to reach the “95% of all scientists believe in AGW so let us pick your pocket” level — are not yet convinced that catastrophic anthropogenic global warming is occurring at all, either they aren’t even certain that global warming is (significantly) anthropogenic (5%) or they think that AGW is happening but will have negligible impact (11%).

So is CAGW a “scientific term”? Of course not. Nothing in the policy level political and economic discussion involves scientific terms or assess scientific doubt! It is a political term, however, in nearly universal usage, and often used with either the active compliance of the 43% or the passive acquiescence of the remaining 57%.

Now, we could get rid of that kind of term by (for example) getting rid of the Summary for Policy Makers produced by the IPCC completely. Force policy makers to read the actual scientific working group reports. There they would see real boundaries placed on this, real limits on certainty, the real doubts of even the working climate scientists who do the science being reported. That still wouldn’t completely fix either the process or the bias that is apparent in some of even the working groups (paleoclimatology being a great example, post-Mann) but it would be a huge step forward.

Does that help? As a physicist, my name is regularly taken in vain when professional societies in physics, claiming to speak for me, assert that they accept that AGW has occurred and will have catastrophic consequences upon a doubling of CO_2, as if all physicists agree. Not even all climate scientists agree, and surveys that “prove” that scientists this or that are often horribly biased simply by the stupid, un-nuanced questions being asked. Has the Earth warmed in the last 100 years? Are you stupid or something? Of course it has. Is any of that warming likely due to any sort of human activity? Why sure, probably. Why not?

Does this in any way imply that I agree that human caused activity will lead to a 5 to 10 C rise in global temperatures upon a doubling of atmospheric CO_2 — and yes, these are numbers pulled out of one of Hansen’s many enormously alarmist papers — with catastrophic effects including the melting of the Greenland ice cap and most other glaciers and ocean ice, massive droughts, violent storms, sea levels that flood whole countries, human displacement in the billions, famine, plague and war (so please, let us have your money and political support)?

It isn’t even the case that most climate scientists that that is likely to be true, in part because there are damn good observational reasons to think that it is not. So sure, your comment above is a bit of a straw man, in context, but hopefully this has beaten the stuffing out of it.

rgb

57. rgbatduke says:

Sorry Dr. Brown, if I rubbed your lamp in the previous post.

Well, as you can see, I just rub back…;-)

I would hope to see some more of your responses to obvious ‘confusionist’ pseudo-science postings that are so rampant on this fine blog.

Well, if you look, you will find out there in blogville tens of thousands of words I’ve written demonstrating that e.g. the results of Jelbring (claiming that warming is due to PV = NkT because the static thermal equilibrium of an atmosphere gravitationally bound to a planetary sphere is not isothermal) are second law violating nonsense, that the results of Nikolov and Zeller (claiming that there is a “miracle equation” that predicts the warming at the bottom of planetary atmospheres on the basis of surface pressure alone) are complete dimensionless nonsense with physical constants in the miracle equation that are truly absurd (and that besides, if one actually plots the over-the-counter data without their special sauce, it falls nowhere near their line), and any number of words patiently explaining why TOA spectrographs are nothing less than an actual photograph of the GHE in action, to anyone who can read them so that efforts to prove that there is no GHE are incredibly silly. I just posted the latter, in considerable detail with links, in a Slashdot thread only yesterday, for example.

That doesn’t stop me from agreeing with Koutsoyiannis’ lovely paper analyzing the fact that 2/3 of the station adjustments used to determine the thermometric temperature trends over the last century plus lead to an increase of late 20th century warming and a decrease of early 20th century or earlier warming, computing the p-value of that occurrence given the null hypothesis of unbiased station adjustments (which should, one would rather expect, have a neutral effect on warming trends on average) and conclude that this p-value is zero to as many digits as you would ever care to write, permitting the unambiguous rejection of the null hypothesis of unbiased station adjustments. If this paper doesn’t create a perfect storm of enormous proportions — among climate scientists who are shocked to discover that one of their primary sources of data is manifestly corrupted, pending an explanation that I literally cannot imagine being adequate — it will not reflect well on the discipline. Several other results can be interpreted quite simply as straight up Bayesian evidence of bias in this data set — such as the recently trumpeted observation that the US had 13 months in a row in the top 1/3 of warmest months on record. The more unlikely this is (even for trended data!) the more likely it is that what it is really revealing is bias in the underlying data.

It also makes me take David Hoffer’s remarks concerning straight-up log responses to CO_2 forcing quite seriously, because I can’t come up with a good way to refute them. In fact, they produce estimates very similar to what I get with back of the envelope computations. Yes, enormously detailed, complex, whole globe GCMs may produce different predictions than back of the envelope trends, but (to my own direct experience in physics) the rule is to trust Fermi estimates and scaling arguments more than complex multivariate computations, and to doubt that you have those complex computations right until you get reasonable agreement. If Koutsoyiannis is correct and GW itself has been exaggerated by 0.5 C or thereabouts by straight-up station adjustment bias, there is even less AGW to distribute over the last century and David’s arguments are even stronger. If Koutsoyiannis is correct, it will indeed require the complete renormalization of GCMs, will it not? Is there any possibility whatsoever that they will produce predictions of catastrophic future warming if their past warming has a few tenths of a degree (out of a few more tenths of a degree) knocked off of it?

rgb

58. rgbatduke says:

ou accept compressive heating on Jupiter but not on Earth and instead return to CO2 because it is a GHG.

That’s because Jupiter is an enormous ball of gas with a mass about 1/1000th that of the Sun itself, that relatively narrowly missed the cut for becoming a brown dwarf star. A brown dwarf star is one that radiates only heat from gravitational collapse; it isn’t hot enough to ignite any sort of fusion process. In a certain mass range — roughly Jupiter’s size on up — surface to volume effects mean that it takes the star (if you want to call it that) a very, very long time to cool. You can read a bit about them here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_dwarf of course. Note especially that brown dwarfs are on a continuum with Jupiter-scale planets.

That means that Jupiter’s heat has an actual source. It is gravitational potential energy being released as heat as the planet cools and shrinks. Jupiter has a very high albedo and is far from the Sun so that its net energy input from insolation is very low, meaning that the “heat of condensation” being given off as it collapses and becomes more dense is competitive with the heat input from the Sun, and besides is trapped by Jupiter’s atmosphere to raise the temperature of the interior simply because a heat gradient has to exist to permit the heat to diffuse outward to where it eventually is radiated away in near-equilibrium.

The Earth, is a far, far, smaller rocky ball. It has almost no atmosphere, and the atmosphere it has is largely transparent in the visible band where the Sun emits the bulk of its radiant energy. This atmosphere is not, on average, collapsing. Indeed, if anything it is outgassing, which is in and of itself a cooling process (although utterly negligible compared to radiation). There is therefore no gravitational compression heating. That’s why I don’t “accept it” on Earth — because there isn’t any. If there were, surface pressures on the Earth would systematically increase. They don’t.

The only sources of heating for the surface of the Earth are: Insolation is well over 99% of it. Tidal heating and heat gradually being lost from the molten interior (some being produced by e.g. fission, some being lost from the Earth’s originally hot/molten formation) are the bulk of the rest of it, comprising IIRC around 0.1%. Magnetic induction heating is an even tinier contribution. I think infalling meteors and thermal outgassing about balance. Human added energy from burning stuff is teensy.

This isn’t really a “matter of opinion”, John. If you want to propose an alternative, is it a lot to expect that alternative to be quantitatively consistent and empirically verifiable (all of the above are)? You can get out a piece of paper and calculator and work down this energy budget and guesstimate the fairly close order of each contribution using very simple and believable and observable numbers. It isn’t even certain that the surplus heat observed from Jupiter is due to gravitational collapse (precipitation of Helium into the core) — it is just a theory that could explain the observation, and sadly, we haven’t really got a clue as to what’s going on deep inside of Jupiter on the basis of observation so we’re stuck with theories and guesses for now.

If you disagree, feel free to post your own proposed energy budget for the Earth. Insolation is what? Tides? Measured heat flux from the interior? Just be sure that if you include a term labelled “heat from atmospheric collapse” that you back it up with detailed computations that show a consistent connection to an actual source of free energy! I know where the actual energy in insolation comes from — nuclear fusion inside the sun radiantly transferred to the Earth. I know where it comes from in tides — the moon and sun lifting and dropping part of the Earth’s crust and atmosphere 2x a day. I know where it comes from in the case of the interior — leftover primoridial heat plus additional heat from fission and heat trapped from the tidal deformation. In each case free energy stores I can name and quantitatively guesstimate are the actual sources of the heat, and I can track the energy in motion from the source to the surface and thence out to infinity via outgoing thermal radiation.

What is the source of any free energy released from “atmospheric collapse”? If the atmosphere is collapsing a la Jupiter, why isn’t the pressure increasing as the compressed atmosphere becomes more dense? I don’t believe in magic, so heat in the air has to come from energy somewhere — where’s the energy coming from? Can you do any sort of computation that suggests even the remotest possibility that the numbers work out, that atmospheric collapse belongs on my list of energy sources above? I don’t think so, with all due respect.

The greenhouse effect, I reiterate (and will continue to reiterate indefinitely if need be) is directly observable in TOA spectroscopy. I do mean directly. One literally cannot doubt that the GHE — including the fact that CO_2 and water and ozone are all major contributers — exists as one can effectively photograph it. Furthermore — and you can trust me on this or not as you like — one can completely follow a “derivation” of the GHE from microscopic first principles through to at least a semi-quantitative theory, starting with blackbody radiation given off by the ground and being strongly absorbed and scattered by optically saturated CO_2 on its way out to space, but only in certain frequencies (and being similarly absorbed and scattered by water and ozone in significant proportions as well). It’s as easy to understand as a space blanket, and just as empirically demonstrable.

The derivation is only semiquantitative for a variety of reasons — the most important one being its dependence on the adiabatic lapse rate and the differential opacity of the atmosphere as a function of density and hence height in different greenhouse-coupled frequencies. The ALR isn’t a constant/predictable thing — it varies with humidity, location, temperature, and more. Furthermore, atmospheric concentrations of at least one GHG, water, are far from uniform and have highly nonlinear feedbacks and effects — water isn’t only a GHG, and it isn’t even clear that the GHE is its most important role as a moderator of climate. Or its second most important role. It participates in modulation of the bond albedo and hence insolation (probably the most important direct effect), direct heat/enthalpy transport to modulate the ALR and warm the upper atmosphere (sort of an anti-GHE and quite possibly the second most important effect), the operation of a huge, globe-spanning differentially permeable heat storing buffer with its own complex internal dynamics (the ocean) which could be the third most important as it directly affects both of the first two as well as sure, the GHE produced by water vapor as a GHG when it isn’t busy doing other things.

But everything simplifies at the TOA. There one just sees the outgoing radiation and can direct infer where it is coming from by its effective BB temperature, and can see the GHG holes that force the BB temperatures elsewhere to be higher in order to maintain detailed balance with all heat sources no matter what they are.

rgb

59. davidmhoffer says:

rgbatduke;
It also makes me take David Hoffer’s remarks concerning straight-up log responses to CO_2 forcing quite seriously, because I can’t come up with a good way to refute them.
>>>>>>>>>>>>

Thanks for the comment Robert. I’ve presented this explanation several times, in several different ways, in several forums, and all I’ve ever gotten for feedback was the sound of crickets. Skeptics and warmists alike just done’t seem interested in engaging on a discussion of the physics from this perspective. I find that odd. If I’m wrong, one would think someone would take me to task. If I’m correct, or even just more or less on the right track, then it drives a stake through the heart of the CAGW meme that makes all the debate about all the other issues, pretty much moot. I could be wrong of course….. but I’ve always been of the belief that the CAGW meme should have died on the the logarithmic nature of CO2 alone.

60. davidmhoffer says:

To go along with my comments above, there is the lates Mauna Loa chart indicating year over year increases in CO2 concentration:

http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/webdata/ccgg/trends/co2_data_mlo_anngr.pdf

As one can see, we were at just under 1 ppm in the 1960’s, and over the last 20 years, we’re under 2.0 ppm/yr. Even isolating to the last 10 years, there are some spikes over 2.0, but the average is less than 2.0 ppm/yr. Now here’s a link showing total fossil fuel consumption over the last 100+ years:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Global_Carbon_Emissions.svg

If we interpolate from that graph, we get fossil fuel consumption increasing about four fold since 1960. But CO2 rate of increase has only about doubled. This leads to two possible causes that I can think of:

1. There are natural cycles that consume CO2 at variable rates that are off setting (at this point in time) the amount of CO2 we human scum are putting into the atmosphere or;

2. That the biosphere is responding positively due to CO2 fertilization and is sequestering it at a rate that in part off sets what we are releasing.

Either of the above must come to an end of course, nothing is forever, processes have limits. But if we extrapolate from the data we have:

If we quadrupled world wide consumption of fossil fuels starting tomorrow, we’d expect an increase in atmospheric concentration of about (interpolating and guestimating) about 3.6 ppm/yr. In other words, it would take about 100 years, at QUADRUPLE current fossil fuel consumption rates, to get just one doubling of CO2 = 3.7 w/m2 = +1 degree.

But, as I noted above, temperature has a built in negative feedback in that P(w/m2) = 5.67*10^-8*T^4 (Stefan-Boltzmann Law). If we accept the IPCC “average” of 15C, that gives us a rise in temperature at SURFACE of only 0.7 degrees. But who cares about averages? Let’s look at the temperature range the human condition suffers under across the globe which ranges from -40C to +40C and apply 3.7 w/m2 to those temps

+40C +3.7w/m2 = + 0.53 degrees
-40C +3.7 w/m2 = + 1.28 degrees

Now the above is a bit misleading because the 3.7 w/m2 would not be evenly distributed across all temps and latitudes, but that is a whole discussion unto itself. My main point is that the putative CO2 doubling = 3.7 w/m2 = +1 degree is an exageration unto itself, and presumes that the 3.7 w/m2 which models presume is TOA and could not possibly reach earth surface 100% suggesting that what we would logically expect to happen “on average” is a lot less than 0.7 degrees, and for the warmest parts of the earth, even less than that. As for the polar bears, if they hibernate at -39C instead of -40C, I’m not certain that they’ll either notice or complain.

61. Allan MacRae says:

davidmhoffer says: July 17, 2012 at 1:28 pm

” This leads to two possible causes that I can think of:

1. There are natural cycles that consume CO2 at variable rates that are off setting (at this point in time) the amount of CO2 we human scum are putting into the atmosphere or;

2. That the biosphere is responding positively due to CO2 fertilization and is sequestering it at a rate that in part off sets what we are releasing.”

AND/OR

In a decade or so, we will conclude that CO2 is a result of global climate, not a driver thereof.

There is a popular but fallacious argument (called the mass balance argument) that assumes that, everything else being constant (ha!), the magnitude of human CO2 emissions is sufficient that it must be the primary cause of increasing atmospheric CO2.

BUT we also can see from the data that human CO2 emissions are generally absorbed by vegetation within a short distance of their source, and furthermore, we also observe from satellite data that global sources of CO2 are located in equatorial areas, NOT industrial areas, and finally, the entire CO2-water cycle is highly dynamic, not static, and increased atmospheric CO2 results in increased global biomass.

I suggest that human emissions of CO2 are a tiny fraction of natural CO2 flux and are inconsequential within the variation of the natural system.

62. Rob Dekker says:

Allan MacRae said :

I suggest that human emissions of CO2 are a tiny fraction of natural CO2 flux and are inconsequential within the variation of the natural system.

Of course you do. You are a good ‘skeptic’ after all. Let me ask you a question : if not by our emissions, why did CO2 concentrations in our atmosphere increase from 280 pmm pre-industrial to 395 ppm today (and rising by 2 ppm/year) ? Is that increase still “inconsequential” ?

63. Rob Dekker says:

rgbatduke said a lot but this was interesting :

So is CAGW a “scientific term” ? Of course not. Nothing in the policy level political and economic discussion involves scientific terms or assess scientific doubt! It is a political term,

Thank you rgbatduke, to admit that CAGW is a “political term”. Now, to WHO is using this term, you give no references, but a lot of rethoric, including :

Now, we could get rid of that kind of term by (for example) getting rid of the Summary for Policy Makers produced by the IPCC completely.

Still, the SPM does not even mention term CAGW. In fact, they did not even mention the ‘Catastrophic’ label anywhere as far as I can see. What kind of scapegoating are you practicing here, rgbatduke ?

64. Rob Dekker says:

Dr. Brown mentions :

the 3-5 C catastrophic warming Hansen et al. continue to predict.

Dear Dr. Brown. The IPCC projects a 1.5 – 4.5 C global average warming for a doubling of CO2, based on paleo-climate analysis, basic physics, and implementation thereof in climate models.

From your perpective as a scientist, is there really much of a statistical difference between projections being based on scientific findings (1.5 – 4.5 C) which I understand you accept scientifically, versus what you emotionally call “catastrophic warming” (3 – 5 C) for a doubling of CO2 ?

65. davidmhoffer says:

Rob Dekker,

1. The SPM paints a picture of impending catastrophe driven by human avtivity. Arguing about what specific words they use or don’t use to accomplish that just makes you look manipulative.

2. Hansen contues to predict 3-5 degrees, is frequently both emotional in his claims and abusive to those with contrary opinions, and indeed claims repeatedly that it will be catastrophic. If you quibble is with the emotional prediction of catastrophe preciated upon Hansen’s prediction, then your quibble is with Hansen for saying it, not with Brown for referring to it. Attempting to hang the issue on Brown just makes you look manipulative.

66. Allan MacRae says:

Rob Dekker says: July 18, 2012 at 2:15 am

A rather aggressive question Rob. Read my post at 10:30pm – the information you seek is there.

The evidence suggests that temperature drives CO2, not the reverse.

CO2 lags temperature in time at all measured time scales.

So the recent increase in atmospheric CO2 is primarily natural.

Furthermore, if there is a significant humanmade component to this increase , it is likely caused more by deforestation in equatorial areas rather than the burning of fossil fuels.

I further suggest that even if I am wrong in my above hypo*, Climate Sensitivity to atmospheric CO2 is insignificant, 0 +/- 0.3C for a doubling of atmospheric CO2. This low Sensitivity is consistent with the global cooling that occurred from ~1940 to 1975, even as humanmade CO2 emissions accelerated strongly. The fabrication of historic aerosol data to falsely hindcast climate computer models and thus justify higher Sensitivity values is an unscientific exercise.

So I conclude that the modest global warming that occurred from ~1975 to~2000, like the modest global cooling from ~1940 to ~1975, and the modest global warming from ~1850 to ~1940 were all primarily natural in origin, not humanmade. The fact that there has been no net global warming since ~2000 should also make you pause and re-examine your beliefs.

In conclusion, the manmade global warming crisis does not exist, and never did.

Regarding global temperatures, Mother Nature apparently does not even know we exist, not does she care.

Being ignored by Good Old Mom is painful to contemplate, especially when we humans always thought we were the centre of the universe.

Sorry Buck-o!

Try to be strong.

______________

I developed this hypo* and published in January 2008 at
http://icecap.us/index.php/go/joes-blog/carbon_dioxide_in_not_the_primary_cause_of_global_warming_the_future_can_no/

Murry Salby states the same conclusion in his 2011 video at

67. Rob Dekker says:

To the question I asked :
If not by our emissions, why did CO2 concentrations in our atmosphere increase from 280 pmm pre-industrial to 395 ppm today (and rising by 2 ppm/year) ?

Allan MacRae answers A rather aggressive question Rob. Read my post at 10:30pm – the information you seek is there.

where we read (among other claims) that :

we also observe from satellite data that global sources of CO2 are located in equatorial areas, NOT industrial areas,

Now, I noticed that Murry Salby waved around a map which seemed to suggest the same thing : that tropical rain forest areas are the major source of CO2 emissions, and NOT our industrial activities.

Interesting was that Salby did not give any reference to the source of that map.
Now that you are mentioning the same observation, it may be time to show where you and Salby obtained that map.

68. Brian H says:

rgbatduke says:
July 16, 2012 at 6:06 am

Sorry, RB, the stakes are too high for professiona/academic politeness. The AGW/CAGW enterprise is grabbing for all the marbles. It needs to have its fingers chopped off right up to the shoulder.

The AGW/CAGW “enterprise” is political, mostly, and if anything is using the scientists to accomplish political ends.

And the used scientists are so ignorant of their own field’s standards that they are duped into playing along? Not hardly. They’re bribed. And are thus fully complicit.
….
It hardly sounds like an enterprise “grabbing all the marbles”.
Have you read nothing of the goals of the IPCC’s enabling UN bodies? “Global governance” appears in almost every second paragraph. They’re not fooling.

The problem is that uncivil discourse is no way to get anything done.

rgb

Re your final sentence: mealy-mouth compromise with those who plan for 90+% depopulation of a de-industrialized planet is a non-starter. As is leaving their works to date (literally libraries-full of legislation and regulations and treaties, and hundreds of grotesque landscape blights, and monumental monetary misappropriations) intact.

Persuading the perps to undo their depredations is not a plan.

I refer you to Pointman’s summary:
http://thepointman.wordpress.com/2012/03/16/the-climate-wars-revisited-or-no-truce-with-kings/