The age old battle of the thermostat – the ‘Goredian’ Knot of global temperature

People send me stuff.

Reader Kurt writes:

I just found your excellent website and have book marked it and will visit it often for updates. One simple question the global warm-mongers have never been able to answer is…

…that if in fact warming is taking place as they claim, what then is the optimum temperature of the Earth? Can they give us a number? is it 55 degrees? 78 degrees? 85 degrees? 98.6? Al Gore says the Earth has a fever – then what is the “normal” temperature?

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

I thought about that long and hard, and thought to myself that it is sort of like a “Goldilocks” subjective temperature for porridge:

At the table in the kitchen, there were three bowls of porridge. Goldilocks was hungry.  She tasted the porridge from the first bowl.

“This porridge is too hot!” she exclaimed.

So, she tasted the porridge from the second bowl.

“This porridge is too cold,” she said

So, she tasted the last bowl of porridge.

“Ahhh, this porridge is just right,” she said happily and she ate it all up.

But what is “just right” for Earth’s temperature? Depending on who you might ask, I suspect you’d get different answers.

The Neanderthals, who lived through the last ice age, 10,000 to 70,000 years ago, might say “uggghaa bok mak!”  or in present language “warmer than it is now!”.

Ancient Greece, living in their age of enlightenment, which flourished during the 5th to 4th centuries BC might remark “είναι σωστό τώρα, τον πολιτισμό μας ευδοκιμεί”  or “it is correct now, our civilization is thriving”.

The Romans, who lived through the Roman Warm Period from 250 BC to 400 might say “frigus quam praesens placere” or “cooler than the present please”.

During the Islamic Golden Age of expansion, 622-750AD, They might argue the temperature was “just right” for them.

In the Medieval Warm Period, from about AD 950 to 1250, when humanity started to thrive, they would probably say the porridge was “just right”.

Right after that, the Vikings in Greenland would probably have asked Onan Odin for some extra warmth.

During the Little ice Age, from 1300-1850 it would seem certain most people would ask for it to be warmer, especially since it had such a well documented negative effect on human history.

As for now for 1850 to present? Well, it just safe to call it the tail end of the Holocene Climatic Optimum although some people think it is too warm and are actively campaigning to reduce Earth’s temperature.

File:Holocene Temperature Variations.png

After thinking about how those previous civilizations in time might perceive their preferred temperature, and thinking about Kurt’s question, I realized that it might very well be an intractable problem, aka the Gordian Knot:

“Turn him to any cause of policy,
The Gordian Knot of it he will unloose,
Familiar as his garter”
(Shakespeare, Henry V, Act 1 Scene 1. 45–47)

Or as Dr. Judith Curry once remarked to Congress:

Climate change can be categorized as a “wicked problem.”

As to the answer to Kurt’s question, the best answer I can offer would be this:

A temperature at which the widely geographically varied and widely climate adapted human civilizations and cultures can go about their lives without undue hardship.

But what is that optimum “just right” temperature numerically?  Well, first it is a local-versus-global problem. A local temperature suitable for the Eskimos isn’t likely to be suitable for the indigenous people of the Amazon. Second, it is a question of global average.

The average temperature of the Earth is said to have been and is:

Between 1961 and 1990, the annual average temperature for the globe was around 57.2°F (14.0°C), according to the World Meteorological Organization.

In 2011, the global temperature was about 0.74°F (0.41°C) above that long-term average, according to the WMO’s estimates.

Source: UCAR/NCAR

So if we are to accept those numbers, our current global temperature is 57.2 + 0.7 = 57.9°F

Between 1961 and the present, Earth’s human population has gone from 3 billion to 7 billion, more than doubling, and in that time the global temperature changed only 0.7F according to UCAR/NCAR.  Given the population growth, you could say that slight temperature rise has increased the human condition to a more favorable environment.

But, honestly, I don’t think the global temperature matters much in the scheme of things, because despite gloom and doom predictions of global warming to kill millions by 2030, the projections are still upwards:

pop_005[1]

The graph shows this pattern of accelerating growth (including the predicted population for 2025).

Source: BBC

I think it is science and adaptation that matters more than global temperature:

World_Population_Chart[1]

Source: http://econosystemics.com/AphetaBlog/?p=9

So probably, the best path forward from here is to shrug our shoulders at global warming, and to simply adapt, as mitigation (given the performance we’ve seen from current schemes to reduce Earth’s temperature) will be a true Gordian knot that will likely bankrupt us in the process.

Besides, our current warming from posited greenhouse gas effects may actually be helpful to us, because in climatic terms, there’s this maxim of mine:

If you don’t like the Earth’s climate, just wait a millennium.

And that is not too far ahead it seems, E.M Smith writes in Annoying Lead Time Graph

This graph from TheInconvenientSkeptic bothers me.

It bothers me because of what it says.

What it says, by two different modes of reading, is that we have no business being warm right now…

LI-Holocene[1]

Click to enlarge

About these ads
This entry was posted in Global cooling, Global warming, Little Ice Age and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

202 Responses to The age old battle of the thermostat – the ‘Goredian’ Knot of global temperature

  1. Steve Keohane says:

    That last graph bothers me too. It seems the past few interglacial periods have run 10-12K years. We are 12K years into this one. This was a concern in the 70s, until Jack bought his magic CO2 beans,and sprouted a hockey stalk. It has always nagged me that temperatures dive when CO2 is at its highest levels according to the ice cores. WUWT?

  2. Keith AB says:

    I think you meant Odin, Onan was famous for something rather “different”.

    But a good thread. What should the optimum look like? Just because someone today thinks things were perfect 50 years ago , say, doesn’t mean that we all would agree. Seems like another imposed halcyon ideal being imposed for our own good by our betters. *tugs forelock*.

    We all think that things were at their most excellent when we were growing up. Every kid in every time agrees that those were the best conditions under which to grow. Even our grand children will feel that way, it’s human nature.

  3. johnmcguire says:

    Send me a bunch of money and I’ll study that for you . PS Let me know in a secret email what you want the answer to be .

  4. SasjaL says:

    Onan, 2nd son of Judah …
    The biblical person who masturbated, doesn’t exist in Norse mythology …

    It is probably Odin (Oden) you seek, who together with his brothers Vili (Vile) and Vé (Ve) created the earth.

  5. James Davidson says:

    The Earth reaches an equilibrium temperature when the energy it loses to space as infra-red radiation is the same as the energy it receives from the Sun. This equilibrium temperature is -18C. The actual average surface temperature of the earth, as you say, is 14C, – a difference of 32C. This 32C difference is the greenhouse effect. Ferenc Miskolczi has shown that the physics and mathematics demand that this is a saturated greenhouse effect. We have been conducting an unplanned experiment. Every year we have been dumping billions of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. As levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have increased, levels of water vapour have declined. Miskolczi has shown that the optical thickness of the atmosphere, that is the number of times a photon of infra-red energy will be captured and released either by a molecule of CO2 or by a molecule of water vapor, has been unchanged since 1949. We have added more CO2 to the atmosphere and water vapour has declined to keep the greenhouse effect constant.

  6. RACookPE1978 says:

    Nah.

    The Vikings knew Onan was just going twist the handiest knob on his thermostat …. 8<)

  7. cui bono says:

    Absolutely right Anthony. Humans can adapt (by technology, mitigation and migration) to whatever is thrown at us. A larger question would be: do we have the right or the ability to try to ‘freeze-frame’ the world as we know and like it, or let the constant change of Nature take its course? I don’t know the answer to that.

    Happy New Year to you, mods and everyone!

  8. John Archer says:

    Right after that, the Vikings in Greenland would probably have asked Onan for some extra warmth.

    Onan!

    Careful, Anthony. There might be children reading this.

    I guess if Onan replaced Odin that might explain why the Vikings had a hard time. :)

  9. RockyRoad says:

    The “optimum” would be anything but the temperature cliff from which the earth recovered at the start of the Holocene (your first graph). Obviously, the earth will repeat that truly catastrophic* dive into the temperature abyss sometime in the future and Warmistas will be pining for the good ol’ days of relative global warmth.

    *catastrophic: Most of the earth’s population will starve to death. The billions unavoidably killed by the next Ice Age will dwarf the Warmist’s fanciful prediction of millions killed by “climate”. And it will happen so fast that starvation will be the major cause unless we first annihilate ourselves through war.

    Oh, and Happy New Year! (A very sobering one, I might add.)

  10. Axel says:

    Adaptation:
    I once looked up the rate at which the coastal sea level advanced at the end of the last ice age, as witnessed by our ancestors of “Sealand” whose archaeological remains are today scattered [across] the bed of the North Sea. I forget precisely the figure, but itwas something like SIXTY FEET PER WEEK! You may want to check that. Could be Im out by a factor of ten. Hmmm, that would still be six feet per week. Out by a factor of a hundred: still more than half a foot per week. That’s more than we are supposed to see this century, PER WEEK!

    Kind of knocks the scare mongering of present Neo-Environmentalist hysteria into a cocked hat.

    Meanwhile, just when are those Pacific islands going to finally be inundated? We are about ten years late on that I [believe.]

  11. SasjaL says:

    … but Jörð (Fjorgyn / Jord [transl. Earth]) is the goddess of Earth (and mother of Thor), who is even a better choice.

  12. davidmhoffer says:

    I frequently see this question asked, and I’m sort of amused by the answers. Why? ‘cuz it don’t much matter! The earth’s temperature has varied from planetary hot house to ice age. Even if we knew what the “optimum” temperature was, how would we do anything about it? When it comes to temperature swings like that, we’re the germ on the flee on the elephant’s putootie.

    The question is, in my mind at least, what do we do about any temperature swing large enough to be problematic? That, at least, has answers within our capacity to act.

  13. Doug Proctor says:

    The NH summer energy: the 21,000 year tilt wobble?

    What is most important about the NH summer energy shift, as the TOA TSI changes by 6.8% or 91 W/m2 (45 W/mw whole Earth, daytime 12 hours, 22 W/m2 full Earth-24 hour) during the course of every year, because of orbital eccentricity, is that the Earth doesn’t just stay at a stable temperature, but that the NH is actually 2C warmer than the SH even though the NH summer occurs during the aphelion stage of the orbit, the point furthest from the sum, when the energy reaching the Earth is the lowest. So although 3.4 W/m2 (13.6 W/m2 TOA TSI equivalent) is said to bring the Earth’s temperature up 2C (CO2 theory), a negative 22 W/m2 difference creates a positive 2C change in the NH.

    Counter-intuitive, or what?

    The key point here is that the Earth’s atmospheric and oceanic system works very hard and very efficiently to redistribute solar energy. This cannot be emphasized enough. The system of energy redistribution is so powerful that it overwhelms the intuitive solar radiative forcing that would make the SH warmer by perhaps 1.5C, instead of cooler by 2.0C than the NH. A counter-intuitive negative 3.5C difference of about 6 W/m2 whole-Earth-24-hour, or 24 W/m2 TOA TSI.

    This key point cannot be emphasized enough for this reason at least: as the energy redistribution system is more powerful (energy over time) than TOA TSI changes, any fluctuation in the energy redistribution system will have a greater effect on regional temperature differences than any other forcing mechanism considered by the IPCC. If you cannot identify the energy redistribution systems to a level of 0.5 W/m2 over a 30 year period within a system that routinely handles 24 W/m2 over a 1 year period, you cannot say that currently anything other than normal processes are controlling global temperatures.

    One in 480. That is the level of both accuracy and precision you need. We don’t have it.

    The global temperatures show significant regional differences. A global number is not very meaningful unless it occurs globally. Which it doesn’t. Regional differences are the condition of the planet.

    The world has warmed since the end of the LIA. Was this a heat redistribution change? We say that the GHGs create a 13.5C or so additional heating of the planet, but under what conditions of radiative heat discharge is this true? Can the heat redistribution system that is so obviously stabilizing our planet each day vary by several degrees in its natural variability, so that we have a variable thermostat?

    It is the human desire for certainty and cause that created the Greek gods of weather and fate. This desire seems to have created the climate change god, CO2, today. Gore admitted that he became a climate change activist in a moment of existential doubt (the illness of his son), seeing it as a positive movement to give meaning to his life. I see his conversion on the road to Damascus as a leap to find certainty and cause in an uncertain and somewhat arbitrary world. A world in which fluctuating energy redistribution brings, at times, the tropics to the poles and the arctic to the equator.

    Al Gore, David Suzuki, Harold Camping. What is the difference?

  14. Holbrook says:

    500 millions years ago we had 15 times the current amount of CO2 so could you look for another answer? We do not have high levels of CO2…if anything we have too little. The average CO2 from Cambrian times to present day was probably around 2,100ppm. Simple question: Did we burn up or green up? We greened up. So 390ppm can in no way harm the earth…simple commonsense.

  15. RayG says:

    This old Tom Swanson cartoon of Goldilocks seems apropos:

    http://home.netcom.com/~swansont_2/goldilocks.jpg

  16. Tony says:

    Pilots, by use of the International Standard Atmosphere (ISA), work with a baseline temperature and pressure of 15ºC (sea level) and 1013mb.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Standard_Atmosphere

    Seems as good a baseline as any. So how to the temperature anomalies compare to that?

  17. Canman says:

    I think this video is appropriate, including the bit at the end.
    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgHM98rfE28?feature=player_detailpage&w=640&h=360%5D

  18. csanborn says:

    You wrote: “Between 1961 and the present, Earth’s human population has gone from 3 billion to 7 billion, more than doubling, and in that time the global temperature changed only 0.7F according to UCAR/NCAR.” Warmists apparently hate people, so that increase in people count is a disturbing figure for them… Since (I think) it is commonly accepted that one person at rest gives off about 100 watts of heat, that 4 Billion person increase represents well over (people exert too) 400 Billion watts of additional heat. :)

  19. crosspatch says:

    There is an interesting discussion of that last graph over at E. M. Smith’s website:

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2012/12/29/annoying-lead-time-graph/

    What that graph should tell you is not so much the “current temperature” as it should tell you the propensity for ice to melt or accumulate globally. We are already at the point where we have accumulated significant ice over the past 5000 years. While we get minor ups and downs, the general trend has been to cooling. We have valleys in the Alps that are currently glaciated that were forested 5000 years ago, we know that because we are finding 5000yo wood at the termination of the glacier. We know that mines in the alps that were working prior to the LIA are still iced over. We know that fields that were worked in Scandinavia at that time will not support a crop today. We know that areas of Greenland once supported grazing of animals and that those areas are frozen today.

    If we were trying to farm the US Midwest with varieties of grain the settlers first arrived with, we would have no winter wheat today, it is too cold for those varieties.

    Keep an eye on the Columbia Ice Field in Canada. When you begin to hear reports of Athabasca Glacier advancing, worry. The problems will come in the form of unexpected killing frosts, first in Canada and Russia, wiping out grain crops. Look for increased summer snow cover across northern Canada and Alaska. It won’t happen all at once, it will be very gradual with ups and downs along the way. We will have a cold spell like the LIA. It will warm after but not quite as warm as today just as today’s warming is not quite as warm as the MWP and the MWP not quite as warm as the Roman and the Roman not quite as warm as the Minoan.

    5,000 years from now there will be more ice than there is today and in 20,000 years from now we might have permanent snow cover over most of Canada above 50N. This next glacial looks to be about 50% longer (120K years vs 80K years) with a “double dip” of cold that looks to be colder than the maximum of the last glacial but with a rather warm period between the two dips.

    It took about 30,000 years for Eastern NA glaciation to reach its maximum with several episodes of advance and retreat in the interim and it stayed that way for about 10ky. Western NA had two maximum with about 40,000 years between them. Glacial periods are LONG and it can take twice as long as this current interglacial for significant ice to build up in some place. During the LGM, Eastern glaciation was actually already in retreat but the second Western maximum added to the overall ice. This was likely due more to shifts in precipitation patterns than temperatures where Pacific storms changed their track and a persistent Aleutian Low brought storms across California, Nevada and Utah year-round, not just in winter.

  20. Steven Mosher says:

    The question of ‘what is the optimum temperature for the earth’ is an ill posed question. It’s like asking what is the optimum speed of a car. The notion of “optimum” as you can see from the last question carries with it the notion of purpose or goal. So, the optimum speed for best fuel ecomony may be one speed. the optimum speed for ‘avoiding speeding tickets’ may have several values or a range of values. The real question is this: Is there an optimum temperature for humans? And even here, the question is ill posed. for which humans?. the right question is this. Are there boundary conditions that we don’t want to cross, if we dont have to.

    So, just some simple observations. From the time we evolved, from the time we adapted to our environment and adapted our environment to suit our needs, the global average temperature has
    varied from roughly 10C to 16C. Maybe less, maybe more. If we take todays temperatures to be roughly 14-15C (on average) we have estimates for the LGM that range around 2-4C cooler, and ranges for the holocene optimum that range 0-1C warmer. humans have evolved and adapted in the range. Moved where it is warmer, or constructed an environment to thrive where it is colder.

    Now, comes the question, is it safe, is it wise, to go to a world that is 20C. That is, if you had the power to suddenly make the global average 20C, would you do it without thinking twice. Last time the earth avergae 20C, there were alligators at the north pole. no prudent person would argue that is a good idea to go to 20C. If you could turn the temps down to 10C would you?. No prudent person would argue for this, as North america would be covered by an ice sheet.

    Consider now, that during the LGM when it 2C-4C cooler than today, the primary supply of energy, the sun, delivered the same TSI as today. Insolation was the same. c02, however, was about 200ppm, or half. C02 has doubled from the LGM and temps are about 2-4C warmer. Thats a very rough and crude approximation to give you a sense of how sensitive the climate is to doubling c02. 2-4C per doubling. Question. We are now at 400ppm, do we want to burn all the fossil fuels and go above 1000ppm. At 800 ppm, the evidence suggests, we get a world that is somewhere between 17C and 19C, if not warmer. some think (me included) we will get there at lower concentrations. Seems to me, that we don’t want to run the risk that may occur at 800ppm. Simply put, we don’t want to burn all the fossil fuels. A plan to avoid that would be a good thing.
    Comes the question, how much more can we safely burn? up to 450ppm? 600ppm? 350? like mckibben argues. And who decides? If china, drives emissions up to 600ppm and AGW is true, and our country suffers a disproportiate outcome, are folks ok with that? who’s air is it?
    because there is a risk, we should not ignore pathways to mitigation. we should not unthinkingly dump C02 into the air if we have other choices or can develop other choices. Neither should we adopt mitigation plans, where adaption can work.
    That is all pretty vague. My sense is that if people can’t agree to these rather vague principles then we will just continue with BAU and future generations will pay the price.

  21. Steve E says:

    Keith AB says:
    January 1, 2013 at 11:43 am
    “I think you meant Odin, Onan was famous for something rather “different”.”

    I don’t know Keith, the way “The Team” operates is a bit of a circle jerk. ;-)

  22. Gene Selkov says:

    This was the wisdom about the little ice age and the present warmth we used to hear by way of BBC 30 years ago, before the world was commanded to go mad:

  23. Andrew says:

    @James Davidson (the on-duty Skeptical Science rebuttal clerk)

    Your 1st sentence is a statement of the obvious.

    Can you show me empirical proof of your second sentence? (Not someone’s theory, however often it is repeated doesn’t turn it from theory to fact).

    The remainder of your post is superfluous. Why not ask your handler how a cooler object (the atmosphere) can cause net warming in a warmer object (the surface).

    I’m all ears.

  24. Mike McMillan says:

    Right after that, the Vikings in Greenland would probably have asked Onan for some extra warmth.

    I think you mean Odin. Onan was not someone the Vikings would have asked for anything. He even has an ‘ism’ named after him.

  25. @Axel

    The sixty-feet-per-week sounds harsh
    The total rise: About a hundred
    And that took centuries: a marsh
    Became sea-bottom. Crawled, not thundered.

    Happy New Year! Let it be
    Full of new wisdom, and success
    Let panic over one degree
    Decline and fail, and Team confess.

    ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

  26. TinyCO2 says:

    Imagine – it’s Monday morning and you have a job interview. Outside it’s blowing a gale and it’s the coldest it could possibly be to produce instant slush but no snow. Your car is hating the cold and almost certainly has a flat battery. The alarm has just gone off and you poke your nose out of the duvet. At that moment your bed is at the optimum temperature for humans.

  27. Steve B says:

    James Davidson says:
    January 1, 2013 at 11:51 am

    So would you prefer to live in a world at -18 deg Celcius or 14 degrees Celcius?

  28. markstoval says:

    “The Earth reaches an equilibrium temperature when the energy it loses to space as infra-red radiation is the same as the energy it receives from the Sun. This equilibrium temperature is -18C. The actual average surface temperature of the earth, as you say, is 14C, – a difference of 32C. This 32C difference is the greenhouse effect.”

    I was given to understand back in my college days that the earth had an internal heat source which was nuclear in nature. If heat is generated in the core of the earth, does that not effect the surface temperature even a little bit? None at all? Weird.

  29. Steve B says:

    Steven Mosher says:
    January 1, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    “Now, comes the question, is it safe, is it wise, to go to a world that is 20C. That is, if you had the power to suddenly make the global average 20C, would you do it without thinking twice. Last time the earth avergae 20C, there were alligators at the north pole. no prudent person would argue that is a good idea to go to 20C.”

    It all depends on how you get the global average of 20C doesn’t it. If daytime temps are 21C and nighttime temps are 19C all year round then bingo – you have an average of 20C. If we swing from 100C to -80C then you can say we have a problem. As it stands at the moment even if we do get an average of 20C we still won’t get alligators at the North Pole or South Pole since the axial tilt means that for 3 months of the year there is no sun and temps will still plummet to -70C or so.
    I think maybe you need to think about things a little more.

  30. Janice says:

    Steve, one could also ask, “What is the optimum CO2 level for our world?” However, the problem with trying to answer a question like that also leads one back to the optimum temperature question. For, no matter what parameter is chosen, that parameter is part of a very complex system. So even if you could magically set the temperature at some “golden” place, what makes you think it would stay there? The same with CO2 levels, for by raising or lowering CO2 we are inadvertently also raising and lowering an overabundance of other parameters, most of which we probably don’t even realize exist. The error bars on our knowledge of this planet (solar system, universe) are much greater than the knowledge itself. We see through a glass, darkly (to coin a phrase). There are very few times, during the whole of recorded human history (which is, granted, rather short) where a problem is solved without creating many other (and sometimes more severe) problems. There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy (Hamlet, 1, 5). I actually think that future generations will look back at us in much the same way we look back at Tulipmania, and wonder why we made such a fuss about nothing. Sorry, it has been snowing here the last few days, and I get super philosophical at those times.

  31. Auto says:

    My first thought is that we – like the rest of our planet’s inhabitants – pretty much have to get on with what we have. There is not much we can do about the Sun’s output, or orbital geometry, or volcanism, directly.
    We can adapt.
    As humans we are able, to a considerable extent, to adapt. We have clothes, and houses, and, more recently, gas and electricity. And caribbean holidays!
    But
    cui bono’s
    comment about ‘freeze framing’ caused me to pause. Any substantial change in global average temperature will, I think, lead to changes in coastlines, watercourses, population distribution, crop and livestock productivity, and doubtless many more factors.
    We live in a world where national borders – recently – have been pretty fixed. But look at Europe in the Nineteenth Century – wholesale changes in borders, with the creation of Italy and Germany, Norway splitting from Sweden in about 1900, then, about 1918 the shattering of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the creation of the Irish Free State – now Eire.
    Perhaps the post-1945 stasis, or comparative stasis, as the Soviet Union broke apart after it lost the Cold War with Yugoslavia following somewhat bloodily, is the historically abnormal? Perhaps states, principalities, duchies, always merge and split?
    What might be normal if, either, sea level rose by ( whatever, say 100 metres), or if glaciers returned to Liverpool, Illinois, and the course of the Neva River?
    IIRC, studies have been published – no, not the same as verified – indicating that the previous warm period ended pretty quickly. A descent into a full Ice Age glaciation in decades, or less, possibly, would be somewhat disruptive, were it to occur.
    Adaptation will help – but major energy, raw material, and container ports miles from the receding sea, as water gets tied up in glaciers, will certainly hamper world trade.
    Will your Walmart, Carrefour or Tesco shelves be full of he world’s bounty without modern mega-ships, and mega-ports?
    Regardless of the pleasure it might give to the warmistas, delightful chaps and chapesses though we know they are ( yeah, sarc off!), I think a smidgen of warming is preferable to the same amount of cooling, overall.
    And, no, I don’t know which we will get. I fear it might be the cooling.

    Auto

  32. tz2026 says:

    Tongue firmly in cheek:

    It’s wicked. Or wicca. Plot the number of witches v.s. earth’s temp. It was warm until we started burning as many witches as trees. Draw a chart! You’ll see the hockey stick!

    We can’t wait to see if the Malleus Malificarum is correct, if we wait, the earth will go up in the flames of divine judgment (Gaia if no one else, apparently the B* doesn’t like even one W*, or as Barbara Bush once said, “Rhymes with rich”). We need to burn them now!

  33. Neill says:

    “because there is a risk, we should not ignore pathways to mitigation. we should not unthinkingly dump C02 into the air if we have other choices or can develop other choices. Neither should we adopt mitigation plans, where adaption can work.”

    Perhaps we should pause and inform ourselves further by sitting back and observing, measuring and learning more about how natural processes actually work. Instead of the current panicked policy of firing a decreasing store of ammunition into the dark, while betting humanity’s survival on hitting the target.

  34. JohnH says:

    @Steve Mosher

    You mention that TSI was approximately the same during the LGM as it is today. Whether or not that can be accurately determined is questionable enough, especially since the process of glaciation took place well before the LGM, I believe current theories show substantial differences between today’s TSI and that of 5-10,000 before the LGM. Leaving that aside, you proceed directly to CO2 as a causal factor, without considering any other conditions that could lead to cooler temperatures.

    My degree in physics has taught me at least one thing: no single variable in an extremely complex system can be ignored. I’m not arguing for epistemological nihilism, but I would gently suggest that anyone who tries to infer climate sensitivity from three factors (temperature, TSI, and atmospheric CO2) is on extremely shaky ground. What we do know is that cold temperatures should lead to greater absorption of CO2 in the oceans so it’s certainly possible that the 200 PPM level that you cite was an effect, not a cause.

    CO2 certainly causes some warming, but it’s extremely simplistic to infer climate sensitivity by attributing 100% of global temperature changes to GHGs.

  35. Jimbo says:

    In the Medieval Warm Period, from about AD 950 to 1250, when humanity started to thrive, they would probably say the porridge was “just right”.

    I vaguely recall, but stand to be corrected, that some of the coral island atolls were being populated during the Medieval Warm Period.

  36. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Steven, first, thank you for a thoughtful and detailed post. I read most of it before looking to see who wrote it, and I was shocked. Onwards to your points:

    Steven Mosher says:
    January 1, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    The question of ‘what is the optimum temperature for the earth’ is an ill posed question. It’s like asking what is the optimum speed of a car. The notion of “optimum” as you can see from the last question carries with it the notion of purpose or goal. So, the optimum speed for best fuel ecomony may be one speed. the optimum speed for ‘avoiding speeding tickets’ may have several values or a range of values. The real question is this: Is there an optimum temperature for humans? And even here, the question is ill posed. for which humans?. the right question is this. Are there boundary conditions that we don’t want to cross, if we dont have to.

    It would be useful if you would define “boundary condition”. A “boundary” implies a dividing line between two different things. What “boundary” is there in something like temperature.

    So, just some simple observations. From the time we evolved, from the time we adapted to our environment and adapted our environment to suit our needs, the global average temperature has varied from roughly 10C to 16C. Maybe less, maybe more. If we take todays temperatures to be roughly 14-15C (on average) we have estimates for the LGM that range around 2-4C cooler, and ranges for the holocene optimum that range 0-1C warmer. humans have evolved and adapted in the range. Moved where it is warmer, or constructed an environment to thrive where it is colder.

    Now, comes the question, is it safe, is it wise, to go to a world that is 20C. That is, if you had the power to suddenly make the global average 20C, would you do it without thinking twice. Last time the earth avergae 20C, there were alligators at the north pole. no prudent person would argue that is a good idea to go to 20C. If you could turn the temps down to 10C would you?. No prudent person would argue for this, as North america would be covered by an ice sheet.

    OK, we can agree that there is something called “too hot”, and something else called “too cold”.

    Consider now, that during the LGM when it 2C-4C cooler than today, the primary supply of energy, the sun, delivered the same TSI as today. Insolation was the same. c02, however, was about 200ppm, or half. C02 has doubled from the LGM and temps are about 2-4C warmer. Thats a very rough and crude approximation to give you a sense of how sensitive the climate is to doubling c02. 2-4C per doubling.

    Absolutely not. The change in CO2 from glacial to interglacial is adequately explained by the change in sea surface temperature. You are assuming that about 100% of the change in temperature is a result of CO2 change. In fact, about 100% of the change in CO2 is a result of temperature change. This argument is completely wrong.

    Question. We are now at 400ppm, do we want to burn all the fossil fuels and go above 1000ppm.

    This question is premature. First, you need to answer the question, what are the chances that in 150 years we’ll still be burning fossil fuels for energy? Because that is how long it may take to burn the fossil fuels. I’d say that the chances of us still burning fossil fuels for energy in the year 2150 to be about zero.

    At 800 ppm, the evidence suggests, we get a world that is somewhere between 17C and 19C, if not warmer. some think (me included) we will get there at lower concentrations.

    I’m sorry, but as I just showed, the “evidence” you just presented is meaningless. We do not know how much temperature change, if any, we’ll get from increasing CO2. We have lots of speculation, we have lots of models.

    We do have some evidence. For example, we have the evidence that the warming 1975-2000 is statistically indistinguishable from the earlier warming of 1920-1945. This means that the great increase in CO2 post 1945 made no noticeable difference in the warming rate. This is actual evidence, Steven, that the effect of CO2 was too small to measure, even over a quarter of a century.

    In fact, the globe has been warming, in fits and starts, at about the same rate, half a degree per century for the last three centuries or so. The recent rise of CO2 has not changed that in the slightest, as near as I can tell. This is even more evidence that the effect of CO2 is very, very small.

    Seems to me, that we don’t want to run the risk that may occur at 800ppm. Simply put, we don’t want to burn all the fossil fuels. A plan to avoid that would be a good thing.

    I love it. A “plan” on how to shift the world off of fossil fuel, as if that will make the slightest difference. I guess I’ve seen too many such “plans” come and go, Steven, from the USSR’s five year plans to Jimmy Carter’s plans for energy independence to Obamas “plans” to make us a solar Eden. None of them have made the slightest difference. The market is inexorable. The only place we have solar is where well-meaning idiots are picking someone’s pocket to pay for how horrendously expensive it is … after decades and decades of unending work, still way too expensive.

    A plan to get off fossil fuels? You’ll forgive me if I’m in a wait-and-see mode regarding that.

    Comes the question, how much more can we safely burn? up to 450ppm? 600ppm? 350? like mckibben argues. And who decides? If china, drives emissions up to 600ppm and AGW is true, and our country suffers a disproportiate outcome, are folks ok with that? who’s air is it?
    because there is a risk, we should not ignore pathways to mitigation. we should not unthinkingly dump C02 into the air if we have other choices or can develop other choices. Neither should we adopt mitigation plans, where adaption can work.

    Should we burn “up to” three hundred and fifty ppmv as McKibben argues? Well, as of today we’re at 392.8 ppmv. If you can show me one single person who has been demonstrably harmed by that, Steven, I’ll shake your hand.

    And when you, or anyone, comes up with a cost-effective way to reduce CO2 without increasing energy costs, I’ll be the first man to sign up. Kyoto ain’t it … cap-n-tax ain’t it … diluting gasoline with corn alcohol ain’t it …

    That is all pretty vague. My sense is that if people can’t agree to these rather vague principles then we will just continue with BAU and future generations will pay the price.

    Yea, that’s a great theory about the future, steven. Here’s an ugly fact about the present.

    As your policies continue to increase the price of energy, current generations are demonstrably being harmed right now, today. Pensioners are shivering in fuel poverty today in Europe and the UK because they’re bought into your carbon alarmism. Increasing energy costs is one of the most regressive, repressive taxes imaginable. It hardly touches the wealthy, but it body-slams the poor … and you just look the other way and continue dreaming about causing a tenth of a degree temperature reduction in fifty years.

    You want to accuse me of possibly maybe causing pain and suffering in a hundred years? Get real. Your short-sighted carbon policies are causing pain and suffering today. All you have to offer in return are incorrect calculations about the ice ages and promises of the possible avoidance of future suffering.

    Perhaps you think that is a good deal, trading present suffering for a vague possibility of future gain. Me, I think that future generations will view the effect of the carbon hysteria on the poor of the planet and judge you harshly. You are ignoring current suffering in order to focus on some imagined future benefits. We don’t have to wait to see if your policies will make future generations “pay the price”. The poor of this generation are paying the cost of carbon hysteria today, and will continue while you sit in your warm office and ignore the damage your policies have already occasioned.

    w.

  37. Other_Andy says:

    @Steven Mosher

    “At 800 ppm, the evidence suggests, we get a world that is somewhere between 17C and 19C, if not warmer. ”

    There is evidence?
    What kind of evidence?
    Empirical evidence, historical evidence or ‘computer modeled evidence’?
    Evidence that shows that a difference of 200 parts per million of CO2 (0.0002% of the Earth’s atmosphere) overwhelms all other ‘climate drivers’?

  38. David Ross says:

    I always presumed the Climatic Optimum was so called because it provided optimum conditions for man and other life on Earth. So a Goldilocks temperature is implied by the name.

    If warmists mention a Climatic Optimum they invariably precede it with “so-called”.

    Likewise, the Medieval Warm Period becomes the Medieval Climatic Anomaly.

    Newspeak: alter people’s thoughts by altering the language.

    I like the Goldilocks metaphor. It evokes an image of carbon bureaucrats force-feeding the world with cold porridge forevermore.

  39. Jeff Alberts says:

    Should we burn “up to” three hundred and fifty ppmv as McKibben argues? Well, as of today we’re at 392.8 ppmv. If you can show me one single person who has been demonstrably harmed by that, Steven, I’ll shake your hand.

    Well, McKibben has, psychologically, anyway. And hasn’t Joe Romm’s head exploded more than once? Of course, one could argue whether those would be considered “harm”.

    /sarc

  40. Dan in Nevada says:

    Being of Scandinavian descent, I thought I might be the first to catch the erroneous reference to Onan, but was beat by several. But, to clarify, Onan is the poster child for coitus interruptus, not masturbation. Today, Onan’s successors might be those in government who enjoy all the benefits of screwing the rest of us over while not delivering on their stated aims. It would be better if, on the other hand, they were just screwing themselves.

  41. Matt says:

    Would it be getting too warm, at least within short time, if, say, species would go extinct and habitats shifting north? Would that indicate a non – normal temperature even without knowing what is “optimal”?

    () yes
    () no

  42. Anthony Watts says:

    Regarding Onan/Odin – fixed. Thanks everyone. I think it is a case of my familiarity with a product brand seeping into my consciousness, since I recently had to deal with a balky electric generator. http://www.cumminsonan.com/

    I was thinking (erroneously) that Onan was the Norse God of power. Clearly it is the similar Odin. -Anthony

  43. crosspatch says:

    Axel says:
    January 1, 2013 at 11:56 am

    Yeah, Doggerland was a sort of Celtic Atlantis at one time. There would have been a tsunami from a slide in Norway that swept across it and wiped out most people happening to be sleeping there one night (might have been day, but to think if it happening at night is more dramatic). Most of that place probably got washed away in that event.

    What are now the Persian Gulf and the Adriatic Sea would have been flat, fertile river valleys. These would have been places from which the people that originally founded the Mesopotamian and Greek and Roman civilizations would have originally come. They would have been forced to migrate to a land where living was harder as the sea levels rose and the climate began to dry out. It is no wonder that these cultures gave rise to such cultural legends that include stories of bountiful carefree times of the past and flood legends. Most of the areas that are flooded today are very flat in topology. A small rise in sea level could have deprived tribe of a lot of their territory and forced them into the area occupied by a different tribe or into “the wilderness”.

    Meltwater Pulse 1A was a 20 meter rise in global sea levels over a period of about 200 years or so and even after that the sea level kept rising at a good clip though that period was a period of extraordinarily faster rise. Assume that most people at that time had their first child at 15 years old and assume that it was fairly common for someone to live to 40 if they made it out of childhood alive. Over 10 generations would have experienced that rise. A meter a decade of rise is amazing and that assumes the rise happened gradually in a linear fashion, we don’t know that it did. Parts of it might have come “all at once” as some melt water lake burst its containment. A meter of altitude above sea level can be a long distance over flat ground. Now imagine someone were to see four meters of sea level rise in their lifetime. Places that are under 12 feet of water when they died at 40 would have been the beach when they were a child. They would have told stories to the children about villages and tribes and water holes in locations that were then under deep salt water and the stories the parents of the elders told them would be under deeper water still. No wonder so many flood legends built up in so many different civilizations. Maybe Atlantis is what is now the Adriatic Sea and was a fertile valley watered by the Po and other rivers that joined it.

    I believe you can see what used to be a shoreline in the Adriatic. If you pull it up on Google Earth, you will notice a feature that runs across the Adriatic from Pescara, Italy to roughly Sibenik, Croatia. “Upstream” of that feature is much shallower. In any case, the drastic change in sea level at that time over such a relatively short period of time SHOULD have made for some stories to explain it. Even of a lost civilization that was swallowed by the sea. What if one tribe migrated to Mesopotamia and another to Persia without either knowing the fate of the other but who had been aware of each other in the valley. Maybe they developed stories of the other tribe having been “punished” for their wicked ways and their own tribe having been saved. The possibilities are nearly endless but the way humans worked back then with stories passed by word of mouth from one generation to the next, it SHOULD have made for some interesting legends to be written down when we finally figured out how to do that.

  44. Bill Illis says:

    We evolved on the African savanna. Mostly because it is too hot in the middle of the day for almost all other animals other than us. We were the King of the African savanna day-time. Now our language and technology has allowed us to survive the 6 month night-time 3.5 kms high on the Antarctic ice-sheet but we are made for the heat of the mid-day Sun.

  45. Bob says:

    Between 1960 and 1991 the global mean temp was 14.0°C and increased by 0.41°C by 2011. Really? Climatologists can resolve an average temp to 0.1°, or better still, 0.01°? No standard deviation? No testing for statistical difference? Pardon me if I find it difficult to believe that the measurements of global temperatures are that good.

  46. Stephen Richards says:

    Steven Mosher says:

    January 1, 2013 at 12:25 pm
    That is your worst post in many years. Go back to your thinking of 3 years ago and start again.

  47. john robertson says:

    Timely post, I have been searching the reference pages trying to figure out what , assumed mean global temperature, is used with which global temperature anomaly graph.
    I was trying to track down the post which mentioned the dropping of this mean from 15 to 14C and my inability to do so has lead me sideways.Ethanol has helped.
    What kind of incompetent would graph temperature anomalies about a zero, of an assumed historical mean, without posting that mean under the graph.MET 1961-1990 mean, No number.
    Without being sure, which mean is used, the discussion of changes amongst the anomalies becomes a discussion of ,how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.
    And because this is climatology, I will assume the worst, the undefined mean is deliberate, an intentional diversion of attention and effort.
    A change of 0.5C looks so meaningful on a scale range of 3C(-1.5 to 1.5) Until you consider that the mean is 14 to 15C best guess? and has an uncertainty of 2C on a good day.
    Richard Courtney points out in his 2010 brief to UK parliament, that the mean, means various things to various beings, but there is only one true global average temp, if such is possible.
    So a little help here, NASA uses a 1951-1980 GMT of 14C , MET uses 61-90 MGT of ??Is it me or their site? Mosher up post uses 14-15C, well is that the best we have?
    And if any of the key (IPCC) organizations did change their reference mean, when and what is the effect on claims of temperature rise?
    Struck me that by reducing the mean 1 degree would allow one to claim to show a 0.5 warming in the face of a 1degree cooling, all else held equal.

  48. Robin Edwards says:

    Axel wrote about the advance of the sea experienced by our ancestors who lived on what is now the North Sea, and was a bit perturbed about the figure of 60 feet per week. He then suggested the idea that even two orders of magnitude (downward) might be feasible rate. I think that the surmise that the figures referred to sea /level/ is perhaps wrong. I believe that it may refer to the /horizontal/ advance of the coast line, not the sea level in a vertical sense.

  49. John West says:

    “that we have no business being warm right now…”

    That conclusion is not entirely supported by the graph:
    1) You’d need to see a lot more than a partial cycle to determine “what now should look like”. For all I can tell from that graph there’s no correlation at all outside the snippet that’s shown and looking at the time frame I’d guess that during the last few peaks of the “leading indicator” the temperature remained cold as it would have been the last glacial period which lasted much longer than the current interglacial.
    2) There no reason to believe Earth would have exactly equal and opposite rates of warming and cooling, it sure doesn’t for the diurnal cycle.
    See figure 2 & 3: http://www.oneonta.edu/faculty/baumanpr/geosat2/Urban_Heat_Island/Urban_Heat_Island_Part_I.htm
    3) There’s only one temperature driver? What about solar spectral variation for example? Considering the time frame: snow albedo?

    A better statement IMO as opposed to the one quoted above would be:
    That we are likely to be as warm as we are only by the thinest margin of thermal resistance, favorable albedo, and favorable shorter and longer scale forcing alignments such as solar spectral variations. An unfortunate confluence of unfavorable (to warmth) shorter and longer scale drivers could lead to a relatively rapid (geologically speaking) decent into glacial conditions.

    Hopefully, our own paltry influence will assist in maintaining this interglacial.

  50. Political Junkie says:

    Glad you hot your hands around that Onan / Odin thing.

    That having been said, masturbation is under-rated – it’s having sex with someone you love!

    Happy New Year

  51. ntesdorf says:

    I was going to comment on Steve Mosher’s inane posting, but Willis Eschenbach has done the job for me and shot him down in flames.

  52. Mark and two Cats says:

    “The Neanderthals, who lived through the last ice age…”
    ——————————————–
    From a Bloomburg article about George Church, a guy who wants to do a “Jurassic Park” on the Neanderthal genome:

    “…[bring] mammoths and other creatures back from extinction. Why would we want to do such a thing? Well, it turns out that mammoths clomped around in the tundra and stopped trees from growing and taking over vast grasslands. The increase in trees since their disappearance has contributed to warmer temperatures because the trees don’t reflect light or consume carbon dioxide as well as grass. “We need practical reasons as well as inspirational ones with this technology”, Church says.

    I see: it is not only industrialised nations, but trees as well that are evil.

    In addition to de-industrialisation, it looks like we are going to have to replicate the biosphere of the past in order to have a “perfect” global temperature.

    So practical and inspirational, huh?

  53. Willis makes an important point. Energy taxes are about the most regressive taxes possible.

    In large part the problem is that those arguing for these taxes don’t know any poor people and have no experience of being poor.

    As my mother used to say, “Out of sight, out of mind”.

  54. crosspatch says:

    CO2 really ceases to matter much once albedo gets to a certain point. You can’t “trap” heat which is never generated in the first place. Greenhouse warming relies on light that makes it to the service being converted to long wave infrared. If you have a field of ice that reflects the light and does not convert it to LWIR, then it doesn’t matter if the atmosphere is pure CO2, the light simply gets reflected back out. If you want to look for a factor that amplifies greenhouse warming, it would certainly be albedo. But once you get snow that fails to melt one summer and provided you get a decent snowpack the following year that also fails to melt, all the CO2 in the world isn’t going to help you maintain temperature because you are reflecting that light right back into space and there isn’t any LWIR on which the CO2 can act. A small change in albedo would have a tremendous impact on the amount of warming CO2 can accomplish. CO2 doesn’t CREATE heat.

    Heck, want to remove a huge amount of LWIR? Cover the Pentagon parking lot with a white cover. Now you don’t have a bazillion cars baking in the sun, each one a little greenhouse converting sunlight to heat that gets trapped by CO2, not to mention the black surface of the parking lot itself. You will have absolutely “removed” the impact of nearly all the CO2 above that parking lot. How much heat is converted from sunlight into LWIR by a car sitting in a parking lot in summer? No idea, but it is too hot to lay your hand on.

  55. mpainter says:

    Go to the central Sahara, to an area of SE Algeria, an area known as Tassili n’ajjer, where all is bare rock, gravel ergs and sand. There you will encounter hundreds of rock paintings that record and testify to an era of the Holocene known as the Climatic Optimum. These paintings record the wildlife of those times: antelope, giraffe, ostriches, and such. Also recorded are human figures and cattle. The Sahara then was a verdant plain, full of lakes and rivers. The reason that this era is known as the Climatic Optimum is because global temperatures were warmer than today, some 4,000- 6,000 years ago. It is not known precisely how much warmer, but most guesses put it around 2 C. The reason that rainfall was higher was because the oceans were warmer and evaporation rates were higher. Deserts shrunk around the world, and the Great Salt Lake and the salt flats testify to this era of higher rainfall in the American West.

    Global warming means more rain, shrinking of deserts, more arable land, and a longer growing season, and more food for a population that will double and redouble worldwide in this century. The scare talk about drought is concocted for the ignorant and the gullible.

    A warmer world means a better world. It means milder winters rather than hotter summers. It means a lower heating bill and less snow and ice. Life flourishes in a warmer world. Cooling is the scythe of death.

    Unfortunately the benefits of a warmer world are not to be ours. There was some hope that we could achieve this heaven on earth by burning fossil fuels, but the abysmal failure of AGW theory makes it clear that this will not happen. And now we see a cooling trend setting in.

  56. Stephen Richards says:

    We can argue with the Gibbons (Kibben, Kitten) of this world ’til we are blue in face and it will make no difference what so ever: and I think I can include Mosher in that group now BUT there really is only one question ” are humans capable of controlling or modifying the climate of a planet”? The answer ; Absolutely not !!! The energy required to bring the planetary system to equilibrium is way beyond are capability. Unless someone proves otherwise in the future , of course.

    The sensible course is to adapt. Yes we need to avoid polluting everything we need to survive but the definition of pollution currently being proposed by the idiots of the AGW mob is ludicrous beyond belief.

  57. vukcevic says:

    “….the primary supply of energy, the sun, delivered the same TSI as today…” – Mosher
    but there are other parameters that do change , and may affect the ratio of absorbed/radiated energy.

    SIDC non-smoothed Sunspot number for December is 40.8 (well down on Novm. 61.4), while the annual SIDC non-smoothed SSN for 2012 is 57.6 (2011 55.6).
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/SSN.htm

    It’s going to be: Sixteen Going on Seventeen” of no global temperature rise, optimum or not.
    HNY.

  58. Stephen Richards says:

    John West says:

    January 1, 2013 at 1:29 pm
    “that we have no business being warm right now…”
    John, your are technically correct but you are nit picking. IMHO

  59. Neville says:

    The big question is how do we change the temp? The OECD is forecast to increase emissions from 2008 to 2035 by 6%, yet the non OECD will increase emissions by 73%
    If co2 emissions are supposed to be the problem I just wish Mosher and others would tell us how to stop development in China, India etc.
    The USA is reducing emissions pronto via coal seam gas , but China etc emissions are soaring. So it’s time for the warmists to put up or shut up, show us the way. But please don’t forget the simple maths above or you’re wasting our time..

  60. Rosco says:

    Reality is there is no such thing as a global average temperature and we would be better off if we stopped this type of discussion.

    If the average global temperature is 14 C then we in South East Queensland are already living with 6 degrees C above the average. Obviously I realise that would change and we may have a climate more like Darwin, even Singapore.

    I always find it amusing that climate pseudoscientists believe the Sun can’t heat the Earth anymore because they believe their method of calculating the “blackbody” temperature of the Earth based on one quarter Solar power 24 hours day is right – this seems to be the main thrust of their claims.

    But the temperature the Earth radiates at bears no resemblence to the noonday maximum under the powerful Solar radiation on a clear day – so their calculation of a “blackbody” temperature is simply wrong – the solar radiation can heat the Earth to very high temperatures.

    Once you accept that you realise it is the Sun, Stupid.

  61. John West says:

    Matt says:
    ”Would it be getting too warm, at least within short time, if, say, species would go extinct and habitats shifting north? Would that indicate a non – normal temperature even without knowing what is “optimal”?”

    Yes, too warm (above normal) and outside their adaptive ability for the species that go extinct.
    No, not too warm (normal) or within their adaptive ability for the species that expand.

    We would not be here if many species had not gone extinct. What is the optimum number of species?
    What is the optimum assortment of species? Should alligators roam Greenland as they once did or should they be confined to NC and points south as they are now? Should aragonite or calcite forming organism dominate the ocean?

    What is normal has changed many times over the course of pre-history and we owe our very existence to that driver of adaptation.

  62. Willis: Thank you Sir !!!!!!

  63. glenncz says:

    john robertson says: January 1, 2013 at 1:27 pm
    I was trying to track down the post which mentioned the dropping of this mean from 15 to 14C and my inability to do so has lead me sideways.

    >This will straighten you back up John.
    http://notrickszone.com/2012/08/16/data-from-leading-ipcc-scientists-show-global-temps-have-dropped-unprecendented-1c-since-1990/

  64. RobW says:

    Steve Mosher said:
    “At 800 ppm, the evidence suggests, we get a world that is somewhere between 17C and 19C, if not warmer. some think (me included) we will get there at lower concentrations.”

    I call BULL. That outcome only happens with huge positive feed–backs built into the models. The empirical evidence is the feedbacks and negative. So much for the 17-19 degrees idea eh

  65. mpainter says:

    Steven Mosher says: January 1, 2013 at 12:25 pm
    we have estimates for the LGM that range around 2-4C cooler, and ranges for the holocene optimum that range 0-1C warmer.
    =====================================
    Most temperature estimates put Holocene warming at 8-10 C above glacial temps. Putting the Holocene Optimum at 0 C above today is to deny the holocene optimum and is against the weight of evidence.

  66. David L. Hagen says:

    Since humans survived the last glaciation and thrived during the warm periods, the “best” temperature is between the glacial period temperature and the Holocene climatic optimum.

  67. eo says:

    Is there really a need to get the facts in this debate or is a rat hole more important as Lord Christopher has mentioned ? Here is a link to a good article on gloom and doom prediction and the social response http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-31/end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it-and-i-feel-fine.html

  68. Cees de Valk says:

    (@Steven Mosher)
    Steve, I think you overstate what we know. In reality, we don’t know that much about what a quadrupling of the CO2 concentration will do to climate. But I do think that the question of what temperature would be optimal for humans (let’s say in terms of long term global GDP, there is no better measure at hand) is a sensible one, and as important as any other question about climate.
    And I disagree with your picture of 4 degrees colder or warmer as approximately equally bad. We know ice ages are indeed bad for humans (too cold and too dry, and much worse on land than at sea); present society would be unimaginable under the climate of say 12,000 years ago. How we would do in a much warmer world is more uncertain, but the overall warmer and wetter climate and the reduced meridional temperature gradient which can be expected (leaving the continents where they are for now) combined with more CO2 for crops and other vegetation would likely be highly beneficial. Just avoiding the next ice age would already be a massive benefit (when comparing predicted consequences of different CO2 emission scenario’s, I would like to see solid evidence that we can before I would believe it). So even though we do not know everything, the warm/wet/high CO2 scenario has definitely the better cards given what we do know; we are less sure about how far to push it to get close to an optimum. I suspect that by the time we do know more and really have to make up the balance, the polar bear will have to adapt or, in the extreme case, make room for the alligator. At any rate, what global climate regime is optimal to human society is a very worthwhile topic to study. And it is not easy.

  69. Gene!
    What a marvellous piece. James Burke ConnectionsI will look for more,

  70. Mike Roddy says:

    Interesting question. The issue is less what is the optimum temperature for humans, but what the crops and creatures we survive from will require. The pace of warming and additional GHG’s is currently very rapid- forests can’t get up and move, so they burn, and crop genetics tend to be site and soil specific. The first 14 minutes of this presentation explains it well:
    http://guymcpherson.com/2012/12/the-twin-sides-of-the-fossil-fuel-coin-presenting-in-massachusetts/

  71. John West says:

    Stephen Richards says:
    “John, your are technically correct but you are nit picking. IMHO”

    Perhaps I am. I just wouldn’t want what E.M. Smith is saying to be taken out of context to mean something like: “we have no business being as warm as we are so it must be the man-made CO2″. I realize the timeframe of the graph precludes that conclusion but you know how the CO2 control advocates can twist our meaning. IMHO, we have to be very careful not to supply the alarmist mentality with more fuel than they already have with overly broad statements that can be easily taken out of context for the sake of people new to the “debate”. I do agree with what he’s saying, I just don’t like the way he said it. LOL, Oh my, that may be the definition of nit picking. Touché!

  72. Mike of NQ says:

    The answer to that question is 21 degrees Celsius or 69.8 degree fahrenheit. The average annual temperature where I live is 24 degrees Celsius (Charters Towers QLD Australia) and I love it. I dont own a heater and our house only has one airconditioner that rarely gets used. Why 21 or 69.8? The greatest explosion of life on Earth occured about 530 million years ago. At this point in time the average surface temperature was approximately 69.8 degress fahrenheit. Yes, the oceans would rise but due to current land distribution with the continent of antarctica sitting on the South pole it might not be as much as most people think (refer average temperature of Antarctica). It is worth noting that carbon dioxide levels (plant food) at this time were around 4,000ppm or 0.4% which I believe is about the Earth’s Optimum level. The explosion of all life in the Cambrian era only reaffirms this hypothesis.

  73. clipe says:

    clipe says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    January 1, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    Meanwhile, back in the day.

    http://members.shaw.ca/wellandwx/blizzard77.htm

    Back in the day of the looming man made Ice Age.

  74. I think most of us have puzzled over this questions. The problem is, it is all and always relative to who and where they are when you ask. I still say this one number that attempts to represent all is essentially a meaningless value that is interpreted to mean what ever the observer desires it. We and others are obsessing over nothing important. We should all get on with learning to live with the conditions we find ourselves in the true optimum is the one that nets “Me” the most gain and the least expense.

  75. Tom in Florida says:

    Steven Mosher says:
    January 1, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    Steven,
    The question should be “What was the optimum temperature at which humans evolved?” Clearly it has nothing to do with “global average” as humans did not evolve all over the globe but in a warm climate. Therefore, I would put forth the argument that we humans need a warmer climate naturally without regard to how we have managed to adapt to colder climates with technology. Warmer is clearly better for us. Of course I may be a bit prejudiced since I just returned from a comfortable afternoon sitting outside a local bar relaxing in shorts while downing several tall glasses of my favorite beer (Stella).

  76. DirkH says:

    John West says:
    January 1, 2013 at 1:29 pm
    ““that we have no business being warm right now…”
    A better statement IMO as opposed to the one quoted above would be:
    That we are likely to be as warm as we are only by the thinest margin of thermal resistance, favorable albedo, and favorable shorter and longer scale forcing alignments such as solar spectral variations. An unfortunate confluence of unfavorable (to warmth) shorter and longer scale drivers could lead to a relatively rapid (geologically speaking) decent into glacial conditions. ”

    ChiefIO also said in the post from where the graph comes:
    “All in all, this graph tells me that we are on the knife edge of a drop into a cold stage and acceleration into a glacial stage, from which we can not recover.”
    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/

  77. Doug Huffman says:

    Contrarywise, consider the effect of stereotypical temperature on resident cultures. Mañana, for instance, will kill in Northern Europe. Perhaps related is the correlation of First and Third World countries with cannabis tolerance.

    Samuel P. Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations — And the Remaking of World Order.

  78. Thomas Mee says:

    Atmospheric temperature is not a measure atmospheric heat content nor is it a reliable indication of human comfort. An 80°F day in Orlando with 50% relative humidity (RH) is hot and muggy but a 80°F day with 5% RH is a pleasant spring day in Phoenix.

    When water evaporates into air the temperature of the air is reduced but the total energy is the same. The evaporated water (called vapor) represents “latent heat” which is released when the vapor condenses to form liquid water again. The total heat of a sample of air is the sum of its sensible heat (which we feel as “hot”) and its latent heat (which we feel as “muggy”). This total heat is called enthalpy and it’s expressed in units of British Thermal Units per pound of air and water vapor mixture (Btu/lb). One Btu is the amount of heat required to heat one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.

    The latent heat represented by water vapor is considerable. For example, moist air at 72°F and 30% RH (typical room air) has an enthalpy of 23 Btu/lb but 72°F dry air has an enthalpy of only 17 Btu/lb. The dry air would have to be heated to 95°F to reach the same enthalpy as the moist air.

    Another example: the 80°F and 50% RH day in Orlando has a total heat content (enthalpy) of 31 Btu/lb. In the Phoenix desert, air at 115°F and 5% RH would also have an enthalpy of 31 Btu/lb but it’s 35°F hotter!

    This phenomenon does not only occur in places that are spatially separated and have dramatically different climatology. For example, over a period of a few days in Los Angeles the temperature varied from 76°F to 56°F (20°F change) when total heat content (enthalpy) was constant at 22 Btu/lb. In the afternoon it was 76°F and 18% RH, then in the evening some moist air moved into the area and it as 56°F with 80% RH. Both conditions have an enthalpy of 22 Btu/lb.

    Increased temperature (alone) is not evidence heating because temperature is not a measurement of, or a proxy for, the total heat content of atmospheric air. The global temperature history tells us nothing about any warming that might be caused by CO2 because greenhouse warming implies additional heat and the global temperature record, alone, doesn’t tell us if there is more or less heat.

    The global average temperature is about 60°F. The GISS global temperature record shows an increase of 1°F since 1880. If global humidity fell by just 3% (global drying) the total energy of the global atmosphere could have been unchanged.

  79. James Davidson gave a nice explanation.
    The warming effect of CO2 is dwarfed by and lost within the massive Water Vapour Convection Cycle.
    I think we should start referring to Warmists as WVCC ‘deniers’!

  80. Geoff says:

    I know, let’s put it to a global vote. Then we can decide the best temperature to 0.1 deg C and just implement.

  81. While I agree with Mosher that the question is ill posed, I can’t see how his observations did more than obstrucate the issue even further. There are perhaps “boundary conditions” that we can identify. For example, the point at which there is no longer ice melt in summer. Over successive generations the US and Europe would end up covered in ice. No doubt there are other “boundary conditions” on the warm side too.

    However, putting that aside, the key issue is not about “ideal” temperature, but rate of change. If warming (or cooling) is gradual enough to allow for adaptation, especially with regard to agricultural production, then things will be fine. If the UN needs a goal it should not be a “2C” max or whatever, but rather a limit to the maximum rate of change per century.

  82. policycritic says:

    Crosspatch warns to watch for “a persistent Aleutian Low brought storms across California, Nevada and Utah year-round, not just in winter.”

    As it did last summer in Nevada (which was freaky) after temps finally rose to seasonal norms in July.

  83. gbaikie says:

    “…that if in fact warming is taking place as they claim, what then is the optimum temperature of the Earth? ”

    It seems a lot people like coastal climate- milder conditions.
    I think if Sahara desert had more rainfall, the people there wouldn’t complain too much.
    Russia and Canada probably happier with milder winters- and a bit more rain.

    So I think more rain of the non-flooding vast quantity variety in various areas would be an improvement.
    So in term of temperature generally probably a warmer oceans would be better.

  84. Gail Combs says:

    Janice says:
    January 1, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    Steve, one could also ask, “What is the optimum CO2 level for our world?” However, the problem with trying to answer a question like that also leads one back to the optimum temperature question….
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    I think you are incorrect on that.

    We can actually calculate the minimum optimum CO2. That optimum would be enough CO2 that WHEN, not if the earth sinks back into glaciation there is enough CO2 left to support C3 plants such as trees rice and wheat.

    First we know the earth was flirting with a dangerously low level of CO2. Second there are
    Chemical Laws for Distribution of CO2 in Nature

    …According to Takahashi (1961) heating of sea water by 1 degree C will increase the partial pressure of atmospheric CO2by 12.5 ppmv during upwelling of deep water. For example 12 degrees C warming of the Benguela Current should increase the atmospheric CO2 concentration by 150 ppmv….

    Therefore the reverse would be true. A cooling of sea water by 12 degrees C warming would DECREASE the CO2 concentration by ~ 150ppm.
    The temperature spread from glacial to interglacial is between 8 to 12C graph

    Since I would like to see the 400 ppm needed for good C3 crop food production and drought resistance that means a minimum level at this time of 650 ppm. (The more the better) If humans are dealing with a decreased crop production area, shorter seasons and drought, the last thing we need is CO2 starvation on top of it!

    BACKGROUND:

    Carbon starvation in glacial trees recovered from the La Brea tar pits, southern California
    … during the last glacial period. Atmospheric CO2 concentration ([CO2]) ranged between 180 and 220 ppm during glacial periods
    … glacial trees were operating at ci values much closer to the CO2-compensation point for C3 photosynthesis than modern trees, indicating that glacial trees were undergoing carbon starvation. In addition, we modeled relative humidity by using ?18O of cellulose from the same Juniperus specimens and found that glacial humidity was ?10% higher than that in modern times, indicating that differences in vapor-pressure deficits did not impose additional constrictions on ci/ca in the past. By scaling ancient ci values to plant growth by using modern relationships, we found evidence that C3 primary productivity was greatly diminished in southern California during the last glacial period….

    Evolution of C4 plants: a new hypothesis for an interaction of CO2 and water relations mediated by plant hydraulics
    Abstract
    C4 photosynthesis has evolved more than 60 times as a carbon-concentrating mechanism to augment the ancestral C3 photosynthetic pathway. The rate and the efficiency of photosynthesis are greater in the C4 than C3 type under atmospheric CO2 depletion, high light and temperature, suggesting these factors as important selective agents…. The C4 pathway allows high rates of photosynthesis at low stomatal conductance, even given low atmospheric CO2. The resultant decrease in transpiration protects the hydraulic system, allowing stomata to remain open and photosynthesis to be sustained for longer under drying atmospheric and soil conditions. The evolution of C4 photosynthesis therefore simultaneously improved plant carbon and water relations, conferring strong benefits as atmospheric CO2 declined and ecological demand for water rose.

    Evolution of C4 plants
    ….Constructing phylogenetic trees to represent genetic relationships between various species of grasses, and using Bayesian molecular dating to estimate the ages of the 17-18 independent C4 plant lineages, the study revealed the importance of CO2 decline that occurred millions of years ago on the evolution of C4 plants….

    What Does It Take to Be C4? Lessons from the Evolution of C4 Photosynthesis

    …It is believed that the C4 pathway has probably existed at low abundance for much of the past 12 to 13 million years, since the time of the fossil grass Tomlinsonia, which has Kranz anatomy and a ␦13C value of Ϫ13.7% (Cerling in 12). Much ␦13C evidence from many indirect sources (soil carbonates deposited about grass roots, tooth enamel of herbivores, etc.) dates the explosion of C4 plant biomass at some six to eight million years ago when atmospheric CO2 concentrations fell to about 200 ␮bar in air with 20 mbar O2. Under these conditions the catalytic short-comings of Rubisco favor the oxygenation of RuBP and energetically wasteful photorespiratory carbon recycling in the photorespiratory carbon oxidation (PCO) and photosynthetic carbon reduction (PCR) cycles. This so-called Rubisco penalty increases the energy cost of C3 photosynthesis beyond the cost of the CO2 concentrating mechanisms that evolved in C4 photosynthesis. Thus C4 plants gained a competitive edge during the low CO2 atmospheres and warmer periods of the Palaeozoic (Sage in 12). The subsequent evolutionary success of C4 photosynthesis was due to their improved water use efficiency and nutrient use efficiency, as well as their high photosynthetic capacity at higher temperature, all of which follow from Rubisco function in bundle-sheath cells served by a CO2-concentrating mechanism. The productivity of C4 crops today also stems from their longer growth cycles in the tropics, and their success as weeds owes much to their aggressive reproductive strategies.…..

  85. John West says:

    @ DirkH

    Oh, if only I had ChiefIO’s brevity and clarity. Thanks.

  86. Peter Miller says:

    mpainter says:

    “A warmer world means a better world. It means milder winters rather than hotter summers. It means a lower heating bill and less snow and ice. Life flourishes in a warmer world. Cooling is the scythe of death.

    Unfortunately the benefits of a warmer world are not to be ours. There was some hope that we could achieve this heaven on earth by burning fossil fuels, but the abysmal failure of AGW theory makes it clear that this will not happen. And now we see a cooling trend setting in.”

    This is a great comment and certain to give CAGW cult members an apoplectic fit. Returning to the temperatures experienced during the ‘Holocene climate optimum’ of 6-8,000 years ago would undoubtedly make the world a better place in which to live.

    I am never quite sure what global temperature CAGW cult members would like to see, but circa 1850 seems like a good bet. At that temperature profile, global famine would once again be widespread.

  87. son of mulder says:

    In our house my wife says it’s too cold and I say it’s too warm. She is of course correct and in one fell swoop the “Goredian Knot” is cut.

  88. H.R. says:

    @David L. Hagen says:
    January 1, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    “Since humans survived the last glaciation and thrived during the warm periods, the “best” temperature is between the glacial period temperature and the Holocene climatic optimum.”

    Seems to me all the other temperatures were less than optimum, but I’m open to persuasive argument.

  89. Gail Combs says:

    Matt says:
    January 1, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    Would it be getting too warm, at least within short time, if, say, species would go extinct and habitats shifting north? …
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Since it is actually getting cooler overall that is really the wrong question. Look at the last graph! The upper boundary of warm via geologic evidence is no more than two degrees hotter during the other interglacials graph Cold on the other hand is 8 to 10C cooler with a mile of Ice sitting on Chicago.

    Woods Hole Observatory: Abrupt Climate Change: Should We Be Worried?

    ….Fossil evidence clearly demonstrates that Earth vs climate can shift gears within a decade, establishing new and different patterns that can persist for decades to centuries. In addition, these climate shifts do not necessarily have universal, global effects. They can generate a counterintuitive scenario: Even as the earth as a whole continues to warm gradually, large regions may experience a precipitous and disruptive shift into colder climates.

    This new paradigm of abrupt climate change has been well established over the last decade by research of ocean, earth and atmosphere scientists at many institutions worldwide. But the concept remains little known and scarcely appreciated in the wider community of scientists, economists, policy makers, and world political and business leaders. Thus, world leaders may be planning for climate scenarios of global warming that are opposite to what might actually occur.

  90. Gene Selkov says:

    @Ingvar: Marvellous indeed. James Burke is a genius; I can listen to him any time. He can be wrong or vague in details (and sometimes very wrong about something big — for example, I feel embarrassed listening to his explanation of refrigeration), but he casts his net wide and the amount of stuff he trawls in is simply unbelievable, especially if you consider that most of it comes from old libraries.

    Also, check out his more recent book, “Circles”.

  91. k scott denison says:

    Matt says:
    January 1, 2013 at 1:20 pm
    Would it be getting too warm, at least within short time, if, say, species would go extinct and habitats shifting north? Would that indicate a non – normal temperature even without knowing what is “optimal”?

    () yes
    () no
    =======================

    Matt, please tell me during which period in the history of the earth species weren’t going extinct and habitats weren’t changing.

    I’ll wait patiently for your answer. Until then, I will note that on the earth where I live I don’t believe there to have been such a time. Oh, and that extinction can rarely be tied directly to one and only one variable. Not on my earth.

  92. Who cares about global temperature when the local temperature is right.

    Our ancestors, tribes, settled where the condition were right and moved on when it went bad. I guess we are beyond the point to move easily even we could travel a long distance quite easily but we have our settlement (cities) build too large.

    I also don’t think Al Gore and all the others would leave everything behind and that’s why they demand to change the climate for them.

  93. crosspatch says:

    Returning to the temperatures experienced during the ‘Holocene climate optimum’ of 6-8,000 years ago would undoubtedly make the world a better place in which to live.

    Sure, if you lived in the Sahara but not if you lived in Arkansas. The lower Midwestern US and Southwestern US were in raging megadrought during that time. We would have active sand dunes crossing Kansas if we had those temperatures today though other areas that are currently dry would see more rain as the ITCZ moved to higher latitudes.

  94. ferd berple says:

    JohnH says:
    January 1, 2013 at 1:05 pm
    @Steve Mosher
    My degree in physics has taught me at least one thing: no single variable in an extremely complex system can be ignored.
    =========
    Why has no one considered partial pressure? Increasing CO2 in the atmosphere will reduce the partial pressure of water vapor. Basic physics. Since H2O is a stronger GHG than CO2, increasing CO2 will if anything reduce warming due to GHG.

    The assumption that CO2 causes warming is just that, an assumption that relies on ignoring contrary evidence, including natural variability. The paleo records show that CO2 is the result, not the cause of warming.

  95. Matt G says:

    @Steven Mosher

    “At 800 ppm, the evidence suggests, we get a world that is somewhere between 17C and 19C, if not warmer. ”

    REPLY

    There is no evidence that suggests such a thing, even below for this range requires generally more than 1000ppm. Only 2 periods where this range occurred with lower than 400ppm and it shows now we are still way off. Over millions of years there is no link between CO2 and temperature.

    http://deforestation.geologist-1011.net/PhanerozoicCO2-Temperatures.png

    The 3.7W/m2 is claimed for a doubling of CO2, yet 324 W/m2 is claimed for all greenhouse back radiation. A doubling of CO2 therefore is just 1.1% of the total. If 33c represents the total for greenhouse gases this just represents 0.36c rise per doubling of CO2. This is being generous because most of the warming from greenhouse gases occurs in the first parts with it being logarithmic. This also doesn’t take a water body into account either on the surface. Increasing evidence that the feedback is negative not positive.

    There is obviously some disagreement here compared with the theoretical 1c per doubling CO2. The reason is obviously because this is partly derived from ideas over land not the ocean. The 324 W/m2 claimed for all greenhouse gases doesn’t warm a bucket of water in the shade during one day, so 1.1 percent of this even if atmospheric levels in future were reached are so miniscule. No wonder we can’t measure the difference from zero now with many decades until the possibility for a doubling of CO2 is reached.

    Since the 1960′s CO2 levels have raised 80ppm until now so a doubling of CO2 won’t occur until it hits 630ppm. That means we are 25.4% of the target for a doubling of CO2. Therefore CO2 should have since the 1960′s only warmed the planet by 0.09c. Based on this there would be only 0.55c warming at most when reached 800ppm.

  96. Gail Combs says:

    Mike Roddy says:
    January 1, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    Interesting question. The issue is less what is the optimum temperature for humans, but what the crops and creatures we survive from will require. The pace of warming and additional GHG’s is currently very rapid….
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Not it is not LOOK at the last graph. Overall the EARTH IS COOLING.

    On the short term there has been no statistically significant warming for well over a decade while CO2 AND CROP YIELD per ACRE have increased. A win-win situation.

    The measure of global temperature favored by the IPCC, the HadCRUt data series, shows no statistically-significant warming for 16 years.

    This result is supported by the UAH and RSS satellite lower-troposphere temperature datasets.
    I applaud your generosity of spirit, however you are too generous with the facts in favour of the people who believe in CAGW.

    For example RSS has a negative slope for the last 15 years and 16 years.

    However:
    For RSS the warming is NOT significant for 23 years.
    For RSS: +0.130 +/-0.136 C/decade at the two sigma level from 1990
    For RSS: +0.135 +/-0.147 C/decade at the two sigma level from 1991
    For RSS: +0.142 +/-0.159 C/decade at the two sigma level from 1992
    For RSS: +0.107 +/-0.166 C/decade at the two sigma level from 1993
    For RSS: +0.069 +/-0.174 C/decade at the two sigma level from 1994
    For RSS: +0.043 +/-0.190 C/decade at the two sigma level from 1995
    For RSS: +0.036 +/-0.210 C/decade at the two sigma level from 1996
    For RSS: -0.003 +/-0.229 C/decade at the two sigma level from 1997
    For RSS: -0.045 +/-0.250 C/decade at the two sigma level from 1998

    For Hacrut4, the warming is NOT significant for 18 years.
    For Hadcrut4: 0.098 +/- 0.111 C/decade at the two sigma level from 1995

    For Hacrut3, the warming is NOT significant for 19 years.
    For Hadcrut3: 0.098 +/- 0.113 C/decade at the two sigma level from 1994
    For Hadcrut3: 0.075 +/- 0.120 C/decade at the two sigma level from 1995

    For GISS, the warming is NOT significant for 17 years.
    For GISS: 0.113 +/- 0.122 C/decade at the two sigma level from 1996

    For UAH, the warming is NOT significant for 19 years.
    For UAH: 0.143 +/- 0.173 C/decade at the two sigma level from 1994
    For UAH: 0.123 +/- 0.190 C/decade at the two sigma level from 1995
    For UAH: 0.120 +/- 0.211 C/decade at the two sigma level from 1996

    Werner Brozek

  97. Gail Combs says:

    clipe says:
    January 1, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    Meanwhile, back in the day.

    http://members.shaw.ca/wellandwx/blizzard77.htm
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Good Grief, I remember that blizzard very well! I had 2 fifty pound sacks of sand in my trunk and a shovel. We used them to get the semi-truck stuck across the plant parking lot entrance going so everyone could leave for home. That drive was a real nightmare.

  98. Justthinkin says:

    Yeah. I know there is no answer,but who says there MUST be an optimum? Below one temp,mammalian bodies freeze. Okay.But what is the top temp? When do we incinerate? Just curious for the New Year.

  99. dscott says:

    Is there an optimum planetary climate temperature for Humans? Irrelevant. Humans migrate to areas of greatest food stability. Why? It should be obvious, the planet being a sphere creates lateral zones of climate from cold to hot. As energy input to the earth changes so do the lateral climate zones of optimal crop and game density for habitation. Humans adapt by moving as the climate zones move. E.g. as energy input increases, the lateral zone moves north (warming of colder areas) and visa versa.

  100. Mike Roddy says:

    Price Waterhouse is apparently in on the scam:
    http://press.pwc.com/GLOBAL/News-releases/current-rates-of-decarbonisation-pointing-to-6oc-of-warming/s/47302a6d-efb5-478f-b0e4-19d8801da855
    We now know that accounting firms (PW), banks (World Bank), UNEP, and energy analysts (IEA) are in on the global warming research grant racket. That money must dwarf what the oil and coal companies are making these days.
    Re the above comments about a warming world, and prior cited warm periods: the Arctic icecap could be gone in 2015. This has never happened since humans first evolved three million years ago.

  101. AleaJactaEst says:

    I read 80 comments into Anthony’s “Goredian” knot and read not one reference to his original blog title, i.e. an “intractable problem” albeit one misspelled.

    We don’t find ourselves between the devil and the deep blue sea with CAGW, this is no Gordian knot: We here all have become the Alexander and sliced the knot with the sword of facts and truth. There is no way back for those that tied the knot in the first place to attempt to tie it again.

  102. Gail Combs says:

    Peter Miller says:
    January 1, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    …..I am never quite sure what global temperature CAGW cult members would like to see, but circa 1850 seems like a good bet. At that temperature profile, global famine would once again be widespread.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    All the evidence I have seen so far indicates there are those who would very much like to see global famine as a means to thin out the human herd and many of them are warmists. Politicians certainly do not seem to care that their policies are killing off the old and the poor in the UK and the EU.

    “I just wonder what it would be like to be reincarnated in an animal whose species had been so reduced in numbers than it was in danger of extinction. What would be its feelings toward the human species whose population explosion had denied it somewhere to exist… I must confess that I am tempted to ask for reincarnation as a particularly deadly virus. ~ Prince Phillip

    Obama’s Science Czar John Holdren wrote:

    ….Adding a sterilant to drinking water or staple foods is a suggestion that seems to horrify people more than most proposals for involuntary fertility control. Indeed, this would pose some very difficult political, legal, and social questions, to say nothing of the technical problems. No such sterilant exists today, nor does one appear to be under development. To be acceptable, such a substance would have to meet some rather stiff requirements: it must be uniformly effective, despite widely varying doses received by individuals, and despite varying degrees of fertility and sensitivity among individuals; it must be free of dangerous or unpleasant side effects; and it must have no effect on members of the opposite sex, children, old people, pets, or livestock…..

    …The Planetary Regime might be given responsibility for determining the optimum population for the world and for each region and for arbitrating various countries’ shares within their regional limits. Control of population size might remain the responsibility of each government, but the Regime would have some power to enforce the agreed limits….
    Ecoscience Page 942-3

    Dr. Eric Pianka’s presentation at the 109th meeting of the Texas Academy of Science March 2-4….
    “I watched in amazement as a few hundred members of the Texas Academy of Science rose to their feet and gave a standing ovation to a speech that enthusiastically advocated the elimination of 90 percent of Earth’s population by airborne Ebola.”
    link

  103. A Crooks says:

    As a geologist I would add two other questions:

    What is the ideal atmospheric CO2 concentration?

    What is the ideal continental arrangement?

    Maybe we should focus more of our attention to the last question. At the moment Australia is heading towards the equator which seems a less than optimal situation for the species sequestered here. I live in daily terror of what will happen to the poor marsupials when we blunder across the Wallace Line. Oh! the humanity!

  104. eric1skeptic says:

    Steven Mosher said “Consider now, that during the LGM when it 2C-4C cooler than today, the primary supply of energy, the sun, delivered the same TSI as today. Insolation was the same. c02, however, was about 200ppm, or half. C02 has doubled from the LGM and temps are about 2-4C warmer.”

    Did you consider the drop in albedo from LGM to present? How much is global average albedo going to drop headed into the future? Ans: not much because the reduction in land glaciers and Arctic ice are localized in small areas and do not make a lot of difference to albedo globally.

    Did you consider decreased dust in the present compared to the LGM? That would also account for some of the warming. Will there be a further drop in dust to help raise temps in the future? Ans; not likely.

    The bottom line is that comparing LGM and the present only looking at CO2 and temperature cannot yield any kind of numeric approximation of sensitivity, not even a crude one.

  105. Colin Gartner says:

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    January 1, 2013 at 1:06 pm
    ……………………………………………….

    Thank you Mr. Eschenbach. Stated far more eloquently than I possibly could have done, especially the part regarding actual current suffering versus theoretical future suffering. That really is a philosophical and moral argument that doesn’t seem to be discussed much.

    Happy New Year to yourself, Anthony, and to all the denizens of WUWT!

  106. Arno Arrak says:

    Are you the former weatherman or his namesake the Oxford don?

  107. highflight56433 says:

    Our survival may depend on burning fossil fuel (locked up CO2 that used to be topside) as a mechanism to bolster CO2 that allows for greater food production as the population increases AND extremely cheap energy to drive our economies of food production. I tire of any mongering that claims otherwise. China is doing it right. Burn that coal.
    As for the subject at hand, pray for a bit warmer. In the mean time my thermostat is set at 71 F whether it be -65 F or +125 F. Now that is what I call adaptability. Praise necessity for the mother of invention and warmth for the mother of leisure time and CO2 for growing the barley and hops and grapes and other products of fineries.

  108. Mike M says:

    Steven Mosher says:
    Insolation was the same. c02, however, was about 200ppm, or half. C02 has doubled from the LGM and temps are about 2-4C warmer. Thats a very rough and crude approximation to give you a sense of how sensitive the climate is to doubling c02. 2-4C per doubling.

    Correlation does not prove causation and there is an inconvenient piece of information missing in the example you provided. The increase of temperature PRECEDED the increase in CO2 by several hundred years.

    The typical warmist argument then shifts gears to claim that may be so but CO2 gets high enough to ‘take over’ later on to which I always reply – “So then why didn’t the temperature just keep on going up? And MUCH more inconvenient is to also explain HOW temperatures dropped later in the cycle to cause the next ice age with so much CO2 in the air?”

    From 130K to about 115K YA CO2 was rather steady at an ice core reading of about 270, (which could be representative of a much higher value if you consider plant stomata counts), but temperature is steadily declining. Just looking at the graph with no other climate knowledge about the two excepting the idea that somehow ‘CO2 controls temperature’, any systems engineer would immediately tell you that CO2 is obviously a negative feedback causing temperature to decrease.

  109. Mike M says:

    Sorry my lame attempt at html didn’t work to embed the chart – http://joannenova.com.au/globalwarming/graphs/vostok-ice-cores-150000%20med.jpg

  110. Gene Selkov says:

    @A Crooks: Watch what you wish for. I won’t be surprised at all if in the next election in Australia is won by somebody who swears there will be no tax on human activities causing continental drift.

  111. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Steven Mosher, thanks again for your post. One thing you said led me to an interesting insight:

    Consider now, that during the LGM when it 2C-4C cooler than today, the primary supply of energy, the sun, delivered the same TSI as today. Insolation was the same. c02, however, was about 200ppm, or half. C02 has doubled from the LGM and temps are about 2-4C warmer. Thats a very rough and crude approximation to give you a sense of how sensitive the climate is to doubling c02. 2-4C per doubling.

    What I realized was that we should be able to tell whether temperature is driving CO2 or CO2 driving temperature by looking at the Vostok ice core records that you implicitly refer to above.

    The difference is, the relationship between CO2 concentration is said to be logarithmic, whereas going the other way, the CO2 concentration is said to be, at least to a first approximation a linear function of temperature.

    The trick to doing the analysis, therefore, is to see whether the relationship between ice core CO2 and temperature is linear or logarithmic. Fortunately, the values are small enough at the low end to give us a fairly wide range, so if the logarithmic relationship works better, it should be obvious. The CO2 values over the last 400 kyrs has a max of about 300 and a minimum of about 180.

    Accordingly, I used the Vostok CO2 and temperature records from the CDIAC to look at the relationships. The linear relationship between CO2 and temperature has an R^2 of 0.68.

    The relationship between temperature and the logarithm of CO2 has an R^2 which is slightly less, 0.66. In other words, we do not find that a logarithmic relations is better than linear, it is actually slightly worse.

    Given the known lag of the change in CO2 with respect to the change in temperature, somewhere around half a millennium, and this lack of evidence that CO2 is the cause (no logarithmic relationship) I have to conclude that temperature is driving the CO2 and not the other way around.

    All the best,

    w.

  112. Tackleberry says:

    I hate to make the alarmists’ arguments for them, but I think I have a reasonable answer to this question. While there is no scientifically valid meaning of the “correct” temperature, we can assert that massive modern infrastructure has been built around the assumptions of a 20th Century climate and especially a 20th Century sea level. Major deviations frm this, anthropogenic or otherwise, will be expensive and inconvenient.

  113. Dan Pangburn says:

    An equation based on rational physics that, without considering any influence from CO2 whatsoever and using only one independent variable (the sunspot number), has calculated average global temperatures since they have been accurately measured world wide (about 1895) with an accuracy of 88% (R2 = 0.88, correlation coefficient = 0.938). Including the influence of CO2 (a second independent variable) increased the accuracy to 88.5%. This demonstrates that atmospheric CO2 has no significant influence on average global temperature.

    When calibrated to measurements thru 1965 and using actual sunspot numbers, it predicted the average global temperature trend value in 2005 within 0.054°C. When calibrated thru 1995 and using actual sunspot numbers, it predicted the average global temperature trend value in 2011 within 0.004°C. The analysis includes the flat temperature trend of the last decade. The equation, links to the methodology and source data are at http://climaterealists.com/index.php?tid=145&linkbox=true. No one else has used the time-integral of sunspot numbers or been anywhere near this accurate.

    The equation is valid as demonstrated by accurate calculation and prediction including the flat temperature trend since 2001. Results are shown in graphs. When calibrated through 2011 and using predicted sunspot data, the equation predicts an average global temperature downtrend for at least two more decades.

  114. davidmhoffer says:

    I vote for alligators at the north pole.

    1. If we need the space, we’ll evict them. That’s the advantage of being the dominant species on the planet.
    2. w/m2 varying with T raised to the power of 4….envelope…scratch scribble figure….temps in the tropics change by…. not much. Actually, a bit less.
    3. We lose some low lying areas to rising sea levels, but gain back 10x in arable land that is currently unproductive.
    4. The land that is currently productive becomes even more productive.
    5. High value low lying land can be protected by dykes and other strategies instead of being abandoned in some cases. The cost will be paid for by dramatically lower damage from intense storms in both frequency and intensity. In fact, we’ll wind up ahead, probably by a factor of two or three.
    6. Increases in air conditioning costs will be off set by reductions in heating costs. We’ll save 62.716% on fossil fuel consumption as a consequence.

    The above numbers have been arrived at by climate science standards, meaning that I have calculated them to three decimal places though there might be a slight odor due to the place I pulled them out of.

  115. Janice says:

    Gail Combs, thank you for a very interesting post about my comment. I hadn’t thought about there being some ultimate minimum on the CO2, and your logic seems very clear on that. As an aside, I actually would like to see about 2000 ppm CO2, as that optimizes plant growth very nicely. However, when I mention that much CO2 some people appear to go into cardiac arrest. Hopefully this posting is far enough down to not be seen by too many people. I would actually like to see crocodiles frolicking in warm water at the north pole, also, but since there isn’t a land mass there currently that could be hard on the crocodiles. Cheers.

  116. john robertson says:

    Glenncz thanks that what I needed, problem with reading all the comments I’m not always sure where I read stuff.
    So based on Team IPCC logic, to save the AR5 adjust the mean to 13.5C and look its warming again.
    So the absence of a designated mean is normal climatology,its an Alice in Wonderland value, more arguing with the mist.
    Whats that phrase Alex Rawls uses? Fraud by omission, IPCC all the way.

  117. John West says:

    Steven Mosher says:
    “Consider now, that during the LGM when it 2C-4C cooler than today, the primary supply of energy, the sun, delivered the same TSI as today. Insolation was the same. c02, however, was about 200ppm, or half. C02 has doubled from the LGM and temps are about 2-4C warmer. Thats a very rough and crude approximation to give you a sense of how sensitive the climate is to doubling c02. 2-4C per doubling.”

    Consider now that TSI is the same at an hour after sunrise as it is an hour before sunset. The temperature can vary greatly between these two times but the cricket chirp frequency always correlates to temperature. Obviously, cricket chirp frequency has more effect on temperature than TSI.

    [LGM = ??? Be careful of unusual abbreviations. Mod]

  118. mpainter says:

    Peter Miller says: January 1, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    This is a great comment and certain to give CAGW cult members an apoplectic fit.
    ============================================
    Yes, my name is on their list and it is circled in red. One of my pleasures is to provoke them into imprecations against my grandchildren. I find that telling the truth is the fastest way to achieve this.

    “Cult members” is an apt term, it fits.

  119. highflight56433 says:

    davidmhoffer says:
    January 1, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    “I vote for alligators at the north pole.”

    You are a good man. All the money saved by not heating homes, etc, can be spent on alligator peripherals, purses, belts, boots, sausages… Further more, we are mostly hairless creatures spending big bucks on clothing to stay warm and more bucks to sit naked in the tropics. No more bulky parkas! Bikini industry sky rockets…exotic rum for everyone! Fancy barge trips through the Northern Territory and Siberia.

  120. mpainter says:

    Mike Roddy says: January 1, 2013 at 4:58 pm
    ==================================
    Mike Roddy, did you really say that, about kicking Anthony Watts when he is down?

  121. Chad Jessup says:

    Gail – keep up the excellent posts concerning the agriculture perspective. Thanks.

  122. theduke says:

    Tackleberry says: “Major deviations frm this, anthropogenic or otherwise, will be expensive and inconvenient.”

    There is no sign that deviations are “major.” There has been a slight increase in temperature readings in the past century, which doesn’t necessarily mean the earth has heated in any meaningful way. The idea that “deviations”–major or minor–will be “expensive and inconvenient” has not been proven. What has been proven to be expensive are premature attempts to mitigate indeterminate “global warming,” particularly when you consider that there may not be any crisis at all. So far, the amounts spent foolishly are difficult to calculate, but tens if not hundreds billions of dollars may have already been wasted.

    The idea that global warming, whether anthropogenic or entirely natural, will be catastrophic, dangerous, expensive, inconvenient, or even undesirable is all a matter of conjecture at the moment.

    Climate science is in its infancy. When it grows up, get back to us.

  123. crosspatch says:

    The average temperature of Alaska has fallen 2.4F since 2000. This year is looking to be another bone-chiller:

    http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/forget-global-warming-alaska-headed-ice-age?page=0,0

  124. highflight56433 says:

    “The trick to doing the analysis, therefore, is to see whether the relationship between ice core CO2 and temperature is linear or logarithmic.”

    Willis, you might consider not using the word “trick” as we see some folks got a little sideways with the word. Maybe consider the word “manner”, or “possible process”, or “methodology”.. ;) Just trying to help out before hand.

    Anthony, I have had two Onan generators; liked them very much so. I thought first of the machine, not the man, in reading your presentation.

  125. handjive says:

    Where ever the perfect ‘global’ temperature might be, here is some examples of why carbon dioxide levels are not the ‘climate control levers’:

    1. Oct. 9, 2009
    Last Time Carbon Dioxide Levels Were This High: 15 Million Years Ago, Scientists Report

    “The last time carbon dioxide levels were apparently as high as they are today — and were sustained at those levels — global temperatures were 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit higher than they are today, the sea level was approximately 75 to 120 feet higher than today, there was no permanent sea ice cap in the Arctic and very little ice on Antarctica and Greenland,” said the paper’s lead author, Aradhna Tripati, a UCLA assistant professor in the department of Earth and space sciences and the department of atmospheric and oceanic sciences.”

    [ http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091008152242.htm ]

    Now, that description of our planet is nothing like that of today. Obviously.
    In 100 years? Maybe. It (climate) better get a kick-a-long as highest CO2 levels are NOW.

    2.
    December 31, 2012 – Dust Bowl memories stir across the US Great Plains

    A wave of dust storms during the 1930s* crippled agriculture over a vast area of the Great Plains and led to an exodus of people, many to California, dramatised in John Steinbeck’s novel “The Grapes of Wrath.”

    While few people believe it could get that bad again, the new storms have some experts worried that similar conditions – if not the catastrophic environmental disaster of the 1930s – are returning to parts of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.

    [ http://www.theage.com.au/environment/climate-change/dust-bowl-memories-stir-across-the-us-great-plains-20121231-2c1ym.html ]

    * Levels of carbon dioxide in 1930, Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii: 287ppm

    [ http://dwb.unl.edu/calculators/pdf/trendsco2.pdf ]

    If we are returning to “similar conditions – if not the catastrophic environmental disaster of the 1930s “, BUT carbon dioxide levels are now ONE THIRD higher,
    Again, carbon dioxide can not be the cause.

    3.
    Finally, the one observed climate event that blows all the catastrophic global warming computer models up:

    April 27, 2012 – It’s official: Australia no longer in drought

    [ http://www.theage.com.au/environment/weather/its-official-australia-no-longer-in-drought-20120427-1xpsp.html ]

    No one saw that coming. Least of all the government funded alarmists:

    2008: This drought may never break

    “Perhaps we should call it our new climate,” said the Bureau of Meteorology’s head of climate analysis, David Jones.

    [ http://www.smh.com.au/news/environment/this-drought-may-never-break/2008/01/03/1198949986473.html ]

  126. mpainter says:

    James Davidson says: January 1, 2013 at 11:51 am
    =======================
    Then whence the Ice Age, with all these fine, immutable laws of radiation physics and impecable calculations? Seems like a big piece of the puzzle is missing, and I mean big. When theoretical physicists make their pronouncements about climate,they are sitting ducks.

  127. highflight56433 says:

    Janice says:
    January 1, 2013 at 7:27 pm
    “I would actually like to see crocodiles frolicking in warm water at the north pole, also, but since there isn’t a land mass there currently that could be hard on the crocodiles. Cheers.”

    Thought that myself, but elected to avoid it as there is in the general vernacular of the arctic north pole plenty of shoreline for frolicking: Maybe with the less hairy polar bears that eat alligator eggs for breakfast and the young alligators for brunch.

  128. highflight56433 says:

    crosspatch says:
    January 1, 2013 at 8:02 pm
    “The average temperature of Alaska has fallen 2.4F since 2000. This year is looking to be another bone-chiller:”

    Add that to the winter low temps that are declining in the lower 48. Those UHI highs are scewing the data toward warming.

  129. climatebeagle says:

    This question always seems to be strange to me as there is such a wide variety of climates that people live in today, from Alaska to the Sonoran desert in the US alone.

    It is interesting that from a quick view of the world’s fastest growing cities and urban areas that they all seem to be in warm regions.
    http://www.citymayors.com/statistics/urban_growth1.html

  130. Mike M says:

    Okay, maybe there won’t be crocs in the Arctic but we can build a lot of golf courses in the Antarctic!

  131. sunsettommy says:

    Steve Keohane says:
    January 1, 2013 at 11:41 am,

    Steve K,

    Here is a place where some of your questions can be answered and John Kehr wrote a book that deals with the subject quite well.

    The current interglacial is actually 16,000 years long but enjoyed the warming side of insolation for just 12,500 years and that ended about 3,500 years ago and still declining as glaciers have in recent centuries re appeared after long absence.

    http://theinconvenientskeptic.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Chap_8-Illustration_64-550×393.png

    The rest of the page of great charts and some glaciers that have been born fairly recently due solely to the declining insolation trend. It is worth a visit as they are based on published science data:

    http://theinconvenientskeptic.com/chapters-8-10/

    We are deep into climate Autumn and soon enter Glacial Winter

  132. Jeff Alberts says:

    Tackleberry says:
    January 1, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    I hate to make the alarmists’ arguments for them, but I think I have a reasonable answer to this question. While there is no scientifically valid meaning of the “correct” temperature, we can assert that massive modern infrastructure has been built around the assumptions of a 20th Century climate and especially a 20th Century sea level. Major deviations frm this, anthropogenic or otherwise, will be expensive and inconvenient.

    All I can say to that is “oh well”. We built our amazing 20th century infrastructure KNOWING that sea levels globally were higher when the Roman Empire was at its peak. We should have expected them to possibly return to those levels. Therefore we are stupid, and can’t now complain about naturally rising sea levels.

  133. Peter says:

    And while we are at it, what exactly was the consensus of the last really big question as to how many angels can dance on the head of a pin ?

  134. Tim B says:

    I think the Neanderthals would disagree with your assessment. They thrived when it was colder and would argue for a colder climate. In fact the Neanderthals may be clamoring for a colder climate.now.

  135. Dan Fundo says:

    Two comments:
    How did they know the global temperature in the 70′s when the first Earth resources satellites didn’t get launched until 1979? There was no way to get the temperature over vast areas of the Earth before then.

    Also, I recall reading that 8 of the past 11 ice incursions (ice ages) were preceeded by periods of warming. Could be were headed for another deep freeze!

  136. thingadonta says:

    I think the alarmists are generally more worried about the rate of change then the absolute temperature, they say that humans and the ecology cant adapt to such rapid change as is projected (eg cities swamped by rising seas, forest cover changing to fast etc).

    But I would say its the bureacrats themselves who most worry about the rate of change, not the people, or the rest of the biota.

    From Yes Minister:

    “there has been movement, in a topic in which the civil service generally hopes there will be no movement”

    “the civil service generally hopes there will be no movement in any topic”.

  137. Werner Brozek says:

    Janice says:
    January 1, 2013 at 7:27 pm
    As an aside, I actually would like to see about 2000 ppm CO2, as that optimizes plant growth very nicely. However, when I mention that much CO2 some people appear to go into cardiac arrest.

    But should they stop breathing, apply artificial respiration. That has 40,000 ppm CO2 and it could revive them. Just do not let them know that your exhaled air has 4% CO2.

  138. William says:

    Humans faced near extinction during the last glacial period. The planet is colder and drier during the glacial period. The biosphere expands when the planet is warmer and contracts when it is colder. During the Wisconsin glacial period all of Canada, the Northern US states and Northern Europe are covered with an ice sheet.

    Human near extinction 70 kyr ago.

    http://zeitlerweb.com/about-2/human-near-extinction/

    Human beings may have had a brush with extinction 70,000 years ago, an extensive genetic study suggests. The human population at that time was reduced to small isolated groups in Africa, apparently because of drought, according to an analysis released Thursday. The report notes that a separate study by researchers at Stanford University estimated the number of early humans may have shrunk as low as 2,000 before numbers began to expand again in the early Stone Age.

    Features of Evolution and Expansion of Modern Humans, Inferred from Genomewide Microsatellite Markers

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1180270/

    Curiously interglacial periods end abruptly rather than gradually.
    http://www.esd.ornl.gov/projects/qen/transit.html

    According to the marine records, the Eemian interglacial ended with a rapid cooling event about 110,000 years ago (e.g., Imbrie et al., 1984; Martinson et al., 1987), which also shows up in ice cores and pollen records from across Eurasia. From a relatively high resolution core in the North Atlantic. Adkins et al. (1997) suggested that the final cooling event took less than 400 years, and it might have been much more rapid.

    The event at 8200 ka is the most striking sudden cooling event during the Holocene, giving widespread cool, dry conditions lasting perhaps 200 years before a rapid return to climates warmer and generally moister than the present. This event is clearly detectable in the Greenland ice cores, where the cooling seems to have been about half-way as severe as the Younger Dryas-to-Holocene difference (Alley et al., 1997; Mayewski et al., 1997). No detailed assessment of the speed of change involved seems to have been made within the literature (though it should be possible to make such assessments from the ice core record), but the short duration of these events at least suggests changes that took only a few decades or less to occur.

  139. Blade says:

    Steven Mosher [January 1, 2013 at 12:25 pm] says:

    “We are now at 400ppm, do we want to burn all the fossil fuels and go above 1000ppm. At 800 ppm, the evidence suggests, we get a world that is somewhere between 17C and 19C, if not warmer. some think (me included) we will get there at lower concentrations. Seems to me, that we don’t want to run the risk that may occur at 800ppm. Simply put, we don’t want to burn all the fossil fuels. A plan to avoid that would be a good thing.
    Comes the question, how much more can we safely burn? up to 450ppm? 600ppm? 350? like mckibben argues. And who decides? If china, drives emissions up to 600ppm and AGW is true, and our country suffers a disproportiate outcome, are folks ok with that? who’s air is it?”

    1000 ppm huh? You are pretty much saying that humans have the ability to quadruple C02 concentration all by themselves ( ~250 ppm before oil right? ). I should know better than to ask you these once again, but (1) if every single CO2 ppm rise since 1850 comes from human beings, and (2) every single fractional degree of alleged temperature rise is also from humans … well you should just come right out and admit what you have just said, and that is that we are supposed to be locked in the Little Ice Age and that because of our actions using oil and coal have screwed it all up. Say it Steven. Say we are supposed to be freezing. Eco-lunacy.

    One problem with living in the theoretical exclusively is that you have disconnected your self from reality, for example: “And who decides?”. Ummm, not us. Not you. Not your AGW hoaxster buddies either. You have a bit of a God complex ( as does Fuller’s similar grandiose thinking ) to think we get to sit around and decide how a future world heats itself and stays warm. You see, you and Fuller actually believe that people can plan the future for example somehow sequestering the coal and oil in the ground, and then capturing sunshine, wind, rainbows and unicorns instead. Reality is what you need to visit every so often. By kneecapping the USA oil and coal industries all you accomplish is to hurt the people needing warmth in the present, and are guaranteeing that future people will go and get those resources later because you have made them even more valuable than they are now. In fact you eco-loons have guaranteed that the USA will eventually become the new Kuwait or Saudi, rolling in oil and coal centuries from now because of the actions today where we will just use up the supply from the middle east and other places in the meantime. You are building the future USA energy empire ( bet that wasn’t your agenda, was it? )

    You cannot stop future people from picking the low-hanging fruit of oil and coal, especially if they are cold future people who are going to laugh at the argument that we must not mine coal and oil because using it will heat the planet! Humans will burn through the oil and coal supply ( which may not really be finite anyway ) as long as it makes sense. And more bad news for your naive world view is those future cold people will get this sequestered energy even if they need to conquer the areas where it is hidden. That is human history. Your ideas are fantasy land.

  140. William says:

    The paleo record has periods when the planet was cold and CO2 was high and periods when the planet was warm and CO2 levels were low. This is indication that the CO2 mechanism saturates.

    Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels for the last 500 million years

    http://www.pnas.org/content/99/7/4167.full

    Using a variety of sedimentological criteria, Frakes et al. (18) have concluded that Earth’s climate has cycled several times between warm and cool modes for roughly the last 600 My. Recent work by Veizer et al. (28), based on measurements of oxygen isotopes in calcite and aragonite shells, appears to confirm the existence of these long-period (_135 My) climatic fluctuations. Changes in CO2 levels are usually assumed to be among the dominant mechanisms driving such long-term climate change (29).

    Superficially, this observation would seem to imply that pCO2 does not exert dominant control on Earth’s climate at time scales greater than about 10 My. A wealth of evidence, however, suggests that pCO2 exerts at least some control [see Crowley and Berner (30) for a recent review]. Fig. 4 cannot by itself refute this assumption. Instead, it simply shows that the ‘‘null hypothesis’’ that pCO2 and climate are unrelated cannot be rejected on the basis of this evidence alone.

    http://www.nature.com/uidfinder/10.1038/nature01087

    Despite these successes in linking variations in greenhouse gas concentrations to climate change in the geologic past, the oxygen isotope palaeotemperature record from 600 Myr ago to the present displays notable intervals for which inferred temperatures and pCO2 levels are not correlated1. One of these occurred during the early to middle Miocene (about 17 Myr ago), a time well established as a warm interval (relative to today), but with proxy evidence for low atmospheric pCO2 (ref. 2). Moreover, whereas climate models predict tropical warming in response to elevated pCO2, geologic data — in particularly the oxygen isotope record — indicate muted warming or even cooling at low latitudes while higher latitudes warm (the ‘cool tropicsparadox’10–11).

    The ice epochs correlate with changes in GCR as the solar system passes through the spiral arms of the Milky Way galaxy.

    Celestial driver of Phanerozoic climate?

    http://www.phys.huji.ac.il/~shaviv/Ice-ages/GSAToday.pdf

    Celestial driver of Phanerozoic climate?

    We find that at least 66% of the variance in the paleotemperature trend could be attributed to CRF variations likely due to solar system passages through the spiral arms of the galaxy. Assuming that the entire residual variance in temperature is due solely to the CO2 greenhouse effect, we propose a tentative upper limit to the long-term “equilibrium” warming effect of CO2, one which is potentially lower than that based on general
    circulation models.

    The following is link to Shaviv defending is analysis of meteorites to determine how GCR has varied in the deep past. As Shaviv shows the ice epochs correlate with long term increases in GCR that occur when the solar system passes through the spiral arms of the Milky Way galaxy.

    http://www.phys.huji.ac.il/~shaviv/ClimateDebate/RahmReply/RahmReply.html

    RECONSTRUCTING COSMIC RAY FLUXES —The starting point of SV03 is a reconstruction of cosmic ray fluxes over the past 1,000 Myr based on 50 iron meteorites and a simple model estimating cosmic ray flux (CRF) induced by the Earth’s passage through Galactic spiral arms ([Shaviv, 2002; Shaviv, 2003]). About 20 of the meteorites, making four clusters, date from the past 520 Myr, the time span analyzed in SV03. The meteorites are dated by analysing isotopic changes in their matter due to cosmic ray exposure (CRE dating [Eugster, 2003]). An apparent age clustering of these meteorites is then interpreted not as a collision-related clustering in their real ages but as an indication of fluctuations in cosmic ray flux (CRF). One difficulty with this interpretation is that variations in CRF intensity would equally affect all types of meteorites. Instead, the ages of different types of iron meteorites cluster at different times [Wieler, 2002]. Hence, most specialists on meteorite CRE ages interpret the clusters as the result of collision processes of parent bodies, as they do for stony meteorites (ages _ 130 Myr) to which more than one dating method can be applied.

  141. PaddikJ says:

    Gail Combs says:
    January 1, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    Many, many thanks for the plant-CO2 links. I had been wondering lately If there was some minimum atmospheric CO2 level, both for adequate plant production (as food for us animals), and as an absolute minimum where photosynthesis would drop below where animal (and all) life could be sustained. Your links provide at least a place to start.

    Janice says:
    January 1, 2013 at 7:27 pm

    CO2 @ 2000ppm? Be careful what you wish for: During the Carboniferous, several degrees warmer than now, life on earth never had it so good. All that carbon which we’re now mining so industriously was living, breathing, mega-scaled life – club mosses the size of trees, spiders the size of snow saucers, dragonflies the size of hang gliders. Could a relatively small, active, exothermic mammal like H.Sap – the product of an ice age – compete in such a riotous ecology? There may a hint in that humans living in the tropics never managed to create advanced, technocratic societies on their own – too much competition, especially from the critters that are invisisble to the naked eye.

  142. EternalOptimist says:

    Interesting question and an interesting discussion. It strikes me as a much more difficult question to answer than ‘What is the optimal level of taxation’
    and we aint doing too well answering that one either

  143. E.M.Smith says:

    Well, I finally got through all the comments. Lucky for me, several of the things I thought needed to be “brought up” have been. Thanks, especially, to DirkH for pointing out that the comment about “we have no business being warm” was a “jumping off point” to look at why, and finding that it’s related to lag times, and that the present level of insolation is very compatible with an Ice Age Glacial, but only barely compatible with holding present warmth. That ANY perturbation downward tips us into a glacial, but perturbations upward are strongly limited (too little sunshine 65 N and the only way to get even 2 C warmer in interglacials is via an ‘overshoot’ when rapidly warming that is immediately smacked down with cold. There is no tipping point to warm, but rather strong negative feedback. There is a tipping point, but only into a glacial.

    The article further explores some of the why and how (and comments do too). Mostly “it’s the water”. We have hot / cold cycles as the Thermo Haline Circulation stutters. There is a bi-modal stability, with most stable being frozen glacial almost all the time, lesser stability is only when insolation 65 N is higher than at present. Basically we barely get enough insolation peak to have an interglacial happen (and it only happens via melting the polar ice cap… ) and that level of insolation is now past.

    In between (i.e. now) we are ‘metastable’, but as we are presently warmish, the only direction we can go to any significant degree is down. Cold. Frozen. There is an occasional ‘flutter’ to the Gulf Stream (on geologic time scales) that can put warming spikes during a glacial, but they can’t ‘latch up’ and don’t stick. Stable is frozen at any insolation level other than peak interglacial (which, as noted, is past). Once we get down to 416 W/m^2 or so, that is low enough to force the glacial onset all on its own. We are presently about 428 W/m^2. So any perturbation of about 12 W/m^2 down even for a short period of time tips us into albedo and ocean current feedbacks that lock us up into a glacial for the next 120,000 years.

    So any volcano surge. Any significant rock fall from space. Any solar / lunar modulation of the ocean system and clouds. Our present insolation is very compatible with glacials and we have been in glacials at this level and do not rise out of them. So once anything starts the ice and snow covering too much, or once we have “persistent multiyear ice” in the Arctic; we’re toast… or rather, ice creamed…

    One bit of “good news” is that pollen and sediment data for Florida indicate a confirmation of a model paper (in the link) and show that part of the ‘lock up’ is a slowing of the Gulf Stream and that the salty layer starts sinking south of Iceland (i.e. doesn’t get the heat to the Arctic). Basically, a melting Arctic is key to holding the glacial at bay. BUT, when it comes, the flow backs up. This means that while Canada and N. Europe / UK are a bit screwed; places like Florida and the “Desert Southwest” of the USA do better. Basically, even a full on glacial isn’t cold everywhere. Florida, in fact, gets about twice as wide and has nice warm weather. (So y’all make plans to come on down! ;-) The “Desert Southwest” becomes a bit wetter too, so more grows there.

    The other “good news” is that while temperatures can ‘latch up’ in a couple of decades, it takes 100,000 years or so of mass transport to make the glacial shield miles thick all the way down to Chicago… You can walk more in one day per year than it moves. So seasonal snow goes up fast, but the ice takes a very long time. Plenty of time for your children, grandchildren, and great grand children to “move on”. ( I figured it as about 15 miles / generation… on average. Some times will be like the LIA and “bang” you want to be 300 miles more south, but that’s a cyclical overlay on the trend. So one or two generations moves 300 or 150 miles, then you have 20 generations of ‘not moving’, then one moves again… ) Since in my parents lifetime they moved about 12,000 miles and 2,000 miles each, and I’ve moved 210 miles south of where they ended up, that’s not exactly a big deal these days.

    FWIW, if we are very very lucky, we can likely squeeze an added thousand or 2 or so years out of this present status (IFF no volcanic surge, rock fall, etc.) and then there’s a tiny bit of added insolation, and in several more thousand after that we hit the “aw shit” downturn that is just too much. So if we are very very lucky, CO2 or soot on ice or whatever will keep us just a tiny bit more warm than otherwise, and we don’t go to Popsicle land. If CO2 is a complete dud, or a Sleepy Sun makes the cloud cover thicker and snows a little more persistent (i.e. LIA redux) then it’s all over but the simpering…

    Oh, and if you look at that bottom graph, notice it looks like the insolation curve is offset a couple of temperature bars? That implies we’ve got a few more thousand years of ‘cooling’ built in to the solar forcing process yet to ‘catch up’. As cooling into a glacial is a 10,000 to 100,000 year scale process, and has a rapid 5000 and 1500 year cycles on top of it, that implies the next LIA is already “on the cards” as the cycles turn, and we better hope it is no worse than the last one… That red line is continuing ‘down slope’ and we are lagging it…

    To answer the question from the posting: “What is optimum”? It isn’t possible. As others pointed out, there is no such thing as a ‘global average’ temperature. It may not be possible to calculate one that has any meaning at all.

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/do-temperatures-have-a-mean/

    Not as ‘cheeky’ as it sounds. This is in addition to the question of intrinsic properties not being something you can average and preserve meaning. ( That whole ‘entropy is not temperature’ point made so well above). This is just looking at the fact that the temperature record is more likely to have a non-standard normal distribution. One for which a ‘mean’ is not-defined.

    So one ought to instead ask “What temperatures work well for people and wildlife?”. There we find anything from 130 F in the Arabian, Sahara, or California Deserts to -50 F in Siberia and Alaska. Life and people in all of them. So my answer is “Any”. (Though generally there is a lot more life in a Tropical Rainforest than any where else… so warmer and wetter and more CO2 makes for more total happy life). Given the large flux of folks who run to the Tropics any chance they get, I’d say about “Florida Springtime” is ideal. Though San Diego has a lot of followers ( About 70 F more or less year round. Something like 65 – 75 F typical, you can grow bananas, but rarely above 90 F) Los Angeles is hotter and more folks like it. Nome Alaska not so much… ;-)

    @Ray G: LOVE that cartoon!

    @Steven Mosher:

    “The question of ‘what is the optimum temperature for the earth’ is an ill posed question.”

    You ought to have stopped there… It IS an ill posed question. (What in Buddhist classes gets you whacked with a stick and MU! stated… which roughly means “That is a nonsense question. Try again.” “The question is ill formed.”)

    Yet that is EXACTLY the question being held up as critical and central to the CAGW Thesis. Their thesis demands the implicit answer of “The temperature in 1970-1980″ (or so). Else there is no crisis…

    Per the rest of what you said, it looks like folks have addressed that. I also note the “Drive By” style persisting. No further engagement since… Too bad, but I understand. I sometimes can’t “hang out” as much as I’d like either.

    Just note, though, that given our present insolation status, we can’t get back to the Holocene Optimum level of warmth. Just not possible. We’re barely hanging onto what we’ve got. The insolation changes and ocean current changes drive this wagon, and CO2 at most whispers in their ear… and those changes have moved against warmth. In prior interglacials, we whacked into 2 C warmer with even more insolation at peak and immediately shot back down again. We now have less insolation 65N, so it just can’t happen. Add that the ocean has gone cold, the Gulf Stream is slowed down, and we’ve got the present snow coloring “outside the lines” of climatology, and it’s not looking at all good for that warming up scare.

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2012/12/18/about-that-snow-cover/

    With a newer snow cover graph here with even more snow cover:

    http://moe.met.fsu.edu/snow/

    And no, we’re not getting more snow because it’s warmer. From Alaska to Siberia and China it’s colder. Even as far south as Thailand is feeling a chill. This is a good old traditional quiet sun PDO / AMO flipped cold cycle. Nothing to do with CO2, everything to do with natural weather cycles of 60 year length and solar cycles of longer 178 or so length. CO2 can’t stop the tides and can’t wake up the sun.

    @Matt:

    MU!

    We have a weather cycle of 60 years, another one of 1500 years, and a 5000 or so lunar tidal driven cycle. Species always go extinct, but rarely from such things as shifting weather, mostly from predation, poor competition, being eaten or having evolution obsolete them. 6 million years ago grasses evolved and the forests of East Africa receded making life very hard from some ‘semi-chimps’. They ALL went extinct… but some of their children changed into a different species. That species is us. Every single species that makes us human is extinct. We are not the same species any more. Get over it. The megafauna of north America of about 10,000 years ago snuffed it when a giant impact event caused the Younger Dryas. It also killed off the Clovis People and cleared the way for Asian types to fill most of the continent.
    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2012/12/22/native-americans-and-european-roots/

    So not much you can do to stop rock falls from space, glacials and ice sheets, evolution of new diseases and predation by the newest hot hunter. Yes, I’d like to save every single species on the planet. Not going to happen though. They will evolve, and they will change. Those grasses, for example, resulted in a whole lot of ‘browsers’ having problems (more silica so more tooth wear and harder to digest) but we got a lot of grazers instead. Panda Bear live on a giant grass, Bamboo. Would you say that the loss of those browse dependent species was bad? That the Panda is bad? And note that CO2 is not involved at all. When polar bears are wandering where Chicago had been, will that be bad for the species that live there now? It will happen. How will you stop it? Won’t that be bad for the Polar bear, enjoying the return of HIS natural habitat? (They evolved for the glacial…)

    So you go try freezing time in a bottle. Me? I’m going to check out land prices in Florida and the “Desert” Southwest…

    @All:
    So many good comments, but it’s too late for me to say all I’d like. But thanks for the many interesting thoughts. The shifting baseline history in particular, and several others.

    I’ll check back in tomorrow after I’ve had some sleep ;-)

  144. phlogiston says:

    Gail Combs says:
    January 1, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    Gail, I agree with your take on atmospheric CO2 being essentially too low (and thus CAGW being even more insane – its worse than we thought!) One question – will currently rising CO2 have an effect on the ratio of grasslands to forests – is there any evidence already of forestation of grasslands? Or is this over-simplistic?

  145. Kurt says:

    It is an honor and a thrill that my email has touched off such an amazing thread of thought-provoking debate. Of course, my question has no answer as there is no such thing as an optimum temperature, which means the case made by the warm-mongers is moot.

    I grew up in Alaska where I suffered through many cold winters of minus 40 temps when I hoped and prayed for a little global warming. And from the latest news, I see it’s getting even colder. Of course Gore will turn this data inside-out to argue that global warming is causing the cooling.

    Forget global warming, Alaska is headed for an ice age
    http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/forget-global-warming-alaska-headed-ice-age#comment-134871‏

  146. Gary Hladik says:

    ‘But what is “just right” for Earth’s temperature?’

    This question was actually answered in the 1972 sci fi film “Silent Running”, set in a future in which Earth’s last greenery has been shot into space and maintained there. Early in the film we learn that Earth’s entire surface is a uniform 75 degrees, making the “outside” effectively the same as “inside”. Sheldon Cooper would be pleased. :-)

  147. E.M.Smith says:

    @Phlogiston:

    I liked the article Gail wrote too… and I’m no Gail, but I think I can take a shot at answering your question:

    That is over-simplistic.

    There are many C4 plants and some do it for the water retention advantage, while for others it is faster growth or better tolerance of low CO2. Remove the CO2 low issue, the others remain.

    Now trees are mostly pretty old species and especially in the temperate zone have little need for C4 metabolism Shading and water access (deep roots) are how they usually win. Even in the grasses, it tends to be tropical and desert grasses that are C4, so the grass in a temperate forest isn’t going to be all that advantaged… In the cool damp shade of a temperate forest, it’s fine for a C3 grass.

    So only at a place ‘on the edge’ of a dry hot place where the C4 plants are competing with the C3 for relative dominance will added CO2 tip the fight, just a little. So where a hot dry scrub forest is grading into desert, the line might move a bit. Yet even that is more likely to be caused by local shifts of water with cyclical changes, so you would need to watch for a couple of hundred years to see who wins… ( a full PDO cycle is 60 years, to 2 or 3 times that to see the trend clearly…)

    Take your typical Redwood fog forest or a snow pine forest, not going to show up much.

    Oh, and there’s also CAM metabolism found in some cactus / succulent like plants, but that’s another metabolic story ;-)

    In short, though, there are many factors that go into competition and who wins is rarely tipped by just one or over a large area. (And that is usually a new pest or disease…)

    Then there is the fact that typical ‘succession’ has things going from grass to brush to trees, and you have to put a time and fire / clearing metric on your grassland age too…

  148. Duster says:

    Steven Mosher says:
    January 1, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    … Consider now, that during the LGM when it 2C-4C cooler than today…

    Where did you find that figure? A more common estimate is about 8 deg-C (ca. 14 deg-F) colder at the depth of the LGM about 20 kya. In fact, if 8 deg-C were mistaken for deg-F, the conversion would be to slightly more than 4 deg-C. A very quick and dirty real-world check can be made by comparing say mean annual high temps in Portland, Oregon and Sacramento, CA. You can use Eugene,Or was an alternative to Portland, but the result is the same. The difference is about 10 degrees F. Since, during the LGM biological zones were displaced about 1,000 to 1,200 km southerly in the western US, based upon fossil plant associations, that latitudinal distance is probably somewhat short (Tacoma would be a better match in terms of temperature difference) [Views of the Past: Essays in Old World Prehistory and Paleanthropology edited by Leslie G. Freeman, 1978, p. 373]. These changes are not nearly as neat as simple latitudinal shifts driven by temperature, since there were warmer refugia in the Seattle vicinity for instance. But the Sacramento Valley resembled the Willamette in terms of dominant plants (Oregon Oak, Doug. Fir, etc.). All the same, 2-4 deg-C is a very, very low estimate.

  149. johanna says:

    Well said, Blade.

    Whatever the global climate does, we are in much better shape to deal with it than humans at any other time in history. There are wealthy and comfortable societies from chilly Canada to tropical Singapore. There are strains of plants and animals that we raise for food at both of those extremes as well. If it is economically worthwhile, we can protect the land against rising sea levels. If storms get worse, we have engineering solutions that build better structures.

    As a non-scientist, I have always viewed the debate primarily in political and economic terms. Quite simply, even if the worst alarmist predictions are right (and I don’t see much evidence for that), we can deal with it. It’s just a matter of cost/benefit analysis, IMO.

    Making energy more expensive and impoverishing people is never a solution to any problem affecting humans. The poor sods who lived through climate changes in earlier eras were greatly disadvantaged by their poverty and lack of cheap, reliable energy – not to mention primitive levels of technology. We are much more fortunate, and our grandchildren – about whom the doomsayers are so concerned – will be even more so unless the eco-fascists get their way.

  150. Stephen Richards says:

    Reader Kurt. Where have you been all these years.??

  151. Richard111 says:

    crosspatch says:
    January 1, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    Nice. I think this qualifies as an excellent summary for John Kehr’s e-book ‘The Inconvenient Skeptic’ which I am currently reading. Everything you say plus much, much more in the book.

  152. Europeanonion says:

    The process of human migration, especially from equatorial regions, is a process of exporting warming. A person in a hot environment has little in the way of a demand for heating say but in the temperate zone there occurs a greater reliance. The individual making that move has just made the world unnecessarily warmer. But who can gainsay dauntless man? He can succeed in any environment. Today we look back on world history, to Ancient Greece and the great Arab civilisations and are made aware that they lived and flourished in a warm, neigh, hot world, by choice. Warm countries have generally more equitable societies. In times of prosperity especially, the Spanish society has tremendous family values and tends to live an outdoor existence in the milieu whereas those in colder climates tend to be more secretive and withdrawn and temperamentally unsuited to social flows. Perhaps there are unintended oversights in the condemnation of the ‘maybe’ warming planet. Perhaps we forget the lowering of the use of power in a warming environment that will equalise temperature change to some degree, everything does not have to be exponential. But any environment that promises better relationships seems to have a value beyond more esoteric argument.

  153. TFNJ says:

    More to the point, what is the ideal CO2 concentration? (Apologies to all/any who’ve asked this above). Plants remove CO2 from the air, and the ensuing rotting of animals and plants returns most of it. But some is sequestered (as seashell, coal. oil and gas), which is then returned much later by spasmodic vulcanism. Is the level (c275 ppmz) obtaining when Jame Watt fired up his engine, starting the industrial era) really the optimum for us?

  154. Jimbo says:

    I don’t know what the optimum temperature of the Earth should be but here is how one small area of the world reacted.

    Abstract
    Temperatures in tropical regions are estimated to have increased by 3° to 5°C, compared with Late Paleocene values, during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM, 56.3 million years ago) event. We investigated the tropical forest response to this rapid warming by evaluating the palynological record of three stratigraphic sections in eastern Colombia and western Venezuela. We observed a rapid and distinct increase in plant diversity and origination rates, with a set of new taxa, mostly angiosperms, added to the existing stock of low-diversity Paleocene flora. There is no evidence for enhanced aridity in the northern Neotropics. The tropical rainforest was able to persist under elevated temperatures and high levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, in contrast to speculations that tropical ecosystems were severely compromised by heat stress.
    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/330/6006/957

    From what recall the causes of the PETM are still unclear.

  155. Bloke down the pub says:

    The question is similar to the question ‘how old is old?’, the answer to which is, of course, ten years older than I am.

    Kurt says:
    January 2, 2013 at 1:01 am
    It is an honor and a thrill that my email has touched off such an amazing thread of thought-provoking debate.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Kurt, some of us are jealous of such success, especially from a newcomer. Welcome to the fun and games.

  156. Paul Coppin says:

    There is no generalized “optimum”. Nature’s optimum is always what is, wherever you are looking. Every spot on this planet, at any moment in time, is nature’s optimum for that place and time, at the moment you look at it. Anything else is a perturbation, and can’t be sustained without some kind of input. Environmentalists have never understood environmental entropy and homeostasis. It has never been a fixed environment. Creating fixed environments according to some perceived “optimum” is to make museums, not ecosystems. “Optimum” is an “engineered” term – its an abstraction of preference against some arbitrary narrow set of references. You can’t “fix” a process, and the earth is a nothing more than a huge set of chaotic processes, always in flux.

  157. Roy Spencer says:

    I suspect that those who worry about global temperature rise will say that any temperature change caused by humans is “bad”. I doesn’t matter whether it is up or down. Humans are evil; Nature is nice.

  158. mib8 says:

    Hrmph. Optimum global temperature? Optimum global population? I don’t think you’re going to find genuine consensus on either.

    Some people love to be out and about on a good brisk -20 degree F day. When it gets up to freezing, they start worrying about malaria, yellow fever, encephalitis, tsetse flies, parasites… Some people start layering on poofy coats when it dips to 65 degrees F.

    Some people feel comfy only when they’re constantly brushing up against others; give them some room and they start feeling anxious and stressed… and, uh, clingy. Some people only want to see, hear, or smell other people a couple times a year; more and they start feeling crowded and stressed.

    Some people see farms, forests, pastures and fields and think: undeveloped waste-land. Some people see packed metropolises and start thinking of what would be required to clear out all that waste-land and haul away all that scrap to be able to plant trees, bushes, hay crops and/or veggies.

  159. Tim Clark says:

    ROFLMAO
    That Onan type-o is the funniest TIC Fruedian slip evarrr. I could make a rude comment about who you were subconciously referencing about wasted seed, but won’t.

    Anthony, well played, seriously. I’m laughing every time I think about it. Started my year off great.

  160. LazyTeenager says:

    Seem to have forgotten a few civilizations that are no longer with us. Some of those are believed to have failed due to climate change. It could be that your favorite civilization is going for a premature collapse.

    Since the whole point of climate skepticism is a refusal to adapt I cannot believe you are serious when you speak of adapting. Adapting could mean learning to live in a desert minus the SUV you love and cherish.

  161. Solomon Green says:

    “Between 1961 and the present, Earth’s human population has gone from 3 billion to 7 billion, more than doubling, and in that time the global temperature changed only 0.7F according to UCAR/NCAR. Given the population growth, you could say that slight temperature rise has increased the human condition to a more favorable environment.”

    Or you could say that a doubling of the human population has only increased the global temperature by 0.7 F.

  162. Ken Harvey says:

    James Davidson says:

    “The Earth reaches an equilibrium temperature when the energy it loses to space as infra-red radiation is the same as the energy it receives from the Sun. This equilibrium temperature is -18C. The actual average surface temperature of the earth, as you say, is 14C, – a difference of 32C. This 32C difference is the greenhouse effect.”

    We see this old saw trotted out regularly. What we do not see is the maths (regular generally accepted math) to back up that -18C figure. The reason that you do not see the math, aside from laziness and ingenuity, is that it is impossible to come up with a valid number. What also gets ignored is the temperature arising from gravitation – air pressure that would exist were the sun to shine or not. Instead what we do see is black magic – the supposed greenhouse effect.

  163. Ulric Lyons says:

    Surely though, an increase in porridge consumption would be a direct measure of cooling…

  164. phlogiston says:

    E.M.Smith says:
    January 2, 2013 at 1:15 am
    @Phlogiston:

    I liked the article Gail wrote too… and I’m no Gail, but I think I can take a shot at answering your question:
    That is over-simplistic.

    Thanks for your helpful reply. Clearly CO2 is no more a single dominating factor in plant ecology than it is in global climate. The truth as always is more complex and more interesting.

    BTW it is notable that the Sahara / Sahel appears to be greening over the last few decades:

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/07/090731-green-sahara.html

    needless to say the article in the highly politically-correct Nat. Geog. did the predictable political two-step, first ascribing the change to CAGW, but then – not wanting to ascribe anything positive to CO2 – adding the predictable epilogue that more CAGW can be expected to turn it back arid again (“CO2 hath given, CO2 taketh away, praise be to CO2″).

    However it raises the question – does increasing CO2 have any role in this? Probably no simple answer (except for perhaps “no”). More rain is the most likely proximate cause. This might in turn result from by increased transpiration by more vigorous CO2-boosted vegetation, among other factors changing climate.

    It is well established that plant cover including trees acts to cool climate, both locally and globally. Thus if the growth of human populations does cause warming (local or global) it seems to me much more likely this is due to loss of vegetative cover than to CO2.

  165. phlogiston says:

    Never ask, “Oh, why were things so much better in the old days?” It’s not an intelligent question. Ecclesiastes 7, v. 10 [The Bible; Good News translation]

  166. William says:

    The biosphere expands when the planet is warmer and contracts when it is colder. There is a reason why, the warmest period of this interglacial is called “Climate Optimum”.

    This is the fourth quarter of the extreme AGW paradigm game Vs the sun. In the past when there was an abrupt slowdown in the solar magnetic cycle the planet cooled. My bet is the sun will win.

    75% of the 20th century warming was caused by solar magnetic cycle changes. Check the last solar thread for links to papers which support the assertion that 75% of the 20th century warming was caused by the sun. Planetary cooling has started.

    Comment: Climate Optimum occurred 8000 years ago at which time the planet was roughly 1C warmer than current.

    http://www.solen.info/solar/images/comparison_recent_cycles.png

    The solar large scale magnetic field is also declining.

    http://www.solen.info/solar/polarfields/polar.html
    http://www.solen.info/solar/

    As Leif Svalgaard, notes slide 19 and slide 20 in the attached power point, “Something is happening with the Sun” and “if so, exciting times are ahead”.

    http://www.leif.org/research/Solar-Petaluma–How%20Well%20Do%20We%20Know%20the%20SSN.pdf

    Slide 19
    “Something is happening with the Sun”
    “We don’t know what causes this, but sunspots are becoming more difficult to see or not forming as they used to. There is speculation that this may be what a Maunder-type minimum looks like: magnetic fields still present [cosmic rays still modulated], but just not forming spots. If so, exciting times are ahead.”

    William:
    As note in the power point presentation, Livingston and Penn have found the magnetic field strength of newly formed sunspots is declining.

    Slide 20
    “Sun is perhaps entering a new very low activity Regime
    •Fewer sunspots for given F10.7 flux
    •Fewer sunspots for given Magnetic Plage Index
    •Fewer spots per group
    •Fewer small spots
    •Less magnetic field per spot
    •These changes have been progressive and accelerating since ~1990
    •If continuing => possible Maunder Minimum”

  167. Gene Selkov says:

    > Some people see farms, forests, pastures and fields and think: undeveloped waste-land. Some people see packed metropolises and start thinking of what would be required to clear out all that waste-land and haul away all that scrap to be able to plant trees, bushes, hay crops and/or veggies.

    A very astute observation, mib8! When people find themselves in the middle of a desert, they plant trees and bushes. When they settle in the middle of a dense forest, they slash and burn. But they never clear the forest completely or pack their desert patch with as many trees they can get. In both situations, they stop approximately when their new habitat begins to resemble the African savanna where we are thought to have evolved. Those of us who are already settled in the African savanna don’t seem to feel the urge to do anything about it.

  168. HankHenry says:

    I would think the optimal climate would be that which would provide for bountiful crops in the world’s breadbaskets. The surface temperature of the earth ( 14C ) that is being discussed by James Davidson is actually the merged land-air-sea surface temperature. It’s debatable if that is the appropriate number for calculating the extent of the greenhouse effect since it doesn’t take into account the cold of the abyssal ocean. 32 degrees, being the difference between a theoretical surface temperature and a measured surface temperature, is probably a significant overstatement of the earth’s greenhouse effect. The cold of the deep ocean IS a result of temperatures at the surface. It is due to the down-welling of the polar ocean waters in the oceanic conveyor belt system.

  169. Ronald says:

    I think that there is somehow a problem whit what will be the right temperature on earth.

    There are several ways to look at it.
    1) The easy way.
    You look at history to what were the warmest and what where the coolest temperatures. Probably will be there WATS best. Often cal d the climate optimum is the time the temperature is right for everything both flora and fauna and human life. The Egyptians the Romans and the middle ages had a climate optimum. This was about 16 degrees Celsius.

    The other way around we can call it the climate minimum are the dark ages whit a temperer of 9 degrees Celsius. So thats the easy way around. Now you see whit a temperature of 11 degrees where closer to the climate minimum then the optimum.

    2) This one is tricky. If you look at the planet whit no atmosphere you see a cold place whit -18 C. if you put the atmosphere around it you see warming and that is 33 C so -18+33=15. The earth has a best temperature around 15C. If everything is alright that is. However there is some arguing about the numbers. Is the earth whit no atmosphere -18 and whit at its maximum heat +33C?

    The fun thing is that if you look at the recent history you can see that method 2 whit an outcome of 15C matches the historical upper temperature of 16C.

  170. oldfossil says:

    “Warm-mongers.” I love it.

    Kelvin is the temperature scale used by hard-core scientists. Fahrenheit is for people born before 1960. Please can’t we specify Celcius as the default on WUWT?

  171. highflight56433 says:

    Ken Harvey says:
    January 2, 2013 at 5:25 am
    “What also gets ignored is the temperature arising from gravitation – air pressure that would exist were the sun to shine or not.”

    I have tried to make that point as well. The thickness of the atmosphere has a direct affect on the surface temperature as a function of pressure. All things equal, a thicker atmosphere is warmer at the surface than a thinner atmosphere. Just ask Venus and Mars.

  172. J.P. Travis says:

    Love the article, and it’s nice to see that my “Global warming thought experiment” of three years ago is still relevant: http://www.jpattitude.com/100222.php.

  173. oldfossil says:

    @Ken Harvey. Unfortunately the overwhelming majority of WUWT commenters are intolerant of noobs and will simply ignore any request for links to tutorials. I have had to learn it all myself.

    Go to http://www.marathon.uwc.edu/geography/100/rad-temp.htm for the math you requested.

    Also check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Tyndall

    Regrettably for us skeptics, the science behind the Greenhouse Effect has been proven millions of times over in the laboratory. It’s not just talk.

    Finally for the most comprehensive rebuttal of global warming alarmist available on the net: http://www.zimbio.com/Ponder+the+Maunder

  174. Tackleberry says:

    theduke says: “There is no sign that deviations are “major.” There has been a slight increase in temperature readings in the past century, which doesn’t necessarily mean the earth has heated in any meaningful way. The idea that “deviations”–major or minor–will be “expensive and inconvenient” has not been proven. What has been proven to be expensive are premature attempts to mitigate indeterminate “global warming,” particularly when you consider that there may not be any crisis at all.”

    I agree with (almost) everything you say here and i never climed otherwise. We were talking aout the hypothetical reasons for alarm. As Kurt points out,’The earth is getting too hot’ or ‘Gaia has a fever’ are intellectually vacant but seem to be the foundation of a lot of alarmist foolishness, at least in the pop culture.

    My point is that we have built a lot of stuff very close to the oceans and if the oceans were to rise, that would be expensive and inconvenient. (You say this is not proven, suit yourself.I don’t need a study to tellme that a puch in the nose will ruin my day) This is about the only hypothetically valid case for alarmism that I can see.

    As to the link between fossil fuels – increasing temps – rising oceans, I agree that it is unproved at best,and is all but disproved. Good enough for you?

    Jeff Alberts said: “Oh well.” Again I agree. We can only guess what the future sea levels will be, and I have zero confidence in the hockey team’s guesses. To think that we have our hand on the climate steering wheel, or that we could gain it is silly hubris. When/if the time comes, we will adjust as necessary.

    T-berry

  175. Steve Keohane says:

    Europeanonion says:January 2, 2013 at 2:17 am
    [...]
    Perhaps we forget the lowering of the use of power in a warming environment that will equalise temperature change to some degree, everything does not have to be exponential.

    Where is there exponential warming? No one forgot your first assertion, it never existed.

    LazyTeenager says:January 2, 2013 at 4:57 am
    [...]
    Since the whole point of climate skepticism is a refusal to adapt I cannot believe you are serious when you speak of adapting.

    Come on LT, I know you try so hard to live up to your name, but if you are to continue to comment, you might try reading what people say here instead of just fantasizing. The only non-adaption is being stuck on CO2, your ilk. It was a good theory but never worked out get over it, adapt man.

  176. John Whitman says:

    Anthony says Redeader Kurt writes:

    I just found your excellent website and have book marked it and will visit it often for updates. One simple question the global warm-mongers have never been able to answer is…

    …that if in fact warming is taking place as they claim, what then is the optimum temperature of the Earth? Can they give us a number? is it 55 degrees? 78 degrees? 85 degrees? 98.6? Al Gore says the Earth has a fever – then what is the “normal” temperature?

    - – - – - – -

    Kurt & Anthony,

    Thanks for the question Kurt and Anthony your article addressing it in a comment-stimulating manner.

    I offer up a different angle to Kurt’s question.

    What is the spectrum of regional climates with all their associated parameters (not just temperature) that provides the most opportunity for mankind’s greatest productive achievement and for most efficient resource accessibility?

    Perhaps it isn’t any specific global climate that can optimize mankind’s environment but a sufficiently varied spectrum of regional climates that can. It seems to make more sense to me when expressed that way.

    John

  177. Mike M says:

    phlogiston says: January 2, 2013 at 6:15 am - …. This might in turn result from by increased transpiration by more vigorous CO2-boosted vegetation, among other factors changing climate. …

    CO2 ‘boosted’ vegetation exhibits the exact opposite, less transpiration because of a reduced number a stomata. CO2 is demonstrated to cause most plants to grow faster, healthier and be more drought resistant because having fewer stomata makes it easier for them to retain moisture.
    ————
    TFNJ says: January 2, 2013 at 2:30 am – More to the point, what is the ideal CO2 concentration?

    I agree, that is the fundamental question to ask because CO2 is the primary gas of life itself. Plants will get by just fine without animals and or without a significant free O2 atmosphere, (they originally evolved without free O2). But we animals cannot get by without plants to eat and provide us free O2 to breath.

    We depend on plants completely so THEY should be the determining factor of how much CO2 is the right amount of CO2 in the air – not us. From what I’ve read, the minimum CO2 concentration, (that above which plants do not seem to exhibit any significant additional benefit), is somewhere north of 1000ppm.

    So forget about ‘ideal’ temperature, plants and animals have already demonstrated an ability to survive a range of global temperature swings of about 15 degrees C and we are currently about 7 degrees below the average global temperature of the last ~400 million years. So a few more degrees cannot only be expected to be no problem, if paleolithic history is a good indicator, a few more degrees will be a very good thing, (a greater amount of tropical area = more biodiversity **), and we will easily adapt to it. (** – One of my favorite challenges to alarmists is to answer which climate supports more species of life – Alaska or Ecuador?)

    The ultimate climate challenge for humans should be in averting the next ice age not worrying over run-away global warming fantasies from computer models that apparently remain painfully incapable of describing the true complexity of natural climate variability.

  178. Steve Oregon says:

    I presume the rank and file alarmists prefer a temperature for the earth which they can feel confident is not being influenced in any way by humans.
    But an endless assessment of human influence provides them with the endless worry, advocacy and resources for their many missions.
    So they don’t really give a crap what any thermometer says.

    Regarding any adapting to climate, when do we see any need to adapt to anything?
    Because here in Oregon, from the ski slopes to our beaches and everything in between, there are no signs of anything needing adjustments.

    When do we have to adapt and what sort of adjustments would we be making?

  179. G. Karst says:

    I think that many are conflating “optimum” GMT perspective. The optimum GMT for human habitation of the earth is that GMT (and CO2) which maximizes our food source. At some GMT the earth will produce the maximum plant and food production. That would be the optimum temperature and CO2 levels for the entire biosphere. We need to know what that parameter’s value is. We can then calculate the “effect” of any deviation from optimum as given decrease in living matter.

    This would enable proper long term planning and contingency planning IMHO. Without this value, how can we possibly plan any mitigation. GK

  180. Richard111 says:

    “””highflight56433 says:
    January 2, 2013 at 8:02 am

    Ken Harvey says:
    January 2, 2013 at 5:25 am
    “What also gets ignored is the temperature arising from gravitation – air pressure that would exist were the sun to shine or not.”

    I have tried to make that point as well. The thickness of the atmosphere has a direct affect on the surface temperature as a function of pressure. All things equal, a thicker atmosphere is warmer at the surface than a thinner atmosphere. Just ask Venus and Mars.”””

    True. But there is more. 99.9% of the atmosphere CANNOT radiate in the infrared. It has no way of losing the heat it gets from the sun warmed surface or from compression. Yet it is always cold at the top. How come? It radiates heat energy directly to space. But you said… yes, yes, yes, it is that pesky CO2 in the atmosphere. It radiates to space 24/7/365. If it wasn’t for the CO2 in the atmosphere we would really cook down here on the surface.

  181. An Opinion says:

    Asking this question shows that you do not understand how environmentalists think. They don’t want an optimum temperature. Instead they want a natural temperature, i.e. the temperature that would occur with no human influence.

  182. mpainter says:

    An Opinion says: January 2, 2013 at 11:40 am
    Asking this question shows that you do not understand how environmentalists think. They don’t want an optimum temperature. Instead they want a natural temperature, i.e. the temperature that would occur with no human influence.
    ===============================
    My cat would never agree with that, nasty denier cat that she is.

  183. Ken Harvey says:

    I wasn’t looking for a tutorial – I was asking for some real world maths that doesn’t start with the Stephan Boltzman Law and degenerate from there. If you hear a whirring sound that is Boltzman turning in his grave every time someone attempts to apply his law to a gas.

    You state that “Regrettably for us skeptics, the science behind the Greenhouse Effect has been proven millions of times over in the laboratory. It’s not just talk.”. The greenhouse effect is bunk. It has never been demonstrated by rigorous experiment once. Not one single time. Conversely it has been demonstrated by rigorous experiment on several occasions by some eminent scientists not to exist. What is regrettable is that so very many people believe in a chimera that cannot exist without overturning a lot of science. No one has attempted to do that.

    Sir Arthur Eddington, he of so many quotes, and one of the most eminent thinkers of the twentieth century said, and I abbreviate, “If your theory is found to be against the second law of theromodynamics, I give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation”.

  184. Mike M says:

    Steve Oregon says: So they don’t really give a crap what any thermometer says.

    ..and are psychologically compelled to use whatever it says to blame themselves and, by association, all industrialized humans for a preconceived notion of ‘harming mother earth’. Maybe they do not view our desire for scientific truth as one for its own merit but rather as merely a means to escape their little guilt trip? They are certain that we are as ‘guilty’ as they are and then enraged, (no pressure!…), that not only do we refuse to share that burden – we ridicule them for inventing the burden in the first place, (as I am!).

  185. john robertson says:

    The best temperature for earth is what ever it is.
    We can’t choose. Reality is.
    We seem to lack information in any useful form.
    An estimated mean global temperature is fantasy, which is the IPCC stock in trade.
    Anomo-lies are well named and appear to be an deliberate choice, use an imaginary zero,(a past mean global temperature, which moves at whim of chooser),create homogenized and bastardized yearly mean global temperature, and subtract your fictitious mean, plot this useless information (as it tells us little about energy flows on earth) and argue about what the hen scratches signify.

    CAGW is fraud.
    Climatology also known as climo-astrology amounts to a religion using pseudo science to present an illusion to a scientifically illiterate public. L Ron inspired?
    Attempting to follow the scientific case, that the IPCC Team claim exists(but do not present), is to be sent on wild goose chases, referral circuses which are data free, structureless suppositions and endless circular logic. Carefully omitted evidence.Models all the way down.
    IPCC AR4 being a perfect example.
    A demand that mankind accept the wisdom & control of a few, based on the presupposition that Carbon Dioxide levels in the atmosphere can change the climate dramatically.

    Its the same old scam, remember the term,”Everybody knows that”
    Investigation usually reveals that no one has a clue.
    The deeper I dig, often prompted by other commenters, the worse the stench.
    I understand the caustic sarcasm of many of the early engagers with this cesspool, but I would also thank you for your patience.
    I was not paying attention to the science of guessing the global weather, I had written off the UN as a corrupt waste years ago and am still focussed on making a living.
    Only when the asinine stupidity of my Govt, citing CAGW(with its many names) came to impact on my bills and trade, did I start paying attention. Sure I had noticed the nonsense creeping thro the science magazines and full blown scares of the MSM, but that was the same as the eternal salt is bad, salt is good medical journal reports.

    So where are we?
    Can we agree on current mean global temperature? For what day?
    What would this number signify about energy flows into, around and off our planet?
    What would this tell us about climate drivers?
    What was the mean global temperature for specific periods in the past?
    Is plus or minus1 degree Celsius a significant unit, with respect to the accuracy of our estimates?

    What value has the IPCC approach to climate brought mankind?
    Am I wrong to suspect that the sanest action, today would to be tar & feather team IPCC and institute racketeering charges against the UN and Govt bureaucrats who instigated this fraud?
    Would prison sentences for the treasonous acts of oath sworn politicians send a suitable warning?
    Or do we just roll over and accept that fraud and theft by our “betters”, is just our lot in life?

    For it is not just science is on trial here, the institutions of government, built over time to prevent civic harm from periodic waves of public hysteria, have not just failed to prevent, these institutions and policy processes have been used to create, promote and propagate public hysteria.
    If left unwatched and unchecked govt through bureaucracy will attack its host.
    Or as this UN inspired power grab has forced me to acknowledge ,
    Your opinion of your government will never be higher than it is today.

  186. Sparx says:

    Since Onan is a prominent manufacturer of energy conversion devices (generators) if that was indeed a slip, it was a very nice Freudian one!

  187. feliksch says:

    As it was Christmas allow me this:
    If I were God, would I plant the idea about how to generate energy the optimal way into man’s mind today? Certainly not; we would make the worst of it. He might do it however, if we proved to be mature and cared for the land, soil, environment and our debt-laden descendents.
    Many great minds here have pointed out how temperature is dependent on the surroundings, how water, forest, ground-cover or build-up raise or lower it several degrees within short distance. Even many climatologists, that is students who are required to write something, find that observance attractive enough for theses papers.
    I say: hit the warmists now, smilingly and graciously, as they they are already wobbling and acting desperately. Focus on nature and they will come, the revealing insights and mold-breaking ideas.

  188. Larry Ledwick (hotrod) says:

    LazyTeenager says:
    January 2, 2013 at 4:57 am

    Seem to have forgotten a few civilizations that are no longer with us. Some of those are believed to have failed due to climate change. It could be that your favorite civilization is going for a premature collapse.

    Since the whole point of climate skepticism is a refusal to adapt I cannot believe you are serious when you speak of adapting.

    You really need to stop jumping between alternate realities. In this reality, skeptics nearly unanimously advocate it being cheaper and more intelligent to adapt to any climate change as it happens, rather than to adopt the arrogant and foolish concept of “The precautionary principle” and attempt to fix something that we don’t understand, especially since we don’t even know for sure if it is broken, and the possible consequences of spending huge sums of money on the fools errand of trying to fiddle with something as complex as the climate (assuming we are even capable of changing the climate in any meaningful way).

    By the way in your above comment your assertion about “failed civilizations being due to climate change”, you are actually making an admission that climate change is nothing new or unusual. You need to check your notes when writing these posts. It is not very effective to shoot your cause in the foot when you post snippy remarks intended to belittle the opposite point of view.

    Larry

  189. mpainter says:

    Larry Ledwick (hotrod) says: January 2, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    It is not very effective to shoot your cause in the foot when you post snippy remarks intended to belittle the opposite point of view.
    ================================
    It’s called shooting from the lip and LT is full of holes, all self-inflicted.

  190. gymnosperm says:

    “that we have no business being warm right now…”
    ================
    Or…the indicator leads for Foraminifera and not much else.

  191. phlogiston says:

    Mike M says:
    January 2, 2013 at 10:16 am
    phlogiston says: January 2, 2013 at 6:15 am - …. This might in turn result from by increased transpiration by more vigorous CO2-boosted vegetation, among other factors changing climate. …

    CO2 ‘boosted’ vegetation exhibits the exact opposite, less transpiration because of a reduced number a stomata. CO2 is demonstrated to cause most plants to grow faster, healthier and be more drought resistant because having fewer stomata makes it easier for them to retain moisture.

    Fewer stomata per mm2 of leaf. However what if CO2 increases growth rate of the plant so that there are many more mm2 of leaf to transpire?

    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF00048146?LI=true#page-1

  192. beng says:

    ****
    Steven Mosher says:
    January 1, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    My sense is that if people can’t agree to these rather vague principles then we will just continue with BAU and future generations will pay the price.
    ****

    Did you actually post that? The guy you just voted for is on the road to ever-more deficit spending, 16+ trillion, dwarfing anything in history. And you’re concerned about theoretical CO2 effects & future generations? LMAO! Do you wonder why so few take you (and all the other warmers) seriously?

  193. Mike M says:

    phlogiston says: Fewer stomata per mm2 of leaf. However what if CO2 increases growth rate of the plant so that there are many more mm2 of leaf to transpire?

    But there cannot be ‘many’ more squares because sunlight area is fixed. Tropical forest canopy is the perfect example, It is very thin and at the maximum height that the trees can structurally support (evolved to be very high with them all competing with other for millions of years). Growing more leaf area will not and can not generate more net production once all of the available sunlight area is being utilized.

    However, while I suppose that what you are suggesting may be a factor in desert regions becoming greener, having new leaf area in places where there had not been any, those species are already especially stingy with water and, per your original musing- “This might in turn result from by increased transpiration by more vigorous CO2-boosted vegetation, among other factors changing climate.” – I’d still say no and that the simple fact that warmer air can hold more water vapor is the major constituent. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it will actually rain more, it only means that there is more water up there to fall if it does. But then as Antarctica already knows, being very cold means there is almost nothing up there to fall to begin with making it technically the driest place on earth.

  194. John Whitman says:

    The current spectrum of very cold regional climates (poles) to very warm regional climates (deserts & tropics) with many other kinds of regional climates in between is optimum from the perspective of providing climate test beds for technology development by the private sector for profit for any future climate.

    Nature seems to have provided the optimun climate for supporting our best chance of adaptability for any kind of future climate.

    : )

    John

  195. Timothy (likes zebras) says:

    My take on this is that the right temperature is the one we are already adjusted to. It’s not whether a warmer, or colder, temperature is overall better or worse, it’s that the change in the temperature will disrupt all the adaptations we’ve made to the present temperature, causing undue harm.

    As to the final graph, it’s the sort of thing that leads Ruddiman to hypothesise that CO2 released due to the land-use changes brought about by the dawn of agriculture have already acted to avert the next ice age. The radiative forcing numbers involved are a lot smaller than those in the global warming produced by industrialisation, and the observations are necessarily less accurate, and so there’s a big signal to noise problem in trying to prove his hypothesis, but it’s interesting.

    The story could be something along the lines of:

    1. Climate change in the middle east leads to a crisis in hunter gatherer societies, which develop agriculture as a way of surviving.

    2. The spread of agriculture produces enough CO2 to avert the next ice age.

    3. The surplus produced by agriculture allows for the development of increasingly complex societies.

    4. Competition between different societies encourages the development of increasingly advanced technology.

    5. Increasingly advanced technology creates the Industrial age and ends global food scarcity, leading to a boom in world population – famines now only happen because of problems of food distribution, rather than food production.

    6. The Industrial age creates a massive jolt to the Earth’s climate due to a doubling/trebling/quadrupling(?) of greenhouse gas concentrations, undermining global agriculture and leading to a world food crisis, at around the point when global population appeared to be stabilising.

    7. Civilisation collapses, and boiled human bones reappear in the archaeological record.

    I hope we still have time to make the technological transition so that we can avoid step 6, and that I will live to see world population under control, and everyone still well fed. 2012 was not a good year for such a hope.

  196. Dan Pangburn says:

    CO2 increase from 1800 to 2001 was 89.5 ppmv (parts per million by volume). The atmospheric carbon dioxide level has now increased since 2001 by 23.9 ppmv (an amount equal to 25.9% of the increase that took place from 1800 to 2001) (1800, 281.6 ppmv; 2001, 371.13 ppmv; November, 2012, 395.01 ppmv).

    The average global temperature trend since 2001 is flat. (Some agencies show flat since 1997)

    No amount of spin can rationalize that the temperature increase to 2001 was caused by a CO2 increase of 89.5 ppmv but that 23.9 ppmv additional CO2 increase had no effect on the average global temperature trend after 2001.

  197. Matt G says:

    The ideal temperature for humans is generally between the 20c and 30c region. The technological advancements and warming climate have come at the same time of massive population increases. There is no doubt that both these have had massive contribution and dictated the successful rise in the population of the planet. This has lead humans moving away from the more comfortable tropical/sub tropical regions. Thousands of years ago civilizations without the recent technological advancement wouldn’t survive NH and SH winters. Therefore the planet is still too cold to live away from the sub-tropics without significant technological advancements that we have enjoyed. A planet between 19c and 22c would be the ideal temperature if there were no significant melting from ice caps.

    I have never been supportive of we can’t cope with sudden global changes because we have them on a seasonal basis. If you were given a tent to live all the time in, would you choose anywhere above 45N+ or 45S+ today? When consider some of the finer details it becomes obvious that the planet Earth now is still too cold to live on for the majority of the human population. We rely entirely on technical advancements that give us energy to keep warm during the harsh winters that previous civilizations couldn’t establish.

  198. Brian H says:

    Normal is the condition you’re best adapted to. Technology, by definition, widens that range and improves society’s adaptations. Lack of (or suppression of) technology narrows the range and worsens the adaptations. Pick one.

  199. E.M.Smith says:

    I find myself contemplating the fact that LazyT has brought up a good point. Made a bad one, but did touch on the right topic.

    All those old civilizations wiped out by “climate change”.. I’ve looked into them.

    The problem isn’t just ‘any old change’, and it certainly isn’t “warming”. Nope. Every one of them was wiped out in a Cold Excursion. From the fall of Akkadia, to the Hittites, to the Old Egyptian Empire, and on.

    In the “old days’. before Climate Catastrophists started renaming everything, Historians named the various periods. The warm ones were always an Optimum. Holocene Optimum. Roman Optimum or Roman Warm Period. Medieval Optimum. The cold ones were named a Pessimum. The Migration Era Pessium. or Cold Period. The Iron Age Cold Period. (Respectively also known as the Dark Ages and the Iron Age Pessimum)

    There is a cycle to history. Civilizations flourish and thrive when it is warm. They have wars and starve to death, decaying in chaos when it is cold.

    The “Precautionary Principle” demands that we choose warm.

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/06/22/the-crisis-of-1300-ad/

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/11/03/akkadians-and-chad/

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/06/08/irish-famine-of-40/

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/8-2-kiloyear-event-and-you/

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/03/03/of-time-and-temperatures/

    For those wishing us all to standardize on the thermometer you prefer, well, a bit of history and why I’m going to keep using F and K along with C.

    https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/degrees-of-degrees/

Comments are closed.