Rommulan Sudden Acceleration

I found this article well researched and clearly written, so I thought I’d repost it here for all to enjoy. Warren Meyers was one of the first volunteers for the surfacestations.org project and we share blog content semi-regularly. This is a rebuttal to Joe Romm’s (of Climate Progress) claim of a 15°F AGW induced temperature rise by 2100. – Anthony

Sudden Acceleration

For several years, there was an absolute spate of lawsuits charging sudden acceleration of a motor vehicle — you probably saw such a story:  Some person claims they hardly touched the accelerator and the car leaped ahead at enormous speed and crashed into the house or the dog or telephone pole or whatever.  Many folks have been skeptical that cars were really subject to such positive feedback effects where small taps on the accelerator led to enormous speeds, particularly when almost all the plaintiffs in these cases turned out to be over 70 years old.  It seemed that a rational society might consider other causes than unexplained positive feedback, but there was too much money on the line to do so.

Many of you know that I consider questions around positive feedback in the climate system to be the key issue in global warming, the one that separates a nuisance from a catastrophe.  Is the Earth’s climate similar to most other complex, long-term stable natural systems in that it is dominated by negative feedback effects that tend to damp perturbations?  Or is the Earth’s climate an exception to most other physical processes, is it in fact dominated by positive feedback effects that, like the sudden acceleration in grandma’s car, apparently rockets the car forward into the house with only the lightest tap of the accelerator?

I don’t really have any new data today on feedback, but I do have a new climate forecast from a leading alarmist that highlights the importance of the feedback question.

Dr. Joseph Romm of Climate Progress wrote the other day that he believes the mean temperature increase in the “consensus view” is around 15F from pre-industrial times to the year 2100.  Mr. Romm is mainly writing, if I read him right, to say that critics are misreading what the consensus forecast is.  Far be it for me to referee among the alarmists (though 15F is substantially higher than the IPCC report “consensus”).  So I will take him at his word that 15F increase with a CO2 concentration of 860ppm is a good mean alarmist forecast for 2100.

I want to deconstruct the implications of this forecast a bit.

For simplicity, we often talk about temperature changes that result from a doubling in Co2 concentrations.  The reason we do it this way is because the relationship between CO2 concentrations and temperature increases is not linear but logarithmic.  Put simply, the temperature change from a CO2 concentration increase from 200 to 300ppm is different (in fact, larger) than the temperature change we might expect from a concentration increase of 600 to 700 ppm.   But the temperature change from 200 to 400 ppm is about the same as the temperature change from 400 to 800 ppm, because each represents a doubling.   This is utterly uncontroversial.

If we take the pre-industrial Co2 level as about 270ppm, the current CO2 level as 385ppm, and the 2100 Co2 level as 860 ppm, this means that we are about 43% through a first doubling of Co2 since pre-industrial times, and by 2100 we will have seen a full doubling (to 540ppm) plus about 60% of the way to a second doubling.  For simplicity, then, we can say Romm expects 1.6 doublings of Co2 by 2100 as compared to pre-industrial times.

So, how much temperature increase should we see with a doubling of CO2?  One might think this to be an incredibly controversial figure at the heart of the whole matter.  But not totally.  We can break the problem of temperature sensitivity to Co2 levels into two pieces – the expected first order impact, ahead of feedbacks, and then the result after second order effects and feedbacks.

What do we mean by first and second order effects?  Well, imagine a golf ball in the bottom of a bowl.  If we tap the ball, the first order effect is that it will head off at a constant velocity in the direction we tapped it.  The second order effects are the gravity and friction and the shape of the bowl, which will cause the ball to reverse directions, roll back through the middle, etc., causing it to oscillate around until it eventually loses speed to friction and settles to rest approximately back in the middle of the bowl where it started.

It turns out the the first order effects of CO2 on world temperatures are relatively uncontroversial.  The IPCC estimated that, before feedbacks, a doubling of CO2 would increase global temperatures by about 1.2C  (2.2F).

Alarmists and skeptics alike generally (but not universally) accept this number or one relatively close to it.

Applied to our increase from 270ppm pre-industrial to 860 ppm in 2100, which we said was about 1.6 doublings, this would imply a first order temperature increase of 3.5F from pre-industrial times to 2100  (actually, it would be a tad more than this, as I am interpolating a logarithmic function linearly, but it has no significant impact on our conclusions, and might increase the 3.5F estimate by a few tenths.)  Again, recognize that this math and this outcome are fairly uncontroversial.

So the question is, how do we get from 3.5F to 15F?  The answer, of course, is the second order effects or feedbacks.  And this, just so we are all clear, IS controversial.

A quick primer on feedback.  We talk of it being a secondary effect, but in fact it is a recursive process, such that there is a secondary, and a tertiary, etc. effects.

Lets imagine that there is a positive feedback that in the secondary effect increases an initial disturbance by 50%.  This means that a force F now becomes F + 50%F.  But the feedback also operates on the additional 50%F, such that the force is F+50%F+50%*50%F…. Etc, etc.  in an infinite series.  Fortunately, this series can be reduced such that the toal Gain =1/(1-f), where f is the feedback percentage in the first iteration. Note that f can and often is negative, such that the gain is actually less than 1.  This means that the net feedbacks at work damp or reduce the initial input, like the bowl in our example that kept returning our ball to the center.

Well, we don’t actually know the feedback fraction Romm is assuming, but we can derive it.  We know his gain must be 4.3 — in other words, he is saying that an initial impact of CO2 of 3.5F is multiplied 4.3x to a final net impact of 15.  So if the gain is 4.3, the feedback fraction f must be about 77%.

Does this make any sense?  My contention is that it does not.  A 77% first order feedback for a complex system is extraordinarily high  — not unprecedented, because nuclear fission is higher — but high enough that it defies nearly every intuition I have about dynamic systems.  On this assumption rests literally the whole debate.  It is simply amazing to me how little good work has been done on this question.  The government is paying people millions of dollars to find out if global warming increases acne or hurts the sex life of toads, while this key question goes unanswered.  (Here is Roy Spencer discussing why he thinks feedbacks have been overestimated to date, and a bit on feedback from Richard Lindzen).

But for those of you looking to get some sense of whether a 15F forecast makes sense, here are a couple of reality checks.

First, we have already experienced about .43 if a doubling of CO2 from pre-industrial times to today.  The same relationships and feedbacks and sensitivities that are forecast forward have to exist backwards as well.  A 15F forecast implies that we should have seen at least 4F of this increase by today.  In fact, we have seen, at most, just 1F  (and to attribute all of that to CO2, rather than, say, partially to the strong late 20th century solar cycle, is dangerous indeed).  But even assuming all of the last century’s 1F temperature increase is due to CO2, we are way, way short of the 4F we might expect.  Sure, there are issues with time delays and the possibility of some aerosol cooling to offset some of the warming, but none of these can even come close to closing a gap between 1F and 4F.  So, for a 15F temperature increase to be a correct forecast, we have to believe that nature and climate will operate fundamentally different than they have over the last 100 years.

Second, alarmists have been peddling a second analysis, called the Mann hockey stick, which is so contradictory to these assumptions of strong positive feedback that it is amazing to me no one has called them on the carpet for it.  In brief, Mann, in an effort to show that 20th century temperature increases are unprecedented and therefore more likely to be due to mankind, created an analysis quoted all over the place (particularly by Al Gore) that says that from the year 1000 to about 1850, the Earth’s temperature was incredibly, unbelievably stable.  He shows that the Earth’s temperature trend in this 800 year period never moves more than a few tenths of a degree C.  Even during the Maunder minimum, where we know the sun was unusually quiet, global temperatures were dead stable.

This is simply IMPOSSIBLE in a high-feedback environment.  There is no way a system dominated by the very high levels of positive feedback assumed in Romm’s and other forecasts could possibly be so rock-stable in the face of large changes in external forcings (such as the output of the sun during the Maunder minimum).  Every time Mann and others try to sell the hockey stick, they are putting a dagger in the heart of high-positive-feedback driven forecasts (which is a category of forecasts that includes probably every single forecast you have seen in the media).

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88 thoughts on “Rommulan Sudden Acceleration

  1. The hockey stick is a fiction. The feedbacks assumed by the IPCC and other warmists are likewise fictions, created in order to get the predicted catestrophic warming. These feedbacks are not supported by observational evidence, but only through various computer models.

  2. Clearly, the “drivers” are non compus mentus; confused and incompetent.
    OT, got the following news from RIGZONE, an oilpatch daily newsletter.
    At my company, we worry a LOT about hurricanes (and cyclonic storms generally, worldwide). e.g. during Ike, the cantilver beams along with the derrick and drillfloor just BROKE OFF one of our jackups; strangely, the hull was OK. Cantilver beams are massive welded fabriications on the order of 20 feet deep. They are supposed to carry over 1 million pounds of load at a 25 meter cantilever. Yikes.
    So this is really good news:
    The team of Professors Philip Klotzbach and William Gray of the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University (CSU) released their first revision to their initial forecast for the 2009 hurricane season. They now see this year as an average season, down from their prior assessment of it being an active season. The new forecast calls for 12 named storms, down from 14 in their December 10, 2008, initial forecast. These storms will produce six hurricanes and two intense ones, each category lower by one. While the number of named storms is above the 50-year average spanning 1950-2000, the number of hurricanes and intense hurricanes is in line with the historical averages for that period.
    Isn’t CO2 still going UP? How could this be?
    This reminded of a Three Stooges routine (of course nearly EVERYTHING reminds me of a Three Stooges routine nowadays): Slowly I turn, step-by-step, bit-by-bit, inch-by-inch, until…..

  3. Perhaps the March CO2 number from Mauna Loa has been adjusted to match the new paradigm of “sudden acceleration”.

  4. What this post is telling us, through consciuos or unconsciuos smuggling is:
    CO2 greenhouse effect is real, and IT IS NOT.
    CO2 as any gas in the atmosphere, when hot, just goes up to release its heat.
    Air cannot be heated if you not keep an increased “positive feedback” from something up there called SUN.
    Is somebody looking a most convenient way out to change sides?, that would be a surprising “rogue” wave!!

  5. As an electronics engineer and physicist, I really dig what you’re saying. Thanks for the explanation.

  6. PS No spots for 40 days. Solar flux STUCK at 69. Spotless days looking like SC 6-7 [Dalton] and 14-15 [which included the very cold 1913].
    See http://solarcycle24.com/ for a neat chart of 100 day rolling average spotlessness.
    Sure looks suspicious to THIS cowboy.
    Leif, you out there?? What say you?

  7. One of the clearest and most concise summary expositions I have read on this topic. I happen to agree with the thought process.

  8. A very good piece. Completely comprehensible and the best bit is that Romm
    and Mann contradict each other. That’s science for you: introduce a ‘fiddle
    factor’ and you can guarantee it will interfere with someone else’s fiddle factor.

  9. The video is great. Most of the analysis I’ve done is very consistent with this.
    I would put the feedback factor at Zero to just slightly negative.
    I think the CO2 growth to 860 ppm by 2100 is too high. I’ve got CO2 reaching 635 ppm by 2100 based on the annual growth rate currently of 1.97 ppm per year and a slight acceleration in the trend of 0.002 ppm per year. The IPPC A1B scenario has CO2 at 712 ppm by 2100.
    http://img11.imageshack.us/img11/796/co2forecastx.png

  10. After many years of reading this kind of thing, I’m still rump-smackingly incredulous that so called Scientists aren’t aware of problems like this. No really, I’m starting to think there’s some kind of conspiracy going on, because so many people can’t be so unbelievably stupid for so long, in the face of evidence to the contrary, can they? Can someone explain to me exactly why people like us, to whom the evidence against AGW is overwhelming, cannot seem to get through to the true believers?

  11. This is very good work – but overall, this is very much similar to using scientific tests to show that the host is not truly transubstantiated.
    It will mean nothing to the faithful.

  12. “Leif, you out there?? What say you?”
    I’d bet Leif is busy on the GOES project, set to launch 4/28.
    Although the choice of cycle transitions is not explained, looks to this amateur that 23/24 transition is not like 13/14 but very like 4/5–if one may conclude that the sun goes through ‘regimes of activity’ a few cycles in length.

  13. I have read a nice explanation about feedbacks, which translated the Miskolczi theory into more understandable form. Atmosphere, Earth or IR photons do not recognize between the type of the greenhouse gas, whether it is water vapor, methane or CO2. So increase of CO2 should have the same effect as increase of water vapor. During 1998 El Nino, global temps peaked 0,6°C above average, thus evaporation increased as well – so there was equally more greenhouse gases (water vapor) in the atmosphere. If positive feedbacks are correct, more GHG (water vapor) would increased temperature, this further increases evaporation which increases temperature which… but, instead temperatures just dropped back. Miskolczi says the overall GH effect is stable and controlled by water vapor amount. This is confirmed by decreasing humidity up high, which has GH effect. Increasing CO2 will cause proportional dropping of water vapor, thus keeping the GH effect stable. Since CO2 absorbs also in a bit different wavelength, expected effect from doubling is 0,3K.

  14. Does Tsonis’s prediction of near term cooling,then warming,then cooling again take into account a Dalton or Maunder like Minimum and its possible effect on temperature? Or does it just deal with the oceanic oscillations of the last century, with no period of prolonged spotlessness included?
    =============================================

  15. Just wait until the AGW scientists get the large infusion of cash from the Stimulus bill. The incentive will be even greater to find things that aren’t there.
    To repeat what has been said many times, the feedback that the alarmists are relying on is the achilles heal. The other one is the focus on only one factor in the whole global warming issue and that is that Carbon is the cause. Carbon man is becoming Green man. Well we need to turn green man to red in the face man.
    Thanks Anthony and keep this going.

  16. The Sun sent us an email, let´s read it!:
    “This is an automatic response: Out for vacations. Didn´t take them since I lost a cycle, your comprehension is acknowledged”

  17. Warren,
    Romm’s 15 degF number assumes new positive feedback mechanisms become effective. Hence to use this number to question the stability of past climate is not correct. A saucepan can boil milk all over the hob once it reaches 212 degF, but there’s no question it would sit quite happily at 200F for as long as you wished.
    For a value around 4 degF, which is consistent with the observed recent warming to date, there is no issue with the stability of the past climate.
    REPLY: A saucepan has no feedbacks, only a linear heat source. Other than convection and evaporation, both of which remove heat from the saucepan, we have only radiative heat loss remaining in response to the linear forcing. I think your analogy fails because there is no amplification (positive feedback) in a saucepan system. – Anthony

  18. Walt Meyers has clarified for me the position of Joe Romm. By definition, he is a second order idiot with a high positive feedback.
    Present him with any non-alarmist information and your a “big oil shill” or a criminal denier. Present him with any alarmist information and you still may be the same. Only Joe’s vision of a rapidly crumbling world is the truth. If you don’t believe me, ask him.

  19. However, if some geologist are correct there is no way we can get to a doubling of CO2. The ratio of CO2 in air to water is 1-50. If true there is not enough coal and oil in the world to double CO2.

  20. To this old controls designer the hockey stick was the emperor has no clothes moment of AGW analysis. The right side of the hockey stick disproves the left side of the stick. This is understandable since different normalization was used after 1900.
    What is not understandable is how (Short of a religious belief.) anyone could believe both sides of the Mann hockey stick.

  21. I was told by an environmentalist that even if CO2 isn’t a problem, CO2 is still the best issue to go after because CO2 is tied to production, and so by reducing CO2 you reduce production and so you “reduce greed”.
    There are also a number of other movements that use CO2 as a means to an end. The State of the World Forum is calling on Obama to use Global Warming as the primary reason necessitating a new global order.
    There are also many individuals who were born in a generation that wanted to change the world, and who believe that humanity is in a terrible state and pines for some new grand bold transformation. Everyone from spiritual gurus to politicians can use this convenient lie to sell their own agenda.
    Unfortunately many truly believe that people object to AGW for purely selfish reasons. They believe that people lack insight into their own materialistic selfish impulses. Unfortunately those that believe this tend to lack insight into their own rather mean spirited shadowy impulses which operate by labeling others as the evil ones. Wanting to change the world is as much an ego trip as being a fatcat CEO. At least the latter has real numbers to worry about. Greenies just have their lofty vague belief system.

  22. Quoting:
    “Can someone explain to me exactly why people like us, to whom the evidence against AGW is overwhelming, cannot seem to get through to the true believers?”
    Commenting:
    I believe it has to do with the degree that they have “painted themselves in a corner”. Reputations, livelyhoods and big, big pork dollars are being endangered by the rising tide of evidence against and increasing public rejection of AGW – not to mention actual climate cooling.
    In their panic to save face, they want to “take action” immediately, so they can take credit when the non-problem results in non-disaster. Hence the new terms like “worse than expected” and “tipping point” and even “civil disobedience”.
    AL, Jim, et al, are running scared.

  23. This is the Holy Grail. If the feedback in the model causes a huge feedback effect, why hasn’t this already occured with other similar sized forcing. Climate optimum being the most obvious example, according to the IPCC model the temperature increase in the optimum should have triggered feedback effects to increase the temperature even further. Where is the evidence for this.
    So, the end game is as follows. There is no feedback effect , the increase in temp for doubling CO2 will be 2F. We have had 1F, so my prediction is for another 1F by 2100. Simple as that.

  24. Robinson (06:57:17) : After many years of reading this kind of thing, I’m still rump-smackingly incredulous that so called Scientists aren’t aware of problems like this.
    I think they are intelligent cynics who know the facts, but choose to ignore them because it means huge amounts of grant money to fund more job security, Robinson.
    Somewhere in my deep, dark past when I was young I learned from reading sci-fi that the best way to lie was to always tell the truth – just never tell the whole truth. So-called climate scientists seem to have learned the same thing.

  25. off topic — delete me if you must.
    Yesterday this month’s issue of Captain America arrived (it’s for my son). The villain was a mad scientist seeking to knock off 35 to 50% of the world’s population (“we are running out of resources.”).

  26. I seem to recall a Federal study concluded that the most likely cause of “sudden acceleration syndrome” was that gas and break pedals hadn’t gotten smaller and closer together over the years, and those drivers who thought they were stomping the “break” for all they were worth were actually on the gas pedal. I think that was part of why we got break interlock systems where you can’t put the vehicle in gear unless you’re foot is on the break pedal first.

  27. Not to quibble too much with the general sentiment of Mr. Meyers’ piece, but Romm did say (at least according to the link provided) “Thus, even with the IPCC’s most likely climate sensitivity, the median projected warming for the vast majority of the United States (including Alaska) by 2100 is indeed around 10°F to 15°F — depending on whether you use the IPCC’s A1f1 scenario or the recent MIT and Hadley projections.”
    The key point being “the vast majority of the United States.” Since the U.S. (land) should warm to a fair degree more than the global average, this is a key piece of information left out of the analysis.
    I wonder to what degree Mr. Meyers’ conclusions would be tempered it he started with an assumed 10°F rise (caused by 886ppm CO2) and considered that it was supposed to occur over the U.S.?
    I am not suggesting that this is what is going to happen, but just that if you are going to take on alarmist claims, the counter should be robust, not loose and easily attackable (that’s what gets people in trouble with Romm in the first place).
    The bottom line is, is that I do think that that climate sensitivities in current generation climate models are too large, but Mr. Meyers’ look at Romm’s statements is not an adequate analysis of Romm’s claims—which are in themselves nothing new, he is simply aping the IPCC.

  28. Hank, to answer your question, it has to do with the infrared absorption characteristics of CO2. Absorption of “light” follows a logarithmic function (basically Beer’s Law). You eventually reach a saturation point where adding more has zero change.
    Hopefully, that answers your question.

  29. @Stefan
    Take away the politics from the CO2 emissions debate and there’s not much left. CO2 is not a pollutant but CO2 emissions are a by-product of production and consumption. Limit CO2 emissions and you’ll put a damper on all human activity.

  30. Correct, Geo. People who were used to large American cars with widely spaced pedals the size of your foot had trouble when they bought sleek, smaller European models that had a much more efficient design. Recall that the Audi was the number one “culprit” back in the 80’s, but no defect in the Audi’s basic design was ever found – other than that the accelerator pedal and the brake pedal were both slim and spaced quite closely together. Audi had done this because, for a performance driver, it is a great benefit to not have much space between the two. Drivers not used to a performance pedal setup should not have been driving that type of car.
    One of the most telling clues was that people who this happened to routinely reported that the harder they pressed on the brake, the faster the car went. If you press on the brake and the accelerator simultaneously in any car manufactured over the last several decades, the brakes win. (Try it if you doubt it – on second thought, don’t try it unless you want to tear your engine up) So if someone was pressing on the brakes as hard as they could, it’s physically impossible for a car to accelerate, it doesn’t have the power – and yet this is what almost every victim reported.
    Only one explanation – the victims were pushing on the gas as hard as they could, and wondering why the car didn’t stop.
    There’s a lesson there somewhere, I imagine something about the gap between belief and physical reality.

  31. Anthony,
    “A saucepan has no feedbacks, only a linear heat source. Other than convection and evaporation, both of which remove heat from the saucepan, we have only radiative heat loss remaining in response to the linear forcing. I think your analogy fails because there is no amplification (positive feedback) in a saucepan system.”
    The reason for runaway boiling is that as bubbles, stabilised by the milk chemistry, start to form by boiling on the surface of the milk, heat losses from the liquid surface of the milk are drastically reduced. Hence more of the power from the stove is available for boiling the milk, forming even more bubbles. This is positive feedback, enhanced by the composition of milk. It only kicks in once boiling starts which means there is such a short time to turn down the heat to avoid a mess.
    I think it’s quite a fair analogy.
    REPLY: We are talking about heat content, not boilng. It does not really apply to earth anyway because we aren’t about to runaway boiling of the oceans anytime soon, unless our sun turns into a red giant tomorrow. Your initial comment of “there’s no question it would sit quite happily at 200F for as long as you wished.” is the issue. Demonstrate a positive feedback there, that returns heat to the system and you might have something. As it stands I don’t see any positive feedback in your analogy at all, and the boiling is not relevant. – Anthony

  32. Mark Wagner
    To answer your question a dagger to the heart won’t kill a vampire and AGW is the largest bloodsucker of them all.

  33. gary gulrud (07:10:30) said:
    Although the choice of cycle transitions is not explained, looks to this amateur that 23/24 transition is not like 13/14 but very like 4/5–if one may conclude that the sun goes through ‘regimes of activity’ a few cycles in length.
    I concur. I like the phrase “regimes of activity”. Mathematically that would look like overlaid, roughly sinusoidal phenomena with different phases, which become additive every, say ~400 years. Don’t ask what the overlaid phenomena are, I have no idea. But I recognize additive sinusoids when I see them.
    More likely, over a long enough period, the sinusoids would behave according to not-strictly-linear functions; however, it’s not surprising that things look at least quasi-linear to us poor groundlings over the last little epoch of 4-500 years.
    Unfortunately, nobody seems to know what they don’t know. We “model” climate without a solar input. We coarsely “measure” spots, mostly because we’ve BEEN “measuring” spots for a long time. Solar flux is measured at a 10.7 cm wavelength, but that’s completely arbitrary. Anybody who drags planetary orbits into a climate discussion is reviled and spit-upon. Ad nauseum.
    I am left with two conclusions: (a) Humans systematically ignore the written warnings about human nature, especially the ones concerning HUBRIS, and (b) therefore (an ASCII character for the three little dots would be neat) we are all merely monkeys. Nice looking, upright, entirely too-clever ones to be sure, but monkeys nevertheless.
    Which, of course, goes a long way towards explaining the AGW belief structure.

  34. I think Geophyss 55 has it exactly right. When nothing happens the believers will claim that spending billions of dollars has achieved what they set out to do! “We were just in time” will be the call.

  35. To all – I have tried on several ocassions lately to post analyses like the above to Joe Romm’s website, climateprogress.org, and without exception every one is scrubbed from the site.
    Just an FYI. If you go on that site and seem amazed at the lack of dissenting beliefs, it’s because Joe Goebbels Romm does not allow facts to get in the way of his eco-socialist rhetoric.
    During the recent televised debate he had with Marc Morano, Romm alleged that unchecked, our CO2 emissions would lead to 15F additional temperatures and 5-10 foot sea level rise by 2100. Does anyone with a functioning brain, and an understanding of the empirical data on global temperature and sea level rise since the dawn of industrialization, really believe such hyperbole?
    And to think Joe Romm calls denier scientists “uncitable” and “uncredible”.

  36. “Stefan (08:11:56) :
    I was told by an environmentalist that even if CO2 isn’t a problem, CO2 is still the best issue to go after because CO2 is tied to production, and so by reducing CO2 you reduce production and so you “reduce greed”.”
    To be fair, Stefan, that is not environmentalism; it’s socialism/communism. True environmentalism would not be concerned with things that don’t have adverse effects on the environment.

  37. Stefan (08:11:56) said :
    I was told by an environmentalist that even if CO2 isn’t a problem, CO2 is still the best issue to go after because CO2 is tied to production, and so by reducing CO2 you reduce production and so you “reduce greed”.
    Wanting to change the world is as much an ego trip as being a fatcat CEO. At least the latter has real numbers to worry about. Greenies just have their lofty vague belief system.
    Excellent excellent post..
    The French word for such a person is “dirigiste” (NB that the French don’t seem to see anything WRONG with “dirigisme”). I myself am made uncomfortable by the gossamer thinness of the line between “dirigisme” and “totalitarianism”.
    Read Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom or Freidman’s Capitalism and Freedom.
    The challenge for the well-educated (especially if their education stretches beyond their intelligence, which is not uncomon nowadays) is to retain a profound sense of humility, not just in the face of other well-meaning monkeys, er, human beings with whom they don’t agree, but in the face of the rest of the universe, known and unknown.
    Stewart Brand, father of the Whole Earth Catalogue and generally wacky human, said a long time ago that (paraphrasing) we are beginning to have the powers of Gods, we need to learn to act like it. Too bad we picked Bacchus.

  38. Carbonicus (10:46:07),
    Censorship of ideas is the defining characteristic of rabid pro-AGW blogs like RealClimate and climateprogress.
    Why? Because they understand perfectly well that their AGW/CO2 hypothesis can not withstand scrutiny; it fails. Rather than admitting the fact that the climate is cooling as CO2 is rising, they use censorship as a tactic.
    Unlike WUWT, they delete opposing points of view. That’s not science, that’s advocacy.

  39. I like the car accelerator analogy. The accelerator pedal is definitely subject to negative feedback rather than positive feedback. When you depress the accelerator, the car accelerates forward and your body’s inertia effectively accelrates you backwards relative to the car, including your foot on the pedal. This relative acceleration tends to lessen the pressure on the pedal, which reduces the acceleration. This is a negative feedback. Of course, you can easily overcome this feedback if you’re deliberately pressing down on the pedal, but if you accidentally push lightly on the pedal you can feel this negative feedback.
    And, of course, the opposite happens with the brake pedal. The harder you brake, the harder you push on the pedal – that’s positive feedback (unless you’re going in reverse, of course)

  40. Anthony,
    “It does not really apply to earth anyway because we aren’t about to runaway boiling of the oceans anytime soon…”
    Nor are they made of milk, nor do they sit in a saucepan on a stove!
    My analogy of heating a saucepan of milk on a stove illustrates a system that can be pushed from stability to instability by changing the conditions and so introducing a new positive feedback term.
    The major error in Warren’s article is that he uses an analysis of the climate system with new feedback terms to try to demonstrate prior instability and hence a contradiction with past climate. Hence, he argues, such large positive feedback cannot operate in the future.
    Unfortunately there is no contradiction between a stable system at one temperature, and sudden instability at an increased temperature. I’m sure anyone who has just taken their eye off their gently warming milk for a moment and then had to clear up the resulting mess can confirm this.
    Romm may be exaggerating future temperature responses, but Warren has not produced a valid counter argument.
    REPLY: Well on this we disagree (as we do on most everything). Your analogy fails, even though you won’t admit it. Per your original example, there is no positive feedback at 200F, you ducked the question. Why not simply admit your saucepan analogy is lacking (since you provided no example of positive feedback for heat) and move on? – Anthony

  41. “It turns out the the first order effects of CO2 on world temperatures are relatively uncontroversial. The IPCC estimated that, before feedbacks, a doubling of CO2 would increase global temperatures by about 1.2C (2.2F).”
    “Alarmists and skeptics alike generally (but not universally) accept this number or one relatively close to it.”
    A very Interesting approach and a great article but I would debate the last sentence. Most of those sceptics that I know are still to be persuaded that a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere would lead to any increase in temperature. But, if past cycles are anything to go by an increase of 1.2C might lead to a substantial increase in atmospheric CO2.

  42. hareynolds (10:39:40) :
    “Unfortunately, nobody seems to know what they don’t know.”
    No truer words were ever stated relative to AGW. As Frank Lasner recently demonstrated we don’t even know if the natural climate cycle is warming or cooling, we don’t know the effect of aerosols, and we don’t know the effect of ocean oscillations. Hence we don’t know how much each of these (as well as many others) may be influencing our climate.
    Of course, this is why so much effort was put into the hockey stick. It attempts to answer these questions in a way that limits the possible warming factor to CO2 alone. Once you admit the hockey stick is a lie then everything becomes unknown and the scientists are back to square 1.

  43. I had a sudden acceleration incident about 18 years ago. I pressed my foot solidly on the brake and it did not help. The situation was caused by my car sitting out all night in a fierce snowstorm so it’s probably a little different than what this article is referring to, but I had to turn off the car to stop it from continuing.
    I was very lucky in that the car had a clear path in front of it or I surely would have plowed into something. Since the ground was snow covered it took all my attention to control the car and keep it from hitting a bunch of cars. It was in the parking lot of a Holiday Inn where I was forced to stay after the roads became pure ice. I ended up plowing through the end of the parking lot across a street and into an empty church parking lot. This was where I was finally able to put the car into a tight circle and free up a hand to turn off the ignition. I was VERY lucky.

  44. The no-feedbacks temperature response to doubling CO2 concentration is by no means “uncontroversial”. The IPCC’s value is too high, for two reasons. First, the magnitude of the CO2 forcing is excessive: though the IPCC has reduced it by 15%, it is still too high. Secondly, and more seriously, the IPCC has overestimated the value of the Planck feedback parameter, which converts the forcing to temperature in the absence of feedbacks. The IPCC’s value for this parameter, on which not only the no-feedbacks temperature response but also the feedback multiplier depends, is derived by taking the temperature input and the energy input to the fundamental equation of radiative transfer from different planetary emitting surfaces many miles apart (effectively repealing the equation), and by failing to take account of diurnal and latitudinal variations in both temperature and radiance. Correcting these errors considerably reduces the pre-feedback temperature response to doubling CO2 concentration.

  45. “Robinson (06:57:17) :
    After many years of reading this kind of thing, I’m still rump-smackingly incredulous that so called Scientists aren’t aware of problems like this. No really, I’m starting to think there’s some kind of conspiracy going on, because so many people can’t be so unbelievably stupid for so long, in the face of evidence to the contrary, can they?”
    Investigators’ first rule is ‘Follow the money.’ The current state of academia is such that if you wish to study the mating habits of the wombat, you won’t get a penny of grant money. If you change your study to “How does AGW affect the mating habits of wombats?”, you are sure to find a grant. The only way to keep your funding flowing, however, is to show that AGW does have a negative impact on the mating habits of wombats.
    They then accuse realists of being shills for Big Oil. The problem with that argument is that AGW research funding is an order of magnitude greater than Big Oil funded research.

  46. Warren Meyers wrote : “This means that a force F now becomes F + 50%F. But the feedback also operates on the additional 50%F, such that the force is F+50%F+50%*50%F….”
    ——————————-
    If the feedback “also operates on the additional 50%F”, then the iterations should be:
    F1 = F0(1+50%)
    F2 = F1(1+50%)=F0(1+50%)^2

    Fn= F0(1+50%)^n
    So the gain should be (1+50%)^n (which corresponds to a rapidly diverging system like any system with total positive feedback as long as no limiting factor kicks in) and not 1/(1-50%).
    I don’t understand how Warren ends up with an arithmetic instead of geometrical suite to represent a feedback. Maybe someone can explain please ?

  47. Tom P. Although Anthony has drubbed you pretty good, I’d just like to add that if you understand thermodynamics, you’d understand why your sauce pan full of milk behaves the way it does. Go learn the difference between bubble point and boiling point. And the bubbles are not a positive feed back. One bubble does not lead to more bubbles.

  48. If the hypothesised strong feedback was true, the earths climate would have gone nuts during the Cambrian era when co2 was around 6000ppm!
    C02 follows SST, its a linear relationship and TSI, albedo etc… drive SST, simple science, warmer water outgasses co2 like a warm beer. If it was warmer during the MWP as the vast majority of proxies and historical / archeological data suggest, than SST must have been higher and so was Co2. The ice cores fail to show this, as the ice contains most the co2 rather than the air bubles (the ice co2 content used to be measured pre 1985 BTW and yielded much higher co2 levels than today. See Jarowski papers for more detail).
    The earths climate has always been driven by solar forcing, albedo, volcanic activity and the oceans. To suggest a gas which never affected the earths natural climate before will now is absurd, especially when we say its a key climate driver!!!
    We use a skewed temperature data, ice cores with no proven reliability and proxies that respond more to rainfall and co2 level than to temperature to judge how the climate works, we than fill a model with assumptions and a few pieces of the puzzle and assume the answer is fact without checking the results, hence we were doomed from the start!

  49. Mark Wagner (06:12:04) :
    if it’s got a dagger to the heart, why won’t it die?

    Because AGW Catastrophism is an Incubus. It sucks the critical thinking capability dry, feasts on Intelligence, dessicates Wisdom and instills a Righteous Certainty in those it sinks it’s fangs into.
    Probably needs an exorcism.

  50. In spite of of the sound scientific reasons – lack of positive feedback in the climate being probaly the most important – nothing seems to stop the political progress of AGW proponents. Well, if you cannot beat them, join them. No, I am not proposing to join the crowd who think that Global Warming is the greatest danger facing mankind. Instead, I want to call attention to what I think the greatest danger facing mankind: Excessive Farting . Too much farting creates a hostile environment and causes global warming. Also you do not have to worry about creating scientific justifications and computer models, because there will not be anybody in favor of excessive farting. The next step for the United Nation to establish the IPFC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Fart Control. I am sure that after sessions and assessment reports they will come to the conclusions that:
    a., Excessive Farting ( EF ) is caused by mankind – although bovine contribution is not insignificant.
    b., The only sure way to reduce EF is to drastically reduce, or in some cases totally eliminate eating.

  51. 1. Arn Riewe (07:53:33) :”[Joe Romm]…is a second order idiot with a high positive feedback.”
    Joe Romm is not an idiot. The dear man merely marches to the beat of a different…um…kazoo.
    2. feralmonkey4 (10:32:31) :”…A dagger to the heart won’t kill a vampire and AGW is the largest bloodsucker of them all.”
    Daylight! That’s the answer. Open the curtains! Let the sun shine upon the vampire and shrivel it to dust!
    3. Tom P (10:02:23) : “A saucepan can boil milk all over the hob once it reaches 212 deg F…”
    Yes, and then the fire goes out.

  52. I’m not a Chemist; and have a somewhat protracted chemistry education; but then chemistry is just applied Physics anyway.
    Le Chatalier’s Principle, is just one example; Lenz’s law is another, of systems where NEGATIVE feedback is the order of the day.
    High Brightness LEDs exhibit negative feedback. LED Optical structures tend to trap generate light by the Total Internal Reflection mechanism. Light extraction methods in low absorption substrates work to scatter the light at rough surfaces, so that at some point it finds an advantageouus incidence angle and escapes from the “Optical Trap”. So these processes keep the photons circulating through the structure, until they either escape or are absorbed somewhow.
    Well the band gaps of these materials are such that they efficiently absorb the same photons they generate via the photoelectric effect, wherin the LED becomes a photodiode absorbing photons, and releasing electrons.
    This re-absorption photocurrent is ALWAYS in the opposite direction of the externally applied drive current, so it lowers the net current flowing and thereby raises the apparent internal impedance of the diode. Ultimately as the structures becoame more efficient; this counter current eventually limits the abilty to drive the LED to higher light output.
    It is a classic example of Le Chatalier’s principle that physical systems tend to react to a disturbance, in such a way as to try and cancel out the disturbance. That’s exactly what NEGATIVE feedback does.
    So negative feedback is very common in physical systems.
    When it comes to the natural occurrence of POSITIVE feedback, I’m afraid I have to be convinced that it is real; and not simply a system in transit from one equilibrium starting condition to a different equilibrium final condition.
    All physical process changes take time to happen; and during the time that is happening, one can easily make the argument that positive feedback exists. It’s not really positive feedback, but simply propagation delay in a simple forward driven process.
    George

  53. Anthony,
    Warren’s argument is about stability vs. instability, not whether the recent stable climate system has negative or weak positive feedback. Indeed there has been discussion concerning the overall sign of the sum of the feedback contributions. My analogy holds regardless of that sign.
    Andy,
    Bubble point concerns mixtures of liquids. For milk, which is a weak dilution of fat in water, it is irrelevant – it has a bubble point very close to that of pure water. But don’t take my word for it – do the experiment:
    A saucepan of milk (I used 2%) will start boiling from the perimeter. The bubbles increasingly cover the surface and act to insulate the liquid from further heat loss and the milk will start to boil over. The positive feedback is not because bubbles directly cause more bubbles, but because they reduce the heat loss and so increase the power available to boil the milk.
    As water does not have the fat in milk which acts to stabilise the bubbles, it is much less prone to boil over in an open saucepan. The feedback due to the bubbles is still positive, but much less than unity.
    It is the additional positive feedback in a saucepan of milk that makes it so prone to cause a mess on boiling.

  54. Tom you are dead wrong. Your analogy fails. Your arguments fail. There is no positive feedback in the saucepan. It doesn’t matter if it is milk, or water or whether it is bubbling, or boiling.
    Boiling does NOT create a positive feedback, bubbles do not create a positive feedback. Once the water reaches the boiling point, it cannot go any higher in temperature given a constant atmospheric pressure. Turn the stove up and boil all you want, boil vigorously, boil maddeningly, boil insanely! The water temperature is still at 100°C.
    When the temperature of water reaches the boiling point, continued heating does not raise the temperature. The water temperature stays at 100°C as the water changes to steam. The heat (Q) needed to boil a given quantity of water is proportional to the mass that boils:
    Q = mL
    where L is called the latent heat of vaporization.
    See any feedback loop in that equation?
    Heat leaves the water, milk, or whatever, in the steam (at phase change) and thus the temperature does not rise in the water, milk, or whatever, once boiling point has been reached.
    There is no positive feedback related to heat in this. No matter what the liquid content is, a boiling point is a boiling point, it will differ for different liquids and mixtures, just like salt water has different temperatures for phase change to freezing than freshwater. But, the presence of salt (like fat in milk) in no way creates any sort of feedback mechanism. Likewise the heating of milk does not change anything about the heat balance of the system before or after boiling.
    Really Tom, your analogy isn’t relevant. Stop digging your hole and simply admit that there is no positive feedback in your analogy. Further, comparing milk boiling in a saucepan to the way the atmospheric feedback works is just absurd. We aren’t boiling the atmosphere or the oceans.

  55. Andy (09:31:12) :
    “Hank, to answer your question, it has to do with the infrared absorption characteristics of CO2. Absorption of “light” follows a logarithmic function (basically Beer’s Law). You eventually reach a saturation point where adding more has zero change.”
    If memory serves, Andy has raised this point before; certainly others have. It is important, but ill-understood, and generally ignored. Beer’s Law looked at another way, says that given a fixed light source (in this case solar radiation re-emitted from the earth’s surface) and a fixed absorption path length (thickness of the atmosphere) there is a concentration of CO2 beyond which there is effectively no more radiation left to absorb at the wavelengths of interest (saturation). The atmosphere, at these wavelengths, is black. At this point adding more CO2 not only doesn’t do anything, it can’t. Nor can it therefore promote feedbacks of any kind. There is no more energy to absorb. The molecular structure of CO2 (or any other absorber) defines this saturation concentration.
    Therefore, the only pertinent questions are, what is the saturation concentration for CO2 in the atmosphere, and how close are we to it? There have been several estimates of this (see Plimer’s recent videos, for instance), and the saturation concentration appears to be somewhere around 500 ppm. If so, then discussions of effects past this concentration are meaningless.

  56. Good article; makes for fascinating reading.
    In other words, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

  57. Tom P, what does “A saucepan of milk (I used 2%) will start boiling from the perimeter” have to do with your analogy? That didn’t happen because of positive feedback either, if you think it through.
    You’re wrong, Anthony’s right, be a stand up guy and admit it. Maybe Vanna will have some lovely parting gifts for you on the way out.

  58. Nick D (16:02:49) :
    “Therefore, the only pertinent questions are, what is the saturation concentration for CO2 in the atmosphere, and how close are we to it?”
    Definately less than 10% of the “several estimates” I estimate 😉
    Adiabatic lapse rate. CO2 cools the world. As soon as it gets to @22ppmv its work is done.
    Romm is a shill for cap and trade and gets his kicks from political interference. He is out of his field, in the pay of big carbon credit funding and has books to sell doncha know.

  59. Anthony,
    I thought it was obvious the feedback is not in the temperature, it’s in the heat that gets into the milk and produces the bubbles which make it froth up and boil over. Will a climate froth up and boil over? Of course not!
    The saucepan analogy is to illustrate how a stable system can become unstable if a new positive feedback mechanism is introduced with sufficient gain.
    The bubbles produce a positive feedback once boiling at the edge of the saucepan starts – it is the new positive mechanism. Here is the feedback diagram:
    http://img13.imageshack.us/img13/3089/milkfeedback.png
    The strength of the feedback, the block labelled “insulation” depends on how well the bubbles are stabilised, and is larger in milk than in water. Hence there can be runaway and boiling over if the insulation factor is increased.
    This explains why milk is much more likely to boil over than water which can simmer quite stably. It also explains why a pan with just water can boil over if a lid is put on it – the lid increases the insulation factor as well.
    I hope this finally makes it clear.

  60. I started to write something else, but one of the best things about this site is the (mostly) civil tone and the (mostly) scientific emphasis of the discussion.
    Tom P. Your analogy is flawed. Even if you believe it, it is not helping in the discussion. Please seek another way to make your point and move on. If you can make your point in another way, I will be happy to read it and consider it. But, as it is I (and others) simply don’t agree with the your point about feedback as you have chosen to present it. Perhaps in another form, it will make more sense.

  61. The feedbacks better start showing up soon or someone will have call the game due to the mercy rule.
    There is no water vapour feedback apparent yet.
    – the NCEP reanalysis data shows almost no change at all in specific humidity.
    – the newer, more accurate databases show no statistical change in specific humidity.
    – The Hadley Centre just finished an exhaustive study of humidity levels and found a little change but not enough to match the expected levels (even after applying the usual “adjustments”).
    http://hadobs.metoffice.com/hadcruh/
    Icesheet feedbacks.
    – well there is a little decline in mid-latitude glaciers.
    – but one can’t really conclude there is a definable melt in Greenland or Antarctica.
    – the polar sea ice is 4.3% above normal right now so no feedback there.
    The Ocean Heat Content does not appear to be increasing anymore so there is no forcing hiding there, unless there is warming occurring in the very deep ocean below the levels reported by the Argo floats at 1000M and lower (there is measurements done of the very deep ocean, it is just not reported yet: the data I’ve seen showed a modest increase of 0.02C rise at the deepest levels).
    So, a few more at bats or the mercy rule will have to be called on the feedbacks.

  62. Tom P (17:08:00) :
    I thought it was obvious the feedback is not in the temperature, it’s in the heat that gets into the milk and produces the bubbles which make it froth up and boil over.

    No, Tom, that is not feedback. Your example is a simple phase change from liquid to gas. Now, if you put a lid on the liquid, that would force an increase in pressure, which would cause the temperature of the liquid to increase faster than it otherwise would have from the heat alone.
    The saucepan analogy is to illustrate how a stable system can become unstable if a new positive feedback mechanism is introduced with sufficient gain.
    It is not unstable, either, just more energetic.
    Mark

  63. Oh, and btw, positive feedback does not cause instability by itself. As long as the feedback term is less than unity (poles in the left half of the complex plane), the system will remain stable. What does cause instability, is not physically possible with the system under consideration (unless you have another power source besides the sun to power it).
    You can look this up on any control theory website, or in a good textbook on the subject. This information is not hard to find.
    Mark

  64. Tom P.
    There’s still no positive feedback. Boiling over is a symptom of containers, not of a heat system, it is not positive feedback nor unstable. An infinitely wide volume of boiling milk will build a froth, the froth will grow, at some point a new equilibrium will be reached. The temperature of the boiling milk will remain constant, and no additional amount of heat will change that fact. There will be no “runaway” only a growing froth until it reaches an equilibrium where it phase changes back to liquid and returns to the boiling pool.
    Although, you are starting to get negative feedback now. The question is; what effect will it have on the loop? Will it break it or strengthen it?
    Your Q factor is fast approaching troll territory.

  65. wattsupwiththat (16:00:59) :
    “Really Tom, your analogy isn’t relevant. Stop digging your hole and simply admit that there is no positive feedback in your analogy.”
    Haven’t they shared the Alarmist 101 rule with you – “When you find yourself in a hole, dig faster”

  66. Limit CO2 emissions and you’ll put a damper on all human activity.
    And cause the survival rate of people worldwide to plummet, panicking their respective governments into acts of betrayal so as to win thier right to survive while others perish.
    AGW agenda is not only stupid, wrong and flaky, it’s downright dangerous.
    If this is the best Earth can do, why bother?
    Their argument has gone from science, to polyscience to Russian Roulette.
    Not once have I heard them thinking things through to the conclusion.
    Doesn’t surprise me. CO2 seems like an impenetrable force field of positive feedback to them. It’s a gas, and there really isn’t all that much of it.
    And, for that matter, it surely didn’t save Mars, and it ain’t like Earth has Venus opaque atmosphere.

  67. Anthony,
    I agree, if the container is big enough the milk will not boil over but reach a new equilibrium. Negative feedbacks will again become dominant.
    To bring it back from analogy to reality, this is fortunately what is seen in past climate change – runaway warming has always been brought short, never being more than around +6 degC in the last few million years.
    The saucepan analogy was supposed to illustrate how an instability might start to kick in, and how a historically well-behaved system might change its behaviour. It was not supposed to imply unbounded climate runaway.
    REPLY: Thanks we’ve reached blog equilibrium. – Anthony

  68. Andy (09:31:12) :
    “Hank, to answer your question, it has to do with the infrared absorption characteristics of CO2. Absorption of “light” follows a logarithmic function (basically Beer’s Law). You eventually reach a saturation point where adding more has zero change.”
    If memory serves, Andy has raised this point before; certainly others have. It is important, but ill-understood, and generally ignored. Beer’s Law looked at another way, says that given a fixed light source (in this case solar radiation re-emitted from the earth’s surface) and a fixed absorption path length (thickness of the atmosphere) there is a concentration of CO2 beyond which there is effectively no more radiation left to absorb at the wavelengths of interest (saturation). The atmosphere, at these wavelengths, is black. At this point adding more CO2 not only doesn’t do anything, it can’t. Nor can it therefore promote feedbacks of any kind. There is no more energy to absorb. The molecular structure of CO2 (or any other absorber) defines this saturation concentration.

    Sorry but this is totally wrong.
    The absorption bands are composed of a series of absorption lines, the positioning, spacing, extinction coefficient and width of which are characteristic of the molecule in question. The width of the line also depends on the pressure and temperature, broadening with increased pressure or temperature. At low concentration (the actual value depends on the molecule) the absorption is below saturation throughout the line and has a linear response to concentration. As concentration is increased the point is reached where the center of the line becomes saturated, absorption continues to increase but more slowly passing through an approximately logarithmic phase. Further increase in concentration ultimately leads to a square root dependence on concentration. Below is an example showing part of the CO2 spectrum under Earth and Mars conditions, as you can see the broadening is substantial.
    http://i302.photobucket.com/albums/nn107/Sprintstar400/Mars-Earth.gif
    Therefore, the only pertinent questions are, what is the saturation concentration for CO2 in the atmosphere, and how close are we to it? There have been several estimates of this (see Plimer’s recent videos, for instance), and the saturation concentration appears to be somewhere around 500 ppm. If so, then discussions of effects past this concentration are meaningless.

  69. Tom P (21:11:54) :
    Anthony,
    I agree, if the container is big enough the milk will not boil over but reach a new equilibrium. Negative feedbacks will again become dominant.
    To bring it back from analogy to reality, this is fortunately what is seen in past climate change – runaway warming has always been brought short, never being more than around +6 degC in the last few million years.
    The saucepan analogy was supposed to illustrate how an instability might start to kick in, and how a historically well-behaved system might change its behaviour. It was not supposed to imply unbounded climate runaway.
    REPLY: Thanks we’ve reached blog equilibrium. – Anthony

    And in the case of boiling milk the instability can kick in because the stable operating condition occurs at the intersection of the linear heat loss line and the nonlinear heating curve. Because of the shape of the curve a sudden jump transition can occur for a small change in an operating parameter. (The curve below is for water).
    http://www.tpub.com/content/doe/h1012v2/img/h1012v2_64_1.jpg

  70. “This reminded of a Three Stooges routine (of course nearly EVERYTHING reminds me of a Three Stooges routine nowadays): Slowly I turn, step-by-step, bit-by-bit, inch-by-inch, until…..”
    Wouldn’t that be Abbot and Costello, or was it Hansen & Gore?

  71. Mike Kelly said:
    However, if some geologist are correct there is no way we can get to a doubling of CO2. The ratio of CO2 in air to water is 1-50. If true there is not enough coal and oil in the world to double CO2.
    Ummm, if CO2 is 385 ppm now, did it double from 190 ppm previously or not?

  72. Tom
    “The next step for the United Nation to establish the IPFC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Fart Control.”
    LOL
    And, in the spirit of PC, we will be insulting people by saying:
    I global warm in your general direction!

  73. Extremely well written!!
    I plan on carrying a copy of this on my PDA. I have gotten in numerous “discussions” with AGW advocates – the normal response is that my arguments are:
    1.) Too technical and confusing (my fault for trying to present too much data verbally)
    2.) Rely on verbal explanations and napkin graphs that don’t match what they remember from “An Inconvenient Lie”
    3.) How could I say such things when “EVERYBODY KNOWS” that man is causing global warming
    This is a much more cogent argument!

  74. I have two questions:
    1. If there is a positive feedback mechanism in the earth’s climate system, why wouldn’t it have gone exponential at sometime in the last 4.5*10e9 years? Or are the catastrophists saying that there is an, as of yet unexperienced, positive feedback mechanism, which will be triggered by some combination of conditions which will happen in the near future, but which could have never happened in the past?
    2. My understanding is that the maximum possible temperature for a “black body” the size and shape of the earth, and in the same orbit around the same sun, is a limit on the temperature of the earth.
    The formula given at the link above (I assume that it is correct because I have neither the math nor the physics with which to gainsay it) has 4 parameters: The black body temperature of the sun (~5780K), the radius of the sun (~686 Mm), the radius of earth’s orbit around the sun (149 Gm), and the earth’s albedo. Of these, the only one men can affect is albedo.
    I take it that the effect of adding greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere is the same as lowering the earth’s albedo. This increases the ratio of the earth’s “effective temperature” to the sun’s “effective temperature”. Currently the ratio is 4.3%. Setting the albedo to zero increases the ratio to a maximum of 4.8%.
    It is worth noting that CO2 is transparent in the visible, where more of the sun’s spectrum is and cannot lower the albedo that much.
    Does this mean that any possible AGW process is capped? How far are we from the cap?

  75. Fatman,
    For instability, you need positive feedback with a gain equal or greater than one, though systems with such a gain close to one are very difficult to stabilise.
    In the past million years there has repeatedly been climate runaway, with temperatures rapidly rising by up to 10 deg C due to positive feedabck between CO2 and temperature:
    http://www.globalwarmingart.com/wiki/Image:Ice_Age_Temperature_Rev_png
    After a while, negative feedbacks will kick in, taking the feedback gain well below one and the climate will stabilise at a higher temperature – we’re in just such a period today, though previous interglacial maxima have been up to 6 degC greater than today.
    The climate record therefore suggests a answer to your second question of 6 degC if we assume that past natural negative feedbacks would quickly kick in again and set the same cap to temperatures.

  76. In this discussion the First Order effect is accepted to be a doubling effect of 1.2 degrees C per doubling. That s true only so long as you accept the Eddington equations as the definition of GHG actions. Dr. Ferenc Miskolczi correction to the the Eddigton equations as formulated by Milne in 1928. Miskolsci corrects from an infinite solar atmosphere to the finite bounded planetary atmosphere and corrects the boundary conditions and shows the doubling is, closer to .24 degrees C per CO2 doubling.
    That is an order less of an effect; and also rules out runaway catastrophes.
    Please research the work of NASA’s Dr. Ferenc Miskolczi and the recent explanatory publication

  77. “”” stas peterson (10:38:00) :
    In this discussion the First Order effect is accepted to be a doubling effect of 1.2 degrees C per doubling. That s true only so long as you accept the Eddington equations as the definition of GHG actions. Dr. Ferenc Miskolczi correction to the the Eddigton equations as formulated by Milne in 1928. Miskolsci corrects from an infinite solar atmosphere to the finite bounded planetary atmosphere and corrects the boundary conditions and shows the doubling is, closer to .24 degrees C per CO2 doubling.
    That is an order less of an effect; and also rules out runaway catastrophes.
    Please research the work of NASA’s Dr. Ferenc Miskolczi and the recent explanatory publication “””
    When you say: “”the First Order effect is accepted to be a doubling effect of 1.2 degrees C per doubling. “” are you saying that is a universal property of CO2 ?
    Over the total range of surface temperatures on earth; the infra-red emittance varies by at least an order of magnitude from the coldest places to the hottest places; so even if CO2 captured every bit of surface emitted IR, that couldn’t possibly caue a constant 1.2 dge C temperature rise anywhere that the CO2 doubled. In the polar regions there simply isn’t enough surface emitted IR at any time to raise the local temperature 1.2 deg C simply by doubling the CO2.
    The concept of a fixed temperature rise per CO2 doubling; which according to Professor Lindzen, you climatologists call “Climate sensitivity” is quite nonsensical. The amount of energy available at any point also depends on the type of terrain, and the atmospheric conditions. In the coldest and other dry places such as tropical deserts there ins’t enough water available to respond to any CO2 warming and create some mythical water feedback amplification of the CO2 triggered warming.
    “Climate Sensitivity” simply is not a scientific concept; and you won’t find tabulated values for it in any handbook of Chemistry and Physics. Well you won’t find any tables of “Forcings” in there either; another unscientific terminology of the “climate science” community.
    No wonder the Japanese equivalent of our National Academy of Sciences said that the UN’s IPCC disaster climate predictions were the equivalent of “Ancient Astrology”, and that was being unkind to ancient astrology.
    Are you saying that this CO2 doubling nonsense originated with Sir Arthur Eddington ? That man already has egg all over his face because of the fine structure constant ‘alpha’.
    1/alpha used to be 136.xxx and Eddington wrote a paer in which he proved that it was in fact EXACTLY 136. Well as the experimental measurements got better, 1/alpha became closer to 137 than to 136; so eddington wrote another paper in which he proved that 1/alpha was in fact EXACTLY 137.
    This brought loud guffaws from fellow Physicists and earned him the nickname: Professor Adding one. So even after his death he continues to wreak havoc in the field of science.
    George
    .
    Reed Coray (10:41:00)
    Tom P’s first attempt at formulating an argument occurred when Tom P described “positive feedback” using an example of milk heating in a saucepan [see http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/04/15/rommula-sudden-acceleration/. I have given some thought to Tom P’s heating-milk-in-a-saucepan Feedback Diagram and I couldn’t resist making two arguments that invalidate Tom P’s Feedback Diagram.
    Tom P’s Feedback Diagram shows heat (labeled Reduced heat loss) from the element of the Feedback Diagram labeled Insulation being summed with the Heat In, and the sum heat passed into the element of the Feedback Diagram labeled Milk. Heat from the Milk is then passed to the Bubbles that form on the surface of the Milk. [Here I make the assumption that these Bubbles constitute the Insulation element in Tom P’s Feedback Diagram.] In my opinion, such a feedback can only exist if the Reduced heat loss is zero–which implies there is no feedback.
    First, “heat” flows between two objects only when the objects are at different temperatures; and the “heat” always flows from the object at the higher temperature to the object at the lower temperature. In Tom P’s Feedback Diagram, the Heat In will flow into the Milk provided the temperature of the “heating element” (not shown in Tom P’s Feedback Diagram but assumed to be the source of the Heat In) is higher than the temperature of the Milk–a condition which is easy to achieve.
    All “heat” entering the Milk (both the Heat In and the Reduced heat loss) acts first to raise the temperature of the Milk to the Milk’s boiling point at which time the heat ceases to raise the Milk’s temperature and instead acts to change the state of the Milk from a liquid to a gas (Bubbles). The temperature of the Bubbles (gaseous form of milk) is at or slightly below the boiling temperature of the Milk–that is, for boiling milk with no outside heat transfer into the gaseous form of the milk, the temperature of the liquid form of milk is at or above the temperature of the gaseous form of milk. Because heat won’t flow from an object at a lower temperature into an object at a higher temperature, no “heat” will flow from the Bubbles to the Milk. [Note: If the Bubbles are heated to a temperature higher than the Milk, then “heat” can flow from the Bubbles to the Milk.
    Such will be the case if a portion of the heat from the “heating element” (which is hotter than both the Milk and the Bubbles) is directly transferred to the Bubbles; but Tom P’s Feedback Diagram does not include this “heat flow” path. In Tom P’s Feedback Diagram, the only heat entering the Bubbles is from the Milk.] Thus, as long as Milk exists, the temperature of the Bubbles is at or below the temperature of the Milk. Such a condition precludes the flow of “heat” from the Bubbles back into the Milk. This means the heat labeled Reduced heat loss in Tom P’s Feedback Diagram must be zero–which implies there is no feedback.
    Second, suppose (a) the initial temperature of the Milk is “just below” the boiling point of milk such that any heat added to the Milk won’t raise the Milk’s temperature, but rather will boil the Milk–i.e., change the Milk from a liquid to a gas (Bubbles), (b) the Heat In is finite and is input over a finite time interval, and (c) the total amount of Heat In is sufficient to boil exactly 1/2 of the Milk.
    Given these conditions, the Heat In can at most (and will) result in exactly 1/2 of the Milk being converted to a gas (Bubbles). According to Tom P’s Feedback Diagram, however, as the Milk boils, the Bubbles will return a portion of the heat used to “make the Bubbles” back into the Milk. As long as this returned heat (labeled Reduced heat loss in Tom P’s Feedback Diagram) is greater than zero, it will result in additional Milk being converted from a liquid to a gas. This means that if Tom P’s Feedback Diagram is correct and the “feedback heat” is not zero, an amount of externally supplied heat sufficient to boil at most 1/2 of the Milk will result in the boiling of more than 1/2 of the Milk.
    This is a violation of the conservation of energy; and as such invalidates Tom P’s Feedback Diagram for all but zero Heat In the feedback path. Zero Heat In the feedback path means there is no feedback.

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