The League of 2.5

Guest post by Thomas Fuller

Before I start, I’d like to remind readers that as a guest poster, the opinions I voice here are not those of Anthony Watts, and should not be taken as having been endorsed by Watts Up With That.

I am going to propose an idea based on my position as a Lukewarmer regarding climate change. I fully expect to get a lot of criticism from commenters here, and I welcome it. My idea is new (at least to me), and if it is a good idea it will be sharpened by your criticism–and of course, if it is rubbish, best to know quickly, right?

I think the debate on climate change needs some new ideas and criticism too. So blast away–but please bring your A game. I neither need nor want to see the equivalent of ‘you suck, dude.’

Families, businesses and yes, even governments, need to make plans for the future. Those plans used to include assumptions about the physical environment, although most of those assumptions were passive acceptance of the status quo. However, it is now difficult to make assumptions because various theories of climate change and its effects have people wondering if their homes will be threatened by sea level rise, drought, hurricanes or floods.

Because of the competing number of possible futures (the IPCC has many scenarios and many more have been pulled from the science fiction rack and offered up to us), people are somewhat paralyzed by too many choices. I think it is time to recognize that all of use engaged in the debate about climate change are not doing the rest of the world any favors. We are making their life more difficult because they cannot make plans with any confidence.

If there is one dataset that I trust regarding the Earth’s climate, it is the measurement of atmospheric concentrations of CO2. It has been freely available for examination, it is replicated by measurements in more than one site, and in my mind survived criticism from people such as the late Ernst Beck. I trust the numbers.

The numbers show that concentrations of CO2 were 315 ppm in 1958, when Mauna Loa started measuring. Concentrations now are 390 ppm. That is a rise of 19%. The central question in climate change is, ‘What is the sensitivity of the earth’s atmosphere to a doubling of the concentrations of CO2?’ Is the atmosphere easily influenced by CO2, producing more water vapor and adding to temperature rise, or is the atmosphere largely indifferent? Despite protestations from both sides, the honest answer is we don’t know now, and we are not likely to know for another 30 years.

Temperatures appear to have risen globally, although the accuracy of the data is not yet fully determined. The rise since 1958 appears to be about 0.5 degrees Celsius.

If these were the only statistics available to us, we would quickly conclude that the sensitivity of the earth’s atmosphere to all human-related activities might well be 2.5 degrees Celsius. This would lead to the supposition that, if concentrations of CO2 rise to about 600 ppm, which certainly seems possible, that the Earth’s temperature will rise about another 2 degrees C. Since it’s based on measurement of temperatures, it can be presumed to include all the effects we are having on temperatures, not just CO2.

And I am arguing, no–proposing, that we do exactly that. Attempts to refine models and measurements have been unsuccessful and have served to heighten suspicion and muddy the debate. I have seen very credible arguments for sensitivities that are both higher and lower, but these arguments are based on data or models that have much higher levels of uncertainty associated with them, ranging from differing ways of measuring tropospheric temperatures to analysis of varves from Finnish lakes.

I don’t see undisputed data that will allow us to do better than the 40 years of good data we have now. So I think we should provide a ‘rough and ready’ estimate of 2 degrees C climate change this century to the public, business and politicians, so they can start making plans for the future.

It should obviously come with an asterisk and error bars, and should be presented as ‘crude, but the best we can really do at this time.’ Much like earlier and simpler climate models have often done better in handling projections of future climate, our rougher and cruder metrics may serve us better for now.

We need to stop throwing sci-fi fantasies out as plausible outcomes. We need to provide a range of outcomes based on measurements that we trust.

We also need not to be distracted by elements of the debate that have only served a political purpose. Current temperatures are not unprecedented. There was a MWP and a LIA. Sea level is rising at 3 mm per year. The ice caps are not going to disappear this millenium.

None of that really matters. Temperatures are rising, and more quickly than they have often in the past. (Yes, they have risen this quickly on occasion.) It is the speed of change and the numbers of people those changes will affect that are actually of more concern than the total temperature rise. The people in developing countries are actually more vulnerable than the last time there was a big quick rise–hunter gatherers didn’t have homes and could just move out of harm’s way, and they were few enough in number that they would not have been labeled ‘climate refugees.’

So, I call for all those involved in the climate debate to throw down their weapons, embrace this practical solution as being of use to the rest of the world, climb aboard the Peace Train and sing Kumbaya. Right.

No, have a look at this–tell me if it’s remotely possible that the skeptic community could sacrifice its current temporary, but very real advantage in the debate and agree that a rough metric that acknowledges warming but puts sane boundaries on it would be of use to the rest of the world.

Again, I’d like to thank readers who have made it this far for listening to a different side of the debate in a forum where you are more comfortable seeing the failings of your opponents exposed. If you find the gaping flaw in my logic, my idea can die quickly, if not quietly. If you see merit in my proposal, any indication of such would be warmly welcomed.

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October 20, 2010 12:23 pm

“The rise since 1958 appears to be about 0.5 degrees Celsius.”
From 1910 to 1940 temperature rose by about .5C.
There was a similar rise after the end of LIA.
Please explain why 1 out of the 3 was caused by CO2, 2 out of the 3 were caused by ReasonX and not CO2, and why you believe the 1 you think was caused by CO2 was not caused by ReasonX.
Please offer proof.

October 20, 2010 12:24 pm

Since [CO2] historically (climatically speaking) follows temperature change and not the other way round, perhaps the question is whether we should be looking at other sources of delta T? (More causative rather than passive in nature.)
The charging elephant is undisturbed by your ability to shoot the fly from his shoulder.

October 20, 2010 12:25 pm

The speech by Vaclav Havel in the post directly preceding this one could almost be a direct riposte.
“Many of us came to the conclusion that the case for the currently promoted anthropogenic global warming hypothesis is very weak. We also know that it is always wrong to pick a simple, attractive, perhaps appealing scientific hypothesis, especially when it is not sufficiently tested and non-contentiously pushed forward, and to base ambitious, radical and far-reaching policies on it – without paying attention to all the arguments and to all the direct and indirect as well as opportunity costs associated with it. “

October 20, 2010 12:27 pm

Not much to say from me, apart from thankyou for your ideas, presented in an ‘approachable’ style. I’d like to think that (unlike the censorious Joe Romm and his cronies), WUWT has always welcomed rational and reasoned debate.
Whilst I don’t agree with your point of view, I still look forward to the comments people will make about your post and the debate it will generate.

October 20, 2010 12:30 pm

Tom, I consider myself a lukewarmer too, but I can’t go with this idea. What happened 1958-1977? (answer: C02 went up and temperature went down) What happened 1880-1940? (answer: temperature rose quickly and it is agreed C02 could not played a significant part)
I do believe C02 is contributing to warming, but as to how much? I don’t know. I do know I would not be comfortable assuming it is more than 1/3 based on the data we have now. Not saying it couldn’t be more (and, indeed, maybe even more than 100% if you assume the cooling of the 60s/70s might have continued without it!), but I’m not comfortable assuming it based on current data.
And that means that costly efforts to limit C02 could be aimed at the wrong problem, and all that money you could have used on either the right problem, or helping people adjust to climate change, is now gone. “Opportunity Cost” is a big issue here on getting it right what we need to be addressing.

October 20, 2010 12:31 pm

What if temps go down to 1970’s level in 10 years or so as some believe, doing so without the decrease of carbon emissions that the current theory of AGW would have us believe? What then? Will the pro-AGW climate scientists give their mea culpa and say they were wrong, or will they try to come up with excuses and theories as to why their pronouncements were waaaaay off? Funny feeling it will be the later.

Cold Lynx
October 20, 2010 12:31 pm

I can stretch to agree that we disagree.
You write:
“Temperatures are rising, and more quickly than they have often in the past. (Yes, they have risen this quickly on occasion.) It is the speed of change and the numbers of people those changes will affect that are actually of more concern than the total temperature rise. The people in developing countries are actually more vulnerable than the last time there was a big quick rise–hunter gatherers didn’t have homes and could just move out of harm’s way, and they were few enough in number that they would not have been labeled ‘climate refugees.’”
My view:
“Temperatures are changing , as they have often in the past. The speed of change are smaller than change of season and will not have any affect that are actually of concern. Especially not the total temperature rise. The people in developing countries are actually less vulnerable than the last time there was a big quick rise, just because they are developing countries. Hunter gatherers didn’t have this knowledge and could not just move in right direction, in right time’”
That make a difference.

October 20, 2010 12:31 pm

In principal, yes. I would be willing to see us discuss a 2.5o policy. This means I would like to see what costs should be imposed, whether for mitigation or adaptation.
As to the great debate, I would like some closure on it, but realize it is unlikely to simply see AGW promoters busted like the murderer in an Agatha Christie mystery.
But we should get, for an end to the great hot air debate, a full and thorough audit of of the promoters who received so much public largesse.

October 20, 2010 12:32 pm

The flaw is that you assume that the rates we are seeing will continue for the next 90 years, as if CO2 controls the climate – CO2 thermostat control. This has not been proven, so even if the concentration of atmospheric CO2 continues to increase at the same rate, we do not know what effect that will have on the climate. There are many good reason to believe that temps are going to begin to go down based on non-CO2 influences, and have been flat for 10 years. If temps go down while CO2 continues to go up, the whole theory is falsified and we should not be planning for a 2 degree rise, but instead reevaluating the role of science in policy making. Besides does anyone really think the warmist will give up “sci-fi scenarios”. If the skeptics gave into a 2 degree rise, the warmist will say see they are right and here is what will happen if you don’t give into global governance over your life………….pick your doomsday scenario.

Kum Dollison
October 20, 2010 12:33 pm

Cain’t go fer it, Bubba (at least I didn’t say, “you suck.”) 🙂
In 1958 we were in a Negative PDO, and AMO. We got the run-up when we transitioned to a Positive PDO, AND AMO.
Now, we’re moving back into a Negative PDO, but with a Positive AMO.
There just isn’t nearly enough information to go making serious changes to the World’s economy. Let’s take another look in, say, 2030. Maybe we’ll know a little bit more, then. (It would be hard to know “less.”)

October 20, 2010 12:35 pm

One problem I have always had is the aversion to nuclear power as a solution. People truly concerned with CO2 should be pushing the hardest for nuclear power to replace all fossil fuel power plants.
Planning for the future will involve nuclear power. Get the warmists on board with nuclear instead of wasting time with the expensive and low energy “green” options.

Richard Ilfeld
October 20, 2010 12:36 pm

We never talk about the winners…the vast areas of northern US, Canada, Europe and Asia whose agricultural prospects will improve or become possible with 2degC warming …. the expansion of the citrus belt, the modest reduction in “coping with winter” costs, the net energy savings
(less heating vs modestly more cooling, etc). The net costs may well be positive with warming in this range. How about “managing” rather than “coping”. Also a look at population maps 100 years ago suggest that any “climate refugee” movement will be dwarfed by the scope of the natural demographic changes that have occurred as lifestyles have changed.
When looking out a century its well to remember that the enlightened city planners of a century ago were wondering what cities would do with all the horses**t.

October 20, 2010 12:40 pm

PJB has hit upon the central problem involved in coming up with any kind of rough agreement on actions to be taken – the idea that any actions at all are required depends upon whether or not CO2 is actually the cause, and not the effect.
But it is certainly possible that the heating has occurred for a completely different reason (ie, the Sun) and that CO2 levels have been the *effect* of the temperature rise, not the cause. If this is true, than any efforts to restrict CO2 are worse then useless, because they squander valuable resources on a wild goose chase.
You say it could be 30 years before we know for sure. So, come back and ask me in 30 years. Till then, observe only – there is, there can be no firm justification for any action under this level of uncertainty.

doug arthur
October 20, 2010 12:40 pm

The inaccuracy of global temperature data has certainly been determined.

Ben D.
October 20, 2010 12:41 pm

Kudos, this is your best post yet.
I disagree with a few things, but that being said, you came out swinging, and in a civil method came out with an outcall for discussion on something that is indeed relevant. When the scare mongering is over, what should we do? Obviously policy makers need to know IF this science can predict to some degree of accuracy and if it can, making plans never hurts.
Back on topic, I would caution that 2 degrees as a figure like you said is probably a little high compared to the warming that we have experienced since the end of the LIA. From the crude models I drew from the end of the LIA until now, it seems we have warmed a total of around 2.5 degrees (this figure is actually 2.4 in my own models.) As you said, the error bars should be included, but in not modeling the future I can also accuratly depict the error, and this is + or – .7 degrees. This is based on interpolation I had to use to complete the models to 1850 and of course the filling in of the data. Note, that UHI effects might increase or even decrease the error (I am not sure how it will effect things….)
The question here, is like you said, what is the actual sensitivity to a doubling of CO2. Natural effects seem to say that over 100 years (this is just me doing some simple math) that over 100 years we can expect to see about 1.6 degrees from natural variation if solar effects remain the same. (disclaimer since obviously this is something that I do think needs more study.)
Your 2 degrees I might have missed, but what is the time period? Because as I noted, natural variation since 1850 (I started here with some interpolation.. (yes this can be just as bad, but note that I do not extrapolate future trends either..)) is 1.6 C over a century, and if we double over 200 years, this means the CO2 + other human effects is less then natural variation. This assumes the climate is stagnant so to speak since the LIA (leaving out 60 year cycles…) and just the general warming since then.
This might seem like nit-picking, but a two degree difference is something to note with some issues since I showed that there is some natural variation to account for in there. It could be that natural variation is smaller and the effect on the model is mostly human activity and land usage change (including CO2 since 1850). It could be the opposite, but I would tend to think that at this stage in the game, our policy leaders need to know that we have no idea what effect we have on the climate. (This might be my opinion, but I find it hard to untangle natural variation from human effects from my work and what I have read) ———– This means I disagree with a message for policy leaders except for what we can expect from (“well done”) models.
As for policy leaders:
Investing in research and development: Good thing. Increasing the efficiency of energy devices is never a bad thing. Perhaps even in alternative energy that has not been invented yet. Pure science, that is something I love.
Investing in efficiency by itself: Might be good, might be bad. Look up Jevon’s paradox, this has hit us more then we want to admit with efficiency issues. Simply increasing efficiency does not mean we use less energy. This is why its called a “paradox”
Effects: These can not be predicted today. Dustbowl from the 1930’s shows that even though our temperatures from the 1990’s were similar, we have no idea why we didn’t suffer the same effects in the midwest. This is just one example of attempting to find a local solution, which I would hazard to guess is what we would call an impossible problem today.
Basically, just be ready for the worst mother nature can throw at us through good fire-fighting training; flash-flood training for first responders in arid regions; Education of what to do when disaster X approaches. Make sure any area that gets hit by hurricanes has good evacuation protocals and such. Other then that, mother nature will throw at us what she will. The best bang for our buck is preperation and training of both personal and civilions.
Mitigate our effect through intelligent money, keep our fire fighters and such funded, and educate the citizens on how to handle crisis. In addition, help other countries industrialize so they too can reach our level of industrialization and do their own work at that point when they have enough wealth to minimize their effect on the planet.
Not sure if that leaves me apart from some sceptics, but in the end I think that states my opinions the best. Keep up the good work, posts like this really make people think ( at least me…)

Jason Calley
October 20, 2010 12:41 pm

Unless there is a full showing of what raw data has been choosen to calculate global average temperatures, what adjustments (and their reasons) have been made, and what form of averaging the actual calculations have used, how can we have a scientific discussion on the subject. Has there in fact been a rise in global temperatures over the last 100 years? I would guess yes, and if I had to bet, that is probably where I would place my money — but do we have scientific evidence of a recent temperature rise? Not without open data and open methodology.
Facts first, then we can have an open discussion. Hiden data, hiden adjustments, hiden calculations, hiden software — no discussion.

Dennis Cooper
October 20, 2010 12:43 pm

Do your own research on the last 70 years. All city and town news outlets have been recording very accurate temperatures. Use ( ).Type in search box: Average Temp Marion Ohio click current week and click all. A chart from 1940 to 2010 shows a falling temp of -0.03 deg. F per year. The same is true for Kenton and Lima and a lot of other towns that did not put there thermometer on the cement in a parking lot, or on the roof like Columbus.(I guess that makes it man made.)Type in search box: Average Temp Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin click current week and click all. A chart from 1940 to 2010 shows a falling temp of -0.087 deg. F per year. I’m an old fart that remembers orange groves at the Florida, Georgia border. If we were in global warming all temperatures would be going up. This sample is every where, even England. Warming would be nice! I would love to have our orange groves back again! Some deeper water would not hurt anything either.

October 20, 2010 12:43 pm

I think, Mr. Fuller, that you should read another post on these pages – the Vaclav Klaus speech. I think his views address the realities, both on the scientific issues and those of adaptation to normal climate variation, and are much more to the point than yours here. Also they are probably more congenial to the uncarbonated amongst us, me included. I certainly, at this point, don’t intend to ‘climb aboard the Peace Train and sing Kumbaya.’

October 20, 2010 12:44 pm

I can except that the trend over the last about thirty years is likely to continue in the future. But does that imply any need for individuals and governments to “plan” to deal with this trend?
I think not. When one looks at the possibility of “risks” associated with the continuation of such a trend, one quickly finds there is little actual evidence of any substantial risks. The sea level changes that we already need to plan for due to subsidence are much more serious, and the challenges of most “natural disasters” are contingent upon some links to warming which, for the most part, appear to be completely non-existent.
But the best plan for the future is always to maximize productivity, growth, and become wealthy and healthy enough to be able to deal with whatever the future throws our way.

Dr T G Watkins
October 20, 2010 12:45 pm

Reasonable on the face of it and, as with other contributions by Mr Fuller, there is much that one can agree with. Many who contribute to this blog are concerned about environment, energy, population etc.
However, there is still no evidence of any kind that CO2 is the main driver of global temps and in the last decade (at least) there has been no temp rise despite a linearly increasing CO2. In addition none of the sequelae predicted by the IPPC have been realised.
Until there is a complete retraction of the AGW hypothesis by scientists and more importantly politicians, no progress will occur on far more important and real problems facing our world.
Possibly, maybe JeffId at the Air Vent has what could be a beginning of the end of GCMs

October 20, 2010 12:45 pm

For 400,000 years (according to the Vostok ice cores) the temperature and CO2 has risen and fallen as we enter and leave long ice ages. Since there were no significant numbers of humans 100,000 years when this last occurred, what caused CO2 and temperature to go up?
The current rise in temperature is occurring right on schedule.
So why do think the causes from 100,000 years ago are not causing temperature and CO2 rises that are occuring now?

anna v
October 20, 2010 12:46 pm

I do not think it is possible to say “there will be 2 degrees warming +/- 0.2”
One can say, “there will be 2 degrees warming +/-1.0” and cover all possibilities, but in that case one had as well ask the Ouija board.
Unless one studies in detail what is happening I do not think a skeptic who has looked into the physics will accept smaller errors.
So far models are unsuccessful in describing real temperatures . The data range from 13.5C ato 14.5C (assuming they are not doctored), and the models range from 12 to 16C and the majority have a discrepancy of at least 1C from the data.
What use is it to predict the anomalies when the absolute values are off? Energy is connected with the absolute values, not with anomalies, and any effects, deleterious or beneficial of raising the temperature by 2 degrees will depend on the absolute numbers .
If the models cannot predict absolute temperatures how can one trust they are getting the anomaly slope the same way that nature has? And if the details are not to be trusted how can one say if the effect of a rise in temperature will be bad or good? A graduated raising of the night temperatures, leaving the tropics fixed and giving higher temperatures at night for the high latitudes will be good for agriculture etc and will not have a gross effect on melting of ice etc. , for example.
It is a blind man’s buff, or bluff.

October 20, 2010 12:46 pm

If the Vostok ice cores suggest that our interglacial will come to end end and plunge us into the next regularly scheduled ice age, should we not do everything possible to keep the planet warm and delay the next ice age?

October 20, 2010 12:47 pm

I am reminded of the postulate…the nobleness of a cause is often far different than the motives of those pushing the cause. Not necessarily about your motives.
I am also reminded of Shakespeare…”Much ado about nothing”.
That said, I am no expert. I don’t claim to be an expert. I don’t even play one on TV. I am your average citizen trying to weed through the debate. From what I have read the perceived warming is less than the margin of error in calculating these measurements. Therefore, I am of the camp that we need a greater time period to make observations and to determine a trend if any.
That is my 39/1,000th of 1%… because that is all it’s worth.

October 20, 2010 12:48 pm

As has been said it has been shown that CO2 rises AFTER temperature. Why on earth is this being revisited? – exccpt to satisfy an AGW proponent.

October 20, 2010 12:48 pm

You make the assumption that the relationship between CO2 and temperature (if there is one) is linear. I believe there are theories out there that there is a point that increase in CO2 will have no affect on temp.

Rhoda R
October 20, 2010 12:48 pm

One of the factors in evaluating the impact of the the proposed AGW sea level rise is the fact that Al Gore has recently bought a mansion on the California coast. I don’t think that this represents a feeling on his part that the coasts will be innundated any time soon. Look the behavior of those who are promoting AGW and you’ll see that they really don’t believe it either.

John Whitman
October 20, 2010 12:50 pm

Tom Fuller says: “None of that really matters. Temperatures are rising, and more quickly than they have often in the past. (Yes, they have risen this quickly on occasion.) It is the speed of change and the numbers of people those changes will affect that are actually of more concern than the total temperature rise.”

Tom Fuller,
That is not right.
Do you only read your own posts here?
I sincerely think you should try very active participation in the discussion of all temp record posts by some of the independent thinkers (a.k.a. skeptics) on this blog and other blogs. I am sure that will help you a lot.
Thank you for your post.

October 20, 2010 12:51 pm

This all goes back to the same problems of nuclear arms … trust but verify.
When the “powers that be” tell you to trust them but offer no method to verify, there is no reason to trust.
Given that the fluctuations in temperatures that are the basis for many of the current judgements that lead to the supposed “scientific consensus” are so tiny, even minor “adjustments” take on huge potential impacts. The “ClimateGate” emails that shown that there is little reason to trust these “climate scientists” who seem to be more interested in “feeding at the trough” than performing real science.
Meanwhile, a huge boatload of politicians on virtually every level, from local, national to the UN, are queuing up for a piece of the “carbon trading” action (a quick look at CCX tells this story). The potential of “ripoffs” on a global scale are too big to ignore.
With this as a backdrop, it takes a huge measure of fortitude to think this will ever go anywhere good with a huge level of “trust but verify.”

October 20, 2010 12:53 pm

Now, there is a positive way of knowing how much total energy is released by the earth. Now you can play calculating the actual energy emitted by the whole emission system of the Earth, by using the Unified Field equation:
E= (Sin y + Cos y)(V/D)
Where Gravity/10= Sin Y= 0.981
Rest of the Field=Cos Y =-0.019, where it is added 1 (total field)- 0.981 = 0.019 x 10= 0.19 Nm (a positive emission field- 19% of the total field= 10 Nm)
V=Earth velocity around its axis in m/s
D=Earth Diameter in meters.
And, of course, the result is in Joules/second.
Now, you can have, also in consideration the Moon which “sucks” at perigee and emits at apogee:
Moon (a) at eccentricity=0,026
-2,24915291288904 Nm
Moon (b) at eccentricity=0,077
+9,40962149507112 Nm

Ben D.
October 20, 2010 12:54 pm

Fred N. says:
October 20, 2010 at 12:31 pm
What if temps go down to 1970′s level in 10 years or so as some believe, doing so without the decrease of carbon emissions that the current theory of AGW would have us believe? What then? Will the pro-AGW climate scientists give their mea culpa and say they were wrong, or will they try to come up with excuses and theories as to why their pronouncements were waaaaay off? Funny feeling it will be the later.

They refuse to take natural variations into account when modeling the future, so as such that is why their models are so bad. But the evidence that is there does point to us warming (including the 60 year cycle). Its just over a much longer time period then they like to admit. We will cool over the next 30 years, and then we will warm again. But averaged over 60 years, we have been warming since the LIA, and I see no proof that shows this is not natural. (I also assume this will continue unless given evidence that shows it will not.)
On the other hand, I am sure land use changes and CO2 changes do effect the climate, but to what degree is the question of the day obviously…at the end of the day we simply do not know right now, and I will gladly admit it just for the sake of science that until we do know, we shouldn’t make any predictions about the future. Just my two cents.

October 20, 2010 12:56 pm

Perhaps you should take a good look at this graph, and than look into CO2 hypothesis again. or
But of course you are not going to do that. You expect sceptics to reconsider their position, but are you willing to do the same?

October 20, 2010 12:57 pm

Hi Tom
I cannot agree for one second that we will likely see a 2 degree rise this century – but – for arguments sake, I am willing (pro tem) to accept your proposition.
What then would be the impacts of such a 2 degree rise be on populations – especially the vulnerable – unable to adequately fend for themselves?
There are so many arguments about sea-level – ie Venice, Maldives, NY, Florida etc etc. Many are pure fallacy (eg if Venice stopped extracting fossilised water from below the city then it would stop sinking – they could even pump it back)
But sea-level change would not happen overnight, and the ability of places such as Florida and London to adapt slowly and methodically would far outpace any rise in perceived levels – after all 3mm per annum is not exactly gonna inundate anywhere anytime soon.
Embarrassment that the Maldives are actually rising not sinking – relatively speaking – the list goes on
But for the vulnerable, can we expect a uniform distribution of the 2 degree warmth, or are we likely to see higher temps at lower lattitudes, and little variation above say 80N?
If we expect more warmth in the tropics, then drought will almost certainly become far more prevelanet – with huge effects on those already living on the margins. Offset against this however would be warmer climes in Europe and N America with many less deaths from cold winters, although some more from heat in hotter summers.
Accepting your postulation then, if we took all the money being injected into false profits (sic) such as wind, wave and solar and applied it to famine and drought, we could fix the worlds abysmal humanitarian needs overnight.
So – I don’t necessarily agree with your proposition, but I do like where the outcome could take us – Regret I can’t see the power moguls accepting it though
Good Luck nonetheless

Philip Thomas
October 20, 2010 12:58 pm

Condensed version –
“I think we should provide a ‘rough and ready’ estimate of 2 degrees C climate change this century to the public, business and politicians, so they can start making plans for the future.”
IPCC CO2 AGW science is fundamentaly correct and the public, business and politicians should invest in Green technology to plan for warming. Congratulations on being a non-scientist who can estimate the future warming.

October 20, 2010 12:59 pm

This all goes back to the same problems of nuclear arms … trust but verify.
When the “powers that be” tell you to trust them but offer no method to verify, there is no reason to trust.
Given that the fluctuations in temperatures that are the basis for many of the current judgements that lead to the supposed “scientific consensus” are so tiny, even minor “adjustments” take on huge potential impacts. The “ClimateGate” emails have shown that there is little reason to trust these “climate scientists” who seem to be more interested in “feeding at the trough” than performing real science.
Meanwhile, a huge boatload of politicians on virtually every level, from local, national to the UN, are queuing up for a piece of the “carbon trading” action (a quick look at CCX tells this story). The potential of “ripoffs” on a global scale are too big to ignore.
With this as a backdrop, it takes a huge measure of fortitude to think this will ever go anywhere good without a huge level of “trust but verify.” Verification will require an unprecedented level if transparency, which frankly governments are not capable of ever achieving (the current US administration talks a good game but is at least as secretive as the last, even on little things).

Frederick Davies
October 20, 2010 12:59 pm

“The people in developing countries are actually more vulnerable than the last time there was a big quick rise–hunter gatherers didn’t have homes and could just move out of harm’s way, and they were few enough in number that they would not have been labeled ‘climate refugees.’”
The last time there was rise of this magnitude was during the Middle Ages. Medieval people could be considered poor and backwards, but hunter-gatherers they certainly were not. If we were to consider the poorest among mankind today as being in a “Medieval” state of development, then it is more than likely that a warming of 2C would have on them the same effect as it did then: increased crops and development. Why is it that almost everyone fails to consider that the answer to AGW (even if you believe in it) could perfectly well be “Please sir, can I have some more?”?

David Davidovics
October 20, 2010 12:59 pm

This wouldn’t work because from the viewpoint of many prominent alarmists, there is nothing flawed about the intent of their science. Coming up with the best science available at the time is what they claim to have always done. Skeptics disagree about that.
I don’t see how common ground can be found when alarmists are still defending the hockey stick graph and marching to the tune of the all mighty tipping point god.

October 20, 2010 1:00 pm

Again, Thomas… a rise in TEMPERATURE is SO MEANINGLESS!
I’m embarrased that that MYTH keeps being perpetuated.
Please, PLEASE, PLEEEEEAAASSEEE! Look up the ENTHALPY of a cubic foot of air at 105 F and 10% RH. (Arizona).
Then look up the enthalpy (total energy) of 1 cubic foot of air at 85 F and 60% RH.
Which enviroment is “hotter”? (Total energy wise..) Of course, the MN cubic foot.
Unless we know something about the HUMIDITY DISTRIBUTIONS these “average temperatures” are so VALUELESS.
It slays me that anyone with alledged “intelligence” keeps falling for the “average temperature” motif.
Satellite temps have more meaning, but again…why are they not given with a humidity distribution component? And worked out as ENERGIES?
Why is this concept AVOIDED?
To quote the marvelous Amory Lovins, “It makes no sense to have a reactor, located miles away from a user, generating MILLIONS OF DEGREES OF HEAT, just to keep a house at 72 F…”
Heh, heh.. Did you laugh at that? GOOD, please apply that sort of critical thinking to the atmosphere. Give me ENERGY, ENERGY, and ENERGY balance.
Oh yes, and when you do. Go to the NASA NEO website, and note that the IR balance, by the satellites, has been PRONOUNCEDLY INWARD for about 30 months. So much so, that on a generalized “sensible heat” basis, we should be up about 5 to 10 degree C on all troposheric temps by now. NOT HAPPENING.
SO, how accurate ARE the satellites? (This addresses the problem of fereting out .5 degree C since 1958 with instrumentation errors, see: www.
Let’s just say I’m all for giving the whole thing the COLD SHOULDER until the data noise is far less.

Ken B
October 20, 2010 1:00 pm

I’ve never thought the response to global warming and its potential effects should await the outcome of a politically charged debate about its causes. We dont have to KNOW what’s causing the warming to measure it, model it, predict it’s potential effects on human civilization, and figure out how best to cope with those effects. Did we have to KNOW what causes earthquakes or hurricanes or tornadoes before we learned (and continue to learn) how to minimize their effects on our lives?
If, in fact, we wake up tomorrow to BREAKIN NEWS that science has indisputably proven that human activity has absolutely nothing to do with global warming, does the warming and its effects go away as a public policy issue?
Consider …
We have in place a scientifically & technologically robust methodology for measuring global temperature. It is the output of this very methodology upon which MMGW adherents rely for their periodic pronouncements that global warming is real and ongoing.
We can KNOW what the global temperature is doing without knowing why.
And yet, international political schemes crafted (ostensibly) for the purpose of altering the trajectory of global temperature propose using tons of GHG emissions — not temperature — as their official measure of progress.
Who will ‘peer-review’ the GHG emissions data compiled and officially reported by the designated ministries in places like Beijing, New Delhi, Moscow, and Brasilia?

October 20, 2010 1:01 pm

Poor Anthony. He goes away for a week and comes back to his own blog endorsing cap & trade.

October 20, 2010 1:04 pm

Good post, Good points….But
“if it’s remotely possible that the skeptic community could sacrifice its current temporary, but very real advantage in the debate and agree that a rough metric that acknowledges warming but puts sane boundaries on it ”
I think most sceptics agree on warming,its the cause of the warming and and how much is Co2 and what is natural.The bigggest spanner in the works of AGW protaganists is that there is no other cause to the warming other than Co2.They will not (uptil recently) even consider anything like natural cycles were/might be involved and then we have to endure every natural event be it strong hurricanes,
terrible floods,heatwaves are all down to AGW.Until climate scientists tone down the message sceptics will keep on winning the argument,simply because sceptics and the public at large are sick and tired of the doom and gloom,and sceptics have pick holes in the AGW argument, be it with bad temp reading/site locations,dodgy proxy data, stastistical jiggery pokery and the main ones closed peer review process,and unwillingness to debate with the likes of Anthony Watts,Steve McIntyre etc.
Sea level rise is very hard to measure,over time it rises in places and falls in others.

October 20, 2010 1:07 pm

Like clockwork, 100,000 to 250,000 year ice ages occur after 2000 to 10000 year warm periods. We’re already well past 6000 years in this warm period. Sumerian civilization gave dawn to all of our current civilizations about 4500 years ago who were around at least 8000 ago. This would not have been possible without warmer climate.
What is your belief concerning the coming ice age with respect to global warming? Or do you believe that we will no longer have any more ice ages?
The reason I ask is that I’m a skeptic because scientists often say their theories have to be correct because they can’t think of any other explanation. As others have mentioned, what caused warming in the past? Wasn’t man made CO2. What causes ice ages? What caused the MWP and the LIA?
You mention Mauna Loa. It’s too bad it did not come online 10 or 20 years earlier. I’m willing to bet that nice curve wouldn’t be so nice. Mauna Loa is a red herring. Nice curve, but is leading to wrong conclusions.
And finally, we know that CO2 is released from the oceans as the temperature rises. So how are you certain of what is the cause and what is the effect? Does CO2 rise precede or follow temperature rise? We know for a fact that it will follow it. Is this one of the sources of feedback? You tell me. But if you believe CO2 rise precedes temperature rise as well, then what is the catalyst aside from human involvement that caused previous rises in CO2?
You can discuss what you want, but ultimately it comes down to scientists not being able to predict past behaviour while proclaiming to know what will happen in the future. I just can’t get over that stumbling block because it doesn’t pass the BS detector.

October 20, 2010 1:07 pm

The closest understanding we can have to what really exists is only through honest debate on the issues. To have everyone on only one side leads to to bad decisions. Thank you for your contributions.

Roger Clague
October 20, 2010 1:09 pm

You admit the skeptics are winning the argument. So now we should be nice to warmists like you who say “Temperatures are rising, and more quickly than they have often in the past.” No way.
We will argue with you and each other until only the best data and logic survive.
Temperatures have not been rising for 15 years and the recent rise since 1650 is not unusual.
The warming effect of the atmosphere is affected by its mass but not its composition.

Tom in Florida
October 20, 2010 1:10 pm

Your basic assumption is that global average temperature means something significant. I would disagree for the reasons stated above by Roger Pielke Sr : “In terms of the global average surface temperature trend, it is almost irrelevant for impacts on society except as an indirect metric on the heating (in Joules) of the oceans and resultant contribution to sea level change.”
Humans live in a variety of climates, all more extreme in temperature range than the so called global average temperature rise. I submit that overpopulation along with the elimination of natural selection for our species are far greater problems and carry far greater consequences.

Frederick Davies
October 20, 2010 1:11 pm

As a follow-on to my previous post:
To all those talking about paying for adaptation, the refugees, etc: do you also propose that if AGW improves the lives of people in developing countries, they should pay us for the improvement? Unless you do, then no amount of argumentation will convince me that anyone should pay for anything related to AGW.

Troels Halken
October 20, 2010 1:14 pm

Well, 2 degrees is what the EU has determined in it’s wisdom is the magic number for acceptable temperature rise – 2,5 degrees is not far of that mark, so in essence we can all sit back and relax.
I my view the climate is changing and it has done so for a few billion years and the planet has not turned into a roasted peanut in the mean time, which I take as a proof of that the climate is more resilient than many believe.
Since we’re unable to explain past or current climate with any accuracy nor predict the future climate and nothing points to a runaway effect, we might as well just do that: Sit back and watch.
Lomborg proposed that combating co2 emissions and adaptation to a warmer climate will be cheaper in the future due to the fact that we will be richer (as we today are richer than people 100 years ago) and technologically more advanced.
I think that we should acknowledge that we simply do not know and that the climate won’t change tomorrow, so there is no hurry to do anything.
My 5c.

DJ Meredith
October 20, 2010 1:14 pm

I’m puzzled, in that we have seen repeated flaws in the temperature record indicating, at least in many cases, what amounts to fraudulent manipulation of data that results in what appears to be warming. We’ve seen that UHI is a major influence in the data.
We’ve seen cooling while CO2 rises, and we know that temperature can rise, and fall, quickly, and from natural forcing.
How is it that you can say with such a high degree of confidence now that the temperature will rise 2 deg this century, when prediction after prediction after “scientific” prediction fails? How do you know that the temperature won’t suddenly FALL 2 deg by the end of the century?
I believe it far more prudent to presume that the temperature could go up……or it could go down…by your 2 degrees, and we should plan accordingly.
If it warms up, I’ll buy an airconditioner. If it cools down, I’ll buy some wool socks. Meanwhile, I see no practical reason to pay more taxes so some politicians and associated businessment can feel warm and fuzzy with their profits.
Sorry, but this League of 2.5 sounds like nothing more than caving in to the alarmism. Your statement “….tell me if it’s remotely possible that the skeptic community could sacrifice its current temporary, but very real advantage in the debate and agree that a rough metric that acknowledges warming but puts sane boundaries on it would be of use to the rest of the world.” is, at least to me, still insulting, because it places scientists who disagree with a predetermined output into a derogatory category.
The scientists I work with consider themselves scientiests, nothing more, and certainly nothing less.

October 20, 2010 1:14 pm

You suck, dude.
I kid, I kid! I would be happy to sign on to this, as I said at CaS.
I would further stipulate (like the Padishah Emperor, I charge you to take possession of this debate and end all dispute) hunter’s condition above: a thoroughgoing investigation of all questions of malfeasance or misrepresentation, carried out by an impartial board (if such a thing could somehow be agreed upon).
Give everyone a win, and let’s move forward.

October 20, 2010 1:15 pm

Even if the models were correct (when we know that they are not) and we KNEW that very bad things might happen as a result of increasing concentrations of CO2 as a result of human emissions, what would you propose to do about it?
You note that the less developed world would be more affected… yet, the developing world faces far greater challenges because they haven’t yet developed! There is no question that the biggest impact the developing world faces is from lack of development.
The only way, THE ONLY WAY to improve the lot of underdeveloped humans is to provide them with the ability to develop. That means they need access to inexpensive energy. At this point in time, there is no other way to provide inexpensive access to energy other than by using carbon based fuel.
The reality: the developing world will continue to develop. They will continue to use carbon based fuels to do so because that’s the technology that provides the best cost per megawatt delivered. We can do nothing to prevent further increases in CO2 release from development.
That many in the “environmental” community wish to stifle energy production and use in the developing world tells you that they really don’t care about the developing world… they are not interested in improving the plight of others.
And, if the developing world is going to continue to use carbon based energy, CO2 concentrations will increase.
The good news is that even if those terrible plagues forecast by the doomsayers of global climate disruption(tm) are true, what do we do about it? Not a thing. Developing a population… ensuring that the people of those countries have infrastructure, have access to food and clean water and medicine and highways and building codes and civil defense, etc, etc. means that they will be much better prepared to deal with whatever problems happen to arise, no matter what the cause.

October 20, 2010 1:16 pm

ThomasWFuller Said:
“Thanks for comments so far. I just want to point out that I am proposing a 2 degree temperature rise this century from all causes, not just CO2.
Does that make a difference to how you perceive this?”
No, because again that is simply extrapolating trends from the modern era. These trends have numerous problems and I have little faith in them – i.e. the past keeps getting cooler as the gatekeepers of the data have the power to “adjust” the data. Why should we assume that some artificial trend will continue for the next 90 years? Maybe anything is possible as long as those with the control over the databases keep on doing their “adjustments”.
Anyway dude, everyone sucks, but you suck less.

October 20, 2010 1:17 pm

Dear Thomas, you say
“If these were the only statistics available to us, we would quickly conclude that the sensitivity of the earth’s atmosphere to all human-related activities might well be 2.5 degrees Celsius.”
I would say that since combined GHG emitted until today represent a bit more than 60% of the effect we expect from a doubling your central estimate is too high by at least a factor two. Even if we only consider CO2 you still have a logaritmic dependence.
So by your logic we should prepare for less than a degree temperature rise, and I am pretty certain we agree that the appropriate response is to do nothing.
Let us then focus on the other reason for leaving dependence on fossile fuel (particle emissions, depletion, oil spill etc) and other reasons for having access to clean cheap energy (billions in poor countries suffering). To me, it is all reasons to develop clean energy. Global warming is not.

October 20, 2010 1:18 pm

Tom, I think we should “assume” that every house does not have a robot maid, Astro can not talk, and I’m not going to work in my rocket car………
These scientists that “assume” future scenarios should put their time to better use and predict lotto numbers.
It’s no more than a mental massage for people that have the free time to do so.
Temperatures will go up, temperatures will go down, just like they always have.
And just like they always have, it will happen so slowly we will not even notice.
Would anyone be paying this much attention if they didn’t have this to blame?
If there was no money in it?
If it was completely natural?
Of course not, because in spite of all the hand wringing about fractions of degrees,
it is still within normal variability.

October 20, 2010 1:18 pm

I like your general approach, Tom — the notion of being empirical.
I also agree with the idea that we need to include all anthropogenic forcings: e.g., when you say that your 2 degree temperature rise would be from all forcings, not just CO2.
An article noted just a few weeks ago on WUWT, “Short Lived Uncertainty,” by Penner et al in Nature, thusly addressed the multiple emissions which can cause temperatures to change:
“…Warming over the past 100 years is consistent with high climate sensitivity to atmospheric carbon dioxide combined with a large cooling effect from short-lived aerosol pollutants, but it could equally be attributed to a low climate sensitivity coupled with a small effect from aerosols. These two possibilities lead to very different projections for future climate change….
…Of the short-lived species, methane, tropospheric ozone and black carbon are key contributors to global warming, augmenting the radiative forcing of carbon dioxide by 65%. Others — such as sulphate, nitrate and organic aerosols — cause a negative radiative forcing, offsetting a fraction of the warming owing to carbon dioxide….
So we need very much to keep in mind these other forcers of temperature change, in both directions. Penner et al. suggest implicitly that if we reduce the methane, black carbon and ozone, which are much cheaper and easier to reduce politically than CO2, then we should be able to get a sense of climate sensitivity from the resulting temperature trends.
This seems much more sensible that trying to somehow sharply reduce CO2 emissions when all the growth is coming from developing economies, in countries which are not going to stifle the creation of a better life for their citizens by failing to use the fossil energy necessary for economic development.
So I like your empirical approach, but I’d add the caveats above, and I would like to endorse the caveats of others that we need to include recognition of the PDO trends.
Finally, the average annual 3 mm of sea level rise we have been during the entirety of the satellite record for sea level changes equates to about one foot per century at present trends. Not too scary. Not an argument for taking economy wrecking measures in the near term, vs. the Roger Pielke Jr. approach of developing and reducing costs of cheaper no-carbon technologies before we deploy them widely.

Sun Spot
October 20, 2010 1:19 pm

I have yet to see any factor supported by science that will drive up global temperatures by 2 degrees by the end of the century. The sole source of this 2 degree number is assumptions made in computer models with positive feedback, these assumptions have no backing with any solid science. Dr Roy Spencer’s work indicates the feedback should be negative, so why are you proceeding along as though his work has no merit ?
P.S. I write software for a living.

October 20, 2010 1:19 pm

It’s not just about who’s right or wrong on the CO2 effects, it’s what they’re proposing to do about them. If the solutions are abysmal then it doesn’t matter if CO2 has an effect or not. What will be, will be, we’ll just be poorer when catastrophe happens and poor people really do suffer badly from climate.
There are (at least) two ugly lies underlying the precautionary principle.
First, that every little action helps. Lie. If CO2 is a serious problem then small changes won’t improve things. It leaves people with a feel good confidence they don’t deserve. If we have to act then we have to completely rethink consumerism, we need to change how, or even if, we support people in climate vulnerable locations. There are many unpleasant choices to be made. People aren’t going to sign up for all that without good cause. Pretending you can mosey them into it is a delusion.
Second, the myth that CO2 reduction actions don’t have negative consequences. Lie. Problems abound, from small annoyances like increased rats due to recycling schemes, up to economic growth suppression in poorer, low CO2 emitting countries. The panicky ‘we must act NOW’ message is driving badly thought through solutions.
When you look at all the key players you know we’re in trouble no matter what happens.

Bill Marsh
October 20, 2010 1:19 pm

First, thanks for putting your thoughts on ‘paper’. It is a courageous thing to do and deserves our respect.
I think the underlying ‘flaws’ in your argument are that you are (1) considering the effects to be linear, (2) assuming that the increase in CO2 accounts for the entire increase in corresponding temperature, (3) assuming that the rate of increase in CO2 is constant over the period. I don’t believe any of these assumptions are valid, making your proposal moot.
Physical systems tend to be logarithmic, not linear and we know from physics that a 75ppm increase in CO2 when the base level is 50ppm has far more effect than a 75ppm increase in CO2 when the base level is 300ppm.
Earth’s climate is possibly the most complex feedback system we have ever tried to unravel and it is also (agreed to by the IPCCs) properly described as a complex, non-linear, chaotic system. One of the features of such a chaotic system is that it is impossible to predict a future state from the present state unless you know the value of every process and every variable affecting the system to a precision unattainable by modern science. We don’t even know all the variables and processes, much less their current state. The best we can do is what climate scientists are currently trying to do. Create a model that contains all the known processes and variables and making ‘predictions’ from there. All they are really doing is testing the model’s sensitivity to various input variable values and processes.

October 20, 2010 1:23 pm

You ought to distinguish between measured trends in the daily high temperatures and the daily low temperatures. I remember reading that the daily highs over the last 80 years or so in the US showed little or no trend, but that the daily lows were getting warmer in a statistically significant way. Climate activists have averaged these two — the high and low temperatures — correctly claiming that this estimate of the average temperature was rising, and so alarmed people with the implicit suggestion that we would experience ever higher temperatures as time went on. I don’t think anyone gets alarmed at the thought that just the daily low temperatures were getting warmer — I don’t think you can even make the case that wild plants and animals would be significantly harmed.

October 20, 2010 1:24 pm

The last 8,000 years has been great….Check out this graph.
All sea rise CO-2 warmers, never ever mention the SUN…Why is that?

Cynthia Lauren Thorpe
October 20, 2010 1:24 pm

It was indeed a ‘breath of fresh air’ to read words that attempted to discuss and further the issue of the supposed Climate Change debate, so for that ~ I thank you. Interest in honest debating is refreshing to listen to.
Yet, Thomas… I’d like to remind you about…oh, let’s say just ‘three tiny little items’ that preclude this sincere discussion to gain ground with those on the Green Side ~ other than yourself, of course.
Firstly ~ they do NOT want to discuss. Instead, they want/desire to ‘mandate’. And, most definitely cling to the foolish idea that ‘they themselves can be god’ ~ little ‘g’, of course. (Need we delve in to quotes from Mr. Soros, et “Al” for my supports? I daresay ‘NOT’, dude.)
Secondly ~ while I do applaud your seemingly sane effort, Thomas… You are ~ simply preaching to the Choir, here. We WANT debate, and thus far ~ it has been shut down by those (in item one) who erroneously believe they should have their little green hands on the ‘climate thermostat’ and thus, by necessity, it seems ~ will be the ones who ‘control’ that ‘global switch’ for the rest of us… And, sadly ~ it doesn’t end there, my Dear. (Example? “They” now have prevented me from walking along the pristine beach here in SA to glean a few cockles, as of late.) Therefore, I suggest to you that all this ‘climate trash’ is simply a Trojan horse for their other lusts which they’d like us to indulge themselves with.
Lastly ~ insofar as MY ‘world view’ goes… I’d definitely re-think that ‘lukewarm’ idea of yours. My Savior, who redeemed me from the menace of a 70’s rock an’ roll lifestyle and eventually Hell (Yes. He did that, and the Truth of that little ‘factoid’ would send chills up your spine, I assure you, were I to recount that event.), says that He dislikes ANYTHING which claims to be ‘lukewarm’; and I take His Words to heart about the depravity of the human condition sans His Will.
Therefore, before congenially submitting to others when they want to take my Freedom(s), I always defer to Him, because he says He likes it/us either HOT or COLD on any issue.
Therefore, with His efforts in my life, I can easily see that the CO2 debate sets us up as a society as mere pawns for the spirit of Margaret Sanger and her ‘friends’. (ie: When will they gain the supposed authority to tell you to ‘stop breathing’, Dear?)
But, thanks nonetheless, for your cordiality blended with true naitivity, Thomas. A sincere debate on this issue will never be accomplished, because they continually seek to change the rules. Once their little green hands are on the thermostat, then they reach for the light switches (bulbs and globes alike) and then… well… I guess then, you’ll just ‘agree amicably’ to HOLD YOUR BREATH?
Cynthia Lauren Thorpe
Kingston SE, South Australia

October 20, 2010 1:26 pm

“I don’t see undisputed data that will allow us to do better than the 40 years of good data we have now. So I think we should provide a ‘rough and ready’ estimate of 2 degrees C climate change this century to the public, business and politicians, so they can start making plans for the future.”
That’s as far as I got before I wrote off Mr Fullers article. The utter idiocy of simply assuming that all the 0.5C rise (if the temperature record is to be believed…) is due to co2 just beggars belief.

Alan Clark
October 20, 2010 1:27 pm

So let me see if I have this straight:
The temperature proxies of Mann et-al have been debunked by M&M. The surface temperature data has been credibly challenged by A. Watt et-al. The IPCC process has been outed as being a collection of Green Group propaganda articles cobbled-together into a public policy statement. And now you stand before us asking us to “accept that there will be a 2.5 degree C rise in temp and asking us to capitulate to discussing how to modify man-kind’s daily routine to deal with this “agreed” number.
I agree to your discussion provided that a warmist or a luke-warmist isn’t picking the “agreed parameters”.
We all agree that the atmospheric C02 numbers are credible? Fine. Can we also then agree that the preponderance of evidence shows that C02 follows temperature? Could we further agree that the warming stopped 10 years ago?
If so then the discussion is over.

October 20, 2010 1:28 pm

The only adverse consequences of the current — or future — climate change that I’m concerned about are actions that are foisted upon us based on an unproven hypothesis. I’m all for limiting or eliminating pollution, reduction or dependence on foreign oil, use of alternative energy sources that make sense (nuclear). However, taking actions for future climate conditions that likely won’t occur is sure to result in many unintended and possibly adverse consequences that may be far worse that the climate change that does occur. Long term forecasts are almost always going to be wrong.

October 20, 2010 1:28 pm

I think allowing people the ability to adapt to whatever Nature wants to throw at us is the best solution. Freedom, prosperity, wealth, access to new technology (medical, construction, education, etc.), access to reliable and affordable energy, and protection from tyranny.

October 20, 2010 1:29 pm

Let’s just take $70 Billion out of the CAGW annual spend and give everyone on the Planet safe drinking water. Save the rest until we KNOW what the hell is going on. There we go, 5 million Childrens’ lives saved per year, or so say the UN. But why would we start believing them now?
Right now we haven’t got a clue. Not a damn sausage. No matter how much glitter you want to put on a ****, it’s still a ****. Sorry, but I think this debate deserves no better.

Philip Thomas
October 20, 2010 1:32 pm

Every Thomas Fuller post is more or less identical (unless it is filler/tactical break), asking us to accept the IPCC science, then debate what should be done.
Those that fall prey to not challenging IPCC science as a premise end up in a nightmare discussion not unlike St. Thomas Aquinas trying to work out how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.
Please, TF, end it all by putting your cards on the table without obfuscating hands.
If you have anything new to say, please continue posting, otherwise please join us as commenters.

October 20, 2010 1:34 pm

This reminds me of an article in Der Speigel ( the English online version). It was an interview with Germany’s top climate science guy ( sorry I cannot remember his name). But he said he “invented” the 2C figure that started to be quoted around the place because the German politicians at the time ( prior to Copenhagen ) told him that to sell the story using scientific data was to complicated . They needed at PR type “catch phrase” so the he suggested the 2C rise will lead to major problems.
Sorry Tom but this idea has a similar ring to it.

Bob Kutz
October 20, 2010 1:34 pm

Uh, is it just me, or are you proposing we accept what the Pro-AGW set is frightening everyone with as an established fact?
How do you get to 2C? How about a 50/50 chance we’ll see 0.5C?
What does any of that have to do with science? I think we should concede 2C when it’s proven. Until then any proposed action is just working from the precautionary principle. Given the nature of the proposed solutions to our AGW problem so far, I do not see any point in conceding anything. They (Hansen’s, Mann’s, UN, Pachuri, etc.) want to shut down the global economy and return to the stone age. I don’t see how that helps anybody and will certainly cost more lives than it will save. If you don’t agree with that point, figure out how much CO2 a person can safely emit each year without causing additional AGW, then realize populations are growing and the current answer to the question seems to be zero. There’s no way we can get back to where we once were without shutting industry down completely. Maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement but not by much.
Also; If the skeptical crowd went along with this, wouldn’t the Pro-AGW crew have a heyday claiming the skeptics had finally been proven wrong?
I don’t see where your proposed solution has a useful place in either science or the relevant policy debates.

October 20, 2010 1:35 pm

Your 2.5 C extrapolation is like using a ruler to estimate where the roller coater is going. Roger Pielke made a case a couple of years ago on planning for rainfall variation in the southwestern US. If you used the extrapolations based on region forecasting from computer models you got a set of scenarios to plan for. However if you looked at the historical record of the last thousand years, there was evidence of much worse draughts hundreds of years earlier. In other words, the natural cycles that can be derived from the region historic/paleo record should help define the range of possibilities. Plan on dealing with that range first and then deal with projections of hotter, colder, wetter or dryer if it indeed were 2C warmer.

October 20, 2010 1:36 pm

I think we may already be at the point where Kumbaya Train might derail, before it even leaves the station. The truce between liberal lukewarmers/skeptics and conservatives of the same persuasion was based on the mutually perceived threat of the CAGW machine. As it begins to rust and fall apart, why is there any need to compromise on science?
I am not a scientist, and so would not debate the compromise you propose regarding climate projection on the merits. My issue is not with the projection, but with what should be done about it, even if accepted. You write: “We need to stop throwing sci-fi fantasies out as plausible outcomes. We need to provide a range of outcomes based on measurements that we trust. We also need not to be distracted by elements of the debate that have only served a political purpose.”
That’s a lot of “we needs.”
From my conservative perspective, we have survived to this point with mankind using its natural intelligence and adaptability, without the benefit of any central guiding force. Insurance against hurricanes and floods, proper zoning, (like not rebuilding New Orleans as hurricane bait?) are all doable now, if you can get the politics right. When, and if, the science develops to the stage where the risks are sufficiently severe, and sufficiently certain, to justify collective action beyond what we already have, then no compromise will be necessary.
Before we reach that point, what is the point of any “compromise?” You can ask conservatives to compromise with you on the degree of forcings, expected temperature rise etc., but where do you see that leading? In other words, suppose your proposed compromise climate projections were written in stone, absolutely certain (the new “consensus”). What policies do you think conservatives would agree to then, that they oppose now?

October 20, 2010 1:39 pm

As always, a well thought out post.
Since there is no way of knowing for sure whether the temperature of the planet is effected by man or not or what effect a warmer (or cooler) atmosphere will have on the planet, it doesn’t matter if we’re in a “League of 2.5” or 10.5. We need to do what we have always done…adapt to whatever mother nature throws at us.

Pat Cabell
October 20, 2010 1:39 pm

As someone who remains skeptical about AGW, I can’t agree with the proposition prompting this discussion. For me, the potential costs of the various means to curb human created CO2 are simply horrific for developing nations. I’d manage with a “greener” car, sure, but without the carbon-based power grids in India and China, for example, poverty, disease, and famine would run rampant. And in the rest of the developing world things would be even worse. I’m just not willing to sacrifice millions of lives based upon a shaky–to me–supposition that AGW might warm things up a bit, and that–in turn–w0uld be unequivocally bad.
The human cost in lives and suffering is simply too great.

Big Bob
October 20, 2010 1:40 pm

It seems obvious to me that the only real solution to global warming is AIR Conditioners. If there really is global warming there seems little we can do about it wheather it is man made or not. the only thing we can do is to deal with its effects. That will take money and technology, two things the developed nations can surely come up with. Driving the West bankrupt with goofball schemes will only make matters worse

Canadian Mike
October 20, 2010 1:41 pm

I appreciate your post and your desire to have reasoned debate without childish name calling. Having said that, I disagree with your analysis and conclusions for several reasons.
Firstly, it appears you have concluded, based on short term correlation only, that increasing CO2 is forcing temperatures up. I don’t agree with this conclusion for several reasons but most importantly because CO2 concentrations have been much higher in the past than they are now with little or no correlation to higher temperatures. If CO2 were indeed a strong driver of temperatures the earth should have experienced out of control warming long ago. From the data I have seen it appears CO2 levels are more likely to lag than lead temperature increases. This makes perfect sense as we all know liquids (oceans) release dissolved gasses as they warm.
Secondly, the proposed solutions to the perceived problem with have little or no environmental benefit and will be hugely damaging to western economies. Industrial production in the West is many times more efficient and environmentally friendly than the developing world. All of the proposed solutions I have seen to climate change involve a large transfer of wealth and production from developed nations to developing nations. Think about it, you are forcing production from efficient, highly regulated societies to inefficient societies that mostly couldn’t care less about the environment. Consider that China is building coal fired electricity plants at a fantastic rate to keep up with their increasing production requirements. Do you think those plants need to meet strict emission and environmental regulations? Keep in mind this is the same country that just flooded out millions of citizens to build a giant hydro dam and runs over students with tanks. Does it really make sense to argue for regulations and taxes that will knowingly make the worldwide environmental situation worse?
To me it is obvious that the solutions to climate change have a lot more to do with economic and political control and wealth transfer than they do with protecting the environment.
I look forward to your response.

October 20, 2010 1:42 pm

“Tallbloke, what on earth makes you think I (Thomas Fuller) believe all the recent rise is due to CO2? ”
Well, I got the same impression based on this paragraph in the original article:
“If these were the only statistics available to us, we would quickly conclude that the sensitivity of the earth’s atmosphere to all human-related activities might well be 2.5 degrees Celsius. This would lead to the supposition that, if concentrations of CO2 rise to about 600 ppm, which certainly seems possible, that the Earth’s temperature will rise about another 2 degrees C. Since it’s based on measurement of temperatures, it can be presumed to include all the effects we are having on temperatures, not just CO2.
And I am arguing, no–proposing, that we do exactly that.”
My main criticism is why on earth would you assume that just because there is something that you can measure (i.e. “If there is one dataset that I trust regarding the Earth’s climate, it is the measurement of atmospheric concentrations of CO2.”) it must be the reason for the rise in temperatures.
Suppose the one measure you were confident in was the growth in cattle population during this time frame. By this logic, we should all just agree that the rough and ready estimate for 2100 a.d. is something like “If the cattle population continues to rise, we should prepare for 3.2C increase in temperatures.”

Jim Clarke
October 20, 2010 1:42 pm

The real problem with your idea is that it asks us to selectively choose to accept some facts and to ignore other facts. As you state…in the last 40 years, CO2 and temperatures (generally) have been increasing. That is a fact. But here are some other facts:
2. In the 30 years before that, CO2 was increasing, but temperatures were decreasing.
3. In the 40 years before that (1900-1940) CO2 was not increasing much, but temperatures were increasing similarly to the more recent decades.
Is it reasonable to ask us to ignore the last two facts and look at only at the first one? Is it wise? Why even purpose that we look only at the first one and ignore the other two? Because of data quality issues? Then in 2050 we can ignore the data from 1970 to 2010, because we will certainly have better data in 2050! No, we can not ignore the older data on the grounds that it is ‘not as good’. It is good enough to support 2 & 3 above. The only reason I can think of for a person to ask us to ignore some of the things we know to be true, is to fool us.
You also ask us to accept the assumption that all climate change in the last 40 years was man made. This is the ‘Mann’ assumption and it is obviously false. There is no reason to accept it, even for the sake of argument, particularly when that argument calls for the spending of trillions of dollars.
With your selective facts and false assumption, you determine that a 2 degree warming is what we should try to mitigate. If, on the other hand, you start with the assumption that a portion of the recent warming is natural, then 2 degrees is already over the the maximum that humans could possibly produce. Then if you accept facts two and three above, one must logically conclude that the CO2 forcing is weaker than the natural forcing, which leads to a maximum of less than 1 degree C of additional warming for a doubling of CO2 over pre-industrial levels.
Now that is a reasonable argument based on all the things we know, and it doesn’t start off with a known ‘false assumption’. Of course, a warming of less the 1 degree C may not need any mitigation at all. There would be no need for more regulations, government or taxes. There would be no need to restrict the life giving flow of energy! There would be no need for people to blow up children who don’t cut there emissions by 10%!
In fact, the warming of less than 1 degree, coupled with the CO2 enrichment would be amazingly beneficial for humans and the rest of the biosphere (with some very minor exceptions). If we humans were truly rational, we would be trying to double the atmospheric CO2!
Please don’t ask me to be irrational for the sake of compromise and the goal of ‘doing something’. Jim Jones wanted to do something, but that doesn’t mean we should all drink the kool-aid.

Dave Springer
October 20, 2010 1:45 pm

I wish you could at least get a handle on basic physics of CO2 that was experimentally demonstrated 150 years ago. Increasing amounts of it have exponentially less effect. You cite a rise of 20% in the past 50 years and marginally correlated rise in average temperature of 0.5C. Fair enough, so long as we acknowledge that correlation is not causation. Where you go off the reservation of fact and into uninformed fallacy is when you go on to say it is reasonable to presume a 2.5C rise from a 100% increase in CO2. This would only happen if there was a linear relationship between CO2 concentration and its capacity to work as an infrared insulator. It is NOT a linear function. It would take a 40% future increase in CO2 concentration to get the same effect as the previous 20%.

October 20, 2010 1:46 pm

An apposite question for Tom Fuller would be: what would be the circumstances which would falsify the lukewarmer position? If the “global mean temperature” continues to flatline or fall slightly for X years, how big would X have to be before the lukewarm hypothesis were to be abandoned?

October 20, 2010 1:47 pm

“Thanks for comments so far. I just want to point out that I am proposing a 2 degree temperature rise this century from all causes, not just CO2.
Does that make a difference to how you perceive this?”
Sorry, but you are just plucking a figure out of thin air, and running with it. In fairness, you are not alone in this…..
The truth is that the climate system is extremely complex.
The truth is that these complexities remain very poorly understood.
The disturbing truth seems to be that the entire climate science community, under considerable pressure for answers from the political elite, is effectively “conning” the world into believing that their understanding of these complexities is far greater than it actually is.
Is human activity having an effect on the Earth’s climate? That may be the one certainty amongst all this, but to try and quantify precisely what this effect is, given our current level of understanding, quite frankly laughable.
As things stand at the moment, we are on the cusp of making huge, far-reaching long-term policy decisions on the basis of something that, essentially, remains speculation. To me, that is a far bigger danger than anything that the climate system is likely to throw at us……….

Keith G
October 20, 2010 1:48 pm

Mr. Fuller,
Thank you for the thoughtful and well-laid out post. To answer your essential question, “tell me if it’s remotely possible that the skeptic community could sacrifice its current temporary, but very real advantage in the debate and agree that a rough metric that acknowledges warming but puts sane boundaries on it would be of use to the rest of the world.”
I thought the well-informed skeptic community already acknowledged that. The gist of what I’ve seen over the past years tends to agree that it has warmed since the end of the LIA, with recent warming since the 1970’s. There is at least the tacit assumption that it COULD continue warming. The MWP, Holocene Climate Optimum and other past periods are widely regarded as having been warmer than present, so why couldn’t temps go up further.
The problem is that even if we all decided to go along with this 2 degree figure, there are too many differing assumptions about what will happen. If you use the Hockey Stick as a guide, we could very well have catastrophic problems since we simply don’t know what happens when it gets that hot. Since some believe the Earth has not experienced temps like that in a long long time, it is perhaps possible that there would be positive feedbacks, and it would ratchet the temps up even further.
I see what you are doing here, trying to inject some common sense into a rancorous and important debate. But looking what it is at stake here, I think a very hot debate is in order. On the one side, many AGWers believe that millions if not billions of people will die. Not to mention all sorts of other species. If they believe that, they really OUGHT to be fighting tooth and nail, right? And for the skeptic crowd, the clear economic and human costs of cutting back carbon use are unacceptably high. In fact, not only does it hurt our wallets, it would probably cause higher mortality in the poor. And as any poor person will tell you, economic prosperity is not something you want to throw away just to calm someone else’s gibbering fear.

Craig Goodrich
October 20, 2010 1:48 pm

I have two serious problems with this post, Tom.
The first is that the AGW science supposedly underlying all this is simply not believable. (Dr. Judith Curry has a series of excellent posts at her blog on the IPCC’s “Detection and Attribution” section — and she is neither a skeptic nor an enemy of science.) And all of the actual measurements looking for phenomena predicted by the theory on which all the catastrophism is based has disconfirmed, rather than reinforced, the AGW theory; it’s been wrong every time.
Moreover, we’re already at a 30% rise in CO2 from 1950 — which means that, since the effect of CO2 is logarithmic, we should have already seen about 40% of the expected rise. If that’s half a degree C, with all feedbacks etc., then the actual sensitivity — making the obviously wrong assumption that all the rise is due to CO2 — can’t be greater than a degree and a quarter, which is clearly nothing to worry about. In fact, the best estimates from real climate scientists is that the doubling sensitivity will be somewhere between half a degree and unmeasurable.
Second, all of the proposed measures are insanely destructive. Wind turbines are disfiguring landscapes, destroying wildlife habitat, and blowing taxpayers’ money into fat cats’ pockets all over Europe, Canada, the US, and Australia, without generating any useful power whatever. Likewise solar, which in Europe is bankrupting Germany and has already bankrupted Spain. Idiotic little swirly florescents are polluting to manufacture (but that pollution stays in China), polluting to dispose of, and feeble to read by.
Tom, the AGW hysteria has already done more damage to the planet and its people than any possible global warming could. The time to stop it cold is now. I appreciate the reasonable tone of your post, but please forgive me for pointing out that the time for sweet reason is long past.

October 20, 2010 1:50 pm

It takes 2 to Tango, Thomas. Have you posted this on any “warmist” sites? Or submitted it as an agenda item at any upcoming IPCC conference – Cancun for example? Or offered it up to any of the many NGO’s, companies, etc. who have a vested interest in pushing the EOTWAWKI view of climate, and/or alternative energy, food production, transportation, and lifestyle agenda’s? From what I’ve seen and read they are the ones who would need convincing of your proposal, not the skeptic community. Skeptic’s have been trying to get this kind of a debate from the likes of Al Gore for years.

Alex the skeptic
October 20, 2010 1:53 pm

Thomas Fuller, when I first started reading and hearing about global warming, that is the anthropogenic type, I was, as I have been all my life and as a man of science, skeptical. I could remember from my chemistry lessons that the CO2 component in our atmosphere was 0.03% or thereabouts. I remember saying to myself, “but how can this insignificance affect the global temperature?” During those years, when I was working hard and raising three kids, I did not have the time to go scientific on the subject and in due time, reading the papers, hearing the news and watching Discovery Channel, I came to the conclusion that since all the world’s scientists were saying so, then I must be the only fool on the planet not accepting AGW. So I became a BELIEVER and like a gull gulped down all that was being said and became fearful that my grand children will not have a planet where to live.
Time went by, my kids got their PhD’s and MSc’s and so, having some free time for myself and watching Al Gore telling us that the only livable place would be Antarctica, I commenced making some basic searches on the subject by hitting the net. AND I GOT THE SUPRISE OF MY LIFE. Because you see, I found out that I had made a mistake in becoming a believer and that I was right-the-first-time in being initially a skeptic. And:
• There was no scientific consensus; only 50 scientists had really signed the papers.
• The planet had stopped warming in 1997.
• The oceans were not rising.
• While glaciers were receding, others were growing.
• Glaciers that were for some time receding are now in reverse mode
• The oceans are cooling.
• The supposedly smoking gun of global warming: temperature rise at high atmospheric levels was not found, and the warmists’ hope in this smoking gun turned to…….smoke.
• Kevin Trenberth’s other smoking gun, that is, oceans heating up, turned into a cold case.
• Antarctica was not melting.
• The hockey stick got stuck.
• The total global biomass is increasing due to the increase in CO2, even the Sahel is greening.
• During man’s written history, the planet experienced four coolings and five warmings, some warmer than the present (past?) one.
• Civilisations thrived during warmings and suffered, even collapsed, during coolings. (The Romans built their empire during the Roman warm period and collapsed during the following global chill, better known as the Dark Ages, when civilization practically disappeared from the European continent and knowledge was transferred to the warmer north African countries. The renaissance followed with the MWP’s arrival.
• Warming oceans release their stored CO2. This is simple chemistry. Hence the theory that atmospheric CO2 increases due to global warming is more scientifically sensible than the opposite theory.
• Solar variability has a measurable effect on the planet’s temperature and may well be the major driver of climate change.
• Climate is dependent on a myriad of forcings, while AGW rests its case on one and only one single forcing. This is scientifically irresponsible at least.
• The CRU scientists made an ass of themselves and reduced science to the garbage heap while feeding same to the IPCC, that entity which has become the laughing stock of the world following Climategate and Copenhagen.
• Science, especially climate science, has been hijacked by:
1. The journalist for selling his hyped-up end of the world stories. Stories saying that all’s well with the planet don’t sell.
2. Hollywood, for the same reason.
3. The politicians, as an excuse to tax us and reduce our liberties. And
4. Big Energy for getting the billions of grants (our money) to build their monstrosities that our ancestors discarded when they discovered coal, oil and gas.
• Al Gore became the first carbon billionaire.
• My grand children will inherit the same planet that I had, maybe even a better one.
In short Thomas, the worst thing one can do is to believe, while asking questions, that is, being skeptical, is the root of all knowledge and the truth.
increase in CO2 = Global warming? One can believe in it but one cannot deduce it scientifically. Even Time has killed off the theory.

October 20, 2010 1:54 pm

Going back 180 years (Beck 2007) shows CO2 at about 425-ppm in 1825. Going back 6E8 years (Berner 2001) shows CO2 has been as high as 7,000-ppm. All during this period temperatures have cycled within 12C and 22C (Scotese’s PaleoTEMP), oblivious to CO2 concentration.
Doesn’t the above data have more weight than 52 years of Mauna Loa data taken on the world’s largest active volcano in the middle of the CO2 belching pacific Ocean?

John from CA
October 20, 2010 1:54 pm

“…tell me if it’s remotely possible that the skeptic community could sacrifice its current temporary, but very real advantage in the debate and agree that a rough metric that acknowledges warming but puts sane boundaries on it would be of use to the rest of the world.”
Interesting statement and sincere post but, in my opinion, temperatures are not going to continue to rise over the next 30 years and CO2 levels are actually going to fall. Humans simply don’t produce enough CO2 to double the ppm.
If the typical 60 year cycle continues to play out, we’re headed into 30 years of cooler temperatures and thus declining CO2 levels. Temperature drives CO2 and CO2 typically lags temperature rise and fall.
Stewardship, Sustainability, Clean Energy, and legitimate Climate Science are great goals but not at the expense of Common Sense.
The problem isn’t the goals. The problem is the Eco-Hysteria, which is driving poorly conceived methods, flawed Science, and unnecessary taxation.
I think its reasonable to say that ALL Scientists agree that the Climate Models fail to account for significant aspects of the climate system. So its actually not the Skeptics that are the issue in the debate. Skeptics are already aware of the flawed science and appear to be the only reasoned voice in the debate.
The best thing that could occur at this point is to disband the IPCC, each country should pursue its own environmental agenda, and to stop scaring children with fairy tale Science.

October 20, 2010 1:56 pm

To Alan Clarke, who said:
“The temperature proxies of Mann et-al have been debunked by M&M. The surface temperature data has been credibly challenged by A. Watt et-al.”
Yes, Mann et al have been debunked, but we aren’t discussing the fact that there really was was a Medieval Warm Period and a Little Ice Age, and that Mann et al keep making things up as they go along. We are trying to understand what has been happening in the last half century, when CO2 has seen most of its increase since the “pre-industrial” level of 280 ppm, and when other man-made emissions of various types also increased.
Yes, Anthony Watts and Ross McKitrick and Patrick Michaels have all shown that in various ways the surface temperature records are likely to be on the high side, when the urban heat island effect is properly dealth with.
So to be properly empirical, we need to use the satellite record of temperatures, not the surface record.
That record shows an increasing trend, but a bit less of one than the ground record. So we are seeing temperature increases, but less than almost all models, and less than the surface record. And the satellite record is more or less showing the 2 degrees per C that Thomas Fuller posits, when taking into account all the different forcing agents, it seems to me.

October 20, 2010 1:56 pm

Hi to Thomas from Australia. I understand that the best sceptics like Lindzen predict about 1 deg C warming from doubling CO2. This is not a huge figure. And most of the more lurid scenarios from, say, Gore’s movie have not stood up to scrutiny.
However, I can see the point of a precautionary emission cut – provided we do it sensibly. We should be precautionary about alarmism too. Otherwise scientists a few decades hence may find themselves being asked why they loudly lobbied for a Son Of Y2K Hysteria and mostly just succeeded in putting a lot of people out of work.

October 20, 2010 1:57 pm

The efficiency of CO2 is Logarithmic so doubling it will not reach the 2deg. (unfortunately) if CO2 is the Main factor!
I prefer the approach of the engineer to examine the problem.
Energy source 1) the sun
Energy source 2) earth core
storage and transport of energy 1) the oceans
storage and transport of energy 2) the atmosphere
considering that the power provider #1 is more(much more) than 500 time more than the provider 2 lets consider first the sun
Considering that the storage and transport of energy #1 is more than 500 time more than the #2 let’s concider the ocean
let’s admit an error of at most .2% and forgot about the core and the atmosphere
To my opinion this is the smart way to understand not meteo but climat. Sun variation and ocean streams
Every engineer will act like that!

October 20, 2010 1:58 pm

“Tallbloke, what on earth makes you think I believe all the recent rise is due to CO2? (I don’t–but it’s possible I expressed myself poorly.) Even the IPCC doesn’t think that.”
I read it that way too, Tom.
So let me ask it this way –at what percentage of causation of warming attributable to C02 would your plan be unattractive/unnecessary in your mind? And how confident are you that the actual percentage is north of that number? Why are you confident?
If, say, 1/3 of the rise since 1958 is attributable to C02, are you still a backer of your plan?

October 20, 2010 1:59 pm

thomaswfuller says:
October 20, 2010 at 12:44 pm
Hi all,
Thanks for comments so far. I just want to point out that I am proposing a 2 degree temperature rise this century from all causes, not just CO2.
Does that make a difference to how you perceive this?

I suppose you mean a “…possible maximum 2 degree rise this century from all causes…” since we do not know exactly what the total effect of the increasing CO2 is and we also (and arguably more importantly) do not know exactly what the causes of the temperature rise since the LIA are.
Since we’ve seen that historically temp rises/falls before CO2 rises/falls, we can say that anthropogenic contributions to atmospheric CO2 is changing that apparent relationship. However, without knowing what the primary cause(s) of the post-LIA temp increase is, we do not know for sure that they won’t stop tomorrow or this year or this decade, etc. If they did, the subsequent cooling might overwhelm any possible effect of rising CO2 levels.
Just an observation or two.

Ben D.
October 20, 2010 2:00 pm

The issue that over-reaches everything is natural effects vs. man’s effects which I still think is impossible to determine at this point in time.

October 20, 2010 2:00 pm

Hi Tom,
As I replied to you over at Collide-s-Scape (the narrative vacuum thread), I agree that 2.5 to 3 deg per doubling for climate sensitivity looks like the most likely ballpark indeed, though not so much for the reason you provide (as mt and Brian over there also explained: The net forcing over the 20th century is not well constrained because of aerosols and that there still is an energy imbalance reflecting warming in the pipeline). But indeed, taking several constraints by measurements into consideration, this result seems fairly robust (see e.g. [bad link ~ac]
So if the motion is, let’s go wih the 2.5 number and move the discussion to how we’re gonna deal with that, mitigation- and adaptation-wise, then I’m all for it! (As I’ve said to you over a year ago already too, but I’m happy that you’re seconding my motion now finally! )
(Btw, how do you know that “The ice caps are not going to disappear this millenium.”?)

Guillermo Gefaell
October 20, 2010 2:01 pm

I think the relevant matter is that we need to locally/regionally adapt to changing climate, whatever the reason and the sign of that change, be it warming or cooling, as humankind has always done, instead of globally (and dangerously in many bizarre cases) trying to fight back what we cannot/should not fight back.
My main concern on this issue is to see how most of the developed world governments (and not only) spending huge amounts of our hard earned money trying to fight back the allegued causes of global warming mainly by uselessly trying to reduce CO2 emissions (as climate sensitivity to it is not well known at all and even though we cannot reduce emissions enough except, perhaps, if all 7 billion humans come back to the caverns ages), but not trying to mitigate/avoid climate effects – whatever- at least with the same amount of effort and money spending (plan “A”, which would be much more useful to more efectively help the communities suffering natural disaters), nor even thinking in having a medium/long term “plan B” working in parallel consisting in strongly investing in the investigation/use of the alternative cheap massive energy needed to bring all 7 billion people to comfortable and safe levels of existence whatever the climate. I’m talking nuclear (both fusion and fision), of course, keeping oil reserves for better uses other than burning them.
Such two “plans” are of utmost importancy if the climate turns to come to a slight global cooling for the next decades instead of keeping on warming, as it looks like and several important voices are warning about. Cold is the name of the problem, not the protecting warming that has allowed humankind to come from some 1 million individuals a mere 10.000 years ago all the way up to present numbers.

October 20, 2010 2:02 pm

Sorry, Thomas Fuller, but both your data and conclusions are wrong.
In early 2010 the BBC’s environment analyst Roger Harrabin put questions to Professor Jones, including several gathered from climate sceptics. The questions were put to Professor Jones with the co-operation of UEA’s press office.
Roger Harrabin – “Do you agree that according to the global temperature record used by the IPCC, the rates of global warming from 1860-1880, 1910-1940 and 1975-1998 were identical?”
Professor Jones – “An initial point to make is that in the responses to these questions I’ve assumed that when you talk about the global temperature record, you mean the record that combines the estimates from land regions with those from the marine regions of the world. CRU produces the land component, with the Met Office Hadley Centre producing the marine component.
Temperature data for the period 1860-1880 are more uncertain, because of sparser coverage, than for later periods in the 20th Century. The 1860-1880 period is also only 21 years in length. As for the two periods 1910-40 and 1975-1998 the warming rates are not statistically significantly different (see numbers below).
I have also included the trend over the period 1975 to 2009, which has a very similar trend to the period 1975-1998.
So, in answer to the question, the warming rates for all 4 periods are similar and not statistically significantly different from each other.”
Here are the trends and significances for each period:
Period……Lgth(yr).. Trend(C)
1860-’80 21 0.163 Significance = Yes
1910-’40 31 0.15 Significance = Yes
1975-’98 24 0.166 Significance = Yes
1975-2009 35 0.161 Significance = Yes

Ed Forbes
October 20, 2010 2:03 pm

…‘you suck, dude.’….
O……I guess I should add why I suppose. From the mouth of the IPCC itself.
Untill you come to terms with clouds…you have jack.
If you are off on your cloud cover est, you are WAY off on the effect vs CO2.
… an albedo decrease of only 1%, bringing the Earth’s albedo from 30% to 29%, would cause an increase in the black-body radiative equilibrium temperature of about 1°C, ….
which is the same amount a doubling of CO2 will give without the unproven feedbacks.
And if there are feedbacks, they do not know if they are a net positve or neg.
……..”… the amplitude and even the sign of cloud feedbacks was noted in the TAR as highly uncertain….”
“… the amplitude and even the sign of cloud feedbacks was noted in the TAR as highly uncertain, and this uncertainty was cited as one of the key factors explaining the spread in model simulations of future climate for a given emission scenario. This cannot be regarded as a surprise: that the sensitivity of the Earth’s climate to changing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations must depend strongly on cloud feedbacks can be illustrated on the simplest theoretical grounds, using data that have been available for a long time. Satellite measurements have indeed provided meaningful estimates of Earth’s radiation budget since the early 1970s (Vonder Haar and Suomi, 1971). Clouds, which cover about 60% of the Earth’s surface, are responsible for up to two-thirds of the planetary albedo, which is about 30%. An albedo decrease of only 1%, bringing the Earth’s albedo from 30% to 29%, would cause an increase in the black-body radiative equilibrium temperature of about 1°C, a highly significant value, roughly equivalent to the direct radiative effect of a doubling of the atmospheric CO2 concentration. Simultaneously, clouds make an important contribution to the planetary greenhouse effect. …”

October 20, 2010 2:04 pm

given the current rate of CO2 increase we won’t reach 600 ppm until 2155 … so we are not talking about the “next century” but the next century and a half …
to act as if temperatures have risen steadily since 1958 is simply silly …
there is not clear correllation between CO2 and temperatures over the last century … none …
without correllation there can be no causation …

October 20, 2010 2:05 pm

Okay, here’s my A-game:
I’m perfectly happy to hear the opinions, speculations, calculations etc of lukewarmers and moderates, (even though reading Judith Curry is a bit like swimming the butterfly in molasses, and Mosher scares me when he does his mantras.)
No probs with opinions, so long as the the agenda behind them does not consist of any or all of these three things:
1. Crappy energy supply bases on feeble “renewables” and supported by outrageous subsidies. (See Spanish solar, recent WUWT)
2. Industry-strangling carbon taxes, justified by the definition of carbon as a pollutant.
3. Emissions trading. Brainchild of Enron and Lehman Bros, this is probably the worst of all three outcomes. Scoundrels trading in a fragment of thin air.
You see, Thomas, if these are the outcomes of “lukewarmism”, it means that the moderates are more dangerous than the fanatics, since they want the same things as fanatics, but are more likely to keep their jobs.
There you have it: my A-game!

Dr A Burns
October 20, 2010 2:05 pm

Come on Mr Lukewarmer, give it your best shot … EXACTLY what is the EVIDENCE that man has caused global warming ?

October 20, 2010 2:08 pm

Thomas, you say: “I just want to point out that I am proposing a 2 degree temperature rise this century from all causes, not just CO2.”
So you would accept a large part of that rise to be entirely natural it would seem. You want us to spend a megazillion $ to control the solar system based on a negotiation between pessimists and realists?
Not my best shot but a reasonable précis.
Regards & peace.

October 20, 2010 2:09 pm

Alan Clark said: “Can we also then agree that the preponderance of evidence shows that C02 follows temperature? Could we further agree that the warming stopped 10 years ago?”
Yes, coming in and out of ice ages, CO2 trails temperature changes. That speaks to the incredible power of other forcings, such as the Milankovich cycles. We think we know which processes have caused CO2 to follow temperature changes coming in and out of ice ages.
That doesn’t mean that CO2 has no temperature effects of its own, nor does it mean that CO2 changes didn’t reinforce the temperature trends going in and out of ice ages — it just means that CO2 didn’t start those huge changes in temperature and everying that followed (glaciation, deglaciation, 350 foot changes in sea levels). CO2 isn’t nearly as powerful as Milankovitch cycles in causing temperature changes, but that doesn’t mean it’s effects are zero or negligible.
Yes, we can agree that warming stopped 10 years ago, and most of us will agree that it will likely start again.
There have been many articles, including those in WUWT, which posit that the flat to declining temperatures we saw after 1940 for several decades, and the flat temperatures we have seen in the last decade, are due to the downward cycle in the PDO. So the flat temps the last decade are likely part of a natural cycle, and do not mean that CO2 has no effects.
What Fuller is trying to get at is, what are the temperature effects of CO2a and other man-made emissions, and can we get at them empirically without using climate models? And what are the effects of temperature increases, e.g., sea level rise? As noted in one of my earlier posts, sea levels right now are rising at a pace of one foot per century. Not so horrific.

October 20, 2010 2:10 pm

I’m lukewarmer like you, but I don’t see any rational scientific analysis that supports a 2C increase this century. You are attributing 100% of the warming since 1958 to CO2, which simply isn’t rational. Without going into all the details, it would seem more rational to suggest that the sensitivity of climate to CO2 doubling is about 1C, not 2.5C, and thus we have probably about a 0.65C warming to come if the doubling is completed. It could be more, it could be less, but that’s my betting man’s under/over. And of course, that doesn’t tell us what actual warming or cooling will occur, only to what extent it would be modified by CO2. If the natural cycle over the next century is a cooling one, we could end up having no warming at all. If it’s a warming cycle, we could warm as much as 1.5C. But it’s pretty hard for me to see a 2C warming. It’s not impossible, just an outlier, and not the happy medium guesstimate.
I’m not opposed to the principle you are trying to put forward, but the numbers do matter, and making a reasonable concession to greenhouse gases is quite reasonable, but it should be guided by actual science, and not by what, politically, we think the opposition or the public will be willing to accept.

Roger Clague
October 20, 2010 2:12 pm

Tom Fuller says
“So, I call for all those involved in the climate debate to throw down their weapons”
The weapon, or tool, we all need for the climate debate is the scientific method.
It is the warmists who have thrown that essential tool away, should try to find it again and then rejoin the debate.

October 20, 2010 2:15 pm

The UK alone is already spending more than a billion a year on “saving the planet”, and on what basis? Some corporal Jones like academic who can’t even find his own data who doesn’t ever seem to have seen real Met Stations and the real conditions which clearly are affecting their readings.
As any good manager knows, before you bet the whole economy of the planet of some crazy scheme, you better make sure your facts are straight. So, what have they been doing for the last 30 years? They have been denying that there are any problems with the data when these are clearly worse than useless.
The world is not going to overheat overnight, it is just as likely that fossil fuel usage will reduce naturally as supplies become exhausted than that there will be any more temperature rise. Historical evidence shows that cold periods are the problem for humanity, not warm periods, so the precautionary principle says we don’t need to worry about warming … but we do need to worry about running out of energy or the climate turning colder.
So, before wasting another dollar/pound on this ridiculous scam, let’s spend some decent money getting the global temperature monitoring system which we can actually rely.
Spend the money on a system which no one can fiddle, no one can deny, and then let’s see whether the global temperature is really rising and/or those loonies at the Met Office, etc. can actually forecast the temperature in advance (not forecast what it was)

October 20, 2010 2:18 pm

Late to the party. By now Mr Fuller’s article has been thoroughly deconstructed. But will he change his post-normal science-y based feelings? Will the scales fall from his eyes on the road to Damascus? Will the first glimmer of the scientific method send a tingle up his leg?
No. His mind is made up, and he wants us to take it on faith that CO2 drives the planet’s temperature, rather than following it.
Natural climate variability explains all of the observations. Nothing out of the ordinary is occurring; the wild-eyed arm-waving crowd goes from one frantic scare to the next, hardly able to catch their breath: Himalayan glaciers are disappearing fast, sea level rise is accelerating, Arctic ice has melted almost as much as in 2007, the “missing heat is hidden somewhere in the pipeline,” walruses are committing suicide, corals are bleaching, etc., etc.
None of it can be attributed to CO2, and even less to the ≈3% of CO2 emitted by human activity. There is no empirical evidence to support the CO2 conjecture, and alarmist scientists all scurry away from the scientific method like Dracula hides from the dawn.
Carl Sagan gives his version of the scientific method in his book:

• Whenever possible there must be independent confirmation of the facts.
• Encourage substantive debate on the evidence, by knowledgable proponents of all points of view.
• Arguments from authority carry little weight, as “authorities” have made mistakes in the past. They will do so again in the future. Perhaps a better way to say it is that there are no authorities; at most, there are “experts”.
• Spin a variety of hypotheses. If there’s something to be explained, think of all the different ways in which it could be explained. Then think of tests by which you might systematically disprove each. The ones that survive are the ones to do in depth study on.
• Do not become attached to any hypothesis just because it’s yours. Find reasons for rejecting all, including your own, hypothesis.
• Quantify. If whatever you are explaining has a measure, quantify it so that measurement is more possible. Vague hypotheses, or those difficult to quantify, will be the most difficult to prove or disprove.
• If there is a chain argument, then each and every link must work, including the premise.
• Use Occam’s Razor; which is to choose the hypothesis that explains the data in the simplest terms.
• Ask: is the Hypothesis testable and falsifiable? Hypotheses that are not testable are not worth much. Could you duplicate accurately, at least theoretically, the hypothesis?

There are more rigorous definitions of the scientific method than Sagan’s [eg: Popper], but Sagan’s will do fine here.
There is not one example of CO2 driving the climate that would pass Sagan’s scientific method. Not a single one.
Vukcevic asks a question up-thread that Mr Fuller cannot agree to, since his mind is already made up:
“You expect sceptics to reconsider their position, but are you willing to do the same?”
Skeptics will reconsider their position when testable, replicable, empirical evidence is produced, based on verifiable raw data. So far there isn’t any evidence that has survived falsification. Therefore, only true believers buy the story that CO2 is the temperature throttle for the planet.
What say you, Tom Fuller? Are you willing to be completely skeptical of the CO2=CAGW hypothesis, unless convincing evidence is produced to support it? Or are you only trying to convince us that your feelings must be right?

Ben G
October 20, 2010 2:20 pm

I thought real science was about getting to the truth – not some compromise because the models and the data are a bit fluffy. I don’t have a problem with saying there will be a 2c rise of the data supports it, but once you allow for the UHI problems and negative feedback from an increase in clouds it clearly doesn’t.

October 20, 2010 2:20 pm

You forget.. All the temp data except probably recent satellite has been doctored, lost adjusted. there is probably NO significant warming/cooling sice 1880

John Nicklin
October 20, 2010 2:21 pm

While I appreciate the invitation to have a dialogue on the topic, rather than an argument, I am disinclined to agree with the your request to have the skeptic community…
“….sacrifice its current temporary, but very real advantage in the debate and agree that a rough metric that acknowledges warming but puts sane boundaries on it would be of use to the rest of the world.”
First, I think that there isn’t much chance that there would be agreement on such a metric. I just looked at the historical data from 1880 to 2010 and it looks a lot like a 0.7 +/- 0.2 degrees C increase with excursions each way over the time period. Like others have said, there is a problem ascribing the blame to CO2 in the earlier half of that series. There is also the logarithmic nature of the CO2 effect, if X ppm CO2 are added to X ppm CO2, and you get a Y degree increase, adding another X ppm will not produce another Y degrees, you pretty well have to go to 2X ppm increase, there is a diminishing return on CO2 investment.
I fear that giving up any advantage would be seen as a surrender in the eyes of the other side. I suppose you could try a little experiment and ask the AGW crowd the same question, ie: can we agree that the temperature over the next century won’t rise more that 1.6 degrees C. Not sure Hansen, Gore, et al would give it much consideration.
All that said, I think that we do stupid things to the environment and we should be more conscious of where we live, but that takes a certain level of economic security that some parts of the world don’t enjoy.

Ian H
October 20, 2010 2:22 pm

This is all politics. There is no scientific content here. You CANNOT try to settle a question in science in this way. Shonky science subverted to political ends. Eventually there will be a scientific verdict on this and it won’t be arrived at by compromise. The real world will render a verdict if nothing else. You can’t plea bargain with the laws of physics.
Your idea of using only measured increases is doomed by the impossibility of getting people to agree on the endpoints for making such a measurement. You have suggested looking at the increase from 1959 to now. But this is ridiculous because the size of the signal you are hoping to observe is completely swamped by natural climatic cycles and variations.
A slight improvement would be to look at temperatures over the last 3000 years (say) and determine the average and variation over 50 year periods over that time. Then look at the average over the last 50 years and see if it falls outside the natural pattern. If you do that you’ll find temperatures over the last 50 years are well within the range of natural variation. There is nothing detectably unusual about it – neither in absolute terms nor in terms of rates of change.
So what is all the fuss about? I can point to millions of people who were killed by starvation in the biofuels debacle. These are actual people who have died due to an ill considered environmental overreaction. I can’t point to a single life that has been lost due to the effects of `global warming’.
There is absolutely no evidence that a warmer world would be less pleasant to live in. Have you forgotten what the words ‘climatic optimum’ mean? It means conditions were more hospitable then.
In particular there are myths hiding in what you do not say. You implicitly assume warming is bad. The fact is that the predicted warming (assuming itu eventualte which I doubt) doesn’t come in the form of searing daytime temperatures and burning dry desert sands. It comes in the form of warmer nighttime temperatures, cloudy warm nights with less frost, more rain, less chilly winters and slightly longer summers. In other words the higher temperatures for the most part would arrive in ways that would not hurt and indeed that we would probably find quite benign. Then there is the possibility of a greening Sahara. And the certainty that higher CO_2 will lead to faster growing crops.
Look at the world as it was 100 years ago. Rather different to the world today yes? A comparison of what Shanghai looked like then and now should make my point. We adapted to that, we can adapt to a nicer warmer climate if we have to.

Crispin in Waterloo
October 20, 2010 2:23 pm

Tom – I like the discussion.
My contribution is the emerging reality that as far as we know (about CO2 life cycle and carbon sources) the carbon resources do not exist to be able to double the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. People happily speak of CO2 rising as if there was some limitless supply of things to burn. This is simply not the case. There is a gaping hole in the theory that we can run the CO2 level up to 1000 ppm.
Unless petroleum resources turn out to be manufactured naturally under the Earths’ crust, I doubt we can ever top 540 ppm. Without putting real carbon resources on the table, we’re just whistlin’ Dixie.

Louis Hooffstetter
October 20, 2010 2:25 pm

We know from geologic history that global temperatures (and corresponding sea levels) never remain constant for long, and fluctuate widely in response to natural factors. Unfortunately, natural factors are poorly understood, and we currently have little control over them. At this point in time, we need to accept that even if we completely mitigate our own influence on the climate, natural factors will one day again shift global temperatures and sea levels dramatically in one direction or the other. The only thing constant is change.
Rather than spend inestimable fortunes trying to maintain the status quo, (knowing it’s an exercise in futility), we should ‘plan for change’:
1) Our Federal Flood Insurance program should be modified so that property owners have the option to be bought out as their homes and businesses flood. After they have been offered a buy-out, they can remain in flood prone areas if they wish, but at their own risk: without Federal Flood insurance.
2) We should also develop nuclear power to its full potential. If fast neutron reactors are perfected and put into use, they could burn high level nuclear waste accumulating at nuclear plants across the country and convert it into power. The resulting waste is only slightly radioactive for centuries as opposed to highly toxic for millennia.
3) There are many more ways to ‘plan for change’. I welcome other commenters to submit their ideas.

Alan Clark
October 20, 2010 2:27 pm

What are conservatives willing to work with as a starting position? I can’t speak for everyone but this sounds reasonable to me:
Waxman & Markley recalled, tarred and feathered.
Mann, Jones & Briffa, 8 – 10 in a federal facility.
Gore, banished from the planet.
Hansen, Appointed President for Life of Rwanda.

October 20, 2010 2:30 pm

Thomas, I gotta say, my large respect for you has suffered a terrible loss with this posting.
You say:

The numbers show that concentrations of CO2 were 315 ppm in 1958, when Mauna Loa started measuring. Concentrations now are 390 ppm. That is a rise of 19%. The central question in climate change is, ‘What is the sensitivity of the earth’s atmosphere to a doubling of the concentrations of CO2?’ Is the atmosphere easily influenced by CO2, producing more water vapor and adding to temperature rise, or is the atmosphere largely indifferent? Despite protestations from both sides, the honest answer is we don’t know now, and we are not likely to know for another 30 years.
Temperatures appear to have risen globally, although the accuracy of the data is not yet fully determined. The rise since 1958 appears to be about 0.5 degrees Celsius.
If these were the only statistics available to us, we would quickly conclude that the sensitivity of the earth’s atmosphere to all human-related activities might well be 2.5 degrees Celsius. This would lead to the supposition that, if concentrations of CO2 rise to about 600 ppm, which certainly seems possible, that the Earth’s temperature will rise about another 2 degrees C. Since it’s based on measurement of temperatures, it can be presumed to include all the effects we are having on temperatures, not just CO2.

Say what??? You might “quickly conclude” that, but you would be wrong. We have absolutely no reason to conclude that the sensitivity to “all human-related activities” is 2.5°C. We have no evidence to show whether human activities are responsible for none, some, much, or all of the warming. Your statement is contradicted by even the merest look at the evidence. You are just making things up out of the whole cloth, there is not a scrap of scientific evidence that you are right.
Your brilliant plan seems to be, let’s assume that humans are responsible for the warming, we’ll just pick a midrange value for the sensitivity and be done with all that nasty search for evidence … and you consider yourself qualified to comment on science? That is so far from a scientific viewpoint as to beggar belief.
Whether humans are responsible for the warming is the SUBJECT OF THE DEBATE. You can’t solve it by assuming for simplicity that humans are the cause of the warming, that’s a grade-schooler’s solution to the problem that does nothing but provide false certainty.
I have read some foolish suggestions regarding warming, but your suggestion takes the cake. It appears that you are so unable to deal with scientific uncertainty and lack of knowledge that to get rid of your nervousness about not knowing the answer, you are willing to assume that the AGW doomsayers are right and go on from there.
Look, Thomas, you may be all nervous about your uncertainty, and willing to accede to the other side’s unscientific claims to make it so you are not nervous.
Out here in the real world, however, we don’t care if you don’t like uncertainty, and I for one think that agreeing to the other side’s nonsense purely so your nervousness can be assuaged is not a brilliant plan, or even a good plan.
It is the dumbest plan I’ve heard in a while, and I am shocked and stunned that it is coming from you. Sometimes science simply doesn’t know the answer. When that is the case, the best plan is to say “We don’t know the answer”. However, climate scientists have by and large forgotten how to say that, so they say nothing or claim it is all understood.
Saying “We don’t know the answer, so let’s pretend that it is 2.5 so people can have some certainty”, however, is an idiotic, foolish, stupid, self-destructive plan.

Charlie A
October 20, 2010 2:31 pm

OK. Kumbaya.
What now?
Somehow I miss the point of your post. Getting everyone to make an agreement on CO2 sensitivity? That’s only step 1 of a multistep problem.
The real problem is what, if anything, we should do about global warming.
All but the very most hardcore of skeptics agree that there is global warming. There are some significant differences of opinion (and “opinion” is really all we have at the moment) about the sensitivity of the climate system. I’m optimistic that over the next decade or so that we will dramatically increase our knowledge of the climate system and we will begin to both refine the estimates of sensitivity and to also get a better estimate on the uncertainty and the level of natural variations involved.
But even if a true consensus on climate sensitivity evolves, I don’t see any consensus on actions.

October 20, 2010 2:32 pm

Thomas, you say that … “Temperatures are rising, and more quickly than they have often in the past. (Yes, they have risen this quickly on occasion.)”
I beg to suggest that you are wrong to assume any conclusion from this.
I quote from Professor Bob Carter… “Climate, it seems, changes ceaselessly in either direction: sometimes cooling, sometimes warming, often for reasons that we do not fully understand” (7 Apr 2007).

October 20, 2010 2:32 pm

If there is a way forward on what we should do, I think it has to be expressed as a need for societies to be better prepared in general for climate variability from whatever cause, natural or anthropogenic. We know from history that many societies have been devastated by (natural) climate change, and some completely destroyed (read Fagan’s “The Long Summer” for examples).
Could a country/region cope with a multi-decadal reduction of 25% in precipitation? A 25% increase, which could make a 500-year flood a 25-year flood? Are we ready with new strains of crops if a region steadily warms or cools, or prepared to change what crops are grown?
Are we encouraging behavior that is too “close to the edge”, such as providing subsidized insurance to those who build right on the coast or in flood plains, or to farmers who try to grow frost-intolerant crops too close to the freeze line?
I believe that societies in general do a poor job of planning for low-probability (in the short term) problem events. If we were to do a better job of preparing for extreme weather events in general, it would probably take care of 90% of the potential problems of significant climate change, natural or anthropogenic.

Philip Thomas
October 20, 2010 2:34 pm

thomaswfuller says:
October 20, 2010 at 2:03 pm
“I have no agenda and approach you with an open declaration of my own beliefs and policy preferences. ”
Please don’t take offence but I feel I have to keep on pushing you on your sincerity.
—“ declaration of my own beliefs..”
When you first began your posts you told Anthony that you were a skeptic and were described as such on this site. You immediately began posting declarations of your lukewarm stance. On challenging your ‘skeptic’ tag, Anthony commented:
Philip Thomas says:
September 14, 2010 at 11:08 am
“REPLY: Thanks for the reminder. Mr. Fuller said he was a skeptic, and is now a Lukewarmer. So I’ll make the change. – Anthony”
When did you stop considering yourself a skeptic? Why did you post for so long under the skeptic banner without making perfectly clear that this was incorrect? Do you think you obtained a better target demographic having been self-described as a skeptic?
I have already posted details of your links to a company that fishes for contact details of unwitting consumers on behalf of green technology companies, and your connection with large EC tenders, not to mention being a UK government green technology advisor. I feel that you are too close, financially, to the Green technology industry for you not to be scrutinised a little.

October 20, 2010 2:37 pm

“I think we should provide a ‘rough and ready’ estimate of 2 degrees C climate change this century to the public, business and politicians, so they can start making plans for the future.”
How about we hire scientists, people with decades of training, to do this estimate? Why would a sane person rely on the rough guess of guy writing a blog for amusement? (
Or better yet, let’s close our eyes and ignore what is happening:

R. de Haan
October 20, 2010 2:38 pm

“Temperatures are rising, and more quickly than they have often in the past. (Yes, they have risen this quickly on occasion.) It is the speed of change and the numbers of people those changes will affect that are actually of more concern than the total temperature rise. The people in developing countries are actually more vulnerable than the last time there was a big quick rise–hunter gatherers didn’t have homes and could just move out of harm’s way, and they were few enough in number that they would not have been labeled ‘climate refugees.’”
So, I call for all those involved in the climate debate to throw down their weapons, embrace this practical solution as being of use to the rest of the world, climb aboard the Peace Train and sing Kumbaya. Right”.
Your assessment is wrong and your proposal doesn’t fly, it not only doesn’t fly, it’s disastrous in human terms.
1. For starters, your basic assessment on which you base your proposal is entirely wrong.
Nobody denies that during the latest warming cycle temperatures have been rising and nobody denies that CO2 levels have been rising.
However there is not a single indication that the latest rise in temperatures took place at any faster rate than previous rises during previous warm cycles.
2. Even if CO2 and AGW is real, the most effective way to deal with the effects of higher temperature is to adapt.
We have done this for the past centuries and this strategy is not only the cheapest, it is also the most effective. It’s a proven strategy so to say.
3. If we go the way you propose, hop on the train so to say and reduce the emissions of CO2 on a Global Level the consequences of these measures will be so severe that we really kill people. Not a few but hundreds of millions, mayby billions.
To make even the smallest dent in the current CO2 budget we would have to shut down our entire industry for the next decades. Think about it.
We are now in a clear cooling cycle that started 10 years ago, despite rising CO2 levels.
We have all the time in the world to observe, get the science right and continue our magnificent civilization without re-educating our populations and jeopardizing our economies.
Adaption is of all times and we are one of the most successful species in doing that.
This is a typical case where doing noting is better than doing something stupid.
I am looking forward to your to your luke warm views of my assessment.
You really have weird ideas.

richard verney
October 20, 2010 2:38 pm

Most of these posts are way off target. Obviously, like many here, I am sceptical that CO2 is a significant driver of global temps/cliamte change (disruption). Like many here, I suspect that we are in for a period of cooling whereafter we will be in for another period of warming. Leaving aside whether this is nothing more than natural variation, the point of the post was if temps were to rise by 2degC (for whatever reason) what should we do.
I think that AndiC (post at 12:57) has sought to address the question posed. The simple issue is whether a warming of 2degC is a problem. I think that with modest adaption, the answer is NO.
The so called vulnerable in developed countries cannot support themselves now. They are reliant on aid from the developed world. Even, if conditions worsen in the so called developing world, it won’t make much difference since the developed world should benefit from climate change and should be able to give more aid. The developed world for the main part will have longer growing seasons and can therefore ship more food to the developing world. It will also be wetter and again with distribution (and lets face it we can always desalinate sea water) water can be given to the developing world. The only possible problem would be sea levels but the fact is that sea level rise is not accelerating and any rise in sea level will be slow and adaption should be easy (coral isles have a self adapting facility, namely the coral grows faster than the sea level rise so the island does not sink).
Overall, NO real problem. For most, a warmer world will be beneficial. The West merely needs to distribute some of the gains that it will reap from having a warmer climate. The West can save money in not seeking to uselessly curb CO2 emissions and will therefore already possess some money with which to fund an increased distribution program. If food/water is properly distributed there is no reason to presume that there will be huge climate disruption migration.
PROBLEM SOLVED – JUST ADAPT TO THE EXTENT THAT ANY ADAPTION MAY TRULY BE REQUIRED – in the meantime, lets not get too overworked about what is a non problem.

October 20, 2010 2:40 pm

thomaswfuller quote:
“The numbers show that concentrations of CO2 were 315 ppm in 1958, when Mauna Loa started measuring. Concentrations now are 390 ppm. That is a rise of 19%.”
This actually means:
“It is more typically described as 0.03 percent. Currently however, it is closer to 0.04 percent”
The top quote is a typical method of skewing the facts for scary headlines. Is the near-0.01% increase significant ? thomaswfuller never acknowledges this – puffery at it’s finest

don penman
October 20, 2010 2:40 pm

The rate of change in temperatures in the Holocene era have been constrained to a change per century of about the figure you are saying (+ or -)2 to 2.5 degrees c but the rate of change during ice ages is as much as (+or-)1.5 degrees per decade.yes it is possible that we will see an increase like you suggest but we could also see a decline in temperatures of the same amount. It depends how you see the effect of adding more co2 to the atmosphere , i don’t think we have seen any clear relationship between adding co2 to the atmosphere and increasing temperatures,it has fallen and risen and then remained the same while co2 has steadily risen.

October 20, 2010 2:41 pm

Tom, I suggest you read Bjørn Lomborg.

Bjorn Lomborg argues in ‘Cool It’, we should focus on the smartest solutions to the problems that the world faces, whether we’re dealing with climate change, communicable diseases, malnutrition, agricultural subsidies, or anything else. Lomborg finds that the smartest way to tackle global warming is to invest heavily in R&D in non-carbon emitting technologies, which will enable everyone to switch over to cheaper-than-fossil-fuel technologies sooner and thus dramatically reduce the 21st century emissions. Specifically, he suggests a ten-fold increase in R&D in non-CO2 -emitting energy technologies like solar, wind, carbon capture, fusion, fission, energy conservation etc…. This is entirely in line with the top recommendation from the Copenhagen Consensus 2008, which includes some of the word’s top economists and five Nobel Laureates.

Note that Lomborg isn’t a skeptic of Global Warming per se.
Personally, I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that the Polywell and Focus Fusion research pan out, but Molten Salt Reactors are a fallback position where the physics is already proven, by Oak Ridge National Labs back in the 1960s.

Charlie A
October 20, 2010 2:43 pm

I see the specific number you choose for climate sensitivity as a bit off the main thrust and topic of your post, but here’s a few comments about your simplistic estimate:
1. The climate system has some very long time constants (deep oceans, glaciers, ???, ??? ). Simply saying that CO2 is up 20% and temp is up 0.5C, so lets figure 100% increase in CO2 results in 2.5C rise is overly simplistic.
2. Related to this is that the climate system may actually show a response to the RATE of CO2 rise. With very long lagtime systems, this may very well be a better 1st order estimate/sanity check. Using your numbers, 75ppm increase in 50 years results in 1/2 degree rise in 50 years. So the first order guess would be 1.5ppm/yr increase results in 1C rise per century. Today’s rate-of-rise is about 2ppm/yr, so the crude estimate is about 1.3C/century.

October 20, 2010 2:43 pm

Temperatures appear to have risen globally, although the accuracy of the data is not yet fully determined. The rise since 1958 appears to be about 0.5 degrees Celsius.
It all depends on where you place the thermometers, if they start in a field and end up in a city or airport of cause the temperature is going to increase. The recent scandle in Newzealand is a prime example of temperature data manipulation. CO2 has little to do with this supposed temperature increase which I believe is imposible to measure globally.
The temperature increase seen from 1958 is probable down to urban growth as has been shown in numerous studies.

October 20, 2010 2:43 pm

Let’s conduct an experiment and maximize carbon dioxide emissions in every way possible and then measure the result with unbiased temperature monitoring network.
Climate would be changing if there were no intelligent life on earth. It always has and it always will until such time as some cosmic catastrophe causes a real global environmental crisis.

October 20, 2010 2:44 pm

You suck, dude.
But ignoring that for a moment, let’s suppose that everything the AGW crowd say about CO2 causing a temperature rise, and it being mainly attributable to burning fossil fuels.
There are lots of wild theories about how we will suffer doom and destruction if the temperature rises even a degree or so. If we look back at the predictions of 20 years ago, when this first started, we should have London and New York under water, worldwide famine and killer storms with 500mph winds by now. Those predictions were based upon the doom merchants wet dreams, not any solid science. I don’t see any evidence that has changed.
But again, lets assume the worst, and bad things will happen in a few years time.
The current answer is to drive the majority of the world back to a medieval standard of living, while a privileged few get hyper rich. Realistically, that is not going to happen.
What they should be concentrating on is seeing that advanced civilization is based upon energy. As some of the less advanced countries advance, and they will, whether we want it to happen or not, their energy requirements will increase rapidly too.
What we should be concentrating on is producing much more energy, much more cheaply, using less carbon fuel than at present.
These developing countries will not have the money to waste or the time to play with dead-end technologies such as wind and solar. They are ok for very small systems which can reasonably use battery backup to fill in the gaps, but realistically that is all.
Trying to artificially price energy out of the range of the average person is not a stable situation. A lot more death and destruction could easily be attributable to that policy than to AGW. A lot sooner, too.
So what could we be looking at?
Well, for a start we have to recognize that concentrating energy and converting it from one form to another increases entropy. Hydro power will change things, as will tidal flow power, as will enough windmills sucking energy out of the atmosphere, to say nothing ov the environmental impact of these monstrosities and the raw materials required to construct them.
The only real difference with fossil fuels is that the changes take place in places that people can’t see, and that they release CO2, which just might be a big factor in the increased food production the world has seen over the past half century.
50% of electrical energy is wasted as heat simply in transmission. This could be averted by local generation – much smaller generating plants sited close to their customers. Spending some energy on designing small power plants that are more efficient, so that there is a net gain when subtracting transmission loss from the lower efficiency of small power plants could be well worthwhile, and lead to a net reduction in CO2 emission.
Make those local power plants atomic, and your CO2 emission goes to zero. The technology exists, but the same people that want to dive the world back to a medieval lifestyle are the ones that scream when anything like this is proposed.
For transport, invest in much better public transport. The US is miles behind much of Europe, and a big chunk of Asia in this. Again, the same greenies are the ones that tie up any plans to develop any real public transportation systems.
I am certain that people here can think of many more ways to generate more power without significantly increasing CO2 emissions, or even reducing it. Unfortunately, the word “renewable” has stuck in people’s minds. They have to understand that there really is no such thing. Suck up sunlight in solar stations, and you take it away from plant life that is producing the O2 that you breath, who knows what effect taking wind energy out of the earth’s atmosphere may have (anyone have any models for that?), using the energy of tide will have effects — as I said above any concentraing and conversion of energy increases entropy, all of the “renewable” sources really are not, they just seem like it given our fleeting lifetimes, all of them bring the inevitable day when life is no longer sustainable on Earth just that bit closer.

michael hammer
October 20, 2010 2:44 pm

Tom I simply cannot agree with your thesis on several grounds. Firstly we know the relation between CO2 concentration and energy retention is logarithmic. The change from 315 to 390 represents about 0.31 doublings. I believe the claim is that without radiacal action the CO2 concentration will rise to about 560ppm by 2070 which is a further 0.69 doublings. Using a linear model, if the first 0.31 doublings gave 0.5C the following 0.69 doubling should give a further 1.1C not 2C as you suggest.
Secondly, the 0.5C rise you claim is only based on a 1958 starting point. If I look at the raw data and say pick a 1935 starting point the rise is zero! Is that cherry picking? No more than picking 1958. The reality is that the temperature according to the raw data has been going up and down over the 2oth century. 1958 was a temperature minimum. To pick the minimum value of a series as a starting point when trying to gauge the average trend is cherry picking and represents gross bias.
But now consider the more substantitve concerns. The temperature rose strongly between 1910 and 1940. What caused this rise? It then fell strongly till about 1960, what caused this fall? The magnitude of both these changes is equal to the rise since 1960. If we don’t know what caused these changes how on earth can we know whether the same factors were responsible for the change post 1960. Indeed these changes seem to track the PDO and if that is indeed a cause then one would have expected the rise post 1960 without any contribution from CO2. If that is even part of the reason then the change due to CO2 is diminished further.
Then again, there has been no warming for the last 10 years which would be in line with the PDO hypothesis but contrary to the CO2 hypothesis. The warmists now claim that CO2 is not the only factor acting on the climate and that the CO2 rise is being cancelled out by other factors for the moment. At the very least, that is an admission that other (unknown) factors are at least as powerful as CO2. We don’t know what these other factors are. If they can cause a rate of cooling equal to the claimed rate of CO2 induced warming then they could also be causing the warming seen since 1960 all by themselves without any CO2 contribution.
Indeed Tom, if I simply substitute 3c for your 2C the argument you put forward is exactly the warmists argument and relies entirely on the precautionary principle. I cannot agree with that position. The reality is that the argument for anthropogenic CO2 causing dangerous (or even inconvenient) climate change is incredibly weak and getting weaker by the day. If one contemplates radical society changing actions there must be a better basis than simply “well it could be true so we should do this just in case”. The concept that such action cannot have a down side is untenable. Indeed we cna already see highly negative impacts in the result of the push to biofuels. Terrible as these impacts are, the societal changes which Vaclav Claus hints at could be even worse.
There is much more I could say but that will do for one post.

Steve Koch
October 20, 2010 2:47 pm

There is no consensus re: CO2 feedbacks, we don’t even know if the sign is positive or negative. Nonetheless, a political consensus is emerging: invest in research for non CO2 emitting power sources but no CO2 tax. When the non CO2 emitting power sources are competitive with oil, coal, and gas, then we can switch over. To switch over to alternative energy before they are economically competitive is economic and political suicide.
The safest alternative to coal that I see that generates sufficient power cheap enough are liquid fluoride thorium reactors (LFTR). Thorium is super abundant in the USA and is cheap, LFTRs operate at close to atmospheric pressure so they are much cheaper to build, they can actually use existing nuclear waste as fuel, they produce orders of magnitude less waste which has a much shorter half life than uranium based reactors, they are extremely difficult sources of fissile material for terrorists (IIRC, thorium has to bombarded with neutrons to be fissile). Unfortunately, there is plenty of R&D required to make LFTRs commercially viable and that is not happening.
Regarding energy sources for cars and trucks, more research is needed on batteries and power cells. IIRC, we are not close to solving that problem (but maybe progress has been made since I last checked this out). A migration to natural gas for big vehicles and trucks might be a good first step to reduce dependency on oil imports. I’m also OK with mandating energy efficiency standards for new cars to reduce demand. I prefer this approach to a gas tax because it is easier on the poor.

Phil M2.
October 20, 2010 2:50 pm

Please don’t post as often as you are now Tom.
I see your name at the top of an article and immediately scan down for the pointless argument. I searched for the 2.5 as it must be important. I then read the ten lines at the top of every page. Now I have given up and am off to see if Delingpole has anything interesting to say at the Telegraph.
Hurry back Anthony.

Stephen Brown
October 20, 2010 2:51 pm

I think that this is the very first proper debate about climate that I have read. Tom, you put forward some very good points which have (obviously) stimulated some spirited replies. The denizens of WUWT appear generally to have shown the appropriate degree of rectitude expected here on this site. This is most welcome.
From my own point of view the only aspect of all arguments aired here with which I agree is that the climate is changing. It always has and will always do so. I do not consider that the actions of mankind have much, if any effect on the way that climate is changing. Nature has shown over and over that species which can adapt to changing conditions will survive, those that can’t, don’t. Mankind, the naked ape, has shown a remarkable degree of adaptability, having survived despite whatever has been put in their way. I am sure that this indisputable aptitude will continue to be expressed.
My principal concern with all of the climate change chatter is who has decided what the optimum, unchanging and unchangeable climate, gas concentrations and temperatures should really be when those conditions have never existed? That which suits vegetation the best might not suit mammalian life; reptilian life might demand a differing set of parameters. Which life-form has the right to that climate which is best suited to itself?
The climatic conditions of this planet and the changes inherent in those conditions cannot be represented in a computer model, the variations and permutations thereof extend to the infinite. Let us cease all of the futility of our affecting climate in an advantageous (to mankind) way; such an endeavour is completely beyond our means, now and forever. Change in climate, as with everything else, is happening; learn to live with it as that is all we can possibly do.

October 20, 2010 2:53 pm

In defense of Thomas Fuller from your drive-by attack, what exactly were the redacted words in your ‘sourcewatch’ link? And who redacted them?
Without the words – which could entirely change the meaning and/or context, your link is nothing but an ad hominem attack. For shame.

October 20, 2010 2:56 pm

I asked first. 🙂
But in the Kunmbaya spirit of the moment, I will give it a shot. At this point in time, this conservative would not agree to any new government program. I would urge better communication of the current actually known risks (ie. like my earlier only half joking reference to New Orleans.) I would suggest that government make explicit (and keep its word) that it will not provide defacto, cost free flood, hurricane or earthquake insurance in areas with known substantial risk. Give people the best information available, and let them decide individually how to cope.
I would declare an amnesty for prior climate war “atrocities” (like Brazil in the 70s), but only for those parties who agreed to an open data and code policy for all future publications. Oh, and I would also propose a constitutional amendment to prohibit the government from using the tax code to modify behavior (not just related to climate/energy), just to be safe. (No cap and trade, no ethanol subsidies, etc.)
OK, one new government program. I would scrap the UN, not just the IPCC, but particularly the IPCC, and use part of the massive savings to create a grant program for research on climate change/remediation/adaptation. (We can’t really shut it down, but we could stop funding it.)
I would start with funding a new company that employed Gavin Smith as lead scientist, with Steve McIntyre as CEO/auditor. They would be charged with first getting the surface temperature record right. As my final act, I would open a Denny’s and give Michael Mann and James Hansen both jobs behind the counter to keep them out of trouble. (OK, this paragraph is tongue in cheek.)
Seriously, to the extent government is going to be involved in funding science in the area of remediation, it should be in the form of grants for successful solving of identifiable technological problems, such as a large award for the company that first produces a commercially viable means of converting solar energy into electricity. Identify the problem, set an award amount for its solution, and otherwise get out of the way.
Your turn.

David Spurgeon
October 20, 2010 2:58 pm

Andy says:
October 20, 2010 at 12:27 pm
“Not much to say from me, apart from thankyou for your ideas, presented in an ‘approachable’ style. I’d like to think that (unlike the censorious Joe Romm and his cronies), WUWT has always welcomed rational and reasoned debate….”
Nothing to add – you said it well, Andy.

Dave Wendt
October 20, 2010 2:58 pm

There are a number of elements of this post which I would disagree with, many of which have already been addressed by other commenters. But to me the fatal flaw which makes the others trivial is the implicit assumption that we are actually able to do anything that will predictably affect what will occur in the future climate.
I would never attempt to deny that humans affect the climate by the things they do and by their very existence, but the same is true for a great many organisms in the earthly biosphere, from viruses and bacteria, to plankton, termites, livestock, on up to the largest organisms in the oceans with their excrement. At least it would seem so from a perusal of the avalanche of PR “science” we have been blessed by over the last couple of years.
Changing human patterns of behavior in terms of land use, procreation and energy production and usage would undoubtedly change the conditions that occur and develop in the planet’s environment. However, nothing I have seen indicates that we have the slightest ability to predict what those changes will be and, if history is any indication, in all likelihood they will be almost exactly opposite of whatever is projected.

John from CA
October 20, 2010 3:00 pm

thomaswfuller says:
October 20, 2010 at 2:49 pm
“What I’m arguing for is the removal of distracting observations using poor data or no data at all.”
Exactly, Global Warming Climate Change Disruption Distraction is nonsense and should be banned from further dialogue so people can get on with their lives without Cap and Carbon Tax Fraud.

David L. Hagen
October 20, 2010 3:00 pm

So I think we should provide a ‘rough and ready’ estimate of 2 degrees C climate change this century to the public, business and politicians, so they can start making plans for the future.

I wrote a 330 p report on ways solar energy could mitigate global warming. Having read numerous recent climate studies, I now say global warming is “not proven”. See numerous comments above.
The critical issue now is NOT “global warming” but the “impending decline of light oil.”
Lloyds, the US Department of Defense, the German Dept. of Defense and other groups are warning that a global shortage could begin in 2012-2014 time frame – and take decades to mitigate with massive reductions in GDP in oil importing countries.
See: Robert L. Hirsch et al. The Impending World Energy Mess Oct 2010, Apogee Prime, ISBN 978-1926837116. Hirsch gives a clear discussion and very credible warnings.

In the next five years, world oil production will begin to decline – which means less and less oil will be available each year. The result will be annually deepening worldwide economic damage.
There will be no quick fixes. Even crash program mitigation will take more than a decade to impact.
Societal priorities will change dramatically. Compromises will be required. Years of energy hopes and fantasy will have to yield to pragmatism.
Oil and energy issues are complicated. You need to understand the situation in order to make intelligent choices for yourself and those close to you.
To be forewarned is to be forearmed. With over a hundred years of combined experience in energy and economics, the authors provide you the straight story, including realities that others have been reluctant to discuss.

Global crude oil production has plateaued since 2004. The issue is NOT TOTAL hydrocarbons in place, but the RATE at which we can now convert to natural gas, heavy oil, bitumen, coal and solar thermal energy to liquid transport fuels.
This decline of light oil and transition to alternative transport fuels will likely be the most critical issue for the coming generation.
See also
Patzek, Tad W., Exponential growth, energetic Hubbert cycles, and the advancement of technology, Archives of Mining Sciences, Polish Academy of Sciences, May 3, 2008
Froggatt, Anthony & Lahn, Glada, Sustainable Energy Security, Lloyds/Chatham House, 2010
US Joint Forces Command, Joint Operating Environment 2010, JOE Feb. 18, 2010,

Louis Hooffstetter
October 20, 2010 3:01 pm

We love you man…
While most of us don’t completely agree with you, I admire your willingness to invite debate. We definitely need more of it. It takes a thick skin, a relatively open mind, and a large pair to argue with the WUWT crowd. Keep the posts coming.

October 20, 2010 3:01 pm

Whilst CO2 and temperatures seem to be marching in unison, so too is the capacity to sink CO2, so much so that the nett global effect is that only about half of the anthropogenic CO2 accumulates in the atmosphere.
When the seasonal variations measured at individual stations can show annual cycles that peak in excess of 420ppm before sinks take it to 370ppm, such as shown in the study “Mechanisms for synoptic variations of atmospheric CO2 in North America, South America and Europe” found at it appears that there is huge capacity to sink CO2 when the conditions allow.
What needs to be considered is whether the natural balance of sources and sinks operate so that there is alway a small differential between both that allows excess CO2 to remain in the atmosphere to fuel extra plant growth, and that that mechanism is driven by temperature.

October 20, 2010 3:03 pm

I agree that attempts need to be made to bring the debate from a boil to a simmer. I do disagree (very respectfully so because I think this is a great post) with the notion that we can know what drives climate, can quantify those drivers, and thus predict climate. The fact that many climate drives may have nonlinear or even chaotic relations to variables such as temperature, means that we may not be able to ever predict climate parameters.
Also, I do see these as conflicting statements:
“I don’t see undisputed data that will allow us to do better than the 40 years of good data we have now.”
“Temperatures are rising, and more quickly than they have often in the past.”
If we only have 40 years of reliable data, can we actually conclude that temperatures are rising more quickly than they have? I find it hard to draw the same conclusion. Climate typically deals with the statistics of temperature, precipitation, etc. over long time scale (~30 years). If we only have 40 years of accurate data then we cannot with any confidence say how it compares to other climate scale periods.
So where do we start? The same place scientists always start…data. That is the best part about Anthony’s work is that he is looking at the quality and availability of the data. Models have to follow data collection and an understanding of the system

October 20, 2010 3:04 pm

The Sourcewatch email could have been provided by either the sender or recipient, no?
Or even stolen. We’d better call the East Anglia police!

Malaga View
October 20, 2010 3:06 pm

the gaping flaw is your acceptance of corrupt data and corrupt science… the lukewarm faith based system is the usual preserve of the scared witless and the confused thinker… based upon your previous postings you don’t appear to fall into either of these categories… so I can only guess at your motives for this posting.

David Jones
October 20, 2010 3:07 pm

The central question in climate change is, ‘What is the sensitivity of the earth’s atmosphere to a doubling of the concentrations of CO2?’ Is the atmosphere easily influenced by CO2, producing more water vapor and adding to temperature rise, or is the atmosphere largely indifferent? Despite protestations from both sides, the honest answer is we don’t know now, and we are not likely to know for another 30 years.
Surely THE “central question” is “Is the Earth’s atmosphere senistive to a rise in CO2?” Q2 “How big does that rise have to be to have a noticeable effect over, say, a 30 year span?” Q3 “Is 30 years a menaingful period to consider any such effects?”
It seems to me that, at present, we DO NOT KNOW whether any observed rise in temperature is due AT ALL to any increase in CO2.

October 20, 2010 3:08 pm

“No, have a look at this–tell me if it’s remotely possible that the skeptic community could sacrifice its current temporary, but very real advantage in the debate and agree that a rough metric that acknowledges warming but puts sane boundaries on it would be of use to the rest of the world.”
So, Tom, you would like for us to assume that your particular lukewarmer position is correct and act accordingly. That’s not going to happen because you are wrong.
“If you find the gaping flaw in my logic, my idea can die quickly, if not quietly.”
Your idea was dead before you posted this ridiculous article because you are assuming you are right in the first place. If this is your A game Tom, this is really pathetic.
(BTW I am really getting tired of seeing Fuller’s posts here. I can understand it is probably helping Anthony’s blog traffic, but if I wanted to read this drivel in the first place I would visit Fuller’s blog, which I don’t. What’s next? Romm and his spittle-flinging condemnations? I hope not.)

October 20, 2010 3:12 pm

Very well written post Mr. thomaswfuller, I always enjoy reading the banter in the comments section after your guests posts. I have one question; are you talking about ‘Climate Change’ or ‘Global Warming’? I never see you use the term ‘Global Warming’. The two are very different.

October 20, 2010 3:13 pm

This is your best sentence: “Despite protestations from both sides, the honest answer is we don’t know now, and we are not likely to know for another 30 years.” An even more honest answer is that we need to validate climate simulation models before we can decide. This can take another 300 years – if at all possible.
Anyone who claims to be able to predict the climate well enough to guide public policy is committing a fraud.
We need to be more humble and understand that we do not understand. A couple of decades with science and observations is insufficient and just a beginning.
This mental climate crisis may be an illusion that takes the attention away from real problems like the rainforest and the extinction of species. For every argument on one side of the climate debate, there is a good counter argument on the other side – when will we leave this redundant debate and refocus on the real world?

October 20, 2010 3:14 pm

Nice try. I was almost sucked into this “it’s a debate”, “can’t we all just get along” approach.
Premise denied. It is most definitely NOT a debate, by any stretch. Science theory is only proven, not debated.
The warm-earthers (“lukewarm” is still warm) advanced an hypothesis that says that CO2 increases in the atmosphere produce unprecedented global warming and these CO2 increases are unprecedentedly man-made (or should I say “climate disruption” [LOL] now—which made up new terminology do you suggest we use this week?).
Prove the hypothesis. In any hypothesis, the burden of proof is upon the positer. In the case here, whereupon solutions to the [non] problem require Draconian remedies, the onus is much more severe to be placedupon the positer.
Burden of proof is in your court, to use a mixed metaphor.
You prove it, then I, as a scientist myself, will accept it or at least consider an alternative hypothesis. The proof is not forthcoming. Anything less is a charade.

October 20, 2010 3:16 pm

“Temperatures are rising, and more quickly than they have often in the past.”
I am not sure that statement is valid or I am not sure of the scope of it.
To what extent have global temperatures risen since 1998?
As near as I can tell, they haven’t.
From where does one obtain “good data” with which one can make an accurate judgment of long term temperature changes? Where can I find reliable, long term data from a place where the station and/or surrounding land use has not changed significantly in the past 100 years or so?
We just don’t have the data to make a judgment and even the data we do have don’t show much change in the past 12 years.
And we need to look beyond temperatures. Earth has survived for practically its entire existence without any ice at the poles. Having ice at the poles is an anomaly, not the norm. We are currently in a fairly cold time over the history of the planet. And looking at a time when there was one huge equatorial supercontinent with no land mass to hold any ice at the poles, life apparently flourished.
Is a higher CO2 concentration a “hazard” in any way? Sure, it is “different” from what it is now, but is “different” bad in any way? If CO2 causes an increase in biomass production, doesn’t it follow that the more you put in, the faster it comes out? Considering that the rate of emissions is non-linear and the rate of CO2 increase is pretty close to linear, it would seem we would have empirical evidence of that.
Might the rise in temperatures from the 1800’s to the mid 20th century be attributed to recovery from the LIA? It was cold for several centuries during the LIA, the coldest the planet has seen in about 14,000 years. Might it take more than 150 years to recover from 400 years of cold? In particular I am thinking of temperatures of the abyssal deep. Setting aside for the moment the variations in salinity, it is much easier to cool the ocean from the top than it is to heat it. Trying to warm a column of water that is miles deep by applying heat to the surface is hard to do. Cooling such a column of water by removing heat from the surface is easier. At an intuitive level it would seem that the nature of water would make it such that might take longer than 400 years to replace heat that was lost over 400 years when it comes to the very deep ocean.
Earth has experienced much higher CO2 levels than today and life flourished. Earth has experienced much higher temperature levels than today and life flourished. There is no evidence that temperature change is in any way in step with CO2 level change. There is no evidence that current changes in CO2 are harmful in anyway. There is no evidence that the current warming has reached a higher level than other periods during the past 1000 years. There is no evidence that the current rate of warming is unusual in the current era. And I haven’t even begun to question the mentality that considers human actions “unnatural” as if we are like aliens deposited here from another planet or something which is a posting all on its own on the subject of cultural narcissism.

October 20, 2010 3:19 pm

David Jones says:
October 20, 2010 at 3:07 pm
But, in accordance with my previous post, we DO KNOW for a fact that the premise is not proven, ergo, it is not true, from the scientific vantage point. Science is rigorous (at least it used to be), and the Science Beast demands proof positive, since a universal negative statement of any inverse cannot be proven. Again, the burden of proof…

Tom Gray
October 20, 2010 3:25 pm

Such a statement is reasonable. Can we then agree that the consequences of such a change is normal, tolerable and is neither controllable or assured?

Ed Wolf
October 20, 2010 3:25 pm

“We also need not to be distracted by elements of the debate that have only served a political purpose.”
My investigation of this issue suggests it to be a political debate that occasionally involves honest science, usually involves agenda science and can never be trusted to provide a decent decision making platform. I don’t expect that to change.

Adrian Smits
October 20, 2010 3:27 pm

2 degree rise in 100 years….. 600ppm c02……I’m a farmer in canada we could probably crop a couple extra million acres at a much higher level of productivity because of the extra heat units.Probably the same deal in northern europe and asia.The reality is this scenario could be a blessing in disguise for the planet. Lets not look a gift horse in the mouth.

erik sloneker
October 20, 2010 3:27 pm

Thomas…….in essance all your saying/requesting is that we ignore all the data supporting the skeptical view and roll over in the presence of a slightly watered down cAGW presentation.
Not going to happen. The only persuasive arguement is one that presents real science backed up by real data.

October 20, 2010 3:29 pm

This must be the reason why WUWT is a success and has a better quality product …enjoy

October 20, 2010 3:34 pm

However, it is now difficult to make assumptions because various theories of climate change and its effects have people wondering if their homes will be threatened by sea level rise, drought, hurricanes or floods.
Because of the competing number of possible futures (the IPCC has many scenarios and many more have been pulled from the science fiction rack and offered up to us), people are somewhat paralyzed by too many choices.

Al Gore believes that man’s continued output of Co2 will lead to a huge rise in sea levels. Yet within the past one and a half years he has purchased an $8 million villa NEAR the beach. Mr. Fuller, you are being gamed my friend. Get off the fence and do your trousers a favour :o)

October 20, 2010 3:35 pm

Thomas, what you need to do is find some empirical evidence to support a climate sensitivity above about 1C. If you can’t then a more appropriate approximation for the warming of the next century is in fact about 1C assuming all other factors remain constant. This is consistant with the climate response to forcings since the beginning of the industrial era per Schwartz, Stephen E., Robert J. Charlson, Ralph A. Kahn, John A. Ogren, Henning Rodhe, 2010: Why Hasn’t Earth Warmed as Much as Expected?. J. Climate, 23, 2453–2464.
In order for there to be a higher climate sensitivity first one must explain the missing heat. The ARGO data contradicts the idea of a large energy imbalance per “Recent energy balance of Earth” R. S. Knox and D. H. Douglass International Journal of Geosciences, 2010, vol. 1, no. 3 (November).
The argument that the heat is there and we just can’t find it would be more convincing if a mechanism could be explained how it gets to the deep ocean without warming the surface layer but that is the argument presented despite this mechanism not being explained. Rising sea levels are given as evidence of this occuring. In order for sea level rise to be a convincing argument one must first know how fast they are rising. According to tide gauges the rate of sea level rise is not accelerating per “Reconstruction of regional mean sea level anomalies from tide gauges using neural networks” Manfred Wenzel, Jens Schröter JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH, VOL. 115.
Only if one compares GRACE measurements presently to previous tide gauge measurements can one find an acceleration. This is comparing apples to oranges since they measure sea level rise to two completely different reference points. Then there is the accuracy of the measurements to take into account. “Uncertainty in ocean mass trends from GRACE” Katherine J. Quinn, Rui M. Ponte Geophysical Journal International May 2010 casts doubts on the measurements.
Then there is the attribution of the sea level. Y. Wada, L.P.H. van Beek, C.M. van Kempen, J.W.T.M. Reckman, S. Vasak, and M.F.P. Bierkens (2010), “Global depletion of groundwater resources”, Geophysical Research Letters is an indication that the attribution was incomplete.
We all know about the problems with the lack of the troposphere behaving as modeled. In case you aren’t see “What Do Observational Datasets Say about Modeled Tropospheric Temperature Trends since 1979?” John R. Christy 1,*, Benjamin Herman 2, Roger Pielke, Sr. 3, Philip Klotzbach 4, Richard T. McNider 1, Justin J. Hnilo 1, Roy W. Spencer 1, Thomas Chase 3 and David Douglass Remote Sensing 2010, 2, 2148-2169;2148/p
Also the stratosphere doesn’t appear to be cooling as would be expected per “Ozone and temperature trends in the upper stratosphere at five stations of the Network for the Detection of Atmospheric Composition Change” W. Steinbrechta et al International Journal of Remote Sensing, Volume 30, Issue 15 & 16 2009
It appears to me that all you have to support a high climate sensitivity are short term trends and a lot of hypotheses which are not supported by empirical evidence. Can you provide empirical evidence which is clearly supportive of a high climate sensitivity? I would call anything above 1.5C a high climate sensitivity in this exercise.

October 20, 2010 3:38 pm

600 ppm>>>>2,5ºC (start in 1958)
done deal
I’ll see

October 20, 2010 3:45 pm

Thomas Fuller is totally wrong re C02 and warming. However you guys sound like the AGW crowd at its worse, leave him alone… he has in fact contributed vastly to the skeptical viewpoint through the examiner me thinks…

October 20, 2010 3:46 pm

Here’s one bloody good reason not to get on your surrender train:
And you can be sure that once you’re on the carriage they’ll make sure the doors are firmly locked on you.

October 20, 2010 3:48 pm

David Jones says:
October 20, 2010 at 3:07 pm
“It seems to me that, at present, we DO NOT KNOW whether any observed rise in temperature is due AT ALL to any increase in CO2.”
Exactly. A negative feedback might completely compensate any effect caused by slightly increased LWIR scattering in the CO2 absorption band, while at the same time, changes in cloudiness could completely change the amount of visible light and UV that may heat up deeper ocean layers. I intentionally say scattering as it’s a process of absorption and re-emission. This whole talk of some mysthical 2 deg C warming is right out of the playbook of COP15 and it has no justification.
Each day more holes in the GCM’s are found, look over to the Air Vent. And it’ll take at least 20 years of progress in computer design IMHO until GCM’s are worth a second look, given the fact that they just don’t get better with slight decreases of the raster size.
The whole warming science should be completely ignored by all media until they can at least get the cloud distribution by latitude right in their models.

Golf Charley
October 20, 2010 3:48 pm

Hello Thomas Fuller, I do not propose to go over why I think you are wrong, others have done that already, but all steps to date by the AGW mob have been about trying to prevent warming, on the assumption it is man made, and assume the process will reverse, if mankind returns to a subsistence economy. IF we are to assume your proposition that temperatures will rise by 2.5 degrees, as a result of any cause what should we do?
Rising temps. So what big deal. As some land becomes useless for farming etc, other land will become good. Where is the problem?
Energy. No oil? So what, go nuclear.
Rising Sea levels. Where? Bangladesh? Improve coastal defences. Dredge rivers, use spoil to increase land level. Not enough material ok import sand from Saudi etc to raise land levels
Flooding. Where? Indian sub continent Pakistan this summer. Ok build dams in the headwaters. Use for hydro power, irrigation, and dredge the resulting lakes to use spoil to raise and fertlise other land areas
Flooding New Orleans. If you really thought it was more likely to happen again, why did you rebuild it in the same place?
Water shortages. Sunny areas. Use Solar panels to power desalination plants. Irrigate deserts, lots of food. Windy areas, use wind mills to power desalination plants. Wind and solar are so good (we are told) that this would be feasible.
Skin Cancers. Make more sun cream
Climate Disruption, storms etc. Do not build houses using trailer technology in areas prone to strong winds, flooding etc. The tornado belt in the USA has not figured this out yet. Greeks know that reinforced concrete is good construction in earthquake area. Planners in the UK keep allowing housing developments on arable land in the flood plain, so we reduce arable land, and see new houses being flooded by rivers. Doh!
If the AGW mob considered mitigation efforts, the problems could be solved without reducing the world to a peasant existence, but is there really a problem?
Thomas Fuller, I do not know if this is what you wanted, but there has been so little discussion of mitigation measures, that it is clear that the AGW mob have ulterior motives.
Much of the UK coastline is rising. Why, ice loss rebound? Some of the UK coastline is retreating. Why? It is called erosion. It is what nature does. Many places suffering from rising sea levels are not. It is erosion, but it makes another good AGW scare story
Whatever happens, too much money is being spent on useless research, which is corrupt ab initio, and no money is going in the direction of actually doing something. Who benefits, the AGW mob on their gravy train. It needs derailing now, in a crocodile infested swamp

October 20, 2010 3:50 pm

Temperatures are rising, and more quickly than they have often in the past. (Yes, they have risen this quickly on occasion.) It is the speed of change and the numbers of people those changes will affect that are actually of more concern than the total temperature rise…

Where is your evidence for this claim?????? Did you stand around with thermometer in hand everyday during the Holocene???? Come on my friend, you are making claims without justification.

Ted Gray
October 20, 2010 3:59 pm

John Kehr says:
October 20, 2010 at 12:35 pm
One problem I have always had is the aversion to nuclear power as a solution. People truly concerned with CO2 should be pushing the hardest for nuclear power to replace all fossil fuel power plants.
Planning for the future will involve nuclear power. Get the warmists on board with nuclear instead of wasting time with the expensive and low energy “green” options.
Thomas, Good article, but I cannot agree with you. However I do feel there is a solution that won’t pit most skeptic;s like me against a Lukewarmer’s such as yourself.
My solution is something that we should be doing anyway and will not involve stick tax and spend fingers of governments or the UN crowd.
It will keep or reduce electric prices at 5 to 7 cents /kw hour and most importantly be affordable in industrial and developing country’s. This will do more to lift the grinding poverty in the 3rd world and allow people to start prospering, become better educated which starts a cycle of reducing population sizes similar to the western nations.
John Kerr.
I have been following the nuclear power issue for some time and feel we are rapidly approaching some sensible solutions that will satisfy most peoples concerns about nuclear safety.
Problems with Nuclear
1- Disposal of the spent fuel and storage dilemma.
2 – Possible weaponizing the uranium-bearing elements of the spent fuel.
3 – The prohibitive cost and the time frame of building new nuclear power stations.
4 – The huge land space of the average present day nuclear power station.
5 – Transmission lines and infrastructure running for 1000’s of miles, which can double the cost of electric power and take up 1000’s of sq miles of valuable land.
These are all valid concerns but I feel we have turned the corner and can now address them all safely. But we need to over come the fears of the old generation 1 and 2 nuclear power stations and look at the advancements that the new generation 3 and 4 nuclear power station’s can bring to the table.
Something not done presently in the USA is reprocessing the spent fuel so it can be used again and again. Also using a process called de-clawing both commercial spent fuel and old outdated military nuclear weapons, this removes the ability to weponizing the uranium in the future.
This fuel is then only good for peaceful purposes by repossessing into usable fuel rods for use in commercial nuclear power generation plants only.
There are enough stockpiles of these weapons and spent nuclear fuel rods dumps stored around the world to supply power for 100’s of years without additional uranium mining.
But even better and more exciting are the development of small assembly line nuclear power generation plants, which are compact to the size of a shipping container and can produce power and heating for 20.000 average American homes, industry or any isolated industry such as mining camps or towns. They are localized reducing the need for expensive and long transmission lines. They are inexpensive relative to most other power generating sources. They are quickly installed in safe under ground locations. They can be piggy backed to virtually any power size requirement.
They can be a reasonable priced upgrade to existing coal or gas fire stations as the primary energy source, allowing the turbines and none polluting mechanical infrastructure to still be used.
They are hermetical sealed with a life span of 8 to10 year and can be removed and replaced by a refurbished unit in a very short space of time. The spent fuel from this them is very small the size of a baseball and has a very small decay life of approximately 200 years – NOT 100.000 of years. And NO CO2 of green house gases is produced!
What’s not to like about this power source that can change the lives of people the world over with cheap abundant safe electricity and heating it’s a technology that could still be used for the next 1000 + years.
See for yourself:
Hyperion Power Generation Inc. is a privately held company formed to commercialize a small modular nuclear reactor designed by Los Alamos National Laboratory
There are ongoing development programs in the USA and Asia.
Miniature nuclear reactors might be a safe, efficient source of power

October 20, 2010 4:01 pm

John A says:
October 20, 2010 at 1:46 pm
An apposite question for Tom Fuller would be: what would be the circumstances which would falsify the lukewarmer position? If the “global mean temperature” continues to flatline or fall slightly for X years, how big would X have to be before the lukewarm hypothesis were to be abandoned?

Tom Fuller, please answer THE ABOVE queston. No sitting on the fence here. Answer the question please. Most of us here want to know.

Cal Smith
October 20, 2010 4:03 pm

I haven’t slogged through all the posts so I apologize if I say what has already been said.
I do not think it will be possible to get a broad consensus from the skeptic community on your 2.5 control because most of us are skeptical of mankinds ability to manage the climate. I am in favor, however, of seeking out actions which both camps can agree to even though each camp has a different reason for that agreement. For example, I am all in favor of drastically reducing the burning of fossil fuels. My reasons are numerous from stopping the funding of madrases to the conservation of the materials for better uses like fertilizers and plastics. If the other side wants to do it to reduce CO2 that’s fine with me. I would not be in agreement, however, to waste huge amounts of money on geo-engineering projects. I am a huge supporter of solar hot water systems they make economic sense, especially for people with electrical hot water systems. I would like to see a lot of people getting on this band wagon and proposing things which can be supported by majorities in both camps and which could be implemented quickly with minimum government involvement.

October 20, 2010 4:05 pm

I have seen temperatures outside my house as low as minus 10C and as high as plus 30C. If the average were to change by 2C I doubt I would even notice it.

October 20, 2010 4:12 pm

Thomas Fuller,
With all due respect, if you fail to answer the simple question posed to you at:
then my due respect will have to be withdrawn. Answer the question please. If you don’t know then state that you don’t know. That will satisfy me as to your position on AGW.

October 20, 2010 4:14 pm

i dont agree at all on the connection “increase of CO2, therefore increase of temps, then 2C more in a century”, the reasoning is deeply flawed because there is no proven connection between rise of temperatures and rise of CO2.
but my question is always another.
we routinely deal with temp changes of 50C and more between seasons, not to mention massive sea level changes (tides, weather etc) and so on.
why a 2C increase in avg temp should cause the disasters some people predict and require massive and extremely expensive social engineering on a global scale?

R. de Haan
October 20, 2010 4:15 pm

Joanne Nova has an excellent series about climate change at her website.
She really connects the dots and explains everything perfectly.
A fast read can be found at the site of Burt Rutan
Have a read at it Thomas.
The problem with your approach to create a consensus between the proponents of AGW
and the Skeptics is that we loose the war.
And believe me a war it is.
Therefore the entire proposition is as stupid as it can get.
This is not a discussion, this is a waste of time.
I’m out of here.

October 20, 2010 4:17 pm

tom says:
“Remember, I’m not only a Lukewarmer (hiss….), I am also a Democrat living in San Francisco. Can you tell me what conservatives are willing to listen to/ accept as reasonable/ work with?”
tom –
i’m a sceptic and a democrat equivalent, and i know many democrat equivalents who are sceptics, so why ask a question that is such a meme in the MSM at present?
12 Oct: NYT: Ross Douthat: Why Don’t Republicans Believe in Climate Change?
Salon reinforcing the NYT argument with an even more ridiculous headline:
13 Oct: Salon: Andrew Leonard: Why do Republican politicians hate science?
17 Oct: NYT Editorial: In Climate Denial, Again
They are re-running the strategy of denial perfected by Mr. Cheney a decade ago, repudiating years of peer-reviewed findings about global warming and creating an alternative reality in which climate change is a hoax or conspiracy. ..
18 Oct: Atlantic Wire: Max Fisher: Why Republicans Deny Climate Change
19 Oct: Washington Post: Joe Frontiera/Dan Leidl: Don’t get fooled again: The Baby Boomers’ leadership failure
Let’s take a look at how Boomer leaders have butchered trust in four key areas…
1. Environment
Despite the overwhelming scientific evidence supporting the pending fall-out of climate change, influential baby boomers like the billionaire Koch brothers have stated that man-made climate change is a farce. Also part of this anti-science crusade, the Republican Party is the only major political party in the developed world that is dismissive of climate science. In fact, of the 20 GOP Senate challengers that have taken a position on climate change, 19 believe that the climate science is inconclusive or just plain wrong. Their stance is reminiscent of when the Church found Galileo “suspect of heresy” after he asserted, and proved, that our planet was round and orbited the sun.
Can young people afford to trust that these politicians are right and the science is simply wrong? While aggressive lobbying against cap and trade legislation might afford short-term benefits for the oil and gas industry in the US, it is also promoting finite resources while decreasing funding to long-term clean energy research. As this funding becomes harder to secure, China forges ahead with aggressive government’s subsidies that have created a 1 million -employee workforce that is already far ahead in the clean energy market. We can’t simply turn our backs on the long-term economic ramifications and trust that the unknown environmental consequences will be minor
tom, your post is just as partisan.
what we need for now is to restore the scientific method to its rightful place in climate science.
the so-called remedies of the IPCC and the rest don’t even have “good intentions” to help the poor to recommend them.

David J. Ameling
October 20, 2010 4:17 pm

Believers use the term “greenhouse effect” to try and convey the idea of how increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere causes global warming. This is analogous to saying that thickening the glass in a greenhouse will make the green house warmer. This is not true.
Believers could say that increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere helps close holes in the greenhouse. But although there is very little CO2 in the atmosphere the molecules are so tiny and so spread out that it is almost impossible for a ray of light to reach earth without encountering a CO2 molecule. This is why increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere will have little or no effect.
The warmest temperatures on earth occur where there are the least amount of greenhouse gasses; arid regions.

Gary Pearse
October 20, 2010 4:19 pm

Thomas, this is not a dispute between two reasonable scientific schools of thought. With Climategate and the revelations since, it is clear that the CAGW side has adopted the outcome and then skewed research to fit it, throwing out stuff that doesn’t give them the outcome and censoring contributions that do the same. They came up with the 2.0C+ and you can be sure that with the palette of proxies and their ranges and other researches, where there might be a choice between choosing higher or lower heat, they will always choose the higher. They have shown the shakiness of their case by the need for manipulation, scuttling efforts of opponents to publish, taking stuff from the PR departments of WWF and Greenpeace as scientific studies on glaciers, tropical forests, etc and if they ared talking about 2.5 -3 degrees, it is safe to say that 1C is more likely. In fact, in NA, the temp since the 1880s has increased on 0.7C. I would go with 0.7C at the outside for 2100. A temp rise of 2C anyway is not something that we have to worry about over most of the earth. The sea has been rising a 30cm a century since the LIA so lets see what a foot will do by 2100. Climateologists have either lied or they don’t in fact know that the coral atoll islands grow with sealevel rise and the dead coral root underneath is 130m deep from this growth since the last Ice Age. Similarly, deltas rise with sealevel rise, the water encroaching upstream causes it to slow and dump its load keeping pace with sealevel rise – that is why the old lower Mississippi gravels of the Ice age river are now buried under 130 metres of delta mud. I would worry about these places if it started to cool and sealevel fell. The deltas would be washed into the sea and a 100 mile stretch upstream of the delta would disappear. Cooling is the biggest worry. Let it warm up a bit.

Scott Covert
October 20, 2010 4:20 pm

AGW is a sledge hammer black eye to the scientific method. Why should we let the charlatins get away with a 2 Degree C pass on their improper methods?
The equivalent in astronomy would be some mid-level astronomer saying “I found heaven and God is talking to me now and he wants you to give me research funds. No YOU can’t look through my telescope to confirm it, build your own and find my conclusions independently”.
The only way Science can recover credibility is to expose the poor methods and the people using them. Some heads need to be cracked before trust in climate science will be restored.
Provide the raw data and methods so we can discuss the science rather than discussing opinion and politics.
You can have my 2 cents but I’ll keep my 2C and my integrity.

Golf Charley
October 20, 2010 4:25 pm

Thomas Fuller, I do congratulate you on this post, the fact you are reading responses, the fact they are allowed. I do agree with your point, and Judith Curry, that more debate is necessary

October 20, 2010 4:25 pm

Here is an example of how climate “misinformation” seeps into the minds of the people in very subtle ways. Here is an Associated Press piece about a door that was discovered in Switzerland:
There is one little sentence in that article that is absolutely wrong:
“Harsh climatic conditions at the time meant people had to build solid houses that would keep out much of the cold wind that blew across Lake Zurich, and the door would have helped”
Think about that wording. It implies that the climate was colder then than it is now and people needed to build more solid structures than in more recent times to keep out that cold wind. The door is dated to around 5000 years ago. That is the time of the Holocene Climate Optimum when temperatures were about 2C warmer than they are now. It was the mildest climate period of the entire modern interglacial. But subtle wording such as that in articles like this serve to reinforce in the minds of some people that the farther back you go in time, the colder it was. That is simply untrue.

October 20, 2010 4:28 pm

You suck, dude.

October 20, 2010 4:28 pm

i suggest you float this over on realclimate web site and let us know if they are willing to let by-gones be by-gones. Let us know if they are willing to lay down their arms. If they do, then it will be even easier to drive the stake in the heart of AGW.
As the US goes on limiting CO2, so will go the world. And after nov 2nd, there is no chance for many years to pass any legislation to curb CO2. If congress could not do it these last two years, there will never be stomach for it. This has never been about climate change, but all about power. If you understood that, then you would stop posting such drivel (meant in a nice way).
The EPA will be made impotent if they try to legislate CO2 by bypassing congress. Congress still holds their purse strings and they know it. With pubs in control, there will be no tolerance of EPA shenanigans.

A Crooks of Adelaide
October 20, 2010 4:29 pm

I think I agree with what you (Fuller) are trying to say.
There would appear to be two almost-certainties
Firstly, it would appear that global temperatures have been rising (and have been doing so since the Little Ice Age) and that this is offset some-what by a sixrty year osscillation. It would be nice to understand what causes these, but it is not essential. Since we really dont understand what casues these there isn’t anything meaningful that we can do to prevent this continuing.
But lets pretend for one moment that all the temperature rise is related to rising atmospheric CO2. So, that leads to the second almost-certainty. From your (Fuller) previous bloggs, atmospheric CO2 is rising and, since the construction of every new coal-fired power station implicitly builds in a degree of coal consumption, this isn’t going to change. Since there is nothing we can do to change that, short of some sort of physical intervention with China and India, there is nothing meaningful that we can do to prevent this trend from continuing. Given that most of the West’s CO2 reduction strategies involve moving industries to India and China, this seems obvious.
Therefore taking measures purely for the purpose of altering the climate are largely counter productive. Global warming is no longer a valid excuse for implementing a de-carbonisation policy.
Given these two almost-certainties, forward planning needs to be done on the basis of a rising (2.5C/century if you like) trend. That is, to concentrate on adaptation to the rising temperature trend.

October 20, 2010 4:30 pm

“No, have a look at this–tell me if it’s remotely possible that the skeptic community could sacrifice its current temporary, but very real advantage in the debate and agree that a rough metric that acknowledges warming but puts sane boundaries on it would be of use to the rest of the world.”
Thomas, that old joke comes to mind: What is the difference between ignorance and apathy? I don’t know, and I don’t care. That is, I have seen nothing that would indicate there is any significant warming other than what natural variation would cause, so I don’t know if your initial thesis is right or wrong. On top of that, I don’t care to put “sane boundaries” on something that is so far beyond our current capabilities that it is quite humorous to even try to discuss it soberly.
As a person of nearly 60 years of age, I have seen and heard about disasters nearly every year of my life. As a child we did duck-and-cover in a room that had a full wall of windows (most of the injuries in Nagasaki and Hiroshima were from flying glass), and even as children we knew we were toast if those windows broke. I will not enumerate every frightening scenario and disaster-waiting-to-happen that I have been exposed to, but I could list scores of them. It reminds me of an old story, told by a rabbi: If you are planting a tree, and someone comes to announce that the Messiah has come . . . finish planting your tree, and then go greet the Messiah.
In my humble not-a-climate-expert opinion, I think we need more carbon dioxide, perhaps up to 2000 ppm. We need warmer weather. This two things will open up fertile lands that are currently locked in ice, and allow more area for food to be grown, as well as providing the plant fertilizer that carbon dioxide is.
You see, Thomas, the problem is not whether we are ignoring any warming. The problem is whether we think it would be bad. In my nearly 60 years, I’ve not seen a single prophesied disaster that actually appeared, but I’ve seen a lot of money spent in curtailing disasters, that actually caused worse problems than the disaster would have caused. We now have excessive malaria deaths because of DDT being banned, bedbugs because of lead paint being banned, solder that doesn’t work as well because there is no lead in it, light bulbs that are too expensive and are a hazardous waste, refrigerants that are not as efficient, toilets that require more water than ever because one flush doesn’t work, washing machines that don’t clean or rinse very well, cars that are flimsy so they can get better gas mileage, faucets and showerheads that barely put out enough water to wash with, and in Bangladesh the people have arsenic poisoning from the wells put in to give them fresh water. We have not run out of oil or natural gas. We are not practicing cannibalism or starving because there are too many people. We keep finding animals that had supposedly died out. There are some whales that are so abundant that they are elbowing out the ones that aren’t. The great epidemics are not materializing. A new ice age has not started. We are all getting really obese, but in spite of that we are living longer and healthier than ever before.
I understand that you are concerned, Thomas. As an older (and perhaps wiser) person, I would recommend that you stop being concerned, and start just enjoying life. You will live longer, and be more productive. Eat well, play well, and think well. We all die too soon to let these petty things get in the way.

October 20, 2010 4:31 pm

I agree with many of the comments already posted.
To be fair, I don’t like the term Lukewarmer though – it’s almost like an abstention because of poor data (which you accept will take another 30 years to verify) but seemingly ignoring the very real issue of natural climate variability.
Basically we know full well that the climate varies a lot naturally – and over many many millenia – we also know that we don’t know why ! So, until the research, data and analysis (I wont use the term ‘models’) meld together to describe natural climate variability to a reasonable degree EVERYTHING else is just speculation – it has to be, because the data for any other kind of analysis, simply isn’t there. Taking a nominal natural average temp variation of 10 deg C (in and out of ice ages) and then superimposing all the PDO’s, TSI’s, Cosmic rays, etc, etc – variations on top – how does anyone really seriously expect to ‘pick’ out and identify a little bit of human influence.
I, like many others, do not doubt that there is SOME influence – but it is far more likely to be swamped by natural variation.
Moreover, and here is the antithesis of your main thrust – any action(s) against CO2 would equally be impossible to determine as effective or not against the same backdrop of probable natural variability. So, therefore, spending the next 30 years, collecting data AND reducing emissions may still not render a ‘result’ – and indeed, could seriously throw a spanner in the works of the anthropogenic influence identification stakes.
Pragmatically, and I am meaning from a scale perspective here – I feel we are just only scratching the surface of understanding the climate. Moreover, this is entirely based on ‘global’ assessment and ‘averages’ etc – regional variation, as we all know – is far more extreme and for even more uncertain reasons!
As a scientist and an ex-warmer – fed the media and headline grabbing hype – I seriously believed the published ‘facts’ – and only when I started to question the reality of the ‘findings’ and look further into the field did I realise how ‘bad’ the situation was. Thats not a criticism of all the climate scientists – just my personal observation – and it struck me that anyone making serious decisions on such clearly UNSETTLED science was rather foolish.
The science has been politicised and ‘mixed’ and thats bad also – but to basically play Russian roulette with the world and its peoples is really taking the biscuit!
Even a metric assessment of 2deg warming this century comes from where, exactly? what are the temps doing now? why is that? is the data good (slight smirk!)? etc etc
such minor points are the mainstay of the antiAGW argument – and as far as I know, still perfectly valid.

October 20, 2010 4:33 pm

I like the way a case for rising temperatures is being made along with a call for real workable solutions suitable for a range of different outcomes and confidence levels is being made. I also like the way “skepticism” of the underlying facts is used to avoid having to have any actual solutions to anything and instead a position of “but the warming records have all PROVEN to be false and feedbacks have all PROVEN to be negative (because someone said they are) and anyway the real risk is another ice age”.
The reason I like it is this post and the reaction to it is a perfect microcosm of the real policy debate. Anytime an attempt is made to even discuss possibilities it’s immediately overwhelmed with a thousand contradictory reasons why the problem doesn’t exist at all. “The warming records are false!”/”We’ve been warming for thousands of years!”, “CO2 isn’t a greenhouse gas!”/”We need more CO2 to cushion the next ice age!”,”Feedbacks are negative so any temperature change will be cancelled out!”/”Climate has always changed and gone up and down ” (where are these negative feedbacks then?)

October 20, 2010 4:39 pm

“I am a huge supporter of solar hot water systems they make economic sense, especially for people with electrical hot water systems”
I am in favor of nuclear power generation and the recycling of the fuel to make electrical hot water systems cheaper than solar.

Craig Goodrich
October 20, 2010 4:40 pm

You’re missing here the real climate problem.
We know, from innumerable peer-reviewed scientific papers, that interglacials are roughly ten-thousand-year interludes between hundred-thousand-year ice ages. The scientific consensus on this is — to coin a phrase — incontrovertible. And we’re all living on borrowed time now; the Holocene is at 12,000 years and counting.
So I know, Tom, I can count on your help. Please encourage the Saudis and the coal companies and your local utility to pump out as much of the plant fertilizer CO2 as possible. What will you be able to tell your grandchildren when they ask, “What did you do, Grandpa, to keep New York from being buried under two miles of ice?”

October 20, 2010 4:40 pm

This is a great post, looking at the broader issues.
I especially like
“We need to stop throwing sci-fi fantasies out as plausible outcomes. We need to provide a range of outcomes based on measurements that we trust.”
I would go further. The science may pose a potential problem. But this is not a purely academic exercise, as it is used to justify broad-sweeping policies. The question that should be answered is “By taking action, is there, on the balance of the evidence, an expectation that the future state will be improved?”. This involves not just making a balanced scientific case, but also justifying an effective and cost-efficient policy, given the political compromises and the poor policy delivery of big projects without clear targets.
I have just posted on a very crude grid, that may help formulate and answer to this question.

BC Bill
October 20, 2010 4:41 pm

In BC we have had something like 14 million ha of lodgepole pine killed by an insect outbreak. The insect was normally controlled by periods of intense cold weather which haven’t happened lately. There is some evidence that such large outbreaks have occurred in the past but our decision makers blithely overlooked the possibility that such things might occur again, and so made assumptions about how much wood we could produce based on a uselessly short historical record. It seems to me that our current view of the stability of climate is a predictable outcome of our species inability to remember the weather last year, let alone two generations ago. This last little warming spell has caused us to suddenly be aware that big changes in climate can and have occurred for reasons that we don’t entirely understand. Faced with a realization like that, isn’t it more rational to prepare for the possibility that the temperature might go up by 2 deg, as well as the possiblity that it might go down by that much. It seems to me that the certainty caused by a simplistic projection of current trends is not much better than model based fantasizing about various warming scenarios, when the real issue is that we don’t know enough about climate systems to predict what is going to happen. Wouldn’t it be better just to acknowledge that climate is more variable than any 50 or 100 year time span suggests and so we need to have adequate food reserves, alternative energy supplies, or whatever mechanisms we need to be able to respond to the sorts of fluctuations in climate that we now know have happened in the past. The hockey stick graph is perhaps one of the most counter-productive things that could have been done to this “learning moment” for humanity because it tried to give the illusion of stability up to recent times. We need to recognize that civilisations have fallen in the past because they were unprepared to adapt to climatic and other changes and so if we want to avoid that fate, we need to have adaptability built into our social structure. Can we actually do that? Not if we base our decisions on convenient but unverifiable assumptions as opposed to acknowledgement that we just don’t know.

October 20, 2010 4:41 pm

Tom seems to have a predetermined out come and nothing will change that. Makes me wonder if he reads information from other posts.

Tom Rowan
October 20, 2010 4:41 pm

The simple and verifiable facts are these:
-The planet has not been warming for over a decade and has been cooling for almost a decade.
To attribute any causal agent to a “warming planet” is quite frankly nuts.
Man nor CO2 can be the cause of warming that is not occuring.
If all of the above is true, and it verifiably is, then the global warming “debate” is not a debate at all. The issue itself has always been a lie.
Globalony is an IQ test. If you believe in fairy tales you fail.
Globalony is a genuine Orwellian hoax being propagated by our own government.
We catch NOAA, NASA, and Algore in lie after lie. We catch them lowering past tempuratures and raising current tempuratures. We catch them reporting 600 degree days in Wisconcin. We catch them lying “warmest years on record.” They lie about hurricanes, floods, and high pressure heat waves. We catch them lying about melting glaciers growing before our eyes.
The biggest and most obnoxious lie the government is telling us is that if we give the government the power to tax the air we breath then the government will lower the planet’s tempurature.
Give me money and I will give you nice weather.
What is needed in this “debate” is honesty. It is honest to say that the warmist in and out of government are liars.

October 20, 2010 4:43 pm

I agree with Ronald. Call me crazy, but to see a difference of 0.5 degrees C on average, I only have to drive about 30 miles north of where I live (colder by 0.5 degrees) or 30 miles south of where I live (warmer by 0.5 degrees). Quadruple the distance to get a 2.0 degrees C temp difference. Are you saying those people to the south of me are in trouble just because their climate is warmer than where I live by 2 degrees? I doubt it–
And really, the big argument isn’t whether you’re a “warmer”, “luke-warmer”, “colder” (someone like myself who is looking for the resumption of the next Ice Epoc), “denier”, “skeptic”, “dissident” or “realist”. The big argument is whether there’s such a thing a catastrophic tipping point–something I believe they’re trying to influence the public with by using terms like “global climate disruption”, which is akin to saying “bad weather”. I can’t remember how long it’s been since I’ve seen a post here refuting the idea that the Earth is warming–or has warmed. However, whether we’re facing a catastrophe from this relatively mild warming is a completely different issue.

October 20, 2010 4:45 pm

Thomas, what you have presented here is an interesting attempt at compromise. However, I would like to look at the CO2 “problem” from a different prespective. Most scientists, and I exclude Al Gore, do not consider a slight increase in “global” temperature to be deleterious. So, let us set aside the whole issue of “global warming,” about which we have little concensus, and look at the data we do agree upon: the increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration.
According to an article published by Arthur Robinson, Noah Robinson and Willie Soon (“Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide,” Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, during the 50 years from 1950-2000 U.S. forests have increased 40%. They also present data that show that increased CO2 under dry conditions is more effective in increasing wheat yields than increasing the moisture levels.
Much of the developing world, which includes most of sub-Saharan Africa, does not produce sufficient grain to meet their needs, not because of poor soil, but because of poor moisture. If increased atmospheric CO2 levels would increase grain output of resource-limited and stressed wheat, this should be greeted as a boon, not a disaster.
I think we should move the argument away from global temperatures, for which there is little hard scientific data, and concentrate on the effects of atmospheric CO2.
Dr. Daniel M. Sweger, Ph.D. Physics.

October 20, 2010 4:51 pm

Keep posting here, Tom. You write well and you bring a different slant to the subject, as well as providing an excellent opportunity for commenters to practise restraint and good manners.

nigel jones
October 20, 2010 4:51 pm

We don’t understand the MWP , the LIA and the other geologically recent periods of warming and cooling well enough to make predictions. Certainly, we don’t have the detailed data at hand for a convincing analysis. The hypothesis that CO2 has driven temperature and climate in the last hundred years appears weak at best.
Rather than worry about things that we can’t predict and probably can’t change anyway, it’s surely more sensible to go about developing useful technologies and crossing bridges when we come to them, and the mania concerning climate in general and CO2 in particular, is a serious diversion of effort. I think it’s a Trojan Horse for political schemes which wouldn’t be acceptable under their true colours.
If you’re worried about climate change with serious consequences, cold periods have been much worse for humanity than warm ones. Although you think a 2.5 C rise is more likely, a 2.5C drop would be far, far more serious. How about The -2.5 League?

Pamela Gray
October 20, 2010 4:54 pm

I am unconvinced that fossil fuel is the culprit. I think is it our rising human population, which has a near identical rise compared to CO2 (started up at the same time, and has a slope that is nearly identical). While it is a closed system, there is a lag, meaning that we will detect our signal as a rise in CO2 while food production lags behind. So if the nearly identical rise in population is the cause of the increased CO2 (nothing else matches as close as population increase, not even fossil fuel use), what would you suggest we actually do? Should we all walk around with CO2 scrubbers on our faces?
Accepting a rise is one thing, pinning down the cause is quite another and if we don’t get it right, the rise will continue while we suffer under useless mitigation measures.

Mark Three
October 20, 2010 5:00 pm

Natural disasters take an annual toll. The developed nations fare better than the undeveloped.
So I propose we continue to allow efficient global development. That is the optimum means – cheapest and most effective – to protect human beings.
We know enough to discount the sci-fi global catastrophe scenarios. Mankind as whole is not threatened with extinction. So when the weather events come as predicted, evacuations of those people may proceed. Returning to the scene of likely recurring disaster will be at the returners’ risk.
If some cultures must adapt (the Inuit?), they will, or die.
Any policy that claims to protect “mankind” rather than stated at risk populations, is futile and self-defeating – attempting to pre-empt its own false Malthusianism.

cal Smith
October 20, 2010 5:02 pm

I agree with crosspatch, nuclear power is the best long term power source. It takes about 20 years to get a nuclear power plant up and running, however. Good solar hot water systems are available right now

October 20, 2010 5:09 pm

even if you got agreement on global 2oC this century what would that actually mean to peoples lives.
What seem to matter is
Will this mean our cities will be flooded by a rising ocean?
Will bigger hurricanes batter our cities more often?
Will Australia become a dust bowl?
Will the monsoons fail or cause more havoc?
Will crops fail?
and on and on and on.
My guess is the debate (war) will continue on these grounds. Pielke snr argument that what matters is regional assessment not global trends seems valid here.
There will still be a raging debate between the catastrophists and the resiliants (those that believe humanity has the capacity to deal with new challenges). Your analysis seems to suggest that this is just an argument about numbers, it’s more than that, it’s about political outlooks and priorities.
I could go on, and will.
I see the appeal of trying to find the centre ground, “just relax man, we can work this out”. But just because we live in a world were compromise seems to be the perferred option doesn’t mean that this is the best solution to resolve problems. As peaceful a man as I am, I’m not averse to this being a fight to the death. All the arguments laid on the table and the truth outing.
You seem to be afraid of choice and the unknown. If our ancestors had felt that way we’d never have left Africa 50,000 years ago.

adrian smits
October 20, 2010 5:12 pm

First Mr Fuller your question about c02 is wrong because of the reduced impact of larger amounts of c02 going into the atmosphere.In other words the next 100 ppm will have a much lower impact on temperature than the previous as time passes and people realize this science fact they will stop worrying especially when they see how much extra food 600ppm will grow!

October 20, 2010 5:12 pm

Play nice and don’t yell at your playmate. Great stuff for kids and sociology prof’s. The real world of grown-up ain’t quite so nice and simplistic. Making major, worldwide mistakes in policies designed to offset guesstimates of global warming is an undertaking of catastrophic proportion if guesstimates are later proven incorrect. Wasting time and public money guessing what to do if temperatures go up or down is a fool’s errand, given the current state of provable scientific theories on climate change. In short, prove the science, then consider doable policy options. BTW, the Utopian ‘play nice tune’ was popularized, at least in part, when Rodney King asked, “why can’t we all just get along”. You know the answer, don’t you?

October 20, 2010 5:22 pm

The best guess is that average surface temperatures have increased over the past 150 years by around 0.5C (not 0.8C as the “cooked books” of the Team indicate).
Rising CO2 levels may be responsible for about a tenth of that, 0.05C, or perhaps a fifth, 0.1C. Thus, 80% or more of the warming is due to natural cycles over which we have no control. Temperatures have stabilized over the past decade and we may be in for some global cooling over the coming 20-30 years.
If CO2 doubles over the next 150 years, and if sensitivity is linear (it is less than linear), the maximum effect of human-caused CO2 over a 300 year period will be around 0.2C. This is less than a tenth of what Thomas Fuller projects.
So, that means we don’t have to be concerned about human-caused CO2?
Well, Yes and No!
I am concerned that the current rate of human release of CO2 (coal, oil, gas that has been sequestered over eons) is UNPRECEDENTED. As global standards of living continue to increase, energy demands will go up sharply, releasing more CO2. There is also the cost in American and allied blood to defend the most accessible sources of petroleum that Allah ( as a practical joke I assume) has chosen to locate largely under Muslim lands.
Therefore, though I do not think human-caused CO2 is a big danger from the climate change point of view, I do agree with the Wall Street Journal, Charles Krauthammer, and (pardon the expression) James Hansen and Ralph Nader, that it is a good idea to embrace a revenue-neutral Carbon Tax at the mine, well, and port. This will encourage private producers and users of energy to do what makes economic sense
to their own best interests to reduce carbon emissions. Over time, a universal Carbon Tax will responsibly promote whatever carbon-neutral and carbon-free sources of energy are most economical, independent of special interest subsidies and political posturing and enrichment. (NOTE that I do not favor the “Cap&Trade” scam to fleece the public, gain power for politicians, and, in any case, will be ineffective in reducing carbon emissions.)

Bill Illis
October 20, 2010 5:27 pm

If Michael Mann, James Hansen, Gavin Schmidt or Phil Jones made a mistake with their climate theory or climate models …
… would they admit it?
Would any other IPCC climate scientist make them admit it?
Do we think their theory is correct?
That is alot of “No’s” which means we cannot conclude temperatures will rise 2.5C.
Would one do anything if the temperature rise by 2100 was only 1.0C to 1.5C.
You can put up another No to that one as well.

October 20, 2010 5:33 pm

Tom, we just don’t have enough good data or perspective to agree to your presumed 2 degree rise in the next 90 years. So no, we can’t concede the point and move on. You’re asking for capitulation, not compromise.

October 20, 2010 5:33 pm

I cope with temperature changes of much greater than 2 degrees C every day. Seasonally, it’s more like 40 degrees C differential. What crisis are we supposed to cope with? Frankly, I’m mystified by the underlying assumption that no good can come from a temperature rise and we must be concerned about it.
The real problem is petroleum. We need a practical solution to replace it for stationery uses as soon as possible in order to prolong the value of petroleum for air transportation, freight transport, and lubrication. There is only one choice at the moment: breeder reactors. It is criminal that the two breeder research programs begun by Republican presidents have both been killed by Democratic presidents. There can be no rational solution to the energy situation until we pull out the stops and join the 21st century in which other, more intelligent countries are working toward good nuclear solutions.

October 20, 2010 5:33 pm

As you say – we know very little about climate sensitivity, and we will not be much wiser for at least several decades.
Businesses and home owners already have all the information they need to make their everyday decisions. They know that some scientists think sea levels will rise and hurricanes will be more frquent. if they were really concerned, and bothered to investigate some more, they would also know that others oppose this view.
Out of this muddied water, they will have to make a decision. Agreeing on a “middle ground” between different proposed futures won’t help one bit.
Afterall – sea level rises only very slowly. There is plenty of time to wait and see, and to make the adequate adjustments. And those who live in a hurricane zone probably already know it.
So I am not concerned about home owners and businesses.
I am more concerned about politics. If skeptics should go quiet now and embrace a “consensus” of 2 degrees climate sensitivity, the political madness of carbon trading, carbon taxes and carbon capture/storage will continue and probably exacerbate, hurting the economy, jobs, home owners and businesses – exactly the groups you were concerned about in the first place.
The debate must go on.

October 20, 2010 5:35 pm
October 20, 2010 5:37 pm

Pamela Gray says:
October 20, 2010 at 4:54 pm
I hope that you are being rhetorical, to point out the difference between cause and effect. I think you must be aware that termites, just one insect species, produces 3 times the entire human race in CO2 output. Did I mention they also put out Gtons/annum of methane?
The earth’s magma is full of carbonates and magma which is responsible for 97% of all atmospheric CO2. Our puny little species is dwarfed by numbers of other species putting out CO2. But, higher CO2 means more numbers and more efficient plants which means less CO2.
During Cretaceous/Jurassic eras dinosaurs became huge because plants grew like weeds (humor) and supplied their bulk dietary needs. Plants grew fast because CO2 was 10,000 ppm. When CO2 decreased, to the starvation level of today, animals grew smaller because plants were less prolific.

October 20, 2010 5:52 pm

@ Poptech:
Great post on your site. That graph deserves more attention.

October 20, 2010 5:53 pm

thomaswfuller says:
October 20, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Hi Willis–don’t be so gentle with me–tell me how you really feel 😉

You know me, Thomas. I always wrap my words in sugar.
Here’s the thing. After a number of years of tilting at windmills, we’ve finally gotten (from Climategate) the information to the people, and they have noticed how they’ve been fooled.
One of the things that they have been fooled about is the idea of “climate sensitivity”. A quarter century ago, we were told it was 1.5 to 4.5 degrees per doubling of CO2. Now, with much much larger, faster, and more sophisticated computers and much more complex models and hundreds of man-years put into studying the problem, we’re told that it is 2 to 4.5 degrees per doubling.
That lack of any significant progress in twenty-five years indicates one thing to me — the models are not using the right paradigm to describe the climate. If they were, the field would not have stood still. We would have seen progress comparable to that we have seen in every other field of science.
But we have not. The other fields have moved forwards, and climate science has stood still. We still don’t know what the “climate sensitivity” is. In fact, we don’t even know if the concept of “climate sensitivity” is an accurate way to describe the situation we are studying. See my post on The Unbearable Complexity of Climate to understand why forcing may mean absolutely nothing.
Now, when we get to the point where we are, where our previous views and paradigms have proven incorrect, curiously that is a very good time for science. When science is stumped, it is the chance for science to move forwards by moving sideways.
But that is only true if we are willing to hang out with the uncertainty. But instead of living with the uncertainty to keep science moving, you want to sweep the whole thing under the rug, ignore the lack of progress, and say that it looks like 2.5 is the total climate sensitivity, let’s use that since the scientists aren’t getting anywhere, now we have certainty … and science comes to a halt.
How on earth does that help anyone anywhere on the planet? I mean, it helps the AGW doomsayers by agreeing with them that humans are a terrible scourge on the planet, but other than them, it merely gives us a false feeling of certainty … thanks, I’ll pass.

October 20, 2010 5:57 pm

Argh! AAAARGH!!!
Lighting a fire under the alarmists before I have to disappear for a day is what I do.
Tom, I’m stuck at S=0.5 +/- 1.8.
But I have a massive issue with assigning a number to a thing we don’t understand, because implicit in that numeric assignation is the suggestion that we can know something we don’t and we can’t. And we don’t, Tom, and we can’t know, and proclaiming a “belief” in an assigned value of S is proclaiming a faith in S. The particular numerical value of S that one believes in is just theocratic denomination.

John F. Hultquist
October 20, 2010 6:01 pm

I haven’t a clue as to what the temp will do.
But problems – there are lots of those.
Forget about CO2 and what ever else is suspect.
Pick a problem that interests you.
Clean drinking water? More energy? Better nutrition?
Education? Drugs? Terrorism? Other? Get to work.

October 20, 2010 6:07 pm

Perhaps a global unified daily high low average is useful for tracking a wide trend but perhaps a more specific look at temperature trends might be more useful where the feet touch the ground.
First, I’d opine that generally the HIGH is more important than the low. The low happens at night generally speaking…if we had nearly the same high but a higher low would that not greatly shape the homogonized trend but be less relevant to real world effect? doesn’t UHI have more potential for impact on the night time low?
Secondly I’d suggest that WHERE the temeprature is increasing might be rather important as well. If the poles/extreme latitudes were to get well above freezing that would present an issue no? If the mid latitudes have a half degree change does it really make a huge difference to the human life or ecology?
Thirdly I’d suggest a focus on WHAT SEASON the warming is concentrated in…if the hottest days of summer are even hotter well that might present issues eventually. If the coldest days of winter are just a tad milder in the well populated latitudes well frankly who cares.
Fourth, I’d want to know the legitimate effect of increased carbon. Not just one doubling but what happens on the NEXT doubling. Is it linear, exponential, logarithmic? Much of this touches on feedbacks but can be somewhat observed.
Lastly, I’d want to know just how much carbon we can be expected to push into the atmosphere at peak and how that effects point 4.
I don’t know the answers to these questions, have heard many divergent answers, but the first few at least could probably be answered now with data available if we look purely at T and ignore CO2.
Answer those questions with a decent certainty and imho you have some kind of crude actionable intelligence. Until then it’s all mental masterbation and papers ala academia. I’m not moving out of Florida and supporting a multi-trillion dollar poor tax on what we have now. I welcome energy source R&D but do not think subsidies truly promote development in the way they are marketed. I also think “reasonable” conservation in all the connotations is a good thing. But more “drastic” action requires more drastic evidence…at least in my humble opinion.

David Davidovics
October 20, 2010 6:09 pm

“David Davidovics,
Maybe someone from that side of the street will pop by and make a comment. But let me ask you this–would support from a ‘warmist’ make you more or less favourable to the idea I have put forward?

It would make no difference. I used to be a hot blooded alarmist and still make an effort to this day to try and understand both sides even if I generally align myself with the skepics. You seem reasonable and I would look forward to chatting or even working with some one like you (assuming you were labelling yourself a ‘warmist’ – I think that was part of your question?).
Its the other crowds that I don’t trust, like 10:10, or al gore supporters or the gate keepers of the IPCC. If there was some way to make them understand that they have no right to tell others how to live, then even I could stand shoulder to shoulder with them but I have my doubts they will abandon their dream to spend other people’s money and other people’s freedoms.
So I’m sorry but if my support ends up being used to further that sort of agenda that may still simmer beneath the surface, I cannot be part of that. If by some miracle the autocratic element could be cut away, then by all means, lets make the world a better place by working together on the things we can agree on. And there likely would be many…

Theo Goodwin
October 20, 2010 6:19 pm

At this time, there is no science of climate change that can give us something approaching a peak at future temperatures or climate. Someday there will be such a science. Until there is such a science, there can be no policy decisions about global climate. The people of the world will adjust to local events, as they have always. What people should do is produce wealth because wealth is the best preparation for future dislocations.

October 20, 2010 6:19 pm

Thomas Fuller wrote:
“The numbers show that concentrations of CO2 were 315 ppm in 1958, when Mauna Loa started measuring. Concentrations now are 390 ppm. That is a rise of 19%. The central question in climate change is, ‘What is the sensitivity of the earth’s atmosphere to a doubling of the concentrations of CO2?’ Is the atmosphere easily influenced by CO2, producing more water vapor and adding to temperature rise, or is the atmosphere largely indifferent? Despite protestations from both sides, the honest answer is we don’t know now, and we are not likely to know for another 30 years.”
“Temperatures appear to have risen globally, although the accuracy of the data is not yet fully determined. The rise since 1958 appears to be about 0.5 degrees Celsius.”
“If these were the only statistics available to us, we would quickly conclude that the sensitivity of the earth’s atmosphere to all human-related activities might well be 2.5 degrees Celsius.”
And why on earth would we conclude that? Let alone conclude it “quickly”?
In your first paragraph you speak of the sensitivity of the eath’s atmosphere *to a doubling of CO2*. That has some specific meaning (if you mean temperature sensitivity). You then say this sensitivity is unkown at present. I agree.
But what is the meaning of a phrase like: “the sensitivity of the earth’s atmosphere to all human-related activities,” which you use in your conclusion? This phrase is so vague as to be meaningless. I imagine you mean, again, sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 (if a doubling is ever achieved from 1958 levels). If that’s what you really mean, you really not express it with such loose wording as “sensitivity to all human related activities”.
In any case, you are supposing that the putative 0.5 temperature increase from 1958 to the present, if true, should be attributed entirely to human related activities (i.e. CO2).
Why should this be so? Really, you must explain why. I mean, really. Otherwise you are simply begging the question (assuming your conclusion). The only reason I would think such a conclusion somewhat reasonable would be if a 0.5 deg increase had *never* ever been observed before in a span of 50 years. Since this is not the case at all, why attribute it now to one particular cause?
Your reasoning is as follows:
1) Starting in 1958, all changes in temperature must be attributed to changes in CO2.
2) CO2 went up 20% since 1958, and temperatures went up 0.5 C
3) Therefore the sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 (100%) would be 2.5 degrees C.
There is no more reason for me to accept 1) as true than there is to accept that since 1958 all variations in obesity rates must be attributed to changes in ice-cream consumption. Or any other gratuituous assumption of that kind.

Jason S.
October 20, 2010 6:20 pm

As a full blown skeptic, I see no problem with coming together on an agreed upon plan to get away from fossil fuels. As an American I would elect anyone that runs on an energy independence plan for us. Drill baby drill, Nuclear, etc… pay off our debt, and dump tons of money into alt energy developement. Activists need to take a walk. This plan will get us to drop CO2 levels quicker than anything happening at this point.

Mark in Oz
October 20, 2010 6:21 pm

Pleasing to see that this hasn’t degenerated into a flame throwing exhibition. I’d just have to say that Thomas, in view of his obvious sincerity in what he believes, is still trying to cajole sceptics into going along with a “lowest common denominator” version of AGW.
This will still prove ruinously expensive to the First World economies which will no longer be able to assist the less fortunate to improve. All this based on some of the most dubious “science” since Lysenko.
No thanks, Thomas: If that’s your answer, what the hell was the question (again)?

October 20, 2010 6:24 pm

“The rise since 1958 appears to be about 0.5 degrees Celsius.”
And that has happened many times throughout the holocene period.
The increase in temperatures also coincidenced with the grand solar maximum that lasted for decades, and is thought to be the strongest solar cycles on average since beginning of holocene.

Mike McMillan
October 20, 2010 6:24 pm

I find it hard to believe that anyone at this site, much less a guest poster, could make the simplistic connection between CO2 rise and temperature rise. Have we not shown that at least half of that rise is courtesy of “adjustments?”
CO2 has risen steadily. Temperature has jumped and dipped. What connection?
What has matched the CO2 rise is world population, both steadily upward. We have twice the population that we had in 1958. We have four times that of a hundred years ago. If we must jump to conclusions, surely that would be the connection.
We have spent ten$ of billion$ and wasted untold hours of scientists’ time trying to make the CO2 connection, and gotten ambivalent results. Maybe that means there isn’t a connection, hmm? Ask Michelson, Morley, and Einstein about that.
One thing we do know for certain is that every proposed “solution” to this imaginary problem will hurt many people.

Bill Marsh
October 20, 2010 6:30 pm

thomaswfuller says:
October 20, 2010 at 1:29 pm
Hi again, all,
Keep ‘em coming–I greatly appreciate the feedback. Tallbloke, what on earth makes you think I believe all the recent rise is due to CO2? (I don’t–but it’s possible I expressed myself poorly.) Even the IPCC doesn’t think that.
Possibly for the same reason I did. Your statements about temperature rise over the period 1958 – present imply that you are making that assumption. especially given your statement about the 2C rise in temps due to a 2x increase in CO2.

October 20, 2010 6:31 pm

I think I’m yet to comment here at WUWT, so here’s my first.
I cant help but echo what Bruce is thinking.
If the Vostok ice cores suggest that our interglacial will come to end end and plunge us into the next regularly scheduled ice age, should we not do everything possible to keep the planet warm and delay the next ice age?
Thomas, as much as I find myself disagreeing with some of your post, if not most, I do enjoy reading what you have to say.
I find it difficult to believe anyone who doesn’t have a degree of uncertainty, especially if that person believes that they are 100% correct and everyone else is wrong.
I’m leaning more towards the possibility of everything been frozen over in 10k years. This will be a much bigger issue for mankind then the “dangers” of a 2 degree warming in the next 100 years.
Wouldn’t the extra warmth open up more farming land in the higher and lower latitudes anyway?
I little bit of climate variability is nothing to be afraid of.
Its the LONG term cyclical changes in our planet that should “fear” if anything.
But I think we got a few thousand years to figure this out anyway.

Dave Worley
October 20, 2010 6:34 pm

Allowing governments to plan for events more than 20 years in advance is foolishness, as some have already pointed out.
One exception may be the national debt.
We can expect it to be with us for a long time now.