An alarmist prediction so bad, even Gavin Schmidt thinks it is implausible

Gosh, it’s that “methane ‘splode” again. This time the Guardian makes an easily testable hypothesis emblazoned in the headlines that we’ll be sure to remind them of in two years.

Guardian_methane_splode

Even Gavin Schmidt is panning this one, see below. From the University of Cambridge

Cost of Arctic methane release could be ‘size of global economy’ warn experts

Economic modelling shows that the methane emissions caused by shrinking sea ice from just one area of the Arctic could come with a global price tag of 60 trillion dollars — the size of the world economy in 2012

Researchers have warned of an “economic time-bomb” in the Arctic, following a ground-breaking analysis of the likely cost of methane emissions in the region.

Writing in a Comment piece in the journal, Nature, academics argue that a significant release of methane from thawing permafrost in the Arctic could have dire implications for the world’s economy. The researchers, from Cambridge and Rotterdam, have for the first time calculated the potential economic impact of a scenario some scientists consider increasingly likely – that methane from the East Siberian Sea will be emitted as a result of the thaw.

This constitutes just a fraction of the vast reservoirs of methane in the Arctic, but scientists believe that the release of even a small proportion of these reserves could trigger possibly catastrophic climate change. According to the new assessment, the emission of methane below the East Siberian Sea alone would also have a mean global impact of 60 trillion dollars.

The ground-breaking Comment piece was co-authored by Gail Whiteman, from Erasmus University; Chris Hope, Reader in Policy Modelling at Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Cambridge; and Peter Wadhams, Professor of Ocean physics at the University of Cambridge.

“The global impact of a warming Arctic is an economic time-bomb”, Whiteman, who is Professor of sustainability, management and climate change at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM), said.

Wadhams added: “The imminent disappearance of the summer sea ice in the Arctic will have enormous implications for both the acceleration of climate change, and the release of methane from off-shore waters which are now able to warm up in the summer. This massive methane boost will have major implications for global economies and societies.”

Most discussion about the economic implications of a warming Arctic focuses on benefits to the region, with increased oil-and-gas drilling and the opening up of new shipping routes that could attract investments of hundreds of billions of dollars. However, the effects of melting permafrost on the climate and oceans will be felt globally, the authors argue.

Applying an updated version of the modelling method used in the UK government’s 2006 Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, and currently used by the US Environmental Protection Agency, the authors calculate the global consequences of the release of 50 gigatonnes of methane over a decade from thawing permafrost beneath the East Siberian Sea.

“The methane release would bring forward the date at which the global mean temperature rise exceeds 2 degrees C by between 15 and 35 years,” said Chris Hope. “In the absence of climate-change mitigation measures, the PAGE09 model calculates that it would increase mean global climate impacts by $60 trillion.”

If other impacts such as ocean acidification are factored in, the cost would be much higher. Some 80% of these costs will be borne by developing countries, as they experience more extreme weather, flooding, droughts and poorer health, as Arctic warming affects climate.

The research also explored the impact of a number of later, longer-lasting or smaller pulses of methane, and the authors write that, in all these cases, the economic cost for physical changes to the Arctic is “steep”.

The authors write that global economic institutions and world leaders should “kick-start investment in rigorous economic modelling” and consider the impacts of a changing Arctic landscape as far outweighing any “short-term gains from shipping and extraction”.

They argue that economic discussions today are missing the big picture on Arctic change. “Arctic science is a strategic asset for human economies because the region drives critical effects in our biophysical, political and economic systems,” write the academics. Neither the World Economic Forum nor the International Monetary Fund currently recognise the economic danger of Arctic change.

According to Whiteman, “Global leaders and the WEF and IMF need to pay much more attention to this invisible time-bomb. The mean impacts of just this one effect — $60 trillion — approaches the $70-trillion value of the world economy in 2012.”

###

Gavin Schmidt says:

gavin_wadham_tweet

He goes on to say:

gavin_wadham_tweet2

Translation: bunk.

h/t to Dr. Ryan Maue

Related: this paper in Nature from the U.S. Geological Survey and Woods Hole last week:

Nature puts methane hydrate fears to rest – says it will be 1,000 years before they make any impact

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MarkW

Good thing the arctic has been cooling for the last few years.

Chuck Nolan

Chris Hope, Reader in Policy Modelling at Cambridge Judge Business School,
“Reader in Policy Modelling”?
Is that a job?
What’s a “Judge Business School”?
Who pays Chris to do what?
cn

faboutlaws

Experts in the field of Chicken Little and rapidly descending skies.

The methane myth finds it’s origine in the Greenland ice cores, where the heavy isotope spikes of the Younger Dryas are accompagnied by similar spikes in atmospheric methane. At that time it was thought that there was a 10 degrees temp change within a decade. Global temperatures of the Younger Dryas however are down nowadays, lacking substantiating evidence from other geologic records, especially in the southern hemisphere were there is little evidence of spectacular temperature changes.
But as the methane concentration is a global feature, why this assymmetry? It does not make sense. So there is no consistent evidence that the methane caused the heavy isotope spikes in the Greenland ice cores. And hence there is no grounds to declare methane the most demonic gas.

Patrick

Wasn’t the Arctic supposed to be ice free this year? So “they” have just moved the goal posts again…

Mark Bofill

What is Gavin talking about? I mean, this is a peer reviewed article in Nature, right? Is the guy anti science or something?

You know, it felt good to be able to say that for a change. :p

RobertInAz

The prior interglacial, the Eamian, is generally agreed to have an ice free arctic and far north temperatures 5 degrees C higher than now, No methane pulse.
There was another peer review paper recently discounting this notion. I think because of the Eamian evidence.

albertalad

We (Canada) did have dinosaurs all the way to the edge of the northern Canadian land mass – and they thrived. This guys gets paid for junk like this? Heck I can come up with utter rubbish for nothing.

martin

Is someone afraid that someone else gets more grants?
There is a saying somewhere: “Only a thief is afraid of a thief”

Gerry Parker

There’s a comment about methane and matches that could be made here. Too much?

Quick! Somebody burn that methane for power generation before it hurts somebody!

Latitude

………..by between 15 and 35 years,”
rotfl…..

Réaumur

Same old same old.
It is a truism that newspapers generate or promote a series of moral and other panics in order to sell newspapers, and intelligent readers must have realised this for years.
The Grauniad is supposed to appeal to such people – they must see through each new catastrophe call, no matter how loyal they are to their rag of choice.
I actually like the BBC, but still despise its partisan position on cAGW and deprecate its news and documentary coverage of science.
Life is much more complicated than politicians would like people to believe, and simplistic binary divisions such as Left / Right are hardly ever sufficient. I find that it is often necessary to hold several seemingly contradictory views at once.

The article is not a scientific paper in the Nature format article or letter, its a comment and does only speculate what will happen if the 50 Gt methane may be lost in the air, starting two years from now. This is certainly in the same league as the World bank report on “what will happen if the world warms with 4°C”. It is basically yet another plea for more money to model what may happen if….

Cassio

Chris Hope, Reader in Policy Modelling at Cambridge Judge Business School,
“Reader in Policy Modelling”?
Is that a job?
What’s a “Judge Business School”?
Who pays Chris to do what?
cn
In long-established UK universities Readers are senior to Lecturers and junior to Professors. In North America, where grade inflation has made almost every university teacher a Professor or Assistant Professor Readers would probably be classed as Professors.
The Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge is named after its founder, who is called Judge.

LarryD

@UnfrozenCavemanMD is correct, clearly we must harvest Arctic methane ASAP.

Typhoon

This stuff is always written in the future tense, never the present.

DirkH

My guess is that Gavin tries to come across as a “long term alarmist” and debunk the testable short term prognoses; so that he can continue fiddling up GISS year after year into the indefinite future.
( which he does: http://suyts.wordpress.com/2013/07/23/really-giss-dishonesty-continues-in-post-hansen-era/ )
His reason is clear: As long as the illusion of rising temperatures can be maintained, NASA, his employer, makes 1.2 bn USD a year with the Global Warming scare:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/FY12-climate-fs.pdf

Txomin

The problem is that this is a free ride for all those yapping about imminent catastrophes. A free ride in terms of responsibility, that is. Would they agree to be charged with crimes against humanity if their “certainties” fail to materialize? This is not a flippant option considering they are demanding that humanity (the entire species) re-engineer civilization as we know it… ok, the demand IS flippant.

Implausible for Schmidt but not implausible enough for the Guardian…
This is what happens when you get Nutticelli around…

This is looking more and more like Custer’s last stand.

Russ R.

From the Q&A in the Guardian article, this:
“Our global emissions trajectory is already on track to breach 2C in coming decades. What does a 2C world imply for the Arctic melt and the potential for methane release?
We are already in a 2C world in terms of the heating potential of carbon dioxide that we have already put into the atmosphere.”
Let’s see… we’ve raised CO2 from 280ppm to 400ppm.
That’s a 43% increase, or 0.51 doublings.
For 0.51 doublings to cause 2C of warming implies a climate sensitivity of 3.89.
Alarmist enough?

DC Cowboy

Didn’t stop Science Daily from prominently displaying it

Don’t worry, this is just to set the stage to blame increasing methane in the atmosphere on YOU, the foolish consumer, instead of the gas fracking industry, which is already spilling methane into the air from drill site leaks and poor site maintenance. Nothing to see here.

GlynnMhor

Prof Wadhams seems to have produced a wad of… whatever.

Ph.D. Guy

The authors write that global economic institutions and world leaders should “kick-start investment in rigorous economic modelling”
No need to say anymore.

Pedantic old Fart

In what sense is this alarmist BS “groundbreaking”? I seem to remember reading about it multiple times before. Imagine a catastrophic event (eg Australian Plate movement speeding up to 10 m per day), then run up a simulation of economic cost.Gee-whizzikers! Be very afraid.

milodonharlani

RobertInAz says:
July 24, 2013 at 2:29 pm
The prior interglacial, the Eamian, is generally agreed to have an ice free arctic and far north temperatures 5 degrees C higher than now, No methane pulse.
There was another peer review paper recently discounting this notion. I think because of the Eamian evidence.
—————————–
WUWT had a good discussion on the research which found that at least one part of the Arctic might have been colder during the generally much warmer Eemian than now.
IMO climate science could do with more research & less GIGO modeling. Maybe this study has been conducted, but I’d like to know for instance what share of methane-bearing permafrost is older than the Eemian, ie formed during glacial phases before 130 kya, how much dates from the last Wisconsin glaciation & how much has formed during the last half or quarter of the Holocene, as the world has cooled.

thingodonta

I wish these guys knew history.
It was warmer for longer periods in the Holocene and there was no major arctic methane release. Kindergarten stuff for idiots.

milodonharlani

Time taken for permafrost to reach depth
Time (yr) Permafrost depth
1 ______4.44 m (14.6 ft)
350 _____79.9 m (262 ft)
3,500 219.3 m (719 ft)
35,000 461.4 m (1,514 ft)
100,000 567.8 m (1,863 ft)
225,000 626.5 m (2,055 ft)
775,000 687.7 m (2,256 ft)

Henry Galt

Mark Bofill says:
July 24, 2013 at 2:25 pm
Nah. Not peer reviewed but “Commentary” in Nature.
It’s being misrepresented as a paper (by lies of omission) all over so easy mistake to make.
A peer reviewed paper debunked this particular climaxtrophy fearporn recently.

Jer0me

Apart from the fact that this was debunked a while ago, and there is no evidence that there is any more methane released, or due to be released, than there ever has been in the past (sorry, cannot remember the article), this is classic spin:

If other impacts such as ocean acidification are factored in, the cost would be much higher. Some 80% of these costs will be borne by developing countries, as they experience more extreme weather, flooding, droughts and poorer health, as Arctic warming affects climate.

So:
1. Ocean acidification (or being made very slightly less caustic) is somehow affecting “more extreme weather, flooding, droughts and poorer health”? I know it does not actuall say that, but it is strongly implied.
2. “80% of these costs will be borne by developing countries, as they experience more extreme weather, flooding, droughts …” What? How does climate change auto-magically ‘know’ which countries are developing and which are ‘developed’, and therefore cause them to experience more of these (assumed) effects? The reality is. of course, that those ‘eeevil’ people who burn ‘eeevil’ fossil fuels, and are thus richer (aka more developed countries), can more easily withstand the (normal) vagaries of climate.
So much BS in just one paragraph.

philincalifornia

Kevin Trenberth himself, single-handedly, is more likely to “trigger costs as high as the value of the entire world’s GDP” …. just by trying to pretend that his career wasn’t all nincompoopery.
Fortunately, neither will happen. It’s still a scary thought though.

Margaret Smith

Didn’t the Canadians do an experiment lasting 20 years using greenhouses in the tundra area and found there was no release of methane? But there was new growth.
Or have I misremembered?

Jimbo

Where have I seen this kind of rubbish before? Mmmmmm.

Independent – Friday 27 June 2008
Exclusive: Scientists warn that there may be no ice at North Pole this summer
“It seems unthinkable, but for the first time in human history, ice is on course to disappear entirely from the North Pole this year….”
—–
Canada.com – November 16, 2007
‘Frightening’ projection for Arctic melt
The Arctic Ocean could be free of ice in the summer as soon as 2010 or 2015 – something that hasn’t happened for more than a million years, according to a leading polar researcher.
—–
National Geographic – December 12, 2007
Arctic Sea Ice Gone in Summer Within Five Years?
“…..NASA climate scientist Jay Zwally said: “At this rate, the Arctic Ocean could be nearly ice-free at the end of summer by 2012, much faster than previous predictions.””
—–
BBC – 12 December 2007
Arctic summers ice-free ‘by 2013’
“……explained to the BBC.
“So given that fact, you can argue that may be our projection of 2013 is already too conservative.””

Jimbo

What happened to the methane of the past? Catastrophic runaway non-warming Arctic non-amplification mechanism?

Abstract
….. in the Early Holocene, probably for a millenium or more, the Arctic Ocean was free of sea ice at least for shorter periods in the summer. This may serve as an analogue to the predicted “greenhouse situation” expected to appear within our century.
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2007AGUFMPP11A0203F

Jimbo

In case you missed them here are a whole bunch of papers debunking this stupid scare.
http://wattsupwiththat.com/category/methane/

Jimbo

Ice-free Arctic in two years heralds methane catastrophe – scientist

In two years time we could have a similar headline.

Guardian-free newsstands in two years heralds alarmist catastrophe – sceptic

Bruce Cobb

Wacky Wadhams really, really believes in Serreze’s “arctic death spiral”, and also in absolutely boffo geongineering schemes to cool the planet “before it’s too late”.

RichardLH

Oh well, another prediction that will fail. I can tell you that.
I already have got one prediction right. I have also predicted the next 18 months or so but……. who is the slighest bit interested in predictions?

I am so looking forward to 2015

milodonharlani

Jimbo says:
July 24, 2013 at 4:53 pm
Ojala!
With so many mainstream media outlets folding, it’s not an impossible dream.

James Allison

Nobody light a match!

Gary Pearse

Two years! How stupid can you get? What, pray, could we even complete the planning stages for in 2 years. Chris, my boy, you have blown any chance for getting funding for studying warming impacts that will arrive that fast – and you pretend to be an economic policy specialist- Gor Blimey. At least factor in a gestation period of a dozen years ago before the models start screaming.
I’ve had a theory that when the iron curtain came down, a malignant flock of very doctrinaire socialists were turned loose, worked their way into world organizations, well funded wild life and other eco groups, professorships in world universities and teacher’s training colleges and rising to the top as an alternative method of winning the world over to socialism. However, I forgot that there have been more committed socialists come out of Cambridge than out of the Eastern Block as a whole. How could anyone expect these guys to accept falsification of their models, when they give allegiance to the biggest falsified model of all times – their own ideology.
There will come a time when these days will be known as the era when models almost conquered the world. Ya know, I used to be able to make a goose call with a small, thin-walled wooden box, a lid pinned at one end, a piece of bakelite glued at the end opposite the pin. A little rosin on the bakelite and when you scraped the lid across, it squawked like a Canada goose. This model even fooled the geese but it had little to do with reality. I think this is an analogue of what most of these models are like.

Bob Diaz

// Begin Sarcasm //
Oh, but I believe it, just like I believe the Y2K bug will get us any day now, if it’s printed, it MUSH be true.
// End Sarcasm //

Jimbo

milodonharlani says:
July 24, 2013 at 5:22 pm

Jimbo says:
July 24, 2013 at 4:53 pm

Ojala!
With so many mainstream media outlets folding, it’s not an impossible dream.

The Guardian’s circulation is worse than we previously thought. It is now down the toilet, almost like an inverse hockey stick. I actually give them 5 year or less before they fold.
—————–
The Arctic death spiral is finally here.
http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/old_icecover.uk.php

Jimbo

More alarmism.

Daily Mail
‘MILLIONS WILL DIE’ without a carbon tax to fix global warming, says a New Jersey U.S. Senate candidate in hysterical online campaign ad

How about millions of lives have been saved by coal, oil and natural gas? (ambulance fuel, electricity in hospitals, transportation of goods to supermarkets etc, etc.)

Gixxerboy

“The mean impacts of just this one effect — $60 trillion — approaches the $70-trillion value of the world economy in 2012.”
“Some 80% of these costs will be borne by developing countries.”
How on earth can anyone give such vacuous stupidity any credence whatsoever?

MattN

Speaking of ridiculous:
Watch US heat up by 2100: http://news.yahoo.com/nasa-video-watch-us-heat-2100-221440308.html
OMG! The North Pole….has a melt pool: http://news.yahoo.com/north-pole-melted-again-221704292.html
Yahoo is in rare form today.

Mark Bofill says:
July 24, 2013 at 2:25 pm
What is Gavin talking about? I mean, this is a peer reviewed article in Nature, right? Is the guy anti science or something?
=================
clearly this establishes that peer review is not in any way an indication of “truth”. peer review only establishes that the “sums were done correctly”. like a second accountant checking that the books add up.
What peer review does not do is to audit the books. To check that the numbers in the books are the same amounts as on the receipts and invoices. Yes, the books add up, but the numbers on the books are NOT the same numbers as the original documents.
In accounting it is called “cooking the books”, “creative accoutning”, “fraud”. In the world or political correctness it is called “climate science”.