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Posted at 10:15 AM ET, 03/17/2009

Bob Ryan Challenged to Climate Change Debate

By Andrew Freedman

NBC 4 Chief Meteorologist Bob Ryan, who recently wrote a lengthy online series of articles on global climate change that was covered here, has earned praise from a prominent environmentalist, and scorn from a Department of Energy worker who challenged Ryan to a climate science debate in a forum of his choosing.

Department of Energy engineer Brian Valentine, who according to the Department's web site works with the Industrial Technologies Program, where he helps the petroleum industry use energy more efficiently, is seeking to debate Ryan on the subject of climate science. Valentine's challenge was distributed by Marc Morano, spokesman for Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, who has called climate change a "hoax."

Keep reading for on the reaction to Ryan's comments on climate change, and details on the debate challenge...

"Ryan may or may not be aware that that ALL phenomena he discusses have different scientific interpretations with regard to the relationship of 'cause' and 'effect'; in any case no viewer of the Series would be aware of such differing scientific interpretations - and this remains a disservice to the viewers of the Series," Valentine wrote (apparently not realizing that the series consists of articles and not videos).

"As a matter of enlightenment and fairness to viewers of the Series, I cordially, and respectfully, invite Bob Ryan to consider discussion of the subject matters of the six-part Series in a public forum that would invite audience participation. The venue could be any that Bob considers appropriate within the DC area and could be as public as he chooses with televised coverage. These matters weigh heavily on proposed legislation in these United States, and the public has the complete right to understand all sides of issues that will influence their lives so greatly."

Ryan is aware of the challenge, although it's not clear if he will take the bait, or in what form he may decide to do so. We at CWG have offered to provide a forum at our web site if so desired.

A blog post in support of Ryan's discussion of climate science escaped our attention earlier this month. Laurie David, who was a producer of Al Gore's climate change documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" and serves as a trustee of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), wrote on Huffington Post that Ryan did a very "brave" thing by discussing climate science in an apolitical manner.

"Don't underestimate how brave this is," she wrote, "There are hundreds of meteorologists on TV and very few ever mention the words global warming." In an interview with CWG on March 5, Ryan had criticized some TV meteorologists for covering climate science from their personal political perspectives, rather than basing reports on scientific research.

By Andrew Freedman  | March 17, 2009; 10:15 AM ET
Categories:  Climate Change, Freedman, News & Notes  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Forecast: Sun Slowly Returns for St. Patrick's Day
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Mr. Freedman wrote, "Ryan is aware of the challenge, although it's not clear if he will take the bait, or in what form he may decide to do so."

I don't see how challenging someone to a debate is, according to you, baiting them. How is that baiting them? Are you insinuating that Bob Ryan doesn't have a snowballs chance?

I suppose if you think that Bob Ryan doesn't have a prayer at winning the debate, then his being challenged to a debate would therefore be tantamount to "baiting" him. Is that what you are saying? If not, then please explain how he is being baited.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | March 17, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

The pro AGW side of the debate is really something to watch. If someone challenges them to defend their public statements, they say -
1. The science is settled
2. There debate is over (when did it start?)
3. I won't take your "bait"
or my personal favorite,
4. I won't dignify your position by debate

I would think that if the science were on their side, they would JUMP at the opportunity to publicly debate and wipe the floor with their opponents. So why do they never debate?

There is a reason why they won't debate, and it isn't listed above. ;)

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | March 17, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Is Ryan actually a qualified climate scientist or is he a meteorologist? Climate isn't weather, and climate science is not the same as meteorology.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | March 17, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Someone who's worked with Gore on climate change and writes on the Huff Post wouldn't be able to recognize a truly 'apolitical' viewpoint if it thundered from heaven. To Laurie David, to be 'apolitical' is to non-hysterically believe what she does. How convenient. It's one more unfortunate reminder that the politics (and political labels) of climate change continue to run laps around the science. And I say this as someone who thinks climate change is real, and that human activity is one contributing factor to it.

Posted by: mbcnewspaper | March 17, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

mbcnewspaper: Have you read Ryan's series? If so, it would be interesting to hear your views about whether it steers clear of political framing, as Laurie David thought it did.

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | March 17, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if non-scientists reading this have any clue how utterly ridiculous the notion is. So a pro-industry "energy department worker" (with what climate science background, we aren't told) has challenged a *meteorologist* (no offense to the CWG, but it ain't the same animal as climate science) to a "Lincoln-Douglas" type debate on the subject? And so the public will line up at the sidelines as if it is some gladiator fight at the Roman Coloseum, and whoever manages to make the other say "um uh" the most will drive our climate policy for the next decade.

This sort of thing is exactly what makes civilizations go downhill.

Next up: Oprah (who once talked about Bird Flu on her show) will "debate" pop icon Lindsey Lohan (who has recently intimated that she may have a drug problem) on whether or not modern biology has the correct understanding of human physiology -- or whether the old idea of "humours" coursing through the body and "bleeding" as a panacea treatment really was closer to the mark. And a Scientologist member of Congress will be refereeing it, so you can be sure it will be a fair fight, too. Stay tuned!

On the positive side, Mr. Q above has promised to stop seeing modern medical practitioners if his favorite non-expert "wins". So maybe within a year or so he will no longer be posting here.

Posted by: B2O2 | March 17, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Meanwhile, quietly toiling away in research labs around the country and world, 97% of those scientists involved in climate change research agree that we are primarily causing the recent changes.

Unfortunately, none of them ever get to make bloviating speeches in the Senate, appearances on right wing shock radio, or write editorials in Washington's newest rightwing birdcage liner, the Post. According to the Post, only George Will, Dear Prudence and discredited Danish economist Bjorn Lomborg have the proper climate science credentials to comment on the subject.

That's another thing that makes civilizations go downhill, by the way. Purported "newspapers of record" forget what science is.

Posted by: B2O2 | March 17, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse


I beg to differ with you on the issue of a 'difference' between "climate" and "weather". Climate is loosely defined simply as "average weather", so any meteorologist can easily become a climatologist and vice versa. If there's any difference, it's due to the fact that the climatologist sees things in terms of the long-range scenario, while the meteorologist looks at the individual data and patterns.

In terms of record-keeping, we've only had accurate weather records for many locations over the past 100-150 years [much fewer years in most cases!], an eyeblink in the geological scheme of things. We are only now beginning to record the various weather cycles which define "climate", and this is why the folks in the energy industries can easily plead "we don't have accurate data". Many of the measurements of 'paleoclimate' [ice cores, sediment records, tree growth rings, pollen records, volcano records, etc.] are averages, not accurate data, and are no substitute for weather records. Hence it is difficult to say whether the current warming cycle is due to natural factors, man-made factors, or a combination of the two. This is why it is really hard to say whether WE are affecting the Earth's climate. It could be a slowly-brightening Sun that's responsible.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | March 17, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

frankly i enjoy mr.q's posts - not that i agree with him at at all but because of his passion and rigor. he could be a good scientist someday, if he can learn to learn from mistakes.

that's so funny: "And so the public will line up at the sidelines as if it is some gladiator fight at the Roman Colosseum, and whoever manages to make the other say "um uh" the most will drive our climate policy for the next decade."

still, i (a layman - are you a "scientist"?) would LOVE to see the "debate". sad to say, but that's where we are on global warming - still debating it. i think/hope once everyone accepts the reality of it we can work to "solve" it. i think the reason people above refered to it as "taking the bait" is because these things do turn into a display of who is more charismatic and persuasive and a better debater rather than whose "facts" are better. bon ryan's pretty charismatic. i don't know about him as a debater.

about climate and weather, someone said, "climate is what you expect and weather is what you get."

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 17, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Slight correction to my previous post. The question the peer-reviewed scientists were being polled with said "significantly", not "primarily" driving the changes. Slightly less strong. Still. There is no major debate anymore among the most relevant scientists in the field that we are playing a big role in driving the recent warming.

Posted by: B2O2 | March 17, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Q: where I grew up we had a saying, never try and teach a pig to sign, it wastes your time and annoys the pig. You cannot expect Bob Ryan to spend time engaging scientifically with people who deny science. If you don't like the overwhelming preponderance of scientific literature, the correct thing to do is go do research and write a paper that will be peer-reviewable and publishible. I guarantee you that if you can produce an agw paper that survives peer review, you will make Nature or the Proceedings of the AGU. You'd be the hottest scientific commodity on the planet, fighting off tenure jobs at every school worth a pickle. Makes you wonder why no one has grabbed such an alluring brass ring, don't it? Disprove anthropogenic climate change to the satisfaction of a randomly selected group of practicing academic phds, and I guarantee you such fame and fortune as no scientist has known since Einstein.

Is there a chance that anthropogenic climate change isn't a factor? Sure. There's also a chance that smoking three packs of Chesterfield unfiltered will not cause your death from lung problems. As a 'dr' would you advise someone to keep smoking, just in case they are the lucky generic winner? Because I have an 87 year old friend ago smokes, obviously, smoking doesn't cause cancer, since it doesn't always cause cancer. What a bunch of hype.

Posted by: joshuaostevens | March 17, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

B2O2 is also trying to plead a difference between "climate" and "weather".

Defined simply, climate is the long-term summation of weather events, and I suspect there are long-term cycles of warming and cooling.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | March 17, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

I would pay to see the proposed Oprah-Lohan debate

Posted by: Dan-CapitalWeatherGang | March 17, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Q, please calm down. When Mr. Freedman, of the Capital Weather Gang said, "Ryan is aware of the challenge, although it's not clear if he will take the bait," Mr. Freedman was merely stating that he did not know if Mr. Ryan was going to agree to debate Mr. Valentine. It was not the equivalent of his saying that Mr. Valentine was "baiting" Mr. Ryan. Moreover, Mr. Freedman was not implying anything about whether he thought Mr. Ryan would win or lose such a debate. Mr. Q, when you 1)impute a view to someone else without any reason and then 2)argue against that view, you make only yourself look foolish.

Posted by: lacuna | March 17, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

This so-called "debate" won't mean a THING unless it is given a high-powered "name" to advertise it:

"Demolition in the District!"

"Climate Smackdown - Mr. Nobody vs. Mr. Weatherman!"

"Valentine's Day Massacre!"

Posted by: Louisa53 | March 17, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse


(I just posted a longer message about the difference between climate and weather, but it seems to be embargoed. Maybe I am tripping the spam monitor. Apologies if I am posting too much, it's just a subject that I have a lot to say on.)

"I suspect there are long-term cycles of warming and cooling."

You have company. Climatologists not only suspect that, they know a lot about them. That's why they are built in to their models. Hard as it is to believe, you haven't discovered something new that climate science doesn't know about, just because you heard it on an AM radio talk show.

Posted by: B2O2 | March 17, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Looking at Bob Ryan's bio on the NBC4 site, I see no academic credentials. Does he have any?

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | March 17, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Bob Ryan says he earned a bachelors degree in physics at the State University of New York at Albany.

Posted by: gbooksdc | March 17, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Later on it says he also has a masters in Atmospheric Science at State University of New York at Albany.

Posted by: gbooksdc | March 17, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

DO IT BOB! maybe it could be the "list of bobs" (scientists named "bob" who "believe in" AGW).

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 17, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

I see a weird deja vu with a few years ago. For way too long, the media kept publishing blather from the anti-scientists disputing global warming. They did this in the name of "balance". These new challenges to debate global warming and all the rest of the hot air coming out of the climate doubters shouldn't be legitimized by taking them on. If no one pays attention (except the ditto heads) then they'll get no audience.

Posted by: bizarroboomers | March 17, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Ryan credentials:
He also has published peer-reviewed research, although that won't mean anything to the strident anti-science ideologues.

Posted by: CapitalClimate | March 17, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

The issue of meteorology vs. climatology was addressed in the link posted yesterday:
Model myths.

There are a lot of differences as well as similarities. Unfortunately, many meteorologists of the broadcast variety seem to be unwilling or unable to distinguish between them. When one local personality stated publicly that his roommate had done his math for him, I suspect that he was only half joking. He still claimed to be fully qualified to trash climate science, however.

Posted by: CapitalClimate | March 17, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Aside from the issue of giving a false impression of equivalence between professional Swift Boaters and real scientists, could we at least apply some real journalism here and note that Morono has been booted from his place at the public trough?

Posted by: CapitalClimate | March 17, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Well, OK, with that academic background he is capable of making a sound, scientific argument. I have to read his comments more thoroughly to determine if he is.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | March 17, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

good job as usual capital climate. that swiftboat thing is another example of obfuscation which, though evil, earns my grudging respect for how well it was done. to turn kerry's war record into a liability against a candidate who dodged the war...genius, pure evil genius. this is the same spin machine we're up against in the AGW "campaign".

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 17, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

On the subject of credentials, Valentine is evidently a chemical engineer, according to online sources. That's pretty close to climatology; they both begin with "c".

Posted by: CapitalClimate | March 17, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

ha! like that monty python conversation at the philosophy restuarant..."they both start with "s"..."

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 17, 2009 5:14 PM | Report abuse

CapitalClimate et al: The issue of avoiding "a false impression of equivalence" is a key concern when covering climate change in general, but with this case specifically, I don't think we've gone too far in the direction of giving a false impression. All we did with this post was to report that an individual, with Mr. Morano's help, is seeking to debate Bob Ryan on climate science. Whether that is a great idea, or ridiculous, is up to readers to judge.

I did know that Morano is leaving Senator Inhofe's office to start a new media organization on climate change, but I am not aware of him being "booted" from his position as a Senate staffer.

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | March 17, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

I have heard Mr. Valentine speak at a discussion panel on climate change.

The man is a formidable debater.

Posted by: Louisa53 | March 17, 2009 6:02 PM | Report abuse

In case there's any doubt that the science of Dr. Brian G. Valentine, PhD, PE, is anything but the political kind:

Brian G Valentine writes:
Thank you to Heritage, for covering the important conference organized by Heartland.
The freedom of the American people depends on the understanding that laws and regulations imposed on the American people simply CANNOT be based on the whims of a few extremists - people who have convinced themselves of bizarre consequences of the presence of a vital component of the Earth’s atmosphere. Those convictions are based on their emotions alone - and there is no evidence in the external world that supports their conclusions
Absolutely no evidence whatsoever.
Heartland Update: Anthropogenic Effects on Global Warming

Posted by: CapitalClimate | March 17, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

if i were just to change the definition of "extremist" in that statement to actually mean "extremist" i would pretty much say that about AGW deniers. it shows how intentionally or unintentionally deniers live in a different world. in that world, the majority of scientists are extremist...

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 17, 2009 7:06 PM | Report abuse

My experience with debate team in high school was that being "right" was no advantage. The best debaters would could convincingly win an argument in one round, and then win the exact same topic but arguing the opposite side in the next round. In fact, there may even be a disadvantage to being "right" in that you are automatically on defense - skeptics wander in and toss out theory after theory and it is fine when they get shot down one after another, because all they need to do is have one theory stick, even if it just lasts a little while. Whereas if climate scientist fails to defend any one tiny area of climate change, skeptics try and claim that that invalidates the entire field.

There's a reason that evolutionary biologists learned to stop debating creationists.

Posted by: marcusmarcus | March 17, 2009 9:56 PM | Report abuse

A reminder that posts where there is any name-calling will be unpublished (e.g. naming someone a liar).

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | March 17, 2009 11:37 PM | Report abuse

interesting point about the difficulty of being "right."

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 18, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Bob Ryan here,

I'm happy to discuss what I have written in my 6 part series, answer questions, respond to comments about the science. As I outlined in my introduction, a few weeks ago, I will make every attempt to stay away from the politics and personal agendas. My only "agenda" is the best understanding possible for all of us of the science behind the global warming/change, climate change issue. I'd prefer not use the word "debate" since I'm sure not, as a snow lover, going to say, "Yea I'm in favor of global warming". I'm comfortable with my science credentials and background. For those interested I did have a couple links in my tome to publications and have my M.S. in atmospheric science from The University at Albany and worked for a number of years in the area of cloud physics before drifting into broadcast meteorology. I certainly am not a research climatologist but as a trained scientist/researcher in atmospheric science have tried to keep up to date on the science and in my series did try and lead readers to what I hope is an objective journey to better understand an often too political and even emotional subject. So I'm certainly happy to respond to Mr. Valentine and others. I'll try and respond quickly . . .as long as the weather and my "day job" stay reasonably quiet.

Bob Ryan

Posted by: bobryan1 | March 18, 2009 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Hello Bob, and everyone.

It seems Bob and I have more in common than we knew. Bob it seems is from the Albany, New York area – and so am I. Bob attended SUNY at Albany to study atmospheric science as a grad and physics as an undergrad– and I was at SUNYA, 1974-1975, as a math major, and took classes from B Vonnegut, among others in the atm sciences department. Dr. Vonnegut (author Kurt Vonnegut’s brother) was Bob’s thesis advisor – and it’s a small world.

I did not know Bob at SUNYA – Bob graduated before I was there; I received a BS in Chemistry and Physics from Siena College in 1973, and a doctorate in the subject of engineering physics, from the Chemical Engineering department at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1986.

I became involved with the “climate change” issue when I began working at the US Dept of Energy in 1987 as an engineer for the Solar Energy program. The office director asked me to study the “human influenced” climate change tissue on behalf of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (Conservation and Renewable Energy at the time) – and I responded a year later with a 200 page report on the subject as it was understood to the date. I was skeptical of the idea – and told the DOE so.

The next year I was asked to be consultant to the Office of Basic Energy Sciences on newly-proposed “climate change” research from the DOE laboratories; I heard innumerable research ideas, and many of the ideas were quite inchoate. “What is it you want to hear?” - was a common response of potential investigators to questions on their outlined research.

I have been actively involved in the research since the year 2000, when Al Gore began to make public claims that I felt were outrageous. I felt the public would only be harmed by the type of pronouncements Al Gore was making, and I still do.

I hope all readers of Bob Ryan’s six-part series on climate change learned a lot and I personally believe there is a lot more to the story that the public deserves to know – which is exactly why I invited Bob to discuss the issues with me, and I thank you very much Bob, for your kind response.

Brian Valentine
Arlington, Virginia

Posted by: BrianValentine | March 18, 2009 7:13 PM | Report abuse is THIS the forum for the "discussion" btwn mr. ryan and mr. valentine?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 18, 2009 8:11 PM | Report abuse

My hope is for a more formal "forum" on a stage in front of an audience, Mr. Walter.

Posted by: BrianValentine | March 18, 2009 8:19 PM | Report abuse


Evolutionary scientists did not stop debating creationists because of debate, volume, or tactics. Evolutionary "science" is not really science but, like greenhouse warming, only a theory. So is creationism, for that matter. Neither can be "proved" by conventional it is useless to debate it in human terms.

Posted by: MMCarhelp | March 18, 2009 8:28 PM | Report abuse

A good point, Jason, about not tolerating personal name-calling. Those who call others "in denial" when they are, in fact, not in denial (when there is nothing to deny) are, in effect, calling people liars. In my opinion, they should be given a warning.

Posted by: MMCarhelp | March 18, 2009 8:35 PM | Report abuse

Valentine appears to be bringing up some pretty valid points. I personally like Bob Ryan, and have a lot of respect for him, but in a real one-on-one debate with Valentine, it is clear Ryan would lose.

Posted by: MMCarhelp | March 18, 2009 8:42 PM | Report abuse

re: forum: ah...gotcha.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 18, 2009 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps Valentine would like to explain the statement from his Heartland presentation:
"Terrestrial influence of CO2 radiation is minimal."

- Does this mean there is no greenhouse effect?
- If so, how is the earth's average temperature 58°F instead of 0°?
- Which parts of the last roughly 150 years of greenhouse theory are wrong?

Posted by: CapitalClimate | March 18, 2009 9:13 PM | Report abuse

are you saying since we can't know for sure, for absolute 100% sure (because we weren't there to see it...), that we shouldn't study evolution? do you really believe scientific opinion is divided on evolution? that it's not "really" a science? "just a theory" - that's what science is! omg.

as far as "denialist", i don't think that's calling you a liar. i think you honestly believe something (two things, apparently) that's wrong. for one thing if you deny AGW, well, by definition you're a denialist.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 18, 2009 9:24 PM | Report abuse

- Does this mean there is no greenhouse effect? I should say not, nobody would be on Earth if such was not the case

- If so, how is the earth's average temperature 58°F instead of 0°? I daresay, water vapor is responsible for this necessary condition

- Which parts of the last roughly 150 years of greenhouse theory are wrong? Arrhenius was proven unreliable on the subject in about 1910, where a number of articles in Phil. Mag. showed such a property of carbon dioxide in the troposphere was impossible, anyway.

In the 1940's it was determined that a radiant "forcing" must be measured at the tropopause; then discussion arose on the bands of carbon dioxide radiation that would be responsible for radiant forcing that were not already overlapped by water. Then discussion arose on the saturation point of carbon dioxide in the atm for which no additional radiant forcing was possible - excepting for that proportional to the log of the change in difference of the concentration.

The questions, and indeed more important ones, remain.

More questions? Come to the Bob Ryan/Valentine discussion and ask!

Posted by: BrianValentine | March 18, 2009 10:12 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the engagement. SUNY Albany - Siena basketball was always better than March madness in Albany. Why the preface
"I have been actively involved in the research since the year 2000, when Al Gore began to make public claims that I felt were outrageous. I felt the public would only be harmed by the type of pronouncements Al Gore was making, and I still do."

Science or politics? I missed the science part of the question/comment.

Bob Ryan

Posted by: bobryan1 | March 18, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse

I would hope that you would realize that a good discussion about science/issues does not have to mean a "Mano-a-mano" Ali-Fraiser brawl in front of an "audience" with spotlights and camera rolling. Science advances our understanding of the world around us and other opinions/ideas do also involve some measured thought and discussion beyond Pavlovian responses. Agree Brian?


Posted by: bobryan1 | March 18, 2009 10:46 PM | Report abuse

bob the scientist:
thanks for doing this. like marcusmarcus said, being "right" doesn't necessarily make the "debate" easier to win. i just wish the public were better informed about the science of global warming - and science in general.

bob the weatherman:
thanks for not always treating impending snow like a bad thing on your weather reports (or at least acknowledging that we snowlovers exist).

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 18, 2009 10:50 PM | Report abuse

Attempting to protect the public from the consequences of the unfounded pronouncements of the former VP is a "political" issue, Bob?

I'm missing something?

Or I am confused about the meaningful realm of a civil servant in the Fed?

Or perhaps I would be better off to call myself a "political" appointee than a civil servant?

Would you do the same as a civil servant, Bob?

Posted by: BrianValentine | March 18, 2009 10:51 PM | Report abuse


I thought I made my position clear. Evolution and creationism are both theories, not proven scientific fact.....and should both be treated as such. It is, of course, difficult not to believe in an ultimate Creator when one sees how complex nature and the universe is, but, nevertheless God (and evolutionism) cannot be proved through science, alone, as we know it.

Posted by: MMCarhelp | March 18, 2009 11:41 PM | Report abuse

Tha main problem that a lot of people overlook is that the whole science of earth/water/air temperature interaction, and its cause-and-effect relationship, is so complicated that even supercomputers can't totally figure it out. So, it obviously isn't something that people like Al Gore can go around "demonstrating", school-style, with blackboards, chalk, charts, etc......

Posted by: MMCarhelp | March 18, 2009 11:49 PM | Report abuse

Bob Ryan Here

Behold Ceasar Brianus,

"Attempting to protect the public from the consequences of the unfounded pronouncements of the former VP "

Did I miss the question/comment about what I wrote and about science? Mark Anthony is curious too.

Bob Ryan

Posted by: rtryan1 | March 19, 2009 12:20 AM | Report abuse

How about, "I studied this subject because I like it."

Will this help to move us along?

Posted by: BrianValentine | March 19, 2009 12:30 AM | Report abuse

agreed - they are both "just" theories. global warming is also a just theory. some theories are better than others. if you mean to imply that evolution and creation are equally well-supported (and crucially, not disproved) by the available data and observations, calls into question your ability to rationally analyze evidence.

i would love to discuss this further, but i suspect the "weather people" out there are getting tired of it or, somewhat correctly, feel it's off-topic. i say only "somewhat" correctly because it does go to the extent to which people let emotions/politics/religion guide their evaluation of the global warming evidence.

i'll get back to the weather...uh...i mean climate now. no more evolution talk, unless absolutely necessary. sorry bob, brian and others for the distraction.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 19, 2009 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Mr valentine seems a bit naïve, but I don’t think Mr Ryan would fare very well in a debate with Valentine

Posted by: Louisa53 | March 19, 2009 8:50 AM | Report abuse

i agree that bob may not "do well", but it's funny you say brian is naive. i think brian is a polished persuasive excellent communicator. the danger is that bob will be naive and think just because he's "right", and has the science to back him up, that logic will carry the day. i think brian is probably aware of, and practiced in, rhetorical techniques intended to derail logic. bob has to be ready not only to spot the scientific flaws in the standard 50 or so "skeptic" arguments, he also has to be able to weather the rhetorical tricks of argument.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 19, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Bob Ryan Here,

I would point out that every scientist is a "skeptic". Science advances by experiment, testing theories, checking, trying to duplicate and test the work of others. Scientists are by nature skeptics. But saying (as some have) that the 40% increase in CO2 concentration has nothing to do with human activity is not a skepticism . . that's denialism.
Bob Ryan

Posted by: rtryan1 | March 19, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

you're absolutely right about scientists being skeptics almost by definition. that's why i feel the need to put scare quotes on the word "skeptic" when discussing AGW. scientists are skeptical of any theory to begin with - until the evidence begins coming in.

i know people who say 1)CO2 is rising, but it's coming from natural sources or 2)we are producing it, but the earth is so big and self-regulating that little ole humans can't change the climate or 3)CO2 is rising, but it doesn't have a warming effect.

i know a chemist, a real scientist, who claims CO2 has a net cooling effect... i've suggested he write a peer-reviewed paper about his theory and become famous, but he doen't have the time.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 19, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

First, I want to echo Bob's comment regarding science dialogue and how it need not be conducted via presidential election-style 'debates.'

I also have a quick question for Brian Valentine. Can you describe in more detail what your job at the Department of Energy involves in relation to the petroleum industry and energy efficiency? I had never heard of the Energy Department program you work with before, and as a reporter, I'm curious. Thanks!

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | March 19, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Leaving aside the question of Valentine's obvious political agenda, where is the peer-reviewed science to support the claim that "Terrestrial influence of CO2 radiation is minimal." If this is a new result, where is it going to be published, so we can follow his progress toward being awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics?

Posted by: CapitalClimate | March 19, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

P.S. Al Gore is still fat.

Posted by: CapitalClimate | March 19, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

ha! i love, "and it's the sun" (reason #1)! btw, thanks for that "history of global warming theory" link.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 19, 2009 7:16 PM | Report abuse

"It's the sun" seems to have been a fave meme of the Heartland Medicine Show, but Lindzen, ever the contrarian's contrarian, sez it ain't.

Posted by: CapitalClimate | March 19, 2009 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Hi It's Bob Ryan,

Hello Brian. Waiting for the first question/comment. OK with the "guidelines" about it being science not politics based?



Posted by: bobryan1 | March 19, 2009 10:17 PM | Report abuse

A couple of new studies and the abstracts are available in open (no $) site here:

Couple of interesting papers. Project about 1 foot rise in sea level/Potomac in DC by 2100. Meet me at Haines Point in 2099 and we'll see if it verifies.

Brian . .what do you think? :>)

Bob Ryan

Posted by: bobryan1 | March 19, 2009 10:36 PM | Report abuse

I seem to be having trouble posting?

Posted by: BrianValentine | March 19, 2009 11:38 PM | Report abuse

I have tried to post a long message, but I receive a message, 'held for blog owner approval,' perhaps this will be posted later

Posted by: BrianValentine | March 20, 2009 8:12 AM | Report abuse


Apologies for the posting difficulty. The commenting system doesn't allow really long comments. I'd suggest breaking your comment into two segments and trying again. Sorry if you lost text you put a lot of time into.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | March 20, 2009 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Denialism: The 3 to 3.5% annual increase of CO2 that is stared to result from fossil fuel and industry is identified principally by isotopic composition; the stoichiometric loss of oxygen in the air is consistent with fossil fuel combustion is consistent with the isotopic distribution of carbon as the natural distribution of 13C of fossil fuel, however the isotopic distribution of molecular oxygen associated with the carbon is not consistent with the that of the oxygen that must have been lost in the combustion process. All three factors are consistent with ocean sources of CO2 however – assuming the primary source of carbonate to be the exoskeleton of micro crustacean; given a 200-800 year lapse of time for diffusion from the ocean of CO2 and the noted emergence from the LIA of the stated time frame this leaves sources of carbon dioxide open to issue (noting that mass transfer of oxygen to the ocean must be greater than that of carbon dioxide as a result of the chemical potential of the composition gradient).

Petroleum: The DOE maintains an efficiency program for the petroleum refining industry; it has been unfunded since the Bush admin for political reasons. Refining consumes some 40% of all industrial energy used in the US and small efficiency gains in any particular process result in huge energy savings; the optics of such Government assisted R&D are poor, noting the incomes of the energy industries; however such technology benefits are of great value to the smaller refiner because of the very small margins of refining processes. (Major oil companies make most their profits by trading oil as a fungible commodity; not in processing it.)

Influence of CO2: Radiant forcing by CO2 is measured at the tropopause and the terrestrially directed component of the radiant forcing is quite attenuated through a turbulent troposphere. Resolution of the 1731 (cm)-1 signal as a measure of the total forcing is not possible because it is obscured. I have outlined possible methods to resolve the total component of normally incident CO2 radiation at ground level as a means of determining the totality of the secondary quantum emission spectrum.

Posted by: BrianValentine | March 20, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Patterns of evidence: The asymmetric heating of the Earth that occurred over the period 1985-1998 say was the result of a number of influences I believe. Arctic ice loss could certainly be attributed to slower North Atlantic currents arising from the MOC; extended heating of slower Arctic Ocean currents occurring in summer; the MOC influenced by the extraordinary El Nino event of 1987 et seq. 1995. Subsea volcanism off the coast of Greenland may or may not have been a factor; another factor was almost certainly a notation of the Earth’s rotation about the polar axis, arising from the crustal movement precipitating in the earthquake in the South Indian Ocean in 2005; the nutation identified by the resolution of a Northern component of rotation angles measured with a rotating Earth over the stated time period (B Valentine, paper subm to Geophys Res Lett)

What is science? Some days, I have no idea. But to me a scientist is someone who invites everyone to stomp their feet all over everything the “scientist” presents to them, which I cordially invite right now, all or some may be a residual worthy of correction, if no residual is left, then the world is that much better off.

Posted by: BrianValentine | March 20, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

i am not a scientist, so please bear with me. does that first paragraph ("denialism") assert that, yes, CO2 levels are increasing, but that it's not attributable to burning fossil fuel (because the carbon is bound with the "wrong" oxygen isotopes)?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 20, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

brian, does the 4th paragraph ("patterns of evidence") say that one factor in the assymetric heating of the earth from 1985-1998 was the result of an earthquake in 2005?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 20, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

re 2005 earthquake: maybe you're saying the crust was moving before the earthquake? and that's what caused the "nutation" (i learned a new word!) that warmed the earth? how much did it nutate? aren't these crustal movements continuing? hasn't the movement of india into asia been going on for millions of years?

i'll be quiet now and listen to the pros.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 20, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

1. yes, to at least 2.5% of the total 3.5% annual increase of CO2 attrributed to fossil fuel combustion

2. The earthquake that led to the terrible Tsunami in the Indian Ocean was a collosal event; an event of that magnitude must have been preceded by crustal shifts that resulted in the immense stresses released by the earthquake, and as I stated I have resolved a slight nutation that has a resultant North, meaning the northern hemisphere was slighly biased toward the Sun during a period of some years

Posted by: BrianValentine | March 20, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

For what it's worth if anything I think I might advise Mr Ryan against "debating" anything with Mr V

Posted by: Louisa53 | March 20, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

thanks brian,
please indulge me a bit further. i need these things in layman's terms (well-educated, but still layman) because i really want to understand this discussion as it proceeds.

1st paragraph: so of the 3.5% annual increase, only 20-30% is from fossil fuels, and the other 70-80% is from natural causes.

4th paragraph: you're saying the positions of the continents was (but isn't anymore?) causing the northern hemisphere to point more toward the sun and get warmer? i've heard of (and understand) how the orbital cycles can (do) affect climate, and also how the distribution of continents can change ocean and air currents and so on, as explanations for the many glacial advances and retreats on the long scale time frame, but never on so short a scale. i mean, how much did the continents move from 1985 to 2005?

3rd paragraph:
how would you summarize paragraph 3 in 1 sentence (for laymen)? is it something like, "the presence of CO2 in the atmosphere may warm/cool the climate less/more thank we think"?

thanks so much.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 20, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Miz louisa's persistent cheerleading has the acrid aroma of that form of Internet fraud known as sock puppetry.

Posted by: CapitalClimate | March 20, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

boy, you're cynical (not that there's anything wrong with that...). i'd never heard of sock puppetry. would you consider brian's "crustal movement" to be reason #54? i couldn't find anything like it in the list.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 20, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Bob Ryan here,

Hard to know where to begin since so much of what Brian brings up is pure speculation adn things I doubt any of us have ever heard of before. Such as such as underwater volcanism off Greenland being a source of global warming. Here is a link from a recent government publication (Oak Ridge national Lab and others) on the annual CO2 production.

Another study does look at the some ocean carbonate based production of CO2

and report that "carbonate results in the release of 11.4 million tons of CO 2 . This represents only 0.05 percent of anthropogenic CO 2 emission in 1991"

The lastest studies indicate about 30 billion tons of CO2 are released into the atmosphere each year.

If Brian really believes the long work and data record of David Keeling is incorrect and the oceans are the source of the rather recent 40% increase in CO2 I really don't know where we go further. The data is there.

Brian how about some references and peer reviewed studies to back up your speculations.

Here is a link to Brian's recent presentation at the Heartland Institute meeting on global warming in New York

Can we all have a look Brian? Lots of proposals and statements but not any reference. Where has the paper been submitted?

Bob Ryan

Bob Ryan

Posted by: bobryan1 | March 20, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Sorry for the typos. . .busy with weekend weather forecast and will double check everything next time

Bob Ryan

Posted by: bobryan1 | March 20, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

do you mean to say brian's CO2 statistics were off by several orders of magnitude?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 20, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse


"sources of carbon dioxide open to issue (noting that mass transfer of oxygen to the ocean must be greater than that of carbon dioxide as a result of the chemical potential of the composition gradient)."

Sounds to me to be denying that increase in CO2 is primarily from combustion of fossil fuels. here is what Fred Singer had to say about this

“As a physicist, I am concerned that some skeptics (a very few) are ignoring the physical basis…There is one who denies that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, which goes against actual data,” Dr. Singer said, adding that other skeptics wrongly contend that “humans are not responsible"

Fred Singer The New York Times

Posted by: bobryan1 | March 20, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

i know (of) singer. i don't trust him i remember. i'm surprised to hear him say something so reasonable. can he be called a skeptic (anymore)? did he have a road-to-damascus moment recently?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 20, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

btw, i don't understand what "mass transfer of oxygen to the ocean must be greater than that of carbon dioxide as a result of the chemical potential of the composition gradient" means. i remember some college chemistry...but...

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 20, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Thank you very much to Bob, and to Walter, for the open-minded, and excellent questions you raise. There is no such thing as a poor question and if I can’t make something so simple that anybody can understand it then I am a fraud.

I’m not going to send my regards to some of the Capital Climate group, who seem quite eager to discount me even BEFORE I have said anything.

Let’s look at what I am trying to do: make sense of observations that account for ALL the observations – not just some of them. Try as I will I cannot make the “extended greenhouse” idea fit all observations – there are simply too many consequences of the theory that are not observed, and to me the worst is, there isn’t any evidence that we have seen something like this in the past couple of million years in the geological record. (To see what those consequences must be – email me and we won’t waste everybody’s time.)

So what am I NOT trying to do? Make excuses and try to throw dust around to cause doubt (“the gloves don’t fit, so he’s not guilty”). I’m trying to EXPLAIN things rationally – people don’t care much for the activity of mine (“we already have an explanation, so why don’t you shut up Brian”) – but I went to school for SOMETHING, and nobody told me not to think.

What that paragraph means Walter: Long wavelength radiation from the cooling Earth at night excites greenhouse gases – in carbon dioxide’s case, the strongest influence is near the stratosphere, where the re-radiation in turn influences water vapor. By the time that secondary radiation from carbon dioxide has reached the Earth’s surface, most of that influence has already past, and we don’t see a whole lot near the Earth’s surface. I’ve tried to outline methods that we could actually measure how large that influence can be – because we don’t see any direct influences. (Like the “hot spot” between the Tropics of Capricorn and Cancer that is supposed to be a consequence of the greenhouse theory.)

Posted by: BrianValentine | March 20, 2009 5:58 PM | Report abuse

More to Walter: The continental movements were fractions of mm to a few mm at most - but we are talking about billions of kilograms here – and that kind of mass moving around, causes things to happen – the causes behind that earthquake didn’t happen overnight. I should note that no one else has reported on this to my knowledge – but is seems to be buried in the noise of astronomical observations of true north over the time period, above the errors of observations that always accompany observations.

“We see CO2 increase, we see oxygen decrease in the atmosphere,” we have heard it said, “so if we are seeing CO2 coming out of the ocean as a consequence of a warm period, why aren’t we seeing more oxygen come out of the ocean too?” Answer – because oxygen dissolves in the ocean faster, because the concentration of O2 in the atmosphere is high. Meaning that mass transfer rate in and out of the ocean isn’t the same for both gases.

As you say, Bob, I’m not discounting the Keeling measurements – what I am trying to do, is try to make the story jibe with what is known – and it sure looks like some of the carbon dioxide bookkeeping isn’t quite right. There’s a few billion dollars that have been identified in some account that could not have been put there by someone with a million dollars.

I’m surprised you haven’t heard of the Greenland subsea volcanic observations – let me get back to you with references

The Heartland stuff is going to J Climatology – they will rip it apart, and everyone else should too

Posted by: BrianValentine | March 20, 2009 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Attempts and experiments to try and directly measure the contribution of each GHG would certainly be welcome but so far as I know have been unsuccessful. Perhaps Brian's proposed experiment might be useful. Has it been reviewed for support? As explained in the UCAR/NCAR article I referenced in Part 3
"Atmospheric scientists cannot definitively say, based on direct experiments, exactly how much greenhouse effect is caused by each GHG. They cannot simply remove one gas and see how the absorption of IR photons changes. Instead, they must use models of the atmosphere to predict the likely changes. So, they run their models with one GHG removed; say, for instance, water vapor. They might find that this results in a 36% reduction in the greenhouse effect. Note, however, that the absorption of 1,375 NM IR photons by CO2 would increase in this scenario; the CO2 need no longer "compete" for these photons with the water vapor. In essence, the 36% reduction in greenhouse effect computed by this method is a minimum; the impact on the total greenhouse effect from water vapor is actually larger. The end result is that there are rather larger ranges of values associated with the possible contributions of the various GHGs to the total greenhouse effect."
The biggest "wild card" if you will, going forward in an integrated understanding and use of ALL the observations that Brian refers to, is what will the cloud climatology be in the future? For the sake of argument let's assume that there will be some warming in 50-100 years. What does a warmer world mean for clouds in the future. More low clouds (cooling factors) more deep/thunderstorm clouds (neutral) . . .more high thin cirrus clouds (warming factors). What are the cloud/ocean/land/temperature/water vapor feedbacks in a CO2 doubled world? Right now about all we know is that cloud microstructure is a bit changed downwind of urban areas and studies have indicated that the large-scale cloud microstructure (size particle distribution) and radiative properties are changed by aerosol/pollution generated over parts of Asia and the Indian subcontinent. What does this mean for the climate of 2100? Anything? Nothing? Should we care or try and find out?

Bob Ryan

Posted by: bobryan1 | March 20, 2009 10:14 PM | Report abuse

brian, thanks for the replies.
you said,
"if I can’t make something so simple that anybody can understand it then I am a fraud."

that's being way too harsh on yourself. you may know your material and so forth but are, like most scientists, incapable of translating science into english... in that case you would not be a fraud, just a poor communicator.

back to paragraph 1, is bob right to say the anthropogenic contribution of CO2 is on the order of billions of tons whereas the natural contribution is on the order of millions of tons?

you gave (me anyway) the impression anthropogenic contributions were less than natural ones. are we somehow misinterpreting what you said, or comparing apples and oranges or what? the article bob referenced about coral reefs did say reefs only produced 1/6th of the ocean's CO2. if reefs put out .05% of the anthropogenic output, that means the oceans put out .3%. your figures, if i understood them correctly, indicated more like 70-80% oceans. what are we missing?

re crustal movement: i have never heard this one used for global warming. seems pretty unlikely to me, but what do i know? i am curious to hear others' thoughts on this.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 20, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Bob – it will be a while before I hear about proposed experiments. It will be a longer while before anyone would consider investing in them because we are considering millions of dollars and only the Government could support that.

Any resolution at all to even one GHG would be helpful to try to pin down a greenhouse warming effect in the future – as you say, there are margins that go either way with the presence of CO2 secondary emission and without it.

Glad you mentioned the clouds – you’re the expert here, the prodigy of the great Bernhard Vonnegut – and you can make more reliable estimates of future cloud reflectivity and absorptivity that I can. In addition to the effects of extended cloud cover, and more importantly, whether this occurs over the ocean or the land, because IR reflectivity from the ocean is definitely wavelength and angle dependent.

Thanks to Capital Weather for not trashing me again (yet)

Thanks to my friendly sock puppet Louisa – I’ll send you a check after I get my bonus from Exxon for being a denier

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

Posted by: BrianValentine | March 20, 2009 10:44 PM | Report abuse

Re the above gibberish

From a comment at Rabett Run on similar BS, MS, Piled higher and Deeper:

"Yikes. To borrow Al Gore's phrase, every bit of that is wrong, but refuting it in a debate format couldn't be done quickly enough even with all the facts at one's fingertips.

Challenged, BV expanded on that last point:

"The earthquake that led to the terrible Tsunami in the Indian Ocean was a collosal event; an event of that magnitude must have been preceded by crustal shifts that resulted in the immense stresses released by the earthquake, and as I stated I have resolved a slight nutation that has a resultant North, meaning the northern hemisphere was slighly biased toward the Sun during a period of some years"

I was interested enough to look this up. A quick google finds that some NASA scientists beat him to it, the difference being that they don't think it means much. Amusingly the effect isn't the impressive-sounding nutation at all (as a matter of definition, so no amount of calculation saves him from this boo-boo), but rather just plain polar motion. Note that the observed nutation (a lunar effect) is much larger than the polar motion from the earthquake, so a question he would have to answer is why there is no apparent cycle in temperature from the former.

Yeah, the guy's a regular Galileo."

Time to roll out the sock puppets again.

Posted by: CapitalClimate | March 20, 2009 11:07 PM | Report abuse

Given the geodesy available through satellites, any shift in the Earth's orbit because of the Indonesian earthquake has been measured. The cricket's chirp provides the answer.

Posted by: EliRabett2003 | March 20, 2009 11:42 PM | Report abuse

thanks capitalclimate.
the level of technical commentary on that blog is even more over my head than that here, but i get the gist. i loved this link: of course it makes sense that an earthquake would do something to earth's rotation, orientation, shape etc... my favorite part was about how they've been tracking this for years and are seeing it drift and becoming less oblate. i wonder, is this a simple gravity thing - like the earth is "trying" to compress into a perfect sphere? another question is whether this drifting of the axis is an anticipated part of the milankovich cycles or a response to the shifting center of gravity from plate tectonics?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 20, 2009 11:43 PM | Report abuse

Wha... The Earth' precession about it's rotation axis is fixed without any external torques; the Earth has a forced precession because of the torques of the Sun and the Moon, and the motion of the Earth's axis of rotation about the symmetry axis appears as the nutation of the Earth in the course of it's forced precession.

I am Galileo Galilei, son of Vincenzo Galilei, and Dude, you're a regular comedian.

Ready sock puppets? Big, big round of applause for Capital Climate!

Posted by: BrianValentine | March 20, 2009 11:46 PM | Report abuse


"Gross and Chao have been routinely calculating earthquakes' effects in changing the Earth's rotation in both length-of- day as well as changes in Earth's gravitational field. They also study changes in polar motion that is shifting the North Pole. The "mean North pole" was shifted by about 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) in the direction of 145 degrees East Longitude. This shift east is continuing a long-term seismic trend identified in previous studies.

They also found the earthquake decreased the length of day by 2.68 microseconds. Physically this is like a spinning skater drawing arms closer to the body resulting in a faster spin. The quake also affected the Earth's shape. They found Earth's oblateness (flattening on the top and bulging at the equator) decreased by a small amount. It decreased about one part in 10 billion, continuing the trend of earthquakes making Earth less oblate. "

What effect would this have between slim and none

Posted by: EliRabett2003 | March 20, 2009 11:47 PM | Report abuse

To quote a physicists' statement:
"That theory is so bad it's not even wrong."

Posted by: CapitalClimate | March 20, 2009 11:50 PM | Report abuse

ok, unless brian has more to say on it, i'll discount the 2005 earthquake, and earthquakes in general, a cause for global warming. but he makes several other points.

what about his natural/anthropogenic CO2 claim? bob and that coral reef paper seemed to say brian was WAY off on that.

i'm still trying to understand that CO2 re-radiative effect.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 21, 2009 12:14 AM | Report abuse

Note to Capital and Eli: Got any idea how much the off-diagonal elements of the Earth's moment of inertia tensor about the symmetry axis change from slight crust movements? Ask your pals at NASA.

Everybody else around here uses a pseudonym - seems the thing to do - you can call me Lamb Chop, who is Shari Lewis's wonderful companion.

Posted by: BrianValentine | March 21, 2009 12:42 AM | Report abuse

I know it looks obvious at first glance where all the CO2 is coming from, Walter, but it really isn't.

The solubility of CO2 in the ocean decreases with increasing ocean temperature, the ocean temperature did increase, and we see CO2 from that. The world has cooled for some years, and even though industrial CO2 output continually increases, we don't see the same rate of increase in the Mauna Loa measurements.

I don't know what carbonate Bob is referring to, but the ocean is a big place, and the small amount of CO2 he refers to doesn't match the ocean capacity we know

Posted by: BrianValentine | March 21, 2009 1:27 AM | Report abuse

Last note tonight: I am trying to explain asymetric warming of the Earth over the period 1985-2000 - which nobody has successfully done to date.

Was it dirty carbon from those dirty smokestacks that killed the cartoon polar bears in Al Gore's vanity opus?

Well right at this time, Ladies and Gentlemen - the chances of that being true look pretty poor.

Posted by: BrianValentine | March 21, 2009 2:15 AM | Report abuse

that sounds little political...let's leave gore out of it.

the issue i'd like to focus on, if it's ok with you scientists, is where this CO2 increase if coming from. if we can't get beyond that, well, what's the point? you're right, brian, it does seem obvious to me, i mean, we're burning a lot of fossil fuels. that produces CO2. it's gotta go somewhere.

as a layman here, i am left analyzing two competing claims: brian says, roughly, "of the 3.5% annual increase in CO2, at most, 1% is anthropogenic." i think he means to say, "of the 3.5% increase, ~25% is anthropogenic, 75% is "natural". bob says the "natural" component is MUCH MUCH smaller. what's up?

brian, you said, "the world has cooled for some years." do you mean it's cooled since 2000? do all/most scientists agree with that?

if i'm talking too much, or if you want this to be just between bob and brian let me know. i am just so thrilled to have brian and bob here addressing this in this forum...

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 21, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Bob Ryan here,
Getting a bit off topic. Earthquakes, volcanoes, "off-diagonal elements of the Earth's moment of inertia tensor". Ready for comets, bison dust clouds, and of course cosmic rays as cloud condensation nuclei and the root cause of everything? How about the CO2-ocean link? Something related to the warming/global change issue. Recent studies do show rising acidity (higher CO2 atmospheric concentrations more CO2 absorbed in oceans) in the oceans. Here is the link:

Not to confuse the "debate" with science research results but how about some references for the speculations?

Bob Ryan

Posted by: rtryan1 | March 21, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse


BTW I would encourage everyone read the "Letter to the Editor" in today's Post from Michel Jarraud, Secretary General of the WMO. I happen to know Michel and he is very solid thoughtful scientist. The science based points he makes in response to George Will's opinion piece are valid.

Bob Ryan

Posted by: rtryan1 | March 21, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

thanks bob.

and thanks for trying to focus the discussion. i'm trying to get an answer about the source of the additional CO2 in the atmosphere. brian says human contribution to it is minimal, but i'm waiting for something "scientific" from him showing that is true.

i read the letter to the editor (and the chris mooney piece opposite it) earlier today. good reads. something in the jarraud's letter struck me:

"The warmest 11 years on record occured in the past 13 years."

this is exactly opposite from the statement brian made earlier (and i've heard elsewhere) that the earth has been cooling lately. in fact, i have heard that so often i have started to believe that maybe there is some truth to it. how is a layman like me (remember MOST people out here are laymen) supposed to know what to believe? if we are going to seriously address how to mitigate the effects of global warming, you guys have to be able to convince laymen like me that it's really happening.

so, brian, 1)where's the CO2 in the keeling curve coming from? and 2)why do you think the earth has cooled lately? (provide data/links please)

bob, why does jarraud think "the 11 warmest years have occured in the past 13 years"? (provide data/links - as you usually do)

i mean you're both entitled to your opinions, but you both must be working off the same set of data/facts, right? is this just some kind of statistical/mathematical trick controlled by whatever "curve fit" method is used?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 21, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

For a number of reasons I've only now had a chance to finish up reading through Bob Ryan's articles and the many comments above.

Bob, positively a great job at presenting the status of climate change SCIENCE in a most informative and entertaining manner. In contrast, debating points made by Brian are clearly based on speculation predicated on undocumented (undocumentable?) claims.

I'll not get involved in the nitty gritty - what's the point; Brian appears to be closed minded to objective, scientifically based reality - certainly no evidence of being skeptical to anything contrary to his own views. Sure there are uncertainties when it comes to details in mechanisms, magnitudes, and regional variations of climate change; but there's no verifiable evidence that that the globe ON AVERAGE has been and very likely will continue to warm in the foreseeable future. If there were the skepticism that characterizes the vast majority of scientists would kick in and demand reappraisal of prevailing wisdom


The cooling that supposedly has occurred since the late '90's is relevant and of significance if and only if the frame of reference is 1998 - a year marked by the anomalous warmth associated with an exceptionally strong El Nino. See the long period (1979 - 2008+) temperature trend from the MSU satellite data. The El Nino - a short period natural phenomenon - clearly could and did overwhelm longer term temperature trends, except of course if one wanted to argue that it's been cooling over the last ten years.

Posted by: SteveT-CapitalWeatherGang | March 21, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Hi sorry for delay - family matters are taking my time. Such are problems with on-line discssions


Posted by: BrianValentine | March 21, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

steve, thanks so much for addressing my question.

brian, i understand completely about family. you say that's a problem with online discussions, but i don't see that as a problem. take your time and get your data together and please respond to my two questions above. eagerly awaiting a data-based reply. thanks.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 21, 2009 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Walter, All,

I believe Dr. Jarraud is using the data from the Climatic Research Unit and the UK Met. Office Hadley Centre.

You can read more there but the Hadley Centre data set is one used as a "baseline" by climate researchers. Indeed as they note 2008 was "only" the 10th warmest on record. Have the last few years been "cooling" or just "not as warm"? In summer if we go from 98 down to only 91 I would not give a forecast of "cooler" but certainly "not as hot". It will be interesting to see if the "not as warm" trend you see there continues for 5-10 years. We're likely to have an El Nino back within that period also.

Bob Ryan

Posted by: rtryan1 | March 22, 2009 1:25 AM | Report abuse

walter-in-falls-church: (via Rabett Run):

1) Consider another way to go about this, to first obtain a coherent knowledge framework before plunging too deeply into the maelstrom of blog discussion. You'll save yourself a lot of time. Consider first reading a few good books, by serious climate scientists, written for a general audience. My two favorites are:

a) David Archer, "The Long Thaw", 2008.
b) Willliam Ruddiman, "Plows, Plagues, & Petroleum", 2005. (Ruddiman is at UVa).

Both are well-written, with somewhat different emphases, about 200 pages each, for a general audience, and together might cost $30. I've reviewed both on Amazon, but you can also check these folks out on GoogleScholar (i.e., they are very serious, well-published climate scientists.)
If you want to go deeper, I can recommend more.

3) I recommend Skeptical Science, which lists about 50 commonly-repeated (wrong) arguments, discusses each in an accessible way, and importantly, references peer-reviewed science articles.

4) The discussion so far usefully illustrates courteous&slower-paced blog debates can be much better than live ones.

Normal debates use *words*. Maybe they have Powerpoint.

Science arguments need data, checkable references to the literature, graphs, animations ... and the *time* for people to check things. It is *so* easy to flash cherry-picked graphs to confuse people. At least in a blog discussion, one can point at those, people can check them out, graphs can be referenced and compared, etc.

Another poster alluded to a related issue. It is far easier to throw numerous long-debunked ideas against the wall to create doubt, and hope that at least one sticks ... than to do the orders-of-magnitude-longer explanations to explain why they are wrong.

It is always easier to create confusion than clarity, especially in a verbal debate format in front of a live audience. I'd take that side any time.

Take a look at the Skeptical Science list, see if you find any arguments you recognize, and see how much it takes to explain the problems.

David Bellamy (in UK) managed to get ~12 of these into one short article (and if you scan down the comments, you can find my list of the SS references).

Good luck!

Posted by: JohnMashey | March 22, 2009 2:19 AM | Report abuse

thanks bob and john,
i'll reserve further comment 'til we hear from brian again (on anthropogenic vs natural CO2, and recent cooling).

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 22, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Walter, Brian, All,
I thank John Mashey for the excellent references for those interested in following this "debate". Indeed John's point 4) crystalizes why I was happy to respond to Brian's challenge here rather than in some "instant response/delayed thought" environment we too often see in punditry TV these days. I had not seen Prof. Prinn's excellent lecture before

well worth a 45 minute view. I should have earlier included the link to the Skeptical Scientist

it's an excellent resource. Finally to John's list of good books for the general public by outstanding climate scientists I would add Richard Somerville's terrific book

"The Forgiving Air"

which wonderfully covers other atmospheric/ocean change issues beyond global warming. I gave a copy to a skeptic/denier friend of mine. Not sure if he's changed his views but he did think the book was terrific.

Bob Ryan

Posted by: rtryan1 | March 22, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

I have yet to see a reliable scientific study that shows what percent of this current warming period is due to the natural cycle and what can be verified as caused by humans. Humans where not around for any of the previous warming periods.

It makes a huge difference if the human contribution is .1%, 1% or more than 10%. This needs to be defined so we know how to spend the huge sums of money proposed!

Posted by: Jimbo77 | March 22, 2009 6:05 PM | Report abuse


To frame an answer in the way that climate scientists summarize it, and assuming you'd read Bob Ryan's nice series:

0) "Greenhouse gas forcing has very likely caused most of the observed global warming over the last 50 years." - as per IPCC AR4 (see later).

1) As per suggestion to Walter, I recommend again David Archer's "The Long Thaw" - Archer is a serious carbon-cycle expert.

2) For more detail, see his "Global Warming - Understanding the Forecast", chapter 10, on perturbed carbon cycles.

3) For some quick discussions/references, see Skeptical Science, items:
#2 Climate's changed before
#25 Human CO2 is a tiny % of CO2 emissions
#31 There's no empirical evidence

4) For the real detail and lots of studies behind 0) above:
see IPCC WG I, Chapter 9, especially the Executive Summary, and then (page 702-703) FAQ 9.2 "Can the Warming of the 20th Century be Explained by Natural Variability?", and then read as much of the 84-page discussion & hundreds of references as needed.

All that is really the backup for Bob Ryan's last chart in that section.

Posted by: JohnMashey | March 22, 2009 8:11 PM | Report abuse

OK Lamb Chop,

Point is the measurements of how much the Earth moved from the Sumatran earthquake. Eli pointed to a source. There are others that are easy to find. It is pretty clear that the movement was measurable but minimal.

There are two possibilities

If it was significant enough to change insolation you would find something in the literature. There wasn't, there ain't. This appears by far the most likely to me

Second, you have the data, you have the thesis. Prove it.

Instead you insist, without proving anything but wildly waving your hands that Brian explains all. He don't.

Posted by: EliRabett2003 | March 22, 2009 11:57 PM | Report abuse

Good evening, I have derived some references from some folks who are known to be unfriendly to climate paranoia:

Now for sources and sinks of CO2, Segalstad calculates 3% man, 97% nature, 98.5% recycled annually

DOE/IPCC figures implicitly confirm the same thing:

To see what temperatures have done over a decade, we have the following derived from UAH measurements

Now the end of the warming over the period 1987-2000 depends on the polynomial used to fit the data. Higher orders put the end of the warming at about 2001 instead of 2005; however few folks (except Hansen) can deny a cooling since 2005 anyway, and it is this period of time that I have focused on causation of the phenomenon.

Some of my friends in Greenland are sending me what they know about sub-sea volcanism.

Dr. Rabett: If a spinning figure skater moves her arms inward just a little bit, and slows her rotation speed very slightly, I don’t think it can be logically concluded that the skater was not wobbling before or after she moved her arms inward.

Steve from Capital Weather: I feel somewhat sheepish to ask, but I don’t suppose there is any way you could, um, “prove” you’re not a sock puppet, just to satisfy a bit of concern I have, is there?

Well, I guess it’s not all that important.

Posted by: BrianValentine | March 22, 2009 11:58 PM | Report abuse

But what does Louisa53 have to say about this?

I think the deep ocean earthquake that gave rise to the Tsunami tragedy in the South Indian Ocean a couple of years ago is going to have an extended effect on the climate that will appear in two to five years and last at least a couple of years..... and will once again be interpreted as evidence that human activity causes climate change...... unless objective analysis and interpretation of climate variation becomes fashionable once again.

By Louisa53 | Apr 7, 2007

From the WaPo Cider House Rulz:
"entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed."

How about it, WaPo Lords of the Blog? Surely you're capable of checking some IP addresses, confirming the suspicion of sock-puppeteering noted 2 days ago and putting this farce out of its misery?

Posted by: CapitalClimate | March 23, 2009 12:44 AM | Report abuse

“Connect and Celebrate” is the theme of this women’s event at Arlington UU Church.

Join a circle of women at UUCA: reflect on your journey, build your gifts, share your

stories and laughter. Friday evening features stories by the Vermont storyteller

Sparrowhawk, potluck desserts and Circle Dancing. Saturday lures you with Mind, Body

and Spirit Workshops from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., catered lunch and dinner. After- dinner

celebration includes a dance performance, a “Goddess Within” ritual and a moonlit

labyrinth walk.

Contact: Louise Volintine, louisa53 @ (for a flier)

Posted by: CapitalClimate | March 23, 2009 12:56 AM | Report abuse

From a comment at Rabett Run:

The most basic question here is how can one even argue with incoherent, ill-defined arguments?

I would suggest that it is a waste of time even trying because even if one succeeds in "debunking" the specific argument(s) of G&T, the authors can (will?) always com back and say "No, that is not what I was arguing at all."

It is a losing battle.

I think this really gets at the crux of the problem: by "arguing" with people who have no clue what they are talking about, one lends credance to their arguments.

no physicist in his right mind would engage most of the claims on the web and elsewhere by cranks that they have "disproved" relativity theory.

So why do climate scientists (and scientifically literate bloggers interested in climate science) do it?

I think Gavin Schmidt's is the proper response in this case: "It’s garbage. A ragbag of irrelevant physics strung together incoherently."

Posted by: CapitalClimate | March 23, 2009 1:10 AM | Report abuse

Steve T,
I think you're missing one or more NOTs in the following:

"there's no verifiable evidence that that the globe ON AVERAGE has been and very likely will continue to warm in the foreseeable future."

Posted by: CapitalClimate | March 23, 2009 1:46 AM | Report abuse

I thought we were discussing climate/global change science not "paranoia". First, it has been brought up . . . by you that is. As you know, Segalstad's speculations are in a 1998 book with no peer review. I will ask Arthur Conant Doyle to research this. In the meantime some data for CO2 emissions.

It's late. Humans contibute no more than 3% to the almost 40% increase in co2 concentration in 200 years? Please. . . read Akums Razer it is still valid

Bob Ryan

Posted by: rtryan1 | March 23, 2009 2:03 AM | Report abuse

Note to wife Louisa: Stop following your husband's on line activities.

As you note, Bob, there are sources of information that are not necessarily trusted.

I wish I could covince myself that greenhouse theory accounts for the observations, it does account for some, but some contradictions remain.

As you point out Bob in your six-part series, science is evolving, and new information continues to improve our knowledge.

Relativity theory is somewhat of a different case. Einstein derived it by removing some assumptions that Newton had made - the "persisent, universal, ever-flowing time" was one. Relativity theory was not the only one that provided a constent explanation of the advance of Mercury's perihelion, but was the only one that was consistent with everything else.

It still isn't perfect, because absolute rotation does not have a consistent basis, but nobody is going to throw it out because of that.

Is there any point Bob when you might question the validity of greenhouse idea of climate change?

There is a point for me when I will agree it basically describes the global climate - and I must say, this is something I don't see

Posted by: BrianValentine | March 23, 2009 8:29 AM | Report abuse


Thanks, guess I was too wiped out at the time (recovering from surgery) to catch this obvious error; on the other hand no one else seems to have noticed what should have been a surprise to the statement as is coming from me.

the corrected statement is:

"there's no verifiable evidence to contradict the premise that the globe ON AVERAGE has been and very likely will continue to warm in the foreseeable future."

Posted by: SteveT-CapitalWeatherGang | March 23, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse


Me, a sock puppet? You must be kidding? I am an official member of the Capital Weather Gang and as such, do not hide my identity. All you'd have to do is check out the "meet the gang" link at the top of the page. But raising the question suggests you've not been anything close to a regular reader of CWG. So, for whom are you serving as the stalking horse?? I can take a good guess - one of the speakers at the Heartland Conference who uses at least one other individual to parrot his views routinely in comments to CWG - particular in regard to articles by Andrew Freedman.

But as you added, "Well, I guess it’s not all that important." Except, of course, as likely intended, it's serves as a diversion from the real issues.

Posted by: SteveT-CapitalWeatherGang | March 23, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Brian points as I did to the MSU data at He avoids the issue raised in regard to the supposed cooling this decade relevant only if relative to the anomalous 1998 ElNino peak.

Brian's focus now is the "cooling" since 2005 that "... few folks (except Hansen) can deny". The subsequent 3+ years is not significant in describing long term term trends. However, if one wants to take this narrow approach, Brian ignores the warming since mid '08.

The trend line he refers to, whatever polynomial fitting is used, is one sided, i.e., cannot account for what comes after the end of the record. Should the current short term warming continue, the trend line will undoubtedly show at least a leveling off after 2005 and perhaps a rise.

Posted by: SteveT-CapitalWeatherGang | March 23, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

bob, brian,
re recent temps:
thanks for the link to that global temp graph. based on that, it's hard to see how one could say the earth has cooled lately. to me it looks like a case COULD possibly be made for an ever-so-slight cooling over the last 2-3 years, maybe, but it would be kind of silly to call that a trend especially considering all the "record" years just before then - and given the more standard skeptic argument that we can't take a few years of temp rises seriously because a few years is not long enough to establish a trend, climatologically speaking. the fact that many of those warmest years are in the 2000s kind of takes the air out of brian's claim. besides, IF we have started a cooling trend lately (last 2-10 years), what has changed? i don't think (perhaps brian could help me out here) there's any evidence that any cooling-forcing variable has "flipped" lately.

re anthropogenic CO2: it seems like each "side" here has its own "facts" - or spin on the facts.

is brian saying something like, "of all the CO2 in the atmosphere, only 3% (or whatever small figure you like) is annually released by humans"? i thought we were talking about the INCREASE in CO2 from some baseline (usually late 1800s, 270 ppm). it is disappointing that bob had to point out that brian's "segalstad" reference was not peer-reviewed.

on that alan siddons (who is alan siddons?) paper you linked to it showed an IPCC chart saying 770 mmtons of "natural" CO2 emissions, 23.1 of man-made emissions, and a net annual increase of 11.7. simple math tells me man-made CO2 would be about 1/2 of the increase. am i doing something wrong?

thanks for the suggested reading list. i will look into that. i am familiar with that list of standard skeptic arguments (capitalclimate pointed me there a few weeks ago). that's a useful list. in brian's opening statement, i believe i recognize
#4-it's cooling,
#9-it hasn't warmed since '98,
#10-al gore got it wrong,
#25-human CO2 is minimal,
maybe #43-CO2 measurements are suspect,
and a NEW one: #54-crustal movement.
have i missed any?

i also agree that this blog-over-time format is great because people can get their facts together, and check out the claims being made. in this format it is much harder for charisma to prevail and unsubstantiated claims to gain traction.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 23, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

you know, steve, now that you mention it i've noticed a warming trend, albeit local, since january. it was much colder then. local temps have spiked since jan, but i can't find any evidence of increased greenhouse gas emissions sice january. very curious.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 23, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

No need to apologize for your typo Steve - I knew exactly what you meant, and I do the same thing all the time.

I know the individual you are referring to in your last message (I am quite sure, although I won't name anybody's name), and no, I'm not a participant of a ventriloquist performance of his, nor am I his mercinary soldier, and I am sorry you have persistent detractors of your web columns, I know the feeling.

(A few individuals persist in their objective of proving that I am an incompetent fraud who is incompetently carrying out someone else's objective and I wish I could share some of the lovely "fan mail" I have been blessed with)

My wife pointed out that my some of my remarks directed at Capital Weather gang were too acidic, I do apologize for that, and the end result is to make myself look like I don't have the convictions I speak of.

Posted by: BrianValentine | March 23, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

wow - capitalclimate, your cynicism re: louisa was apparently justified... sheesh...very disappointing...but only somewhat surprising.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 23, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Thank you Walter for your questions and notes that strive for greater clarity and it is valuable to me to clarify everything.

Al Siddons is a friend of mine, a retired physicist, he has taken somewhat different starting value of organic sources of carbon dioxide than I have.

To kind of summarize where I am at this point, I have the following

The IPCC CO2 climate models predict that AGW will occur first and most at arctic latitudes. Thus the recent arctic warming period has been important in providing evidence that CO2 greenhouse effects are causing global warming. From what I have concluded, the arctic warming has little to do with greenhouse effects.

There was an unusual influx of warm north Pacific surface water, strong anomalous offshore winds in the west that pushed the pack ice into the East Greenland current and transported much of the multi-year ice out of the polar basin. The open water generated a water vapor greenhouse effect by generating slow water for the sun to warm the water.

The warming and transition to mainly annual ice also contributed to an albedo effect, earlier break-up and later freeze-up. As I mentioned, I think an Earthly wobble had something to do with more Northern Hemisphere exposure, and a lot of people would throw a considerable amount of polar chilled water on that concept.

None of this had anything to do with CO2 in my view. which makes folks laugh

The GCM models did not predict anything I have stated as the warming mechanism that occurred and as far as I can tell, the GCM models don't predict this magnitude of arctic warming for another 20 or 30 years.

Meanwhile I am thinking about ways to resolve CO2 influence directly so we have a better handle on that

Posted by: BrianValentine | March 23, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Brian wrote - "Is there any point Bob when you might question the validity of greenhouse idea of climate change? There is a point for me when I will agree it basically describes the global climate - and I must say, this is something I don't see"

Of course the "greenhouse idea" (I assume you mean the CO2 40% increase in 200 years) is not the only driver of climate. Solar variability, plate tectonics (imagine what climate earth would have if Antarctic were not at the South Pole, Milankovitch cycles and of course changes in the atmospheric chemical composition. But the question before us is what is the principal climate driver now? A sudden (2-300 years) doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere sure looks like a step function compared to the time scales of other climate drivers outside of events such as the Chicxulub impact

Bob Ryan

Posted by: rtryan1 | March 23, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

In the above, I meant to say "has little to do with CO2 induced greenhouse effects."

Posted by: BrianValentine | March 23, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

there is an idea here that is getting lost in the discussion of what percentage of "excess" C (or CO2) is anthropogenic. we blithely say "some percentage" is "absorbed" by oceans, trees, whatever. we act like this absorption makes the stuff go away. this is the attitude that comes from imagining the earth is so big that little ol' humans can't mess it up. that CO2 goes SOMEWHERE. it has increased the acidity of the oceans. apparently the oceans are losing their ability to absorb all the CO2 (no's just something i read somewhere, possibly on one of bob's or others' links above).

bob, or others:
on this link (, in figure 1, what happened around 1980 to make the two lines converge?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 23, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

thanks for the explanation on arctic warming. is there any chance that this "extra" warming that you say is not predicted by climate models is due to scientists underestimating of greenhouse effects? i mean, scientists are generally trying to be very cautious about their claims and always, if they're worth anything as scientists, expressing things with varying degrees of certainty and offering a range of future outcomes. and as we've seen with trying to discern where anthropogenic CO2 goes, there are some poorly-understood feedback mechanisms. does this "unexpected" arctic warming fall within any of the ranges of possibilities?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 23, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

A little technical jargon:

Predictions of climate: Based on historical weather trends and known cycles such as the PDO, as well as other factors like El Nino which we can correlate with some events. Predictions come with no assignment of their likelihood.

Projections of climate: Based on modeling of fundamental phenomena, together with a ranking of influences of “forcing:” Projections are assigned likelihood tied to events likely to influence magnitude of “forcing”.

IPCC projections are assigned a high likelihood, but as Bob notes, new information constantly gives better ways of making more accurate assessment of “forcing.”

As far as the influence of CO2 goes, it looks to me that the estimates of Schwartz of the climate sensitivity to the doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere would make the probable influence of CO2 as LOW – unless other events don’t get in the way and make the climate dependent on NOTHING except CO2.

Bob notes this isn’t the real world.

My view is, the greenhouse effect from CO2 is real enough, but too small to be discerned amidst the real world chaos of events that come and go. In fact I believe this has always been the case.

The ocean has been acidified, yes. Can we cause great damage as such?

If that was true, then the historical ocean of a couple of million years ago when CO2 levels were higher than they are now would make the present ocean a lot different than what we know now, as far as I can tell, and unless somebody shows me something otherwise, I have little useful to add.

Posted by: BrianValentine | March 23, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

well, the problem with saying, "things have been hotter/colder/whatever in the past" is that civilization, and the suites of animals/plants we've "grown up with", are all adapted to the current (last 10,000 years) climate. humans will of course survive just about any climate change, somehow - we're just so darned intelligent, which makes us so adaptable. the question is whether the rest of the ecosystems will. many species will go (have gone) extint. sure, over the course of time (1000s to 1,000,000 of years) surviving species will adapt, radiate etc... well, call me conservative, but i'd rather keep things the way they are (were).

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 23, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

I understand completely, Walter, and I am very ill adapted to change in my own life.

I am sure this weakness of mine lends conviction that nobody needs to "change" their "lifestyles" to prevent "harming" anything.

But suppose that more CO2 in the air in fact resulted in more yield of crops and more diversity of biota that relied on those crops?

[Brian ducks dirt bombs thrown at him]

Are my convictions worth to me the humiation and aggravation I receive as my compensation for them?

Most emphatically, yes.

Do I receive any other form of compensation?

No, and such a thing cannot be purchased, and I am happy that I work in a position that has in no way any benefit to me for what I believe.

Posted by: BrianValentine | March 23, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

in what i said above i don't mean to imply that GW is responsible for ALL the recent extinctions. besides GW there are other anthropogenic reasons for those - all stemming from our idea that we can't "harm" something as big and chaotic as the earth. sometimes environmentalists think if we "solve" global warming we've saved the world...

sorry, not exactly weather-related, and i may have revealed my political agenda.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 23, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

No need to be sorry for revealing your politics, Walter, (if you did, which may or may not be the case, only you can know)

In the above I don't think anybody would believe that I didn't wave a right-wing flag at people even though I claimed to be innocent of that

Posted by: BrianValentine | March 23, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

[Brian ducks dirt bombs thrown at him] ha! that's funny! - and the ducking is warranted as i was throwing a mental shoe at you.

this is a very different argument skeptics make. it seems almost like an admission that global warming is happening. i'm sure you know of "the green earth society" (or something) and those groups who portray it as a potentially good thing. i honestly don't know about that. i mean i suppose theoretically it could create a garden-of-eden-type tropical paradise. i believe (i suppose you'd know better than me) the earth's average historical climate is warmer than it is now?

aren't we now just in a little interglacial period on the grand scale of things?

like i said above, in the loooong run it may be a good thing but none of us will be here for that. and, who knows, this paradise may just get shut down by the next naturally-induced ice age.

anybody know when we are (were) due for an "ice age"?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 23, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Some Russians are convinced the end of the Holocene is here. This is pretty consistent with the Milankovich picture.

What do George Bush and I have in common?

Some folks seem to think we would be better off with their shoes than the owners of the shoes.

Posted by: BrianValentine | March 23, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

"some russians"? who's that? they probably think that because of the melting "perma"frost. ("holocene" is the current ice age? or the 10,000yrs since the ice age.)

do you mean to say milankovic predicts warming or cooling?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 23, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Milankovich cycles predict the end of the present inter glacial period (warming) Holocene period, and the onset of an ice age, which are completely periodic over about 100,000 years, some say this Holocene period has been extended, some say not, some (Hansen) say that another ice age is virtually impossible

Now THERE is some right-off-the-reservation thinking as I think about the world

Posted by: BrianValentine | March 23, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

i suppose if we play our cards just right, we could spew just the right amount of CO2 into the air to head off the ice age. that would be a shame, though, because i love snow:

but seriously, brian, do you really think burning all those fossil fuels is not changing the climate? really? really?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 23, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

I know how you feel, Walter, but the following helps me to put things into perspective:

Look at all those cars, airplanes, factories, smoke, people who want air conditioners. Good gravy, all that stuff has to be doing SOMETHING.

To speak in smaller graspable numbers, let's use the conversion E=mcSQUARED, the square of the velocity of light.

Then energy units get tiny when we speak of mass units.

(Relativity people put mass units into length units, and numbers get even tinier, which is convenient when you're discussing the mass of galaxies for example, but not necessary here.)

The total energy of the Sun reaching the earth on a daily basis is then about 160 thousand kilograms of sunlight energy.

Humans are then responsible for about 10 kilograms of fossil energy conversion each day.

Looking at this, the possibility that "humans are doing stuff to the climate" looks quite remote.

Posted by: BrianValentine | March 23, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

yes, i know - the world is very big and we are very small and can't hurt it...

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 23, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

let's move on, unless there's more here to discuss.

1)by my score brian did not successfully defend the claim that the anthropogenic portion of carbon in the air is minimal. he had some theories of his own and friend who wrote a book, but nothing peer-reviewed (yet) as i remember. does any skeptical layman want to chime in here? are there any of you still out there?

2)"recent cooling trend": it's true the graph begins to inflect in the early 2000s and even goes down (!) after about 2006 or so. can we all agree that given the vagaries of weather (vs climate) that we need a few more years to know how the "fit" the end of that curve? i'd say this skeptic argument is still plausible, but it's very very premature to call it a trend.

sometimes skeptics serve a useful purpose in that in trying to "poke holes" in prevailing theory they may unearth (or think they have) some area of weakness in a theory. this doesn't disprove the theory, but may show areas that need tweaking.

brian, what is your next beef with AGW theory?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 23, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Yes or no, but we can and we have hurt each other, which is the more important concept to worry about,

and which is the reason i do what I do, because putting a big tax burden on fuel would only hurt people, those least capable of fighting back, and the environmentalist's response, "we're aware not all people can make it, ..." makes me angry

and makes me hurl vitriol at bystanders like Capital Weather

Posted by: BrianValentine | March 23, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

re: big tax burden:
i guess i'm hoping we "take our medicine" now so we can improve (i.e., develop alternatives) on the internal combustion engine. it just seems like such a dirty inefficient technology.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 23, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Walter I've got to get off the computer now and do some other things, I'll be back later, promise.

Posted by: BrianValentine | March 23, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Well I think we have gotten enough off track that this winding down. Brian's certainly entitled to his beliefs and opinions, just wish we could have indeed focused on science. . .but the last statement "Humans are then responsible for about 10 kilograms of fossil energy conversion each day."
Good grief!
THREE gallons of gasoline weighs about 10 kilograms. So 1 (ONE) person drving back and forth from Rockville to DC each day is responsible for the human influence on climate. So, if we can find that 1 person the entire global warming issue is solved! I give up.

Bob Ryan


Posted by: bobryan1 | March 23, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

No no no Bob i'm using the conversion E=mc**2

E is big from fossil fuel

m = E/c**2 is small

Posted by: BrianValentine | March 23, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

m is not 10 kg small

in US consumption is now 21` Million barrels of oil/day from your department

that's 6 billion pounds converted into energy. . .and CO2 among other things each year just in the US. Please

Posted by: bobryan1 | March 23, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Correction 6 billion pounds converted into energy and CO2 and other gases PER DAY in the US alone. A bit more than 10 kg. As the great Paul Havey would say. . thanks for listening (and reaading) "Good Day"

Bob Ryan

Posted by: bobryan1 | March 23, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

aw...too bad, bob, i understand, but i hope you'll reconsider and participate in "round 2". at least your participation here made me read your 6-part thing.

with regard to what bob said about 3 gallons of gas, were you comparing the mass lost (converted to energy) during the nuclear reations in the sun with the energy released from "fossil energy"?

whether bob wants to continue or not (i REALLY hope he does) i hope you, brian, will continue. i enjoy the chance to ask questions of a skeptic who is a "real scientist" (instead of just my inlaws), and appreciate having "real scientists" (capitalclimate, johnmashey, CWG etc...) to call him on it when they think he's mistaken.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 23, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Now, 10 kg of mass as energy = (10)x(9x10**16) = about 10**18 J of energy = 1 exajoule of energy

Now, the total US consumption of ALL ENERGY annually is about, 100 quadrillion Btu of energy = about 110 exajoule of energy ANNUALLY

So total US consumption of energy DAILY = 110/365= 0.3 exajoule of all energy

which consisists of about 0.2 exajoule of energy from Fossil

The US uses about 20% of the world's fossil fuel daily, we're not right off the reservation, Bob

Posted by: BrianValentine | March 23, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

i guess i don't understand the terms "sunlight energy" and "fossil energy".

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 23, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Fossil energy means the energy you get when you burn fossil fuel, like about 110,000 Btu = 120,000 Joule or so when you burn up a gallon of gas

Sunlight energy is the energy that the Earth receives from the Sun, anywhere from about 100 to 1000 Watts per square meter during sunlight hours on the Earth's surface, much more hitting the external atmosphere

Posted by: BrianValentine | March 23, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Bob quit because he didn't believe or didn't want or didn't like the conversion E=mc**2




Bob, I know you're BS of physics, and I know that you can't right now see what the misunderstanding is, and Bob, there ain't much more I can say, except you're a good guy, no hard feelings, this has been a good opportunity.

I'm going to get a vanity license plate


Posted by: BrianValentine | March 23, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

so you're saying the energy "produced" in burning fossil fuels is 1/16000 of the energy "recieved" (and absorbed?) by the earth from the sun?

if so, so what? we're not concerned about the energy "produced" by burning fossil fuels - it's the CO2.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 23, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

We're not, Walter?

That that sixteen thousand times as much solar energy has no influence on Earthly sources of carbon dioxide, Walter?

The oceans, the plants, the trees, the plain old carbonate rock sitting at the white cliffs of Dover - the sunlight has no influence on that stuff?


Posted by: BrianValentine | March 23, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Brian, Walter, All,
The world annual production of CO2-released into the air (some taken up by oceans and land) by consumption of fossil fuels is about 30 Billion metric tons. The CO2 concentration has increased about 40% in 200 years. The release of energy in the combustion of fossil fuels is NOT the anthropogenic element of climate change, the change in the makeup of the atmosphere (gas and aerosol) is. Happy to discuss the topic . . . not tangents

Posted by: bobryan1 | March 23, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

sorry...i don't understand your point in comparing energy from the sun and energy from burning fossil fuels. HELP!

of course i've heard how "if we could harness all the solar energy hitting earth..." we wouldn't need to burn fossil fuels. we wouldn't even be having this discussion...

i guess i don't see why it's a "energy" thing. i do understand about thermal equilibrium and all that, but the "problem" is not the energy produced by fossil fuels its the CO2. sorry for my ignorance.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 23, 2009 6:02 PM | Report abuse

ha! bob said exactly what i did! i didn't copy, i promise.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 23, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Well, I guess I should have said that “man is putting some CO2 in the atmosphere, but evidently man doesn’t have the influence Nature does.”

I am going to close up here, with my greetings and sincerest regards for Bob, and Walter, and Capital Weather Gang.

Than you Walter very much for helping me to be sure that everyhing is clear - I have learned very much from you, everyone is my teacher in some way and you have given me a great deal with your inquiring thoughts and refusal to accept anything but complete clarity.

All of us want to help other people and each of us has an individual perspective on doing that.

That is my only agenda – not political (I promise)

Look for a climatology paper from me in a couple months on possibly measuring CO2 radiation, and please write to me at any time.


Posted by: BrianValentine | March 23, 2009 6:27 PM | Report abuse

It's been fun. I hope anyone who has been following this can leave the "agenda" behind a bit and may look at the subject even a bit more objectively. I'm still trying to figure our what 10kg has to do with what's happening with the climate :>)

Turn out the lights.

Bob Ryan

Posted by: rtryan1 | March 23, 2009 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Thanks to all for commenting. Let's consider this thread closed.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | March 23, 2009 9:59 PM | Report abuse

So there are no comment rules, then?

Posted by: sock-puppet | March 24, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

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