Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
The new Washington
Post Weather website
Jump to CWG's
Latest Full Forecast
Outside now? Radar, temps
and more: Weather Wall
Follow us on Twitter (@capitalweather) and become a fan on Facebook
Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 09/10/2009

A Skeptical Take on Global Warming

By Matt Rogers

* Freedman: Response to Climate Depot Distortions -- New Comments *

This Capital Weather Gang blog entry is written with considerable trepidation given the politically-charged atmosphere surrounding human-induced global warming.

I am a meteorologist with a life-long weather fascination. As I'm sure you know, meteorology is an inexact science due to the large number of variables involved in predicting and understanding the weather. I frequently say that weather forecasting is a humbling endeavor, and I have learned to respect its challenges. From this perspective, you might be able to better understand why I wince when hearing pronouncements such as "the science is settled", "the debate is over", or even the "the temperature in the 2050s is projected to be..." I realize that forecasting climate and weather are different, but both involve a large number of moving parts.

There are numerous reasons why I question the consensus view on human-induced climate change covered extensively on this blog by Andrew Freedman. But for this entry, I scaled them down to ten:

(10) Hurricanes: One of the strongest value propositions presented for fighting global warming is to slow tropical cyclone intensity increases. Katrina was cited as a prime example. But the storm only made landfall as a category three (five being strongest) and affected a city built below sea level. Stronger storms have hit North America before, but the Katrina route and the weak levees made this situation much worse. I follow global hurricane activity closely and earlier this summer, we reached a record low. Florida State has a site that tracks global hurricane activity here. Since the 1990s, this activity has been decreasing, which goes against what we were told to expect on a warming planet.

(9) Ice Caps: In 2007, the Northern Hemisphere reached a record low in ice coverage and the Northwest Passage was opened. At that point, we were told melting was occurring faster than expected, and we needed to accelerate our efforts. What you were not told was that the data that triggered this record is only available back to the late 1970s. Prior to that, we did not have the satellite technology to measure areal ice extent. We know the Northwest Passage had been open before. In Antarctica, we had been told that a cooling of the continent was consistent with global climate models until a recent study announced the opposite was true. The lack of information and the inconsistencies do not offer confidence.

(8) El Niño: This feature in the Tropical Pacific Ocean occurs when water temperatures are abnormally warm. Some climate change researchers predicted that global warming would create more and stronger El Niño events like the powerhouse of 1997-98. Indeed in 2006, esteemed climate scientist James Hansen, predicted this. But we are now about to complete an entire decade without a strong El Niño event (three occurred in the 1980s-1990s). So the more recent 2007 IPCC report backtracked from Hansen's prediction, noting that there were too many uncertainties to understand how El Niño will behave with climate change. Recent research speaks to how important El Niño is to climate. In the past two decades, these warm El Niño and opposite cold La Niña events have accentuated the global temperature peaks and valleys highlighting the importance of natural variability and the limitations of the science.

(7) Climate Models: To be blunt, the computer models that policy-makers are using to make key decisions failed to collectively inform us of the flat global land-sea temperatures seen in the 2000s (see more on this in item 5 below). The UN IPCC did offer fair warning of model inadequacies in their 2007 assessment. They mentioned a number of challenges, which is wholly reasonable since countless factors contribute to our global climate system--many of them not fully understood. My belief is that they are over-estimating anthropogenic (human) forcing influences and under-estimating natural variability (like the current cold-phase Pacific Decadal Oscillation and solar cycles). The chaos theory describes why it is far more difficult to project the future than climate scientists may realize (I give them a break here since climate modeling is in its relative infancy). We poor hapless meteorologists learned the chaos theory lesson long ago.

(6) CO2 (Carbon Dioxide): The argument that the air we currently exhale is a bona fide pollutant due to potential impacts on climate change flummoxes me. CO2 is also plant food. Plants release oxygen for us, and we release CO2 for them. Over the summer, CO2 reached almost .04% of our total atmosphere as reported here. Because CO2 is but a sliver of our atmosphere, it is known as a "trace gas." We all agree that it is increasing, but is there a chance that our estimate of its influence on the Greenhouse Effect is overblown given its small atmospheric ratio?

(5) Global Temperatures: As a meteorologist, verification is very important for guiding my work and improving future forecasts. The verification for global warming is struggling. Three of four major datasets that track global estimates show 1998 as the warmest year on record with temperatures flat or falling since then. Even climate change researchers now admit that global temperature has been flat since that peak. As shown above, the CO2 chart continues upwards unabated. If the relationship is as solid as we are told, then why isn't global temperature responding? I'm told by climate change researchers that the current situation is within the bounds of model expectations. However, when I look at the IPCC 2007 AR4 WG1 report, I can see that without major warming in the next 1-2 years, we will fall outside those bounds. This is why I believe James Hansen is predicting a global temperature record in the next two years.

(4) Solar Issue: Look for this issue to get bigger. Our sun is currently becoming very quiet. Not only is the number of sunspots falling dramatically, but the intensity of the sunspots is weakening. The coincident timing of major solar minimums with cooler global temperatures (such as during the Little Ice Age) suggests that maybe the sun is underestimated as a component for influencing climate. The second half of the twentieth century (when we saw lots of warming) was during a major solar maximum period- which is now ending. Total solar irradiance has been steady or sinking similar to our global temperatures over much of this past decade. Indeed, recent research has suggested the solar factor is underestimated (here and here). Perhaps one day, we'll have a different version of James Carville's famous political quote...something like "It's the sun, stupid!"

(3) But what about...? Ultimately after I explain my viewpoint on climate change, I get this question: "But what about all this crazy weather we've been having lately?" As a student of meteorology, we learned about amazing weather events in the past that have not been rivaled in the present. Whether it was the 1900 Galveston Hurricane, the 1889 Johnstown Flood, or even the worst tornado outbreak in history (1974), we have and will continue to see crazy weather. Very few statistics are available that correctly show an increase in these "crazy" events.

(2) Silencing Dissent: I believe the climate is always changing. But what percentage of that change is human-induced? Like most, I believe that a more balanced energy supply benefits us politically due to the reduced reliance on foreign sources and benefits us locally due to improved air quality. But several times during debates individuals have told me I should not question the "settled science" due to the moral imperative of "saving the planet". As with a religious debate, I'm told that my disagreement means I do not "care enough" and even if correct, I should not question the science. This frightens me.

(1) Pullback: Does climate change hysteria represent another bubble waiting to burst? From the perspective of the alarmism and the saturation of the message, the answer could be yes. I believe that when our science or economic experts tend to be incorrect, it usually involves predictions that have underperformed expectations (Y2K, SARS, oil supply, etc). Can we think of any other expert-given, consensus-based, long-term predictions that have verified correctly? Not one comes to mind. I believe that predictions of human-caused climate change will continue to be overdone, and we'll discover that natural factors are equally and sometimes even more important.

Let me end by offering all the appropriate disclaimer information. I respect Andrew Freedman and his beliefs. We have had a number of discussions both publicly and privately regarding our differing viewpoints, and he has been nothing but respectful and professional. The viewpoints presented in this entry are my own and do not represent the Capital Weather Gang, the Washington Post, or my company, the Commodity Weather Group.

By Matt Rogers  | September 10, 2009; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  Climate Change, Science  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Learn How Scientists Predict Climate Change
Next: PM Update: Slow-Moving Storm Proves Tricky

Comments

Thank you Matt. Its refreshing to hear BOTH sides of the debate on global warming. Most of the time its not even acknowledged that there is even a debate.

Posted by: dave09 | September 10, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Well said. Very well said.

And much appreciated. I am sure that much grief will come your way because you had the temerity to make such a statement. Undoubtedly you too are aware of that. It took a big pair to post that. Bravo.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | September 10, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Very nice piece Matt. This type of measured skepticism mixed with some hard facts questioning the worst fears is largely lacking in the mainstream climate change world, and it's too bad. While I would certainly not argue we do nothing and just "see what happens", it seems that going to the extreme might be good for riling up opinion but it's not necessarily getting us to many answers. I think the debate would be better served by seeing more studies like this to go along with the others.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | September 10, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Nice piece. But on the issue of "predictions that have underperformed expectations", well, Y2K certainly didn't. At least among professionals in the IT field. In the late 90's people, governments, and corporations spent a lot of time and money fixing date problems in critical systems.

And we still had the time site at the Naval Observatory reporting the date as January 1 of the year 19100 for a few hours.

Posted by: wiredog | September 10, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

...Katrina was cited as a prime example. But the storm only made landfall as a category three (five being strongest) and affected a city built below sea level.

The wind scale for hurricanes is not the only measurement of its harmful effects. I think many people in Mississippi would remind you that the record storm surge did plenty of damage even if the winds were "only" category 3 at landfall.

Posted by: GISman | September 10, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Thanks everyone for your positive comments and thoughts.

A few quick replies:

Y2K: I was referring more to the predictions of doom rather than the problem itself.

Katrina: While a devastating storm/track, most agree that the Cat 5 Camille in 1969 was a stronger storm upon landfall.

Thanks for all your comments!

Posted by: MattRogers | September 10, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Ian-CapitalWeatherGang wrote, "While I would certainly not argue we do nothing and just "see what happens", it ..."

So what do you propose we do? Please be as specific as possible.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | September 10, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for writing this article, I'm sure the Washington Post is ready to turn you over to the angry mob outside the office with pitchforks and torches!

I can now resume reading this blog again, it got to the point where it started to look like the CWG just had an agenda.

Posted by: TheMot | September 10, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

If global warming is such an issue, why is the temperature at Summit Station, Greenland still subzero in August and September? [Note: I keep hearing the Greenland ice cap is melting away.]

Posted by: Bombo47jea | September 10, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Matt, thanks for stating your point of view without a political agenda. To many times pro man made climate change believers r labeled as left wing nuts & anti climate change people as right wing conservatives. Why climate change discussions so many times have 2 turn into a political debate is beyond me. While I do believe that climate change is occuring, the reason for it is open to debate. 99% man made causes or 99% natural, or somewhere in between, I don't think any1 knows 4 certain. I guess time will tell who's right.

Posted by: VaTechBob | September 10, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Bombo47jea, no one station can tell the whole story either way, but I did find this really cool site yesterday: Arctic Data

Thanks!

Posted by: MattRogers | September 10, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

As Crichton pointed out in "State of Fear" the data must be analyzed as a whole. The number of things not known is truly incredible. It should be pointed out that wide acceptance by the public of a proposition influences the amount of money spent to verify that acceptance. Contrary points of view are rarely financed.
Just remember that 80 years ago it was a settle scientific FACT that the continents were fixed in place and didn't move. Of course right now it is a settled scientific FACT that the continents move...or do they.

Posted by: dustyphoto | September 10, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Excellent article, you are right on. Science consists of theories that must be proven through observation. Observation shows that man made global warming is false.

Temperatures have been cooling for 10 years (in fact global temperatures have been cooler in 5 of the past 7 decades). Total global polar ice extent is near normal. CO2 as a percent of the atmosphere has only increased 1/10,000th since the 1700s.

More information on this website www.isthereglobalwarming.com

One more thing, the warmest year in the USA was 1934 and the warmest decade the 1930s, according to NASA. Nature causes temperature change, not man.

Posted by: gpp1111 | September 10, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Right on. Science consists of theories that must be proven through observation. This shows the man made global warming theory to be false.

The warmest year in the USA was 1934. The warmest decade was the 1930s. 5 of the ten warmest years in the USA since records began 114 years ago were before 1940.

Global temperatures have been declining in 5 of the last 7 decades.

Global polar ice extent is near normal, Antarctica has a record volume of sea ice.

CO2 has only increased 1/10,000th as a percent of the atmosphere since the 1700s.

The oceans are cooling. Lots more information at www.isthereglobalwarming.com

Posted by: gpp1111 | September 10, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

"(2) Silencing Dissent" is the biggest indicator that there is a massive problem with the so-called global warming crisis. By failing to embrace the US Chamber of Commerce's call for a very public hearing on the underlying science of global warming (the Sierra Club, for example, has a web site petition staunchly against it), the global warming believers are missing a GOLDEN opportunity to prove to all the world what's wrong with their critics. If their position is infallible, they have nothing to lose! This tactic of avoiding debate only gives the appearance that global warming believers have something to hide.

Posted by: RoaldA | September 10, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Matt - regarding Arctic sea ice, I think your argument is about as thin as the sea ice cover itself these days. It's well known that satellite measurements are limited in their time scale. There have been several studies recently that have used proxy data to determine a longer-term sea ice record, and they have indicated that the present era is extremely unusual. A new study this week also confirms sweeping changes in Arctic ecosystems as a result of warming. Have you read the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment from 2004? Or the NOAA Annual Arctic Report Cards? Or the many studies emanating from experts at the National Snow and Ice Data Center? In addition, there are records of sea ice extent and thickness dating back to the Cold War era when nuclear submarines regularly prowled that region, all of which indicate that we are in a different regime today.

To say that the jury is out on whether what is going on now is unusual dramatically contradicts the message coming from the mainstream scientific community.

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | September 10, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if Mr Rogers is familiar with the idea that a small amount of CO2; like 280 ppm at pre-industrial levels, will absorb most of the earths emmited radiation, and add maybe 2 degC to global temperature. Additional amounts of CO2 will absorb only the IR not absorbed initially.

By this theory, we are way past the point where adding more CO2 will have any noticible effect. We could double or triple the present amount of CO2 and no one would notice.

Take 2:

There seems to be a serious disagreement about the lifetime of CO2 in the atmosphere. There is a lot of peer reviewed scientific paper that claims 4 to 8 years, while IPCC uses 50 to 200 years for their climate models. Why?

Posted by: jecircle021 | September 10, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

More on Y2K (check the document date) here:
http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc2550

Posted by: wiredog | September 10, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Matt - on Hurricanes, you wrote that "One of the strongest value propositions presented for fighting global warming is to slow tropical cyclone intensity increases." Where are you getting that from? My reporting, and my general impression of the state of the science, has always been that the science is quite uncertain about changes in tropical cyclone intensity and frequency, with a number of studies showing that some intensification may occur in a warming world, but that it may not be all that dramatic. Also, it's inaccurate to say that hurricane activity has been decreasing since the 1990s. You're citing one specific metric from Florida State, which contradicts that of many other studies. Many experts believe that we are in a naturally-occurring more active phase of Atlantic tropical cyclone activity, for example, which is generally supported by the number of storms in most years since 1995 (as compared to the 1970s and 80s.

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | September 10, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Let me plug a couple of books I think you would all be interested in.

The Chilling Stars
by Henrik Svensmark

Heaven and Earth
by Ian Plimer

If these books are in error, I wouild like to know why.

Posted by: jecircle021 | September 10, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Re: El Nino - the view that climate change would cause a more permanent el nino-like state, or at least more frequent or intense el nino events, has never been a widespread view in the scientific community. Again you are taking one study and using it to refute an entire body of scientific research on the differences between natural climatic variability and human influenced climate change. The 1997-98 event was unusual in its strength, and comparable to that of the early 1980s. The lack of a strong el nino event in this decade is not surprising to scientists that study el nino, and it does not necessarily illustrate the "limitations of the science" as you stated. It does, however, show the importance of natural variability. Generally, the IPCC and other climate science studies have shown that natural variability will act to enhance or subtract some of the man made climate change signal at varying time scales. For example, the presence of an el nino this year is expected to bump up global temperatures somewhat from where they otherwise might be.

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | September 10, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Matt and any others who have an interest in climate modeling, and the differences between climate and weather models, may wish to attend a briefing on climate modeling being held at the Koshland Museum on Sept. 17. (I have nothing to do with the briefing, just saw the ad via email today).

Emerging Science of Climate Change
Date: September 17, 2009
Time: 6:30 PM
Location: Koshland Science Museum
Cost: $7/ $5 students

Scientists do not use a crystal ball to see the future, so how can they predict future climate change? Do new modeling systems and ever faster computers impact scientists’ understanding of climate change? Learn about new methods that scientists are developing for understanding climate change and what these tools suggest about the planet 200 years from now. Discover the basics of how climate models work and how our ability to predict changes in climate has evolved over time from Dr. Michael Winton, an oceanographer at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) of the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA). Dr. Jay Gulledge, Senior Scientist at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, will discuss how scientists use information from climate change models in their research and how this information can be used today to make decisions.

Light refreshments will be provided. To learn more and RSVP, visit http://www.koshland-science-museum.org/events/upcomingevent.jsp?id=360.

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | September 10, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Matt - your argument re: the influence of CO2 is extremely common in the climate change skeptic community, and scientists working on the issue have spent many decades trying to determine the influence of carbon dioxide and other gases on the climate system. They have a remarkably solid understanding of this, according to the peer reviewed literature, despite how difficult it is for you to understand that yes, a gas you exhale may be a big problem despite its benefits to the biosphere. Think of it this way - too much of a good thing (especially something the planet is used to having in small amounts) can be a bad thing.

Have you read "The Discovery of Global Warming" by Spencer Weart? I highly recommend it for all readers interested in how scientific understanding of climate change, and of carbon dioxide and other gases' role in it, has evolved during the past few centuries.

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | September 10, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Matt - I must take issue with your disclaimer at the bottom of the piece. You state that you respect "my beliefs." While I appreciate the sentiment (and the respect is mutual), it's important that you and all of our readers understand that when I write about climate change on this site and elsewhere, I am (unless otherwise indicated) not stating my beliefs but rather am reporting on what scientists have found and what they believe is most likely happening based on the evidence they have uncovered. I am a journalist, not an advocate, and although you may have meant nothing by your comment, I feel I have to clarify that so people do not get the wrong impression of my role.

Now, from time to time I do offer up my opinion on a climate-related matter, as I did last week when calling for President Obama to address climate science in a high profile speech. But that is not my dominant role on this site. There is a major difference between offering a personal take on a matter, which you have done in this post, and presenting a disinterested account of developments.

Furthermore, I find it a bit odd that you framed the piece almost like a refutation of what I have written on this site since we got started more than a year ago. You shouldn't really be addressing this to me, given my role here, but rather to the many reaches of the scientific community that you are disagreeing with.

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | September 10, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Re: "Silencing Dissent" - this is another thing I hear often from climate skeptics. Can you provide any actual instance (rather than conversations you have had with people) where your views on climate science have been silenced? I mean, doesn't the fact that you're publishing this on this web site mean that you're free to express your views?

Freedom of expression is key to a healthy scientific process, and to democracy in general.

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | September 10, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Matt - A colleague pointed out to me the references you were using in the IPCC reports regarding El Nino. I now see what you were saying, and you're right that between the third and fourth assessment reports the group backed off from the idea that climate change may make el ninos more intense. I was basing my comment on discussions with top el nino experts at Columbia University and elsewhere, and studies I have read. I stand corrected on that point. However, I do stand by my point that The lack of a strong el nino event in this decade is not surprising to scientists that study el nino, and it does not necessarily illustrate the "limitations of the science" as you stated. It does, however, show the importance of natural variability. Generally, the IPCC and other climate science studies have shown that natural variability will act to enhance or subtract some of the man made climate change signal at varying time scales. For example, the presence of an el nino this year is expected to bump up global temperatures somewhat from where they otherwise might be."

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | September 10, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Thank you dustyphoto and gpp1111 and RoaldA, I totally agree with you that a public hearing would be a positive step forward. Jecircle021, I had just recently read about potential cap that CO2 has regarding its ability to influence our environment. Could that explain the lack of warming this decade? I blamed un-resolved natural variability, but maybe your theory is more accurate? Good thoughts!

Posted by: MattRogers | September 10, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Andrew, thanks for ALL your comments. Where to begin? I'll start from the beginning. (1) Arctic Sea Ice- I hear you on the proxy data, but I believe it is extremely difficult to replicate geospatial data. Let's be honest. The Northwest Passage was called the Northwest passage because it was open before! It didn't open this year. No one cared to report that. (2) Hurricanes- Most meteorologists prefer the ACE index for a measure of overall intensity, which is what I referenced. Do you believe others measure this index differently? If you say there is conflicting data, then that doesn't support the idea of a settled science to me, which goes back to the point of my article. (3) Silencing dissent- I REALLY appreciate the opportunity given to me by the Capital Weather Gang to present my case. And I understand playing innocence about this issue. I'm sure you've never heard of anyone threatening to revoke certifications or anyone comparing skeptics to other more nefarious types in order to silence them. (4) Regarding your last points, I believe the lack of a strong El Nino this decade is tied to our inability to move the global temperature above the 1998 peak. And I believe our inability to predict that ("natural variability") is an amorphous uncertainty that will continue to challenge the climate models. Maybe I'm wrong and things will get "back on track" in the 2010s, but I'd feel better if we had a better explanation of the shortcomings than "natural variability".

Thanks so much for your input!

Posted by: MattRogers | September 10, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

The Spendocrats are desperate to pass cap and tax now to set the stage for selling US Citizens down the river at the Copenhagen Accord in December to allow a foreign power to have taxing authority over US citizens. Obama has been trying for that for years (take a look at the two or three bills he tried to propose while he was in the Senate). The liberal shill papers are starting to ramp this up to try and get it passed. Cap and tax needs to go the way of the government health care option and be flushed down the toilet.

The other issue is the Spendocrats know they are going to take a beating in 2010, which cannot get here soon enough. A 30 to 50 seat swing in the House would be a good start.

Posted by: Bubbette1 | September 10, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Dear Mr. Rogers - frankly a lot of your argument sounds like you are attacking a variety of straw men you (or those who are skeptics) have created. You are mixing a wide variety of assertions in your post. Some of these issues continue to be the subject of legitimate scientific debate - (like hurricane and ENSO effects) but some (like the predicted, measurable, and testable effects of CO2) are simply beyond any kind of legitimate scientific question at this point. And some of your assertions ("(2) Silencing Dissent" - you mean like the Bush administration trying to silence Jim Hansen?) have nothing to do with science at all.

Furthermore as a meteorologist, you ought to be familiar with the distinction laid out by the WMO in defining climate - http://www.wmo.int/pages/themes/climate/understanding_climate.php - "weather is what is happening to the atmosphere at any given time. Climate in a narrow sense is usually defined as the "average weather," or more rigorously, as the statistical description in terms of the mean and variability of relevant quantities over a period of time."

That period of time to determine statistical properties is necessarily many years - we all (except perhaps San Franciscans) experience weather changing dramatically from year to year. Trends over a period even as long as 10 years are not really long enough to see climate changes. The expected change in global average temperature from the increased CO2 of the past decade is only about 0.2 degrees C, hardly discernible amongst year-to-year natural variations. And the fact is, every year of the 21st century has been hotter than all but 1 or 2 years of the 20th. That's hardly a sign of cooling!

Posted by: arthurpsmith | September 10, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Funny you should mention the Northwest Passage. We had a ~25 minute discussion this morning on whether or not to declare it open or not. We decided that there was just enough ice left in Victoria Strait to keep it closed but it may open for a short period in the next week or so.

Posted by: Brian-CapitalWeatherGang | September 10, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

But how do they compare to the 19th Century? or the 18th? How about the 15th century? The answer is you can't give anything more than a guess for those time periods. You can talk about "proxy data" all you want, but at the end of the day it is still a guess. You are assuming that the 20th century temps were the "perfect" or "normal" temps that would have stayed the same if evil mankind had never showed up.

Posted by: octopi213 | September 10, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Hi Arthur, thanks very much for your comments. Our 11.5 year inability to match or exceed the 1998 peak isn't any just 11.5 year period. It is the 11.5 year period with the highest CO2 injections! I take this all very seriously and went to all four global data sets to accumulate the data myself. MS Excel tells me the slope is negative! You can see that here: all four sources

And I understand your point about CO2. Unfortunately, given the nature of the situation, we can't use the scientific method to prove the connection with CO2 and warming.

Thanks!

Posted by: MattRogers | September 10, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Brian. What is leading your thinking about a 2005-style second dip?

Posted by: MattRogers | September 10, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Thank you so much, Matt. You have laid out what many people find intuitive, but lack your ability to articulate. Thank you, too, to Capital Weather for printing this. I know most of you had to hold your nose to do so, since this website has always sided with the alarmists.

Re: silencing skeptics. There have been stories about this. Here is just one, and it addresses the oft-cited James Hansen example.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124657655235589119.html

Posted by: marylandmom1 | September 10, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

(please ignore my "pending moderator approval" post - I'll split that into parts)

I appreciate that Mr. Rogers presented this piece with modesty and little to no demagoguing. And I mean no offense to him, as I'm sure he's a wonderful meteorologist and likely understands this subject better than the average layperson. But is there any chance we will ever hear from a real live *publishing* climate researcher in the Washington Post - one of the nation's supposed "newspapers of record" which historically has driven policy? Is it really too much to ask to actually have a peer-reviewed expert IN THE FIELD IN QUESTION comment on a scientific question? Instead, Fred Hiatt's conservative denial fishwrapper serves us: political history expert George Will muddling the artic data, Danish economist Bjorn Lomborg (who was censured there for academic dishonesty for presenting his books as science) pooh-poohing the consensus, and for cripes' sake even advice columnist Emily Yoffe gets to chime in with a "there there" editorial telling us it's nothing to worry about. I've read this paper for years and I'm still waiting to see one of the 97% of practicing peer-reviewed climate researchers who say we are driving this* make an appearance on its pages. The propaganda-by-omission tilt is maddening. I realize most of the public (well, outside of the Fox viewers) is now generally well informed on this, so perhaps it is seen as a subject that only the skeptics need to be heard from? That's a dangerous approach to journalism, I believe, as people can start to think that the scientific view has changed, which it hasn't.

* http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090119210532.htm

It would be nice to see someone authoritatively address the ten points that Rogers politely presented here. In lieu of that, I'll make a few scattered points of my own.

(10) The last I heard, the climate-hurricane connection literature was still somewhat unsettled, so this is a reasonable point. Although the prevailing theory still points to more frequent and damaging storms in general, if I'm not mistaken. But yes, Katrina *was* a "bad luck" flashpoint of hitting a very vulnerable spot.

Posted by: B2O2 | September 10, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

(continued)

(7) It seems reasonable to expect that chaos theory can impact both short term weather forecasting and long-term climate prediction. And sure, there could be nonlinear interactions that provide homoclinic points that put up an unexpected "firewall" between us and the very challenging future the current models mostly predict. But Occam's Razor (or is it just ordinary prudence?) would seem to indicate that you do not *count* on some unexpected "strange attractor" coming to your rescue. And in a more general sense, while I truly appreciate Rogers' humility here in recognizing that climate and weather are different beasts, I do wonder if Rogers' chastening at the hands of chaos in his profession has made him overly sensitive to its power. I say that because - as has been pointed out before - weather forecasting is a MUCH noisier proposition than is long-term climate forecasting. And it is primarily noise that makes that butterfly so fickle.

I like to give the example of two different weather predictions. One is, "tell me if it will be hotter or colder a week from now (Sept. 17)". The other is "tell me if it will be hotter or colder four months from now (January 10)". The first one is akin to weather forecasting, and is INCREDIBLY doused in noise. You guys at the CWG are practically dregdging through a mile-thick soup of mud for a lost paper clip. God bless you when you're able to get it right. This is the one that has Rogers suitably humbled, but he is (I believe) inappropriately projecting that humility onto the second question, which is indeed akin to climate forecasting. Gross models, blunt driving forces. In climate forecasting they are dealing much less in the noise. It's actually easier in many ways. The uncertainties are in whether you understand the system you're modeling as well as you think you do (ie, earth revolves around sun, northern hemisphere tilts away from it in January, voila!). But the uncertainty from weather forecasting doesn't really relevantly *inform* the particular uncertainty in the other arena. It's sort of like saying, "hitting an 80-mph curve ball is difficult, so imagine how nervous I am about that medieval Lithuanian literature exam I've got next week!". It just doesn't follow, necessarily.

Posted by: B2O2 | September 10, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

(1) The use of the "fizzled Y2K hysteria" by climate change skeptics is a particular pet peeve of mine, and Matt's response to one of the commenters -

"Y2K: I was referring more to the predictions of doom rather than the problem itself."

- indicates to me that he doesn't appreciate why it is annoying. The typical model, when society is confronted by a potential threat and things work right, is this:

1. Scientists (or experts of some sort) notice a coming problem.
2. The experts write about it. Hopefully loudly, though historically scientists are much more shy about this step than the skeptics on climate currently seem to assume.
3. Policymakers notice. They debate. They decide.
4. They dispatch some means of prophylaxis or remediation.
5. The problem is averted.
6. (Optional, depending on the politics of the issue.) Skeptics come out like happy worms after the rain and writhe in the sun, saying "See! Sky not fall!". Experts roll eyes and go back to scouring sky for asteroids headed toward planet.

Time and again, this model has served us well. It worked that way on acid rain, it worked that way on the ozone hole, and it worked that way on Y2K. Literal armies (albeit nerdy and very quiet ones) deployed, diving into masses of legacy COBOL code deep in the bowels of the world's financial systems. They fixed all the incredibly mundane and boring coding holes (none of which was Watson and Crick material, so you didn't get sexy covers of Time and Newsweek telling you the exciting details). The clock struck 2000, and voila! Wonderful, stablized, model-affirming NOTHING. And a perfect anticlimax for people like Matt and Mr. Q here to point to when climate change is discussed. Chicken Little is full of it, see?

Sorry for the long rant. It is my poor attempt to plug the holes in Mr. Hiatt's irresponsible editorial page.

Posted by: B2O2 | September 10, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

By the way, I didn't mean to be snide toward the folks at the CWG in my reference to Fred Hiatt's editorial page (you guys aren't part of that). I appreciate the blog very much whenever I come here, and admire the generally civil back and forth on subjects that are unfortunately controversial these days.

My annoyance is mainly directed toward the paper as a whole, which prints climate change news pretty reasonably but the editorial side is a delusional nightmare.

Posted by: B2O2 | September 10, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

I'm not really thinking about a secondary dip in the ice cover is necessary for the NW passage to open. we've still got a week or so of genuine "melt-season". We've gone into daily coverage mode to determine the minimum ice extent for this year so it should come soon. Still, even after the minimum, the southern areas can still melt whilst in the more northern regions begin to freeze again. Typically the Canadian Archipelago reaches it's minimum ice extent in mid-late Sept. just a tad later than the hemispheric minimum, then freezes quickly due to the shallow water depth. I'll post the current Canadian ice chart(ours won't be posted until Fri. night) for the Queen Maude Gulf region of the NW passage, the only area still containing significant ice. You'll notice that there is a several mile wide pathway of ice that is of 2/10ths concentration(the green areas labeled P). It wouldn't take much more melting (or even the right wind direction) for these areas to be declared open water,

http://ice-glaces.ec.gc.ca/prods/WIS38CT/20090909180000_WIS38CT_0004564743.gif

Posted by: Brian-CapitalWeatherGang | September 10, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Hi Matt,

First, thanks for taking the time to respond to comments. I have a few questions-

"The Northwest Passage was called the Northwest passage because it was open before!"

This is undeniably false. The Northwest Passage was a *theoretical* route long before it was ever successfully navigated. Its name is absolutely zero evidence of whether or not its opening is anomalous or not. What is the basis for your claim that it was previously open?

"I believe the lack of a strong El Nino this decade is tied to our inability to move the global temperature above the 1998 peak."

Can you elaborate on this? It sounds like you're confusing cause and effect.

On tropical cyclones, polar ice, and ENSO can you please state your *specific* disagreements with the consensus (as represented by the AR4)?

On CO2, you ask, "We all agree that it is increasing, but is there a chance that our estimate of its influence on the Greenhouse Effect is overblown given its small atmospheric ratio?"

Can you please elaborate on this? This is a non sequitur. The percentage of CO2 relative to the rest of our atmospheric gases has no bearing on its properties as a greenhouse gas; i.e. it doesn’t cease being a greenhouse gas simply because it is a relatively small percentage of the total atmosphere.

"I wince when hearing pronouncements such as ‘the science is settled’"

Can you cite who made that pronouncement? I’ve looked into this allegation by "skeptics" and I’m having a hard time finding the claim itself as opposed to the allegation that the claim has been made.

On temperatures "not warming", are you aware of the length of time necessary to make meaningful statement with regard to climatologically relevant temperature trends? Have you read the 2009 paper "Is the climate warming or cooling?" by Easterling and Wehner?

Regarding the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, are you aware that it is *by definition* unable to drive long term climatic change? Can you explain why you believe the PDO is responsible for driving the current warming rather or more than GHGs?

Posted by: thingsbreak | September 10, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Thank you very much to Matt Rogers, for your highly appreciated message.

[Capital Weather - if you feel dismayed by Matt's essay, why then by all means, please feel free to take your frustration out on me if you care to do so.

You sock puppet, Valentine!

You denier!

You got your "science" all goofed up, HA HA HA

etc etc]

Posted by: BrianValentine | September 10, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

"Jecircle021, I had just recently read about potential cap that CO2 has regarding its ability to influence our environment. Could that explain the lack of warming this decade? I blamed un-resolved natural variability, but maybe your theory is more accurate? Good thoughts! "

If there's a potential cap to CO2's influence, that would be news to most radiation and climate experts. CO2 forcing at the top of the atmosphere certainly has a logarithmic relationship with concentration at the present concentration (at very low and very high concentrations the relationship is different), but we have a pretty good idea of the direct impact of additional CO2, and it is not zero. This is not disputed even by most of the standard "skeptics".

According to published literature (Kiehl & Trenberth, 1997), the "trace gas" CO2 contributes more than 20% of the greenhouse gas forcing in the atmosphere (water vapor and clouds contribute the bulk of the remainder). Current forcing from human additions of CO2 is already nearing the equivalent of making the Sun 1% brighter, which doesn't sound insignificant to me.

The question on total impact to the climate system has to do with feedbacks, where there legitimate uncertainties - which the IPCC and most researchers acknowledge quite readily.

Posted by: marcusmarcus | September 10, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

wørd

Posted by: gorak | September 10, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Apparently Matt got a few things out of order:
(10) 15
(9) 10
(8) 48
(7) 5
(6) 38
(5) 8
(4) 1
(3) Strawman: weather is not climate
(2) Fact-free personal opinion
(1) See here.
(0) The trolls and troglodytes are eating it up. 'Nuff said.

Posted by: CapitalClimate | September 10, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

"The Northwest Passage was called the Northwest passage because it was open before!"

That's not good logic. We name plenty of things that may or may not exist - unicorns, the Higgs Boson, Atlantis. While I can't speak to whether the Northwest Passage was open sometime in deep history, it seems unlikely that it was open during the time it was named by European explorers who _failed_ to find the hoped for passage. In addition, there is no evidence that those ships that successfully made the passage in the past century (starting with Amundsen's 3 year voyage, but including a number of traverses in the satellite period) did so with an "open" passage as indicated by satellite ala 2007. (of course, conversely, the satellite image didn't necessarily mean that a ship could have actually scooted through in time, though it seems likely since other ships made it when there wasn't a clear sight line all the way through).

Posted by: marcusmarcus | September 10, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Let's face it - based upon most of our day to day, season to season impressions of "climate" - unless we have spent significant time in remote regions north of the Arctic Circle during some seasons

- then acceptance of AGW becomes mostly a matter of faith; there is nothing wrong with faith in science, but at some point, the adequation of "global warming" to "the particular environment in which I live" would have to be made - and experience weighed against propositions accepted on faith

- Thomas Troll Troglodyte

Posted by: BrianValentine | September 10, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Q.,

For starters energy independence through use of clean technologies, working toward a smart grid and all that comes with it, strong cooperation with countries like China to reduce emissions, etc.

I think I look at it through a slightly different lens than is often discussed here. Instead of saying things should be done because the world is on the edge of an abyss and about to fall in (for sure, of course) I say do it because it's the right thing to do anyway. Given my day job, I think I have energy security and climate change falling under a lot of the same vision for a future world, if not for sometimes different reasons.

I'm not a climate change denier, I believe there is something going on, but I'm very hesitant to side with doomsday scenarios. For one, it sells and things that sell sometimes morph simply because they sell. Two, extremes often don’t pan out when it comes to prediction (someone can rebut that they aren’t going with the warmest modeling or such, but that's not the point).

Fact and opinion don't always differ as much as they should, and opinions can become "fact" when a lot of people share them and/or there are a lot of numbers involved. Facts can also become non-facts. Any prediction is inherently full of possibility to fail, and error generally grows as one gets further away from the current time. I think that's true of any forecasting, be it weather, strategic, political, economic or otherwise.

I don't know how something predicted decades in advance can be treated as infallible, but the argument always goes back to "well, we have the scientific community behind us". That's great, but it's still a forecast. Forecasts are wrong all the time.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | September 10, 2009 5:45 PM | Report abuse

It is curious how often people arguing against climate change juxtapose one argument "the temperature didn't rise in the last 10 years!" with another "the sun is very quiet!" and don't add 2+2.

If one really believes that the sun is very quiet and should be cooling the planet, then it should be surprising that temperatures are still at higher than for almost any time during the last century and haven't cooled off (the cooling you show in your trends since 1998 aren't statistically significant, and linear OLS trends starting in '97 or '99 are all positive).

CO2 forcing should lead to a warming trend ON TOP OF natural variability, and most experts think that the last 11 years are not long enough to prove that the climate sensitivity is low (the record size of the '98 El Nino and the surprising quietness of the sun can certainly explain at least part of the decrease in the rate in rise). If we don't see "renewed" warming in the next 4-5 years, _then_ I'll be surprised. (absent Pinatubo-sized volcanoes, meteor strikes, or the sun dropping in intensity by a percent or two)

Posted by: marcusmarcus | September 10, 2009 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Matt

Very cogent comments except for your comment on how such a small proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere could have a major effect. Consider nuclear fission: Only thr trace component U235 fissions, yet heavy water moderated nuclear reactors provide electric power fueled by natural Uranium of which U235 is olnly a trace component.

Posted by: artanddora | September 10, 2009 5:58 PM | Report abuse

I am astonished to see people taking this list of poorly supported talking points as if it presented a coherent point of view. This looks dashed off in an awful hurry.

I don't think it's worthy of a detailed rebuttal, but I'll offer one just a tiny bit more extensive than the answer-by-numbers, because someone just insisted on one in email.

point 10: What a mess! Katrina did hit cat 5 at one point; atlantic hurricanes are not all hurricanes; there have been very active Atlantic hurricane years of late as we all recall; there are strong theoretical reasons to expect increases in tropical storms, ten years is not a climatological trend. Just a mess!

9: As far as I know, the Northwest passage has not normally been open. The volume of Arctic sea ice has been in rapid decline since the 1980s, and the total area in the last decade. Vague intimations that things "might have" been similar in the past carry no more weight than contrary speculations.

8: El Nino is important. Acknowledged by everyone. As far as E; Nino is concerned, 1997/98 was unprecedented in 150 years. Lack of a recurrence in 10 is not surprising. So?

7: Flat global temperatures are well within the decadal variability of climate model realizations.

6: CO2 is relatively rare. Stipulated. Otherwise devoid of content.

5: Essentially repeats #7. Time is too short for conclusive estimate of climate trends.

4: The sun is important. Stipulated.

3: "Crazy weather". Not part of the science. Straw man.

2: Stifling dissent: We scientists are hopelessly outnumbered. It's a royal pain in the butt to answer the huge amount of noise out there. Yet if we ever are terse or exasperated we are accused of bad things. Anyway, even if we are ill-tempered that doesn't make us wrong. And scientific facts are not about "assent" or "dissent", they are about evidence and confidence.

1: Pullback: A statement of belief without supporting evidence. Should not appear in an article discussing a quantitative matter.

This list is supposed to affect our opinions how?

Posted by: mtobis | September 10, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

One of the things that strikes me is reading the debate between Mr. Freedman and Mr. Rogers is the level of arrogance which comes across very clearly Mr. Freedman's posts and assertions. And I see this sort of thing played out in the media all the time. It is often difficult to determine whom is more arrogant -----the fanatic anti-global warming crowd often led by AccuWeather and Fox news or the journalists who don't seem to understand what science is really about such as Mr. Freedman.

I understand Mr. Freedman's frustration with some of the loony far right assertions about global man-made warming (euphemistically called AGW). Their grasp of science that many of them have is pretty thin and it is often religiously influenced. This is because most of them don't understand how science works or how it is suppose to work. Those on the political far right are often pretty religious so the idea that scientific theories and paradigms can change and SHOULD change is something that they simply don't understand. Religious ideas do not the most part change. What fundamentalist Christians believed 1000 years ago is pretty much what they believe now.

Science is not supposed to be dogmatic. It is supposed thrive in the marketplace of open ideas ....skepticism ...and the scientific method. When I was a kid growing up the ruling paradigm with regard to the demise of the dinosaurs was based upon the idea that dinosaurs were cold-blooded stupid and were killed by the changing climate. Wrong.... wrong... and wrong.

However sympathetic I am with regard to the frustration Mr. Freeman has with the far right and their fanatical denial of global warming I don't think it improves the scientific debate to engage in a type of behavior -- arrogance and dogma-- that the far right is known for.

For example Mr. Freedman regularly demands to know of any cases where dissent has been suppressed. Here ya go Mr. Freedman... and as you click on that Link folks know that Mr. Freedman was at the heart of the call for suppressing rational skeptical dissent towards mainstream global warming theory .

http://wx-man.com/blog/?p=500

It appears then that Mr. Freedman has a
...ahem....bad memory.

Dr Heidi Cullen formerly of the Weather Channel ... back in December 2006 called for decertification of any and ALL meteorologists that doubted Global warming. Yet Mr. Freeman has no idea ... apparently... that this occurred. Dr Cullen openly called for... in several different forums... the decertification by the AMS of any meteorologist or climatologist that calls and the question man-made global warming (AGW).

If that is not suppressing dissent what is? Since many TV stations will only hire a meteorologist that is AMS certified... her call was essentially a demand that those skeptics be fired and not be allowed to earn a living because they did not believe what she believed.

Amazingly the controversy involving Dr. Heidi Cullen was started by guess who folks? yes Andrew Freedman over at here at capital weather Blog. Yet Mr. Freedman claims to know of No instances of any AGW calling by a suppression of dissent.

 
There are other examples of Mr. Freedman apparently being quite arrogant. For example. In his counterpoint to Matt Rogers point about Sea ice Mr. Freedman wrote

" To say that the jury is out on whether what is going on now is unusual dramatically contradicts the message coming from the mainstream scientific community..."

well Duuuuh! That is why Matt Rogers is raising the point about the sea.... because that is NOT suppose to be happening

Another example... on the issue of overall global tropical cyclone activity Mr. Freedman asked Matt "where are you getting that from?".

For someone from immersed in mainstream science it's hard to see how Mr. Freeman is questioning that data. It pretty common and well known. Of course I have no idea if this data is significant with regard to the global warming debate or not. I am surprised that Mr. Freedman does not know about it.

Here is another example. On the issue of climate warming and El Niño Mr. Freedman arrogantly asserts that matt Rogers is:

" taking one study and using it to refute an entire body of scientific research on the differences between natural climatic variability and human influenced climate change" and goes on to say " the view that climate change would cause a more permanent el nino-like state, or at least more frequent or intense el nino events, has NEVER been a widespread view in the scientific community".

But at a later post --September 10 2008 241 pm-- Mr. Freedman after asserting No such connection has been proven or exists ... then says this:

"Jason just pointed out to me the references you were using in the IPCC reports regarding El Nino. I now see what you were saying, and you're right that between the third and fourth assessment reports the group backed off from the idea that climate change may make el ninos more intense."

opps.


Nor is it appropriate for Mr. Freedman to assert that Mr. Rogers is kind of stupid
...but Mr Freedman did just that when it comes to the CO2 influence argument.

"They have a remarkably solid understanding of this, according to the peer reviewed literature, despite how difficult it is for you to understand that yes, a gas you exhale may be a big problem despite its benefits to the biosphere"


At the end of his numerous rebuttals Mr. Freedman says that he is not stating beliefs but reporting what scientists have found. On that point I do not doubt Mr. Freedman. He admits to be a journalist but it is also certain he is no scientist and doesn't have the first basic understanding of how science is supposed to work.

These small seemingly unrelated pieces of data or unanswered questions that Matt Rogers posted and brought to the debate is suppose to trigger more debate moe research and more answers. Mr. Freedman as a journalist doesn't get this... and thus his responses come across with the tone
"stop challenging mainstream authority by asking difficult questions otherwise I will call you a kook." .

Finally Mr. Freedman concludes that from time to time he does offer an opinion on climate related matters.

Mr. Freedman you are not qualified. AS a journalist I don't care what your opinions are on global warming. Others might. Those who know and understand science really could do without the condescending attitude.

Posted by: wxrisk | September 10, 2009 7:04 PM | Report abuse

This is disappointing on so many levels. Mostly in that I expect anyone deserving of a platform such as this to do the basic homework, to have the historical and scientific literacy, to treat the subject, and us readers, seriously. I don't wish to deny the author the platform for expressing an argument, but I do expect that he would do so with considerably more care.
I also object to several specific points:
10) Nobody has ever claimed that we'd see more hurricanes b/c of climate change, and it certainly has not been anywhere near the top ten worrisome impacts (these would include sea level rise, species migration or extinction, increased drought in some areas and/or seasons and increased deluge in other areas/seasons). The closest I ever heard a scientist say was "increased hurricane intensity is the kind of result we might expect from climate change" - not frequency, and not even necessarily predicting increased intensity.
9) Ice caps - you admit the data we have shows arctic sea ice at record minimums in recent years, but discount it because of your, quite hilarious, false belief that there existed a "Northwest Passage" in the past. My history tells me that this was a myth motivating 15th century exploration, and only fortified ships starting in the 20th century have ever been able to break through the ice. By your reasoning, the Caribbean really is in South Asia because Columbus thought it was!
8)El Nino and the Atlantic oscillation are complicated phenomena that are difficult to model, as is climate. You cite this difficulty as a reason not to trust the theory of climate change. I agree they are complicated, and I believe you when you say the IPCC revised its understanding of the role between their latest reports. But nothing in that invalidates the theory of climate change.
7) Similar to 8, you are saying that the complexity of models makes you believe the whole theory is suspect. Since you are incorrect in your assertion of a temperature "plateau," you are incorrect about the model failing to recognize it, but what is more disturbing is that you are saying that because climate modeling is complex and because of chaos theory, you conclude modeling cannot work. This is a false logical conclusion, a false application of chaos theory, and frankly is more indicative of intellectual laziness than insight. If you can do the work to actually prove a failure, please do so. Otherwise, you are just assuming.
6) CO2. This is the laziest assertion in the post. I'm sorry you have a hard time understanding this, but yes, trace gases that happen to absorb radiation particularly well can indeed affect climate. The physics are really quite straightforward, and have been _universally_ accepted and confirmed by experiment for over three centuries.
5) Global Temperatures - first, your assertion of a "plateau" is flatly incorrect - please consult the National Climatic Data Center's "State of the Climate" (http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/index.php?report=global&year=2008&month=ann) to see that the warmest year on record was 2005, and that 8 of the warmest ten years on record occurred after 2001, the other two being 1998 and 1997. Further, the authors that you cite as "admitting" a plateau say, in bold, on the very website you link to, that they are NOT claiming that a slowdown in temperature increase undermines the overall trend of global warming. To so baldly suggest differently in your post frankly calls into question your honesty.
4) the solar issue. Again, the papers you cite actually reference something different than you suggest - they are about the influence of sunspots on short-term weather, not long-term climate. As for their effect on climate, my understanding is that no scientist (and two particularly dedicated astrophysicists at Harvard continue to try) has yet been able to show that they could possibly be responsible for the observed warming trends. The physics just don't add up.
3) But what about such-and-such weather event? Arguments to this effect are not made by any serious researcher or analyst. They are of a level akin to your "I exhale CO2 so it can't be a pollutant" argument and belong in a barroom argument, not in serious discussion.
2) Dissent. Silencing dissent is of course objectionable and worrying. While I recognize that some people (perhaps understandably motivated by concern for they and their loved ones' future) may act in a way contrary to our best beliefs in free inquiry, I also recognize that some interest groups are out there deliberately funding and publishing pure lies and distortions to avoid addressing the threat of climate change. I challenge you to find significant examples of actual scientific research that meets common standards of rigor and objectivity not being promptly accepted and debated. Dissent is integral to the scientific process, and I believe most scientists would strenuously object to the suggestion that there has been any slackening in dissent.
1) I don't even understand what you're saying here! Because we averted Y2K and SARS, climate change isn't real? Did you even research these issues? And can I think of other consensus-predicted events? Sure - the sun came up this morning, and an object I released fell to the ground. Both of these events were predictable according to forces that, though they are less complex than climate, are just as determined by the same basic physics.

I would welcome intelligent, informed, and diligent debate of this very important issue in this space - but this post was certainly none of those things.

Posted by: btturner | September 10, 2009 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for all your comments. I was waiting for the peer-review purists to arrive as they have this evening. I have definitely seen this line of debate frequently: it is not a fact unless it has been cut-and-pasted from a peer-reviewed journal. It appears that a number of you decided not to click on several of the links I provided- many that link to articles associated with peer-reviewed research. But let's assume all the criticisms offered are 100% correct. I still haven't seen a single individual explain to me (to help convince me) why the climate model mean failed to project our 11.5 year current neutral to negative slope in global land-sea temperatures? Most critics have told me "it doesn't matter" because climate is measured on much larger scales than something just over a decade. So when is the threshold before realization that the models are wrong? Is it twenty years? I agree that CO2 is increasing faster than expected. So, if the correlation is so strong, so powerful, where is the heat hiding? Tell me...tell the public...so the growing number of skeptics in the populace can latch onto something tangible/measurable.

In the meantime, the purists might do well to read a recent peer-reviewed paper from MIT noting that anthropogenic (human-induced) climate forcing has been potentially over-estimated six-fold by the IPCC and the models: New Research

As a side note, I'm glad to hear that no on said the science was settled and no one is trying to silence dissent. Very good news to me indeed!

Thanks for reading my post today.

Posted by: MattRogers | September 10, 2009 7:38 PM | Report abuse

"Only thr trace component U235 fissions, yet heavy water moderated nuclear reactors provide electric power fueled by natural Uranium of which U235 is olnly a trace component."

U235 is 0.07% of natural uranium, which is mostly the isotope U238, which is 0.1-1% of (most) natural uranium ores, and which requires 50-100 times the expendeture of energy to extract it and concentrate it to 5% enriched U235 (or the equivalent Pu238 by irradiation and extraction to the power reactor fuel rod) as the energy contained within the original ore.

(Looked at from the entire fuel cycle, the expenditure of energy to use the uranium from the ore for electric power is simply a cost of doing business with uranium.)

Not the greatest parallel with any effects CO2 in the air, however.

Posted by: BrianValentine | September 10, 2009 7:41 PM | Report abuse

Marcusmarcus, thanks for setting a benchmark (warming in the next 4-5 years). Very few people are willing (brave enough?) to do that. The sun is currently in it longest solar minimum in about 100 years. Check the NASA links I posted up in the main blog. This just started happening...not ten years ago as you you implied. The IPCC 2007 report indicated that solar forcing is less than anthropogenic forcing, but links I posted above suggest there are additional impacts like impacting the El Nino and La Nina phases in the tropical Pacific. Thanks for your comments!

Posted by: MattRogers | September 10, 2009 7:43 PM | Report abuse

Fantastic article Matt!!!

I would like to amplify on the problems with the climate models, your Item #7 above:

There has been atmospheric cooling the last 8 years, and no new high global annual temperatures in the last 11 years. None of the computer models replicate this fact. Anthropogenic (or man caused) global warming is not proved.

The global warming adherents base their argument of proof on more than 20 different computer models called general circulation models (also known as global climate models or GCMs). Each computer model is composed of dozens of mathematical equations representing known scientific laws, theories, and hypotheses. Each equation has one or more constants. The constants associated with known laws are very well defined. The constants associated with known theories are generally accepted but probably some of them may be off by a factor of 2 or more, maybe even an order of magnitude. The equations representing hypotheses, well, sometimes the hypotheses are just plain wrong. Then each of these equations has to be weighted against each other for use in the computer models, so that adds an additional variable (basically an educated guess) for each law, theory, and hypothesis. This is where the models are tweaked to mimic past climate measurements.

The SCIENTIFIC METHOD is: (1) Following years of academic study of the known physical laws and accepted theories, and after reviewing some data, come up with a hypothesis to explain the data. (2) Develop a plan to obtain and analyze new data. (3) Collect and analyze the data, this may even require new technology not previously available. (4) Determine if the hypothesis is correct, needs refinement, or is wrong. Either way, new data is available for other researchers. (5) Submit results, including data, for peer review and publication.

The output of the computer models run out nearly 90 years forward is considered to be data, but it is not a measurement of a physical phenomenon. Also, there is no way to analyze this so called data to determine if any or which of the hypotheses in the models are correct, need refinement, or are wrong. Also, this method cannot indicate if other new hypotheses need to be generated and incorporated into the models. IT JUST IS NOT THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD.

The worst flaw in the AGW argument is the treatment of GCM computer generated outputs as data. They then use it in follow on hypotheses. For example, if temperature rises by X degrees in 50 years, then Y will be effected in such-and-such a way resulting in Z. Then the next person comes along and says, well, if Z happens, the effect on W will be a catastrophe. “I need (and deserve) more money to study the effects on W.” Hypotheses, stacked on hypotheses, stacked on more hypotheses, all based on computer outputs that are not data, using a process that does not lend to proof using the SCIENTIFIC METHOD. Look at their results, IF, MIGHT, and COULD are used throughout their news making results. And when one of the underlying hypotheses is proven incorrect, well, the public only remembers the doomsday results 2 or three iterations down the hypotheses train. The hypotheses downstream are not automatically thrown out and can even be used for more follow on hypotheses.

Posted by: NucEngineer | September 10, 2009 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Marc, one does not commonly concern troll one's own blog. There always is a first time tho.

Before we get too far into Northwest and Northeast Passage lore (aka Northern Sea Route) it should be pointed out that until recently the only one season passage was the St. Roche in 1944. There had been multiple season passages (sail, get frozen in, and sail on in the spring), including one that the St. Roche made earlier

Amundsen was the first to actually complete a Northwest Passage but it took him three years, 1903-1906. Before that there were unsuccessful expeditions starting in the early sixteenth century

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

The Northern Sea Route, was better explored, but the first complete passage was in 1878

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

Posted by: EliRabett2003 | September 10, 2009 8:18 PM | Report abuse

There is a rather good and simple explanation of how a small amount of greenhouse gases can have a large effect in a recent letter from Jihong Cole-Dai to C&E News (the house organ of the American Chemical Society)which answered a similar claim

http://rabett.blogspot.com/2009/08/getting-rudys-back-next-latest-issue-of.html

"How many kilocalories of infrared energy can a ton of carbon dioxide absorb?" (C&EN, July 27, page 6). The question implies that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere may be insufficient to cause a change in the trapping (the greenhouse effect) of the outgoing energy by Earth's thermoradiation.

I encountered questions from professional chemists similar to this while giving presentations on global warming, and I was initially unable to come up with a satisfying answer. The basis of the question is legitimate: CO2 absorption in the infrared region of the spectrum is weak on a per-molecule basis, and CO2 is a minor component of the atmosphere, with a current concentration of 380 ppm (only 380 molecules out of 1 million molecules in air are CO2).

Any person, particularly a skeptical chemist, would expect that, with the nonstop emission of thermoradiation from Earth's surface, all CO2 molecules would soon be in the excited vibrational and rotational levels of their molecular energy states, and none would be left to absorb more outgoing energy. Hence, the greenhouse effect would be very limited.

However, CO2 molecules do not exist alone in the atmosphere. The excited molecules can and do transfer their excess energy to other molecules and return to ground states and are therefore ready to absorb thermoradiation again. The transfer of the initially absorbed energy to other nonabsorbing molecules, called "quenching" in photochemistry, enables a relatively small amount of greenhouse gases such as CO2 to continuously absorb the thermoradiative energy, which otherwise would escape into space, and to convert the radiation back to thermal energy that stays on Earth.

Therefore, the answer to D'Ambra's question is that an unlimited amount of infrared radiative energy can be absorbed and returned back to Earth by small quantities of atmospheric CO2 and other greenhouse gases. The greenhouse effect is continuous along with Earth's thermoradiation."

Posted by: EliRabett2003 | September 10, 2009 8:26 PM | Report abuse

Matt Rogers: I enjoyed the article, but a few notes.

The Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) is not a measure of North Pacific SST anomalies. It only reflects the pattern of those SST anomalies. And in many cases the PDO may be negative while the North Pacific SST anomalies are positive and actually contributing to positive global temperature anomalies. The PDO may have regional impacts, but it is not a driver of global temperature. It is in reality a lagged aftereffect of ENSO. More on that in my posts here:
http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/04/misunderstandings-about-pdo-revised.html
http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/05/revisiting-misunderstandings-about-pdo.html

You mention ENSO (El Nino and La Nina events) but you appear to have the common misconception that ENSO is noise, responsible only for periodic rises and falls in global temperature. What is well hidden in the instrument temperature record is that significant El Nino events like those in 1986/87/88 and 1997/98 create upward step changes in the mid-to-high latitude lower troposphere temperature (TLT) anomalies of the Northern Hemisphere...
http://i31.tinypic.com/71r08x.jpg
...and in the SST anomalies of the Eastern Indian and West Pacific Oceans.
http://i31.tinypic.com/24l5rlw.png

In other words, the relationship between ENSO and Global Surface Temperature is not linear, even though multiple climate studies would like you to believe that it is. Refer to:
http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/09/relationship-between-enso-and-global.html

In dataset comparisons, these step changes cause global temperatures to diverge from scaled NINO3.4 SST anomalies, and these El Nino-driven divergences are mistaken for anthropogenic warming. Why? GCMs don't model ENSO correctly, if they bother to model it at all.

Did you know that significant El Nino events also cause upward step changes in Ocean Heat Content? http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/09/enso-dominates-nodc-ocean-heat-content.html

The data doesn’t lie, and I don’t misrepresent the data.

Climate models do not represent reality.

Regards

Posted by: BobTisdale | September 10, 2009 8:34 PM | Report abuse

How much radiation can a (given mass of CO2) "absorb" is one thing, Eli, and how much this can re-radiate at a significant lapse of time to have a detectable influence on the global tropospheric temperature is quite another.

And there is only a (very short) series of EM wavelengths for with "absorption" of "re-radiation" is possible. (the second law catches up like real fast)

Ahem. Do not Earth and liquid water have significant heat capacities?

Posted by: BrianValentine | September 10, 2009 8:38 PM | Report abuse

This discussion is why I love this blog.

Posted by: --sg | September 10, 2009 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Wxrisk: My statement regarding Matt's writing on the Arctic was aimed at showing that his view is not supported by the evidence that's been presented by most Arctic experts. That doesn't mean he can't be correct, but he offered scant evidence to back up his assertions that there are some sort of "inconsistencies" that should make us doubt that the rapid changes taking place in that region are in large part man-made. Just today a study came out that counters what he wrote, for example: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-09/ps-dbr090409.php

Also, neither Dr. Cullen nor myself ever called for the "decertification" of TV meteorologists who don't share the mainstream view of climate science. That is dead wrong.

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | September 10, 2009 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Mr freedman you sir are NOT telling the truth
LINK: http://www.weather.com/blog/weather/8_11392.html

on December 21, 2006 she said the following:

I’d like to take that suggestion a step further. If a meteorologist has an AMS Seal of Approval, which is used to confer legitimacy to TV meteorologists, then meteorologists have a responsibility to truly educate themselves on the science of global warming. (One good resource if you don’t have a lot of time is the Pew Center’s Climate Change 101.)



Meteorologists are among the few people trained in the sciences who are permitted regular access to our living rooms. And in that sense, they owe it to their audience to distinguish between solid, peer-reviewed science and junk political controversy. If a meteorologist can’t speak to the fundamental science of climate change, then maybe the AMS shouldn’t give them a Seal of Approval. Clearly, the AMS doesn’t agree that global warming can be blamed on cyclical weather patterns. It’s like allowing a meteorologist to go on-air and say that hurricanes rotate clockwise and tsunamis are caused by the weather. It’s not a political statement…it’s just an incorrect statement.

Posted by: wxrisk | September 10, 2009 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Wxrisk, I know very well what Dr. Cullen said, and what I said. And you are missing a critical distinction. Not giving someone the seal is very different from decertifying existing seal holders. And neither Heidi nor myself meant that a meteorologist had to have a certain point of view on climate change, just that they should be knowledgeable about basic climate change science and communicate such knowledge accurately.

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | September 10, 2009 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Matt,

You ask "why the climate model mean failed to project our 11.5 year current neutral to negative slope in global land-sea temperatures." The answer is the chaos theory that you talk about: The exact trajectory that the actual climate follows is sensitive to initial conditions. So, if you look at the mean from many runs of a climate model, it will be steadily rising under the forcing of increasing greenhouse gases. However, if you look at the individual runs of climate models, you will in fact be able to find periods of time running over several years to more than a decade where the trend is negative. (See here, for example, http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/05/what-the-ipcc-models-really-say/ )

The exact trajectory of ups-and-downs that the climate follows is sensitive to the initial conditions and is thus not able to be predicted...although there have been a few papers recently that have tried to make shorter-term predictions of the global temperatures (e.g., going out years to a decade or so) but this is still a very new art and has not yet been successfully demonstrated. [In principle, there is apparently some hope of doing this, despite chaos theory, because the oceanic timescales, which tend to have a strong influence on the global temperature, are a lot slower than the atmospheric ones and so it takes longer before the divergence due to perturbations in the initial conditions makes forecasting the ups-and-downs hopeless.]

You also ask how such a period of neutral to negative slope could occur if the correlation with CO2 is so strong. I think a good analogy would be to the seasonal cycle. I think you'd agree that Washington D.C. has quite a strong seasonal temperature cycle. However, I think you would also agree (and it should be easy to test with some weather data) that over periods of, say, a week or so, it would not be uncommon to find a trend that went counter to the seasonal cycle. (E.g., a weeklong period in April when the temperature trend is negative or a weeklong period in October when the temperature trend is positive.)

Posted by: joelshore | September 10, 2009 11:00 PM | Report abuse

Personally, I have made (quite a number of) statements that have been somewhat less than profound;

I think Dr Cullen would likely re-word her statements if given the opportunity - to remove any impression that she rejected skepticism in any branch of science.

Posted by: BrianValentine | September 10, 2009 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Rogers,

Your complaint, “I was waiting for the peer-review purists to arrive as they have this evening. I have definitely seen this line of debate frequently: it is not a fact unless it has been cut-and-pasted from a peer-reviewed journal” is absurd and embarrassing. You made this comment at 7:38 PM. Your prior comment, presumably reflecting your belief that the “peer-review purists” had not “arrived” was made over three and a half hours prior, at 3:53 PM.

Here are the total mentions of “peer review” in chronological order:

1st mention: Ridiculous post denying the atmospheric residence time of CO2.
Posted by: jecircle021 | September 10, 2009 2:01 PM

2nd mention: Addressing your nonsensical proposition that because CO2 comprises a low percentage of the overall atmosphere relative to non-GHGs, its properties as a GHG might be overstated.
Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | September 10, 2009 2:19 PM

At this point you comment, saying absolutely nothing about peer review:

"Hi Arthur, thanks very much for your comments. Our 11.5 year inability to match or exceed the 1998 peak isn't any just 11.5 year period. It is the 11.5 year period with the highest CO2 injections! I take this all very seriously and went to all four global data sets to accumulate the data myself. MS Excel tells me the slope is negative! You can see that here: all four sources

And I understand your point about CO2. Unfortunately, given the nature of the situation, we can't use the scientific method to prove the connection with CO2 and warming.

Thanks!"

Posted by: MattRogers | September 10, 2009 3:53 PM

3rd mention: Complaint that published climate scientists aren’t given a voice in the Washington Post whereas a number of less than qualified voices on the subject are given a prominent platform from which to misrepresent the science.
Posted by: B2O2 | September 10, 2009 4:22 PM

4th mention: Quoting Andrew’s 2:19 post without addressing the topic at all.
Posted by: wxrisk | September 10, 2009 7:04 PM

5th mention: Your statement claiming you were “waiting for the peer-review purists to arrive as they have this evening” and your strawman that “it is not a fact unless it has been cut-and-pasted from a peer-reviewed journal.”
Posted by: MattRogers | September 10, 2009 7:38 PM

At most your ‘complaint’ can cite “B202” pointing out that the Washington Post fails to give a platform to active, peer reviewed journal publishing climate scientists in favor of mendacious hacks like George Will.

There are tens of unanswered questions regarding your incorrect assertions about climate and/or climate science that have nothing to do with claims about peer review. Perhaps you could try addressing them before dishonestly attempting to misdirect people over something that didn’t actually happen.

Posted by: thingsbreak | September 10, 2009 11:08 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, Matt.

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | September 10, 2009 11:28 PM | Report abuse

Andrew Revkin over at NYT has an article that was just posted online regarding the opening of the Arctic to commercial shipping due to rapidly thinning summer sea ice cover. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/11/science/earth/11passage.html

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | September 10, 2009 11:51 PM | Report abuse

Ian-CapitalWeatherGang wrote, "For starters energy independence through use of clean technologies, working toward a smart grid and all that comes with it, strong cooperation with countries like China to reduce emissions, etc."

Regarding "energy independence through use of clean technologies", can you please be a little more specific? What clean technology are you referring to? Do you mean nuclear? Because there is simply no way that we can be energy independent with wind and solar.

Regarding "working toward a smart grid and all that comes with it", can you please be much more specific? What does that entail? How much energy will that save? And if that energy came from a "clean technology" wouldn't that mean no gain/benefit in CO2?

If you have "clean technology" producing the electrical power, is there any CO2 benefit to a "smart grid and all that comes with it"? I wouldn't think there would be.

You didn't mention a carbon tax or cap and trade. Are you not in favor of that approach?

Thank you,
Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | September 11, 2009 12:14 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Freedman wrote, "While I appreciate the sentiment (and the respect is mutual), it's important that you and all of our readers understand that when I write about climate change on this site and elsewhere, I am (unless otherwise indicated) not stating my beliefs but rather am reporting on what scientists have found and what they believe is most likely happening based on the evidence they have uncovered. I am a journalist, not an advocate, and ..."

OMG! Please tell me that you haven't started believing your own spin! That isn't healthy. If you really believe what you wrote, then if you have any true friends at all, they will drag you to the nearest mental health professional.

I hope for your sake that you typed that in a moment of rashness and that you don't really believe what you wrote.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | September 11, 2009 12:27 AM | Report abuse

sg,

Then you must like food fights as well. Before Matt embarrasses himself any further, he might want to consider the following comment by John Mashey in another blog. While not a meteorologist or climatologist, Mashey shows a lot more sense about the subject than the onslaught of gibberish on display here:

Have you read any actual books by real climate scientists, say like (using that K-scale I suggested earlier):
1) K2: David Archer's "The Long Thaw? "(general audience) or
2) K2: Bill Ruddiman's "Plows, Plagues, and Petroleum
and, if those are too simple:
3) K3: a basic undergraduate text for non-science majors like Archer's Global Warming - Understanding the Forecast."
Trying to build a coherent knowledge base on a topic from Blogs is extremely difficult, like watching random soap-opera episodes.

And another commenter added:

Another excellent source for the general reader, clearly written and not too long, is The Discovery of Global Warming. This book also puts the science into historical context. One thing you might want to do is take this one or any of Mashey's suggestions and compare it with any of the leading skeptics' books, such as Michaels, Spencer, or Singer. (Yes, I've read all of them.) See what the proportion of political rhetoric to science is (especially Spencer).

Posted by: CapitalClimate | September 11, 2009 12:45 AM | Report abuse

Ok children. Repeat after me. Sea levels rise. Sea levels fall. Ice ages come. Ice ages go. The climate is NATURALLY highly variable. Get used to it. Stop being so provencial and thinking that just because this is how the climate is today, that this is the way it has always been and always will be. If that were the case, the Florida Keys would still be under water (they are made of coral), or North America would forever be covered by glaciers.

The weather and the climate changes. It's happened before. It's happening now. It'll happen again. Get used to it. However, don't try and affix blame to me or anyone else for something that has happened naturally many times before.

If you think that by burning carbon that you should go around whipping yourself and reduce your standard of living to that of someone living prior to the industrial age, go knock your self out. I'm not going to stop you. It's a free country. You can do what you want. Just don't expect me to join you, and don't try and impose that on me. There's too much geological evidence to show that climate change happens naturally. Catch a clue.

VOTE REPUBLICAN!!!

Posted by: A1965bigdog | September 11, 2009 1:08 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for this post -- both the tone and the substance will facilitate exactly the sort of debate we need to have.

Posted by: junomoneta88 | September 11, 2009 1:27 AM | Report abuse

Hi Matt, This is the first time at the WaPo that I've seen anyone even look at some of the other arguements. Normally you get someone like Eilperin who just parrot the Albore talking points.

Thanks again for listening to those of us on the other side of the aisle and at least giving us a little bit of credence.

Something that I always point to is the geological evidence. The geological evidence points towards the ocean in the past being higher than it is today (about 20 feet) and also lower (about 300 feet). That says to me that the climate is naturally highly variable.

That brings me to something I always talk about: Ice Ages. The geologists tell us that in the past that there was a 1 mile thick layer of ice across N. America and Europe. Now most people who look at that see cold. I don't. I see heat. Lots and lots of heat. Here's why.

During the same period that the glaciers were formed, sea level fell 300 feet worldwide. The water was literally moved uphill. Since the water was moved uphill, from a physics perspective, that means it has potential energy. To have potential energy, that means that it must have had kinetic energy. That equals heat. In this case, lots and lots of heat.

My point is this. The evidence is overwhelming that the Earth's climate is highly variable. Global warming and global cooling have occurred on mulitple occasions in the past. It's part of the cycle of the planet. I accept it. It happens naturally. It just gets me that there are those who can't admit that the climate changes without man's help or hindrance. It just changes.

Anyway, thanks again.

Posted by: A1965bigdog | September 11, 2009 1:28 AM | Report abuse

To mark my appreciation for Capital Weather presenting this essay, I present, to my best ability, my support for Dr Eli’s arguments for CO2 heating the atmosphere, here:

The addition of a small amount of a component to a substance can cause significant heating, yes. For example, RF heating of plastics: Plastics can be melted by the addition of a small amount (0.01% by weight) of chloride polymer to the bulk polymer and subjecting the mixture to oscillatory radio frequency; evidently the chlorine atom wobbles around in the polymer mixture, heating everything around it, and the polymer melts.

CO2 molecules excited to (certain) non degenerate vibration modes decay through photon re-radiation; no matter what happens, molecular energy is ultimately lost through the translational modes of the molecule, meaning they speed up – imparting kinetic energy to everything else around them (air molecules) – the higher k.e. of the air is another way of saying, the air temperature increases.

I don’t calculate enough k.e. imparted by CO2 in this way to raise the atmospheric temperature significantly at CO2 concentrations of the atmosphere, however.

The ancient Greeks were required to argue the opposing case of a litigant before any judge. I think it’s a good way of getting at the truth.

Posted by: BrianValentine | September 11, 2009 1:39 AM | Report abuse

It's about time the Post posted the truth about the global warming scam Enron started in the 90's. The Post reported Enron's involvement with using the global warming scare to create an opportunity for trading carbon credits in 2002.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A37287-2002Jan12?language=printer

Lawrence Solomon has recently published an expose of Enron and its global warming scam.
http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fpcomment/archive/2009/05/29/lawrence-solomon-enron-s-other-secret.aspx

The whole idea that CO2 which is less than 0.04% of the atmosphere has some magical power to control air temperature is a religious belief not a scientific theory based on observation and experimentation.

In fact physicist R.W. Wood proved that trapping IR (which is what CO2 supposedly does) could not cause heating a century ago.
http://www.wmconnolley.org.uk/sci/wood_rw.1909.html


Posted by: reasonmclucus | September 11, 2009 2:47 AM | Report abuse

Good morning. Thanks to all of the supportive comments posted. Bob (Tisdale), your points are well taken and I believe you that ENSO is a major player here. Many of the negative comments I've seen emphasize the lack of detail associated with some of my beliefs. Because of the space limitations given to me for a standard blog entry, I could not offer the level of detail that some of you required. And those omissions certainly opened the door to justified criticism. But at the same time, some of you also misrepresented what I wrote. For example, I did not say the cold phase of the PDO meant cold North Pacific SSTs. The existence of the PDO does mean more La Niña and less El Niño years typically, which is big trouble for the climate models in the next decade too in my opinion. I did not say "more hurricanes". I said more intense as IPCC referenced. I'm sorry some of you are "embarrassed" about my post and many of the same folks had trouble reading what I wrote. I'll try better to be more explicit next time.

Wxrisk, your points about the tone of the debate are very accurate in my opinion. I know many meteorologists. Most are skeptics. And most are unhappy with the absolutist and egalitarian tone they hear. We are in a challenging segment of the science. Many of my points of skepticism were questions and doubts. Not answers. If climate scientists knew all the answers (as a few comments above suggest they do), I don't think any of us would feel any need to be here debating the topic.

Here is a another example of why the science does not appear settled to me. 1-2 Decades of Cooling?

Posted by: MattRogers | September 11, 2009 7:10 AM | Report abuse

Also, a quick note. I noticed a few commenters denying what was previously said about global warming. Here is a reminder from IPCC 2007: (1) There is a confidence level >90% that there will be more frequent warm spells, heat waves and heavy rainfall.
(2)There is a confidence level >66% that there will be an increase in droughts, tropical cyclones and extreme high tides.

Posted by: MattRogers | September 11, 2009 7:13 AM | Report abuse

Excellent and well written!

I am amazed by the issue of "Global Warming" The world's entire or nearly entire political class has been sold the bill of goods that "Global Warming" will be a bad thing. Longer growing seasons, more land available for farms in the higher latitudes, more rain, More CO2 to make the crops grow better. Lower commercial and residential heating costs, less ice and snow. Balance that against a two-foot rise in sea level, yes, that's all the IPCC projects by 2100, a max of two feet! which I think we can handle and "Global Warming" will become a non-issue.

Truly "Global Warming" hysteria is a propaganda masterpiece. Answer the question; "Is 'Global Warming' bad?" in the negative, and all the other issues become merely academic.

Steve Case
Brown Deer, WI

Posted by: stacase | September 11, 2009 7:19 AM | Report abuse

Steve, you offer an excellent angle that I have heard from a few others, especially with agriculture backgrounds. IF indeed the worst-case scenarios are incorrect, the world may benefit more from gradual warming than from cooling.

Posted by: MattRogers | September 11, 2009 7:43 AM | Report abuse

Re: ice extent. There is ample evidence for natural variability in ice extent, e.g. http://www.frontier.iarc.uaf.edu/~igor/research/pdf/ice.pdf

Obviously ice extent has been decreasing since a peak in 1980 which coincides with the start of precise satellite measurements in 1979. Obviously ice extent is increasing since the low in 2007. Most of the decrease and all of the increase is natural variability. As the reference shows, there is an overall slight decrease over the last century. Most of that is natural as well.

It is amazing that anyone would blame the ice extent decrease on CO2 warming which is very slight (0.6 degrees C at most). The natural explanation is that the Northern Hemisphere was quite cool in the late 1800s. Also the natural variability both positive and negative in the last 100 years points to the 2007 event being mostly natural, perhaps mostly spillover from the 1998 El Nino.

Posted by: eric654 | September 11, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Quick Poll. How many out there actually believe that the unchecked release of pollutants, not just CO2, but heavy metals, NO2, SO4, etc. will have no eventual detrimental impacts on our atmosphere, oceans, or ecosystems? Also, if nobody does, WHAT ARE WE ARGUING ABOUT?

Posted by: Brian-CapitalWeatherGang | September 11, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Brian: Can you define detrimental? Are you referring the climate projections I am questioning or other impacts?

Posted by: MattRogers | September 11, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

I mean it in the most basic tense I can. Harm being done to our environment due to human action. From affecting our climate, to acid rain, higher mercury levels in our fish sticks, L.A. smog, whatever you want to include.

Posted by: Brian-CapitalWeatherGang | September 11, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Oh I got it. Yes, I believe this debate is more specifically about CO2 and particularly connections to climate expectations. On your issue, I agree you'll find very little debate most likely...just my guess.

Posted by: MattRogers | September 11, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Thankyou for your article, Matt. I personally took an interest in climate change science a couple of years ago, and have been quietly reading as much as I can. Although there is a great deal of rhetoric generated from both camps, I have been astounded by the lack of evidence for human-induced climate change - something that many people (including a number of my colleagues) take for granted. I have reached many of the same conclusions that you have listed, and I fully agree with your article. I am not a climatologist by any stretch, but I am a research scientist and I know how to read a graph, and I can also recognise poor science. My own observation is that there seems to be a prevailing tendency to force data to fit the theory, when really a reappraisal of the theory was due a long time ago. May the truth win out in the end.

Posted by: Colin42 | September 11, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

I get that, I just find it silly that people are so adament that humans will have no long-term impacts on the climate system and that it's all some left-wing socialist agenda, when it's fairly obvious that on shorter time scales we've already created quite the set of "nuisances", of which the underlying cause, human release of chemicals into the atmosphere, is the root of. Even if climate change doesn't change the earth into a desert, we'll still have to battle many other problems that we've created.

Posted by: Brian-CapitalWeatherGang | September 11, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

A1965bigdog: Your argument that we are not responsible for the current climate change because climate change has occurred in the past naturally makes no logical sense. It is as if a barn burned down and matches and lighter fluid were found at the scene yet you argued that it couldn't be arson because barns have burned down not due to arson in the past.

In fact, looking at past climate changes is what allows scientists to estimate how sensitive the climate system is to the known radiative forcing that we are putting on it by increasing the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. And, the conclusion from this, as discussed in this article http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/sci;306/5697/821 , is that the climate system is likely at least as sensitive to perturbations as the climate models estimate...and maybe even moreso.

It is also worth noting that past global climate changes generally occurred fairly slowly on timescales that we are used to. For example, the rate of warming to go from glacial to interglacial conditions generally occurred at a rate of ~0.1 C per century (and even slower for cooling) whereas the rate of warming that we've experienced in the last 30 years or so is more than 10X as large...about 0.15 C per DECADE. (There is evidence in the past for more rapid regional climate changes, presumably due to things like changes in ocean currents.)

Posted by: joelshore | September 11, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Brian, at some point we need to stop worrying about the "dump he chemicals into the air and we're all going to die because of it..."

Look at it this way: Pollution control, etc has really only been around since 1970, maybe.

Before that everything was dumped anywhere, but somehow or other we're still here even though places like Pittsburgh, Gary, Moscow, London, you name it were just waste dumps, really.

Why can't people focus on things that are going to be meaningful to the world?

- Children education. If chilren are getting spoonfed Al Gore "science" - how much critical thinking will we have from these children in the future? [Look at that "rock out for global warming" crap etc and tell me that doesn't look pretty lame brain]

- Focus on the people who need health care assurance (seniors, unemployed) - not "everybody" - we can't overhaul the system for "everybody"

- Come to grips with the fact that we are going to have coal and oil give us energy, and be glad for it. Stop tilting at windmills, we waste time with rhetoric about it

- Realize that the more we worry, the less we produce, the less the US is owned by the US

Or get mad at me for saying these things and call me a sock puppet or something, that'll do some good

Posted by: BrianValentine | September 11, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

While not true in all Matt’s statements/opinions nor in the verbose comments above, the extent and degree of misinformation being expressed is astounding (and unfortunate) on many of the fundamental issues, science and otherwise. Everyone is entitled their own opinions; but, parlaying them as indisputable reality distinct from the mainstream scientific consensus and its acknowledged uncertainties is irresponsible. Sure, that consensus could eventually be proven wrong (given the uncertainties), but on the basis of new science, not on some a-priori unsupportable belief.

To quote Bertrand Russell: When one admits that nothing is certain one must, I think, also add that some things are more nearly certain than others.

That’s all – for now!

Posted by: SteveT-CapitalWeatherGang | September 11, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Hi Joel Shore. I noticed you linked from a climate sensitivity assessment published in 2004. Do you have any comments about this one issued two weeks ago?
New Research

Posted by: MattRogers | September 11, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Valentine, You're right, I'm glad that I have oil/coal power, now. Still, as I'm sure everyones heard thousands of times before, they're going to run out eventually, there's a finite amount. To use that argument as a reason not to pursue alternate energy sources astounds me.

Posted by: Brian-CapitalWeatherGang | September 11, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I must congratulate Matt for having the courage to oppose the warmist establishment and bring out facts they would rather not talk about. Satellite data have always showed lack of warming but they also show non-carbonaceous warming events like the super El Nino of 1998 and the twenty-first century high - an unusual run of warm years from 2001 to 2007. What happened before that super El Nino showed up was a series of multy-year oscillations, in synch with the ENSO system where a warm El Nino alternates with a cool La Nina every three to five years. The peak-to-peak amplitude of these oscillations was about half a degree Celsius and there were five such cycles during the eighties and nineties. This is in total opposition to NASA, NOAA and Met Office - Hadley Centre charts, all of which show a steady warming - that "late twentieth century warming" that we are supposed to fight by turning off lights on civilization. For Hansen's 1988 testimony to be true this warming is necessary but unfortunately it is man made: they have cooked the data by taking only the El Nino peaks from the satellite data and then raising the temperature of the intervening cool La Nina phases to get the appearance of a rising temperature curve. They also got lucky with the super El Nino and the twenty-first century high which are real warmings that they plug into their temperature curves. That is not allowed because the origin of these warmings is Indian Ocean overflow which has nothing to do with their carbonaceous fantasy. The twenty-first century high ended with a La Nina cooling in 2007 which signifies return of the ENSO oscillations that existed in the eighties and nineties. From now on an alternastion of El Ninos with La Ninas will rule our climate. The next El Nino is due at the end of this year and I expect to see a La Nina a couple of years from that. The huge warming that Hansen and others predict simply will not happen because their models are tied to carbon dioxide which is not the cause of warming. But they still persist in going to Copenhagen with these fantasy curves to change the world. To get the science behind this check me out on ICECAP and download the latest version of my paper which is now in two parts.

Posted by: ArnoArrak | September 11, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Mainstream science comes with a method for falsifying it.

Come up with a method to demonstrate falsifyability for AGW and we'll move it into the "mainstream science" category.

Posted by: BrianValentine | September 11, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

thanks for defining the difference between meteorologists & climatologists. however, like many skeptics, Freedman is cherry-picking & inter-mixing very selective dates, as examples, with descriptions of well established & understood natural phenomena.

next to a very tall & fast growing stack of global warming & ocean acidification indicators, that all point the same way, the dearth of contrary indicators, that would suggest that our emissions are benign, is akin to comparing a forest with a tree.

as such folks quibble & fiddle, homo sapiens continue fumbling with the earths thermostat, putting its atmospheric composition into uncharted territory, while transforming its underlying bio-chemistry, that has sustained ...

Posted by: zickzack | September 11, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

We need an economy to build a long term solution to energy - hydrogen from nuclear breeder, or something, I don't know.

Sure coal oil etc will run out one day but meanwhile, "rockin' out for global warming" etc isn't helping anything

Posted by: BrianValentine | September 11, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

joelshore, the article you linked directly reinforces the argument that climate changes (e.g. from manmade CO2) are slow and not worth worrying about and weather variations (e.g. warming in the early 20th century, then cooling, then warming to 2002 or so, then cooling) are fast.

The article says the methane event caused up to 10C warming in 10k years. That is roughly equivalent to what we have done with CO2 (0.1C in 100 years considering CO2 by itself). Further warming might be water vapor feedback or weather. Really those are the same thing, the uneven distribution of water vapor (i.e. weather) is solely what will determine the amount of water vapor feedback from CO2 warming.

Posted by: eric654 | September 11, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

The methane event was geothermal of origin not methane of origin.

Enough BV for one day, see ya Capital and thanks for bringing the skeptical side into the first part of the weblog - not just the scecond (reader comment) part

Posted by: BrianValentine | September 11, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

"Silencing Dissent" takes place when the Main stream media NBC/ABC/CBS/CNN refuse to pose or examine the points this post made.

As they sit in still and refuse to question what they recite they will lose all ability to compete in the future media.

Once the public understands how the "Silencing Dissent" took place as the anti-C02 Global warming data started to mount they will begin to look to other outlets for news.

If the Great Global warming issue is not what we have been told so many have so much to lose.

Posted by: RongCapsFan | September 11, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

"If a meteorologist can’t speak to the fundamental science of climate change, then maybe the AMS shouldn’t give them a Seal of Approval. Clearly, the AMS doesn’t agree that global warming can be blamed on cyclical weather patterns."

The meaning here is pretty clear: AMS meteorologists need to be able to explain global warming to regular people. And when explaining possible causes, the AMS does not allow that natural climate variations can be a cause. The implied cause then, is human activities. So a meteorologist would not be able to garner his AMS certifications without blaming humans.

Andrew you are at the pathological stage of lying: Just because you believe your lies about what Dr. Cullen said about AMS certifictions doesn't mean they are actually true.

Posted by: octopi213 | September 11, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Brian-CapitalWeatherGang

I agree that unchecked release of pollutants is a major problem for our earth.

I wonder how much mercury is being released into the environment due to the Global warming mantra that florescent bulbs use less carbon releasing energy supplies. And those filthy bulbs will save the earth.

Posted by: RongCapsFan | September 11, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Matt -

Re Lindzen's very recent paper on climate sensitivity that you refer to: That is well outside my area of expertise. (I am a physicist with some amateur knowledge of climate science.) Over time, I assume that scientists will respond to it, as they have to Lindzen's other hypotheses in the climate change realm (which generally haven't fared too well...He's a smart guy but also very wedded to his point-of-view that the manmade contribution to warming is very small).

However, one peer-reviewed paper claiming to show a certain result does not instantly overturn hundreds of other papers that have arrived at a different conclusion, particularly before scientists in the field have even had a chance to evaluate the work and respond to it.

Brian Valentine -

Your implication that AGW is not falsifiable is without foundation. In fact, the way AGW has become part of the current theory of climate change is by already surviving many tests. For example, the hypothesis languished a long time since Arrhenius because a lot of scientists believed that the oceans would absorb all of the CO2 we emitted; it wasn't until the measurements at Mauna Loa began (and about the same time, Revelle explained the buffering chemistry) that it was recognized that CO2 was in fact accumulating in the atmosphere. Then, many scientists thought that the CO2 absorption bands would already be saturated and it took additional work to show that because of the tails in the bands and because of the thinning (and cooling) of the atmosphere with elevation, the radiative forcing due to CO2 would still be significant.

More recently, there was question about whether the water vapor feedback would really be operative...and measurements have indeed confirmed its existence and approximate magnitude (see http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/sci;323/5917/1020 ).

And, there continue to be different aspects of the theory that are subjected to testing. As with any well-developed theory though, there will always be some unexplained puzzles and scientists working to resolve those puzzles. The impression I get from "skeptics" is that because the implications of AGW are distasteful to them, they essentially want it treated special. So, they want it to be immediately abandoned because of such puzzles rather than treated like other scientific theories. This natural tendency to erect much higher standards for scientific theories one finds distasteful is the same sort of thing we see happening amongst those who contest evolutionary theory.

Posted by: joelshore | September 11, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

I did not read all the comments so if this is a repeat I am sorry.

One thing not mentioned is that something like 80% of the USA weather stations are now in heat islands. This has lead to false high temp reading and is not being corrected for enough. Rather than me telling you please look this info up. I found it so it is available.
Here in Portland Oregon all you have to do is look at the daily weather map and you can see the airport area, Where offical temps are taken, is almost alway 3-5 degree warmer that the suburbs and 5-10 degree warmer than near rural areas for morning temps. Of course they don't show nearby rural temps. This is because all the trapping of civilization, like cement and asphault, hold the heat during the night. I did some research and found that offical weather stations that are not in heat islands don't show warming anything like what the in city sites do across the last 70+ years.

Posted by: silvcrow | September 11, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

eric654 - The reason those past global climate changes were slow is that the causes of the change were more gradual. There is unfortunately no evidence that the climate response to the current increase in CO2 (which is very rapid on geological timescales) will be very slow. There is some debate about how fast land ice sheets will respond, although there is evidence from the past that sea levels can actually rise quite rapidly, possibly reflecting the fact that disintegration of ice sheets can occur much more rapidly than if they just melted without other dynamical effects. (The current IPCC estimates of sea level rise by 2100 assume the ice sheets will not respond rapidly because they felt the science of ice sheet disintegration was not far enough advanced to allow predictions of sea level rise for that case.)

Posted by: joelshore | September 11, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Silvcrow, yes, we are told that the urban heat island effect is accounted for (corrected) in the global land-sea datasets, but I too question whether it is fully factored out of the calculations. Meteorologist Anthony Watts has done a lot of work in this area and even presented his disturbing findings to the National Climatic Data Center in the past year.

Joelshore: what confidence do you place in the current state-of-the-science estimate for greenhouse-gas forcing? Do you think there is any risk/chance that it is over-stated as I suggested? My views are based on my experience with the intended outcomes like the under-performing temperature rises and hurricane intensity increases. But from your standpoint and your side of the science, how confident are you in the current state of the consensus? Thanks!

Posted by: MattRogers | September 11, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure others have done this exercise too, but I took the warmest global data set (NASA GISS) and ran the annual number against the Hansen scenarios...we are currently below (cooler than) his Scenario C which was the fixed at 2000 emission scenario. We all know emissions are much higher than in 2000, so why is the scenario failing? This is why I question if science is over-stating the problem?

Posted by: MattRogers | September 11, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

octopi213: Your statement is not backed up by the AMS' own stance on climate change, available here: http://www.ametsoc.org/policy/2007climatechange.html. It makes clear that natural forces are playing a role in climate change.

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | September 11, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of Anthony Watts, he currently has a link up to an interesting report by John Stossel back on ABC News where he addresses my issues regarding the stifling of dissent and the debate is over (something for Andrew to watch):
20/20 Link

Posted by: MattRogers | September 11, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

You might be a denialist if . . . :
The Land of Make Believe

Posted by: CapitalClimate | September 11, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Andrew,

We are not talking about what the AMS' official stance is currently. The issue is what Dr. Cullen said the AMS SHOULD require of those who have their certification. You asked for an example of the suppression of dissent and it was provided. You then tried to deny what was said and that you supported it.

Posted by: octopi213 | September 11, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

That's a great link, Capital Climate! When do you believe the consensus will stop denying the failure of the various climate models and indeed question the science again?

Posted by: MattRogers | September 11, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Matt:

Your list mixes several "we were told" points with science related questions about the role of CO2, the sun and recent temperature trends in with points about people asking about crazy weather and dissent.

By focusing on "we were told" anecdotes from the past you seem to conclude that a few forecast errors in the past completely invalidates an entire issue. If I applied this criteria to weather forecasts, geology, cancer research, diet research or any other scientific research area, I wouldn't believe anybody about anything on these subjects. Research builds on previous work. Previous findings are confirmed or negated.That's how we learn.

You identify 4 climate science topics in your 10 points, El Nino, CO2 global temperature and the sun. They are important to understanding what's going on in climate change.

You note that 1998 was the year with the highest temperature, without mentioning that it was also the year with the greatest El Nino. El Nino has dramatic short term (1 - 2 year) impacts on global temperature. See my chart here.

You mention CO2 and seem to dismiss its significance. CO2 concentrations have increased from 280 ppmv in the 1700-1800's to 380 today, that's a major increase. Fossil fuel emissions of about 8 gigatonnes/ yr is equivalent to 3.75 ppmv increase in global CO2 concentration. About 57% of that will remain in the atmosphere, meaning that about 2.1 ppmv increase in CO2 per year. See my post here.

Finally, for the link between CO2 and temperature anomaly change, take a look at this chart.

My own charts & graphs analysis shows me that in addition to atmospheric temperatures, sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are rising, mean sea level is rising and arctic ice is retreating. To me these are clear signs that global warming is progressing at a steady rate.

Our climate seems to be changing right in front of us. Many people are concerned. In your role as a meteorologist and Washington Post columnist, it's not enough for you to just say "Perhaps one day, we'll have a different version of James Carvill's famous quote.. something like 'It's the sun, stupid! " and leave the reader wondering what you really think.

If I was grading your post as a college paper, I'd say, it's an ok start, now you need to go back and figure out what you really want to say.

Matt - can you give us your simple clear assessment on these 3 questions:

1.What is your assessment of current global climate trends?

2.Based on your assessment, do we need to take steps with regard to future climate change?

3. If yes, what are major steps that you recommend that we take.

Posted by: dkod | September 11, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

I just looked at the NCDC global temperature curves for the surface, troposphere and stratosphere. I find it hard to see any evidence of a signficant cooling in the past 10 years. 1998 was obviously an unusual year.Temperatures have not returned to levels of 20 or 30 years ago.

Basic physics says that increasing greenhouse gases will trap more infrared radiation and will act to increase the surface and tropospheric temperatures. How much is the important question. Climate models are really just attempts to answer that mathematically. The question is how reliable are they? Have they left out something that would severely reduce (or increase) their estimate of warming?

Several different climate models have been developed. They show a range of warming. They do seem to be able to reproduce the main features of the pattern of surface temperature increases over the past 100 years but only if increases in greenhouse gases are included.

The fact that surface temperatures haven't increased significantly since 1998 does not disprove global warming ideas to me. It does make me wonder if natural variability is a little stronger than we thought and global warming due to greenhouse gases is a little weaker. Is it possible that the economic growth of China and India are increasing aerosols and acting to cool the atmosphere?

There is a tendency on one side to attribute everything to global warming and on the other side to believe that a cold day at any spot on the globe disproves global warming.

Too much of the anti-global warming rhetoric becomes political and ideological.
Ridiculing Al Gore is not a scientific argument.

It would be nice if global warming fears turned out to be false, we have enough problems, although it would be very embarassing to the atmospheric science community. I really don't see convincing evidence that they are false however.

Unfortunately, global warming has become an ideological and political war rather than the scientific debate it should be.
I thank Matt Rogers for the spirit of his article, even though I did not find it convincing scientifically.

There are plenty of other reasons as he states to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels.

Posted by: Dadmeister | September 11, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Anthropogenic Global Warming is the greatest scam in world history. There are only three types of people who still believe in it; liars, thieves and the ignorant. The outright liars simply seek the power and societal change that comes with 'green' supremacy in world politics. The thieves simply seek to profit from the scam through grants, donations, paychecks and the 'mother lode' - cap and trade. The ignorant really fall into two categories; those that truly know nothing about the subject and therefore have bought into the constant propaganda supporting this scam beamed into their empty skulls courtesy of the mainstream media, OR the more curious lot, those who hate 'pollution', hate capitalism, hate industry, hate hate hate...and they have a religious fervor combined with a superman complex that makes them fall in love with the idea of saving the planet. No amount of data (or falsification thereof by their fellow proponents) or proof will ever convince them that they are wrong. This is FAITH in it's purest form, they simply KNOW with all their heart & soul that mankind is killing the planet and they are in love with themselves because they are fighting to save the planet for all of us. We should worship them and not question their conclusions or solutions - that is why they react so angrily with so much sarcasm when we dare to question them. The ends justify the means and it makes no difference to them that it is the proponents of this scam who have been caught falsifying information, data, reports, etc. - and they ALWAYS rely on the consensus argument because they know they would never win a real debate (they've tried and always lost). The proponents of this scam are a cult that dwarfs all others in scope and the potential for $$$$$$$$. Think of the most obnoxious religious zealot you've ever seen and multiply that by a factor of 10 and you will be close to the fanaticism of these people. Stop them before Cap and Trade and Copenhagen or generations to come will suffer and die from their 'solutions' to this imaginary problem.

Posted by: agwscam | September 11, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Matt, I'm sorry, but just labeling a group of people is not "stifling dissent". Give us a specific example of at least:

* somebody whose job was threatened, i.e. received a talking-to from their boss, or actually lost their job, because of something factual and truthful they said or wrote on the subject of climate change

OR

* somebody who was threatened with legal action, or actually sued, on those same grounds

OR

* somebody who was directly physically or verbally assaulted on those grounds

OR

* somebody who was threatened with one of the above actions in order to prevent them from further speaking or writing on the subject

Because I am aware of all these things happening to climate scientists or non-scientists who have tried to help communicate the truth of the situation. And yet they continue resolute in their cause, *despite* personal hardship that may come from it. Some of these things have even happened to me personally.

Posted by: arthurpsmith | September 11, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

DKOD: Thanks so much for your commentary and criticism. I agree a "few forecast errors" is not enough to invalidate an entire issue. I do not believe I called for an entire issue to be invalidated. Please re-read my write-up where I suggest that maybe anthropogenic forcing is over-estimated. That does not mean the issue is invalidated. I am discussing scale.

I completely agree that 1997-98 was driven by one of the strongest El Niño events we have ever seen. But at the time, it was a rallying cry for global warming as well. More super El Nino events were expected. Jim Hansen and others wrote papers on it. Now I understand the IPCC is (correctly) backing away from such claims. But I believe the lack of significant El Niño activity in the 2000s is the culprit for our inability to return to that 1998 record in three of the four global data sets. And that begs the question about whether we are giving ENSO enough credit for influencing our global climate as Bob Tisdale pointed out earlier in this commentary. Remember, the 1980s and 1990s saw a period in the positive phase of the PDO (more El Nino events), we were peaking and about to complete the Modern Solar Maximum, and as you correctly show, the SATO index was falling rapidly (global brightening, as it were).

Per your three questions, I can only answer the first one. I do not feel qualified to make policy suggestions like Andrew can. Based on the current state of the PDO (cold phase), the state of the AMO (starting to slide down too), the negative slope of the NINO 3.4 that you linked, and the state of the solar minimum (strongest in 100 years), I believe we will see global temperatures resuming their negative slide after we complete the current weak El Niño event this coming winter.

What is your assessment?

Posted by: MattRogers | September 11, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

"Brian Valentine -
Your implication that AGW is not falsifiable is without foundation."


zzzzzzzz huh

oh. It is falsifiable, the same way it is provable.

It has been demonstrated to be correct, because Gore and Jim Hansen say it is true.

Similarly, it can be demonstrated to be false by having Gore and Hansen get up and say

"AGW is bunk."

That ain't gonna happen, and I am '90%' sure of that (or maybe 97%).

[What you have told me is that AGW has some corollaries, that if demonstrated to be false, then it follows that the corollaries are false]


Posted by: BrianValentine | September 11, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: agwscam | September 11, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Matt,

You state "When do you believe the consensus will stop denying the failure of the various climate models and indeed question the science again?"

Too much is at stake for those invested in the climate models of the past. Political lives, money raised, laws passed, specials run... the time to question the science will come so slow as not to cause notice.
Little things will be said off hand that will be held up as "I was saying that all along"

Notice how the "Warm Waters will cause increase in Hurricanes" subject has been slowly removed from the GW talking points.
As will projections of arctic sea ice gone by 2030, as will the rise of oceans, and the tipping point talking point.
Past models will not be questioned just modified as to not show a sudden shift.

The world of big media business and big political business does not work like the science world. And as of today the science world has become part of the political world thanks to grants or as some would say bribes.

Posted by: RongCapsFan | September 11, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

What are the odds the Washington post runs an expose on the problems with the GW science?

The paper will go out of busniess first.

And they are doing their best to make that happen.

Posted by: RongCapsFan | September 11, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

dkod, your charts are nice for an anthro CO2 argument and a rough CO2 to warming correlation (although that has heat island effects included). You qualitatively show El Nino effects and their effect on temperature.

Where is solar? You should have a graphs with solar effects similar to the El Nino page. Where are other natural effects explained such as the early 20th century warming?

It is my view as a skeptic that a large portion of the 1980's and 1990's warming is a natural fluctuation. A small part is the inexorable, but small, increase due to CO2. One indirect example is the current cooling, at least from 2005, or flatness from 2002 looking at your RSS charts. If that decline or flatness is not just El Nino, then the warming before 1998 was not just CO2 and El Nino combined. Something else, not in your charts, caused that extra warmth.

Posted by: eric654 | September 11, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

SPPI’s Monthly CO2 Report is now posted:

http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/monthly_report/august_co2_report.html

No heat buildup in the oceans = no global warming:
SPPI’s authoritative Monthly CO2 Report for August 2009 announces the publication of a major paper by Professors David Douglass and Robert Knox of the Physics Department in the University of Rochester, New York, demonstrating that the heat buildup in the oceans that is a necessary fingerprint of manmade global warming is not occurring. This is another mortal blow to the alarmist cause in the climate debate. Report, page 4.
“Science should be done by observation, meditation, calculation, and verification. Politicized science cannot usefully inform political decisions.” Editorial comment: Page 3.
The IPCC assumes CO2 concentration will reach 836 ppmv by 2100, but, for almost eight years, CO2 concentration has headed straight for only 570 ppmv by 2100. This alone halves all of the IPCC’s temperature projections. Pages 5-6.
Since 1980 temperature has risen at only 2.3 °F (1.4 °C)/century, not the 7 F° (3.9 C°) the IPCC predicts. Pages 7-9.
Sea level rose just 8 inches in the 20th century, and has scarcely risen since 2006. The oceans are not warming. Pages 10-11.
Arctic sea-ice extent is currently at its summer low, but there is more summer ice than there was in 2007 or 2008. In the Antarctic, sea ice extent reached a record high in 2007. Global sea ice extent shows little trend for 30 years. Pages 12-15.
Hurricane and tropical-cyclone activity is almost at its lowest since satellite measurement began. Pages 16-17.
The Sun is still very quiet. There were no sunspots in August at all. Page 18.
The (very few) benefits and the (very large) costs of the Waxman/Markey Bill are illustrated at Pages 19-21.
Science Focus this month reprints a paper giving the reasons why the great ice sheets will not collapse. Pages 22-28.
As always, there’s our “global warming” ready reckoner, and our monthly selection of scientific papers. Pages 29-34.
And finally, a Technical Note explains how we compile our state-of-the-art CO2 and temperature graphs. Page 35.

Posted by: agwscam | September 11, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

It's a good thing we haven't seen the "dust bowl" days seen in the 1930s, and then enacted some "climate" legislation" BECAUSE, such legislation would be impossible to eliminate when the temperatures dropped and the rain fell again.

("look, you fool - this is working!")

Whether I say AGW is bunk or it isn't doesn't matter.

The only thing that matters is what the weather, averaged over the seasons and the years (the climate) has to say.

Right now, the climate is telling us that AGW is bunk.

[But what does it know compared with what Al Gore has to say?]

Posted by: BrianValentine | September 11, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

agwscam - the Amazon pages of those books don't mention a single "skeptic" by name who has specifically suffered any of the things I mentioned, although they are filled with delirious accusations. Please list just one person who meets exactly any of the criteria I mentioned - and remember, the cause for their loss of job or lawsuit has to be specifically for something they said or wrote on climate change that was factual and truthful. If they were fired for expressing unfounded opinion, that's a quite different story.

Posted by: arthurpsmith | September 11, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

In the 1970's, global cooling was the big climate scare. Then, around 1980, we were told about manmade global warming and how the planet would burn up. This lasted for about 20 years, until around 1998. Since then temperatures have leveled-off and have begun a decline.

In summary, 30 years ago, at the end of a cooling period, we experienced 20 years of warming caused by manmade greenhouse gasses, then followed by 10 years of temperature stasis and slight cooling...cooling thought by a growing number of scientists to be increasing and to last another 10 - 20 years.

In another 10 years, the current period of cooling (if it continues) will begin to exceed the warming that immediately preceeded it. In face of the ever-increasing rise of manmade GHG levels since the beginning of the industrial revolution, why do so many scientists cling to the cause-effect between CO2 and air temperature?

Posted by: jeffreypmorton | September 11, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Matt, you ask: "What confidence do you place in the current state-of-the-science estimate for greenhouse-gas forcing? Do you think there is any risk/chance that it is over-stated as I suggested? My views are based on my experience with the intended outcomes like the under-performing temperature rises and hurricane intensity increases. But from your standpoint and your side of the science, how confident are you in the current state of the consensus?"

The estimate for greenhouse gas forcing is apparently reliable to about 10% and is so well-accepted that even skeptical scientists like Richard Lindzen and Roy Spencer accept the value of ~4 W/m^2 for a doubling of CO_2 levels. Now, what you may be asking is how confident I am that the estimates of the climate sensitivity (which incorporates the additional very important and complex issue of feedbacks) is. Here, things are certainly less certain but there is a lot of different evidence supporting the value as being in the range of 2 - 4.5 C that the IPCC considers likely. And, in addition to the possibility that this is an overestimate, there is also the possibility that this is an underestimate or, perhaps more likely, that we will push the climate system beyond some tipping point to a very new and different state rather than just a linear response. It seems to me that there is a lot more room for unpleasant surprises than pleasant ones.

As for the scientific consensus, I believe in the scientific process but I know that it is not infallible. Still, it is the best that we have to go on and when we start to base public policy on hope and the fact that we can find a small coterie of dissenting scientists who share our views, I think we head down a very dangerous road.

I welcome the views of dissenting scientists in the scientific process, particularly when they express those views in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. However, what we have to make decisions on is the best science available...and the scientific community, reviewing the peer-reviewed literature are the ones best able to pronounce judgement on that. And, if you look at the IPCC reports and the statements by the US National Academy of Sciences and other scientific organizations, they have spoken quite clearly.

By the way, in regard to hurricane intensity increases, you are incorrect that the empirical data is "underperforming" relative to the model predictions. In fact, what really propelled this field a few years ago was when a paper was released that showed intensity increases quite a bit larger than what models suggested should have occurred. Since then, there have been a number of questions about the data and this issue of the science is admittedly still in flux. But, I certainly don't think you can say that the data is the intensity increases are less than expected.

Posted by: joelshore | September 11, 2009 5:28 PM | Report abuse

agwscam: You say, "Anthropogenic Global Warming is the greatest scam in world history. There are only three types of people who still believe in it; liars, thieves and the ignorant."

Okay, so tell me, which group does the US National Academy of Sciences fall into, how about the analogous academies in all of the other G8+5 nations, and what about the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the councils of various scientific societies like the AGU, the APS, the AMS, etc.?

You are either telling us that you know the science better than they do (which nothing in your posts would suggest) or you're are proposing the mother of all conspiracy theories!

Posted by: joelshore | September 11, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

jeffreypmorton says: "In the 1970's, global cooling was the big climate scare. Then, around 1980, we were told about manmade global warming and how the planet would burn up. This lasted for about 20 years, until around 1998. Since then temperatures have leveled-off and have begun a decline."

While it may be true that there will some popular books and magazine articles on global cooling in the 1970s, this ignores a number of facts:

(1) There were also books talking about global warming (like "HotHouse Earth" published in 1975).

(2) A review of the peer-reviewed literature shows that even then more scientific papers were concerned with warming than cooling. Furthermore, scientists had correctly identified the various factors that could lead to warming (greenhouse gases) or cooling (aerosol pollutants and long-term natural trends from interglacial to glacial conditions), but had not yet reached a consensus on which would predominate. And, scientific assessments, in particular the one done by the National Academy of Sciences in the mid 70s, rightly concluded at the time that we could not yet predict the future course of the climate. So, the lesson to be learned is that the sober scientific societies remained sober and did not exaggerate their certainty.

(3) See here http://ams.allenpress.com/perlserv/?request=get-abstract&doi=10.1175%2F2008BAMS2370.1 for further discussion.

Claiming that temperatures have leveled off since 1998 and have started to decline would be like saying that the temperatures have warmed over the past week in Washington so the seasonal cycle is a myth because it predicts cooling at this time of year. The estimates of the global temperature trends over an approximately decade-long period are not very robust and thus have huge error bars. And, the fact is that while 1998 is still the warmest year according to most data sets (the NASA GISS has it beat out slightly by 2005), the next 7 warmest years have all occurred since 2001.

Posted by: joelshore | September 11, 2009 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Any chance you'll actually address any of the questions I've asked, Matt?

Posted by: thingsbreak | September 11, 2009 11:08 PM | Report abuse

Matt, not sure if anyone has linked to this yet, but I just noticed this article on a new El Nino study. The study challenges the notion that El Nino events are becoming stronger due to global climate change. http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/6612733.html.

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | September 12, 2009 1:17 AM | Report abuse

"We are too smart for that*. You look at the polls, ordinary people see thorough this, but educated people are very vulnerable" - LINDZEN, R S in radio interview June 2009

*climate fears

Posted by: BrianValentine | September 12, 2009 2:03 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Andrew. So perhaps we can take El Nino off the list of things that may potentially get worse with expected/feared climate change. Baby steps!

Posted by: MattRogers | September 12, 2009 8:26 AM | Report abuse

Not such a "baby step" - considering how many people wave "1998 temperatures" around as an example of how things "ought not to be"

Did Washington cross the Delaware in a boat?

Maybe he did, maybe he just walked across it; it has been suggested that he didn't take a boat because that was during the LIA

Of course the river has frozen over many times but the point is, there seems to be a very strong correlation between "world getting warmer" and "people making measurements"

Posted by: BrianValentine | September 12, 2009 8:49 AM | Report abuse

"So perhaps we can take El Nino off the list of things that may potentially get worse with expected/feared climate change. Baby steps!"

You're attacking a straw man. Neither the TAR (9.3.5.2) nor the AR4 (10.3.5.4) make the claim that ENSO is confidently expected to intensify.

Again, care to address any of the questions I've asked you?

Posted by: thingsbreak | September 12, 2009 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Not a strawman Thingsbreak...read the thread up higher where Andrew Freedman admits the IPCC changed their view on ENSO

Posted by: MattRogers | September 12, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Thingsbreak: Sorry about that. Some of your questions were answered by subsequent comments from other contributors. I've scrolled back up there to find your questions:

What is your basis for the claim it was previously open?

Wikipedia needs to be corrected then. It claims that Roald Amundsen navigated the Northwest Passage during 1903-1906.

"I believe the lack of a strong El Nino this decade is tied to our inability to move the global temperature above the 1998 peak." Can you elaborate on this? It sounds like you're confusing cause and effect. Others have already commented on this thread that the super El Nino of 1997-98 contributed to the global temperature peak record. If you believe it is the other way around, you may want to read the link Andrew Freedman just added. It was originally believed that the El Nino could be a strong feedback mechanism…warming causing more El Nino leading to more warming. This appears less likely due to the latest research.

Posted by: MattRogers | September 12, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

b>On tropical cyclones, polar ice, and ENSO can you please state your *specific* disagreements with the consensus (as represented by the AR4)? IPCC states a greater than 66% probability that tropical cyclone intensities will increase due to anthropogenic climate change. That means there is a 34% chance of the opposite. Based on the data I presented in my blog from Florida State University, I believe the 34%. The Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation is responsible for an Atlantic hurricane peak from 1995-2005 (similar to the 1950s) and not global warming in my view. Regarding polar ice, I do not believe the proxy data is sufficient to assess the icecaps geospatially like we do today. In my mind, it is apples and oranges since you are using two different techniques. And regarding ENSO, I addressed that above. But Andrew also pointed out in a subsequent post that the IPCC changed their view on ENSO and potential impacts from climate change.

Posted by: MattRogers | September 12, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

On CO2, you ask, "We all agree that it is increasing, but is there a chance that our estimate of its influence on the Greenhouse Effect is overblown given its small atmospheric ratio?" Can you please elaborate on this? This is a non sequitur. The percentage of CO2 relative to the rest of our atmospheric gases has no bearing on its properties as a greenhouse gas; i.e. it doesn’t cease being a greenhouse gas simply because it is a relatively small percentage of the total atmosphere. I have seen political cartoons with large CO2 balloons and other wacky ways of suggesting that our atmosphere is saturated with CO2. That is not the case. Most folks I talk to are surprised to hear how small the CO2 component of our atmosphere actually is. I did not say it would “cease being a greenhouse gas”; I suggested that we are over-estimating its extent of impact. Others have replied what I should have said was that we may be struggling yet with opposite feedback mechanisms. I believe something must explain the lack of a CO2-global temperature r-squared over the last 11.5 years.

Posted by: MattRogers | September 12, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

"I wince when hearing pronouncements such as ‘the science is settled’" Can you cite who made that pronouncement? I’ve looked into this allegation by "skeptics" and I’m having a hard time finding the claim itself as opposed to the allegation that the claim has been made. Wow! Where are you from? I have been told that directly by climate scientists, but for a primer, please scroll up and watch that video I posted yesterday where Al Gore directly states, “the debate is over”.

Posted by: MattRogers | September 12, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

On temperatures "not warming", are you aware of the length of time necessary to make meaningful statement with regard to climatologically relevant temperature trends? Have you read the 2009 paper "Is the climate warming or cooling?" by Easterling and Wehner? Actually, no. No one has actually come forward on this thread to state the “length of time necessary”. I have asked a number of climate scientists that question and I typically get no answer other than this decade is not enough (naturally!). I’m sure if we cool for another ten years as new research is suggesting, you will be able to safely ask this same question again! I believe that realclimate.org did a synopsis of that paper you cite and had read that, but I had not read the complete paper. Care to share your thoughts on it?

Posted by: MattRogers | September 12, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

And your final question, Things Break:
Regarding the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, are you aware that it is *by definition* unable to drive long term climatic change? Can you explain why you believe the PDO is responsible for driving the current warming rather or more than GHGs? This rolls back to your first question. When the PDO is in its negative phase, we historically have more La Nina events (vs. El Nino) in the tropical Pacific. The strong La Nina of the 2007-2008 winter was tied to bringing the global temperature back down to 2000 levels (remember those headlines…a decade of warming erased, etc, etc). Well, the PDO tends to be in a phase as long as twenty years or longer, so I believe the PDO is assisting in our downturn in global temperatures. The PDO was positive in the 1980s and 1990s. We had more frequent and stronger El Nino events (two strong in the 1990s) and those periods match up well to our global temperature upward adjustments. What causes the PDO to flip? I will make some absolutist climate scientists collectively gasp by saying “I don’t know”. Maybe the sun?

Posted by: MattRogers | September 12, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

"read the thread up higher where Andrew Freedman admits the IPCC changed their view on ENSO"

I'm not concerned about what "Andrew Freedman admits", I am talking about what the IPCC reports actually say. Neither the TAR (9.3.5.2) nor the AR4 (10.3.5.4) make the claim that ENSO is confidently expected to intensify.

Posted by: thingsbreak | September 12, 2009 9:39 AM | Report abuse

"Wikipedia needs to be corrected then. It claims that Roald Amundsen navigated the Northwest Passage during 1903-1906."

He navigated it by incrementally advancing and allowing himself to be frozen in. That's why it took him ~3 years. That is not evidence for an "open" Northwest Passage at all. ??

"Based on the data I presented in my blog from Florida State University, I believe the 34%"

So you agree with the IPCC that although it is likely that tropical cyclones will intensify, there is a significant element of uncertainty about this?

And you also believe that this aspect of climate change- which is by no means fundamental to the question of anthropogenic attribution due to GHG emissions- is sufficiently resolved? Although it is likely that tropical cyclone intensity will increase in a warmer world, there are confounding factors as well as natural variability to be accounted for, and I don't believe that a 10 year stretch is sufficient to resolve these issues. This is more or less the "consensus" position.

"Regarding polar ice, I do not believe the proxy data is sufficient to assess the icecaps geospatially like we do today. In my mind, it is apples and oranges since you are using two different techniques."

Proxies obviously are not a 1:1 perfect replication of satellite observations, but that in no way means they aren't sufficient to answer broad questions about sea ice extent. Additionally, there is observational (submarine and shipboard) evidence that likewise indicates that Arctic sea ice used to be much more prevalent than it is today.

Posted by: thingsbreak | September 12, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

"I have seen political cartoons with large CO2 balloons and other wacky ways of suggesting that our atmosphere is saturated with CO2. That is not the case. Most folks I talk to are surprised to hear how small the CO2 component of our atmosphere actually is."

With all due respect, this has absolutely nothing to do with climate science.

"I suggested that we are over-estimating its extent of impact."

What is the theoretical or observational basis for this belief?

"I believe something must explain the lack of a CO2-global temperature r-squared over the last 11.5 years."

11.5 years is not a sufficient period to support such a claim.

Posted by: thingsbreak | September 12, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

"Wow! Where are you from? I have been told that directly by climate scientists, but for a primer, please scroll up and watch that video I posted yesterday where Al Gore directly states, “the debate is over”."

I referenced your *specific* assertion that you have been told "the science is settled". That is a well-known denialist canard that appears to have no basis in reality.

That being said, there are certainly aspects of the science that have been sufficiently addressed to support statements like "the debate is over". Whether or not increasing GHGs will warm the planet to a higher equilibrium temperature, for example. That is not to say that questions regarding the rate of sea ice melt or the evolution of tropical cyclones in a warmer world are not being studied. The basics are for practical purposes "settled" enough- science has moved on from addressing the existence and attribution of the warming trend. That doesn't mean that climate science is a field where active research no longer takes place!

Posted by: thingsbreak | September 12, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

"Actually, no. No one has actually come forward on this thread to state the “length of time necessary”. I have asked a number of climate scientists that question and I typically get no answer other than this decade is not enough (naturally!). I’m sure if we cool for another ten years as new research is suggesting, you will be able to safely ask this same question again! I believe that realclimate.org did a synopsis of that paper you cite and had read that, but I had not read the complete paper. Care to share your thoughts on it?"

http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/2009/09/10/of-moles-and-whacking-climate-models-didnt-predict-this-lack-of-warming/

And please be sure to also read Bob Grumbine here: http://moregrumbinescience.blogspot.com/2009/01/results-on-deciding-trends.html and here: http://moregrumbinescience.blogspot.com/2009/07/what-cooling-trend.html

There all pretty to the point. The short answer is that less than 30 year periods and certainly less than 20 are insufficient. There is a practical reason why (for temperature) climate is generally defined as ~30 years.

Posted by: thingsbreak | September 12, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

"I believe the PDO is assisting in our downturn in global temperatures."

The PDO is *by definition* orthogonal to the overall trend. http://jisao.washington.edu/pdo/PDO.latest

Posted by: thingsbreak | September 12, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for addressing my questions, by the way, Matt. I appreciate it.

Posted by: thingsbreak | September 12, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Paging Dr. Tracton. Paging Dr. Tracton.

Why are you not complaining about someone hijacking the thread/board/comments/debate/whatever?

Do you only voice that complaint when the person doing it disagrees with you?

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | September 12, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Brian-CapitalWeatherGang wrote, "Quick Poll. How many out there actually believe that the unchecked release of pollutants, not just CO2, but heavy metals, NO2, SO4, etc. will have no eventual detrimental impacts on our atmosphere, oceans, or ecosystems? Also, if nobody does, WHAT ARE WE ARGUING ABOUT?"

Are you honestly trying to equate the current (with current being defined as hyped by the dinosaur media) "Oh my God! We are all going to die and it is all our fault!" theory of catastrophic man made global warming with the local and regional impact of heavy metal pollution?

Are you really trying to insinuate that if we don't believe in the current doom and gloom scenario as espoused by ABC/NBC/CBS/New York Times/Washington Post/etc.. etc.. etc.., *THEN* we must not (or can not) believe that any pollution is bad?

Oh my God! Are you serious? Do you really see it that way? Do you really think those are the only two possibilities?

I am truly disappointed Mr. Jackson.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | September 12, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Allow me to answer your question Mr. Jackson. I can not speak for others, obviously, so this is my personal opinion.

Pollution is bad. But it varies in how bad it is. It varies depending upon the pollutant and the amount. For example, a small amount of pollutant "A" can be very bad, whereas a larger amount of pollutant "B" could be not as bad.

It also varies on scale/size of area affected. There are pollutants whose effects are entirely local: versus pollutants whose effects can be regional.

The people who disagree with the current theory of catastrophic man made global warming (and are as you put it "arguing") fall into, generally speaking, two different groups -
group 1 - people who think that CO2 will do no harm
group 2 - people who think that CO2 will not do as much harm as portrayed by some politicians and the dinosaur media

I think the majority of people who disagree fall into group 2. I am in group 2.

I think the media, some government officials, and many scientists **GROSSLY** overstate the effects of CO2. Consequently, I am opposed to many of the current proposals on the table.

If I were to use an analogy, I suppose the best analogy I could come up with would be the medieval practice of blood letting. Doctors of the medieval age used to let blood out of some of their patients when they fell ill. That practice killed quite a few patients.

Did they intend for their patients to die? No. Were they acting in a manner that they considered to be reflecting the best known science and medical procedure of the day? Yes.

But they were wrong. And their patients died.

And I think that is pretty much what we are doing today. Our level of knowledge on our climate is in its infancy. We don't know enough about the climate to predict what it will do in 100 years. To suggest that we do is, at best, self-delusional.

And I fear that, much like the blood letting of medieval times, the cure will be worse than the disease.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | September 12, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

I've seen one climatologist's statement that cooling produces larger and more storms than warming, due to the disproportionate swing of temperatures near the poles vs. the tropics, and it is that contrast that drives extreme weather. I.e., in cooling periods, that means the contrast and extreme weather are greater.

Posted by: brianfh01 | September 12, 2009 6:07 PM | Report abuse

THANK YOU for giving TRUE voice to all people who do not subscribe to the belief that global warming is man-made. Your arguments will be added to my own arguments (which are mostly made on economic grounds) to rebut those who think we should turn our entire energy production over to the government so it can deem how much energy we can consume.

Posted by: cmb551 | September 12, 2009 11:42 PM | Report abuse

But, let me add this little caveat:

Next time, don't be afraid to just publish an article WITHOUT disclaimers in them (and especially ones where you think we should diversify our energy so we can reduce our dependence on foreign oil).

It's time that all right-thinking people (and I use the term as a means of sanity, not of any type of political ideology) stand up to this lunacy that has been spewed as truth for several years.

Posted by: cmb551 | September 12, 2009 11:47 PM | Report abuse

Andrew wrote"Re: "Silencing Dissent" - this is another thing I hear often from climate skeptics. Can you provide any actual instance (rather than conversations you have had with people) where your views on climate science have been silenced?"
Maybe Matt has never submitted a paper for publication but the following reference is an article by Professor Lindzen of MIT that should provide the answer
http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110008220
Scientific America's trashng of both Bjorn Lomborg's book "the skeptical environmentalist" and him personally and refusing to publish his rebuttal or allow him to reprint their attacks on his website smacks of both "silencing dissent" and "silencing debate".
A question for Andrew>
How much coverage did you or the paper give to the 650 scientists who issued a strong dissent to the man made global warming theory in a letter to the recent UN Climate change conference held in Poland" Was it featured on the front pageor mentioned at all?

Posted by: mosmanpat | September 13, 2009 8:22 AM | Report abuse

The question that I have is, what is the "normal" temperature for the earth? In the past two million years, we have been in and out of numerous ice ages. Is the ice age conditions the normal temperature of the earth or is today's temperatures?

According to past data, it appears that we are past due to enter another ice age. I for one would rather have a few degrees of global warming instead of an ice age especially, since where I now sit was under a mile deep glacier a few tens of thousands of years ago.

What has the most potential to devastate human life on this planet, an ice age or global warming?

Posted by: russellburgett | September 13, 2009 8:28 AM | Report abuse

"Wikipedia needs to be corrected then. It claims that Roald Amundsen navigated the Northwest Passage during 1903-1906."

He navigated it by incrementally advancing and allowing himself to be frozen in. That's why it took him ~3 years. That is not evidence for an "open" Northwest Passage at all. ??
-----------------------
And how fast was his ship compared to what we have now? If he had a modern vessel back in 1903, he could have probably done it in a week.

Posted by: russellburgett | September 13, 2009 8:35 AM | Report abuse

First and foremost I am not a scientist therefore the only thing that I can rely on is history and common sense. But I have conducted two experiments on pissing outdoors:
1. I have a problem with ant hills so I started pissing on them and at first they rebuild. As I continue my onslaught they adapt and move.
2. I have also pissed on the grass in the same spot until the grass is dead, but when I stop Mother Nature seems to heal herself.
I guess we are in a pissing contest!

Posted by: gsitz | September 13, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for an up to date analysis and synopsis of the debate (that actually exists!). I plan to share this with many people who are clueless about the science and what we do and do not know.

Posted by: riazifamily | September 13, 2009 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Here is an example of silencing dissent.

--begin quote--
Part of the answer lies in the way institutions find ways to silence their employees. Paltridge himself was involved in setting up the Antarctic research centre in the early 90s with the CSIRO. As he recalls: "I made the error at the time of mentioning in a media interview -- reported extensively in The Australian on a slow Easter Sunday -- that there were still lots of doubts about the disaster potential of global warming. Suffice it to say that within a couple of days it was made clear to me from the highest levels of CSIRO that, should I make such public comments again, then it would pull out of the process of forming the new centre." The CSIRO, it turned out, was in the process of trying to extract many millions of dollars for further climate research at the time.
--end quote--

source of the above quote

And just because this is so closely related to my last comment, I must call attention to a sentence further down in the same article.

--begin quote--
Paltridge says that behind the climate change debate there are two basic truths seldom articulated. "The first is that the scientists pushing the seriousness of global warming are perfectly well aware of the great uncertainty attached to their cause.
--end quote--


But if you don't believe him, perhaps you will believe a NASA scientist. She had to wait until after she retired to make this statement. Why would that be?

--begin quote--
Since I am no longer affiliated with any organization nor receiving any funding, I can speak quite frankly….As a scientist I remain skeptical...The main basis of the claim that man’s release of greenhouse gases is the cause of the warming is based almost entirely upon climate models. We all know the frailty of models concerning the air-surface system.” - Atmospheric Scientist Dr. Joanne Simpson, the first woman in the world to receive a PhD in meteorology, and formerly of NASA, who has authored more than 190 studies and has been called “among the most preeminent scientists of the last 100 years.”
--end quote--

source of the above quote

And if you go to the source and find that quote, directly beneath it you will find this gem from a U.N. IPCC scientist.

--begin quote--
Warming fears are the “worst scientific scandal in the history…When people come to know what the truth is, they will feel deceived by science and scientists.” - UN IPCC Japanese Scientist Dr. Kiminori Itoh, an award-winning PhD environmental physical chemist.
--end quote--

That is a UN IPCC scientist calling the warming fears the "WORST SCIENTIFIC SCANDAL IN THE HISTORY".

I think he is being too kind. He calls it a scandal. I call it a scam.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | September 13, 2009 11:32 PM | Report abuse

Matt,

In my list of top 10 reasons, I would include withholding data and methods from skeptics.

If you want the World and billions of people to adopt your policies/recommendations you should have to show all the data to anyone who asks for it. We shouldn't have to take it on faith that everything that they say is 100% accurate. And when people refuse to show the data and want us to just trust them, that is when we should be the most skeptical.

Imagine the audacity of wanting the World to do as you say, but refusing to release the data that supports the justification for doing as you say. Unbelievable.

And where is the dinosaur press on this? Bueller? Bueller?

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | September 14, 2009 1:06 AM | Report abuse

Matt Rogers’ article is a worthwhile addition to the climate change debate. However, the discussion has moved beyond the science and has entered into the policy development phase. The Waxman, Markey Cap and Trade bill from the House is the most recent effort. Policy creation demands that the scientist take a seat at the policy making table with the economist, ethicist, and in my opinion, the moralist. The ethicist should question the ethics of a developed country imposing an agenda on an undeveloped country incapable of defending itself against such intrusion. The economist must supply the cost benefit analysis of diverting scarce resources to an exercise in futility. The moralist is the conscience of the policy makers who must consider the impact of the policy on the targeted population.

I’m aware the resorting to analog is often criticized as lack of intellectual rigor and critical thinking, however, if the analog fits, use it. The analog I choose is the banning of DDT by the EU in conjunction with the World Health Organization the which has resulted in the deaths of tens of millions of developing country citizens, eighty percent of which where under the age of five.

Do an Internet search and try to find a peer reviewed paper that supports the bogus science promulgated by Rachel Carson. I did and found more than a hundred and reading abstracts failed to find one that supported her position.

In closing I noted that RealClimate.com is cited several times in this comment section. This website purports to be “climate science from climate scientists” and excludes from debate policy considerations that will evolve from “the science” and is therefore devoid of standing in this discussion, in my opinion

Posted by: alpha2actual | September 14, 2009 4:04 AM | Report abuse

Mr_Q: If you look at actual data from an anonymous random survey of scientists who are members of the AGU or AMS, one finds that 5% of scientists say that they have been pressured by public officials or government agencies to “deny, minimize or discount evidence of human-induced global warming.” By contrast, only 3% say they were pressured by public officials or government agencies to “embellish, play up or overstate” evidence of global warming. Of course, in an ideal world, both of these numbers would be zero but the fact is that more scientists seem to perceive pressure to understate, not overstate, the dangers.

And, of course there is the infamous case of House Committee on Energy & Commerce Chairman Joe Barton's inquisition of Mann et al., something that was so bad that even fellow Republican (and Chair of the House Science Committee) Sherwood Boehlert said: "My primary concern about your investigation is that its purpose seems to be to intimidate scientists rather than to learn from them, and to substitute Congressional political review for scientific peer review. This would be pernicious." ( http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/prometheus/archives/climate_change/000497letter_from_boehlert.html ) A variety of scientific organizations also weighed in against Barton's intimidation tactics.

As for the release of data and methods, there are well-established scientific practices regarding what scientists must release and what is considered their own intellectual property (and the NSF has guidelines on this sort of thing). I know of no case where the scientists have gone against these practices and many have actually gone well beyond what is required (which I think is a good thing and should be encouraged).

Finally, as for your references to Dr. Kiminori Itoh, as near as I can determine, the claim that he is a "UN IPCC scientist" is based on his serving as an expert reviewer on the IPCC reports. The problem with this as a criterion is that basically anyone can serve as an expert reviewer. (I think you may have to be nominated but the nominations can be made by virtually any organization, including of course, the various political organizations that are fighting against the scientific consensus on climate change.)

Posted by: joelshore | September 14, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

What is of most concern is how skeptics of the global warming theory are treated.

I have in the past made comments on blogs only to find that people had researched who I was. They don't answer my questions or debate the facts, what they want to know is who is making the argument. I have been accused of being paid by the fossil fuel companies (I wish I was), many supporters of the theory seem to think any contrarians must have alterior motives (than just the truth).

To be called Holocaust deniers, flatlanders and such, using disparaging comments, ad hominem attacks, must be similar to what other skeptics experienced in 1930's Germany, skeptics of you know who. Have not noteable scientists who support the theory called for Nuremburg style trials.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/6/23/17350/3999/231/540815

Science is not supposed to have consensus. Consensus is a political term. Many/most scientific discoveries have come from contrarians. It is dangerous to promote consensus on any subject by simply savaging your opponents (or trying to do so).

Fortunately the truth has its own power. Mother Nature is weighing in on the subject. Some alarmists are now agreeing that temperatures might fall for the next 20 years (but they say this gives humanity more time to prepare for the inevitable warming and just wait and see how hot it is going to get once the 20 years of cooling is over).

The past ten years of cooling temperatures show that "natural forces" are more powerful than man made ones. It never crosses the alarmists minds that perhaps these same natural forces that are making the earth cooler also made it warmer from the late 70s to the 90s.

Delaying cap and trade legislation now is critical because it will be even more difficult in the future to pass it when cooler temperatures (and the resulting shorter growing season) are felt by people throughout the globe.

www.isthereglobalwarming.com


Posted by: gpp1111 | September 14, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

All you need to know about cap and trade is that Enron thought it had terrific potential as a profit center back in 1989, all the big banks that brought you the sub prime mortgage debacle have cap and trade trading desks in the European market, which has tanked, and Al Gore thinks the concept is just the bomb. Even “Mother Jones” thinks the concept sucks

Posted by: alpha2actual | September 14, 2009 11:17 PM | Report abuse

Joelshore takes exception to Michael Mann’s “inquisition” before the House Committee on Energy & Commerce. Dr. Mann is of course the creator of the Mann Hockey Stick graph purportedly showing the correlation between increase of atmospheric CO2 and increasing global temperatures, a graph that has become iconic for Al Gore, the Global Warming movement and earlier IPCC reports.

What Joel fails to mention is that Mann’s graph, and therefore his work, has been thoroughly debunked and was pulled from more recent editions of IPCC reports. Mann’s work failed to pass fundamental statistical tests for validity. Less well known about this fraud are the mysterious 500 lines of Fortran Code that will take any dataset consisting of randomly generated (within constraints) numbers and produce the iconoclastic hockey stick. He has become a pseudo scientist of no importance to the global warming debate

Posted by: alpha2actual | September 15, 2009 1:32 AM | Report abuse

We live in a republic that has walls. And those walls have to be guarded by men with thermometers. Who's going do it? You Dr Mann? You Dr Hansen? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for those Polar Bears and you curse the temperature takers. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. My existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves useless expenditure of national treasure and retards the genocidal effects of the policies you wish to implement.

You don't want the truth. Deep down, in places you don't talk about when your are sleeping alone late at night after those Georgetown cocktail parties after chowing down on limp quiche and swilling a third rate California Chardonnay devoid of pretension, you want me on that wall you need me on that wall. We use words like Little Ice Age, Medieval Warming Period, and Toga Parties ...we use these words as the backbone to a life devoted to taking temperature. You use them as a punch line. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the electric blanket of the very freedom I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it. I'd prefer you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a thermometer and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you're entitled to.

Posted by: alpha2actual | September 15, 2009 1:45 AM | Report abuse

@joelshore

You didn't provide a reference to your claim that only 3% were 'pressured by public officials or government agencies to “embellish, play up or overstate” evidence of global warming' and so it is impossible for me to verify your assertion or to look at the underlying data in the survey.

Did the survey take into consideration the scientists who may have felt "silenced" by the talk of charging those who disagreed in a court of law with "crimes against humanity"?

Can you please provide a link to your source? I would like to verify that it included charging skeptics with "crimes against humanity".

As far as your rebuttal of data and methods, it would appear that you are not fully up to speed on the incident in question. I am *assuming* that you are unaware that Professor Jones has infamously replied, "Even if WMO agrees, I will still not pass on the data. We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it."

Yes, you read that correctly. He intends to withhold the data from certain individuals. But he has made it available to those who agree with him.

What a piece of work! Let's raise everyone's cost of living because Professor Jones says so.

As far as your rebuttal concerning Dr. Kiminori Itoh, I thank you. Your comment is not worthy of rebuttal and I can not thank you enough for making it. It exposes your biases and prejudices for what they are.

Just out of idle curiosity, can you, for the record, tell us which group of IPCC scientists are worthy of listening to?

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | September 15, 2009 2:07 AM | Report abuse

Congratulations to Joel Shore who has managed to convince - Joel Shore!!!

Joel isn't convincing anybody else, so he's doing this to convince himself

- It works for Joel for a little while, anyway

Joel, go back and read Gerlich and Tscheuschner. It isn't all that abstract or difficult to read.

I don't think Gerlich and Tscheuschner go far enough - but one CAN'T come away from reading that and still believe that CO2 climate change means anything


Posted by: BrianValentine | September 15, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Mr Q - Sorry about not posting the link to the survey; I meant to; here it is: http://stats.org/stories/2008/global_warming_survey_apr23_08.html As to which IPCC scientists are worth listening to: We should pay most attention to the report itself which was written by top scientists in the field and surveys the peer-reviewed literature in the field and has to at least consider all comments from anyone who calls themselves an "expert reviewer" like Dr. Kiminori Itoh.

Brian Valentine - If you take Gerlich and Tscheuschner at all seriously, your views and lack of objectivity are more extreme than I could ever have imagined. Their claim that the atmospheric greenhouse effect violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics is so laughable that one could give a problem to introductory physics students that would demonstrate where G&T go wrong. I have it on good authority that even skeptics like Fred Singer can't stomach G&T and that's saying something!

alpha2actual - Even if what you said about Mann et al was true, it still wouldn't justify an inquisition before Congress. Lots of work in science turns out to be wrong without the scientists getting hauled before a Congressional committee.

As it turns out, however, Mann's work was not debunked and his reconstruction in fact still appears in the IPCC AR4 report (see Fig. 6.10 in Chapter 6 here: http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/ar4-wg1.htm ) although now there are a lot more reconstructions by other groups that lend support to the basic claim that the 2nd half of the 20th century is likely the warmest 50-year period in the last 1300 years. (This statement appears in the IPCC AR4 Working Group 1 Summary for Policymakers.) It is true that some of the other reconstructions show more variation in the centuries prior to the 20th, although this is basically due to a cooling Little Ice Age than a warmer Medieval Warm Period. And, it is true (as is often true of pioneering work) that Mann's methods had some drawbacks and are not the preferred method of handling the reconstructions, but the basic aspects of the result have so far proven to be robust.

Posted by: joelshore | September 15, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

@ joelshore

That link wasn't what I was asking for. I wanted a link to the full results, which would include the precise questions asked. However, I followed your link and read the story. According to the link you provided, there is nothing that indicates that the survey asked if the skeptics felt pressure to remain silent because of all of the talk about putting "deniers" on trial for crimes against humanity.

Indeed, given that the survey was conducted in May 2007, and Dr. Hansen didn't make his recommendation to conduct these trials until June 2008, over one year after your survey.

Call me crazy, but I would think that when people start talking about putting people on trial for crimes against humanity, that would have a chilling affect on speaking out against the theory of catastrophic man made global warming.

I did enjoy some portions of the article that you linked to.

I liked this one -
"However, the survey finds that scientists are still debating the dynamics and dangers of global warming, and only three percent trust newspaper or television coverage of climate change."

I wasn't aware there was a debate! Imagine my surprise. ;)

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | September 15, 2009 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Fred Singer would be about the last to reject Gerlich and Tscheushner, Joel, and I have conversed with Dr Singer numerous times.

The only thing "laughable" Joel is perpetual motion machines driven by "greenhouse gas" effects. I can prove the entropy change of the Universe is negative if the "Greenhouse Gas" theory of warming is true.

[That calculation is not easy, however, because the calculation does NOT involve the "temperature," which Gerlich and Tscheushner point out, is not defined for an Earth that never reaches a steady state, let alone an equilibrium. The calculation involves a more abstract quantity than the commonly defined entropy.]

You can change my mind, Joel, if you can give me a sensible answer to the following question:

The commonly accepted model of "global warming" involves a CO2 "forcing" and a water vapor "feedback" effect.

Now please give me an answer:

Why is it NOT possible to have a "water vapor" feedback from a "water vapor" forcing?

How can this be demonstrated, from a phenomenological standpoint, to be incorrect?

NO BS PLEASE no HA HA RESPONSES

JUST A SENSIBLE ANSWER

Posted by: BrianValentine | September 15, 2009 8:14 PM | Report abuse

By the way if you claim it IS POSSIBLE to have a water vapor feedback from a water vapor forcing - then you have claimed that the atmosphere is saturated and thereby in equilibrium with the ocean

At that point you lose the Global Warming Game !!!

Posted by: BrianValentine | September 15, 2009 8:48 PM | Report abuse

Mr Q says: "Call me crazy, but I would think that when people start talking about putting people on trial for crimes against humanity, that would have a chilling affect on speaking out against the theory of catastrophic man made global warming."

That one was one statement by one person...and he was not speaking of putting anyone who spoke out on trial. He was making the analogy with cigarette companies and saying that if could be shown that the heads of the coal companies knew that what they were saying was not scientifically defensible but said it anyway, then they should be held accountable. I personally think the putting them on trial part for crimes against humanity went too far. In the case of the cigarette companies, it was settled by civil suits.

Mr Q says: "I wasn't aware there was a debate! Imagine my surprise. ;)"

In science there is always debate. There is debate in the field of evolutionary biology. However, that doesn't mean that nothing is known to a high degree of certainty. There are certain things that are known with high certainty and certain things that are known with less certainty.

And, by the way, uncertainty also means that the effects could turn out to be worse than we expected. Given the past history of our climate system, the surprises seem unlikely to be pleasant ones. As has been said, the climate system is an angry beast and we are poking it with a very large stick.

(And, while we are quoting parts of the survey, did you note the part where 26% of the scientists thought that Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" was very reliable and another 38% somewhat reliable but less than 1% thought Michael Crichton’s novel “State of Fear” was very reliable? Or the part where 85% thought global climate change would pose a very great danger (41%) or moderate danger (44%) in the next 50 to 100 years and only 13% thought it posed little danger? And, this is with a survey that selected scientists who are members of the AGU or AMS on a basis that probably cast a broader net than just climate scientists and thus likely included scientists not active in the field and known to lean more skeptical, such as forecast meteorologists.)

Posted by: joelshore | September 15, 2009 9:16 PM | Report abuse

Brian Valentine,

The claim of perpetual motion machines are just silliness. What G&T and apparently you too fail to grasp is that the net heat flow is from the warmer earth's surface to the colder upper troposphere, so there is no violation of the Second Law. (The reason that such a flow still leads to warming is that what we are comparing it to is the case of an IR-transparent atmosphere in which all of the heat that the earth radiates is lost to space, so even if an IR-active upper atmosphere returns only a small portion of the heat that it receives from the earth back to the earth, that still leaves the earth warmer than the IR-transparent case.)

I'm not sure I understand your question, "Why is it NOT possible to have a 'water vapor' feedback from a 'water vapor' forcing?" It seems that this would be possible in principle except that we don't really know of a practical way to create water vapor forcing. The water vapor ends up being pretty much slave to the temperature, so the practical way to increase its concentration in the atmosphere is to increase the temperature, which is why it ends up acting as a feedback mechanism.

Posted by: joelshore | September 15, 2009 9:24 PM | Report abuse

joelshore wrote, "That one was one statement by one person...and he was not speaking of putting anyone who spoke out on trial."

This is beyond maddening. You obviously didn't click the links I provided two posts back. Where the heck have you been???? Are you honestly going to tell me that you never saw any of the online petitions???

Try this link. Scroll down to the comments. Google has made it easy by highlighting the search terms.

Then try this link.

Then try this link. Click the top search result and go sign the petition yourself.

I don't know what else to say. We apparently inhabit different worlds, or at bare minimum, different realities.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | September 15, 2009 9:59 PM | Report abuse

As far as quoting more from that article, I was DYING too! I could spend all night posting here on just that article.

For example, let's look at one of the sentences you chose to highlight, "Former Vice President Al Gore’s documentary film “An Inconvenient Truth” rates better than any traditional news source, with 26% finding it “very reliable” and 38% as somewhat reliable."

Were you aware that Mr. Gore's film was put on trial in the U.K.? Care to take a guess how it fared? It was PATHETIC! And the judge didn't even listen to all the evidence on all 20 inaccuracies! He ruled on 9 of them.

--begin quote--
Inaccuracies in Al Gore's 'An Inconvenient Truth'

The decision by the government to distribute Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth has been the subject of a legal action by New Party member Stewart Dimmock. The Court found that the film was misleading in nine respects and that the Guidance Notes drafted by the Education Secretary’s advisors served only to exacerbate the political propaganda in the film.

In order for the film to be shown, the Government must first amend their Guidance Notes to Teachers to make clear that 1.) The Film is a political work and promotes only one side of the argument. 2.) If teachers present the Film without making this plain they may be in breach of section 406 of the Education Act 1996 and guilty of political indoctrination. 3.) Nine inaccuracies have to be specifically drawn to the attention of school children.

The inaccuracies are:

* The film claims that melting snows on Mount Kilimanjaro evidence global warming. The Government’s expert was forced to concede that this is not correct.
* The film suggests that evidence from ice cores proves that rising CO2 causes temperature increases over 650,000 years. The Court found that the film was misleading: over that period the rises in CO2 lagged behind the temperature rises by 800-2000 years.
* The film uses emotive images of Hurricane Katrina and suggests that this has been caused by global warming. The Government’s expert had to accept that it was “not possible” to attribute one-off events to global warming.
* The film shows the drying up of Lake Chad and claims that this was caused by global warming. The Government’s expert had to accept that this was not the case.
* The film claims that a study showed that polar bears had drowned due to disappearing arctic ice. It turned out that Mr Gore had misread the study: in fact four polar bears drowned and this was because of a particularly violent storm.

CONTINUED IN MY NEXT COMMENT

Posted by: Mr_Q | September 15, 2009 10:12 PM | Report abuse

CONTINUED FROM MY PREVIOUS COMMENT

* The film threatens that global warming could stop the Gulf Stream throwing Europe into an ice age: the Claimant’s evidence was that this was a scientific impossibility.
* The film blames global warming for species losses including coral reef bleaching. The Government could not find any evidence to support this claim.
* The film suggests that sea levels could rise by 7m causing the displacement of millions of people. In fact the evidence is that sea levels are expected to rise by about 40cm over the next hundred years and that there is no such threat of massive migration.
* The film claims that rising sea levels has caused the evacuation of certain Pacific islands to New Zealand. The Government are unable to substantiate this and the Court observed that this appears to be a false claim.

Not all of the inaccuracies in the film were fully considered by the court as the judge requested a sample on which to consider the case. Professor Carter's witness statement (reproduced below) lists 20 inaccuracies in the film.
--end quote--

Source of the above quote.

More here.

Now here is my point. What does this say about 26% of the scientists?!?! Makes them look pretty bad, doesn't it. Not very well informed are they?

I don't have all night for this. It appears to me that you are either as badly misinformed as the 26% of scientists, or you are misrepresenting yourself. Either way, I don't have the time to continue this discussion.

Have a good evening.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | September 15, 2009 10:14 PM | Report abuse

what we are comparing it to is the case of an IR-transparent atmosphere in which all of the heat that the earth radiates is lost to space, so even if an IR-active upper atmosphere returns only a small portion of the heat that it receives from the earth back to the earth,

[coughs]umm, aren't we referring to a NET heat flow Joel?

we don't really know of a practical way to create water vapor forcing.

I don't care if YOU know of a way, Joel - but why isn't the ATMOSPHERE doing it?

Show me how water vapor knows the difference betweem IR from water vapor and IR from CO2. Go ahead, Joel, show me how.

Does it "smell different" or something Joel? Does it have a "different taste"?


Posted by: BrianValentine | September 15, 2009 10:30 PM | Report abuse

[flashing sign]

GLOBAL WARMING

GAME OVER

Posted by: BrianValentine | September 15, 2009 10:35 PM | Report abuse

Joelshore

In my first post I thought I articulated the position that the scientist must share the policy creating process with other interested parties, primarily the ethicist and economist. The policy creators must bring the scientist from the laboratory to the Committee to explain his findings and his methodology. The Waxman-Markey bill that came out of the House meets my standard for this expanded conversation. You have categorized this procedure as inquisition. I disagree, I prefer responsible fact finding by a responsible governmental entity.

Joel I have a question for you, do you think that there is solid science behind the banning of DDT? If you believe the science is solid do you think that imposing its ban on Sub Sahara countries is morally justifiable knowing that malaria infects 100 to 300 million individuals per year with an attending death of 1,000,000, 80% under the age of five?

Posted by: alpha2actual | September 15, 2009 11:20 PM | Report abuse

"Never break another (wo)man's rice bowl."

That advice was given to me at the age of 5 by my mother, and what she meant of course is that one never kicks someone else's beliefs - ("you don't believe in that religion, progress, humanity, ... nonsense, do you?")

Here I have no problem giving this pseudo philosophy a kick because, it is defined by AGW advocates as "science."

Or "soyince" as Al Gore pronounces it, whatever it is, keeps getting debunked ever since the day Arrhenius woke up and remembered that CO2 absorbed in the IR - but forgot that it emitted, too.

We'll move on, and I haven't told anybody it is bunk - Mr and Mrs (Wo)man in the Street already knows it is anyway.

Posted by: BrianValentine | September 15, 2009 11:34 PM | Report abuse

Mr Q: When you search in google using the terms like "crimes against humanity" plus "climate change" like you did in your second link, you have to actually have to look at the results in order to determine what you have found. I clicked on some and found that most either were talking about the Hansen comment (often from a "skeptic" viewpoint) or were not even about climate change at all but just happened to have the right words on the page.

You did find one petition (without very many signatures and which I am not planning to sign, thank you very much) and one case where some people proposed trying folks for crimes against humanity in the comments on some blog. That hardly impresses me. The internet is a big place and I bet you could also find people who say that those who perpetuate the "global warming fraud" should be tried.

As for the "Inconvenient Truth", sure the film is not without its faults and I personally would be in the 38% of the scientists who called it "somewhat reliable" if you asked me. However, the basic point is that most scientists think that it is at least broadly correct and that the alternate view of Michael Crichton is not. As for that trial in the U.K., actually here is another view of what the judge did and didn't say and how accurate his analysis was: http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2007/10/an_error_is_not_the_same_thing.php

Posted by: joelshore | September 16, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Brian Valentine says: "[coughs]umm, aren't we referring to a NET heat flow Joel?" Absolutely not. As I have explained, the net flow is from surface to atmosphere as it must be. Let me give you the introductory physics problem that illustrates this for a simplified case that can be solved exactly:

Consider a spherical body whose temperature is maintained at T. Around it place two concentric shells A and B, each infinitesimally larger than the other. Surrounding all this is empty space at absolute zero. For convenience treat everything as perfect blackbodies. First, remove shell B. It is elementary to determine that at equilibrium, T_A = ((1/2)^(1/4)) T =~ 0.84 T.

Next, insert shell B. In equilibrium, we find
T_A = ((2/3)^(1/4)) T =~ 0.90 T
T_B = ((1/3)^(1/4)) T =~ 0.76 T. One can also compute the net energy flow between A and B and one finds that it is (1/3)σT^4 flowing in the direction from A to B.

The assumptions that the spheres are perfect blackbodies and the radii of the shells are only slightly larger than the radius of the sphere could be relaxed at the expense of making the solution more complex.

Thus, the addition of the Shell B has caused the temperature of Shell A to be higher than it would be in the absence of Shell B (~0.90 T instead of ~0.84 T), yet Shell B is at a lower temperature than Shell A. This is exactly the situation that Gerlich and Tscheuschner seem to claim would violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics, i.e., that we have warmed an object (Shell A) to a higher temperature than it would have in the absence of the “back-radiation” from a cooler object (Shell B).

Of course, as one can see, the net heat flow is from Shell A to Shell B and thus the 2nd law is not in fact violated, just as is true of the earth / atmosphere case where the net flow of heat is from the earth to the atmosphere and yet the presence of the IR-absorbing atmosphere still results in the earth’s surface being warmer than it would be without greenhouse gases.

Posted by: joelshore | September 16, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Brian,

I have completely lost you on the issue of the water vapor feedback.

Posted by: joelshore | September 16, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

In equilibrium, we find ...

Step 1: Define "equilibrium" for me, please.

Joel,

You have completely lost me on the issue of the water vapor feedback.

That is because the first person you lost on this issue was yourself.


Posted by: BrianValentine | September 16, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

If any would like to correspond with me, please send email

Brian G Valentine
Arlington, Virginia

bgvalentine@verizon.net


Posted by: BrianValentine | September 16, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

If you want to intelligently address the current status of claims made by the scientific community regarding climate change, you should have read http://downloads.globalchange.gov/usimpacts/pdfs/climate-impacts-report.pdf. Although long, don't claim that you know what scientists are *currently* saying unless you've read that document.

Posted by: ragoertz | September 16, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

I stumbled across this article and it's subsequent discussion due to an ongoing curiosity about the subject. I am not a scientist and many of the posts are beyond my comprehension. However, I must admit that the small trickle of dissent from a few years ago seems to have grown significantly over the years due to the ability of internet users to find articles in support of both sides. Some years back I was a true believer and was concerned. However, as the claims for chaos and worldwide destruction escalated, I begin to look for some "proof" of these dire predictions. As time went on I found that many of the estimates from earlier had failed to materialize and that the level of dissent was growing rapidly (which one would never know if they limited themselves to the mainstream media).
Just out of curiosity I read every post and every reply and I thought you might be interested in my take on the debate.
1. If both sides hold to their ideas for a long, long time they will both eventually be right. The earth will cool and heat up as it has for centuries and we will continually struggle to understand the cause.
2. Pollution is bad, but probably not as cataclysmic as some suggest. We should certainly work on controlling blatant examples of pollution (dumping waste into public water sources for example)
3. I must admit that I am lost on the CO2 argument. My personal theory is that the levels are up because the world's population is so much higher and we have stripped out so many forest and jungles that the plants are not using the CO2 fast enough.
4. I am thrilled that there is discussion and argument about the subject. I only wish that Congress would continue to study the subject rather than pass inane laws that are going to cost me more money.
And, although it's totally off the subject., when are we, as a nation, going to come to the conclusion that we must expand our nuclear energy capability?
(For all those who just went, AHA he has an agenda, or he works in the industry, the truth is I work for a franchise company involved in printing.)
4. Matt, thanks to you for writing and thanks to web site for publishing. To all the posters: keep up the good work. I hope I live long enough to see which side is correct.

Posted by: MickeyG | September 16, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

The period in the above Climate Change Impacts report became part of the link, causing an error when clicked. the proper link is:
http://downloads.globalchange.gov/usimpacts/pdfs/climate-impacts-report.pdf

Posted by: ragoertz | September 16, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Brian,

If you want to quibble with the word "equilibrium", substitute "steady-state". I.e., once the system has come to a point where the temperatures of the bodies are constant, what will those temperatures be. It is of course the sort of simple physics problem that one could give to students in an introductory course when you introduce the Stefan-Boltzmann Eqn.

As for having lost your point regarding the water vapor feedback, since you are, to the best of my knowledge, stating something that goes against the scientific understanding in the field, I think it is incumbent on you to explain clearly why you believe something that the scientific community disagrees with you on.

Posted by: joelshore | September 16, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

A system is at EQUILIBRIUM if the system can be isolated (no heat or mass exchange with the surroundings) and no change in any variable defining the system observed over time.

A system is at STEADY STATE if the assumption of "isolated" cannot be removed.

The Earth is constantly irradiated on one side while rotating.

It makes perfect sense to talk about a temperature "locally" that may or may not change over time, depending on the conditions.

There is no way to provide a meaningful value of "the Earth's" temperature, globally, and I don't care who is doing it.

I don't care if every member of the National Academy of Sciences and everybody in California and Des Moines and Arlington all disagree with me.

I don't care if you disagree with me.

You can shoot me and it doesn't make you right.

Posted by: BrianValentine | September 16, 2009 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Brian,

I guess you do not want to admit that you are wrong about the Second Law stuff and are desperately scrounging around the bag of contrarian ideas. "Oh, there is no global temperature"...Yeah, that's a good one.

Actually, I will raise you one: There technically is no local temperature either since there is no perfect equilibrium and technically temperature is defined for a system in equilibrium.

And, since we don't have a quantum theory of gravity, there is no gravity either.

Basically, what some call "skepticism" has come to mean "sophistry", which is sad really and it makes your scientific point-of-view more and more irrelevant. There are some interesting questions to be considered concerning the climate sensitivity, the effects of climate change, and so on. But, you will play no role in this because you just prefer to stick your head in the sand and deny basic science because you don't like its implications.

Posted by: joelshore | September 16, 2009 9:05 PM | Report abuse

@joelshore There were 134,000 results. You have to look at more than just the first page!

How about an Op-Ed in the New York Times? Is that big enough for you?

The title of the Op-Ed is "Betraying the Planet".

In it Krugman writes, "And as I watched the deniers make their arguments, I couldn’t help thinking that I was watching a form of treason — treason against the planet."

And what about Andrew Revkin at the New York Times? He writes, "CEOs of fossil energy companies know what they are doing and are aware of long-term consequences of continued business as usual. In my opinion, these CEOs should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature."

I don't know where you have been hiding if you haven't seen any of the talk about prosecuting big oil and skeptics/deniers. I could keep going, but this is pointless and a complete waste of my time.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | September 16, 2009 9:32 PM | Report abuse

Brian V said:

"Show me how water vapor knows the difference betweem IR from water vapor and IR from CO2. Go ahead, Joel, show me how."

Well for one thing water vapor emits and absorbs at completely different wavelengths than CO2 so the transfer of IR between water vapor molecules is a lot more efficient than between water vapor and CO2. We got smart water vapor baby.

Wanna try again?

Posted by: EliRabett2003 | September 16, 2009 9:52 PM | Report abuse

alpha,

There are multiple answers to your misunderstanding of the DDT issue. The first is that DDT spraying for disease control was never banned in sub-Saharan Africa (or elsewhere). It was banned for agricultural spraying, which was a good thing, because agricultural spraying lead to major resistance development among insects.

The second is that your entire nonsense about DDT was a creation of Roger Bate, an AEI "scholar" who pitched the idea to Phillip Morris as a way of distracting the World Health Organization away from tobacco regulation

And there are more

Posted by: EliRabett2003 | September 16, 2009 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Brian:

"Fred Singer would be about the last to reject Gerlich and Tscheushner, Joel, and I have conversed with Dr Singer numerous times."

Wanna bet?

Posted by: EliRabett2003 | September 16, 2009 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Well for one thing water vapor emits and absorbs at completely different wavelengths than CO2

The strongest overlap of the absorption spectra for both CO2 and water is between about 1.1 and 1.3 microns, and to a lesser extent between about 15 and 20 microns, say.

But I'll agree that their absorption spectra are pretty much separated.

Water (mostly) emits at wavelengths between 0.1 and 1 micron, but I still think that if we have "feedback" on water from CO2 forcing, then we must have some "feedback" on water itself. At least a portion of the water emission is absorbed by the Earth and re-emitted at longer wavelengths still.

In fact we probably do have it. But the question is, how do we distinguish the two effects? [Yes I do know that the forcing value is defined at at the tropopause.]

I don't know. But I will say that the influence of water on itself would be amplified by slight increases in temperature, and even for natural variation [like the sun] that this effect would be immediately evident.

The fact that it isn't seen makes me wonder about the whole thing.

Posted by: BrianValentine | September 16, 2009 10:49 PM | Report abuse

In the class of it's not what you don't know that kills you, but what you think you know and is wrong Mike opines:

"I'm sure others have done this exercise too, but I took the warmest global data set (NASA GISS) and ran the annual number against the Hansen scenarios...we are currently below (cooler than) his Scenario C which was the fixed at 2000 emission scenario. We all know emissions are much higher than in 2000, so why is the scenario failing? This is why I question if science is over-stating the problem? "

Well, Mike, that might be because in Hansen's own words in 1988

"The climate model we employ has a global mean surface air equilibrium sensitivity of 4.2 C for doubled CO2. Other recent GCMs yield equilibrium sensitivities of 2.5-5.5 C.....

Forecast temperature trends for time scales of a few decades or less are not very sensitive to the model's equilibrium climate sensitivity (reference provided). Therefore climate sensitivity would have to be much smaller than 4.2 C, say 1.5 to 2 C, in order for us to modify our conclusions significantly."

We are getting to the point, twenty years on, where the high estimate of climate sensitivity is making itself felt. OTOH, the 1988 paper estimated the forcings slightly on the low side. The result was a pretty good prediction. Definitely in the class of useful models but at this point a little long in the tooth.

Posted by: EliRabett2003 | September 16, 2009 10:58 PM | Report abuse

I'm not going to bet with you about what Singer thinks about Gerlich and Tscheuschner, because I haven't asked Singer directly, but the topic was among others in communications with Singer, I don't recall Singer mentioning anything to be frank.

Yes I do know about Singer's comment about "people who don't believe CO2 is a greenhouse gas."

Singer's comment to me about the "greenhouse effect" was:

"We cannot rule it out because the evidence is statistical, but in terms of statistics, the evidence is largely negative."

That's all I can accurately comment about the matter, maybe you know something more and I don't

Posted by: BrianValentine | September 16, 2009 11:00 PM | Report abuse

Here is where my theoretical analysis about the "greenhouse" effect stands:

I can write a variational principle that governs the free energy of the atmosphere.

I cannot specifically define "entropy" because I cannot define the temperature.

I can show that my variational principle has a critical point from the greenhouse effect.

I cannot show my critical point is an absolute minimum, which would contradict the second law.

Meaning that my so-called "theory" does not disprove the greenhouse theory.


So, without my "analytical demonstration" that the greenhouse effect is not valid, I rely on my intuition.

Joel is telling me that my intuition is wrong.

What can I say?

Posted by: BrianValentine | September 16, 2009 11:15 PM | Report abuse

I never had a discussion with anyone about the Higgs vector boson, or Riemann's conjecture, or any other subject that ended up in name calling and snickering and remarks about somebody's integrity.

AGW is sure an emotional matter!

The only thing that surprises me about Gerlich and Tscheuschner's publication is, the editor let so much of their emotion into their publication.

But I applaud the editors for not editing it out, because emotion is evident in some of the global warming papers too

Posted by: BrianValentine | September 16, 2009 11:52 PM | Report abuse

Mr Q. says: 'There were 134,000 results. You have to look at more than just the first page!'

I don't need to look at all the results. The first page should give a reasonable statistical sample. In fact, it should be biased toward ones that are more likely to be relevant (e.g., have all of the words searched for and have them close to each other).

Mr Q. says: 'And what about Andrew Revkin at the New York Times? He writes, "CEOs of fossil energy companies know what they are doing and are aware of long-term consequences of continued business as usual. In my opinion, these CEOs should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature."'

Actually, the quote that you give is from a letter from Hansen that Andrew Revkin quotes in his post (hence the indentation). We've already discussed what Hansen said, so that is nothing new.

Posted by: joelshore | September 17, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Brian: Well, I think it gets emotional for those of us on the side of the scientific consensus because we get frustrated with the distortion of science for political purposes. You will find similar emotion in the evolution / creation debate.

Can you give me an example where a scientific paper on global warming contains as much emotion, including the use of the word "fraud" as G&T does? (And, of course, this is made worse by the fact, which I know you disagree with, that G&T is not scientifically correct.)

By the way, I appreciate you admitting that your claim about the greenhouse theory violating the Second Law is based only on your intuition, although I'd be curious to hear more about where this intuitive notion comes from.

Posted by: joelshore | September 17, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Eli has no idea if this came up previously, but there is a trivial way of seeing that G&T are blowing smoke on the second law.

Imagine two discs the hotter one at Th, and the colder at Tc. When separate, both radiate according to the Stefan-Boltzmann law.

Now, place them close to each other. According to G&T, the colder one stops radiating because otherwise it would "warm" the hotter one. What it does, in fact, is change the NET amount of energy flowing in and out of the hotter one, by adding an inflow.

A practical realization of this is placing aluminum foil around a light bulb (or painting it black). In both cases you raise the temperature of the filament as well as the surface of the lamp.

Posted by: EliRabett2003 | September 17, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Signore, per favore ...

The lamp filament increases in temp simply because there is less heat transfer from it (less radiational cooling).

Here is a violation of the second law: Trying to use the radiation from a radiating source (say a furnace) - and heating something else to a HIGHER temp than the furnace - say by attempting to concentrate the radiation.

Obviously the maximum flux that can be achieved by concentration is the flux at the source, and the maximum temperature, too.

Posted by: BrianValentine | September 17, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Brian, the atmosphere is colder than the surface so your question does not apply.

Posted by: EliRabett2003 | September 17, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Apparent violation of second law (but not really)

Suppose two greybodies at T(1) and T(2) exchange heat, suppose

T(1).GT.T(2) but

e(1).LT.e(2)

so that the heat flux

q = (sigma)[e(1)T(1)**4 - e(2)T(2)**4]

is negative.

Contradiction to 2nd law? Not.

In this case the meaning of "hotter" needs to be taken in another context.

Posted by: BrianValentine | September 17, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Question for Experts:

The Sun sees the Earth as a disc - and satellites measure 384 watts per sq.m of solar irradiance striking that disc.

Why do satellites measure 384 watts per sq.m leaving that disc?

Where's my global warming, dude?

Here comes Pe-ter Cot-ton-tail

Hop-pin' down, the Bun-ny Trail!

Hipitty-hop-hop

Hopitty-hip-hip

Criticism's on its waaaaaay!


Posted by: BrianValentine | September 17, 2009 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Brian,

The net radiative forcing is about 1-2 W/m^2, of which maybe half has been translated into warming already and half still remains out-of-balance. So, one would be trying to measure a difference of something like 0.5 to 1 W/m^2. My guess is that the satellites are not yet up to the task of measuring such a difference.

Posted by: joelshore | September 17, 2009 7:15 PM | Report abuse

I have to go along with you there, Joel, and also add that the rel error is probably largest at (supposed) forcing wavelengths: 15+ (micro m)

[the detection is additive among UV, VIS, near-IR far-IR wavengths; the UV VIS is good but accuracy gets worse out it the IR because of thermal noise]

Posted by: BrianValentine | September 17, 2009 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Question for Joel:

What is the difference between "alarmism" and "stating the truth"?

Volcanoes stirred by climate change;
Impact of global warming on geological hazards 'poorly understood', experts warn.

[NatureNews,Se 17 2009]

Now, they're just stating the truth! It IS poorly understood. But where does the line get drawn (if at all) about what they report?



Posted by: BrianValentine | September 17, 2009 10:53 PM | Report abuse

I think the key element of this piece is something sorely lacking in the argument made by global warming doomsdayers. Matt' Roger;s piece here displays a hearty and refreshing display of scientific humility. As a weather guy, he knows how inexact his career field is - because it is proven so so damn frequently. Matt cannot dodge these frequent doses of humility and that seems to give him an excellent perspective and a rich history base to cautin those who pontificate and try to speak so Pope-like on things so theoretically frail and about the things still woefully misunderstood.

Back in the 70s, I recall a noted world scientist's expressing his views on scientific knowledge ammassed over the course of human history. As to what is known, provable, theoretical and speculative, he only said, "Certainly, there WILL be a 21st Century science."

We don't know everything. We probaly know little - and understand what we think we have discovered even less. Global warming doomsdayers need to recognize the need for humility and recognize the certainty of Mother Nature in delighting in her humbling of human egos. There is still much unknown and that is why the GW debate is not over and why any imagined consensus is as meaningless as the plotted, calculated success or failure of on-paper fantasy football teams.

Be humble. Admit that much of what passes as science today is merely guesswork, not science. Do not fear or supress debate because of human ego - for certainly your comeuppance will follow.

Posted by: 4Deuce | September 18, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Deuce.

The best models in the world can predict the surface tension of a simple liquid to a few dyn/cm, and here we are predicting the change in the World's temperature out for 100 years.

Some of this stuff, promoted as reality, is really criminal I think.

Hopefully respectability will come back to the Earth, atmospheric, ocean, ... sciences, where it always was.

It isn't glamorous and it isn't sensational - but it is enduring

Posted by: BrianValentine | September 18, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

At least use something musical

Posted by: EliRabett2003 | September 18, 2009 10:35 PM | Report abuse

Now that that is out of the way, the major issue with measuring the total emission is we have not got far enough away to image the entire disk of the Earth, which is why it was not a good thing that Triana was killed off for political reasons.

15 microns, is ~ 600 cm-1 (~20,000 GHz) which is equivalent to about 900 K (multiply by Boltzmanns constant to get the energy), so thermal noise there is not really a problem, especially for the kinds of cooled detectors that would be used.

If you claim noise would be a problem for such a detector then the Microwave Sounding Units that are used to measure atmospheric temperatures would never work because they operate btw 30 and 90 GHz region which is equivalent to about 10 K at best.

Posted by: EliRabett2003 | September 18, 2009 10:47 PM | Report abuse

Aren't we referring to the determination of the spectral and diffuse portions of tail end of the spectrum of a greybody emitting at an (approximate) temperature of 288 K? Wouldn't the associated error be concentrated in the IR?

The detectors themselves can be cooled, granted. But don't the power electronics of these need to be warmed to a certain temp to operate at all?

IR isn't detected with "antennas."

Go ahead and bite Foofoo, mousey - Foofoo doesn't listen to anything

Posted by: BrianValentine | September 18, 2009 11:41 PM | Report abuse

Gosh, I hope we don't get Cap'n Trade or something like it (Cap'n Crunch!)

If we did then these little discussions might go on but they would be meaningless, really.

On one hand I suppose it would end discussions wherein people called each other such things as "bonehead" and "chump" etc

On the other hand, the discussions wouldn't be any fun anymore

Posted by: BrianValentine | September 19, 2009 2:25 AM | Report abuse

Brian Valentine: "The best models in the world can predict the surface tension of a simple liquid to a few dyn/cm, and here we are predicting the change in the World's temperature out for 100 years."

So, let me get this straight, you think that we should have no confidence in the computer models (which, by the way, are backed by analysis of empirical data, such as temperature changes and estimated forcings between the last glacial maximum and now) run by the top climate scientists in the world...However, we should have confidence in your predictions that global warming will be insignificant based on what exactly?

Posted by: joelshore | September 19, 2009 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, Joel

The GCM models of the previous history of the Earth, were not the best representation of the known history.

Let us take the period 1970-2000, a known period of warming over a large span of it anyway.

When forcing and feedback were adjusted so as to match historical temperatures for example, then the rainfall patterns were not right - primarily in the Tropics.

This was known and reported in TAR.

I will say advances in GCM have been made, as reported in AR/4, that increase confidence - such a ab initio modeling of periodic oscillations such as the PDO.

This is very good but as far as I know flux correlations still have to be made to reset probable divergence, there is an uncertainty introduced each time that is done.

There are other sources of error of course but the final results are probabilities assigned to certain bands of climate conditions.

Obviously the temperatures are not going to drop or increase by more than 10 deg C over a 100 year period, say, so we are constrained by physical realities; assigning probabilities within bands of those brackets gets to be a very complicated matter, I am not sure I have confidence in a 2 deg C band.

Dr Eli for example is far more of an authority of GCM errors and probability weighting than I am, yet he has confidence, so when all is said and done, I must say I am relying on my intuition, I admit it plainly.

Posted by: BrianValentine | September 19, 2009 7:03 PM | Report abuse

By the way the disrepancy of the rainfall patterns was serious, for the meaing was that the heat transfer was not accounted for correctly - and that difficulty would build up over a large time span to make long term results very questionable.

That point was glossed over in the TAR, and a "glaring bright light" was not shown upon the difficulty in AR/4, I'll put it that way

Posted by: BrianValentine | September 19, 2009 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Brian: Well, I will grant you that the models aren't perfect (no models are) and perhaps it is even true that as a result of this, the errors in the predictions are being underestimated. (Although it should be noted that the estimates of the climate sensitivity itself in AR4 are not direct model predictions but are derived from empirical data, sometimes with models used to determine the relationship between the actual data and what it means in terms of climate sensitivity).

However, I guess I still find it hard to see how this would lead one to conclude, as you seem to (correct me if I am wrong), that AGW is overblown. After all, one of the things that we suspect the models could be missing are some "tipping points" that are known in general to be an issue in driven nonlinear systems (and, indeed, that there is evidence for in the climate record). So, wouldn't the most sensible way to proceed be on the basis of our current best predictions, with the policy formulated to allow adjustment of the emissions caps either up or down as future science warrants? Or do you think we should just continue to do nothing until such time as we know that the models are perfect (which means, in practice, never do anything)?

Posted by: joelshore | September 19, 2009 9:22 PM | Report abuse

I'm 60 years old, so I guess I use my experience and all I have seen in this world to come to the conclusion,

Damage from cap'n trade, carbon tax, and so on >>>>> possible damage from AGW, if there is any, so that's that.

People have been dealing with the weather ever since they've walked upright (and before that even, believe it or not) - we'll get by, but we're doing no service to anyone (esp poor people) with a carbon tax or carbon trade noose around their necks, esp international carbon trade,

I have stated my piece and have nothing more to say about the matter.

If you want to talk about technical details of thermo, heat transfer, momentum transfer, celestial mechanics, and so on fine, but I'm not addressing this issue any more because I have told you my immutable viewpoint of it and any more is flogging a dead horse.

Posted by: BrianValentine | September 19, 2009 9:49 PM | Report abuse

By the way I won't buy statements to the effect "carbon taxes and prohibitions will help poor people" somehow.

We know all too well that won't happen.

The Enron clones and so on will just come along and deal in it and clean up at everyone else's expense.

These people would be given free reign to knock the bottom out of the economy for their own gain which is exactly what they would do and we would create the most horrible caste system that has ever been seen since the days of the Egyptians.

Not as long I I'm alive to fight it, we're not ...

Posted by: BrianValentine | September 19, 2009 10:09 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2012 The Washington Post Company